Other Questions

Irish Language

James Bannon

Question:

6 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs if he has satisfied himself with the overall effectiveness of the deontas, scéim labhairt na Gaeilge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28729/10]

Scéim labhairt na Gaeilge was first introduced in 1935 when an annual grant was available to each school-going child for the purpose of encouraging households in the Gaeltacht to use Irish as their everyday language.

The scheme in its current form is in operation since 1993. While it is a mechanism for supporting and promoting Irish as a living household and community language in the Gaeltacht, it can also be seen as representing Government support for the Gaeltacht at a time when the language is facing a major threat due to a number of different factors which have been identified in the linguistic study on the use of Irish in the Gaeltacht. The scheme also provides data on the strength of the language in the various Gaeltacht regions.

A review of the scheme was carried out in 2003-04 and some basic changes to make it more relevant to today's needs were recommended. However, because of the cost involved, these were not proceeded with at the time.

As I indicated, the draft 20 year strategy for Irish envisages significant changes to the definition of the Gaeltacht and the need for significant emphasis in the future on language planning and socio-linguistic interventions. I anticipate that the effectiveness of scéim labhairt na Gaeilge and other Gaeltacht and Irish language schemes will fall to be considered in that context at the appropriate time.

As the Minister stated, scéim labhairt na Gaeilge has been operational in the Gaeltacht since 1935. For 75 years it has been part and parcel of the educational system in the Gaeltacht where it is administered through schools. Does the Minister agree that the format of the scheme has outlived its usefulness and probably does not accurately reflect the standard of Irish in the Gaeltacht or the extent to which it is spoken in the Gaeltacht? Does he also agree that unfortunately many schools in the Gaeltacht do not submit applications under the scheme? This has implications for the language. Will he outline what were the recommendations of the review group? Is an estimate available as to how much it would cost the Exchequer to implement the recommendations?

The main recommendations were that the scheme would be applicable to new households from the time the first child is born — the main criticism of the scheme is that it only comes into operation when the first child in the family starts attending school, which is too late in terms of language acquisition; support services for learning or improving the Irish language would be available to households; an agreement or understanding would be made between the Department and household regarding the promotion of the language; and the grant would be increased.

I tend to concur with Deputy McGinley. The environment for supporting the Irish language has changed. Having met representatives of parents with young children from inside and outside the Gaeltacht who are anxious to raise their families through the medium of Irish, I consider that it should be possible to support families when children are at an early age. The problem with some of the schemes in place is that they kick in too late. By the time a child is four or five years old and of school-going age, he or she will have missed critical opportunities to acquire language skills. There is considerable merit in working with pre-school children at naoínraí and their parents to conserve and promote the Irish language.

As some Deputies will know better than I do, a number of initiatives are under way, for example, in Indreabhán and elsewhere in Connemara and in the west Kerry Gaeltacht, to deliver significant inter-agency support to families. This includes support from the Health Service Executive, an agency that is not often spoken about positively, which is providing speech and language therapy services as Gaeilge in a family resource centre. We should examine other ways of supporting the language, although I do not exclude supports that are currently available.

Does the Minister agree that the main benefit of the scéim labhairt na Gaeilge was to support native Irish speakers, not in learning at school but through language in the home?

Does he also agree that no language can survive as a living language without native speakers? Latin survives as a dead language because there are no native speakers. We do not want Irish to suffer the same fate as Latin. The main benefit of the scheme was in this area.

While I wholeheartedly agree with the Deputy, we need to support those who have chosen to live in the Gaeltacht. Increasingly, both parents will not be native Irish speakers or speak Irish as their first language, if it all. We need to support this group of people. I visited a two teacher school in west Kerry recently and if what I observed there could be replicated elsewhere, the language would be in a great state.

Do I understand that families who originate in the Gaeltacht and are living outside the Gaeltacht or families who genuinely bring their children up through the medium of Irish outside the Gaeltacht could be considered in the context of scéim labhairt na Gaeilge? A number of times tonight the Minister mentioned the change in the definition of a Gaeltacht. I take it that is moving towards the boundaries of the Gaeltacht also changing. Where that might happen, there could be some families who genuinely bring up their children through Irish but are in a minority. Would it be fair with the new definition of the Gaeltacht and changed boundaries to exclude them from the scheme?

