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 6, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 7 to 27, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 28 to 33, inclusive, answered orally.

Prison Committals

Willie Penrose

Question:

34 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the cost in 2009 of maintaining a young person for one year in St. Patrick’s Institution; the way this compares with costs for 2007 and 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28361/10]

The Irish Prison Service publishes the average cost of an available, staffed prison space under three headings — Open Prisons, Closed Prisons and High Security Prisons. St. Patrick's Institution is a Closed Prison.

The average cost of an available, staffed prison space during the calendar year 2009 will be published in the Irish Prison Service Annual Report for 2009 which is due to be published shortly. However, provisional figures indicate that the average cost of an available, staffed prison space in a Closed Prison during the calendar year 2009 was €79,308 compared to €90,837 in 2008, a decrease of €11,529 or 12.7%. The figure for 2007 was €82,662. The average cost of keeping an offender in St. Patrick's Institution specifically was €94,164 in 2009, €101,590 in 2008 and €91,031 in 2007.

The figures stated have all been calculated using the revised methodology for measuring costs. The revised methodology used since 2008 is of greater benefit in the financial management of the Service than the one previously used as it facilitates the strategic measuring and comparing of costs across the prison estate.

Sexual Offences

Jack Wall

Question:

35 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the common use of websites to promote prostitution and sexual exploitation, often of vulnerable young women, many of whom have been trafficked; the steps he will take to ensure the law is enforced; if he is satisfied that the law is adequate to deal with this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28335/10]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that they monitor websites of the kind referred to by the Deputy, particularly as part of Operation Quest, which is aimed particularly at the involvement of organised crime in prostitution.

I should mention also that section 23 of the Act created the offence of publishing or distributing an advertisement for a brothel or the services of a prostitute in the State, in terms, circumstances or manner which gives rise to the reasonable inference that the premises is a brothel or the service is one of prostitution. "Advertisement" in this context is defined as including every form of advertising or promotion, including by way of computer monitor, telephone, photography or other like means of communication.

However, I understand that difficulties arise in practice because the websites in question are hosted abroad. When I launched the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking in June 2009, I emphasised the Government's commitment to protect vulnerable people who may become victims of traffickers and to tackle the crime of human trafficking. The Government has taken strong legislative, administrative and operational measures to combat and prevent trafficking in persons for both sexual and labour exploitation purposes. The Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 has greatly strengthened the law in this area. A dedicated Anti-Human Trafficking Unit was established in my Department in February, 2008 with the purpose of ensuring that the State's response to human trafficking is coordinated and comprehensive. This has led to the production of the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking.

In addition, An Garda Síochána has established a Human Trafficking Investigation and Co-ordination Unit. I am confident that the Force is vigorously pursuing enforcement of the law in this area. The Garda authorities have conducted a number of operations to combat brothel keeping, prostitution and human trafficking and will continue to do so in line with the intelligence available to them. The law in relation to prostitution is kept under continuing review in my Department.

Proposed Legislation

Joe Costello

Question:

36 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform his plans to update the laws on guardianship in view of the changes in society in view of the fact that the principal legislation governing this area was enacted in 1964 and further in view of the findings of a judgment given in the High Court on 28 April 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28358/10]

The provisions of the Guardianship of Children Act 1964 in relation to guardianship, custody of and access to children have been the subject of significant updating, both in 1987 and 1997. Under section 6 of the 1964 Act both the mother and father of children born within marriage are the joint guardians of their children. In relation to children born outside marriage, the mother is the sole guardian. Under section 6A of the 1964 Act, as inserted by section 12 of the Status of Children Act 1987, a non-marital father may apply to the court to be appointed a guardian of his child. Alternatively, where there is agreement between the parents, they can make a statutory declaration under section 2(4) of the 1964 Act, as inserted by section 4 of the Children Act 1997, conferring on the father the status of guardian.

Under section 11 of the 1964 Act, a guardian may apply to the court for its direction on any question affecting the welfare of the child, including directions as to custody and access. In addition, the section provides that the unmarried father of a child, even if he is not a guardian, may apply to the court for orders on custody and access. Section 3 of the Act provides that, in deciding on an application relating to the custody, guardianship or upbringing of a child, the court shall regard the welfare of the child as the first and paramount consideration.

Where appropriate and practicable, the court will also take into account the child's wishes in the matter having regard to the age and understanding of the child. In addition, the law now places an emphasis in terms of recognising the rights of the child to the society of both his or her father and mother: Section 11D of the 1964 Act (inserted by the Children Act 1997) obliges the court in proceedings relating to the welfare of a child to consider whether the child's best interests would be served by maintaining personal relations and direct contact with both his or her father and mother on a regular basis.

These legislative provisions, contained in the Guardianship of Children Acts 1964 to 1997, are comprehensive. They permit the court in cases of disagreement to decide on arrangements for the child's care and upbringing having regard to the child's best interests.

In the High Court case concerning the abduction of children referred to by the Deputy (J. McB. v L.E. 2010 IEHC 123) it is of some significance that the Judge indicated that had the applicant made an application to our courts for guardianship or custody orders the outcome of the case could well have been radically different.

As part of its Third Programme of Law Reform 2008-2014, the Law Reform Commission published a consultation paper ‘ Legal Aspects of Family Relationships', in September 2009. In the consultation paper, the Commission makes provisional recommendations on the rights and duties of fathers in relation to guardianship, custody of and access to their children and on the rights and duties of extended family members including grandparents and step-parents. The Commission has invited submissions on these issues as part of its consultation process. In particular, the Commission has invited submissions as to whether it would be appropriate to introduce automatic guardianship / parental responsibility for all fathers in Ireland. The Commission's final report and recommendations, expected to be published later this year, will help to inform debate on the issues in advance of the formulation of any proposals for reform of the law in this area.

Probation and Welfare Service

Sean Sherlock

Question:

37 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform his plans to increase investment in the probation service and enhance diversion programmes in respect of anti-social behaviour and minor public order offences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28363/10]

The Probation Service of my Department is the lead agency in the assessment and management of offenders in our communities. In common with the rest of the Civil Service the Probation Service is subject to the Government's moratorium on recruitment and promotion and its staff also have access to the Incentivised Career Break Scheme and the Incentivised Scheme of Early Retirement. Where vacancies do arise, the Probation Service is required to further prioritise its workload.

When the Probation Service was restructured five years ago, emphasis was placed on working with higher risk offenders and juvenile offenders and in developing the Community Service system as an effective alternative to custody. These remain the priority areas for the Probation Service.

As part of this re-focusing of its work the Deputy will be aware the Probation Service has benefited from the provision of an increased level of resources during the restructuring period. This has meant that despite the impact of the Moratorium and other associated measures such as the Incentivised Scheme of Early Retirement (ISER) and the Incentivised Career Break Scheme (ICBS), the number of staff working in the Service is still greater than at the end of 2006 and only marginally less than at the end of 2007. Excluding those vacancies arising from staff availing of ISER and ICBS, both of which Schemes were specifically designed to reduce Civil Service numbers, 28 whole-time equivalent vacancies have arisen since the introduction of the Moratorium. Of these, 21 are in the ranks of Probation Officer/Community Service Supervisor with the remainder from Administrative Support Staff.

My Department and Probation Service management are keeping the situation under constant review to ensure that the resources at the disposal of the Service are managed as effectively and efficiently as possible.

In addition to the core staffing provided to the Service my Department, through the Probation Service, provides funding — amounting to 31% of the total Probation budget for 2010 — to approximately 50 voluntary bodies to add value to the core work of the Service and to assist with the management of offenders in the community.

With regard to diversion programmes, the Garda Commissioner has informed me that, at present, there are 116 Juvenile Liaison Officer posts approved within An Garda Síochána. One hundred and eleven of these posts are currently filled on a full-time basis. Five of the posts are vacant and the selection process for the new JLOs is well underway. I should point out that the Commissioner has approved the appointment of 7 additional JLOs each year for the past 3 years and a further seven posts will be added in accordance with the targets set out in the Garda Youth and Children Strategy 2009 — 2011. This will bring the total of approved JLO posts to 123.

With regard to the issue of anti-social behaviour, the Deputy will be aware that Part 11 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006, which provides for civil proceedings in relation to anti-social behaviour by adults, was commenced on 1 January, 2007. Part 13 of the Act, which relates to anti-social behaviour by children, was commenced on 1 March, 2007. These provisions set out an incremental procedure for addressing anti-social behaviour by adults and children.

Up to 30 April, 2010, 1,670 behaviour warnings have been issued to adults and 1,278 to children. Thirteen good behaviour contracts have been issued to children. In addition, three civil orders (in respect of adults) and three behaviour orders (in respect of children) have been issued by the Courts.

At present the most common non-custodial sanction used by the Courts is the imposition of a fine and the new Fines Act will make a significant contribution to keeping people out of the prison system.

I should also add that the most recently published Discussion Document of the White Paper on Crime series, ‘ Criminal Sanctions', will include an examination of the use of non-custodial sanctions generally. Submissions on this Document were invited before the end of May and the opinions received will inform future plans.

Interpretation Services

Joe Costello

Question:

38 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will confirm that many interpreters working for the gardaí have no formal qualifications; the steps that are being taken to ensure interpreters have appropriate qualifications and are of a suitable level of ability; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28357/10]

The provision of interpretation for the Garda Síochána is primarily an operational matter for the Garda Commissioner.

I have been informed by the Commissioner that a range of interpretation services is available to the Force in accordance with contracts that have been put in place. These services operate where persons have been detained and in other circumstances, as required, and the Commissioner has reported that the current interpretation arrangements are working well.

The Garda authorities have structured their contracts to ensure that persons carrying out interpretation work will be qualified to a high level. The Commissioner is aware that as things currently stand there are no national standards for the provision of interpretation services and he has indicated that he would support the adoption of such standards.

Visa Applications

Denis Naughten

Question:

39 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of leave to remain applications processed in the past 12 months; the number of outstanding applications to be processed; the cost of the reception integration agency services to such applicants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28448/10]

What has become known colloquially as ‘ an application for leave to remain' is the submission of written representations to the Minister against the making of a Deportation Order. In all such cases, I, as Minister, must decide whether a Deportation Order should be made or leave to remain in the State should be granted. This process is founded on the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended).

The number of cases finalised in the twelve month period from 1 June 2009 to 31 May 2010 was as follows:

(i) a Deportation Order was made in985 cases,

(ii) Leave to Remain was granted in660 cases and

(iii) Voluntary Returns were facilitated in414 cases meaning that, in total, 2,059 cases were finalised in the period in question.

At 31 May 2010, there were 11,700 cases on hands.

The Deputy should appreciate that the processing of cases at the repatriation stage of the process is resource intensive given that over 80% of all cases are of asylum origin and, as such, will have to have the Subsidiary Protection element of their case assessed before a final decision can be made under Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended). This essentially means that there are two discrete decisions to be made in all such cases with different criteria to be applied in the two situations. Cases of non-asylum origin i.e. the remaining 20% of cases will not have a Subsidiary Protection element and, as such, will not take the same level of processing time.

The Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) provides accommodation to persons at all stages of the asylum and related processes. It would not be possible to specifically identify the cost to RIA of a particular cohort within the overall accommodation population, such as ‘ leave to remain applicants'. However, the outturn for RIA for all accommodation provided in 2009 was €86.509m.

Domestic Violence

John Deasy

Question:

40 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the actions he proposes to take to deal with increasing levels of domestic violence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28251/10]

The Government is very committed to tackling the scourge of domestic violence in this country. It is a very complex issue and a broad range of action is being taken across the country by many State and Non-State organisations to prevent and respond effectively to this often hidden crime. A clear signal of government concern and commitment to this matter was the establishment in June 2007 of Cosc — the National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence. Cosc's key task is to ensure the delivery of a well co-ordinated ‘ whole of government' response to domestic, sexual and gender-based violence.

Earlier this year Cosc completed its priority work on the development of the first National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence 2010-2014. The strategy was developed through a thorough process of research and consultation with interested stakeholders from State, Non-governmental organisations and the broader community. Following approval by the Government last February, the national strategy was published in March and is now being implemented. The strategy aims to prevent the violence concerned and to respond effectively to such violence. Ultimately the impact of the strategy will be fewer victims of domestic violence, better services for those who are victims and increased accountability by perpetrators of the violence.

More specifically the national strategy contains clear actions to promote a culture of prevention and recognition through increased understanding of domestic violence and to deliver an effective service to those affected by domestic violence. Among these actions are ones which: manage risks posed by, and strengthen measures to deal with, perpetrators of domestic violence; update the law on domestic violence to give further protection to victims; examine the option of a one-stop-shop for greater accessibility of services to victims; and ensure improved opportunities for disclosure of domestic violence.

These actions under the strategy will be delivered by the state agencies within whose remit the actions fall. Steps have been taken to ensure efficient progress on the implementation of the actions. A Strategy Oversight Committee meets twice-yearly to review progress. The Committee, which is chaired by the Secretary General of my Department, includes senior officials from key government departments and state agencies responsible for implementing actions in the strategy. In addition progress on the implementation of the strategy will be encouraged and monitored by Cosc on an ongoing basis.

Through this national strategic framework and the commitment of government departments and state bodies, working in partnership with all the relevant NGOs, I am confident that substantial progress can be made in this area.

Sexual Offences

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

41 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform his views on proposals to criminalise the buyers of sex rather than the sex workers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28250/10]

It should be noted that under the criminal law as it stands at present, it is not an offence, in itself, to sell sex. In general, it is not an offence, to purchase sex either. Consequently, neither party to the transaction is currently criminalised.

In this jurisdiction, the criminal law governing prostitution is aimed at protecting society from the more intrusive aspects of such activity from a public order perspective, while also seeking to protect prostitutes from exploitation.

Under the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1993, it is an offence to solicit in a street or public place for the purpose of prostitution. The offence can be committed by the prostitute, client or a third party — a pimp, for example. The Act also provides for offences such as organising prostitution, coercing or compelling a person to be a prostitute, knowingly living on the earnings of a prostitute, or keeping or managing a brothel.

In addition, the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 makes it an offence to knowingly solicit or importune a trafficked person, in any place, for the purpose of prostitution.

Any proposal to amend the law in terms of criminalising the purchase of sex would require very careful consideration.

Garda Investigations

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

42 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if Garda authorities are investigating the type and scale of Israeli clandestine operations carried out here and in particular reports that Israeli secret agents photographed members of the Rachel Corrie aid mission before it left Dundalk, County Louth, which follows Israel’s abuse of Irish passports in the course of an assassination that they conducted; the steps being taken by an Garda Síochána to protect Irish citizens from the activities of Israel here; and if he has had any discussions with the Garda Commissioner on this issue. [28290/10]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that there is no investigation being carried out at present into the particular reports mentioned in the Deputy's question. I am further informed that no complaint has been received by the Gardaí in respect of the alleged photographing of crew members of the ship Rachel Corrie.

Nevertheless, if any person has credible information that any alleged criminal activity has taken place, they should report their concerns to the Garda Síochána. The Gardaí will conduct an investigation into any grounded allegation of criminal activity using all the statutory powers available to them in pursuit of their functions to preserve peace and public order and to prevent, detect and investigate breaches of the criminal law.

With regard to the Deputy's assertion of clandestine operations being carried out by a foreign State, the House will readily understand why it would not be appropriate for me to comment in any way on the nature or extent of Garda operations or investigations, in particular those which might be related to counter-intelligence.

As to the issue of the misuse of Irish passports to which the Deputy also refers, the Government has made very clear its strong objection to what occurred and, following consideration of the proposal of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, requested Israel to withdraw a member of its staff from its Embassy in Dublin. I would refer the Deputy to the comprehensive statement of the Minister for Foreign Affairs in this regard of 15 June 2010.

Crime Levels

Dinny McGinley

Question:

43 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of gangland murders that have taken place to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28280/10]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that in 2010, up to 24 June, ten gang related murders were recorded. In addition, the House will be aware of the two appalling killings in Ronanstown last Monday evening.

I deplore all such killings. They are further evidence of the callous disregard for human life and community safety shown by members of criminal gangs.

The Gardaí are carrying out intensive investigations of all these killings and will devote all necessary resources to the investigations. In setting the policing priorities for An Garda Síochána in 2010, I asked the Commissioner to continue the focus of the force on serious crime, in particular organised crime. This priority is reflected in the Garda Policing Plan for this year.

It has to be accepted that, as is the case in every jurisdiction, there can be considerable difficulties for police investigators in obtaining evidence in relation to gangland murders. Associates of a victim of a gangland killing are often criminals themselves and do not cooperate with Garda investigations. Indeed, they frequently fail to cooperate even when they themselves are the victims of violence. There is often no connection or personal association between the victim and the perpetrator. Witnesses may also be subject to high levels of intimidation not to come forward.

It was against that background that last year that I introduced a series of strong but necessary anti-gangland legislative measures, in particular the Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Act and the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act.

I have consistently made it clear that inevitably it would take time for the full effects of that legislation to become clear. An Garda Síochána has been making full use of the legislation since it has been enacted, to build up criminal cases against gangland figures. It is painstakingly gathering evidence that is sufficient to satisfy the DPP to prosecute people in relation to gangland activities and that will stand up in court. A number of persons are before the courts. Two have been charged with directing the activities of a criminal organisation. Six have been charged with participation offences. Arrests under that legislation have also led to charges in relation to firearms and drug offences. Other files are with the DPP and I am confident that, as the evidence accumulates against individuals, successful prosecutions will be taken.

I have also introduced further significant legislative proposals, which are currently before the House, including the Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System) and Criminal Procedure Bills, and I will not hesitate to introduce further proposals if that becomes necessary. In addition, I have secured Government approval to commence work on a new Bail Bill to consolidate and update bail law with a view to presenting a clear, accessible and modern statement of the law.

The resources available to An Garda Síochána remain substantial, in spite of the pressure on the public finances. The gross amount in the Garda Vote this year is €1.5 billion. We have prioritised allocations for front line policing. There are now almost 14,600 attested Garda members, and the overtime allocation is the same as for last year, at €80 million. A new Garda recruitment campaign is commencing, and the Government has approved 170 Garda promotions as a derogation from the moratorium on promotions.

Proposed Legislation

Liz McManus

Question:

44 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the progress made on the review of gambling announced by him in May 2010; when he expects this process to be concluded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28350/10]

Brian Hayes

Question:

54 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the progress that has been made in progressing a gambling bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28267/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 44 and 54 together.

The Deputy will be aware from my replies to previous Questions that the consultation phase of the major review of gambling, initiated by me, has drawn to a close. I was pleased that over 70 organisations and groups considered the topic important enough to submit written submissions, and that many followed up those submissions with face-to-face meetings with the review team. I have also indicated that I hope to be in a position to seek Government approval of policy proposals for a new gambling architecture in the State, following an evaluation of the material received. The policy proposals, which I would intend to publish, will be based on an examination of the submissions received, as well as the recommendations contained in the Report of the Casino Committee,Regulating Gaming in Ireland, and, of course, consideration of modern gambling regulation. The review team is currently engaged in developing the appropriate proposals for consideration.

Any new policy aimed at modernising our gambling code must take account of the challenges and threats, but also opportunities, presented by new technologies, particularly the internet. In addition, policy must also be premised on the three important considerations which are the hallmark of most well-regulated gambling codes. These are:

that young people and the vulnerable are protected;

that gambling should in all respects be fairly and openly conducted; and

that gambling is kept free of crime.

Following the settling of policy in relation to a new gambling architecture for the State, the House can expect the publication of legislative proposals in the normal course. As this will be the first comprehensive review of our gambling law, effectively since the enactment of the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956, it would be reasonable to expect that any new legislation would be complex and comprehensive.

Prison Committals

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

45 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the policy that applies when prisoners at the Dóchas Centre, Mountjoy Prison, Dublin, give birth; the period for which they may retain their babies while in prison; the arrangements that are put in place for children born in prison; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28360/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that prisoners in custody in the Dóchas Centre are generally granted temporary release, for the duration of their hospital stay, under the Criminal Justice Act 1960, as amended by the Criminal Justice (Temporary Release of Prisoners) Act 2003. This discretionary instrument makes provision for the Minister to approve the temporary release of a sentenced prisoner in order to address humanitarian issues such as, in this instance, giving birth to a child.

Upon discharge from hospital the prisoner is returned to the Dóchas Centre to complete the remainder of her sentence and pursuant to Rule 17 of the Prison Rules 2007, the child may be admitted to the prison and remain with the mother in the prison until the child has reached twelve months of age. Only under exceptional circumstances can the child remain with the mother after the twelve month period has elapsed.

There is a considerable level of support available for mothers and babies in the Dóchas Centre. Provisions are made to facilitate new mothers keeping their infants with them in custody so as not to disrupt early bonding. Each mother and child are provided with their own single room with en-suite facilities on their return to the Dóchas Centre after giving birth. Required items such as a cot, baby food, nappies etc. are also provided.

There are currently four babies in the Dóchas Centre with their mothers.

Garda Investigations

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

46 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding the Garda investigation into matters arising from the report of the Commission of Investigation into Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin; if he plans to establish a commission of investigation into other dioceses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28339/10]

As the Deputy is aware, the Commission of Investigation's report on the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin was published last November in accordance with directions of the High Court. The Commission is at present examining the Diocese of Cloyne, and the Government has extended its term to 31 October to allow this work to be completed.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the Assistant Commissioner appointed by the Garda Commissioner to examine the findings of the Dublin Archdiocese report relating to the handling of complaints and investigations by both Church and State authorities and to carry out such investigations and enquiries as he deems appropriate is continuing his examination of the report. He will complete his examination as expeditiously as possible, following which he will report his recommendations to the Commissioner. When he does so, the Commissioner will consult with the Law Officers on issues arising in the context of criminal liability.

I am informed by my colleague the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs that the Health Service Executive (HSE) is continuing its audit of Catholic dioceses to ensure that it, as the statutorily responsible body, is fully aware of all cases of clerical child sex abuse known to the Church. When the audit is completed, the HSE will submit its report to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs.

Consideration of the results of these investigations will include consideration of what further actions require to be taken, including a possible extension of the Commission's remit.

Bringing the perpetrators of child sexual abuse to justice, whenever and wherever the abuse occurred, must be the absolute priority. I repeat my call and that of the Commissioner for any person, including any member of the clergy, who has any knowledge of such abuse to contact An Garda Síochána.

Garda Stations

Dan Neville

Question:

47 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform when a new Garda station will be built in Portlaoise, County Laois; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28285/10]

The programme of replacement and refurbishment of Garda accommodation around the country is based on agreed priorities established by An Garda Síochána and it is progressed in close co-operation with the Office of Public Works, who have responsibility for the provision and maintenance of Garda accommodation.

I have been advised by the Garda authorities that significant refurbishment work has been carried out at the existing Garda station in Portlaoise since 2008, including the upgrading of office accommodation, cell facilities, public office and interview rooms and the refurbishment of canteen facilities. In 2009 the accommodation at Portlaoise was enhanced with the provision of additional accommodation.

I have been further informed by the Office of Public Works that a number of possible options are being explored with regard to identifying a suitable site for the development of a new Divisional Headquarters for An Garda Síochána in Portlaoise.

The provision of a new Garda station in Portlaoise will be progressed in the context of An Garda Síochána's identified accommodation requirements and in the light of available resources.

Garda Equipment

Frank Feighan

Question:

48 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the progress made to date in rolling out digital radio for the emergency services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28261/10]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that all Divisions within the Dublin Metropolitan, Eastern and Southern Regions have now successfully migrated to the new National Digital Radio Service following commencement of the rollout last year. Rollout of the system in both the Western and South-Eastern Regions is expected to be completed by the end of 2010. Nationwide rollout is on schedule for completion in 2011.

Prison Inspectorate

Tom Hayes

Question:

49 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of times he has met with and been briefed by the current Inspector of Prisons since his appointment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28270/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that I have personally met with the Inspector of Prisons on a number of occasions both formally and informally since his appointment in order to receive his reports and to hear his views on matters pertinent to his office. The current Inspector of Prisons, Judge Michael Reilly, took up his appointment in January 2008. In his Interim Report, following his appointment, the Inspector stated that his tenure would be characterised by independence and fairness. In keeping with the independence of the Office as and when the Inspector considers it necessary to meet with me I am happy, where practicable, to facilitate such meetings.

My Department has a policy of meeting informally with the Inspector at regular intervals throughout the year to bring him up to date with relevant developments in penal policy. These meetings ensure that the Department and myself are kept fully informed on any issues or concerns he may have about the effective operation of the prison system.

Garda Deployment

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

50 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the reason the creation of 900 civilian posts within the Garda has resulted in the release of only 144 Garda personnel for frontline policing duties, as highlighted in the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General; the steps he will take to ensure greater use of civilian personnel, as recommended in the recent report of the Garda Inspectorate on Resource Allocation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28348/10]

Seymour Crawford

Question:

65 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of gardaí who are being used for secretarial work that could be carried out by civilians; if he is satisfied that a genuine effort is being made to release the maximum number of gardaí to policing duties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28087/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 50 and 65 together.

Increased civilian support for the Garda Síochána does not exclusively take the form of one for one replacement of individual Gardaí with civilians. In some instances, civilianisation does indeed enable the direct replacement of sworn members, who are engaged in exclusively clerical, administrative or technical duties, with civilian staff. In many other cases however, it allows sworn members who would otherwise have to devote a very substantial part of their working day to performing administrative duties such as data entry about crime incidents which goes on the PULSE system to focus exclusively on front-line policing duties. Civilian staff may also be recruited to perform new or expanded administrative, managerial and professional support roles in the Garda Síochána, for example as crime analysts or IT specialists. These are roles which did not exist in the Garda organisation until recently.

On this account, and because of the significant restructuring of roles, functions and business areas that has taken place at all levels of the Garda Síochána in recent years, it is difficult to quantify the exact number of posts which were occupied by sworn members but which today are held by civilians. I can however confirm that since 2003 the number of civilians in the Garda Síochána has risen from 1,063 to approximately 2,116 whole time equivalents. While this is still a lower proportion compared to some similar police services in other jurisdictions, the Deputies will be aware that the Commissioner is committed to increasing this number further as resources, within the current employment control framework, allow.

The recommendations in the recent report of the Garda Inspectorate on resource allocation are being carefully examined so that the potential for maximising the use of civilians and in turn releasing members of An Garda Síochána for frontline policing can be realised.

Prison Accommodation

Emmet Stagg

Question:

51 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the steps being taken to address the serious overcrowding and inadequate conditions highlighted in the report of the Inspector of Prisons, published September 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28342/10]

As I have previously indicated to the House, the report on Mountjoy Prison by the Inspector of Prisons has been considered by the Director General of the Irish Prison Service and his Senior Management Team. A number of the Inspector's recommendations have been implemented or are in the course of being implemented, subject to the availability of resources.

The newly refurbished Separation Unit has opened which facilitates an enhanced regime for protection prisoners including access to a full range of services including medical, gym facilities, probation service and chaplaincy service. Prisoners in the Separation Unit now receive 2 hours of out of cell time for recreation in the yard and also a further period of out of cell time in the gym.

Prison management have identified a suitable area in the Medical Unit as the most suitable location to establish a Vulnerable Persons Unit (VPU). The Irish Prison Service hope to hold discussions with the Prison Officers Association in the near future with regard to advancing this initiative.

The Irish Prison Service introduced a new prisoner's complaints procedure in January, 2010. The main points of the new policy are:

all complaints and allegations are acted upon and investigated and acknowledgements issued no later than 7 working days.

Prisoners have easy access to complaint forms and a method of submitting complaints directly to the Governor.

Any allegation of excessive use of force should be reported to the Governor immediately and the Gardaí notified.

An efficient and effective record system to be put in place and maintained including a standardised journal.

The ambitious prison capital programme currently underway will result in the replacement and/or refurbishment of nearly 40% of the entire prison estate and the ending of ‘slopping out'.

Overall, there has been major progress in recent years in terms of addressing and eliminating the problems presented by slopping-out. The final elimination of the remaining outdated accommodation, mainly at Mountjoy and Cork Prisons, and to a lesser degree at Portlaoise and Limerick is dependent on the progress of the Thornton Hall and Kilworth Projects. When the new wing in Wheatfield Prison opens, 72% of our accommodation will have in-cell sanitation.

In relation to Mountjoy Prison specifically it should be noted that 340 of the cells are single occupancy and toilet patrols are in place until 10pm. The option to introduce toilet patrols through the night would not be cost-neutral as it would require extra staff to be on duty and the Irish Prison Service simply does not have the resources necessary to escort prisoners to the toilets at times when prisoners are locked in their cells. Where possible and where security considerations allow, staff on night duty will allow prisoners to go to the toilet during the night.

A new Hygiene & Cleanliness drive has been operating on the B and C Divisions over the past month or so and will be rolled out across the prison. The purpose of this project is to ensure that general standards of hygiene in the prison are elevated and maintained to a higher standard.

All of this planned activity in regard to raising hygiene standards has had a highly visible and positive effect in the Prison improving both prisoner and staff morale. The Inspector of Prisons and the Visiting Committee have made favourable remarks with regard to same. I want to compliment Mountjoy staff and inmates alike for their efforts and success in this respect.

At the time of the publication of the Inspectors report I indicated that with the addition of 50 new spaces in the Separation Unit it is my intention, in so far as is practicable, to keep the prison population of Mountjoy under 600.

However, this has not been possible to-date given current levels of committals, but the opening of the Wheatfield block later this year is expected to give some respite in this regard. It should be noted that Mountjoy Prison, with 340 single cells, has the highest number of single cells of all prisons in the State. In addition, while the stated capacity of Mountjoy is 590 there is accommodation available to hold in excess of that number when necessary.

