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 26, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 27 to 33, inclusive, answered orally.

Foreign Conflicts

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

34 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on the continuing failure to reach agreement between the Republic of Cyprus and Turkish Cypriots of Northern Cyprus; and his further views on the attitude of the Council of Europe following decisions of the European Court of Human Rights on property rights in Northern Cyprus. [29591/10]

Ireland takes an active interest in the successful resolution of the Cyprus question. The UN has the lead role in the search for a comprehensive settlement and the Government fully supports the leadership of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and his Special Representative Alexander Downer in this important work.

We will continue to encourage progress towards the achievement of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federal state through an honourable, balanced and durable settlement protecting and guaranteeing the basic rights of all Cypriots. We encourage Turkey to bring its influence to bear in supporting a durable settlement — something I discussed with the Turkish Foreign Minister in the course of our meeting in Dublin on 10 March.

The current phase of negotiations to find a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem began in September 2008, under the auspices of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, Mr. Alexander Downer. By the end of March 2010, over 70 rounds of talks had taken place between President Christofias, the leader of the Greek Cypriots, and Mehmet Ali Talat, the then leader of the Turkish Cypriot community.

As Deputies will be aware, Mr Dervis Eroglu was elected leader of the Turkish Cypriot community in the elections held on 18 April, defeating Mr. Talat. A first round of talks between President Christofias and Mr. Eroglu took place at the end of May. Given the negative positions previously taken by Mr. Eroglu on the negotiations, it was encouraging that the two leaders could agree to continue the talks on the basis of the UN parameters, Security Council resolutions and the landmark joint statements made by Christofias and Talat during their talks in 2008. The two leaders held a further round of talks on 23 June, when discussions focused on property issues. The next meeting between Mr. Eroglu and Mr. Christofias will be held on 9 July.

Both sides have said that they wish to find a solution by the end of 2010. While much needs to be done before agreement can be reached, I believe that the necessary momentum is present.

Regarding property rights in Northern Cyprus: in the case of Demopoulos v. Turkey in March this year the European Court of Human Rights determined that the Immovable Property Commission (IPC) provided an accessible and effective framework of redress in respect of complaints about interference with property owned by Greek Cypriots. This Commission was set up in 2005 by the Turkish Cypriot community as a means of recourse for displaced Greek Cypriots.

There have been previous judgments, including the interstate case of Cyprus v. Turkey, which have been transmitted to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, responsible for supervising the execution of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe met in June to discuss the implications of the Demopoulos decision and whether it could conclude that Turkey had now implemented fully that part of the Cyprus v. Turkey judgment dealing with property rights of displaced persons. Cyprus opposed closure of this matter and raised a number of questions which it felt ought to be addressed prior to adopting a final closure resolution on this aspect of the Cyprus v. Turkey case. A number of states, including Ireland, felt that questions raised by Cyprus merited a response and asked the Council of Europe Secretariat, responsible for advising the Committee of Ministers on the execution of judgments, for further information and clarification before making a decision on closure. The Committee of Ministers will meet again in September to consider the matter.

Overseas Development Aid

Shane McEntee

Question:

35 Deputy Shane McEntee asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on the comments (details supplied) made to an Oireachtas committee on 27 June 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29627/10]

Under the Government's decentralisation programme announced in 2003, the headquarters of Irish Aid, the Development Cooperation Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs, has moved to Limerick.

The decentralisation of Irish Aid is fully complete and is making an important contribution to the economy of Limerick and the Mid-West region. It also contributes to civic life in the area through events such as the annual Africa Day celebration.

The development programme is recognised as one of the best in the world. This was highlighted by a peer review of Irish Aid carried out by the OECD and published in April 2009. The OECD reported that "Irish Aid is a strong, cutting edge, development cooperation programme, fully integrated into the Department of Foreign Affairs". It stated that "Ireland is a champion in making aid more effective".