I have not even addressed the issue of boundary changes yet. The Deputy knows what the strategy states and reports have been written in that regard. There are two groups. We need to support and conserve Irish in the Gaeltacht areas. However, there is an emerging group, maybe around the scoileanna lán-Ghaeilge, who are increasingly using Irish as their first language, but very often they need support. I would envisage that in the context of implementing the 20-year strategy, measures would be made available to those new groups as well as groups within the Gaeltacht through a form of the scéim labhartha. I believe it will take different forms. When the pleananna Ghaeilge are formalised — there are a number of interesting ones in different parts of the country emerging already and are almost ready to roll and it is a pity we have not been able to get discussion on this under way more quickly, but we are where we are — and put into effect, different interventions will emerge. Organisations like Foras na Gaeilge and others will form part of support services that will be — and should be — available to families. Some of us present are teachers or former teachers. By starting early we are likely to have a greater impact in whatever language it is.

In the school I mentioned, there was a ten year old girl of Swiss origin. She had been in the school for only a short time and because of the approach taken to the teaching of Irish in that school, she certainly had better Irish than I have.

Polasaí don Ghaeilge

Dinny McGinley

Question:

7 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Dinny McGinley den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Comhionannais agus Gaeltachta an bhfuil aon scéim ar bun nó ar intinn chun feidhmeannaigh teanga lánaimseartha a fhostú i ngach pobal Gaeltachta, agus iad ag feidhmiú ó oifigí nó i bhfoirgneamh atá aitheanta mar ionad tacaíochta teanga; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [28658/10]

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 deacair amscála cinnte a lua ach bheinn dóchasach go mbeidh dul chun cinn suntasach bainte amach faoi Mheán Fómhair seo chugainn.

Mar a bhí molta sa staidéar teangeolaíoch ar úsáid na Gaeilge sa Ghaeltacht, cuimsíonn an dréacht-straitéis forbairt córais pleanála teanga chuimsithigh ag leibhéal an phobail sa Ghaeltacht. Bheadh plean teanga ag gach ceantar Gaeltachta bunaithe ar riachtanais teanga na bpobal aitheanta.

Chomh maith leis sin, bheadh stádas na Gaeltachta bunaithe ar chritéir teanga a thabharfadh tosaíocht do ghníomhaíochtaí pleanála teanga a bhfuil gá leo le háit na Gaeilge mar theanga an phobail a chinntiú. Ach an straitéis a bheith foilsithe, bheadh i gceist agam go ndéanfar tuilleadh forbartha ar an bpróiseas pleanála teanga sa Ghaeltacht i gcoitinne agus ar na tacaíochtaí a bheidh de dhíth chun na pleananna teanga a chur i bhfeidhm.

Is í an deacracht atá ann ná go bhfuil an Ghaeltacht ag athrú. Blianta ó shin, bhí Gaeilge ag gach éinne sa Ghaeltacht, ach anois b'fhéidir go bhfuil teaghlaigh measctha ann ina bhfuil Gaeilge ag an athair agus Béarla ag an mháthair, nó an dóigh eile. Cothaíonn seo deacrachtaí. An aontódh an tAire go mbeadh fiúntas i scéim a chuirfeadh daoine speisialta ar fáil chun cabhair a thabhairt do theaghlaigh ina bhfuil an dá theanga sa teach, fá choinne cuidiú leis na páistí feabhas a chur ar an teanga? Nuair a bheidh an straitéis scrúduithe agus léite ag an Aire agus curtha roimh an Rialtas, an mbeidh sé sásta macnamh a dhéanamh ar thacaíocht a thabhairt do scéim mar sin?

Mar a dúirt mé, faoi láthair, tá ionad amháin ag feidhmiú mar ionad tacaíochta teaghlaigh in Indreabhán i nGaeltacht na Gaillimhe. I láthair na huaire tá mo Roinn ag comhoibriú le pobail eile atá ag iarraidh tabhairt faoi a leithéid a fhorbairt ina gceantair féin. Táthar ag súil go mbeidh dul chun cinn suntasach déanta i gcásanna eile amach anseo freisin. Ar ndóigh, is ó na pobail féin a thagann na héilimh i leith seirbhísí den saghas seo agus tá oifigigh na Roinne ar fáil i gcónaí chun comhairle a thabhairt. Fiú inniu, bhí mé i dteagmháil le m'oifigigh mar gheall ar ionad den tsórt seo in áit eile sa tír. Maidir le feidhmeannaigh teanga, níl aon fheidhmeannach fostaithe go díreach, ach cuireann mo Roinn cúnamh ar fáil d'eagraíochtaí atá ag plé le pleanáil teanga sa Ghaeltacht, le iad a cumasú chun seirbhísí airithe a chur ar fáil trí Ghaeilge. Déantar a leithéid go hiondúil i gcomhar le heagraíochtaí eile Stáit i gcomhthéacs plean teanga i bpobail láidre Gaeilge. Clúdaíonn an dréachtstraitéis córas pleanála teanga cuimsitheach i ngach ceantar Gaeltachta. Beidh cinneadh á dhéanamh i leith na bealaí is fearr é seo a chur i bhfeidhm nuair a bheidh glactha leis an straitéis.