The Inspector of Prisons, in his 2008 Annual Report, acknowledged that overcrowding in prisons is an international problem and is not unique to Ireland. The Irish Prison Service has been engaged in an extensive programme of investment in prisons infrastructure which has involved both the modernisation of the existing estate and the provision of extra prison spaces. Since 1997 in excess of 1,720 new prison spaces have come on stream in the prison system. These include the new prisons in Castlerea, the Midlands, Cloverhill, the Dóchas Centre and new accommodation in Limerick, Portlaoise and Castlerea prisons and at the open centres in Shelton Abbey and Loughan House.

Current projects will see in excess 200 prison spaces provided in the short term by means of the opening of a new block in Wheatfield. In addition, we hope to proceed in late 2010 with a new accommodation block in the Portlaoise/Midlands prisons complex which will provide 300 prison spaces in the medium term. Also in the short term, work is due to commence on converting an administrative building on the Dóchas site into a new accommodation block. This accommodation will provide approximately 50 spaces and is due to be completed in late 2010.

I want to reiterate that I personally and my colleagues in Government are acutely aware of the limitations of the existing Mountjoy Prison. That is why the decision was taken to replace it with a completely new prison campus on a green field site at Thornton, North County Dublin. I am determined to push ahead with the Thornton project but in the intervening period, it is necessary to maintain Mountjoy as a prison and an institution run to the highest possible standards of hygiene and humanity.

Proposed Legislation

Catherine Byrne

Question:

52 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform his views on the Director of Public Prosecutions comment that a general whistleblower’s charter is required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28237/10]

Policy on affording protections for whistleblowers generally is not a matter solely for myself as Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. As I indicated in the Dáil, on 16 June 2010, in the course of the Committee Stage Debate on the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill 2008, it has been Government policy for some years to provide protection for whistleblowers on a sectoral basis, that is to say that legislation should, where appropriate, contain provisions providing protection for persons reporting suspected offences in good faith. There is ample evidence of this policy in practice. Within the remit of my own Department, the Garda Síochána (Confidential Reporting of Corruption or Malpractice) Regulations 2007, apply to members of the Garda Síochána and relevant civilian staff, and the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill 2008, contains provisions for protection of whistleblowers in respect of reported suspicion of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Acts 1889-2005. The Property Service (Regulation) Bill 2009 which was recently passed by the Seanad and is awaiting second stage in the Dáil also contains a whistleblower's protection provision.

I am aware that a significant number of statutes containing whistleblower protection provisions, which are the responsibility of a range of Departments, have been enacted in recent years. They include, the Ethics in Public Office Acts 1995-2001, the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, Health Act 2007, the Consumer Protection Act 2007, and the Communications Regulation (Amendment) Act 2007. More recently, the Chemicals Act 2008, the Charities Act 2009 and the National Asset Management Agency Act, 2009, also included these provisions. I understand that there are a number of other Bills which have been published and which have yet to be enacted which have similar provisions. Any future change to the sectoral approach to this issue will be a matter for collective Government consideration.

Prisoner Releases

Emmet Stagg

Question:

53 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the criteria used to determine which prisoners are selected for temporary release as a result of prison overcrowding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28341/10]

The Criminal Justice Act 1960, as amended by the Criminal Justice (Temporary Release of Prisoners) Act 2003 provides that the Minister may approve the temporary release of a sentenced prisoner and establishes the criteria to be applied. This discretionary instrument assists in gradually preparing suitable offenders for release, in administering short sentences, in addressing humanitarian issues and can be an incentive to well-behaved prisoners. It should be noted that a prisoner on temporary release is still subject to his or her sentence and may be returned to prison without any court intervention.

Candidates for temporary release are identified by a number of different means but primarily on the recommendation of the Prison Governor or the therapeutic services in the prisons. The prisoner, their family or their legal representative can also apply for consideration of such a concession. Recommendations are also made to me in relation to long term sentence prisoners by the Parole Board. It is very important to note that it does not necessarily follow that a prisoner will receive temporary release even if the recommendation is to that effect. Before a final determination a number of factors may be taken into account including:

the nature and gravity of the offence to which the sentence being served by the person relates

the sentence concerned and any recommendation made by the Court in relation to the sentence imposed

the period of the sentence served by the person

the potential threat to the safety and security of the public should the person be released

the person's previous criminal record

the risk of the person failing to return to prison at the expiration of the period of temporary release

the conduct of the person while in custody or while previously on temporary release

any report or recommendation made by the Governor, the Garda Síochána, a Probation & Welfare Officer, or any other person whom the Minister considers may be of assistance in coming to a decision as to whether to grant temporary release

the risk that the person might commit an offence during any period of temporary release

the risk of the person failing to comply with any of the conditions of temporary release

the likelihood that a period of temporary release might accelerate the person's reintegration into society or improve his prospects of obtaining employment.

Temporary release arrangements are an important vehicle for re-integrating an offender into the community in a planned way. The generally accepted view is that the risk to the community is reduced by planned re-integration of offenders compared with their return to the community on the completion of their full sentence. Each case is examined on its own merits and the safety of the public is paramount when decisions are made. In addition, all releases are subject to conditions, which in the vast majority of cases include a requirement to report on a regular basis to the offender's Garda Station. Of course, any offender who breaches his or her conditions may be arrested and returned to prison immediately by the Gardaí.

Question No. 54 answered with Question No. 44.

Garda Equipment

Seymour Crawford

Question:

55 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of patrol cars the gardaí have bought or have been bought for them in each of the past five years; if he is satisfied that proper tendering facilities have been used; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28088/10]

I have requested the information sought by the Deputy from the Garda Commissioner and I will write to the Deputy directly when this information is to hand.

Proposed Legislation

Joe Carey

Question:

56 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the progress made to date on the preparation of the White Paper on Crime; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28239/10]

I can inform the Deputy that work on the development of a White Paper on Crime, due for publication in 2011, is progressing well in my Department.

A key part of the process involves the publication of a series of discussion documents, each of which is designed to give structure to the broad range of issues which arise in this field. Submissions are invited from members of the public and other interested parties in connection with each document and a range of consultation seminars are also being held.

The first two documents have dealt with Crime Prevention and Community Safety and Criminal Sanctions respectively. Two further documents are planned, the first of which will deal with Organised, Economic and White Collar Crime and will be published this summer. A fourth document will examine the relationship between the community and the criminal justice system and is scheduled for publication at the end of the year. Consultation seminars will complement each document, as with the first two documents.

The outcome of this consultative process will feed into the final White Paper itself, which will set out the overall policy framework for strategies to combat crime into the future.

Further information on the White on Crime process can be found on my Department's website, along with copies of the discussion documents and summaries of the input received thus far. Interested parties can also register for updates by emailing whitepaperoncrime@justice.ie.

Youth Diversion Projects

David Stanton

Question:

57 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 326 to 328, inclusive, of 16 December 2008, the number of Garda youth diversion projects in operation; the number of children who participated in and the funding available for these projects in 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28474/10]

I wish to inform the Deputy that the information he has requested in relation to Garda Youth Diversion Projects (GYDPs) for 2008 has been published in the Annual Report of the Irish Youth Justice Service for that year. This report is available on the IYJS website — www.iyjs.ie . Equivalent information for 2009 will be published shortly in the 2009 Annual Report.

With regard to current year, I can inform the Deputy that twelve million euro has been allocated for the one hundred GYDPs for 2010. This includes nearly four million euro under an ESF-supported employability programme. The number of project participants is expected to be in excess of 4,500 young persons.

Court Orders

Deirdre Clune

Question:

58 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the reason the provisions for the enforcement of the non-payment of maintenance provided for under current legislation are not operating sufficiently; if his attention has been drawn to the impact this is having on families when court awarded maintenance is not being paid because of the current lack of enforcement options available to the courts; the steps he will take to address this problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28225/10]

Deirdre Clune

Question:

89 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the way the lack of provisions for the enforcement of the non-payment of maintenance are impacting on the court system; the reason the current legislation is not operating sufficiently; if his attention has been drawn to the impact that this is having on families when court awarded maintenance is not being paid because of the current lack of enforcement options available to the courts; the steps he will take to address this problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28226/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 58 and 89 together.

There are a number of provisions in the law for ensuring that payments continue to be made by spouses in support of their dependent spouses and children. They include enabling powers for the courts to order attachment of the earnings of a debtor spouse, to order the securing of payments to the maintenance creditor, to order the payment of lump sums and to order arrears of maintenance to be paid by instalments.

While the law generally operates successfully in this area I am aware that difficulties have arisen in some cases because of the effect of a judgment of the High Court last year. The High Court judgment in that particular case had implications for sections 6 (imprisonment in the case of non-payment of debt) and 8 (imprisonment relating to non-payment of maintenance) of the Enforcement of Court Orders Act 1940. The Enforcement of Court Orders (Amendment) Act 2009 made changes in the law consequent on that judgment in accordance with legal advice.

I am currently in consultation with the Attorney General with a view to developing early proposals for amendments in respect of maintenance enforcement which I hope to include in the forthcoming Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill.

Visa Applications

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

59 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the hardship being encountered by persons queuing to make applications for re-entry visas at the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service office in Dublin; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that persons are being forced to queue for hours and that some queue for a full day without being dealt with; the steps that are being taken to reduce these delays and to ensure that applicants are dealt with in a dignified and humane way; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28356/10]

I am fully aware of the issue referred to by the Deputy. Re-entry visas are processed by Re-entry Visa Public Office of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS). The Public office processes over 60,000 re-entry visa applications a year. The Public Office normally offers a fast, efficient service and deals with everyone who calls into the office on any given day. However, the last few weeks has seen an unprecedented surge in business and there have been more callers to the office every day than the office can cope with. As result the Public office has had to turn people away.

As an alternative it is open to persons requiring a re-entry visa to apply by post. Applicants are encouraged to make a postal application rather than calling to the office.

While the problem was not caused by industrial action, measures to deal with the problem were affected by the work to rule operated by the Union for the clerical staff concerned. This work to rule has now been suspended and my Department have taken additional steps to deal with the unprecedented spike in demand, including the assignment of additional staff into the relevant office. It is anticipated that the action taken by my Department will result in the gradual return to normal service for this office over the next few days.

Prison Building Programme

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

60 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding the proposed prison at Thornton Hall, County Dublin; his views on the current over crowding conditions in prisons here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28136/10]

The Deputy will be aware of the Government's commitment to developing a new prison campus at Thornton Hall, County Dublin. The new prison facility will provide accommodation for 1,400 cells with operational flexibility to accommodate up to 2,200 in a range of security settings.

The development is now proceeding on a phased basis with phase one comprising essential enabling works required for the development, including the construction of the dedicated access road, perimeter wall and off-site services. Tenders for the construction of the access road were published in March of this year and tenders for the construction of the perimeter wall will be published in September.

Phase 2 will include the development of the main prison campus. The detailed appraisal is underway in accordance with Department of Finance Capital Expenditure Guidelines and the new business case is at an advanced stage of preparation.

As the Deputy will fully appreciate the Irish Prison Service must accept all prisoners committed by the Courts who are independent in the exercise of their functions. I have already acknowledged that there has been a consistent increase in the total prisoner population over recent years. This situation is particularly apparent over the past 12 months during which time the total number in custody has increased by 429. This represents a rise of over 11% in the numbers in custody. This is due, in part, to the work of the Garda Síochána in bringing people to justice and the work of the courts process.

Indeed the issues of overcrowding is not unique to this country. It is an international problem as acknowledged by the Inspector of Prisons, in his 2008 Annual Report. The Government has invested significant resources in the overall criminal justice system. This level of investment has allowed the Irish Prison Service to set in train an extensive programme of investment in prisons infrastructure. Since 1997 close to 1,800 new prison spaces have come on stream in the prison system. These include the new prisons in Castlerea, the Midlands, Cloverhill, the Dóchas Centre and new accommodation in Limerick, Portlaoise and Castlerea prisons and at the open centres in Shelton Abbey and Loughan House.

Current projects will see in excess 200 prison spaces provided in the short term by means of the opening of a new block in Wheatfield which is ready for occupation. In addition, we hope to proceed in late 2010 with a new accommodation block in the Portlaoise/Midlands prisons complex which will when complete, provide in excess of 300 spaces. Also in the short term, work is due to commence on converting an administrative building on the Dóchas site into a new accommodation block. This accommodation will provide approximately 50 spaces and is due to be completed later this year.

Drugs in Prisons

Martin Ferris

Question:

61 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number on a duration of waiting lists for drugs related services in prison and the steps he will be take to address current breaks in supports experienced during the transition from prison based to community based services. [28293/10]

The Irish Prison Service as part of their policy "Keeping Drugs Out of Prison" continue to expand the range of drug treatment services available in prisons. Significant investment has been committed in recent years to respond to addiction issues in the prison system. Drug rehabilitation programmes for prisoners involve a significant multidimensional input by a diverse range of general and specialist services provided both by the Irish Prison Service and visiting statutory and non statutory organisations. Anyone seeking drug treatment is assessed and an opinion is formed as to the most appropriate treatment and arising from that necessary actions are taken which can include referral to a particular service.

I wish to inform the Deputy that it is not possible to provide details as requested due to the multifaceted approach taken by the Irish Prison Service and external agencies to address substance misuse issues within the prisons.

As part of the assessment process on committal, prisoners giving a history of opiate use and testing positive for opioids are offered a medically assisted symptomatic detoxification if clinically indicated. At that stage or at any time during their incarceration healthcare staff are available to discuss other treatment options. There were 2487 treatment episodes using methadone substitution in 2009 which has increased from 1579 since 2006. Prisoners also have access to a range of medical and rehabilitative services such as psychosocial services and ‘ work and training' options, which assist in addressing their substance misuse issues.

Currently the Irish Prison Service provides drug treatment for in excess of 650 prisoners nationally per month. Methadone maintenance treatment in Irish prisons such as Mountjoy, Wheatfield and Cloverhill provide levels of coverage comparable to some of the highest levels of provision of methadone treatment in other European prisons. The Irish Prison Service has identified and treated almost 31% of all new entrants to the Central Treatment List in 2009. As such prisons play a leading role engaging new patients into drug treatment services.

In Mountjoy, in excess of 250 prisoners are currently on methadone substitution treatment. Mountjoy has initiated a programme involving addiction nurses, professional drug treatment pharmacy service, and a clinical addiction team with consultant oversight. This has resulted in a more streamlined service, better assessment and through care outcomes.

As part of the National Drugs Strategy (interim) 2009 — 2016 a number of actions have been identified including Action 43 which provides (and I quote): "Continue the expansion of treatment, rehabilitation and other health and social services in prisons. Develop an agreed protocol for the seamless provision of treatment services as a person moves between prison (including prisoners on remand) and the community".

Irish Prison Service Healthcare staff work closely with community based addiction services to facilitate continuity of methadone substitution treatment between prison and community for prisoners post release. The development of drug treatment services in prisons have contributed to a significant reduction in the incidence of post release overdose as there is a strong emphasis on continuity of care between prison services and community services.

Garda Operations

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

62 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of head shops raided by gardaí since the ban on certain substances took effect on 11 May 2010; the substances and quantities of same confiscated; the numbers arrested, charged and against whom prosecutions are pending; the number of head shops open for business here during the week immediately succeeding the ban; and the number open for business now. [28288/10]

James Reilly

Question:

74 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of headshops which have reopened since he announced a criminal ban on a list of headshop products; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25778/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 62 and 74 together.

I am advised by the Garda authorities that prior to the regulation of certain psychotropic substances on 11 May, 2010 there had been 102 Head shops operating in the State.

Following on the banning of these substances, supplemented by an intensive Garda operation, on 4 June, 2010 36 headshops were known to be operating nationwide. On 14 June records at the National Garda Drug Unit showed 44 headshops operating.

The situation is being closely monitored by the Commissioner, his senior Management team and D/Chief Superintendent, Garda National Drugs Unit.

As the Deputy is aware I last week progressed the Criminal Justice (Psychoactive Substances) Bill 2010 through the Seanad and it is intended to have this legislation enacted before the recess.

Under the Bill, the sale or supply of substances which are not specifically proscribed under the Misuse of Drugs Acts, but which have psychoactive effects, for human consumption will be a criminal offence.

The Bill will give appropriate powers to An Garda Síochána and the courts to intervene quickly to prevent outlets from selling these products by way of appropriate prohibition orders. The Scheme will also contain full search and seizure powers for the Gardaí and Revenue's Customs Service. The Bill is part of the Government's multi-pronged approach targeting the activities of head shops.

Youth Diversion Projects

David Stanton

Question:

63 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 326 to 328, inclusive, of 16 December 2008, the number of children referred to the Garda youth diversion programme in 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28475/10]

I wish to inform the Deputy that the information he has requested in relation to Garda Diversion Programme for 2008 has been published in the 2008 Annual Report of the Committee appointed to monitor the effectiveness of the programme. This report is available in the Oireachtas Library and on the website of the Irish Youth Justice Service ( www.iyjs.ie ). Equivalent information for 2009 will be published shortly in the 2009 Annual Report.

Departmental Expenditure

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

64 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the recommendations of the report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes that he intends to implement during 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28345/10]

A number of the measures in the Special Group Report (McCarthy) have been implemented at this stage in order to achieve reductions in the Departments Estimates for 2010. These relate to the programmes in a range of subheads which include Gender Mainstreaming, Graffiti Removal Operations, Equality Monitoring Consultative Committees, European Refugee Fund and Refugee Integration. The McCarthy Report recommended a total reduction of some €5 million in respect of these particular items. The actual budgetary reduction was €6.92 million.

A significant proportion of the recommendations (€84 million) related to reductions in payroll costs on items such as allowances payable to members of the Garda Síochána and the Prisons Service.

In common with all Departments, there are significant reductions in payroll related provisions in 2010 to take account of the reductions in payroll rates and other factors. The overall reduction in gross payroll budgets for the Justice Sector compared with the 2009 estimate is in the region of €126 million.

A number of recommendations were made by the McCarthy Group on structural reform and rationalisation across the Justice and Equality Sector. Decisions in respect of many of these recommendations will be a matter for decision by Government in due course and expenditure reductions that may arise will be included in the budget for the Sector in future years. The Deputy will be aware of the recent transfer of functions in relation to the Equality, Disability, Integration and Human Rights areas from my Department to the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs.

Question No. 65 answered with Question No. 50.

Garda Strength

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

66 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of trainee gardaí who will be recruited in the new recruitment campaign; the number of gardaí who have retired since the last group of trainees began training; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28506/10]

Liz McManus

Question:

67 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of applications received during 2009 for early retirement from the members of the gardaí, broken down by rank; the way this compares with each year from 2002; the number of applications received in 2010 to date; if he is concerned at reports that a significant number of senior gardaí are planning to take early retirement; the implications of such retirements for policing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28349/10]

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

83 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the total strength of the Garda Síochána at the latest date for which figures area available broken down by full members, those who have attested but not yet concluded their training, those in training, the expected number that will be recruited during 2010, the total anticipated numbers at each above category at the end of 2010, the total number of members of the force who are expected to retire during 2010, the total number who will be recruited in the first half of 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28352/10]

Brian O'Shea

Question:

84 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of the 170 Garda promotions, for which Cabinet approval has been granted to fill vacancies arising from the many retirements now being experienced by the force, that have taken place; when he expects this process to be complete; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28365/10]

Ulick Burke

Question:

177 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of Garda of all ranks who have retired since the beginning of 2010; the number of appointments made in County Galway during the same period; and the current total number at all levels now within the Garda division. [28584/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 66, 67, 83, 84 and 177 together.

The number of applications for retirement received from 2002 to 2009 and to-date in 2010 in An Garda Síochána are set out in the table. While there was a significant increase in retirements in 2009, the rate of retirement has since slowed, with some 61 applications for early retirement received so far this year.

The strength of An Garda Síochána as of 31st May 2010, the latest date on which figures are readily available was 14,571. There has been a very considerable increase in Garda resources in recent years, with the number of attested members rising from 11,895 at the end of 2002, to 13,755 at the end of 2007 and, currently to 14,571. Some 900 student Gardaí were attested in 2009 and there have been more attestations in 2010. There are now also over 2,100 civilian support staff (Whole Time Equivalent) in the Garda Síochána, an increase of over 300 compared to the start of 2008. There are also some 555 Garda Reserve members in the Force with an additional 83 due to be attested in the coming days.

While the moratorium on appointments and promotions applies generally to the Garda Síochána, there have been 227 promotions so far in An Garda Síochána this year and there are currently competitions being held for the promotion of Chief Superintendent to the rank of Assistant Commissioner and Sergeant to the rank of Inspector, which are expected to be finalised shortly.

When Garda trainees are recruited into the Garda college will depend on the level of Garda retirements. The objective will be to recruit sufficient numbers of trainees so as to maintain Garda strength at the approved level.

With specific regard to Galway Garda Division, I am informed by the Garda authorities that the personnel strength of that Division as at 31 December 2009 and 31 May 2010 was 600 and 602 respectively.

Maintaining the operational strength of An Garda Síochána at the approved level is my absolute priority, and I am very pleased that we are making the necessary preparations now in holding a recruitment competition so that this policy can be sustained into the future.

Applications for early retirement from the Garda Síochána

Year

A/Commissioner

C/Supt

Supt

Insp

Sgt

Gda

TOTAL

2002

2

6

9

48

169

234

2003

1

6

40

205

252

2004

2

4

6

66

245

323

2005

2

8

10

62

202

284

2006

3

8

9

54

164

238

2007

7

6

36

128

177

2008

1

1

2

13

52

174

243

2009

1

14

25

29

177

474

720

31/05/2010

2

15

44

61

Bail Laws

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

68 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the degree, if any, to which he or his Department have monitored the extent to which the bail system is abused by the criminal elements; if his attention has been drawn to the number of serious crimes committed by persons while on bail, in some cases a multiplicity of crimes; if statistics have been maintained which may suggest the need for a change in the bail laws with a view to ensuring that bail is not made available in cases when there is serious possibility of recidivism; when such legislative changes may be introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28476/10]

The number of offences being committed by persons on bail is a matter of concern. The operation of the legislation relating to bail is kept under continuing review by my Department, and proposals for amendment of the legislation are brought forward when that is considered necessary. A decision to grant bail in a particular case is a matter for the court, which is, subject only to the Constitution and the law, independent in the exercise of its judicial functions. There is a constitutional presumption in favour of bail, since, in the eyes of the law, a person is innocent until proven guilty.

Statistics compiled by the Central Statistics Office indicate that in 2009 there were 27,228 offences recorded where the suspected offender was on bail, which represents a reduction of 8% on the figure for the previous year.

Towards the end of last year, I obtained Government approval to commence work on a new Bail Bill. The Bill will restate and consolidate bail law. In addition, a number of matters to improve the operation of the law are being examined. These include:

(a) providing that the courts must have regard to the nature and seriousness of any danger to any person or the public posed by the release of the accused person on bail;

(b) creating presumptions that bail should be refused for people charged with certain types of serious crime. In view of restrictions resulting from the European Convention on Human Rights, such presumptions would act as a form of guidance to the courts in identifying those who present unacceptable risks of committing serious offences if granted bail; and

(c) extending the powers of the courts to refuse bail where that is necessary to prevent the commission of further offences to include more minor offences which fall below the current level of seriousness required by the Bail Act 1997.

I hope to be in a position to bring proposals to Government later this year.

Joint Policing Committees

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

69 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he is satisfied with the operation of the local policing committees; the numbers of such committees established to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28346/10]

Joint Policing Committees are provided for in the Garda Síochána Act 2005. Their purpose is to provide a forum where An Garda Síochána and the local authority — the two organisations which make the most significant contribution to preventing and tackling crime in a specific area — can come together, with the participation of members of the Oireachtas and community and voluntary interests, on matters affecting their area.

On 24 September, 2008, I launched, with my colleague the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, guidelines for the Committees, which took into account the experience gained during a pilot phase and provided for the establishment of Committees in all 114 local authority areas by the relevant local authorities and the Garda Commissioner. I have asked the Garda authorities for details of the Committees established to date and when they are to hand I will contact the Deputy.

Missing Persons

Billy Timmins

Question:

70 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of foreign nationals reported missing here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20878/10]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that from June 2009 to May 2010 a total of 527 persons of non-Irish nationality and a further 40 persons of unknown nationality were reported missing. I am further informed that of these 567 persons 509 have been recorded as found.

I am also informed by the Garda authorities that compiling statistics prior to June 2009 on foreign nationals reported as missing would necessitate a manual examination of records and would require a disproportionate amount of Garda time and resources.

The figures provided are operational and liable to change.

Road Traffic Offences

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

71 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the reason for the delay in the roll out of the privatised speed camera network on roads here; and the timeframe for the introduction of same. [28135/10]

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

75 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will confirm the announcement by a Garda superintendent (details supplied) that the rollout of the national safety camera programme will begin in October 2010 and should be at full capacity by January 2011; if he will report on the arrangements in place with the private operator, in particular; if the terms of the payment to the operator will be on the basis of monitoring or surveying hours and not on the number of detections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26839/10]

The Garda Commissioner and I signed the contract for an outsourced safety camera network with the preferred service provider in November, 2009 following a tender and evaluation process.

In accordance with the provisions of the contract, rollout of the national safety camera network is scheduled to commence in October, 2010 and will increase to full capacity by the end of January 2011.

An Garda Síochána will have responsibility for the scheduling of speed monitoring and survey sessions, with a Garda Superintendent overseeing the day-to-day running of the project. The selected supplier has responsibility for ensuring monitoring and survey sessions are conducted in accordance with the schedules and procedures drawn up by An Garda Síochána and the provision of the resulting survey and monitoring data to An Garda Síochána. The selected supplier will provide the necessary vehicles, monitoring and survey equipment and operators.

The service provider will be paid according to the level of service contracted for. The number of speeding drivers detected will have no effect on the level of payments to the service provider. The purpose of the contract is to reduce speed, and so increase road safety, and not to generate revenue either for the State or the service provider.

Deportation Orders

Mary Upton

Question:

72 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of immigrants who have been the subject of a deportation order in 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; the number of deportations that have actually been implemented in 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; if he has satisfied himself with the operation of this aspect of immigration policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28338/10]

Details of the number of Deportation Orders signed and effected in the period 1st January 2008 to 31st May 2010 are set out in the following table.

Deportation Orders Signed and Effected

Year

Number of Deportation Orders Signed

Number of Deportation Orders Effected

2008

757

161

2009

1,077

291

2010

353

126

Total

2,187

578

Under section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform may make a deportation order that requires any foreign national specified in the order to leave the State within such period as may be specified in the order and to remain thereafter out of the State. Thus, a deportation order is a requirement imposed on a person to leave the State and to remain outside of the State.

However, a deportation order is normally accompanied by a notice requiring the person concerned to comply with arrangements to ensure that he or she leaves the State. Failure to comply with those arrangements is an offence and can result in the person being arrested and detained to ensure his or her removal from the State.

The figures for ‘ Deportation Orders effected' quoted above reflects the numbers of deportations that have been enforced, however, it is generally accepted that many other persons served with a deportation order leave the State at that stage but do not inform the immigration authorities of their departure.

Furthermore, the enforcement of some deportations can be delayed by judicial challenges taken by the parties involved.

Overall, the level of evasion, the lodgement of judicial challenges and the likely voluntary departure from the State of persons served with a deportation order would explain why a significant proportion of deportation orders appear not to have been effected.

The Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill provides for a range of measures which will streamline the deportation process and improve effectiveness -

the Bill provides that a person who is unlawfully in the State will be under an obligation to leave; and a failure to leave may result in removal of the person from the State, if necessary against his or her will and if necessary with arrest and detention for that purpose. Under current law, a person who is unlawfully in the State can, notwithstanding that unlawfulness and irrespective of the circumstances in which that unlawfulness arose, not be removed until the process under section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 is undertaken, leading to the making of a deportation order;

the Bill includes provision which will require a person who has been subject to removal and who wishes to return to Ireland, to repay the cost to the State before he/she is allowed to return;

the Bill provides that a person who has been subject to removal will automatically be ineligible for permission to enter the State for 6 months from the date of removal;

the Bill includes provision limiting access to State-funded services by persons unlawfully present in the State;

the Bill includes provision whereby a person whose presence in the State is unlawful will be liable, on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding €3,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or both. The person will also be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding €500 for each day that he or she continues to remain in the State thereafter

Road Safety

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

73 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will consider the introduction of a stolen vehicle register which would enhance national road safety and combat the presence of illegal or potentially defective vehicles on roads here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26843/10]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that all vehicles reported stolen to An Garda Síochána are recorded on the Garda Síochána PULSE system, which is available to all members of An Garda Síochána on a 24 hour basis. An Garda Síochána also has access to the National Vehicle File, which provides vehicle registration information.

Since 2008 An Garda Síochána has had the ability, through an automated number plate recognition (ANPR) system, to check vehicles recorded on the Garda PULSE system and identify vehicles as having been stolen, in addition to vehicles which are suspect, connected with persistent offending, untaxed and uninsured. This information alerts the Gardaí using the system and enables an interception to be made.

As part of its traffic law enforcement, An Garda Síochána pursues the drivers of dangerously defective vehicles.

Question No. 74 answered with Question No. 62.
Question No. 75 answered with Question No. 70.

Legislative Programme

Phil Hogan

Question:

76 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the reason for the delay in the progress of legislation to deal with management companies through the Houses of the Oireachtas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22380/10]

The position is that the Multi-Unit Developments Bill 2009 is currently awaiting resumption of Second Stage in the Dáil having completed all stages in the Seanad.

Garda Reserve

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

77 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the total number of members of the Garda Reserve recruited to date; the stations to which they have been allocated; the total number of applicants for the Reserve currently in training; if he is satisfied with the rate of recruitment; when he expects that the full complement of 1,500 will be in place; if restrictions have been placed on recruitment to the reserve arising from the budgetary restrictions; his plans to undertake the review of the operation of the Garda Reserve, as recommended in the Report of the Garda Inspectorate on Resource Allocation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28347/10]

I am pleased to say that there are now 555 attested Garda Reserve members with an additional 180 student Reserves in training, 83 of whom are expected to graduate this coming Friday. Garda Reserve members are allocated to Garda stations throughout the country, a list of which I am circulating with this answer.