The report of the peer review is a thorough and detailed document, providing a very positive assessment of the impact, effectiveness and focus of the aid programme. It was based on work conducted while decentralisation was being completed and represents the most authoritative and impartial international assessment which an aid programme can receive.

Europe 2020 Strategy

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

36 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will report on the finalisation of Europe 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29669/10]

The Government welcomes the new Strategy which was adopted by the European Council on 17 June and fully supports the core elements as they have been agreed . We believe that the Strategy will provide an essential framework for action by the EU and its Member States to achieve higher levels of sustainable jobs and growth as economic recovery is secured.

We are very satisfied with the broad thrust of the five EU headline targets which the European Council have agreed upon, which are: to raise to 75% the employment for women and men aged 20 — 64; raising investment in research and development, including innovation to 3% of GDP; reducing greenhouse gases by 20% compared with 1990 levels; increasing the share of renewable in energy consumption to 20% and working towards a 20% increase in energy efficiency; improving education levels by reducing the school drop-out rates to 10% and increasing the share of 30 — 40 year-olds having completed tertiary or equivalent education to at least 40%; and promoting social inclusion, in particular through reduction of poverty by aiming to lift at least 20 million people out of risk of poverty. As I have mentioned before, we have already exceeded the 40% target for tertiary education and are close to the 10% drop-out rate target at 11.3%.

This choice of targets is consistent with the desire to keep the Strategy focused on key policies which can be mobilised to unlock the growth potential of the European Union. The targets on greenhouse gas reduction and increasing the share of renewables had already been agreed by the European Council in the context of the EU's negotiating position in the UN Conference on Climate Change. The targets also have the added potential for inter-linkage, where progress under one target can contribute to reaching another. In particular, we welcome the conclusions agreed by the European Council on this new Strategy which noted that "a sustainable, productive and competitive agricultural sector will make an important contribution to the new Strategy, considering the growth and employment potential; of rural areas while ensuring fair competition". We believe that this provides a most useful platform on which to build linkages between this Strategy and the agriculture and food sector.

The Strategy will provide an essential framework for action by the EU and its Member States to achieve higher levels of sustainable jobs and growth as economic recovery is secured. We now look forward to the implementation of the Strategy at Member State and EU level. Over the months ahead, we will be taking the necessary measures at national level, supported as appropriate, by action at EU level, to set this ten year Strategy in motion.

Certificates of Irish Heritage

Andrew Doyle

Question:

37 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the details of his proposal to issue certificates of Irish heritage; the estimate of the proposed fee for this certificate; the details of the third party agency that will administer this certificate; when this initiative will be activated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29633/10]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

377 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his plans to introduce a certificate of Irish heritage for those of Irish descent who do not qualify for citizenship; the criteria needed in order to successfully apply for one of these certificates; if his Department is confident this initiative will be treated with popular respect; the number of persons his Department expects will apply for a certificate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29194/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 37 and 377 together.

The establishment of a Certificate of Irish Heritage was proposed in the Strategic Review of Ireland-US Relations, published in March 2009. The initiative is being taken forward by the Government in direct response to a strong demand for such a scheme among those members of our Diaspora who are not entitled to Irish citizenship and is a practical demonstration of the inclusive approach adopted by successive Governments when it comes to defining the Irish identity.

The Certificate of Irish Heritage will give official recognition to the many people worldwide who are conscious of their Irish heritage and feel a strong affinity for Ireland, but who are not eligible for Irish citizenship. The Certificate will not confer any citizenship or other legal rights or entitlements to the successful applicant.

My Department published a request on the Government's eTenders website in April seeking expressions of interest from suitably qualified service providers for the establishment of a service concession to operate the service on behalf of the Department. A deadline of 28 May was set for the receipt of applications. Expressions of interest were received from a number of interested service providers and are currently under consideration.