Sin díreach an rud a bhí i gceist agam — an t-ionad tacaíochta atá in Indreabhán i nGaillimh. Bhí an comhchoiste thíos ansin, nuair a ghlac muid fianaisí ó na pobail Gaeltachta maidir leis an straitéis. Chuaigh sé i bhfeidhm go mór orainn chomh fiúntach agus a d'féadfadh ionad mar sin a bheith, ní hamháin in Indreabhán ach sna ceantair Gaeltachta eile. Sílim gur fiú machnamh air.

Tá tuairim agus dhá cheann eile ——

Beartaithe nó pleanáilte?

Tá siad níos faide ar aghaidh ná an phleanáil agus tá siad i gceantair sna Gaeltachtaí.

I gcás na Gaeltachtaí beaga, cuirim i gcás Rathcairn, Uíbh Ráthach agus Gaeltacht na nDéise, an aontódh an tAire liom go bhfuil feidhmeannach mar seo thar a bheith tábhachtach chun na seirbhísí go léir atá ar fáil agus na seirbhísí nua a chur in áit sna Gaeltachtaí seo? Bhí áisitheoir againn i nGaeltacht na nDéise agus bhí tionchur an áisitheora sin an-thábhachtach ó thaobh na daoine óga a mhealladh isteach chun gníomharthaí a dhéanamh trí Ghaeilge, mar shampla caithimh aimsire agus a leithéid. Muna mbíonn an tacaíocht sin ann, caillfear a lán ó thaobh forbairt agus athbheocan na teanga.

Mar is eol don Teachta, rud eile atá ar siúl ná díospóireacht idir an earnáil dheonach agus Foras na Gaeilge mar gheall ar conas is féidir comhoibriú a chothú idir na heagraíochtaí éagsúla agus féachaint cén éifeacht a bheadh acu ansin i measc pobail Ghaeilge agus Gaeltachta in áiteanna mar na Déise, Baile Bhuirne, Rathcairn, Béal Feirste agus áiteanna eile mór thimpeall na tíre. Tá súil agam, roimh dheireadh na bliana, go mbeimid in ann tuiscint níos soiléire a bheith againn ar conas is féidir maoiniú agus tacaíocht a thabhairt do na grúpaí sin chun cabhrú leis na pleananna áitiúla a chur i bhfeidhm iontu.

Decentralisation Programme

Joan Burton

Question:

8 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs the position regarding the decentralisation programme of his Department; if the current relocation is operating efficiently and effectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28757/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, my Department's headquarters are scheduled to decentralise to Charlestown, County Mayo, under the decentralisation programme. To date, 100 staff have moved to interim accommodation in Tubbercurry, County Sligo, where a significant number of the business units of my Department, including the full rural, community and financial business units, are now operating efficiently and effectively in two properties, which are being leased by the OPW on behalf of my Department.

In December 2009, in light of budgetary constraints and affordability issues, the Minister for Finance decided to defer proceeding with permanent accommodation in Charlestown at this time.

This location, along with four other deferred projects, will be considered as part of an overall review of the decentralisation programme in 2011. The Deputy will also be aware that under the decentralisation programme, ten staff of my Department were due to decentralise to Na Forbacha, County Galway, and I can confirm that this process has now been completed.

With regard to bodies funded from my Department's Vote group, I can advise that in line with the decentralisation programme, 25 staff have relocated with Pobal to offices in Clifden, County Galway; Foras na Gaeilge is in the process of relocating five staff to Gaoth Dobhair, County Donegal; 16 staff have decentralised to offices in Roscrea, County Tipperary, with the Equality Authority; and ten staff have relocated to interim accommodation in Portlaoise, County Laois, with the Equality Tribunal, which is due to relocate to Portarlington, County Laois. Each of these projects will be considered further as part of the overall review of the decentralisation programme in 2011.