The Government has set a target strength for the Reserve at 10% of the full time strength of the Force. As the Garda Reserve depends on volunteers who undertake their training and other duties during their free time, it is difficult to predict how many people will commence training in any particular period. However, I can assure the Deputy and the House that the Garda Commissioner is continuing to make every effort to reach the recruitment target and it is important to note that the moratorium on recruitment and appointments in the public service does not apply to the Garda Reserve, as members are volunteers and do not draw a salary.

Recruitment is ongoing and the Public Appointments Service has received over 7,000 expressions of interest to join the Reserve since the start of this year. The Government is strongly committed to the development of the Reserve. It has been a very successful initiative and I am confident that it will continue to flourish into the future.

The Garda Commissioner is responsible for determining the range of powers and duties of Reserve members, and I am sure that he will keep these under review in line with the recommendation of the Inspectorate.

Reserve Gardaí at 31/05/2010

Station

Total

D.M.R.S.C.

Kevin Street

7

Kilmainham

5

Pearse St

17

Harcourt Tce

0

Donnybrook

4

Irishtown

1

Total

34

DMR NC

Store Street

7

Bridewell

5

Fitzgibbon Street

8

Mountjoy

1

Total

21

DMR NORTH

Santry

7

Whitehall

1

Ballymun

9

Raheny

4

Clontarf

5

Howth

4

Coolock

9

Swords

6

Malahide

2

Balbriggan

5

Total

52

DMR EAST

Dun Laoghaire

9

Dalkey

0

Cabinteely

0

Kill-O-Grange

0

Shankill

3

Blackrock

6

Dundrum

2

Stepaside

0

Total

20

DMR SOUTH

Crumlin

6

Sundrive Road

5

Tallaght

10

Rathfarnham

4

Rathmines

6

Terenure

7

Total

38

DMR WEST

Cabra

0

Finglas

6

Blanchardstown

19

Lucan

8

Ronanstown

2

Ballyfermot

4

Clondalkin

5

Rathcoole

0

Total

44

DMR TOTAL

209

Waterford

Waterford

18

Tramore

2

Dungarvan

1

Total

21

Wexford

Gorey

4

Enniscorthy

3

New Ross

2

Wexford

3

Total

12

Tipperary

Nenagh

1

Thurles

1

Roscrea

3

Carrick-On Suir

2

Clonmel

4

Templemore

1

Cahir

3

Tipperary

2

Total

17

Kilkenny/Carlow

Kilkenny

6

Thomastown

1

Carlow

8

Total

15

S/E Region Total

65

Cork City

Anglesea Street

12

Mayfield

6

Watercourse Road

5

Togher

6

Gurranbraher

10

Total

39

Cork North

Mallow

2

Cobh

3

Fermoy

3

Midleton

4

Total

12

Cork West

Bandon

3

Clonakilty

4

Macroom

3

Total

10

Kerry

Tralee

3

Killarney

1

Total

4

Limerick

Henry Street

16

Mayorstone Park

3

Roxboro Rd

1

Total

20

Sth Region Total

85

Donegal

Letterkenny

10

Buncrana

2

Ballybofey

1

Total

13

Cavan/Monaghan

Cavan

4

Castleblaney

1

Monaghan

6

Total

11

Sligo/Leitrim

Sligo

7

Ballymote

2

Manorhamilton

2

Carrick-On-Shannon

2

Total

13

Louth

Drogheda

10

Dundalk

7

Ardee

3

Total

20

Nth Region Total

57

Clare

Ennis

9

Shannon

1

Total

10

Mayo

Castlebar

13

Ballina

3

Swinford

1

Claremorris

1

Westport

3

Total

21

Galway

Galway

23

Tuam

5

Ballinasloe

2

Loughrea

4

Salthill

4

Total

38

Roscommon/Longford

Roscommon

4

Longford

4

Granard

1

Total

9

West Region Total

78

Westmeath

Athlone

3

Mullingar

7

Total

10

Meath

Navan

4

Ashbourne

1

Trim

2

Kells

3

Laytown

1

Total

11

Kildare

Naas

5

Athy

3

Celbridge

1

Newbridge

3

Kildare

5

Total

17

Laois/Offaly

Tullamore

7

Birr

1

Portlaoise

4

Total

12

Wicklow

Bray

4

Blessington

1

Wicklow

3

Arklow

1

Baltinglass

2

Total

11

East Region Total

61

Total

555

Garda Deployment

Martin Ferris

Question:

78 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the media reports that Garda rank and file instead of the forensic science laboratory are to conduct drugs analyses ; his views on whether this might leave future prosecutions and convictions vulnerable to challenge. [28294/10]

I am satisfied that proposals to reduce the need for analyses in all cases to be conducted by the Forensic Science Laboratory will have full regard to all the legal requirements at issue.

Sentencing Policy

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

79 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the action being taken to ensure consistency in sentencing is increased in court; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28505/10]

The judiciary has been developing, under a pilot project, a system to gather relevant criteria and to allow access to information about the range of sentences and other penalties which have been imposed for particular types of offence. This will be a valuable support to judges when considering the sentence to be imposed in an individual case. The pilot project is overseen by a steering committee, established by the Courts Service Board and chaired by Mrs. Justice Susan Denham of the Supreme Court. I understand a number of pilot projects have been run in several court jurisdictions, including Dublin, Cork and Limerick Circuit Criminal Courts; the Dublin District Court and the Court of Criminal Appeal. The outcomes will be reviewed and assessed by judges prior to final evaluation and establishment of a website. I understand it is envisaged that, in addition to the case content, which is being compiled following consultation with the Data Protection Commissioner, the website will contain references to leading cases on sentencing, summaries and links to significant judgments on sentencing law, some statistical data and academic material on sentencing.

As I have previously informed the House, I have contacted the Attorney General in regard to the issue of mandatory sentences generally and he has formally requested the Law Reform Commission to examine the issue. I understand that this issue is included in the Commission's programme of work for 2010.

I should add that the Criminal Justice Act 1993 (as amended by section 23 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006) provides that the Director of Public Prosecutions may, where it appears to him that a sentence imposed by a court for a crime on indictment is unduly lenient, apply to the Court of Criminal Appeal to review the sentence. The Director of Public Prosecutions is, of course, independent in the carrying out of his functions.

Community Policing

Denis Naughten

Question:

80 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the steps he will take to improve rural policing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28447/10]

The figures available at the end of May 2010 show that there are 1,068 members of the Garda Síochána specifically assigned to community policing out of a total attested strength of 14,571. By comparison, at the end of 2007, 630 members were assigned to community policing, and the present number represents an increase of almost 70% on that figure. The Deputy will of course be aware that policing in local communities, either rural or urban, is a matter for all Gardaí and not just those assigned to the roles of community policing.

All members who are assigned to community policing operate on a full-time basis. These members are specifically tasked with the duty of liaising with communities within their policing Districts. The new Garda Síochána National Model of Community Policing was launched early in 2009. This new model is about renewing, re-invigorating and re-structuring the community policing function within the Garda Síochána to deliver:

a consistent national structure to the community policing function;

a more coordinated and efficient Garda service to the community; and

the spread of good practices and quality service in community policing on a national basis;

The national strategies for Neighbourhood Watch and Community Alert, both of which were launched in 2007, will also inform the organisation on how best to implement future crime prevention programmes and community policing programmes.

A National Community Policing Office has been established within Garda Community Relations Section to develop and oversee the implementation programme. The model is being rolled out nationwide in line with an action plan which has been developed for implementation. Training is ongoing and it is intended that every District Officer throughout the country will take ownership of community policing within his or her area of responsibility. The Garda Síochána National Model of Community Policing Report is available on the Garda website www.garda.ie.

Crime Prevention

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

81 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the extent to which the legislation passed in 2009 to specifically target criminal gang membership has so far been effective; the number of cases taken in the courts since the passage of the legislation; the number pending; the number of convictions; the number of acquittals; if the legislation has so far met its original requirements; if further amendment or enhancement is necessary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28477/10]

As the Deputy is aware, the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009 entered into force, in its entirety, on 23 July 2009. The primary purpose of the legislation, together with the Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Act 2009, is to make additional measures available to An Garda Síochána to combat organised crime.

Where there is justification and a legal basis, those suspected of involvement in criminal activity are arrested, detained and questioned in relation to specific crimes. Given the serious nature of the offences dealt with under the legislation in question a full and thorough investigation of individuals and their activities is necessary and must be conducted before charges can be brought against them. The Garda Commissioner has assured me that the Gardaí are utilising the legislation fully.

I am advised by An Garda Síochána that as a result of investigations focusing on organised crime a number of Garda investigation files have been submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions for direction. Between 23rd July 2009 and 21st June, 2010, there have been 69 arrests for offences contrary to the Criminal Justice Amendment Act 2009. Four people have already appeared before the Courts charged with offences under the legislation relating to participation in organised crime activity. Given that these cases are now before the Courts, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further at this time.

I can assure the Deputy that An Garda Síochána will continue to utilise all resources available to them in order to combat the activities of those engaged in criminality of all forms. As Minister, I remain fully committed to supporting them in their ongoing efforts and will ensure that the necessary resources are made available as and when they may be required.

Legislative Programme

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

82 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the steps he is taking to address the growing on line trade in dangerous psychoactive substances. [28287/10]

The Criminal Justice (Psychoactive Substances) Bill 2010, which was passed by the Seanad last week and is currently before this House, is part of the Government's multi-pronged approach targeting the sale of unregulated psychoactive substances. The primary vehicles for regulating psychoactive substances are the Misuse of Drugs Acts 1977 to 2007. On foot of the Government Order of 11 May 2010, the Minister for Health and Children made the necessary statutory instruments to make the possession and sale of certain substances subject to criminal sanctions under the Misuse of Drugs Acts. The regulations covered the mainstream of substances then commonly being sold in head shops and by means of the internet. I understand that the Minister for Health and Children is monitoring closely the emergence of new psychoactive substances and will seek Government approval to ban additional substances if they pose a risk to public health.

However, experience has shown that new psychoactive substances can quickly emerge and there will always be a time lag before such new substances can be made subject to control under the Misuse of Drugs Acts. This Bill will therefore introduce more general control by way of criminal justice legislation to deal with such substances as they emerge. The focus of the Bill is on seeking to ensure that the sale or supply of substances, which may not be specifically controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Acts, but which have psychoactive effects, for human consumption will be a criminal offence. The Bill will also give appropriate powers to the Gardaí and to the courts to intervene quickly to prevent the sale of psychoactive substances by way of prohibition notices and prohibition orders. Section 3 of the Bill provides for the offences of selling, importing and exporting psychoactive substances for human consumption. The definition of "sale" is broad and includes supplying, distributing, offering for sale, inviting to buy and being in possession for sale. It will cover sale over the internet or home delivery services within this jurisdiction.

Section 5 will prohibit the advertising of psychoactive substances. It provides that it will be an offence for a person to publish or display any advertisement knowing or being reckless as to whether it indicates an intention to sell, import or export a psychoactive substance for human consumption. It will also be an offence to publish an advertisement promoting the consumption of a substance for its psychoactive effect and providing information on how or where a psychoactive substance may be obtained. The term "advertisement" is broadly defined and specifically includes advertising by electronic communication, including by means of the internet. Sections 7 and 8 of the Bill will give appropriate powers to the Gardaí and to the courts to intervene quickly in a non-criminal procedure to prevent the sale or advertisement of psychoactive substances by way of appropriate prohibition notices and orders.

Questions Nos. 83 and 84 answered with Question No. 66.

Garda Complaints Procedures

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

85 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform his response to the annual report of the Garda Ombudsman Commission for 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28355/10]

I welcome the 2009 Annual Report of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission which provides an update on the activities of the Commission for the year ending 31 December 2009, the second full calendar year of the Commission's operations. I am pleased to note that GSOC has carried out a re-structuring of its Divisions which has had the effect of producing greater efficiencies and resulted in the virtual elimination of the pre-admissibility backlog which had built up in the early months of operational activity. This in turn has led to a situation where complainants and Gardaí received a speedier response to complaints and queries. I note that GSOC hope to review these effects in 2010 with a view to further enhancing the output of the organisation and to improving further the service to all stakeholders. In accordance with section 80 (6) of the Garda Síochána Acts 2005 to 2007, the Report was laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas in May of this year and is available in the Oireachtas Library.

Crime Levels

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

86 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will state, in respect of each year from 1998 to date in 2010, the number of cases of murder in which firearms were used; the number of such cases in which prosecutions for murder were initiated; the number of such cases in which convictions were secured; if he has satisfied himself with the level of detection and conviction in such cases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28351/10]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that during the period 1998 to 2010 (to 24 June) 196 murders involving a firearm were recorded. To date proceedings have commenced in 58 of these cases, and 24 convictions secured. All cases of murder where proceedings have not yet been taken remain under active Garda investigation. The detection rate by its nature increases over time as Garda investigations progress. It is expected that the number of convictions obtained will increase as Garda investigations are concluded and proceedings commenced are finalised by the courts. This applies particularly to murders committed in the most recent years. In addition, directions may be received from the Law Officers to charge persons arrested in connection with such incidents with offences other than murder, for example firearms offences. Furthermore, such persons charged and brought before the courts may be convicted of offences other than murder.

I am, of course, deeply concerned about the incidence of gun murders and I deplore all such killings. All killings, regardless of the circumstances involved, are the subject of rigorous investigation by An Garda Síochána and will continue to be so. In setting the policing priorities for An Garda Síochána in 2010, I asked the Commissioner to continue the focus of the Force on serious crime, in particular organised crime. This priority is also reflected in the Garda Policing Plan for this year, and specific initiatives, including under Operation Anvil and involving members of the Emergency Response Unit, have been put in place. I am informed by the Garda authorities that there are currently a number of initiatives underway targeting the activities of organised crime groups, the focus of which is to gather evidence which will support effective prosecutions, including under the new anti-gangland legislation.

While An Garda Síochána have made significant progress in the investigation of a number of killings, the reality is that there can be considerable difficulties in obtaining evidence in shootings which are the result of gangland activities from associates of a victim of a gangland killing or indeed from gangland figures, even when they themselves are the victims of violence. It has also to be accepted that there is often no connection or personal association between the victim and the perpetrator, which makes it very difficult for An Garda Síochána in its investigation of such a murder. Witnesses may also be subject to high levels of intimidation not to come forward, and it is to assist such witnesses that the Witness Protection Programme is in place.

It was in that overall context that I introduced greatly strengthened legislation in the area of organised crime which is being fully utilised by An Garda Síochána. I am pleased to see that criminal charges are being brought under the new legislation. An Garda Síochána has submitted further files to the Director of Public Prosecutions, and more are being prepared for submission to him. I have also introduced further significant legislative proposals, which are currently before the House, including the Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System) and Criminal Procedure Bills, and I will not hesitate to introduce further proposals if that becomes necessary.

In addition, I have secured Government approval to commence work on a new Bail Bill to consolidate and update bail law with a view to presenting a clear, accessible and modern statement of the law. There are already very severe penalties for firearms offences in place under the Criminal Justice Act 2006. For example, possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life and using a firearm to resist arrest or aid escape carry a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years. Possessing a firearm while hijacking a vehicle, possessing a firearm or ammunition in suspicious circumstances, carrying a firearm with criminal intent and altering a firearm carry a mandatory minimum sentence of five years.

Drug Courts

Joan Burton

Question:

87 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform his plans for the future of the drugs court; his assessment of the performance of the court to date; if the catchment area for participation on the court’s programme can be extended; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28334/10]

I recently published a Review of the Drug Treatment Court which, amongst other key issues, specifically addressed the questions raised by the Deputy. The findings of the Review suggest that participants who engage with the Drug Treatment Court programme have reduced rates of recidivism and improved health, education and social skills which impact positively on the participants and the community. However the Review did concur with my own view that the very low throughput of participants is an issue. I am pleased therefore, that the Report identified a number of recommendations designed to improve the programme's throughput and effectiveness. The Report, which is available on my Department's website, also includes a recommendation that "Existing catchment area boundaries should be removed on a phased basis". Based on the findings of the Review it is intended that the Drug Treatment Court will continue its operations for a further two years.

Garda Resources

Willie Penrose

Question:

88 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the recommendations contained in the latest report of the Garda Inspectorate on resource allocation that will be implemented during 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28362/10]

I am informed by the Garda Commissioner, that following the publication of the Garda Inspectorate Report on Resource Allocation, Deputy Commissioner Strategy and Change Management was appointed to consider the report and to co-ordinate an agreed and pragmatic programme of work to advance the implementation of the twenty-seven recommendations. My officials will work closely with the Garda Síochána and the Garda Síochána Inspectorate on implementation of the recommendations in order to maximise efficient allocation of Garda resources. While every effort will be made to progress the recommendations of the Garda Inspectorate Report on Resource Allocation, it is recognised by both An Garda Síochána and the Garda Inspectorate that, due to the current economic situation, there is limited scope to fund change proposals. Where recommendations involve significant capital costs, interim measures, where possible, will be considered until such time as funding is available for full implementation. However, implementation of some recommendations will not require capital investment and I am keen to make progress, in particular, on necessary revision of Garda rosters and examine station opening hours as key measures to improve the matching of Garda resources to the demand for policing services.

Courts Orders

Deirdre Clune

Question:

89 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform how the lack of provisions for the enforcement of the non-payment of maintenance are impacting on the court system; the reason the current legislation is not operating sufficiently; if his attention has been drawn to the impact that this is having on families when court awarded maintenance is not being paid because of the current lack of enforcement options available to the courts; the steps he will take to address this problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28226/10]

There are a number of provisions in the law for ensuring that payments continue to be made by spouses in support of their dependent spouses and children. They include enabling powers for the courts to order attachment of the earnings of a debtor spouse, to order the securing of payments to the maintenance creditor, to order the payment of lump sums and to order arrears of maintenance to be paid by instalments. While the law generally operates successfully in this area I am aware that difficulties have arisen in some cases because of the effect of a judgment of the High Court last year. The High Court judgment in that particular case had implications for sections 6 (imprisonment in the case of non-payment of debt) and 8 (imprisonment relating to non-payment of maintenance) of the Enforcement of Court Orders Act 1940. The Enforcement of Court Orders (Amendment) Act 2009 made changes in the law consequent on that judgment in accordance with legal advice. I am currently in consultation with the Attorney General with a view to developing early proposals for amendments in respect of maintenance enforcement which I hope to include in the forthcoming Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill.

Drugs in Prisons

Róisín Shortall

Question:

90 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to comments made by the retiring governor of Mountjoy Prison (details supplied) who said that overcrowding in the jail was now so acute and conditions so brutal and appalling that they foster inmate drug use, rather than helping to break addiction; the steps being taken to deal with conditions there; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28343/10]

I am aware of the comments made by the retiring Governor of Mountjoy Prison as referred to in your question. Mountjoy Prison is a Victorian prison which is now 160 years old. I accept that conditions in Mountjoy Prison are not ideal but I do not accept that conditions are inhumane. Deputies on all sides accept the need to replace the entire Mountjoy complex with a modern, regime focused campus at Thornton Hall and the Government and I are fully committed to this project. The need for prisoners who request protection to be accommodated in separate areas from other identified persons from whom they may be at risk is of primary importance. The renovated Separation Unit has opened and includes 50 new spaces for protection prisoners. Prisoners in the Separation Unit have access to a full range of services including medical, gym facilities, the probation service and the chaplaincy service. Efforts are made on a continuous basis to transfer protection prisoners out of Mountjoy Prison to other locations where they would not require such a restricted regime, e.g. protection landings in Wheatfield or the Midlands Prisons or to another prison where they would not require protection.

As I have freely acknowledged it is the case that there has been a consistent increase in the total prisoner population over recent years. This situation is particularly apparent over the past 12 months during which time the total number in custody has increased by 429. This represents a rise of over 11% in the numbers in custody. The Inspector of Prisons, in his 2008 Annual Report, acknowledged that overcrowding in prisons is an international problem, which is not unique to Ireland. The Irish Prison Service has been engaged in an extensive programme of investment in prisons infrastructure which has involved both the modernisation of the existing estate and the provision of extra prison spaces. Since 1997 close to 1,800 new prison spaces have come on stream in the prison system.

Current projects will see in excess 200 prison spaces provided in the short term by means of the opening of a new block in Wheatfield. In addition, we hope to proceed in late 2010 with a new accommodation block in the Portlaoise/Midlands prisons complex which will provide 300 prison spaces in the medium term. Also in the short term, work is due to commence on converting an administrative building on the Dóchas site into a new accommodation block. This accommodation will provide approximately 50 spaces and is due to be completed later this year. The new prison campus at Thornton Hall, County Dublin will provide accommodation for 1,400 cells with operational flexibility to accommodate up to 2,200 in a range of security settings. The development is now proceeding on a phased basis.

The IPS focuses on providing prisoners with the range and access of drug treatment options which is equivalent to that available in the community. At present, any person entering prison giving a history of opiate use and testing positive for opioids is offered a medically assisted symptomatic detoxification if clinically indicated. Patients can, as part of the assessment process, discuss with healthcare staff other treatment options. These may include stabilisation on methadone maintenance for persons who wish to continue on maintenance while in prison and when they return to the community on release. Drug rehabilitation programmes for prisoners involve a significant multidimensional input by a diverse range of general and specialist services provided both by the Irish Prison Service and visiting statutory and non-statutory organisations. Drug treatment programmes currently in place in prisons, including Mountjoy, seek to reduce the demand for drugs within the prison system through education, treatment and rehabilitation. In Mountjoy initiatives include the provision of detoxification, methadone maintenance, education programmes, addiction counselling, drug therapy programmes and ‘work and training' options, which assist in addressing their substance misuse issues.

There are currently in excess of 250 prisoners in Mountjoy on methadone substitution treatment. Mountjoy has initiated a programme involving addiction nurses, a professional drug treatment pharmacist service, and a clinical addiction team with consultant oversight. This has resulted in a more streamlined service, better assessment and through care outcomes. The Medical Unit in Mountjoy Prison has 9 places specifically allocated for the therapeutic drug free programme. This programme is 6 weeks in duration; the model used is a collaborative one using prison based staff and the community/ voluntary sector. Its aim is to assist prisoners in achieving a drug free status. Significant investment has been committed in recent years to respond to addiction issues in the prison system including the awarding of a contract for the provision of addiction counselling services to Merchants Quay Ireland in 2008 (delivering approximately 1,500 prisoner contacts per month). Given the large number of prisoners requiring drug treatment services, the IPS endeavours to provide a comprehensive range of such services in closed prisons including Mountjoy.

Passport Applications

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

91 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the outcome of the Garda investigation into allegations that Irish passports were used by Israeli agents involved in the assassination of a Hamas official in Dubai; if the file has been referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28354/10]

In February 2010 the Dubai police confirmed that several suspects, believed to have been involved with the killing of a senior Hamas figure, had entered Dubai on the passports of a number of foreign countries, including a total of eight Irish passports. Subsequent investigations carried out by the Passport Service and by the Gardaí have confirmed that the eight Irish passports used were forgeries. The Garda investigation into the matter is ongoing and if evidence is adduced to indicate the commission of criminal offences in this jurisdiction a file will be submitted to the DPP on completion of enquiries.

Prisoner Releases

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

92 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform when he expects the investigations by Dóchas Centre visiting committee and the Inspector of Prisons into the reported decision of the Irish Prison Service to force the early release of a person (details supplied), are expected to conclude; if the recommendations of these inquiries will be published; and in advance of these reports the steps he will take to ensure that arrangements for care in the community have been planned for all mentally ill prisoners prior to their release. [28289/10]

I have been advised by the Director General of the Irish Prison Service that he has commissioned an internal investigation into the case of the person referred to in the question. It is too early in the process to give an indication of when the investigation will be finalised however I will consider what further appropriate action should be taken once the findings have been notified to me.

Crime Levels

Sean Sherlock

Question:

93 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform his views on the reported significant increases in juvenile crime, with the number of juveniles charged with criminal offences in the children’s court increasing by 90% between 2004 and 2008; the steps he will take to combat the increase in juvenile crime; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28364/10]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question 16 on the Thursday, 13th May, 2010. The position remains as stated.

Tribunals of Inquiry

Joan Burton

Question:

94 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the latest information available regarding the progress made by the Smithwick tribunal established by resolution of the Oireachtas in March 2005; when the tribunal intends to commence public hearings; the evidence that has been taken in public; if the tribunal has secured the co-operation of all potential witnesses, particularly those from outside the jurisdiction; if the tribunal intends to publish any interim report on its progress made since 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28333/10]

The Smithwick Tribunal was established pursuant to the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Acts 1921-2002, to enquire into suggestions that members of the Garda Síochána or other employees of the State colluded in the fatal shootings of RUC Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and RUC Superintendent Bob Buchanan in 1989. The Tribunal was established by the Oireachtas in May 2005 arising from the Weston Park Agreement between the Irish and British Governments in 2001. The Tribunal is chaired by Judge Peter Smithwick. The Tribunal Chairman is independent in his functions in accordance with the provisions of the Acts. The terms of the Resolutions of Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann and the Regulation establishing the Tribunal provide for the submission of interim reports to the Clerk of the Dáil within 10 days of the commencement of oral hearings regarding the granting of representation before the Tribunal, progress to date, likely duration and any other matters which the Tribunal considers appropriate. I am informed that the Tribunal is in an investigative phase at present. It is expected that public hearings will take place later this year. Questions such as whether the Tribunal has secured all the cooperation it requires are matters for the Tribunal itself and will, I have no doubt, be dealt with in the final report.

Sexual Offences

Jack Wall

Question:

95 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform his response to the matters exposed in a television programme (details supplied) on 31 May 2010 regarding the frequency of downloading of child pornography here; his views on whether the existing law is adequate to cope with this phenomenon; the number of persons serving prison sentences for downloading child pornography; the actions open to government to shut down internet providers connected to child pornography; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28336/10]

I refer the Deputy to the reply to Parliamentary Question No. 159 of 24 June 2010. The position is unchanged.

Prisoner Releases

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

96 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the total number of prisoners held in the state and prisoners on temporary release at the latest date for which figures are available; if he will give the equivalent figures for the same date in each year from 2002 to date in 2010; the steps being taken to deal with overcrowding and to reduce the number of prisoners receiving temporary release; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28340/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the number of prisoners in custody on 24 June 2010 was 4,311 in custody. On the same date there were 933 prisoners on temporary release. The information for previous years is set out in the following table for the same date or a similar date in the past as requested by the Deputy.

Year

Numbers in custody

Number of prisoners on temporary release

2002

3,211

324

2003

3,189

267

2004

3,215

301

2005

3,214

152

2006

3,237

140

2007

3,123

132

2008

3,586

212

2009

3,882

686

2010

4,311

933

As the Deputy will appreciate the Irish Prison Service must accept all prisoners committed by the Courts into its custody and does not have the option of refusing committals. It is the case that there has been a consistent increase in the total prisoner population over recent years. This situation is particularly apparent over the past 12 months during which time the total number in custody has increased by 429. This represents a 11% increase in the numbers in custody.

The Inspector of Prisons, in his 2008 Annual Report, acknowledged that overcrowding in prisons is an international problem, not just unique to Ireland. The Irish Prison Service has been engaged in an extensive programme of investment in prisons infrastructure which has involved both the modernisation of the existing estate and the provision of extra prison spaces. Since 1997 in excess of 1,720 new prison spaces have come on stream in the prison system. These include the new prisons in Castlerea, the Midlands, Cloverhill, the Dóchas Centre and new accommodation in Limerick, Portlaoise and Castlerea prisons and at the open centres in Shelton Abbey and Loughan House. Current projects will see in excess 200 prison spaces provided in the short term by means of the opening of a new block in Wheatfield. In addition, we hope to proceed in late 2010 with a new accommodation block in the Portlaoise/Midlands prisons complex which will provide 300 prison spaces in the medium term. Also in the short term, work is due to commence on converting an administrative building on the Dóchas site into a new accommodation block. This accommodation will provide approx 50 spaces and is due to be completed in late 2010.

The Deputy will also be aware of the Government's commitment to developing a new prison campus at Thornton Hall, County Dublin. The new prison facility will provide accommodation for 1,400 prisoners with operational flexibility to accommodate up to 2,200 in a range of security settings. The development is now proceeding on a phased basis with phase one comprising essential enabling works required for the development, including the construction of the dedicated access road, perimeter wall and off-site services. Tenders for the construction of the access road were published in March of this year and tenders for the construction of the perimeter wall will be published in September. Phase 2 will include the development of the main prison campus. The detailed appraisal is underway in accordance with Department of Finance Capital Expenditure Guidelines and the new business case is at an advanced stage of preparation.

The Criminal Justice Act 1960, as amended by the Criminal Justice (Temporary Release of Prisoners) Act 2003 provides that the Minister may approve the temporary release of a sentenced prisoner. This discretionary instrument assists in gradually preparing suitable offenders for release, in administering short sentences, in addressing humanitarian issues and can be an incentive to well-behaved prisoners. It should be noted that a prisoner on temporary release is still subject to his or her sentence and may be returned to prison without any court intervention. Temporary release arrangements are an important vehicle for re-integrating an offender into the community in a planned way. The generally accepted view is that the risk to the community is reduced by planned re-integration of offenders compared with their return to the community on the completion of their full sentence. Each case is examined on its own merits and the safety of the public is paramount when decisions are made. In addition, all releases are subject to conditions, which in the vast majority of cases include a requirement to report on a regular basis to the offender's Garda Station. Of course, any offender who breaches his or her conditions may be arrested and returned to prison immediately by the Gardaí.