Those applying for Certificates of Irish Heritage will be required to submit comprehensive details of their Irish ancestral connections and relevant documents and certificates to show their connection with Ireland. As the tender process for the award of the licence to operate the service is ongoing, I am not in a position to provide details on those companies that may have applied or the fee that is expected to be charged for the service. It is hoped that the scheme will be operational by the end of the year.

Although it is not possible to put a figure on the number of people who may apply for the Certificate, it is expected that there will be a substantial demand abroad for the service.

Death of United States Senator

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

38 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the recent passing of Senator Robert C. Byrd, long-serving United States Senator for West Virginia, and his far-sighted opposition to the Iraq war. [29636/10]

It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of a true American statesman, a hero to the state of West Virginia, and a true friend to the island of Ireland, Senator Robert C. Byrd. In this regard, I would like to note the Senator's support for the International Fund for Ireland, during his time as Chair of the Senate's Appropriations Committee.

Throughout his 52 years in Congress, Senator Byrd had a front row seat to some of America's most memorable moments. Whether it was the assassination of a beloved President, the landing of a man on the moon, or the tragedies of September 11th, Robert Byrd was at hand to lead and to serve not just the people of West Virginia, but the citizens of the United States.

He was never a man to sacrifice his own personal beliefs for the sake of political gain. He would often courageously voice his opinion, with candour, while dedicated to the principles of the US Constitution. As the Deputy notes in his question, this was particularly so in the clear stance Senator Byrd took on Iraq. He was one of the few to change his own views on race relations in America. In the words of President Obama, "He had the courage to stand firm in his principles, but also the courage to change over time.

Robert Byrd's talents didn't just end in the halls of Congress. Apart from being the longest serving member of the United States Congress, he would often showcase his talents as a fiddle player. Senator Byrd played some of the most famous venues in America, including the Kennedy Centre — even releasing an album while he was Majority Leader.

President Obama referred to the Senator as "uniquely American”, a more fitting description I think you could not find. On behalf of the Irish Government, I wish to extend our condolences to his family. Our thoughts and prayers are with his daughters, their grandchildren and great grandchildren, and all the people of West Virginia who loved and cherished Robert C. Byrd. May he rest in peace.

Middle East Peace Process

Paul Connaughton

Question:

39 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on the steps necessary to progress the Middle East peace process; the steps being taken at EU level to move this forward; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29586/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

53 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the extent to which, unilaterally or in conjunction with his EU colleagues, he has managed to positively engage with both sides in the Arab-Israeli conflict with a view to identifying and prioritising issues such as Gaza, resettlement, human rights violations and the treatment of prisoners by either side; and the steps being taken to progress these issues with particular reference to the need for all parties to recognise each other’s existence and right to exist. [29612/10]

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

79 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on the implications for the Middle East peace process of the most recent evictions of civilians from their homes in east Jerusalem. [29655/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

396 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the steps taken through the aegis of the EU to encourage the peace process in the Middle East with particular reference to the need to address the Gaza issue and Israeli resettlement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30178/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 39, 53, 79 and 396 together.

While much attention has rightly been concentrated on the recent events surrounding Gaza and their aftermath, it is crucial that we continue to focus on the efforts needed to reach a comprehensive political settlement. Ultimately this is the only way to fully achieve our goals of ending the occupation and its inherent injustices, ending the isolation of Gaza, and providing for the long-term peace and security of both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.

The proximity talks under the chairmanship of Senator Mitchell commenced in May and are expected to continue for a period of four months, after this the parties will consider the basis for continuing them, or indeed progressing to direct talks, which we would all hope will be possible.

The key issues are borders (including the question of Jerusalem), security, refugees and water. These are difficult issues, but they have been debated for decades now, many ideas and visions have been put forward and the parties have a broad understanding of each others' needs and positions. I believe that these issues are all capable of being resolved, within the two year timeframe set out by President Obama, if the parties are genuinely willing to find solutions.

The process initially involves Israel and the Palestinian Authority but in due course, if progress allows, the wider issues of Gaza, Lebanon, Syria and general Israeli-Arab relations will need to be addressed as well if we are to attain settlement.