It seems the Department is so fragmented now it will be difficult to take in all the elements. We see some sections of the Department of Social Protection working well in Sligo and Letterkenny, etc. The big question is whether it is feasible that the Department, given the fragmentation outlined by the Minister, can work as cohesively as those sections in the Department of Social Protection. In the development of the Department, how do the staff involved travel from Tubbercurry or the seven areas mentioned by the Minister? Is that an extra cost on the Department that would not be there under normal circumstances?

I get wonderful service from the Department of Social Protection in Longford, Sligo and Letterkenny and I could have no crib about the way the system works. Can the Minister's Department work under similar circumstances? The Department of Social Protection deals mainly in payments but the Minister's Department is different as it deals with development programmes and there would be a greater number of meetings. The Minister and Minister of State can outline these issues.

I am considering staff efficiency so does the Minister feel the decentralisation exercise will be a success? I agree with the theme of decentralisation. Does the Minister, having been in office for a period, agree with me? Does he envisage any problems or know of existing problems? As the process has stalled, can something be done before we move the sections to their final positions?

We are a small Department, although it has increased in size — more or less doubling — over the past number of weeks. Much has been done in the Department to make it lean and efficient, and one of the most progressive aspects has been the Department's investment in ICT. Most meetings are conducted through video conferencing, with officials, the Minister of State and I conducting many meetings, including those with delegations, through video conferencing. There is little travel involved, although it happens from time to time when senior officials in a unit may come to Dublin or travel from Tubbercurry to Na Forbacha.

By and large, most of the work is conducted using video conferencing which I encourage other Departments to adopt if they work from dispersed locations throughout the country. Both the Minister of State, Deputy White, and I have been impressed at the capacity to conduct very effective meetings in that way.

The decentralisation programme outlined by the Minister and commented on by Deputy Wall is farcical. There is a development in Kiltimagh and I ask the Minister to look at that facility to see if it is suitable for decentralisation, even on a short-term basis, until the site in Charlestown has been bought and developed with the required planning permission.

The Minister has said there is no cost factor but there must be a cost for the renting of property and bringing staff from all the different parts of the country. I ask the Minister to look at the site in Kiltamagh in County Mayo and try to bring all staff into one location. Much State investment has gone into the site, although it is owned by a private company, IRD. It is prepared to rent it or give it to the State on the basis that the State would maintain it just to get jobs into County Mayo. Will the Minister consider having a look at the site?

I am aware of the property mentioned by Deputy Ring and he is probably aware of the correspondence between myself and the property owners involved. I do not want to raise false hopes as that would be unfair. We believe that pending the outcome of the review of the future development of decentralisation, what is available to us in Tubbercurry is very cost-effective and I can give the Deputy and the House full details of the precise cost of each location. I assure Deputies costs are kept to an absolute minimum and it is a lesson in how cost effectively a Department can be run, either in a Dublin location or elsewhere.

Does Deputy Wall want ten seconds to ask a question? If he were sitting here he would say the same to me.

I sat down one night because the Chairman told me I only had ten seconds in which to speak. I said I would not waste time on the matter.

Where is the final resting place of the Minister of State, Deputy White, in the Department? Where does she operate from and have all the t's been crossed and i's dotted in the change in the Department taking in responsibility for equality affairs from the Department of Justice and Law Reform?

The question is where is the Minister of State's resting place. I do not know if that is what the Deputy meant.

I am sure the Minister of State, Deputy White, understands the tone of the question.

The new Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs is based on Mespil Road and the Deputy is very welcome to visit it. I am based there in a wonderful Department and we are all in one place, having moved from the relevant sections in the Department of Justice and Law Reform. We have a new Minister in Deputy Carey, a new Secretary General and I am new in the position as Minister of State so we are now complete. That is where we are currently operating.

I wish the Minister of State well.

Irish Language

Joe Costello

Question:

9 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs the proposals, if any, he has to review the operation of the Official Languages Act 2003; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28741/10]

If we get to Questions Nos. 13, 17 and 19 I will give all the details of when the transfer and delegation orders, etc., were made.

The Chair is the Minister's hands and those of the Members.

I shudder to think. As indicated previously to the House, I wish to confirm that my Department keeps the work of implementing the Official Languages Act 2003 under continuing review. Furthermore, there is an obligation on me, as Minister, to review the operation of the Act each year, as provided for in section 5 of the Act, and to report formally to the Houses of the Oireachtas in that regard. The reports for the years to 2009 are available in the Oireachtas Library.