Garda Operations

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

97 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform when arrangements will be made to instruct members of the Garda Síochána that it is not necessary to take a longhand note of interviews with persons in custody when such interviews are being electronically recorded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28359/10]

My Department and the Garda Síochána, in consultation with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Office of the Attorney General, have been considering proposals for a new system which would allow the taking of contemporaneous written notes to cease where interviews are electronically recorded. There is, however, a complex range of training, technological and legal issues to be addressed before any changeover to a new system could take place, and of course the financial implications would have to be carefully assessed. Because of the complexities involved, it is likely that any new system would initially be introduced on a pilot basis to allow all the operational and legal aspects to be fully tested and evaluated.

Following a recommendation made by the Morris Tribunal, I have established an Advisory Committee on Garda Interviewing of Suspects. The Honourable Mr. Justice Edmond Smyth has kindly agreed to chair the committee. He brings to the Committee not only his considerable learning and expertise as a Judge of the High Court, but also the knowledge and experience as Chairperson of the Steering Committee on Audio Video Recording which oversaw the introduction of electronic recording of Garda interviews of suspects. The new Advisory Committee, which comprises representatives of the Attorney General, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Irish Human Rights Commission, the Garda Síochána, the Bar Council, the Law Society and my Department, is currently considering the legal, technical and operational issues involved in moving to a new system of interviewing without contemporaneous notes. I will consider the views of the Advisory Committee on these matters before any pilot project is commenced.

Crime Levels

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

98 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of occasions in 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010 in which grenades, bombs or improvised explosive devices have been used; the number of occasions in each year when the gardaí called on the assistance of the Army ordinance unit to deal with such devices; the number of prosecutions initiated as a result of the discovery of such devices; his views on the increased use of such devices by criminal elements; the steps he is taking to curb the use of such devices, having regard to the danger they pose to the public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28353/10]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the number of times the Garda Síochána called on the assistance of the Army's Explosive Ordnance Disposal team for the years 2007 to 2010 (to 28 June) are as set out in the following table:

2007

2008

2009

2010

98

180

196

93

I am informed by the Garda authorities that in the period in question proceedings commenced in 18 cases. Garda strategies in counteracting such activities are firmly focused on disrupting organised criminal groups and where sufficient evidence is adduced, proffering charges and bringing persons before the Courts. One of the priorities I have set for the Garda Síochána in 2010 is combating serious crime, in particular organised crime. Operation Anvil is an important nationwide operation to deal with serious crime, including murder and other violent crime. The primary focus of this Operation is to target active criminals and their associates involved in serious crime by preventing and disrupting their criminal activity through extensive additional overt patrolling and static checkpoints by uniform, mobile and foot patrols, supported by armed plain clothes patrols.

Recidivism Rate

Róisín Shortall

Question:

99 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the recent report from the Irish Penal Reform Trust showing that three out of every five prisoners are likely to reoffend within a few years of their release; his views on the level of recidivism among prisoners; his plans for measures to counter this trend; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28344/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the Irish Prison Service facilitated the major study of prisoner re-offending by the UCD Institute of Criminology which is the basis for the recidivism rates presented by the Irish Penal Reform Trust in its recent report. This research analysed dated relating to over 19,000 prisoners in Ireland and found that 27.4% of released prisoners were serving a new prison sentence with one year. This rose to 39.2% after two years, 45.1% after three years, and 49.2% after four years. The fact that over 50% of prisoners do not re-offend within four years of release, compares well internationally. The Irish Prison Service provides a range of rehabilitative programmes with the dual aim of providing prisoners with purposeful activity for the period of the sentence and supporting them to lead more productive lives on release.

Prisoner rehabilitation involves significant inputs from general and specialist services from within the Irish Prison Service and in-reach statutory and non-statutory services. Amongst these are healthcare, psychiatric, psychological, educational, work and training, vocational, counselling, welfare and spiritual services. These services are important in addressing a wide number of issues such drug and alcohol addiction, missed educational and vocational opportunities, anger management, and self management. The Irish Prison Service places a particular emphasis on access to educational services and on the provision of work and training activities for prisoners. Educational services are available at all institutions and are provided in partnership with a range of educational agencies in the community including the VECs, Public Library Services, Colleges and the Arts Council. Broad programmes of education are made available which generally follow an adult education approach and literacy, numeracy and general basic education is the main priority. I am glad to say that a significant expansion of vocational training programmes has taken place in recent years . We currently have over 90 workshops in place in our prisons capable of catering for in excess of 800 prisoners each day.

The Irish Prison Service is also delivering programmes aimed at reducing the demand for drugs within the prison system through enhanced security measures as well as education, treatment and rehabilitation services for drug-addicted prisoners. The introduction of Integrated Sentence Management system (ISM) across all prisons and places of detention is another important development. As the Deputy knows the central aim of ISM is to move to a prisoner centred approach to the management of custodial sentences. ISM is to identify, deliver and measure appropriate interventions to address the identified risks and needs of prisoners. ISM is currently operating in seven prisons, Arbour Hill, Midlands, St. Patrick's Institution, Training Unit, Wheatfield, Cork and Portlaoise. Currently there are 350 Prisoners engaged in ISM. It is intended to roll out ISM in all other prisons to all newly committed prisoners with sentences of one year and upwards during 2010. It is recognised that helping prisoners maintain links with family is vital. In this regard the Probation Service of my Department makes a significant contribution to supporting prisoners to prepare and reintegrate back to society.

Crime Prevention

Mary Upton

Question:

100 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the action the Garda intends to take regarding the continued operation, especially in the Dublin area, of gaming arcades and other premises operating in breach of the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28337/10]

As the Deputy is no doubt aware and as I have pointed out on previous occasions in this House, it is a matter for the Garda Síochána, under the Gaming and Lotteries Acts 1956 to 2003, to investigate breaches of the legislation and to take whatever action is deemed appropriate. I have been assured that such premises receive Garda attention and if breaches of the legislation are detected appropriate action is taken. Again, I invite the Deputy, if she has information about any specific breaches of the relevant provisions of the Acts, to bring this to the attention of the Gardaí, alternatively I would be happy to forward the information to the Garda authorities on her behalf.

I recognise, of course, that the law governing gaming is somewhat outdated and could be modernised to reflect the realities of a modern gaming sector, including gaming over the internet. The review of gambling underway in my Department therefore, addresses reform of this and other sectors. The consultation phase of the review has now been completed. The review will, in due course, provide Government with options for a new and comprehensive legal and organisational framework governing the gambling architecture in the State.

County Enterprise Boards

Willie Penrose

Question:

101 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation his plans regarding the structure of county enterprise boards in view of a speech that he made (details supplied); if he will acknowledge that the key difference between county enterprise boards and other industrial development agencies is that the county enterprise boards are based and operated at local level, and they provide a range of complimentary supports to enterprises including accessible informal first stop shop for people starting or planning to start their own business and a range of soft supports for businesses which include information, advice, management training and skills development programmes, mentoring services and financial supports, including the provision of feasibility, employment and capital grants for projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28512/10]

The County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) have played a pivotal role in stimulating local economic development through sustaining and growing the micro enterprise sector across the country since their establishment.

In addition to financial supports, micro-enterprises have been supported by the CEBs through a range of business advice, information, and mentoring services, as well as various management training and capability development programmes. The local focus of the CEBs and their agile ability to respond quickly to local needs is a key aspect of the service which they provide to micro-enterprises. Such a dedicated State support for the micro-enterprise sector should continue to be provided and should be delivered as close to the client as possible.

The CEB structure has existed in its current form since 1993. In the context of the recommendations of the McCarthy Report and continuing pressures on the public finances and staffing resources, the time is now right to evaluate the appropriateness of this structure. It is imperative that we strive to exploit fully the potential for reducing administration and overhead costs, while ensuring that the provision of financial and other services to clients is maximised.

Since my appointment as Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, I have been reflecting on what institutional arrangements might best deliver the necessary supports to micro-enterprise. My preliminary conclusions are that the separate legal structures of the 35 independent CEBs presents challenges in terms of administrative overheads, resource maximisation and staffing rigidities in responding to the impact of the recruitment embargo. I am also examining the role of Enterprise Ireland and its relationship to the CEBs in supporting indigenous enterprise and the extent to which that agency may have a greater role to play in supporting micro-enterprise. I will bring proposals to Government on this before the summer break.

Redundancy Payments

Tom Hayes

Question:

102 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation when redundancy payment will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28613/10]

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

I can confirm that my Department received a lump sum claim for the individual concerned on 27 January, 2010 which included a decision from the Employment Appeals Tribunal in favour of the individual's claim to redundancy. I can advise the Deputy that payment on this claim issued from my Department on 31 May 2010.

Tom Hayes

Question:

103 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation when redundancy payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28816/10]

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

I can confirm that my Department received a lump sum claim for the individual concerned on 27 January, 2010 which included a decision from the Employment Appeals Tribunal in favour of the individual's claim to redundancy. I can advise the Deputy that payment on this claim issued from my Department on 31 May 2010.

Tom Hayes

Question:

104 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation when redundancy payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28817/10]

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

I can confirm that my Department received a lump sum claim for the individual concerned on 1 January, 2010 which included a decision from the Employment Appeals Tribunal in favour of the individual's claim to redundancy. I can advise the Deputy that payment on this claim issued from my Department on 31 May 2010.

Health and Safety Regulations

John McGuinness

Question:

105 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the status of considerations or guidelines issued by the Health and Safety Authority relative to pay at the pump fuel terminals; if chief fire officers and planning authorities are fully briefed on the way such guidelines might be implemented throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28829/10]

Local Authorities are responsible for the licensing of petrol stations. The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation does not have any role or responsibility in this matter, nor in the area of fire prevention or planning. Neither my Department nor the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) issues guidelines to Local Authorities in fire or planning matters. I am not in a position to say whether or not chief fire officers or planning authorities are briefed on this or any other matter.

I understand that, as an operational matter, if Local Authorities who are in receipt of licensing applications for petrol stations ask the HSA for their observations on particular aspects of applications, these are provided. The manner and extent to which a Local Authority factors these observations into the process of deciding on a licence application, or briefs relevant officials and authorities, are matters for the Local Authority itself.

Tax Code

Michael Creed

Question:

106 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Finance the reason a person (details supplied) in County Cork has been refused a primary medical certificate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28619/10]

The initial application for a Primary Medical Certificate under the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations 1994, is made to the Senior Medical Officer of the relevant local Health Service Executive administrative area.

If the Primary Medical Certificate has been refused in this case, the named person may appeal the refusal to the Medical Board of Appeal, National Rehabilitation Hospital, Rochestown Avenue, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin. I would point out that the Medical Board of Appeal is independent in the exercise of its functions.

Public Sector Staff

Michael McGrath

Question:

107 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance his plans to roll out another round of incentivised career breaks for public service workers in the Health Service Executive in the near future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28631/10]

Michael McGrath

Question:

116 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance his plans to roll out another round of incentivised career breaks for public service workers in the near future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28632/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 107 and 116 together.

As you are aware the Special Civil Service Incentive Career Break Scheme was introduced as a once-off measure that was included in the Supplementary Budget on 7 April 2009. Following implementation on 30 April the measure was extended to staff in different areas of the public service, including the local government sector and the HSE. The closing date for participation in this scheme has expired and there is no current proposal to extend this scheme.

Pension Provisions

Joe McHugh

Question:

108 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Finance the amount in the National Pensions Reserve Fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28677/10]

The National Pensions Reserve Fund was established on 2 April 2001 under the National Pensions Reserve Fund Act 2000 with the objective of meeting as much as possible of the cost to the Exchequer of social welfare pensions and public service pensions to be paid from the year 2025 until at least 2055.

The National Pensions Reserve Fund Commission — who control and manage the Fund — publish a report on the performance of the NPRF as of the end of each quarter on the Commission's website www.nprf.ie. The most recent such report, to 31 March 2010, valued the Fund at €24.5 billion.

Tax Collection

Michael McGrath

Question:

109 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding negotiations between the Revenue and a company (details supplied) in County Cork. [28528/10]

This is entirely a matter for the Revenue Commissioners. I am advised by Revenue that there is a significant tax debt in the case in question. Discussions to date have been unsuccessful in getting agreement on a plan for payment that is acceptable to Revenue. The person concerned has been advised that if an agreed payment plan is not in place within two weeks, enforcement action to effect recovery will continue.

Tax Code

Chris Andrews

Question:

110 Deputy Chris Andrews asked the Minister for Finance if he will ensure that any on-line betting tax will not be a tax on jobs here. [28573/10]

Chris Andrews

Question:

111 Deputy Chris Andrews asked the Minister for Finance if he will ensure the on-line tax will be applied to all on-line operators and not just those employing persons here. [28574/10]

Chris Andrews

Question:

112 Deputy Chris Andrews asked the Minister for Finance the reason a person who bets on soccer, rugby or boxing makes a contribution to Horse Racing Ireland and the sports they bet on receive no income from these bets. [28575/10]

I propose to take Question Nos. 110 to 112, inclusive, together.

I have stated previously that it is my intention to widen, if possible, the tax base on which betting duty would be applied. Bets placed either online or over the phone are generally with out-of-State companies so applying betting duty is therefore problematic. My officials, in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General, the Office of the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, are looking at the scope to overcome legal and operational difficulties in this area. Any extension of betting duty will be applied on a fair basis and should not be perceived as an attempt to threaten jobs. Also, tax changes will be in tandem with ongoing work by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform on issues surrounding licensing and regulation.

The Deputy will be aware that there has been an historic link between betting duty receipts and the funding of the horse-racing and greyhound sectors in recent years. I would accept that bets placed on other sports such as football and golf represent an increasing share of sports betting generally. However, horse-racing and the betting sector are inextricably linked — to some extent they are mutually dependent, a situation not replicated with other sports. Also, many reports have highlighted the importance of the horse-racing and greyhound sectors to the economy, particularly in parts of rural Ireland.

Flood Relief

Ulick Burke

Question:

113 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Finance the amount of money allocated to Galway County Council in respect of flood relief projects; the location of each proposed project; the cost in each case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28582/10]

To date, a total of €1,567,470 in funding has been allocated directly to Galway County Council under the ongoing scheme which I commenced in 2009 to provide funding to local authorities to carry out minor mitigation works to address localised flooding problems. In addition, €300,000 has been assigned for works at Oranmore, which will be jointly undertaken by the OPW and the Council, while €334,000 has been made available for the projects at Ferragh, Caherlistrane; Gortbeg, Cahergal, Tuam; and Moylough Village, which will be carried out by the Office of Public Works on the Council's behalf.

A summary of the total funding allocated for minor flood relief projects in Galway to date is given as follows:

Project Location

Funding

Kilconnell

36,000

Ahascragh

45,000

Ballyglunin

60,000

Crowe St., Gort

36,000

Newtown, Abbeyknockmoy

250,000

Cloonoo, Loughrea

2,000

Ballydavid, Athenry/ Clarin River

90,000

Ballinasloe Town Study

9,000

Turloughgarve, Corrandulla

16,200

Caherduff, Ardrahan, Gort Road

5,400

Kylemore, Laurencetown

9,000

Killevny, Laurencetown

4,050

Poolboy, Ballinasloe

19,800

Crowsnest, Laurencetown

9,000

New Inn Village

31,500

Ballyglass, Kilconnell

9,000

Rathglass, New Inn

13,500

Ferragh, Caherlistrane

115,000

Gortbeg, Cahergal, Tuam

49,000

Corgerry Oughter, Menlough

16,200

Rahins, Mountbellew

13,500

Cloonrelagh, Mountbellew

11,250

Derrymullen, Ballinasloe

315,000

Derrymullen, Ballinasloe

45,200

East Bridge, Ballinasloe

40,500

Bride St, Loughrea

31,500

Cross Street, Loughrea Town

67,500

Ballyglass, Turloughmore

18,000

Bullaun, Loughrea

67,500

The Walks, Station Road, Loughrea

27,000

Ryehill Demesne, Monivea

14,400

Bellayarha North

9,000

Caherkistrane

27,000

Knockanranny

10,800

Carraroe Area Office, Inverin

5,850

Mira

67,500

Ballyglass South, Ballymoe

54,000

Moylough Village

170,000

N18 at Oranmore

14,400

Kilcoona

4,500

Castlegrove, Tuam

21,420

Oranmore

300,000

Tarramud & Coldwood, Clarin River

40,000

Galway County Council has submitted a number of further applications, which are currently being assessed in accordance with the relevant eligibility criteria, and having regard to the total funding available for flood mitigation works this year. It is open to the Council to submit additional applications during the year.

National Solidarity Bonds

Niall Collins

Question:

114 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance the amount that has been invested with the recently introduced national solidarity bond scheme by members of the public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28604/10]

In Budget 2010, I announced the Government's intention to launch a National Solidarity Bond, the purpose of which is to allow citizens an opportunity to invest and provide money to the State to stimulate economic recovery and to assist in the maintenance and creation of employment. The necessary legislative basis was provided in this year's Finance Act and the Bond was launched on Tuesday 4 May.

I am informed by the National Treasury Management Agency that, as of close of business on Tuesday 29 June, a total of over €70 million had been invested in the Bond by almost 3,000 customers. On average, this means that, each working day since it was launched, some 72 customers invested a total of €1.7 million in the Bond.

Brochures, application forms, terms and conditions and Frequently Asked Questions on the National Solidarity Bond are available on the internet (www.StateSavings.ie) and additional information is available from a dedicated telephone line 1850 30 50 60 or by visiting any Post Office.

Departmental Property

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

115 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Finance if he will list the State properties and premises, including buildings occupied by Government Departments and State agencies, on which the State pays ground rent. [28627/10]

The Office of Public Works currently pays Ground Rent on the properties/buildings as scheduled in the following table.

COUNTY

PROPERTY NAME

CARLOW

Carlow Agriculture Office

CAVAN

Swanlinbar Garda Station + Customs Post

CLARE

Lissycasey Garda Station

CORK

Cobh Custom House

CORK

Cork Customs & Excise Parnell Place

CORK

Cork Custom House

CORK

Crosshaven Garda Station + Houses Complex

CORK

Fermoy Garda Station

CORK

Glengarriff/Garinish

CORK

MacCurtain Street Garda Station

CORK

Youghal Former Military Barracks

DONEGAL

Bundoran Garda Station

DONEGAL

Kilmacrennan Garda Station

DUBLIN

Abbotstown Farm

DUBLIN

Botanic Gardens

DUBLIN

Burgh Quay 13-14

DUBLIN

Burlington Road 10

DUBLIN

Cathal Brugha Barracks

DUBLIN

Dublin Castle

DUBLIN

Dundrum Central Mental Hospital

DUBLIN

Fitzwilliam Place 31

DUBLIN

Four Courts

DUBLIN

Government Buildings

DUBLIN

Kildare Street 23-28

DUBLIN

Kildare Street 4-5

DUBLIN

Merrion Row 7-9

DUBLIN

Merrion Square 16

DUBLIN

Merrion Square 5

DUBLIN

Merrion Square 6A

DUBLIN

Merrion Street Upper 14 — 16

DUBLIN

O’Connell Street Upper 11 — 13

DUBLIN

O’Connell Street Upper 14 — 15

DUBLIN

O’Connell Street Upper 44

DUBLIN

St Stephens Green 50-51

DUBLIN

St Stephens Green 78-81

DUBLIN

Terenure Garda Station

DUBLIN

Thomas Lane 1-2

GALWAY

Furbo

KERRY

Killarney Garda Station

KERRY

Killarney National Park

KERRY

Tralee High Street

KERRY

Tralee Godfrey Place

LAOIS

Portlaoise Site

LIMERICK

Limerick Custom House

LIMERICK

Limerick Henry/Cecil/Glentworth

LIMERICK

Limerick O’Curry Street

LIMERICK

Limerick Mallow Street

LOUTH

Drogheda Government Offices

OFFALY

Birr Garda Station

WATERFORD

Waterford Catherine Street 3

WATERFORD

Waterford Catherine Street 13

WEXFORD

New Ross Former Garda Station

WEXFORD

Wexford Anne Street

Question No. 116 answered with Question No. 107.

Tax Collection

Joe McHugh

Question:

117 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Finance the number of earners that are exempt from income tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28688/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the number of earners who are exempt from income tax is estimated at 1,051,000 based on projected 2010 incomes.

The figures are estimates from the Revenue tax-forecasting model using actual data for the year 2007, adjusted as necessary to take account of the most recent data available for income and employment trends for the year in question. It is therefore provisional and likely to be revised.

It should be noted that a married couple who has elected or has been deemed to have elected for joint assessment is counted as one tax unit.

Pension Provisions

Róisín Shortall

Question:

118 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance if he will incorporate into the proposals for the national pensions framework a commitment to the reduction in the value of maximum possible tax free pension pots. [27999/10]

The maximum allowable pension fund that an individual can build up from tax-relieved contributions is known as the Standard Fund Threshold or SFT. The SFT is a lifetime limit which was introduced in Budget and Finance Act 2006 at an initial level of €5 million and was increased in line with an indexation factor in 2007 and 2008 to its current value of just over €5.4 million. In line with the decision made in Budget 2009, there was no indexation of the SFT for 2009. Penal tax charges apply to any funds in excess of the threshold.

The National Pensions Framework does not include specific proposals in relation to the SFT. I am aware, however, of the recommendations in the Report of the Commission on Taxation which, among other things, proposes a reduction in the level of the SFT. The current level of the threshold will be kept under review as part of the normal Budgetary and Finance Bill process.

Health Service Staff

John McGuinness

Question:

119 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children the funding options available for a level seven diploma in addiction studies at Trinity College, Dublin, being undertaken by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28695/10]

Subject to overall parameters set by Government, the Health Service Executive has the responsibility for determining the composition of its staffing complement. In that regard, it is a matter for the Executive to manage and deploy its human resources to best meet the requirements of its Annual Service Plan for the delivery of health and personal social services to the public. With regard to the provision of funding for training courses, this is a service matter and it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Nursing Home Subventions

Dan Neville

Question:

120 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ensure that an application for fair deal nursing home subvention in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick is dealt without further delay. [28517/10]

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

Medical Cards

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

121 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will expedite an application for a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; the reason for the delay; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28523/10]

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

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

122 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will expedite the provision of a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin which has been granted; the reason for the delay; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28524/10]

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

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

123 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason for the withdrawal of a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28525/10]

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

Jack Wall

Question:

124 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the renewal of a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28536/10]

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

Health Service Staff

Pat Breen

Question:

125 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will report on the staffing levels in County Clare public dental health service; the number employed in the service at 31 May 2010; the number of vacancies in the service on this date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28546/10]

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

Social Welfare Benefits

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

126 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person who is denied benefit by a community welfare officer on the basis of not satisfying the habitual residence condition will be offered a ticket to return to the country they had previously been residing in; and if so, the number of Irish citizens to whom such an offer was made in 2008 and 2009. [28547/10]

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

Health Services

Pat Breen

Question:

127 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of persons awaiting dental treatment in County Clare public dental health service as of 31 May 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28548/10]

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

Pat Breen

Question:

128 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will report on the number of public patients awaiting orthodontic treatment in County Clare as of 31 May 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28549/10]

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

Finian McGrath

Question:

129 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3. [28551/10]

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 Services

Damien English

Question:

130 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) must wait until March 2012 to see a consultant urologist in a surgical outpatients department; the reason for the delay; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28560/10]

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

Magdalene Laundries

Michael Kennedy

Question:

131 Deputy Michael Kennedy asked the Minister for Health and Children if she is in a position to respond in public to the letters from Justice for Magdalenes seeking clarification on the special provision, as outlined in the Department of Local Government and Public Health Annual Report 1932-33, of transferring women who had multiple births outside of marriage from a State-funded mother and baby home to a Magdalene laundry; if she will state the duration that this special provision remained in place; if her Department can produce records documenting the numbers of women so transferred; and if it can account for the fate of the children born to such women; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28561/10]

Michael Kennedy

Question:

132 Deputy Michael Kennedy asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will comment on the payment of capitation grants by the former boards of health for the placement of problem girls in religious convents, including Magdalene laundries; if she will make public the statutory basis for such capitation grants; the names of the religious convents in receipt of such grants; the numbers of problem girls involved in this scheme; the records for all these women and problem girls verifying that they left these institutions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28562/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 131 and 132 together.

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

Health Services

Seymour Crawford

Question:

133 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the case of a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28565/10]

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

Mary O'Rourke

Question:

134 Deputy Mary O’Rourke asked the Minister for Health and Children further to her reply to Parliamentary Question No. 213 of 25 June 2010 when a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath will be called for an appointment with a child psychologist. [28579/10]

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

Vaccination Programme

Ulick Burke

Question:

135 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of persons in the Health Service Executive west that received swine flu vaccine; the number of vaccine jabs purchased by the HSE for the population of this region; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28585/10]

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

Medical Cards

Jack Wall

Question:

136 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for medical cards in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28596/10]

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

Health Services

John O'Mahony

Question:

137 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive an appointment with an occupational therapist; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28600/10]

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.

Hospital Services

John McGuinness

Question:

138 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason for the delay in admitting a person (details supplied) for surgery; the reason their admission to the hospital was cancelled on a number of occasions; and if she will expedite the matter. [28605/10]

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

Health Services

John McGuinness

Question:

139 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children the cover available for essential dental treatment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28606/10]

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

John McGuinness

Question:

140 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if a comprehensive dental scheme will be put in place for those who are over 60 years of age; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28608/10]

Dental and oral health services are provided to medical cardholders over the age of 16 through the Dental Treatment Services Scheme and to children and patients with special needs through the HSE Public Dental Service. There are no plans to introduce an additional scheme for those who are over 60.

Health Repayment Scheme

Catherine Byrne

Question:

141 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in Dublin 16 has been ordered to repay the Health Service Executive moneys for long-stay charges; if arrangements can be made to repay in instalments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28611/10]

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

Medical Cards

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

142 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a decision will be made on an application for a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3. [28621/10]

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

Health Services

Michael McGrath

Question:

143 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding plans to develop a primary care centre in a town (details supplied) in County Cork. [28624/10]

Michael McGrath

Question:

144 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding plans to develop a primary care centre in a town (details supplied) in County Cork. [28625/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 143 and 144 together.

As the Deputy's questions relate to service matters they have been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Nursing Home Subventions

Dan Neville

Question:

145 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children when an application for nursing home support under the fair deal scheme will be determined in respect of a person (details supplied). [28626/10]

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

Health Services

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

146 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will reverse the reduction in funding for a centre (details supplied) in Dublin 20; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28628/10]

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.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

147 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Galway is not receiving occupational therapy or psychological services from the Health Service Executive in view of the fact that they are eligible for all these services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28633/10]

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

Preschool Services

Róisín Shortall

Question:

148 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 149 of 12 May 2010, if she is now in a position to furnish a reply. [28636/10]

I have responsibility for implementing the free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme, which was introduced in January of this year and which provides a free pre-school year to eligible children in the year before they commence primary school. I also have responsibility for implementing the Community Childcare Subvention Scheme (CCSS) which provides funding to community services to enable them to charge reduced fees to disadvantaged and low income working parents.

Services participating in the ECCE scheme receive an annual capitation fee from my Office for each eligible child attending. Services participating in the CCSS receive annual funding in respect of each childcare place availed of by parents who qualify for a subvention payment. Eligibility for the ECCE scheme is determined by reference to the age of the pre-school child. Parents qualify for subvention if they are in receipt of social welfare payments, Family Income Support or would qualify for a medical or GP visit card.

A number of other schemes are operated by other Government departments and State agencies. Where possible, these are being co-ordinated into a single approach under my Office. A recent example of this is the announcement of the new Childcare Employment and Training Scheme (CETS) which will be introduced in September of this year and which will replace the childcare support schemes currently implemented by FAS and the Vocational Education Committees, with a new enhanced provision for qualifying students and trainees.

I am aware that the Health Service Executive (HSE) also funds a number of childcare services which have a particular focus on disadvantage including, in many cases, services which receive a significant number of children referred by the HSE. An official from my Office met recently with the HSE to discuss ways in which to improve co-ordination of funding for the sector. I understand that the service referred to by the Deputy was advised by the HSE earlier this year that it would be reducing its funding this year, due to the introduction of the ECCE scheme, but that this is being reviewed.

Health Service Staff

Joe McHugh

Question:

149 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of staff in County Donegal on sick leave for more than one week whose positions were not filled in their absence in 2009; the grades and areas these staff represent; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28642/10]

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

Hospital Accommodation

Joe McHugh

Question:

150 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of beds (details supplied) in each hospital and nursing unit in County Donegal that have been closed or are currently not open in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28643/10]

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

Health Service Reform

Joe McHugh

Question:

151 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will describe the service reviews currently being carried out by the Health Service Executive in County Donegal; the purpose of these reviews when they were initiated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28644/10]

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

Health Services

Joe McHugh

Question:

152 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of speech and language therapists who were to be employed under the Donegal service plan; the number put in place; the number whose contracts have not been renewed or who are on leave of any type and whose posts have not been filled; the number of unfilled vacancies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28645/10]

Subject to overall parameters set by Government, the Health Service Executive has the responsibility for determining the composition of its staffing complement. In that regard, it is a matter for the Executive to manage and deploy its human resources to best meet the requirements of its Annual Service Plan for the delivery of health and personal social services to the public. With regard to the provision of speech and language therapy services, this is a service matter and it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Joe McHugh

Question:

153 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of hours of speech and language therapy delivered in Donegal in the first six months of 2009 and in the first six months of 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28646/10]

Subject to overall parameters set by Government, the Health Service Executive has the responsibility for determining the composition of its staffing complement. In that regard, it is a matter for the Executive to manage and deploy its human resources to best meet the requirements of its Annual Service Plan for the delivery of health and personal social services to the public. With regard to the provision of speech and language therapy services, this is a service matter and it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Services for People with Disabilities

Joe McHugh

Question:

154 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of persons waiting to receive a service or therapy under each category of service in the community care section of Donegal Health Service Executive; the average waiting time in each category in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28647/10]

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

Health Services

Joe McHugh

Question:

155 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of people waiting to receive a service in the hospital and outpatient section of Donegal Health Service Executive; the average waiting time in each category in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28648/10]

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

Joe McHugh

Question:

156 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children the average waiting time in 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010 for ambulances and other emergency health services in County Donegal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28649/10]

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

Hospital Accommodation

Joe McHugh

Question:

157 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children the average annual increase or decrease in the number of hospital beds since 2007; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28680/10]

The number of beds available in each hospital can vary over any year for operational reasons. Acute bed numbers in public hospitals are counted as an average of beds available over each year. The national average number of acute hospital beds available in public hospitals in 2007, the latest year for which validated data has been compiled by the HSE, was 13,688. This includes both in-patient beds and day places. An average of approximately 20% of these are categorised as private beds. My Department has requested the HSE to provide validated data on the national average number of acute hospital beds available in 2008 and 2009 to the Deputy as soon as these become available.

Health Service Staff

Joe McHugh

Question:

158 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of nurses or midwives that are currently employed by the Health Service Executive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28681/10]

The number of nurses and midwives (expressed in Whole Time Equivalent terms) employed in the Public Health Service was 37,619 as of end May 2010. This figure is sourced from the Health Service Personnel Census and includes student nurses and student midwives.

Departmental Expenditure

Joe McHugh

Question:

159 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children her Departments budget for 2010; the Health Service Executive budget for 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28682/10]

The 2010 Estimate for my Department (Vote 39) as published in the Revised Estimates for Public Services, and presented to the Select Committee on Health and Children on 30th March 2010 is €376,417,000 net (gross expenditure of €380,713,000 less €4,296,000 Appropriations-in-Aid). The net expenditure comprises €365,263,000 current expenditure, and €15,450,000 capital.

The 2010 Estimate for the Health Service Executive (Vote 40) is €10,528,581,000 net (gross expenditure of €14,583,431 less €4,054,850,000 Appropriations-in-Aid), comprising €10,150,589,000 current and €377,992,000 capital expenditure. The Health Group of Votes also includes the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Vote 41). The 2010 Estimate for this Office is €351,268,000 net (gross expenditure of €360,308,000 less €9,040,000 Appropriations-in-Aid). Of this net sum, €319,668,000 relates to current expenditure, and €31,600,000 relates to capital.

Alcohol Policy

Mary Upton

Question:

160 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the creation of national map of alcohol outlets across the country to assess concentration and impact on local communities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28690/10]

I am in favour of an easily accessible register or database being available which would show the location of all premises in the country licensed to sell alcohol. This is just one of the many issues being discussed by the Steering Group developing the alcohol policy element of the National Substance Misuse Strategy. The Steering Group will base its recommendations on evidence based measures to deal with the significant public health issue of alcohol in areas such as supply, pricing, prevention, treatment, awareness and education. The Report of the Steering Group is expected by the end of this year.

Nursing Home Subventions

Dan Neville

Question:

161 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for State support from the Health Service Executive towards nursing home costs in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [28799/10]

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

Medical Aids and Appliances

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

162 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will consider correspondence regarding a person (details supplied) ; if the medical devices sought will be provided as requested; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28812/10]

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

Health Services

Finian McGrath

Question:

163 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support a matter (details supplied). [28814/10]

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

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

164 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Health and Children in view of the terms of the methadone treatment protocol services published by her Department in 1998, the number of general practitioners from the Kildare-west Wicklow local health office that have undertaken training under the methadone protocol level 1 and 2; the number of applications to provide level 2 general practitioner service in the Kildare-west Wicklow local health office; the outcomes of submitted applications; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28824/10]

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

Rail Network

Ulick Burke

Question:

165 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Transport if he will confirm that the next stage of the western rail provision from Athenry to Tuam, County Galway, will be completed within completion date under Transport 21 of November 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28583/10]

The first phase of the Western Rail Corridor was opened on 29th March 2010. Because of changed economic circumstances, it will not now be possible to progress all the projects in Transport 21 in accordance with the ambitious timescales envisioned at its launch. Overall transport investment priorities have been reviewed and these priorities are reflected in the Renewed Programme for Government. The Renewed Programme prioritises Metro North and the DART Underground as the key public transport projects for delivery in the coming years.

I can confirm that it is also a priority to commit to continue to progress planning on all other Transport 21 public transport projects to ensure that we will be in a position to move speedily to construction at the earliest possible date once financial resources permit. In this context, Phases 2 and 3 of the Western Rail Corridor remain a Government priority. The next step will be for Iarnród Éireann to undertake a detailed evaluation of Phases 2 and 3 with a view to arriving at precise costs to undertake the works.

Road Safety

Seán Power

Question:

166 Deputy Seán Power asked the Minister for Transport if his attention has been drawn to the difficulties under which haulage companies are now operating as a result of changes to the cabotage regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28591/10]

Changes to the cabotage entitlements of all haulage operators in the EU were introduced on 14 May 2010, as part of a package of measures adopted in December 2009. Previously, cabotage was permitted on a "temporary basis", but the meaning of "temporary" was never legally defined, leading to different interpretations across Member States.

EU legislation now clarifies that every operator is entitled to carry out three cabotage operations in a foreign Member State, within a seven-day period after they finish an inward loaded journey. This new rule applies equally to non-Irish operators carrying goods in Ireland, as well as to Irish operators abroad. The change in cabotage does not affect in any way an Irish operator's entitlement to carry goods between Member States — international journeys of vehicles carrying goods remain fully liberalised. Furthermore, cabotage accounts for approximately 1% of all freight transport by road in the EU, and about the same percentage of freight carried in Ireland.

My Department has informed all Irish international haulage operators about the new rules, at the end of 2009 and again in April this year. In addition, my Department is examining whether some current practices, which developed under the previous interpretation, remain permissible under the new rule. I understand too that affected Irish hauliers are reviewing their own transport arrangements to comply with the change.

Because a number of Irish hauliers operating to the UK in particular may be affected my Department has been in contact already with their UK counterparts and with the European Commission to establish a common understanding of how the rule change will affect work practices currently undertaken by hauliers generally as well as how it will be enforced. The overall objective is to ensure that hauliers will know exactly what arrangements fall within the new rules and which do not, so that operators can plan their operations to the utmost economic efficiency. My Department will be in touch again with affected Irish hauliers following the discussions with the UK and the European Commission.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

167 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport further to Parliamentary Question No. 55 of 23 June 2010, if he will provide a breakdown by car marque and vehicle repairs and faults of the 163,495 car registration details provided by the national vehicle driver file to manufacturers and distributors in the period 1 June 2009 to 31 May 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28637/10]

My Department is compiling the information requested. I will forward the information requested to the Deputy shortly.

Public Transport

Joe McHugh

Question:

168 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Transport the amount of money that will be invested in public transport by his Department in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28674/10]

My Department has allocated Exchequer capital funding of €614.988 million to public transport projects in 2010.

Departmental Expenditure

Joe McHugh

Question:

169 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Transport the amount of money that his Department will invest in roads in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28675/10]

Exchequer funding related to investment in road infrastructure in 2010 is set out in the tables.

Capital

Total

2010

€300,000,000

€112,221,000

€412,221,000

National Roads Investment 2010

Capital

Current

Total

2010

€1,114,000,000

€95,555,000

€1,209,555,000

Rail Network

David Stanton

Question:

170 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Transport his policy, if any, on the reopening of the rail link between Midleton and Youghal, County Cork; if it is planned to carry out a feasibility study or if any such study has been carried out in the past on this proposal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28804/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the reopening of closed railway lines, such as the Midleton to Youghal line, is a matter for Iarnród Éireann in the first instance.

Prison Accommodation

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

171 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will confirm that a new prison block at Wheatfield Prison, Dublin, has been lying idle for more than six months due to a failure to provide kitchen facilities; the cost of the construction of the block; the reason kitchen facilities were not provided; when it is planned to bring the block into service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28665/10]

The Deputy is incorrect in his assertion in this question. The construction phase of the new cell block at a cost of €29m at Wheatfield was completed earlier this year. As is normal practice after completion of the main construction phase the fit-out, installation of equipment including medical, CCTV and locking systems was then commenced. This was completed in April 2010. I am glad to say that it is the intention of Irish Prison Service Management to bring the facility into occupation on a phased basis in a matter of weeks.

Let me set the record straight on the kitchen facilities. Firstly it was recognised from the very outset of this project that additional kitchen capacity would be required in order to cater for the increased prisoner numbers resulting from the new cell block. There were two options available: either a refurbishment of the existing facilities or the provision of a new kitchen with increased capacity to cater for the entire Wheatfield complex. Having considered the various options it was decided to construct a new kitchen on a site close to the existing facility which would allow for the utilisation of some of the existing kitchen services including storage areas. This was considered the best option as it frees up an area currently occupied by the kitchen which will be utilised for staff changing and locker rooms.

The new kitchen is due for completion in September next when it will become fully operational. In the interim there is ample capacity in the existing kitchen facilities at Wheatfield to cater for the opening of the new block which will, as with all major new prison facilities, be managed on a phased basis with a gradual increase in prisoner numbers up to full capacity over a period of months.

Garda Operations

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

172 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of recorded cases of so-called tiger robberies in which staff or relations of staff of financial institutions were taken hostage in each year from 2005 to 2009 and to date in 2010; the amount of money taken in such robberies; the discussions he has had with a bank (details supplied) regarding the most recent tiger robbery on 22 June 2010; if the agreed protocols were observed in this case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28666/10]

To date in 2010 four so-called ‘tiger' kidnappings have taken place and the following table shows the number of similar incidents recorded between 2005-2009. It is the policy of An Garda Síochána not to disclose the amount of money taken during such crimes.

Year

No. of incidents recorded

2009

6

2008

1

2007

3

2006

2

2005

1

Regular meetings are held between An Garda Síochána and Financial Institutions to discuss bank security issues and in particular tiger kidnapping prevention and response protocols. The response procedures in place for dealing with such incidents, which An Garda Síochána does not disclose as a matter of policy and security, typically include the establishment of Crisis Management teams and agreed protocols designed primarily to ensure the safe return of those persons held captive during such incidents and thereafter securing the arrests and prosecution of the culprits involved. Advice on personal security for staff members and on systems and processes in place for the conveyance, storage and dispersal of cash are provided on an ongoing basis and are subject of regular review.

An Garda Síochána does not, as a matter of policy and security, disclose information relating to the nature and exercise of security measures or the amounts of money taken during such incidents.

The Deputy will be aware that the Garda Commissioner and I met with senior representatives of all the banks, including the one he identifies, late last year to discuss this issue. As charges have been preferred in relation to the incident on 22 June referred to by the Deputy I do not consider it appropriate to comment on the details of the case. I can confirm, however, that contacts have taken place at a senior level between An Garda Síochána and the bank involved in relation to issues arising from the incident.

Law Reform Commission Reports

Michael Ring

Question:

173 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the progress that has been made in relation to a consultation paper (details supplied); when the interim report will be published; the recommendations that have been made; and the recommendations that will be followed. [28515/10]

I understand that the Law Reform Commission intends to publish its Final Report on Personal Debt Management and Debt Enforcement by the end of 2010.

On 17 May 2010, the Commission published an Interim Report on some early initiatives that it developed with the assistance of a Working Group. The recommendations are being actively considered by the relevant Departments, including my Department. They include:-

further development of a Standard Financial Statement;

extension of the Irish Banking Federation-MABS Operational Protocol on Managing Debt bringing more financial institutions and other creditors into a nationally agreed debt management process;

proposed reduction in the 12 year period for a discharge under the Bankruptcy Act 1988;

compilation and distribution of comprehensive information for consumer debtors;

development of a Pre-Action Protocol for Consumer Debt Cases.

The full details may be accessed on the Commission's website at www.lawreform.ie.

Asylum Applications

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

174 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the reason for his refusal to establish an independent complaints mechanism for residents of direct provision centres based on the best practice guidelines established by the Office of the Ombudsman; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28516/10]

Complaints by residents of direct provision centres are dealt with in accordance with the procedures outlined in the recently published revised house rules and procedures of the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) of my department, which are available on the RIA website at http://www.ria.gov.ie. A copy these rules and procedures is provided to all asylum seekers on arrival at their accommodation centre.

Experience has shown that, given the nature and the number of such complaints, they are best resolved by informal discussion between residents and management at a local level. Where more serious complaints arise that cannot be resolved informally, residents have the right to lodge a formal written complaint with centre management and are entitled to a response within 14 days. If the issue remains unresolved, the resident has the right to take their complaint to RIA. RIA will make a determination on the complaint and the results of that decision are binding on both centre management and residents. If the resident's complaint is upheld, RIA will ensure that management take appropriate action to rectify the situation.

I should say that rules and procedures were only recently revised arising from a report from a Working Party, the membership of which included the Refugee Information Service and the Irish Refugee Council. During those Working Party discussions the issue of an independent appeals mechanism, on which differing views were held, was fully discussed. The system of direct provision issui generis and I am informed that the complaints resolution procedure above is considered to be the only one appropriate to the circumstances which obtain in that system.

Garda Stations

Brian Hayes

Question:

175 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 247 of 25 May 2010, the timescale for the works required on a Garda station (details supplied) in Dublin 1; when the station will close for refurbishment works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28529/10]

The Garda accommodation programme is based on agreed priorities established by An Garda Síochána and it is brought forward in close cooperation with the Office of Public Works, which has responsibility for the provision and maintenance of Garda accommodation.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that, due to its condition, it will be necessary to vacate the station referred to by the Deputy, to facilitate refurbishment of the premises. The Office of Public Works is currently making arrangements to refurbish another station to accommodate personnel from the station referred to during the relevant period. The tender process for this refurbishment work has been completed and a contract has now been placed.

I am assured by the Garda authorities that current policing levels will be maintained in the area concerned and that there will be no diminution of the Garda service being provided to the local community. The measures referred to will be discontinued when the necessary work at the station referred to by the Deputy has been completed.

Court Procedures

David Stanton

Question:

176 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the situation, if a woman has a baby with a man who is not her husband, of the father of the child vis-à-vis being appointed guardian of the child; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28543/10]

Under section 6A of the 1964 Act, as inserted by section 12 of the Status of Children Act 1987, a non-marital father may apply to the court to be appointed a guardian of his child. Alternatively, where there is agreement between the parents, they can make a statutory declaration under section 2(4) of the 1964 Act, as inserted by section 4 of the Children Act 1997, conferring on the father the status of guardian.

Under section 11 of the 1964 Act, a guardian may apply to the court for its direction on any question affecting the welfare of the child, including directions as to custody and access. In addition, the section provides that the unmarried father of a child, even if he is not a guardian, may apply to the court for orders on custody and access. Section 3 of the Act provides that, in deciding on an application relating to the custody, guardianship or upbringing of a child, the court shall regard the welfare of the child as the first and paramount consideration.

Where appropriate and practicable, the court will also take into account the child's wishes in the matter having regard to the age and understanding of the child. In addition, the law now places an emphasis in terms of recognising the rights of the child to the society of both his or her father and mother: Section 11D of the 1964 Act (inserted by the Children Act 1997) obliges the court in proceedings relating to the welfare of a child to consider whether the child's best interests would be served by maintaining personal relations and direct contact with both his or her father and mother on a regular basis.

These legislative provisions, contained in the Guardianship of Children Acts 1964 to 1997, are comprehensive. They permit the court in cases of disagreement to decide on arrangements for the child's care and upbringing having regard to the child's best interests.

Question No. 177 answered with Question No. 66.

Ministerial Appointments

Ulick Burke

Question:

178 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of peace commissioners he has appointed for each of the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28589/10]

There were 93 appointments to the Office of Peace Commissioner in 2007, 160 in 2008 and 96 in 2009. There have been 17 appointments made in 2010 to date.

Peace Commissioners are appointed under section 88 of the Courts of Justice Act, 1924. The Office of Peace Commissioner is an honorary appointment and Peace Commissioners receive no remuneration or compensation by way of fees or expenses for their services. An application for appointment may be submitted by a person who is interested in obtaining an appointment or a third party may submit a nomination in respect of a person considered suitable for appointment. Nominations are generally received from public representatives. A local Garda Superintendent sometimes requests an appointment in a particular area in the public interest.

There is no qualifying examination involved but appointees are required to be of good character and they are usually well established in the local community. Persons who are members of professions or employed in occupations which engage in legal work or related activities and members of the clergy are, as a matter of practice, not appointed because of their occupation and civil servants are usually only appointed where the performance of their official duties requires an appointment (i.e.ex-officio). Persons convicted of serious offences are considered unsuitable for appointment.

The fact that an applicant or nominee may be suitable for appointment does not in itself provide any entitlement to appointment because appointments are made at the discretion of the Minister for Justice and Law Reform and having regard to the needs of particular areas.

Citizenship Applications

Beverley Flynn

Question:

179 Deputy Beverley Flynn asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform when a decision will be determined on an application for naturalisation in respect of a person (details supplied). [28595/10]

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 January 2010.

All valid applications are dealt with in chronological order as this is deemed to be the fairest to all applicants. The average processing time from application to decision is now at 26 months. More complicated cases can at times take more than the current average, while an element of straight forward cases can be dealt with in less than that timescale.

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

Pat Breen

Question:

180 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 586 of 20 April 2010, the position regarding an application for naturalisation in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28598/10]

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 April 2008.

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

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

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

181 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding an application for naturalisation in respect of a person (details supplied); if approval will be granted. [28601/10]

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 2009.

The Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1956, as amended, provides that the Minister may, in his absolute discretion, grant an application for a certificate of naturalisation provided certain statutory conditions are fulfilled. The person concerned did not fulfil all of the statutory conditions, consequently, the Citizenship Division of my Department have deemed the application ineligible. The person in question was informed of this decision in a letter issued to her on 9 December, 2009.

It is open to the person concerned to lodge a new application for a certificate of naturalisation if and when she is in a position to meet the statutory requirements.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal

John McGuinness

Question:

182 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the reasons for the delay in hearing a case under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal; if he will expedite the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28609/10]

I can inform the Deputy that, under the terms of the Scheme of Compensation for Personal Injuries Criminally Inflicted, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal is entirely independent in the matter of deciding individual applications to the Tribunal. In this regard, as I am sure the Deputy will appreciate, it would be inappropriate for me to have any involvement with an individual application.

However to be of assistance in the matter, I have had enquiries made with the Tribunal in relation to the application referred to by the Deputy. I understand that the Tribunal received the application in question on the 10th February, 2010 and that the application will shortly be placed in line for submission to a Tribunal Member for decision.

Citizenship Applications

Frank Feighan

Question:

183 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will provide an update on an application for naturalisation in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Roscommon. [28641/10]

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 May 2008.

All valid applications are dealt with in chronological order as this is deemed to be the fairest to all applicants. The average processing time from application to decision is now at 26 months. More complicated cases can at times take more than the current average, while an element of straight forward cases can be dealt with in less than that timescale. Additional resources have been allocated to the Citizenship Division of my Department in order to reduce backlogs and provide a better quality service to all applicants. This has had a positive impact on processing times and has enabled certain categories of applicant to be dealt with more expeditiously. These include refugees, spouses of Irish citizens and minors. Officials in the Citizenship Division inform me that further processing of the application is ongoing and the file will be submitted to me for a decision in due course.

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

Garda Resources

Joe McHugh

Question:

184 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the budget available to the gardaí for 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28672/10]

The total financial allocation for the Garda Síochána in 2010 is €1.5 billion.

The amount of money being provided for Garda services is very substantial demonstrating the Government's commitment to funding all the major elements of the criminal justice system so that An Garda Síochána can continue to operate effectively to tackle crime. The priority for 2010 is to maintain the existing level of front line policing services to the public by focusing on key services such as high visibility patrolling and intelligence led operations like Operation Anvil while pursuing increased efficiency and best value for money.

Garda Investigations

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

185 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the degree, if any, to which witness or jury intimidation has been detected in the past two years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28775/10]

Section 41 of the Criminal Justice Act 1999 makes it an offence to harm or threaten or in any other way intimidate or put in fear another person who is assisting in the investigation by An Garda Síochána of an offence, or is a witness or potential witness or a juror or potential juror in proceedings for an offence, or a member of his or her family, with the intention thereby of causing the investigation or the course of justice to be obstructed, perverted or interfered with.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that separate records are not maintained of offences under section 41 as between those directed against witnesses and those directed against jurors. Accordingly, the information available from the Gardaí covers both categories of individuals. The Deputy will appreciate that, of their nature, instances of intimidation of jurors are less likely to come to notice than instances of witness intimidation.

The table shows the position with regard to the number of proceedings that have been commenced for offences under Section 41 of the 1999 Act for the period from 2008 to 27 June 2010.

Year

Proceedings

2010*

15

2009*

28

2008

17

*Figures for 2009 and 2010 are provisional.

The statutory provisions available to counteract jury intimidation reflect the gravity of the offence. The Gardaí rigorously enforce these provisions and, of course, will continue to do so. Further legislative action has being taken in the context of the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009, including a significant increase in the penalty following conviction for jury intimidation from up to ten to 15 years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.

Garda Equipment

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

186 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the Garda stations throughout County Kildare that have been provided with pulse and or other up to date communications facilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28776/10]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the Garda Stations in Co. Kildare with access to PULSE via the Garda Network are Athy, Castledermot, Celbridge, Clane, Kildare, Leixlip, Maynooth, Monasterevin, Naas and Newbridge.

The Deputy will also be aware that the Garda Information Services Centre (GISC) based in Castlebar is now a key component of the PULSE System. The Centre allows Gardaí, who would otherwise have to return to their stations to input or update incident data, to log the information over the telephone with their civilian colleagues at the GISC, thus keeping those members of the Force more effectively deployed for longer periods in frontline policing roles across communities. The Kildare Division migrated to the new National Digital Radio System in September 2009 as part of the nationwide rollout of the system.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

187 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of Garda cars available to each Garda station in County Kildare; the degree to which same are available in the catchment area of the stations concerned on a 24 hour basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28777/10]

The detailed allocation of Garda resources, including transport, is a matter for the Garda Commissioner to decide in accordance with his identified operational requirements and priorities. I am informed by the Garda authorities that the number of Garda vehicles available to each Garda Station in County Kildare, including cars, vans and motorcycles, is as set out in the table. All the official vehicles allocated to the Kildare Division are available to provide a service to the public on a 24 hour basis.

Station

Total

Athy

5

Ballymore Eust

1

Cadbury

1

Castledermot

1

Celbridge

2

Clane

1

Kilcullen

1

Kildare

4

Kill

1

Leixlip

3

Maynooth

2

Monasterevin

1

Naas

20

Newbridge

8

Rathangan

1

Robertstown

1

Total

53

Missing Persons

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

188 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of persons currently recorded under the heading of missing persons; the extent to which their cases are being monitored; the degree to which a breakthrough is expected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28778/10]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the following table sets out the numbers of persons reported missing each year since 2001 and who remain untraced, up to and including 27 June, 2010.

Number of missing persons reported and who remain untraced, 2001 to 2009 and in 2010 up to 27 June

Year

Number

2001

60

2002

75

2003

60

2004

55

2005

39

2006

57

2007

60

2008

46

2009

81

2010

99

Statistics provided are operational and liable to change.

I am further informed that all incidents where persons have been reported missing remain under investigation until such time as the person is located. The District Officer (Superintendent) in the area where a person has gone missing takes direct responsibility for all investigations and searches carried out. Local investigation teams are appointed by the District Officer, and all means necessary, including the services of specialist units, are deployed to assist in these investigations, as considered appropriate.

The Garda Missing Persons Bureau, which is responsible for all data relating to missing persons, provides expert assistance and advice to District Officers in all high risk missing person cases. Incidents relating to persons reported missing are the subject of review on a regular basis by the Missing Persons Bureau.

I am informed that the Garda authorities are satisfied that adequate resources, including staff and technological resources, are in place to deal with missing persons cases and are in line with best international practice.

Garda Operations

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

189 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of reported gun crimes including killings in each of the past three years; the extent to which successful prosecutions have followed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28779/10]

In the time available it has not been possible for the Garda authorities to supply the information requested by the Deputy. I will be in contact with the Deputy when the information is to hand.

Drug Trafficking

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

190 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he is satisfied that the exchange of information between the authorities here and those in other jurisdictions has maximised the efficiency of the fight against international drug trafficking; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28780/10]

I am advised by the Garda authorities that they have a number of strong strategic partnerships in place at national and international level which include, inter alia, partnerships with Europol, Interpol, the Revenue Commissioners (Customs & Excise Branch), the Irish Naval Service, MAOCN (Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre Narcotics), SOCA (Serious Organised Crime Agency) and the United States Drug Enforcement Agency. An Garda Síochána also has a special relationship with its Law Enforcement partners in the PSNI in respect of policing drugs on the island of Ireland.

An Garda Síochána continues to be relentless in the pursuit of drug traffickers especially those who target Ireland and Europe and, in cooperation with Revenue Customs and other International Law Enforcement agencies actively assisted by Europol and Interpol, is currently conducting a number of ongoing operations against drug-trafficking. An Garda Síochána has liaison officers based in The Hague, Paris, Madrid, London, and at Europol, Interpol and MAOC(N) in Lisbon.

The targeting of international traffickers is supplemented by a vigorous policy against persons in the Irish state who are supplying controlled drugs. Drugs and Organised Crime is again being prioritised by An Garda Síochána as a core focus for 2010, through the Commissioner's Policing Plan, 2010, which reflects Government strategies contained in the National Drug Strategy. The links between Organised Crime and the illicit drugs trade are also being actively pursued. The Garda National Drugs Unit, with other national units, including the Organised Crime Unit and the Criminal Assets Bureau, are targeting persons involved in the illegal drugs trade who are subject of intelligence-led operations aimed at detecting and prosecuting offenders.

Revenue's Customs Service has a shared competence with an Garda Síochána in respect of drugs law enforcement. Their relationship is underpinned by a Memorandum of Understanding, an Operation Protocol and a Joint Task Force arrangement to deal with intelligence-driven operations.

I am advised by the Revenue authorities that these arrangements work very effectively and provide for the exchange of intelligence between Revenue and the Garda authorities and for the conduct of joint operations. Furthermore, Revenue participate in the annual programme of Joint Customs Operations which target the highest risk areas in terms of drug smuggling. These operations are conducted under the auspices of the Customs Co-operation Working Party at EU level.

Revenue's Customs Service enjoys excellent working relationships with other Customs and Law Enforcement Services abroad. Information and intelligence is exchanged under international conventions and Memoranda of Understanding. Due to the trans-national nature of drug trafficking, the exchange of real-time actionable intelligence is a key component in the law enforcement response and such exchanges have resulted in many significant drug seizures.

Revenue has an officer assigned to each of the following: the Europol National Unit, a Liaison Officer at the Irish Desk in Europol, Den Haag, a liaison officer at the Irish Embassy in London, and a liaison officer at the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre-Narcotics in Lisbon and an officer (on a part time basis) in the Office of the Minister for Drugs. These assignments all form part of Revenue's commitment to the international law enforcement effort to suppress drug trafficking.

I am satisfied that a significant impact has been made by arresting and prosecuting a number of major players involved in drug trafficking. A number of gangs and other organised criminal groupings involved in drug-trafficking into Ireland have also been disrupted and dismantled through the ongoing enforcement policies being implemented by An Garda Síochána and the Customs Service. Successes by law enforcement agencies have been acknowledged by our international partners and Ireland has shown that it is ready, willing and able to play its part in international drugs law enforcement.

Crime Prevention

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

191 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the discussions he has had with his EU colleagues with a view to greater co-operation and co-ordination in the fight against organised crime including drug trafficking; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28781/10]

The European Union has made great strides in the field of Freedom, Security and Justice over the past number of years. Justice and Home Affairs Work Programmes and their accompanying Action Plans have played a central role in fostering a more structured and cohesive approach to cooperative and legislative initiatives. The Union has advanced its work, inter alia, in the fight against organised crime and terrorism and the fight against drug trafficking. Ireland welcomed the Stockholm Programme, which was endorsed by the European Council in December last, as the new five-year work programme for the JHA area. This followed a series of discussions between Ministers for Justice and Ministers for the Interior of the Member States over the preceding months.

The Stockholm Programme set out the need for a strong, coordinated response to organised crime due to its cross border nature. The very serious issues of trafficking in human beings, child pornography, cybercrime, financial crime, counterfeiting of means of payment and drugs trafficking have all been identified as priorities for action. The all-pervasive nature of organised crime means that actions in these areas need to be tackled in a comprehensive and coordinated manner as the influence of organised crime remains a common factor across the individual areas of concern. At the Justice and Home Affairs Council in June, Ministers agreed Council Conclusions on the Commission's Action Plan to implement the Programme.

Also at the June Council, a number of important issues were discussed including internal security, the Pact against International Drug Trafficking and the proposed Directive on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings, and protecting victims.

The aim of the Pact is disrupting cocaine and heroin routes. It stresses that organised crime gangs involved in drug trafficking operate transnationally and, therefore, a more effective response can be found at the EU level. I share the concerns expressed about drug trafficking and the threat that it poses for community safety in the European Union. Ireland has expressed its support for the Pact and continues to support the practical cooperation measures involved. We have experienced large increases in the consumption of cocaine by all sectors of society. As we all know, the risks associated with cocaine are extremely high and the physical and mental health problems that arise from its use are alarming. I am particularly conscious of the social and economic consequences where the community bears the brunt of the criminal behaviour so often associated with both cocaine and heroin.