Whereas I am satisfied that considerable progress has been made to date in the implementation, on a phased basis, of the provisions of the Act, I agree with the view expressed by my predecessor that it will not be possible to achieve everything overnight. I can again confirm that I am committed to the implementation of the Official Languages Act and to the achievement of its objectives. Indeed, the implementation of the Act is one of the principles set out in the Government's policy statement on the Irish language, issued in December 2006, which forms the basis of the draft 20-year strategy for Irish, which was published in November 2009. The draft has been under consideration by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Arts, Sports, Tourism, Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and I hope to receive the report shortly.

I am also committed to ensuring that the Act be implemented in as cost-effective a way as possible, particularly having regard to the current economic climate. My Department will continue to approach these matters in a realistic, flexible and pragmatic way, especially in agreeing statutory language schemes. In this context, a significant number of resources are already in place to assist public bodies in meeting their obligations as cost effectively as possible.

I thank the Minister for his comprehensive reply. The Minister stated that a review of the Act is being undertaken by the Department. The Act has been in place since 2003. Is it not time to examine how effective implementation of the Act has been in terms of what is the most important issue at the end of the day, namely, the use of the Irish language, in particular people speaking it? Considerable money is being spent on implementing the Act. There are documents being produced in the Irish language that are virtually unread. For instance, not many people read county development plans much less an Irish version of them. As development plans are important in terms of the planning process they must be accurately translated in order that people can use them.

Are we getting the best value from the resources being applied to implementation of the Official Languages Act? Could, for instance, that money be better used elsewhere to achieve other objectives? I am not convinced that implementation of the Act is value for money or is achieving anything in terms of the revival and wider use of the Irish language.

I understand what the Deputy is saying. However, as regards translation costs and so on, it has been pointed out by my predecessor on several occasions that the Act does not require that all documents be translated into Irish. It provides that only a number of key documents shall be published in each of the official languages. The question of costs since the Act was introduced in 2003 was addressed in a reply on 3 February. Of the 15 Departments of State, 11 replied. It is estimated by my Department that the average direct cost amounted to approximately €600,000 per annum or approximately €55,000 per Department. I am of the view that no fair minded person would consider these costs excessive or unreasonable. I also believe that public bodies, particularly in regard to the translation of documents can, as Deputy O'Shea said, achieve greater cost effectiveness. This could be secured by planning earlier in the process for translation, greater use of standardised templates for documents such as annual reports, which are available, and publication by way of CD or the Internet rather than hard copy.

The development by Foras na Gaeilge of a number of support services, including the roll-out of the accreditation system for translators and the development of an Irish language translation memory resource for public bodies will also assist in ensuring public bodies receive a translation product that is reliable and meets a high standard. I do not support the view that money is not being wisely spent in respect of implementation of the Official Languages Act.

I agree with Deputy O'Shea. I believe that a directive should go out to local authorities and State agencies in regard to uploading documents onto their websites owing to the cost involved.

There is a major problem in respect of signage, in particular in Gaeltacht areas where signs are displayed in Irish only. In every county on the way to Gaeltacht areas, including in my own county, signs displaying place names in Irish have been painted over and the English version of the place name has been inserted. Perhaps by way of the review of the Official Languages Act consideration might be given to signs being bilingual, with the place name in Irish the bigger of the two, I do not mind. This matter needs to be addressed. We are making a fool of ourselves and the countryside is being destroyed with people painting over signs displayed in Irish and this is causing problems for tourists and tourism in Gaeltacht areas. A man, a fluent Irish speaker, told me he is losing business as a result of the new signage.

I am aware of the issue raised by Deputy Ring. Local authorities are responsible for road and other signage in their areas. The guidelines in terms of what should be displayed on signs is clearly established. The obligations of the Official Languages Act must also be complied with. That being said, we would always encourage that sensible and pragmatic approaches be taken in this regard. Enactment of the Official Languages Act in July 2003 was an important statement. The Act is underpinned by legislation and Supreme Court findings and I would not tamper with it easily.

National Drugs Strategy

Catherine Byrne

Question:

10 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs the steps being taken to stop the spread of head shops and to remove potentially dangerous substances known as legal highs from the market; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28802/10]

Róisín Shortall

Question:

15 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs his views on whether any future ban on headshop products will ensure the complete ending of this type of outlet. [28767/10]

Joan Burton

Question:

23 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs the position regarding headshops; if the proposed legislation is taking account of the constant changing market in relation to such shops; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28754/10]

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

46 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs the position regarding the banning of headshops here. [28764/10]

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

49 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of meetings that he has had with the Garda in relation to headshops; and if he will advise the gardaí in relation to same. [28765/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 10, 15, 23, 46 and 49 together.