Ireland is supportive of Member States working together in groups, or working in a regional approach, to combat issues of special interest — as evidenced by our participation in Maritime Analysis Operational Centre (Narcotics) in Lisbon which targets illicit shipments of drugs by sea and air to Europe. Ireland stressed the need to target the assets of organised criminals and cited the recent joint operation between Ireland, Spain and the UK as an example of what can be achieved through cooperation across Member States.

There are a number of new threats such as cybercrime and it is crucial that we work together to tackle them. However, more traditional threats should not be ignored. This includes threats from indigenous terrorism. The proposed Directive on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings, and protecting victims was also discussed. Ireland is actively engaged in prevention, protection and prosecution strategies to deal with this crime. I am supportive of the measures being undertaken in terms of prevention, prosecution and the provision of protection and assistance to victims.

Garda Stations

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

192 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of Garda stations listed for or deemed to require upgrading; the schedule for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28782/10]

The programme of replacement and refurbishment of Garda accommodation around the country is based on agreed priorities established by An Garda Síochána and it is progressed in close co-operation with the Office of Public Works, who have responsibility for the provision and maintenance of Garda accommodation.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the Commissioner has taken steps to identify the future accommodation needs of An Garda Síochána and assess current buildings and facilities, including their condition, location and development requirements. This is a matter that is being dealt with by senior Garda management with a view to identifying specific requirements at Regional and Divisional levels, and drawing up appropriate proposals.

Accommodation plans for Garda stations and facilities will be progressed in the context of the Garda Síochána's identified accommodation priorities and in the light of available resources.

Crime Levels

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

193 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of burglaries reported to the various Garda stations throughout County Kildare in the past five years; the number of prosecutions and convictions which followed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28784/10]

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.

Prison Accommodation

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

194 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of prison cells currently accommodating one prisoner only; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28785/10]

The are currently 1,597 cells/rooms accommodating one prisoner only, throughout the prison estate. However, this can change on a daily basis depending on the number of committals the prisons receive from the courts. This figure does not include prisoners held in special observation/close supervision cells.

In addition some prisons/places of detention have dormitory style accommodation. In the case of Castlerea Prison, 55 prisoners are held in a group of domestic scale houses in "The Grove" which is regarded as residential type accommodation.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

195 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of prisoners at each prison location in each of the past 12 months to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28786/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the number of prisoners in custody on 24 June 2010 was 4,311. The information relating to the number of persons in custody for the previous 12 months is set out in the table for the same date approximately each month.

2010

2010

2010

2010

2010

2010

2009

2009

2009

2009

2009

2009

Prison

June

May

April

Mar

Feb

Jan

Dec

Nov

Oct

Sep

Aug

July

Arbour Hill

155

154

156

156

155

154

154

154

154

157

156

156

Castlerea

383

372

369

375

381

368

349

355

355

366

349

318

Cloverhill

467

483

482

456

472

449

385

469

423

458

437

406

Cork

303

318

294

304

305

290

283

302

300

306

288

312

Dóchas

140

130

124

131

120

121

107

123

119

113

95

107

Limerick (m)

310

314

303

314

310

309

288

301

302

302

285

307

Limerick (f)

24

22

32

25

25

25

20

20

22

26

23

27

Loughan

146

144

138

148

145

136

128

137

139

148

140

126

Midlands

550

528

524

529

523

515

517

524

514

512

521

524

Mountjoy

681

665

640

665

635

605

581

640

629

607

599

647

Portlaoise

270

263

253

261

262

258

202

157

117

119

121

122

Shelton

96

100

100

99

96

99

88

96

100

100

99

99

St. Patrick’s

228

222

220

218

223

208

200

214

232

223

206

226

Training Unit

113

108

112

110

111

112

112

112

117

117

111

111

Wheatfield

445

447

450

446

448

429

430

436

447

427

422

426

The Irish Prison Service must accept all prisoners committed by the Courts who are independent in the exercise of their functions. As I have indicated to the House on previous occasions it is the case that there has been a consistent increase in the total prisoner population over recent years. This situation is particularly apparent over the past 12 months during which time the total number in custody has increased by 429. This represents a 11% increase in the numbers in custody.

The Inspector of Prisons, in his 2008 Annual Report, acknowledged that overcrowding in prisons is an international problem, not just unique to Ireland. To deal with the issue of increasing prisoner numbers the Irish Prison Service — with the full support of Government — has progressed a prisons building programme which has provided close to 1,800 new prison spaces since 1997. This is a significant investment by any standard and our prison investment will continue.

Current projects will see in excess 200 prison spaces provided in the short term by means of the opening of a new completed block in Wheatfield. In addition, we hope to proceed in late 2010 with a new accommodation block in the Portlaoise/Midlands prisons complex which will provide 300 prison spaces in the medium term. Also in the short term, work is due to commence on converting an administrative building on the Dóchas site into a new accommodation block. This accommodation will provide approximately 50 spaces and is due to be completed later this year.

The new prison campus at Thornton Hall, County Dublin will provide accommodation for 1,400 cells with operational flexibility to accommodate up to 2,200 in a range of security settings.

The development is now proceeding on a phased basis with phase one comprising essential enabling works required for the development, including the construction of the dedicated access road, perimeter wall and off-site services. Tenders for the construction of the access road were published in March of this year and tenders for the construction of the perimeter wall will be published in September.

Phase 2 will include the development of the main prison campus. The detailed appraisal is underway in accordance with Department of Finance Capital Expenditure Guidelines and the new business case is at an advanced stage of preparation.

Prisoner Releases

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

196 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of prisoners on the various forms of early day or special release on a monthly basis in each of the past 12 months to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28787/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

209 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the occupancy rate of all prison cells in each of the past 12 months to date in 2010; the number of prisoners on the various forms of early release over the same period in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28822/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 196 and 209 together.

The Criminal Justice Act 1960, as amended by the Criminal Justice (Temporary Release of Prisoners) Act 2003 provides that the Minister may approve the temporary release of a sentenced prisoner. This discretionary instrument assists in gradually preparing suitable offenders for release, in administering short sentences, in addressing humanitarian issues and can be an incentive to well-behaved prisoners. It should be noted that a prisoner on temporary release is still subject to his or her sentence and may be returned to prison without any court intervention.

Temporary release arrangements are an important vehicle for re-integrating an offender into the community in a planned way. The generally accepted view is that the risk to the community is reduced by planned re-integration of offenders compared with their return to the community on the completion of their full sentence. Each case is examined on its own merits and the safety of the public is paramount when decisions are made. In addition, all releases are subject to conditions, which in the vast majority of cases include a requirement to report on a regular basis to the offender's Garda Station. Of course, any offender who breaches his or her conditions may be arrested and returned to prison immediately by the Gardaí.

As the Deputy is aware periods of temporary release granted can vary greatly from a few hours following a family bereavement to, for example, a requirement to report to the prison every 12 months in the case of a life sentence prisoner who has been released in the community a considerable time ago. I wish to inform the Deputy that on 24th June, 2010 there were 933 prisoners on temporary release. This represents 17.8% of the total number of prisoners in the system on that day. To put this figure in context let me place on the record of the House the equivalent percentage of prisoners on temporary release for the years 1994 to 1997. The percentages are as follows: 1994 — 22.2%; 1995 — 20.2%; 1996 — 17.9% and 1997 — 19.2%.

It is not possible to provide exact figures to the Deputy for the occupancy rate of all prison cells for the period requested as this would require a disproportionate and inordinate amount of staff time and effort and could not be justified in current circumstances where there are other significant demands on resources. However I can inform the Deputy that all prisons have been consistently operating at their full bed capacity/occupancy rate or slightly in excess of it over the last 12 months.

The figures provide the bed capacity and persons in custody per prison/institution on 24th June 2010.

Prison/Place of Detention

Numbers in Custody

Bed Capacity

Arbour Hill Prison

155

148

Castlerea Prison

383

351

Cloverhill Prison

467

431

Cork Prison

303

272

Dóchas Centre

140

85

Limerick Prison (male)

310

290

Limerick Prison (female)

24

20

Loughan House

146

150

Midlands Prison

550

516

Mountjoy Prison

681

590

Portlaoise Prison

270

359

Shelton Abbey

96

100

St. Patrick’s Institution

228

217

Training Unit

113

107

Wheatfield Prison

445

430

Total

4,311

4,066

Crime Levels

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

197 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of criminal acts carried out by known members of criminal gangs in each of the past 12 months to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28788/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

198 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the efforts he has made to combat the ongoing activity of criminal gangs; the way this has impacted on such criminal activity in each of the past 12 months to date; if further specific measures are required or contemplated to deal with the full extent of such criminal activity as identified during this period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28789/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

208 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform further to a recent parliamentary question on the way in which records are not kept of membership of criminal gangs, the way it was intended to specifically target membership of criminal gangs by way of specific legislation; if any changes have been made or are proposed in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28821/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 197, 198 and 208 together.

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 81 of today's date. I am advised by the Garda Authorities that it is not possible to provide the information requested by the Deputy. Due to the fluid nature of the membership of criminal gangs it is not always possible to ascribe specific crimes to the activities of members of those gangs.

An Garda Síochána continue to utilise all available legislative provisions available to them in their pursuit of those involved in criminal gangs. The additional legislative provisions introduced by the Oireachtas in 2007 and 2009 which amend the Criminal Justice Act 2006 will greatly assist Gardaí in relation to the problem of organised crime and will help them to further develop and implement strategies to dismantle and disrupt criminal networks through the use of advanced analytical and intelligence methods. The use of targeted intelligence led operations will facilitate the early intervention of Gardaí and help prevent such crimes.

Where there is justification and a legal basis, those suspected of involvement in criminal activity are arrested, detained and questioned in relation to specific crime. A member of An Garda Síochána must, at all times, have reasonable grounds to believe that an individual has been involved in criminal activity before they can arrest and question any person in relation to criminality.

There are currently a number of initiatives underway targeting the activities of Organised Crime Groups, the focus of which is to gather evidence on which it is envisaged that charges under the recently enacted legislation may be directed by the Law Officers. A number of these initiatives are at an advanced stage and investigation files have been submitted to the Law Officers for direction. In other cases, files are being prepared for submission to the Law Officers. Also four persons have recently appeared before the Courts charged with offences under the 2009 legislation relating to participation in organised crime activity. As these cases are currently before the Courts, it would not be appropriate for me to comment further.

Legal Aid Service

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

199 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the extent to which funding made available by his Department is adequate to meet legal aid requirements; the extent of the shortfall; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28790/10]

I can inform the Deputy that in common with the funding provisions for all areas of the Justice Vote Group, the allocations for legal aid will continue to be closely monitored during the course of the year. It is too early at this stage of the financial year to predict, with any degree of certainty, the final expenditure in relation to legal aid.

Bail Applications

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

200 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the extent to which bail was granted in criminal cases in each of the past five years to date where the gardaí had objected to such bail; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28791/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

201 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of applications made for bail in each of the past three years to date in respect of offences committed while on bail; the number of cases granted or refused; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28792/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

202 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of persons who obtained bail for a criminal offence committed while on bail in respect of a previous offence in each of the past five years to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28793/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

203 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the steps he has taken or proposes to take to ensure that the bail law is not abused by criminal gangs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28794/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 200 to 203, inclusive, together.

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 in relation to crimes committed where the suspected offender was on bail.

The other statistics requested by the Deputy relate to applications for bail and the granting of bail by the courts. Under the Courts Service Act, 1998, the Courts Service is independent in the performance of its functions, which include the provision of information on the courts system to the public, including the provision of statistical and other related information.

The operation of the legislation relating to bail is kept under continuing review by my Department, and proposals for amendment of the legislation are brought forward when that is considered necessary. A decision to grant bail in a particular case is a matter for the court, which is, subject only to the Constitution and the law, independent in the exercise of its judicial functions. There is a constitutional presumption in favour of bail, since, in the eyes of the law, a person is innocent until proven guilty.

Towards the end of last year, I obtained Government approval to commence work on a new Bail Bill. The Bill will restate and consolidate bail law. In addition, a number of matters to improve the operation of the law are being examined, including where members of criminal gangs are involved. These include:

(a) providing that the courts must have regard to the nature and seriousness of any danger to any person or the public posed by the release of the accused person on bail;

(b) creating presumptions that bail should be refused for people charged with certain types of serious crime. In view of restrictions resulting from the European Convention on Human Rights, such presumptions would act as a form of guidance to the courts in identifying those who present unacceptable risks of committing serious offences if granted bail; and

(c) extending the powers of the courts to refuse bail where that is necessary to prevent the commission of further offences to include more minor offences which fall below the current level of seriousness required by the Bail Act 1997.

I hope to be in a position to bring proposals to Government later this year.

Garda Operations

Finian McGrath

Question:

204 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will support a matter (details supplied). [28797/10]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the area referred to is in the Clontarf Garda Sub-District. I am further informed that local Garda management has no recorded complaints of speeding or breaches of road traffic legislation in the area. Any such incident reported to An Garda Síochána will be investigated.

The area is subject to regular patrols by uniform and plain clothes personnel, including the Community Policing Unit, the Garda Mountain Bike Unit and the local Detective and Drugs Units, supplemented as required by the Divisional Crime Task Force and Traffic Corps personnel.

Local Garda management closely monitors and keeps under review patrols and other operational strategies in place, in conjunction with crime trends and policing needs of the communities in the area, to ensure optimum use is made of Garda resources and the best possible Garda service is provided to the public. The deployment of Garda traffic resources is prioritised with the aim of preventing traffic collisions.

Community policing is a central feature and core value of the Garda Síochána policing policy. Current policing strategies are predicated on the prevention of crime, public order offences, anti-social behaviour and breaches of road traffic legislation, thereby promoting an environment conducive to the improvement of the quality of life for residents. This strategy is, and will continue to be, central to the delivery of a policing service to the area in question.

Asylum Applications

Beverley Flynn

Question:

205 Deputy Beverley Flynn asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform when a decision will issue on a visa application in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 7. [28801/10]

I have been informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service that the application from the person referred to by the Deputy was received in my Department on 19th September 2008. A decision was reached in relation to the application and was communicated in writing to the person concerned on 5th March 2010. This correspondence was then returned to my Department undelivered. The decision was reissued on 29 July 2010 to the applicant

John McGuinness

Question:

206 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if permission to remain in the State will be granted in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and the timeframe for a decision on same. [28808/10]

Arising from the refusal of her 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 7 February 2005, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of her. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why a Deportation Order should not be made against her.

The person concerned initiated Judicial Review proceedings in the High Court, challenging the decision of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal in her case. The Judicial Review proceedings were struck out meaning that the earlier decisions of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal and the Minister stood.

The daughter of the person concerned made an application, on her behalf, for permission to remain in the State on the basis of Family Reunification. This application was refused because the person concerned did not qualify as a dependant under Section 18(4)(b) of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended).

On the 5 May 2010, an application for Subsidiary Protection was submitted on behalf of the person concerned and this application will be considered first. 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.

Garda Operations

Finian McGrath

Question:

207 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will support a matter (details supplied). [28813/10]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the location referred to is in Clontarf Sub-District. Local Garda management is aware of anti-social behaviour in the area, including at the location. I am further informed that local Garda management is not currently in receipt of complaints about the location. Any such complaints reported to An Garda Síochána will be subject to investigation.

The area is subject to regular patrols by uniform and plain clothes personnel, Including the Community Policing Unit, the Garda Mountain Bike Unit and the local Detective and Drugs Units, supplemented as required by the Divisional Crime Task Force and Traffic Corps personnel.

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

Community policing is a central feature and core value of Garda policing policy, and current policing strategies are predicated on the prevention of crime, public order offences and anti-social behaviour. This approach will promote an environment conducive to the improvement of the quality of life for residents.

Question No. 208 answered with Question No. 197.
Question No. 209 answered with Question No. 196.

Departmental Funding

Ulick Burke

Question:

210 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the number of applications her Department has received from County Galway to participate in the mid Shannon tax incentive scheme for tourism related projects since its introduction; the number of applications that have been approved, that are in progress or that have been completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28587/10]

The Mid-Shannon Tourism Infrastructure Investment Scheme, which was introduced in section 29 of the Finance Act 2007 and launched in June 2008, provides tax incentives for investment in tourism attractions and facilities in the designated Mid-Shannon Corridor. The approval and certification of projects under the Scheme is a matter for the Mid-Shannon Tourism Infrastructure Board in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport in consultation with the Minister for Finance.

The Mid-Shannon Board and the executive teams within Fáilte Ireland and Shannon Development have extensively promoted the Scheme since its commencement date. Information seminars have been held with industry groups throughout the targeted region and local authorities have also been engaged to ensure their support for the Scheme and projects that might result from it.

I am advised that, to date, a total of two applications from County Galway have been submitted to the Board through Fáilte Ireland for consideration under the Scheme. One application has received first stage approval in principle while, for the other, further information is awaited from the applicant before the Board can proceed to consider approval.

Swimming Pool Projects

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

211 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the position regarding the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council’s application for the refurbishment of a swimming pool (details supplied) in Stillorgan, Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28514/10]

Under the Local Authority Swimming Pool Programme, which is administered by the Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport, grant aid to a maximum of €3.8 million is provided towards the capital costs of new swimming pools or the refurbishment of existing pools, subject in both cases to the total grant not exceeding 80% of the eligible cost of the project or, in the case of projects located in disadvantaged areas, 90% of the eligible cost. The current round of the Programme has been closed to new applicants since July 2000 and Glenalbyn was included as a location in that programme.

While a Preliminary Report was approved for the refurbishment of the existing swimming pool and provision of additional leisure facilities at Glenalbyn in 2001 it is understood that Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council wishes to replace the Glenalbyn project with Loughlinstown. A detailed submission in relation to this proposal is awaited from the local authority.

Departmental Funding

Dinny McGinley

Question:

212 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport if she will outline any grants or assistance that are available for the development of hotel accommodation and facilities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28537/10]

Under section 8 of the National Tourism Development Authority Act 2003 it is a function of Fáilte Ireland to support the development of tourism enterprises in the State. I have no statutory function in relation to the administration of supports or the award of grants or assistance to tourism enterprises.

The National Tourism Development Authority, Fáilte Ireland, has an allocation of funding for Tourism Product Development to stimulate investment in tourism development projects. However, there are no supports available as part of this capital investment programme for the development of accommodation facilities including hotels, guesthouses etc.

As the Deputy may be aware, a tax incentive scheme was previously in place that allowed for a 7-year rate of write off of capital expenditure incurred in the construction/refurbishment of hotel buildings. The scheme was terminated as of the 4 December 2002 with transitional periods extending to the 31 July 2008. Hotel projects that commenced in their entirety after 31 July 2008 (earlier if certain conditions relating to the securing of planning permission were not fulfilled) can claim the general industrial buildings allowance of 4% per annum over 25 years.

Details of the grants and supports available to new and established tourism businesses are accessible on Fáilte Ireland's website atwww.failteireland.ie.

Those supports include:

Capital grants for physical tourism attractions;

Various non-capital grants to assist individual businesses and trade groups with the marketing of their products;

The Mid-Shannon Corridor Scheme; grants towards the funding of Festivals and Cultural Events; and

the Business Expansion and Seed Capital Scheme.

Aside from the programmes above, Fáilte Ireland provides a range of other supports to tourism businesses. These include:

A range of interactive tools on topics relevant to businesses;

an e-business support initiative;

Business Mentoring; Employment Law Compliance;

Business promotion through a variety of promotional events; and

Resources and guides related to the area of marketing and publicity.

Sports Capital Programme

Joe McHugh

Question:

213 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the amount of the sports budget for 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28673/10]

An amount of €117.721 million has been allocated for sport and recreation services in my Department's Vote for 2010. A detailed breakdown of this budget is outlined in the Revised Estimates for 2010.

John McGuinness

Question:

214 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the number of projects throughout the country that have been approved for lottery funding and have not yet commenced the project; the amount of money allocated to the projects; if there is a time frame within which each project must commence; if it is her intention to introduce a new sports capital programme; the way in which money from the lottery is now dealt with in the absence of such a programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28696/10]

Under the Sports Capital Programme, which is part funded by the National Lottery, funding is allocated to sporting and to voluntary and community organisations at local, regional and national level throughout the country.

At the end of 2009 the total level of outstanding commitments on hand from previous rounds of the Sports Capital programme was just over €117m. This represented approximately 1,900 separate allocations. An amount of €48m has been provided in the Department's Estimates for 2010 to meet payments in respect of previously allocated grants under the Programme.

Typically grantees are allowed a period of approximately 16-18 months to begin the drawdown of their allocations. However for a variety of reasons it can take grantees several years to draw down allocations. Some of the more common reasons for this include: delays in finalising the legalities required to protect the State's investment; delays in the planning process and/or construction; and difficulties in raising the required own funding.

The Department has a grant withdrawal programme in place whereby projects where the delay in progressing the project is excessive, or the project has ceased, the Department seeks to withdraw allocations. While this is a labour intensive and time consuming process an amount of €1.4 million was withdrawn in 2009.

The proceeds from the National Lottery form part of the General Exchequer managed by the Department of Finance.

No decision has been made on the timing of the next round of the Programme.

Úsáid na Gaeilge

Dinny McGinley

Question:

215 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Dinny McGinley den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Comhionannais agus Gaeltachta cad tá á dhéanamh lena chinntiú go mbíonn Gardaí, dlíodóirí agus breithiúna, dochtúirí, altraí, fiaclóirí, agus soláthróirí seirbhísí Stáit eile le Gaeilge ar fáil sa Ghaeltacht, lena n-áirítear sna scoileanna; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [28555/10]

I dtús báire, ní miste dom a rá go bhfuil dul chun cinn suntasach déanta go dtí seo maidir le cur i bhfeidhm fhorálacha Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003, ar bhonn chéimiúil. Tugann na scéimeanna teanga atá mar chroílár an Achta deis do chomhlachtaí poiblí a gcuid tosaíochtaí a aithint agus a eagrú ó thaobh feabhas a chur ar a gcuid seirbhísí Gaeilge don phobal. Agus iad ag ullmhú dréacht-scéime, tá dualgas ar chomhlachtaí poiblí a chinntiú: go bhfuil líon leordhóthanach den fhoireann acu atá inniúil sa Ghaeilge; go bhfreastalaítear ar na riachtanais áirithe Gaeilge a bhaineann le seirbhísí a sholáthar i limistéir Ghaeltachta; agus go mbeidh an Ghaeilge ina teanga oibre ina gcuid oifigí sa Ghaeltacht tráth nach déanaí ná cibé dáta a chomhaontófar idir an comhlacht poiblí agus an tAire.

Tá 101 scéim teanga céaduaire, a chlúdaíonn 186 comhlacht poiblí ar fad, daingnithe faoi alt 11 den Acht ó a tháinig an tAcht i bhfeidhm i 2003. Anuas ar sin, tá 30 céad scéim teanga céaduaire eile, a chlúdaíonn 35 comhlacht poiblí, á n-ullmhú. Ní miste dom a rá chomh maith go bhfuil 10 dara scéim teanga daingnithe faoi alt 15 den Acht go dtí seo agus go bhfuil fógra eisithe chuig 55 comhlacht eile faoi alt 15 den Acht ag ceangal orthu dréacht dara scéim teanga a ullmhú agus a sheoladh chugam le daingniú.

Is fiú a rá freisin go bhfuil molta sa dréacht-Straitéis 20 bliain don Ghaeilge go sonróidh scéimeanna teanga amach anseo na poist in eagraíochtaí a mbeidh cumas sa Ghaeilge riachtanach dóibh.

Is dóigh liom go bhfuil dul chun cinn suntasach déanta le blianta beaga anuas maidir le hacmhainní agus córais a fhorbairt a chuideoidh le comhlachtaí poiblí a gcuid seirbhísí Gaeilge a fheabhsú. I measc na nithe sin, áirítear: Córas chreidiúnaithe d'aistritheoirí Gaeilge; Freagra — líne cabhrach don earnáil phoiblí; Áiseanna cuimhne aistriúcháin i nGaeilge don earnáil phoiblí; Ciste ar leith le haghaidh sainchúrsaí 3ú leibhéal trí Ghaeilge; agus Bunachar téarmaíochta náisiúnta don Ghaeilge,focal.ie.

Go ginearálta, ní miste a lua go bhfuil moltaí sonracha sa dréacht-Straitéis 20-bliain don Ghaeilge le dul i ngleic le tuilleadh daoine gairmiúla le cumas sa Ghaeilge a oiliúint le seirbhísí poiblí a sholáthar i nGaeilge do phobal na Gaeltachta agus na Gaeilge. Tá molta go ndéanfar sin ach go háirithe trí leasaithe sa chóras oideachais, go speisialta ag an 3ú leibhéal. I measc na moltaí a bhaineann leis an réimse sin, airítear: go mbainfidh éagsúlacht leis an raon disciplíní a bheidh ar tairiscint agus go mbeidh fócas faoi leith ar riachtanais an mhargaidh do dhaoine a bheidh inniúil i nGaeilge; aschur de chéimithe a bheidh cáilithe go maith leis na scileanna sonracha a mbeidh gá leo le freastal ar stádas náisiúnta agus stádas AE na Gaeilge; agus cúrsaí agus creidiúnú i nGaeilge Ghairmiúil a fhorbairt don oiread gairmeacha agus is féidir.

Is fiú a lua chomh maith go bhfuil moltaí sonracha eile sa dréacht-Straitéis a chabhróidh go mór leis an gcuspóir chun seirbhísí poiblí a sholáthar i nGaeilge, eadhon: go mbunófar Ionad Náisiúnta d'Fhorbairt Ghairmiúil Múinteoirí trí Mheán na Gaeilge in institiúid oideachais atá ann cheana féin; agus go gceapfaidh An Roinn Oideachais agus Scileanna agus an tSeirbhís um Cheapacháin Phoiblí comhshocruithe cuí le cur leis an gcóhort seirbhíseach poiblí atá in ann feidhmiú go dátheangach.

Mar fhocal scoir, ní miste a mhíniú nach bhfuil aon ról agamsa mar Aire maidir le ceapachán breitheamh agus nach bhfuil ceapacháin dá leithéid cuimsithe ag an Acht Teanga.

Departmental Correspondence

Catherine Byrne

Question:

216 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if a reply will issue (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28590/10]

This matter is currently under consideration by my Department's officials in consultation with the relevant authorities. The Deputy will appreciate that I am unable to comment further until that process is completed.

Departmental Funding

Catherine Byrne

Question:

217 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the amount of funding that was allocated by his Department to produce a report (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28614/10]

I am advised that the report in question was approved funding of €7,000 under an initiative introduced in 2008 for local and regional structures. The Deputy will appreciate the difficulty in providing more information to her within the constraints of a "details supplied" Question. However, if she wishes to table a more specific Question, I will be pleased to provide more detail on the record of the House.

Departmental Responsibilities

Jack Wall

Question:

218 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his views on a submission (details supplied); the steps he will take to overcome the problems expressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28693/10]

As I have previously advised the Deputy, the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources is the lead Department in relation to this issue.

Lárionad Náisiúnta Gaeilge

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

219 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Comhionannais agus Gaeltachta an aontaíonn sé gur fiú d’Éirinn Lárionad Náisiúnta Gaeilge a bhunú i gcroílár na príomhchathrach mar cheiliúradh, ní hamháin ar chéad bliain ón Éirí Amach, ach ar an Éirinn a bhí tuartha ag bunaitheoirí an Stáit i gcomhthéacs Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge an Rialtais agus ról lárnach bhaill Chonradh na Gaeilge in Éirí Amach 1916; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [20434/10]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

220 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Comhionannais agus Gaeltachta an aontaíonn sé gur fiú d’Éirinn Lárionad Náisiúnta Gaeilge a bhunú i gcroílár na príomhchathrach mar cheiliúradh, ní hamháin ar chéad bliain ón Éirí Amach, ach i gcomhthéacs Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge an Rialtais agus ról lárnach bhaill Chonradh na Gaeilge in Éirí Amach 1916; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [20432/10]

Tógfaidh mé Ceisteanna Uimhir 219 agus 220 le chéile.

Tá tagairt ar leith déanta sa dréacht-Straitéis 20-bliain don Ghaeilge maidir le forbairt a dhéanamh ar ionad nó spás Gaeilge i mBaile Átha Cliath. Faoi mar is eol don Teachta, tá an dréacht-Straitéis foilsithe ag an Rialtas agus bhí sí os comhair an Chomhchoiste Oireachtais do Ghnóthaí Ealaín, Spóirt, Turasóireachta, Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta le tamall anuas le breithniú. Tuigtear dom go mbeidh tuairisc an Chomhchoiste ar fáil go luath agus tá súil agam go mbeidh ar mo chumas brú ar aghaidh ansin le cead an Rialtais a lorg chun an Straitéis a fhoilsiú. Mar a thuigfidh an Teachta, go dtí go mbeidh an próiseas sin críochnaithe, tá sé deacar amscála cinnte a lua ach bheinn dóchasach go mbeidh dul chun cinn suntasach bainte amach faoi Mheán Fómhair seo chugainn.

Registration of Births

David Stanton

Question:

221 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Social Protection the situation, in the case of a woman who has a baby with a man who is not her husband, of the name of the father of the child vis-à-vis being recorded on the birth certificate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28543/10]

Under section 6A of the 1964 Act, as inserted by section 12 of the Status of Children Act 1987, a non-marital father may apply to the court to be appointed a guardian of his child. Alternatively, where there is agreement between the parents, they can make a statutory declaration under section 2(4) of the 1964 Act, as inserted by section 4 of the Children Act 1997, conferring on the father the status of guardian.

Under section 11 of the 1964 Act, a guardian may apply to the court for its direction on any question affecting the welfare of the child, including directions as to custody and access. In addition, the section provides that the unmarried father of a child, even if he is not a guardian, may apply to the court for orders on custody and access. Section 3 of the Act provides that, in deciding on an application relating to the custody, guardianship or upbringing of a child, the court shall regard the welfare of the child as the first and paramount consideration.

Where appropriate and practicable, the court will also take into account the child's wishes in the matter having regard to the age and understanding of the child. In addition, the law now places an emphasis in terms of recognising the rights of the child to the society of both his or her father and mother: Section 11D of the 1964 Act (inserted by the Children Act 1997) obliges the court in proceedings relating to the welfare of a child to consider whether the child's best interests would be served by maintaining personal relations and direct contact with both his or her father and mother on a regular basis.

These legislative provisions, contained in the Guardianship of Children Acts 1964 to 1997, are comprehensive. They permit the court in cases of disagreement to decide on arrangements for the child's care and upbringing having regard to the child's best interests.

Departmental Expenditure

Ulick Burke

Question:

222 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Social Protection the total spend or allocation of the €10 million allocated by his Department to the humanitarian fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28586/10]

Community Welfare Service staff throughout the country have been providing support to families since this flooding occurred. The level of payment available under the humanitarian assistance scheme to any qualified individual depends on the severity of the damage to that person's home and the extent of the loss experienced as well as household income and general family circumstances.

Table 1 shows the value and number of payments made and individuals assisted nationally to week ending 21 May 2010.

Table: Value and Number of Payments Made and Individuals Assisted — Week Ending 21st May 2010 under the Humanitarian Assistance Scheme

County

Expenditure by County

Number of Payments Made

Individuals Assisted

CORK

327,108

879

490

GALWAY

395,739

831

335

CLARE

250,079

457

101

WESTMEATH

112,613

406

86

TIPPERARY

75,964

130

78

ROSCOMMON

24,050

67

28

CARLOW

5,171

32

28

LIMERICK

16,115

33

23

WICKLOW

17,681

22

15

KILDARE

12,883

35

15

WATERFORD

6,666

11

10

OTHER

55,120

104

73

Total

1,299,189

3,007

1,282

Social Welfare Benefits

Joe McHugh

Question:

223 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Social Protection the amount that will be spent by the State on payments to carers, including respite grant in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28678/10]

Joe McHugh

Question:

225 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Social Protection the amounts that are available for respite care grants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28807/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 223 and 225 together.

The further revised estimate provides for total expenditure of just under €825m. for carers related schemes in 2010. Further detail is provided in the table.

2010 Estimate

€000

Carer’s Allowance

541,460

Carer’s Benefit

31,260

Respite Care Grant

153,000

Domiciliary Care Allowance

99,264

Total

824,984

Social Welfare Appeals

James Bannon

Question:

224 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason illness benefit in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Longford is being delayed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28774/10]

The person concerned has been in receipt of one-parent family payment since 10 September 2009. Illness benefit at half-rate was awarded with effect from 15 December 2009. She was found capable of work by one of the Department's Medical Assessors at a medical assessment on 13 April 2010. A letter issued to her on 19 April 2010 informing her that payment of illness benefit was being suspended with effect from 23 April 2010 and advising her of her right to appeal against this decision to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office. She submitted a final certificate from her doctor dated 28 April 2010. The person concerned then submitted another interim medical certificate from a different doctor dated for the same day and for the same medical incapacity. Subsequent interim medical certificates were submitted from the second doctor. A new claim was opened and payment was issued from 4 May 2010 to 26 May 2010 on the basis of the certificates received from the second doctor. When it came to light that payment had been suspended in respect of her initial claim, payment was then suspended in respect of the second claim on the basis that she had recently been found capable of work for the same medical condition. As she was found capable of work on 13 April 2010 she was not entitled to payment for medical certificates submitted subsequently. There is, accordingly, no delay in relation to payment to this person.

Question No. 225 answered with Question No. 223.

Damien English

Question:

226 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will issue on an appeal for disability allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; the reason for the delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28553/10]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that, following receipt of the relevant Departmental papers including comments on the grounds of appeal, the appeal from the person concerned will be referred to an Appeals Officer for consideration. There has been a 46% increase in the number of appeals received by the Social Welfare Appeals Office in 2009 when compared to 2008, which in itself was 27% greater than the numbers received in 2007. There has been an increase of a further 46% in the number of appeals received in the first quarter of 2010. These increases have caused delays in the processing of appeals.

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

Social Welfare Benefits

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

227 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for lone parents allowance in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28602/10]

The person concerned claimed one parent family payment from 1 April 2010. Her claim has been sent to an inspector for investigation of her means. The inspector will interview her in the next few weeks and a decision will be made on her claim as soon as the inspector has completed her report. The person concerned is currently in receipt of supplementary welfare at the weekly rate of €186.40.

Question No. 228 withdrawn.

John McGuinness

Question:

229 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will consider increasing the living alone allowance in the context of the December budget as there has been no increase since 1996; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28607/10]

The living alone increase is an additional payment of €7.70 per week made to people aged 66 years or over who are in receipt of certain social welfare payments and who are living alone. It is also available to people under 66 years of age who are living alone and who receive payments under one of a number of invalidity type schemes.

The priority has been to increase personal rates of pension in addition to enhancing the household benefits package which includes TV licence, telephone, electricity/gas and the fuel allowance rather than supplements like the living alone increase. The objective is to use resources to improve the position of all pensioners to the fullest extent possible rather than focusing on particular groups.

Social welfare changes for 2011, including any changes to the living alone increase, will be considered later this year in the context of next year's Budget preparations, having regard both to needs and to the resources available to meet those needs.

James Bannon

Question:

230 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for jobseeker’s allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28773/10]

The person concerned submitted an application for Jobseeker's Allowance on 19 December 2009. The payment of Jobseeker's Allowance is subject to a means test. The means of the person concerned were found to be excess of the prescribed limits for receipt of Jobseeker's Allowance and they were notified of this decision on 10 March 2010. An appeal has been received and the file is currently with a Social Welfare Inspector for further investigations.

You should note that a person may apply for Supplementary Welfare Allowance from their local Community Welfare Officer while any application for Jobseeker's Allowance is being processed.

Social Welfare Code

Richard Bruton

Question:

231 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Social Protection in view of assessing means tested entitlements, if he will indicate the way his Department treats financial lump sums paid as a result of accidents which are made in order to meet the expected medical costs in the future; and if they are disregarded in whole or in part in assessing capital resources of an applicant. [28819/10]

In assessing means for social assistance purposes, account is taken of any cash income the person may have, together with the value of capital and property (except the home). Capital may include the following: Stocks and shares of every description, which are assessed according to their current market value; Savings certificates/bonds/national instalment savings, which are assessed according to their current market value; Money invested in a bank, building society etc.

A financial lump sum paid as a result of an accident would fall into the third category. While no account is taken of the purpose of the award, including compensation for future medical expenditure, substantial disregards are applied when assessing the weekly means derived from this capital. In assessing the yearly value of a property or capital, no account is taken of the income, if any, from this capital. The formula for assessing the means from capital for all social welfare payments (except disability allowance and supplementary welfare allowance) is as follows:

Capital

Weekly means assessed

First €20,000

Nil

Next €10,000

€1 per €1,000

Next €10,000

€2 per €1,000

Balance

€4 per €1,000

The formula for assessing the means from capital for disability allowance is as follows:

Capital

Weekly means assessed

First €50,000

Nil

Next €10,000

€1 per €1,000

Next €10,000

€2 per €1,000

Balance (any capital over €70,000)

€4 per €1,000

The formula for assessing the means from capital for supplementary welfare allowance is as follows:

Capital

Weekly means assessed

First €5,000

Nil

Next €10,000

€1 per €1,000

Next €25,000

€2 per €1,000

Balance

€4 per €1,000

Any changes to the current capital assessment arrangements would fall to be considered in a Budgetary context and in the context of continuing to reduce overall public expenditure and restoring stability to the public finances.

Departmental Contracts

Michael Kennedy

Question:

232 Deputy Michael Kennedy asked the Minister for Defence if he will make public the names of all institutional laundries in receipt of State contracts for Army laundry after 1941; the length of time the policy of affording such contracts to institutional as distinct from commercial laundries continued after 1941; if fair wage clauses were inserted in such contracts awarded to institutional laundries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28567/10]

The information sought by the Deputy refers to contracts that were in place up to almost 70 years ago. In the short space of time available for answer, it has not been possible to establish the extent to which the records still exist and, if so, to locate them. However, the Department will seek to locate relevant records and will correspond directly with the Deputy in this regard in the near future.

Departmental Funding

Ulick Burke

Question:

233 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the State funding paid to an organisation (details supplied) from his Department in 2008 and 2009; if any funds are to be allocated to them in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28588/10]

The information sought in regard to the amounts of grant funding paid by my Department to the organisation concerned in 2008 and 2009, and any allocation in 2010, is currently being compiled and will be sent to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Water and Sewerage Schemes

Simon Coveney

Question:

234 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the progress that has been made in 2010 regarding a scheme (details supplied); the funding that has been spent to date on this scheme; and the time scale that has been put in place for the completion of this scheme. [28564/10]

I refer to the reply to Question No. 438 of 18 May 2010. My Department has approved a planning phase budget of €9.6m for the Cork Lower Harbour Sewerage Scheme and to date has recouped in excess of €5m to Cork County Council in respect of the planning phase costs incurred, the bulk of this being related to land acquisition and way-leaves. The progression of the scheme through the planning phase is a matter for the Council.

Tax Code

Paul Kehoe

Question:

235 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if homeowners can be exempted from the non-principal private residence tax on the basis that a family member, a child attending college resides there; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28568/10]

While a number of exemptions are included in the Local Government (Charges) Act 2009, which gives effect to the non-principal private residence charge, there is no specific exemption in the case of a child attending college. I have no plans at present to amend the legislation.

Planning Issues

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

236 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if the limitations placed on the development of one-off housing regarding the developer having a local connection and an ability to speak Irish have been found to be in conformity with EU regulations; the queries that have been raised regarding this by the EU; and the responses that have been provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28578/10]

My Department received a Letter of Formal Notice dated 27 June 2007 from the European Commission under Article 226 of the Treaty, seeking the observations of the Government on whether the "local needs" criteria contained in a number of County Development Plans for the granting of planning permission for one-off dwellings in rural areas are compatible with Articles 43 and 56 of the EC Treaty, which guarantee respectively the freedom of establishment and the free movement of capital.

Following discussions with the Commission, Circular Letter SP 5/08 issued to all County Managers on 30 September 2008, regarding local need policies in cases where there is an application to build a dwelling from which a full-time business will operate. This was the only area of major concern to the Commission. The policies and practices in relation to promotion and preservation of the Irish language in designated Gaeltacht areas are considered justified and proportionate. Local authorities were asked to examine their development plans in light of the updated guidance provided in the circular to ensure their compatibility with Articles 43 and 56 of the EC Treaty. A copy of the Circular Letter is available on my Department's website at www.environ.ie.

Given that the Commission has not yet formally closed the case, I am precluded, on the basis of legal advice, from publishing or disseminating either the correspondence from the European Commission in relation to enquiries or investigations into possible infringements or the State's responses as these documents are regarded as part of possible legal proceedings. I will, of course, make all documents available once the case is concluded.

Special Areas of Conservation

Ulick Burke

Question:

237 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding designated bogs; the allocating he has provided for persons who are restricted from harvesting turf on their bogs; if he will meet and negotiate with representatives’ groups throughout the country who have been affected by his decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28581/10]

My Department has been meeting with turf-cutters' representative organisations and will continue to do so in the coming months to discuss the report of the Inter-Departmental Working Group on the cessation of Turf Cutting on certain Designated Raised Bogs with a view to arriving at a long-term approach to protecting these sites, while addressing the interests of affected parties.

In the meantime, my Department will provide interim funding of €1000 per household for the coming winter towards the fuel needs of those turf-cutters who normally source their fuel supply from the raised bog Special Areas of Conservation on which the ten-year derogation has now come to an end. Terms and conditions apply regarding qualification for this payment and applications will be accepted up to 31 July.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

238 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the reason a bog plot purchased by his Department from persons (details supplied) in County Westmeath has not been paid for in view of the fact that the Q3 agreement and copy map was forwarded to the relevant section; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28635/10]

This application is one which relates to a raised bog Special Area of Conservation on which the derogation allowing continued turf-cutting has now ended. Applications relating to these sites, including the application in question, are now being prioritised for processing by my Department. A letter of offer has been issued to the vendor in recent days.

Wildlife Issues

Simon Coveney

Question:

239 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the steps he is taking to prevent the illegal poisoning of birds of prey; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28640/10]

My Department has been working with the Golden Eagle Trust on the re-introduction of extinct birds of prey into Ireland, such as the Golden Eagle in Donegal, the White Tailed Eagle in Kerry and the Red Kite in Wicklow. I am very concerned that there have been recent incidents where some of these re-introduced birds have died as a result of eating poisoned meat-based bait. Such incidents impact negatively on our commitment to maintain and enhance Ireland's native wildlife, and they also harm our environmental and agricultural reputation at home and abroad.

My Department is addressing the regulatory position in relation to the use of poisoned meat-based bait, and it is my intention that new regulations will be made to help enhance protection of our wildlife while, at the same time, ensuring good farming practice. While I recognise that the great majority of landowners and farmers are supportive of the raptor re-introduction project, and against the use of poison, it is necessary to continue to work to stop the few people who are continuing to use poison in this manner.

Housing Statistics

Joe McHugh

Question:

240 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of houses that have been built in this State in 2010; the total projected figure for 2010 if available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28676/10]

My Department collates and publishes a wide range of housing statistics, the full range of which can be viewed on www.environ.ie. 6,112 houses have been completed up to end May 2010 and a more detailed breakdown by area is available on the website. Broad trends for construction activity, including housing, are contained in the annual Construction Industry Review and Outlook, an independent report prepared by DKM Economic Consultants which has been funded by my Department, and is also available on the web site.

Health and Safety Regulations

John McGuinness

Question:

241 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the status of considerations or guidelines issued by the Health and Safety Authority relative to pay at the pump fuel terminals; if chief fire officers and planning authorities are fully briefed on the way such guidelines might be implemented throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28810/10]

The Dangerous Substances Act, 1972 and Regulations made under that Act, which are the responsibility of my colleague the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, provide for the licensing of petrol stations. Operators of petrol stations are required by the Dangerous Substances (Retail and Private Petroleum Stores) Regulations 1979 (as amended) to apply to the relevant licensing authority for a licence to operate a petrol station.

I understand that the Health and Safety Authority, which is under the aegis of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, has developed draft guidelines relating to the control of unattended petrol dispensing outlets. The question of the status of documents issued by the Health and Safety Authority is a matter for that Authority.

Fisheries Protection

Joe McHugh

Question:

242 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will commission a survey on the number of predator seals and cormorants on Lough Foyle; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28520/10]

Joe McHugh

Question:

243 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on whether the fishery management framework employed by his Department could be broadened to include control of abundant predator species; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28521/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 242 and 243 together.

Responsibility for the species referred to by the Deputy lies with the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government, under the Wildlife Acts 1976–2000 through the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). The Fisheries Boards are already actively engaged in seeking measures to control predator species, where appropriate, as part of their fisheries management. They work closely with the NPWS in undertaking studies to establish, for example, seal population trends and levels of predation on salmon. In addition they have commissioned BirdWatch Ireland to undertake a study of predation by the cormorant on fish in selected rivers. The objective of this study is to determine feeding preferences and carry out an assessment of the impact of cormorant predation on fish stocks.

The Loughs Agency has been working with both the NPWS and the Northern Ireland Environment Authority (NIEA) with regard to the possible control of predator seals in the Foyle and Carlingford areas. They will monitor closely developments in relation to the other above mentioned studies with a view to possibly applying the findings to the Foyle and Carlingford areas.

Fisheries Legislation

Joe McHugh

Question:

244 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if the Foyle Fisheries Act 1952 or the Foyle Area (Control of Fishing) Regulation 2010 are technically derogable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28522/10]

The Foyle Fisheries Act 1952 and its Northern Ireland equivalent, the Foyle Fisheries Act (Northern Ireland) 1952, were amended by the Foyle and Carlingford Fisheries Act 2007 and the Foyle and Carlingford Fisheries (Northern Ireland) Order 2007 respectively. The Foyle Area (Control of Fishing) Regulations 2010 were made by the Loughs Agency (with approval of the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Northern Ireland through the North South Ministerial Council) under the terms of section 13(1) of the Foyle Fisheries Act 1952 and section 13(1) of the Foyle Fisheries Act (Northern Ireland) 1952.

This primary and secondary legislation remains extant until either such body makes alternative legislative provision for these purposes.

I, as Minister, cannot unilaterally amend the legislation. There is no provision for derogation within the instrument referred to by the Deputy.

Telecommunications Services

Michael Creed

Question:

245 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the way a person (details supplied) in County Cork, not in an area covered by the national broadband scheme, will access an Internet connection; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28542/10]

The provision of broadband services is in the first instance a matter for private sector service providers operating in Ireland's fully liberalised telecommunications market. Broadband services are provided by private service providers over various platforms including DSL (i.e. over telephone lines), fixed wireless, mobile, cable, fibre and satellite.

In cases of market failure the Government will intervene where it is appropriate and possible to do so. The National Broadband Scheme (NBS) represents such an intervention.

Prior to the commencement of the NBS a detailed mapping exercise was carried out to help determine those areas that would be included in the scheme and those which, by virtue of being already substantially served by existing broadband suppliers, could not be included.

EU State aid and competition rules govern how states can intervene in areas where there are existing service providers operating. Accordingly, the NBS is prohibited from providing a service in served areas where to do so would give rise to an unacceptable level of market distortion.

That mapping exercise found that at least one existing broadband supplier was already active in the area referred to in the Deputy's Question and consequently the locality was excluded from the Scheme. Details of broadband services available in each county can be found on ComReg's website at www.callcosts.ie

It continues to be a priority of the Government that there will be broadband coverage across the entire country. However, despite Government and private investment in broadband, I am aware that there continues to be a small percentage of premises throughout the country that will not be capable of receiving broadband services. This is primarily due to technical and other reasons (suitability of a telephone line, distance from an enabled exchange, no line of sight etc.).

The European Commission has set aside a portion of the European Economic Recovery Programme (EERP) funding for rural broadband initiatives. My Department is currently progressing the design and implementation of a scheme, which would use this funding to address the issue of basic broadband availability to unserved rural premises outside of the NBS areas. This work will include the identification of premises not capable of receiving broadband. It is hoped to commence this scheme in late 2010 and have it completed by 2012. As the scheme is only at the design stage, there is no application process at this juncture. Information in relation to acceptance of applications and the process of qualification under the scheme will be made available in due course when the scheme is launched.

Departmental Schemes

Joe McHugh

Question:

246 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the position regarding the greenhouse home energy scheme on a county basis; the amount of money spent out of the budget of €100 million; the number of households that have availed of the scheme on a category basis (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28655/10]

There is no scheme called the greenhouse home energy scheme but rather two separate schemes — the Home Energy Saving (HES) Scheme and the Greener Homes Scheme (GHS). Both are administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).

The HES Scheme, which has a capital budget allocation of €24.3 million this year, provides grant assistance to homeowners for retrofit energy efficiency measures such as attic and wall insulation, very high efficiency boilers, heating controls and Building Energy Rating (BER) assessments. In addition, a further €46 million has been allocated to a national retrofit programme, with a substantial portion assigned to the HES Scheme. Since the HES Scheme launched in March 2009, grants totalling €35 million have been paid to homeowners across the country. Some 40,000 homes have benefited from 75,000 measures under the scheme to date. Table 1 details the measures by category. Table 2 shows the number of grants paid per County.

Table 1: Number of HES measures on category basis

Technology

Grant Cost

No. of Paid Measures

Roof Insulation

7,182,000

28,727

Cavity

10,530,000

26,324

Dry-Lining Insulation

5,426,000

2,170

External Insulation

2,860,000

715

Heating Controls Upgrade only

1,041,000

2,082

High Efficiency Gas Boiler with Heating Controls Upgrade

3,954,000

5,648

High Efficiency Oil Boiler with Heating Controls Upgrade

3,302,000

4,717

BER

1,074,000

5,370

Totals

35,367,000

75,753

Table 2: No. of HES grants paid per County

The GHS provides support to homeowners to invest in a range of domestic renewable energy heating technologies including solar panels, biomass boilers and stoves, gasification boilers and heat pumps. Table 3 provides the relevant details for the scheme.

Table 3: GHS measures per County

County

Technology

Count of Grant Type

Sum of Grant Amount Euro

Carlow

Biomass

99

318,600

Heat Pump

82

323,400

Solar

267

317,878

Wood Gasification Boiler

1

2,000

Carlow Total

449

961,878

Cavan

Biomass

184

592,190

Heat Pump

110

435,200

Solar

312

446,458

Wood Gasification Boiler

1

2,000

Cavan Total

607

1,475,848

Clare

Biomass

292

788,400

Heat Pump

220

942,370

Solar

885

1,329,239

Wood Gasification Boiler

5

10,000

Clare Total

1402

3,070,009

Cork

Biomass

570

1,885,900

Heat Pump

695

3,081,203

Solar

2658

3,985,815

Wood Gasification Boiler

10

20,000

Cork Total

3933

8,972,918

Donegal

Biomass

283

1,047,377

Heat Pump

364

1,582,200

Solar

516

698,171

Wood Gasification Boiler

9

18,000

Donegal Total

1,172

3,345,748

Dublin

Biomass

225

688,494

Heat Pump

267

1,225,700

Solar

1517

1,849,539

Wood Gasification Boiler

3

6,000

Dublin Total

2012

3,769,733

Galway

Biomass

558

1,510,100

Heat Pump

535

2,268,412

Solar

1262

1,903,563

Wood Gasification Boiler

6

12,000

Galway Total

2361

5,694,075

Kerry

Biomass

285

851,400

Heat Pump

390

1,627,800

Solar

1010

1,334,002

Wood Gasification Boiler

5

10,000

Kerry Total

1690

3,823,202

Kildare

Biomass

261

903,600

Heat Pump

212

862,400

Solar

490

664,736

Wood Gasification Boiler

2

4,000

Kildare Total

965

2,434,736

Kilkenny

Biomass

210

723,040

Heat Pump

202

841,300

Solar

547

692,363

Wood Gasification Boiler

7

14,000

Kilkenny Total

966

2,270,703

Laois

Biomass

164

582,700

Heat Pump

96

346,300

Solar

190

234,371

Wood Gasification Boiler

6

12,000

Laois Total

456

1,175,371

Leitrim

Biomass

77

277,700

Heat Pump

74

291,800

Solar

158

223,758

Wood Gasification Boiler

2

4,000

Leitrim Total

311

797,258

Limerick

Biomass

232

662,500

Heat Pump

231

932,600

Solar

584

840,220

Wood Gasification Boiler

1

2,000

Limerick Total

1,048

2,437,320

Longford

Biomass

76

260,200

Heat Pump

63

246,200

Solar

114

148,443

Longford Total

253

654,843

Louth

Biomass

162

585,100

Heat Pump

154

633,700

Solar

443

566,276

Wood Gasification Boiler

2

4,000

Louth Total

761

1,789,076

Mayo

Biomass

274

885,600

Heat Pump

267

1,026,200

Solar

544

790,205

Wood Gasification Boiler

6

12,000

Mayo Total

1091

2,714,005

Meath

Biomass

348

1,141,400

Heat Pump

250

1,052,574

Solar

610

791,350

Wood Gasification Boiler

5

10,000

Meath Total

1213

2,995,324

Monaghan

Biomass

118

470,900

Heat Pump

138

568,600

Solar

442

655,918

Wood Gasification Boiler

7

14,000

Monaghan Total

705

1,709,418

N/A

Biomass

3

10,200

N/A Total

3

10,200

Offaly

Biomass

117

388,800

Heat Pump

211

767,600

Solar

219

299,845

Wood Gasification Boiler

4

8,000

Offaly Total

551

1,464,245

Roscommon

Biomass

134

449,000

Heat Pump

132

536,800

Solar

268

372,456

Wood Gasification Boiler

2

4,000

Roscommon Total

536

1,362,256

Sligo

Biomass

104

267,700

Heat Pump

169

707,200

Solar

227

329,977

Wood Gasification Boiler

3

6,000

Sligo Total

503

1,310,877

Tipperary

Biomass

215

730,300

Heat Pump

217

873,700

Solar

877

1,294,432

Wood Gasification Boiler

2

4,000

Tipperary Total

1311

2,902,432

Waterford

Biomass

92

323,400

Heat Pump

111

457,600

Solar

429

592,598

Wood Gasification Boiler

5

10,000

Waterford Total

637

1,383,598

Westmeath

Biomass

196

579,800

Heat Pump

164

645,800

Solar

341

477,859

Wood Gasification Boiler

3

6,000

Westmeath Total

704

1,709,459

Wexford

Biomass

328

1,047,294

Heat Pump

236

969,150

Solar

1036

1,394,064

Wood Gasification Boiler

2

4,000

Wexford Total

1602

3,414,508

Wicklow

Biomass

194

653,800

Heat Pump

205

929,000

Solar

437

583,170

Wood Gasification Boiler

1

2,000

Wicklow Total

837

2,167,970

Grand Total

28,079

65,817,010

Horseracing Industry

Chris Andrews

Question:

247 Deputy Chris Andrews asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason the taxpayer is funding prize money in horseracing here that is more than 60% higher than in England while facilities for racegoers here lag behind the standards in England. [28577/10]

The Irish bloodstock industry makes a significant contribution to the Irish economy and is particularly important to the rural economy with some 22,000 full-time employees in the thoroughbred equine industry.

In 2008, 6,222 Irish thoroughbreds, with a value of €216 million, were exported to 42 countries demonstrating the value of the industry to the national economy. In excess of 40% of the EU output of thoroughbreds and 11% of the total worldwide are produced in Ireland. For a small country, Ireland holds a pre-eminent position in the thoroughbred racing and breeding world.

The economic value of the racing and breeding sectors was evidenced in a recently published report "Analysis of the economic impact of the Irish Thoroughbred Industry", commissioned by ITBA, directed by Alan Dukes which foundinter alia that:

The gross value of the industry to the economy is in excess of €1.1bn per annum.

€290m is spent on training fees (of which a significant proportion originates abroad).

The number of people involved in horse ownership is 19,036.

These figures provide strong justification for the investment by Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) in prize money. Overall prize money is funded from a combination of sources including monies generated by HRI and also monies from sponsors and owners.

Government support for the horse racing industry is provided to HRI through the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund (the Fund) which was established under the Horse and Greyhound Racing Act, 2001 and is charged with the overall administration, promotion and development of the industry.

HRI has confirmed to me that prize money on offer in France significantly outstrips that on offer in either England or Ireland and in order to remain attractive and competitive Irish racing must continue to offer prize money that is sufficient to attract the best horses in the world to train and race here.

HRI has operated a programme of continuous improvement of facilities at Irish racecourses over the past ten years through it's Racecourse Capital Grant Scheme. This scheme effectively provided 50% grant aid to racecourses for approved capital projects. This led for example to the construction of Ireland's first all weather racetrack in Dundalk, the new Killanin Stand in Galway and various other improvements throughout the country such as the enhanced facilities which opened at Ballinrobe just last week.

Departmental Funding

Ulick Burke

Question:

248 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the State funding paid to an organisation (details supplied) from his Department in 2008 and 2009; if any funds are to be allocated to them in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28588/10]

The information sought in regard to the amounts of grant funding paid by my Department to the organisation concerned in 2008 and 2009, and any allocation in 2010, is currently being compiled and will be sent to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Grant Payments

Bobby Aylward

Question:

249 Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will provide this Deputy with a report on the delay in approving payment under the suckler cow scheme in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [28594/10]

The person named has 37 animals for consideration under the Suckler Welfare Scheme for 2008 and 27 for consideration under the 2009 Scheme. A significant number of errors have been identified and we are still in communication with the person named to resolve these issues.

Farm Retirement Scheme

Pat Breen

Question:

250 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the position regarding an application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare. [28612/10]

The first application from the person named under the Early Retirement Scheme did not satisfy all of the scheme conditions. The applicant was notified on 21 January 2010 of the reasons for the refusal of his application. The application was resubmitted on 18 February 2010, but once again it did not satisfy all of the scheme conditions. The person named was notified on 1 March 2010 of the reasons for the refusal of the application. He was informed of his right to appeal the decision to the Agriculture Appeals Office.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme

Paul Connaughton

Question:

251 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his views on the decrease in farming income in 2009; if, as a consequence, he will give consideration to the reintroduction of the full disadvantaged area payments which applied prior to the budget cuts in December 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28634/10]

Against the background of the deterioration in public finances, my approach in preparing the 2009 Estimates for my Department was to protect expenditure for major developmental measures in the agri-food sector. To achieve this objective, savings had to be found in other areas and I decided, reluctantly, to reduce expenditure under the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme for 2009 by reducing the maximum area limit to 34 hectares. While overall expenditure on the Scheme has fallen, almost 67,000 farmers have not suffered any reduction in their payments as a result of the introduction of the 34-hectare limit. The rates of payment, which were increased by 8% in 2007, remained unchanged for the 2009 Scheme.

Notwithstanding the reduction in funding, the total amount available under the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme in 2009 was €220 million. This represented a substantial injection of funds to underpin incomes for farmers situated in these areas and the Scheme continues to be one of the best-funded Disadvantaged Areas Schemes in the European Union.

The rates of aid for the 2010 Scheme have already been set and are as follows:

Less Severely Handicapped Lowland and Coastal Areas with Specific Handicap: €82.27 per forage hectare;

More Severely Handicapped Lowland: €95.99 per forage hectare;

Mountain Type Grazing: €109.71 per forage hectare on first 10 hectares, or part thereof, and €95.99 per hectare on remaining forage hectares.