As Minister with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy, I see headshops and the psychoactive substances they sell as representing a relatively new aspect of the ever-evolving issue of substance misuse in our society. I am determined, as are my Government colleagues, to tackle the problems arising and to pursue all available approaches to counter the potential threats involved.

The steps taken by my colleague, the Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Harney, in May in introducing regulations under the Misuse of Drugs Acts have had a significant impact. These regulations make the possession and sale of more than 200 products subject to criminal sanctions under the Misuse of Drugs Acts. The introduction of controls sent out a clear message, in particular to young people, about the dangers of psychoactive substances sold through headshops and via the Internet. It also places Ireland to the fore in the context of the control of new psychoactive substances in EU countries.

Prior to the introduction of these controls, the Garda Síochána had identified 102 headshop outlets. The number subsequently fell to 34, although some have since re-opened. Given the evidence at a global level, it was expected that efforts would be made to source alternative substances to put on sale both in headshops and through the Internet. The Minister for Health and Children is monitoring this situation with a view to controlling further substances under the Misuse of Drugs Acts, if that proves to be necessary.

Against this background, the Government approved proposals from the Minister for Justice and Law Reform, Deputy Dermot Ahern, for a Criminal Justice (Psychoactive Substances) Bill. I strongly believe that this legislation, together with the Misuse of Drugs Act, will provide a comprehensive legislative response to the psychoactive substances and headshop issues. Under the provisions of the Bill, it will be a criminal offence to sell or supply substances that are not prohibited under the Misuse of Drugs Act, but that have psychoactive effects on humans. In addition, the proposed legislation will make it an offence to sell objects for cultivation by hydroponic means, thus tackling another aspect of drug production. A further critical feature of the Bill is the significant powers envisaged for the Garda Síochána. The Bill has been debated in the Seanad and is scheduled for Second Stage debate in the Dáil tomorrow.

With regard to the level of my interaction and that of my officials with the Garda Síochána, there is ongoing engagement with the Garda through the structures established under the National Drugs Strategy. These include the Oversight Forum on Drugs, the Drugs Advisory Group, and periodic meetings with the Minister for Justice and Law Reform and the Garda Commissioner, as provided for under the strategy. Apart from such organised structures, I am in contact with representatives of the Garda Síochána on an ongoing basis in relation to various drugs issues. I would also point out that the gardaí are involved as members of the 24 drugs task forces across the country and I want to acknowledge their input in this regard.

Meanwhile, the activities of headshops are being closely monitored on an ongoing basis by the Garda Síochána and Revenue's customs service with a view to ensuring that no illegal substances are being sold. The HSE, in association with partner agencies under the drugs strategy, is finalising a national drugs awareness campaign focusing on the dangers of psychoactive substances. I will launch that campaign next week. The national advisory committee on drugs is also carrying out some targeted research in this area and relevant Government agencies are reviewing existing legislative provisions to establish if headshops are in compliance with the provisions applying.

I assure the Deputies that I will continue to work with my ministerial colleagues in vigorously pursuing all viable approaches to counter the threats posed by headshops and the products they sell.

I will allow a brief supplementary question from Deputies Ring and Wall.

Second Stage of the Criminal Justice (Psychoactive Substances) Bill 2010 will be before the House tomorrow and it is hoped the Bill will be passed before the summer recess.

Will there be anything in the legislation to deal with that? Some 48 head shops are open at present. What levels of resources are being given to the Garda and the HSE to make sure the new products that are introduced on a daily basis are dealt with?

The excellent document produced by Drugnet shows what we are fighting against. I support what Deputy Ring is saying. I ask that these head shops be kept under constant surveillance so that all new products are dealt with. It is clear from the Drugnet document that these products are changing on a daily basis. If we are to protect the youngsters who frequent these establishments, we have to ensure that constant surveillance results in these products being banned. I appreciate the efforts that have been made to date to ban these substances.

I understand that the possibility of exploiting the Internet for the sale and purchase of these products is to be severely restricted. The inclusion in the list of banned products of "whack" and "amplified", both of which are derivatives of previous products, shows that the measures which have been introduced to date are working. I suggest that our legislation is very effective.

Written Answers follow Adjournment Debate.