The application period for the 2011 Scheme will open in early 2011 and no decisions have yet been taken at this stage on this Scheme.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme

Joe McHugh

Question:

252 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the amount awarded in REP scheme payments in County Donegal for 2010; when he expects to have paid all 2010 Donegal REP scheme payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28656/10]

REPS 3 payments, which are issued in advance, are made on an ongoing basis to those applicants who submit claims on the anniversary of their contract starting date. A total of €19,737,525 was paid to participants in REPS 3 in Co Donegal in 2009, and €5,388,798 has been paid to date in 2010.

A total of €7,960,118 has been paid this year to REPS 4 participants in Co Donegal in respect of the 2009 scheme year. There are now 1,969 applicants for REPS 4 in Co Donegal and it is not possible at this stage to estimate the full level of payments in 2010. The EU Regulations governing REPS 4 require that payments issue in two instalments, 75% once all administrative checks on all applications, as well as cross-checks against Single Payment Scheme entitlements, have been completed and the balance of 25% once all on-the-spot inspections for the year have taken place. It is expected that the first REPS 4 payments for 2010 will issue in the Autumn.

Milk Quota

John McGuinness

Question:

253 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if an appeal will be arranged in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28694/10]

I announced details of the 2010 Scheme for the Allocation of Milk Quota to New Entrants on 24th February last. Following this announcement my Department published a document detailing the eligibility and other terms and conditions attached to the Scheme.

Among the criteria, which were produced in consultation with the farming organisations and ICOS, was the requirement for applicants to satisfy certain educational standards, details of which were also contained in the scheme document.

A panel of experts assessed all eligible applications, the results of which I announced on 31st May last. As the person named did not satisfy the educational qualifications, his application was deemed ineligible and was not presented to the panel for assessment. The situation regarding his educational qualifications has not changed in the meantime, therefore I do not see any basis on which to arrange an appeal for this case.

Grant Payments

John McGuinness

Question:

254 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if a person (details supplied) in County Carlow will be included under the suckler cow scheme; if issues relative to this case can be resolved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28809/10]

The person named has 24 animals for consideration under the 2009 Suckler Welfare Scheme. It is a condition of this Scheme that for herds of more than 10 cows the calves must be weaned in at least two separate groups with each group being removed at a minimum interval of five days. The person named weaned all animals on 24/10/09 and consequently did not comply with this condition. Therefore, the person named is not eligible for payment, as per the Terms and Conditions governing the Scheme.

Physical Education Facilities

David Stanton

Question:

255 Deputy David Stanton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she has received an application from a school (details supplied) in Cork, to build a new sports hall or gym; her views on same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28535/10]

I can confirm that the school to which the Deputy refers made application to my Department for large scale capital funding for an extension and a PE hall. The application has been assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for large scale building projects and assigned a band 2.1.

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.

State Examinations

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

256 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will confirm that some compensatory marking formula will be applied in the correction of the higher leaving certificate accounting papers for those students who were disrupted as a result of the distribution of incomplete papers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28541/10]

The State Examinations Commission (SEC) has statutory responsibility for operational matters relating to the certificate examinations including making arrangements for the marking of examinations.

I have been advised by the State Examinations Commission (SEC) that a production error in the Leaving Certificate Accounting Higher Level paper affected a number of schools in south Dublin on Monday, 21 June, 2010. As a result of this error the affected papers were missing their centre section. The incomplete papers, which contained the full Section 1 which is mandatory, was provided to 207 candidates in 16 schools. In total 5,171 candidates were entered for Leaving Certificate Higher Level Accounting examination in 514 schools nationwide.

As soon as the SEC learned of this problem arrangements were immediately made to provide the students affected with the correct version of the paper by fax and email. The SEC gave an instruction that students should start the examination using the original paper provided and be given the correct version as soon as it became available in the school. The SEC also advised that additional time should be given in order to make up for any time lost as a result of this error. The amount of time to be added on at the end of the timetabled session as a consequence of dealing with this specific error in the Leaving Certificate Accounting paper in individual examination centres would have varied depending on a number of factors such as the time taken to contact the SEC for instructions, the time involved in collecting the incorrect paper and distributing the correct paper and the number of candidates in the centre.

The SEC has also informed me that this issue is being kept under review. The SEC has also apologised to the students and schools affected by this error.

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

257 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills, further to Parliamentary Question No. 470 of 22 June 2010, if she will direct the State Examinations Commission to bring forward a defined programme with specific dates, to give effect to the right of every leaving certificate student to get an official leaving certificate; the reason the State Examinations Commission thought it appropriate to withhold all leaving certificates for the duration of a five year court case when only a small number of persons would have been affected by the dispute over the annotation of leaving certificates; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28544/10]

The State Examinations Commission (SEC) has responsibility for the operation of the certificate examinations. As I indicated in my response to the Deputy's previous question (No. 470) the recent High Court judgment confirms the earlier view of the Circuit Court in October 2007 that the actions of the SEC, and my Department prior to the establishment of the Commission in 2003, in annotating certificates where a core element of a subject is not assessed, is permissible under Irish law and is not discriminatory.

The position remains that the ruling and the legal issues relating to it must be examined, and the logistical, ICT and workload issues associated with this year's peak examination period, which is still ongoing, must be considered.

The SEC assures me that it is considering the issue as a matter of urgency and proposes to make an announcement regarding the arrangements for issue of the formal Leaving Certificates for the period 2006 to 2009. The announcement will be posted to the SEC website at www.examinations.ie and be the subject of a Press Release.

While all candidates received provisional results, their final certificates had been withheld pending the outcome of the legal proceedings. Any candidate who has sought added confirmation of their final results in respect of the period 2006 to 2009 has been furnished with a certified statement of results by the SEC, with the normal fee for such statements, currently €13.50, being waived by the Commission. The Commission sought legal advice following the determination of the Equality Authority, which was confirmed following the judgment of the Circuit Court, and subsequently implemented this approach.

Schools Refurbishment

Michael McGrath

Question:

258 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of primary and post primary schools in Cork city and county which will benefit from the summer works scheme in 2010; and the approximate value of work which will be carried out at these schools. [28550/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, I announced details of the successful applicants under this year's Summer Works Scheme on 19th April 2010. Full details are available on my Department's website.

This scheme covers projects in school buildings such as gas, electrical and mechanical works, roof replacements and repairs, window replacement, toilet upgrades, structural improvements and access works.

Applications from 120 Primary Schools and 49 Post Primary schools with a combined value in excess of €13 million were approved under the scheme for Cork City and County.

The Deputy will also be aware that schools will now tender for the works which given the current market situation may result in a reduction in the final cost of these projects.

Pension Provisions

Dan Neville

Question:

259 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the weekly pension a person (details supplied) in County Limerick receives from her Department. [28569/10]

I have arranged for officials of my Department to provide the information requested directly to the person named by the Deputy.

Departmental Allowances

Mary O'Rourke

Question:

260 Deputy Mary O’Rourke asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will review the case of a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath. [28599/10]

The Honours Degree Allowance is payable in respect of degrees conferred and designated as honours degrees by appropriate awarding authorities.

My Department received confirmation from the National University of Ireland in 2001 that the BSC courses are structured so as to require a specific threshold to be achieved to qualify to proceed to an honours degree course, students not qualifying for the honours stream continue for a third year and qualify for the award of BSC (General) degree, this degree is not regarded as an honours degree regardless of the result achieved.

The person referred to by the Deputy was awarded a BSC (General) degree, this qualification does not attract an honours degree allowance.

Departmental Funding

Richard Bruton

Question:

261 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to Traveller training projects being the victims of budget restrictions (details supplied); if her Department conducts an assessment of the cutbacks chosen by different subsidiary bodies, to ensure that the impact reflects sound public priorities, particularly in a case such as this; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28616/10]

The project referred to by the Deputy is one of the 33 Senior Traveller Training Centres (STTCs) funded by my Department and operated by Vocational Education Committees (VECs). The VEC referred to by the Deputy operates four STTCs.

As part of Budget 2010, with effect from September 2010, STTC provision will be reduced by 300 places nationwide, from 984 places to 684 places. My Department recently advised VECs with regard to the implementation of this reduction and in the VEC referred to by the Deputy, provision will be reduced by 27 places from September 2010. The implementation of this reduction in individual STTCs is a matter for the VEC.

I should point out that the 2006 Report and Recommendations for a Traveller Education Strategy recommended that STTC provision be reviewed. My Department then conducted a Value for Money Review of the Youthreach and STTC programmes.

The Review was published in 2008 and recommended the phasing out of segregated traveller provision over the medium to long term and the mainstreaming of Traveller specific provision.

All further education programmes, both part-time (Adult Literacy, Community Education and the Back to Education Initiative) and full-time (Youthreach, Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme and Post Leaving Certificate) continue to be open to Travellers. Indeed, Travellers are accessing these programmes in increasing numbers.

My Department is continuing to discuss issues around the phasing out of STTCs and the integration of adult Travellers into mainstream further education provision with the Irish Vocational Education Association (IVEA), representing VECs.

School Accommodation

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

262 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 454 of 22 June 2010, if she will make the online inventory of school accommodation available to the public, in view of the public interest from both existing and potential parents in the condition of school buildings; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28623/10]

The inventory on school accommodation is available to schools through the Department's Esinet portal. Esinet is a platform for interactive communication between my Department and its partners. It is a secure web-based system which not only allows schools access to the online inventory, but also allows schools access to other facilities such as an online claims system, the September Returns Online Service and the October Returns Online Service. It is therefore not intended to make this system available to the general public.

The inventory will provide key data and statistics on the existing school building stock at both primary and post-primary levels. As I have previously stated, when the information is compiled and analysed, it is my intention to publish summary information from the inventory in the coming school year.

Joe McHugh

Question:

263 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the forward planning section review of the additional accommodation which will be required at primary and post-primary level for 2010 and onwards in the Inishowen area; if this review includes primary and post-primary schools in County Donegal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28650/10]

Joe McHugh

Question:

264 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if the forward planning section review of the additional accommodation which will be required at primary and post-primary level in 2010 and onwards includes an assessment of the provision of primary and post-primary school capacity in Letterkenny, County Donegal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28651/10]

Joe McHugh

Question:

265 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if the forward planning section review of the additional accommodation which will be required at primary and post-primary level in 2010 and onwards includes an assessment of the provision of primary and post-primary school capacity in Moville, Buncrana, Carndonagh, Millford or Ramelton, County Donegal; if she will report on each of these towns individually; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28652/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 263 to 265, inclusive, together.

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 and with reference to recent schools' enrolment data. Given the increase in the birth rate in recent years the initial focus of this analysis has been on primary school accommodation requirements. This will be followed by a more detailed analysis of post-primary school accommodation requirements. The study indicates that the requirement for additional primary provision in the short to medium term 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 initial identified areas in order to identify school accommodation requirements for each area up to and including the school year 2014/15. School accommodation requirements in the Letterkenny area have been considered as part of this detailed study of the identified areas. When the required reports have been completed for these initial identified areas Forward Planning Section will continue to work on preparing reports on a priority basis for the remainder of the country. School accommodation requirements in the Inishowen, Moville, Buncrana, Carndonagh, Milford and Ramelton areas will be considered as part of this process.

Any proposed building projects arising from Forward Planning Section's analysis will be considered in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme.

Schools Building Projects

Joe McHugh

Question:

266 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding all schools building projects in County Donegal; to list all projects, the deadlines that were set at the outset of the projects; her views on when the projects will be completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28653/10]

Information in respect of the current school building programme along with all assessed applications for major capital works, including the Co. Donegal projects 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.

For the Deputy's convenience, a list of major capital projects for Co. Donegal schools is set out in the following table for ease of reference. 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 these project at this time.

County

School Roll No.

School Name

Current Status

Application For

Provisional Band Rating

Donegal

01733B

Ardara Mixed N S Ardara (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 3

Donegal

03294L

S N Caiseal Na Gcorr Gort A Choirce (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 3

Donegal

04809A

Scoil An Aingil Choimheadai An Cheididh (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Donegal

09009Q

Rockfield Ns, Ballyshannon, (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 4

Donegal

11843O

S N Neill Mor Killybegs (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 1

Donegal

12077E

Scoil Naomh Fiachra Letterkenny (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 1

Donegal

15770K

S N Naomh Naille Na Caologa (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 3

Donegal

16138S

Raphoe Central N S Raphoe (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 3

Donegal

16608G

Killybegs Common N S The Commons (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 3

Donegal

16819T

S N Gort An Choirce Leitir Ceanainn (Donegal)

Application

New School

Band 2

Donegal

16821G

Clochar Padraig Naofa Carndonagh (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Donegal

16836T

Naomh Bhrigid NS, Carndonagh (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Donegal

16837V

S N Duchoraidh Duchoraidh (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 3

Donegal

16850N

St Garvan’S N.S. Drum Halla (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 3

Donegal

17040G

Sn Naomh Samhthann Drumdoit (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 3

Donegal

17057A

Dromcaoin Bealach Fheid Dromcaoin (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 3

Donegal

17241Q

S N Domhnach Mor Castlefin (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Donegal

17260U

Scoil An Leinbh Iosa Killymard (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Donegal

17704H

SN Fhionnain, Falcarragh (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 4

Donegal

17721H

Scoil Treasa Naofa Malainn (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 3

Donegal

17828C

Scoil Adhamhnain Rathbhoth (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Donegal

17945G

Scoil Naomh Chaitriona, Ballyshannon

Awaiting Appointment of Design Team

New School

Band 2

Donegal

18058H

Scoil Naomh Seosamh Rathdomhnaill (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 3

Donegal

18129E

Scoil Naomh Peadar (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Donegal

18131O

S N Muire Gan Smal Ard Aratha (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Donegal

18251B

Ayr Hill N S Ramelton Ramelton (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Donegal

18286U

S N Na Hacrai Ailt An Chorrain (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 3

Donegal

18371L

Scoil Mhuire An Craosloch (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Donegal

18520C

Scoil Phadraig Rath Seinche (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

County

School Roll No.

School Name

Current Status

Application For

Provisional Band Rating

Donegal

18605K

Scoil Naomh Padraig Boys Carndonagh (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Donegal

18737E

Scoil Bhride, Conmhagh, Lifford, (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Donegal

19009W

Craanford N S Craanford (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 3

Donegal

19228L

S N Naomh Brid Na Dunaibh (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 3

Donegal

19310T

Scoil Naomh Earnan (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Donegal

19313C

Glenswilly National School, Newmills, Letterkenny

Awaiting Appointment of Design Team

Extension/Refurb

Band 1

Donegal

19518U

S N Naomh Baoithin Sc Naomh Baoithin (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Donegal

19686S

St Macartans Central Bundoran (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 3

Donegal

19927O

Scoil Mhuire B & C, Stranorlar

Awaiting Appointment of Design Team

New School

Band 1

Donegal

19959E

Scoil Naomh Fionan Whitecastle (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Donegal

19967D

Scoil Iosagain, Buncrana

Awaiting Appointment of Design Team

Extension/Refurb

Band 1

Donegal

20096E

Gaelscoil Na Gceithre Maistri Baile Dun Na Ngall (Donegal)

Application

New School

Band 2

Donegal

20097G

Gaelscoil Bhun Crannach Bun Crannach (Donegal)

Application

New School

Band 2

Donegal

20235P

Letterkenny ETNS (Donegal)

Application

New School

Band 1

Donegal

62770C

Scoil Mhuire Secondary School St. Oran’S Road (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Donegal

62861F

St Columbas College Stranorlar (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Donegal

71140Q

Crana College Crana Road (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 1

Donegal

71230R

Deele College Raphoe (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Donegal

71244F

Gairmscoil Mhic Diarmada (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Donegal

76084L

Moville Community College Carrownaff (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Donegal

81011L

The Royal And Prior School Raphoe (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Donegal

91406R

Carndonagh Community School Carndonagh (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Donegal

91407T

Rosses Community School Dungloe (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Donegal

91408V

Pobalscoil Chloich Cheannfhaola An Fálcarrach (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Donegal

91409A

Pobalscoil Ghaoth Dobhair Doirí Beaga (Donegal)

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Donegal

ED40023

Donegal Education Centre Donegal

Application

New School

Band 2

Projects in Architectural Planning

County

School Roll No.

School Name

Current Status

Application For

Provisional Band Rating

Donegal

18625Q

Scoil Colmcille, Convent Road, Letterkenny

Commencing Architectural Planning

Extension/Refurb

Band 1

Donegal

19724A

Little Angel’s Special School, Letterkenny

In early Architectural Planning

Extension/Refurb

Band 1

Donegal

20150H

Holy Family NS, Ballyshannon, Donegal

In advanced Architectural Planning

Extension/Refurb

Band 1

Donegal

62830R

St. Eunan’s College, Letterkenny

In early Architectural Planning

Extension/Refurb

Band 1

Projects progressing to construction, on-site or completed in 2010

County

School Roll No.

School Name

Current Status

Application For

Provisional Band Rating

Donegal

16672P

St. Patricks Primary School, Lurgybrack, Co. Donegal.

Progressing to Tender

Extension/Refurb

Band 1

Donegal

18052S

Scoil Mhuire gan Smal, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal.

Progressing to Tender

Extension/Refurb

Band 1

Donegal

18219F

SN Chonaill, Machaire Chlochair, Bun Beag, Co Dhun na nGall

Progressing to Tender

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Donegal

19971R

Gaelscoil Adhamhnain, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal.

Progressing to Tender

Extension/Refurb

Band 1

Donegal

91409A

Pobalscoil Ghaoth Dobhaire, Derrybeg, Letterkenny

Tender Stage- Progressing to construction

Extension/Refurb

Band 4

Donegal

17268N

SN An Br M O Cleirigh, Creevy, Ballyshannon

In construction

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Donegal

71240U

Stranorlar Vocational School (Finn Valley College)

In construction

New School

Band 2

Special Educational Needs

Joe McHugh

Question:

267 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the reason her Department does not have a sectoral plan under the terms of the Disability Act; if she will introduce such a plan; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28654/10]

My Department was not required to develop a sectoral plan under the Disability Act 2005. For the Deputy's information the six Departments required to develop sectoral plans under this Act were the Departments of Health and Children; Social and Family Affairs; Transport; Communications, Energy and Natural Resources; Environment, Heritage and Local Government; and Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

Following recent transfers of functions involving a number of Government Departments, including my own, the issue of which Departments carry responsibility for sectoral plans under the Disability Act 2005 is currently being examined in the context of a review of the operation of that Act. This review is underway and is being co-ordinated by the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs.

Schools Building Projects

Joe McHugh

Question:

268 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the amount that will be invested in schools building projects in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28683/10]

I wish to inform the deputy that expenditure in 2010 on schools in Donegal will depend on progress of projects and the submission of the necessary certification to my Department in order to enable payment. Currently, there are three major school building projects at construction stage. In addition, there are four further major projects in this area in Architectural Planning which were included in the 16th February 2010 announcement of projects to progress in 2010. All of these projects are currently at an advanced stage of Architectural Planning.

Special Educational Needs

Joe McHugh

Question:

269 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of special needs assistants that will be employed by her Department for the 2010-2011 academic year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28684/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), for allocating resource teachers and special needs assistants to schools to support children with special needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support.

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. SENOs then carry out assessments of a child's special educational needs, on request by parent or schools subsequent to which they recommend appropriate resources, including special needs assistant provision.

While mainstream teaching posts are allocated at the start of a school year and remain for the full school year, the allocation of SNA posts has never been tied to the start of the school year. This flexibility is designed to assist schools who may not have been able to access relevant professional reports in advance of the start of the school year, or who may have new pupils with special educational needs enrolled during the year. Similarly, while new SNA posts may be allocated throughout the school year, some SNA's may also leave during the school year where a child may leave or move school, or may achieve a greater level of independence. As this process is continuous throughout the life of a school year, it is therefore not possible to say how many special needs assistants will be employed by my Department for the 2010/2011 academic year. There are currently over 10,000 SNA's employed throughout the school system.

I wish to confirm for the Deputy that my Department is very supportive of the SNA scheme. It has been a key factor in both ensuring the successful integration of children with special educational needs into mainstream education and providing support to pupils enrolled in special schools and special classes. The SNA scheme will continue to be supported and the NCSE will continue to support schools, parents, children and teachers and resources will continue to be allocated to schools to meet children's needs in line with my Department's policy.

School Staffing

Joe McHugh

Question:

270 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of special needs teachers that will be employed by her Department at schools for the 2010-2011 academic year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28685/10]

Joe McHugh

Question:

271 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of primary teaching posts that will serve primary schools for the 2010-2011 academic year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28686/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 270 and 271 together.

The criteria used for the allocation of teachers to schools is published annually on my Department's website. In terms of the position at individual school level the key factor for determining the level of resources provided by my Department is the pupil enrolment at 30 September. The final position for any one school will depend on a number of other factors such as the allocation of support teachers, additional posts for schools that are developing rapidly and posts allocated as a result of the appeals processes. The allocation process for 2010/11 school year is well underway. However, the final staffing position for all schools will not be known until October/November. At that stage the allocation process will be fully completed and any appeals to the Staffing Appeals Board will have been considered.

The current number of teaching posts at primary level is 31,860. The number of teaching posts is expected to increase for the 2010/11 school year due to the projected increase in the number of pupils at primary level and the continued growth in provision for children with special educational needs in schools.

Departmental Expenditure

Joe McHugh

Question:

272 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on the 2010 education budget. [28687/10]

The gross expenditure allocation for my Department for 2010, as set out in the Further Revised Estimates for 2010, is just over €9.295 billion. €452 million of this amount is in respect of funding previously funded from the Vote of the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment. This is to cover expenditure for the period 1 May 2010, when these functions transferred to my Department, to the end of this year. The National Training Fund will contribute a further €422 million, additional to the voted Exchequer allocation.

The gross current allocation for my Department for 2010 is €8.589 billion, which equates to approximately 15% of total current public expenditure. My Department's gross capital allocation for 2010 is €706 million. In addition, €79 million of capital funding was carried over from 2009, bringing the overall total available for capital expenditure in 2010 to €785 million. This represents an increase of over 2% on the outturn for 2009.

This continued significant investment in education and skills, against the very challenging economic backdrop, demonstrates the importance attached by Government to education. Formulation of the Estimates for 2010 required a number of difficult decisions to taken by the Government. However, these decisions were guided at all times by the national interest and the need to ensure we can sustain public services into the future. The Estimates represent an important step on the road to bringing public expenditure into line with available resources.

Within my Department's capital allocation for 2010 some €579m has been allocated to the school building programme, reflecting the Government's desire to continue investing in the productive capacity of the economy, to create construction jobs and to provide schoolchildren and teachers with the best educational environment in which to learn and work. I recently announced an allocation of €122 million for the Summer Works Scheme in 2010 which will see major improvements in 1,490 primary and post primary schools across the country that will benefit from small and medium scale building works this summer.

The capital allocation also provides €127 million for investment in higher education. This will enable my Department to continue the programme of investment in upgrading and modernising undergraduate facilities at institutes of technology, universities and other colleges around the country. A capital sum of €50 million is being allocated to support the integration of information and communications technology in teaching and learning in schools. Of the €8.589 billion allocated for gross current expenditure on the Education Vote in 2010 pay and pension costs account for almost €6.4 billion. The allocation for pay reflects the impact of a saving of over €350 million arising from the cut in public sector pay which came into effect from the start of this year.

In line with the commitments agreed in the Renewed Programme for Government additional current funding has been made available in 2010 to protect frontline services in schools. €12 million is being provided for the employment of 500 additional teachers in first and second level schools over the next 3 years. €14 million has been provided for additional teachers from September 2010 for the 2010/11 school year to meet demographic pressures and to ensure no further increase in the pupil teacher ratio. These allocations will allow for an increase in teacher numbers of approximately 1,130 between the end of 2009 and the end of 2010. €19 million is being provided to maintain school capitation grants at current levels and to take account of increased pupil numbers. This allocation will also enable additional funding to be allocated to schools for school books and to support curricular activities as provided in the Renewed Programme for Government.

The current allocation also provides for expenditure of just over €1.1 billion on special needs across the Education Vote. The Estimates also include provision of almost €795 million for measures to tackle educational disadvantage across the sector. These measures will be directed at those most in need and include a range of services, aimed at: early literacy; improving school attendance and tackling early school leaving; improving access to third-level; and second chance education for young people and adults. The provision for school transport of €186 million includes provision for new services.

The provision for 2010 for Universities and Institutes of Technology is €1,194 million which is a 9% reduction on 2009. The public service pay reduction accounts for almost 6% of this reduction. The reduction takes account of targeted reductions in staff numbers employed under an employment control framework for the sector and will also involve further non-pay cost efficiencies. The overall allocation for funding for student support has increased from €306 million in 2009 to €324 million in 2010 to take account of increased numbers of students. A reduction of 5% was applied to the rates of student grants and scholarships in 2010, in line with reductions in other income maintenance payments announced in the Budget.

A number of savings were identified in relation to the functions which were transferred from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation to my Department, mainly in the area of training allowances that are linked to Social Protection payments, and certain FÁS allowances that are provided in addition to the core training allowances. These savings allow an increase in training and employment places to over 160,000 in 2010. For example, they provide for an increase of 500 in Community Employment places, bringing the total places available to 23,300.

The 2010 Budget includes an allocation of €14 million as matching funding for European Globalisation Fund (EGF) initiatives and measures to be directed at enhanced training and employment initiatives for young unemployed, redundant apprentices and former employees of the construction and manufacturing sectors. Approval from the European Commission has been received for €22.8 million funding under the EGF application to support redundant workers at the Dell computer manufacturing plant in Raheen, Co. Limerick. Applications in respect of redundancies at Waterford Crystal and SR Technics are currently under consideration at European level.

A sum of €20 million is allocated to the new Labour Market Activation Fund. The Fund is intended to support the provision of training and education programmes for the unemployed — prioritising the low skilled, and those formerly employed in declining sectors such as construction, retail and manufacturing sectors, with particular emphasis on the under 35's and the long-term unemployed. A Call for Proposals was issued in March 2010 for training and education programmes to be funded from the Activation Fund, which I recently announced.

School Accommodation

James Bannon

Question:

273 Deputy James Bannon asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will provide all records regarding details of payments by her Department in respect of the rental of prefabricated buildings for national and secondary schools in County Longford and County Westmeath over a five-year period from 1 January 2004 to 31 December 2009, consisting of a breakdown of the amount paid for each school; the company from which they are rented; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28689/10]

Information prior to 2008 is not readily available in the format requested by the Deputy. The information from 2008 onward is being compiled by my Department and this information will be forwarded to the Deputy shortly.

Schools Patronage

David Stanton

Question:

274 Deputy David Stanton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills in view of a recent planning application made by her Department to build two new primary schools in Ballinacurra, Midleton, County Cork, her plans, if any, for the patronage of these schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28805/10]

My Department is aware of the need for additional school accommodation in the general Midleton area. With this in mind my Department is engaged in the process of acquiring a site considered suitable subject to contract. The future Patronage of any schools constructed on this property will be in the context of future educational demand in the area.

Physical Education Facilities

David Stanton

Question:

275 Deputy David Stanton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills her policy, if any, regarding the provision of playing fields and general purpose or sports halls in new primary schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28806/10]

The Department is committed to funding the provision of general purpose rooms and outdoor play areas in schools as part of the school building and modernisation programme. This is being addressed in the context of available resources and published criteria for prioritising school building projects.

The provision of GP rooms but not playing pitches is part of the specification for primary schools. However, in certain circumstances and where the site conditions allow, the project scope may include the levelling and grassing of an area which schools may decide to use for playing fields. The Department's design guidelines for primary schools include guidance on the provision of general purpose rooms and outdoor hard play areas such as basketball courts. The size of these facilities would be dependent on the size of the new school being built.

Science Education

Richard Bruton

Question:

276 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of students taking each of the science subjects at senior cycle among boys and among girls in each of the academic years 1999-2000, 2004-2005 and 2009-2010. [28825/10]

I have asked my officials to compile the information and forward it to the Deputy as soon as possible.

State Examinations

Richard Bruton

Question:

277 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of students who sat examinations at pass level and at honours level among boys and among girls and the grades achieved in each of the academic years 1999-2000, 2004-2005 and 2009-2010. [28826/10]

The State Examinations Commission has statutory responsibility for operational matters relating to the certificate examinations including making arrangements for the marking of work presented for examinations and issuing the results of examinations. In view of this I have forwarded your query to the State Examinations Commission for direct reply to you.

I wish to inform the Deputy that the State Examinations Commission provide statistics from 2001 on their website under different headings at www.examinations.ie/statistics/leaving certificate/.

Third Level Enrolments

Richard Bruton

Question:

278 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the proportion of first year enrolments among men and among women at third level in science and applied science and in engineering and technology in each of the academic years 19990-2000, 2004-2005 and 2009-2010, distinguishing between universities and institutes of technology. [28827/10]

The following table shows the new first year entrants to science and engineering courses in universities and the technology sector for the years 2004/05 and 1999/00 where available. 2009/10 data is not yet available.

Full-time undergraduate students entering for the first time

1999/00

Universities

Technology Sector

Male

Female

Total

Male

Female

Total

Science

955

1,277

2,232

N/A

N/A

N/A

Engineering

991

251

1,242

N/A

N/A

N/A

Overall Total

1,946

1,528

3,474

N/A

N/A

N/A

2004/2005

Universities

Technology Sector

Male

Female

Total

Male

Female

Total

Science

1,633

1,424

3,057

945

557

1,502

Engineering, Manufacturing and Construction

834

252

1,086

2,787

282

3,069

Overall Total

2,467

1,676

4,143

3,732

839

4,571

Science Education

Richard Bruton

Question:

279 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of pupils at senior cycle among boys and among girls who take one science subject; the number who take two science subjects and the number who take three or more. [28828/10]

I have asked my officials to compile the information and forward to the Deputy as soon as possible.