We are all very well aware of the mutual distrust and lack of confidence on the part of both the parties that the other is genuinely serious. We are also aware of and concerned by the possibilities of events on the ground derailing the process, intentionally or otherwise. The Irish Government strongly supports the EU, President Obama and his Administration, and the Quartet in their efforts to urge all parties to engage seriously, to refrain from negative acts on the ground, to be mindful of the needs of the other protagonists, and to do all in their power to achieve a final settlement of this destructive conflict.

I would commend in this respect the efforts of President Abbas to speak to the Israeli media, and thus to the Israeli people in order to set out his vision for a shared and peaceful future. I am struck by the contrast between this example of real leadership, and the dead end represented by some elements of Hamas who seem to be fixated on destroying the facilities built by UNRWA for the childrens' Summer Games in Gaza.

Ireland, with our EU partners, will continue to encourage and support the parties in their engagement with each other, and to consider any and all practical steps we can take to help the process, bearing in mind that we need to be ready to assist over the long haul. Ireland will also remain focussed, directly and at EU and UN levels, on the key human rights and justice issues which continue to affect the daily lives of the people of Gaza and the other Occupied Territories, and which have the potential to derail political efforts.

I agree absolutely that the continuing relentless process of settlement expansion and squeezing out of Palestinian families, especially in Jerusalem — which is continuing even if there has been some slowing of the pace this year — is both dangerous and incomprehensible, against a background where both sides are supposed to be committed to reaching a final settlement of borders within a short period.

Overseas Development Aid

Tom Sheahan

Question:

40 Deputy Tom Sheahan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the funding provided from the overseas aid budget to non-governmental organisations in 2009; the reductions in NGO funding in 2010; the way these reductions will be implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27558/10]

The Government's aid programme, administered from within my department by Irish Aid, is sharply focused on the reduction and eventual eradication of global poverty and hunger. Our partnership with development Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and missionaries represents a very important element in this effort, reflecting the broad support among Irish people for the development programme. The Irish aid programme channels over 20% of overall assistance through NGOs and missionaries, one of the highest proportions internationally.

Funding for NGOs is administered through a range of funding schemes covering long term development, emergency and recovery assistance and development education. Additional funding is provided to NGOs under the development programmes in the nine priority countries for Irish Aid, where we have a commitment to long term strategic assistance. Irish Aid also cooperates closely with the representative group Misean Cara, providing very significant funding for the work of Irish missionaries with poor communities in the developing world.

In 2009, the Government provided a total of €696 million for Official Development Assistance. €571 million of this was provided under Vote 29 (International Co-Operation) of the Department of Foreign Affairs, for the aid programme managed by Irish Aid. Of this amount, over €152 million was channelled through development NGOs and missionaries, to support their work in livelihood and food security, rural economic development, health, education, gender equality and humanitarian response programmes.

The overall ODA allocation which the Government has provided for 2010 involves a relatively small reduction of €25 million on the total for 2009. As a result, it is likely that the outturn for 2010 will show some reduction in funding for NGOs. However, the precise amount will depend on appraisal and approval processes which are still underway. I can confirm that the amount of funding provided to the five main NGO partners for long term development work and to Misean Cara will remain at the same level as 2009: Concern, Trócaire, Goal, Self Help Africa and Christian Aid will receive a total of €56 million for this purpose, and Misean Cara will receive €16 million.

It will be necessary this year to limit the number of new projects funded, while honouring the multi-annual commitments to NGO partners. As a number of NGO projects have reached the end of their funding cycles with Irish Aid, it will be possible to release some funding for new projects this year. Proposals from NGOs are currently under consideration and I expect that the details of successful candidates will be announced after the summer.

The Government is determined that our aid programme will maintain its focus on poverty and hunger, and that we will continue to strengthen our partnership with civil society, and our concentration on achieving clear development results. This partnership goes beyond funding arrangements, and involves continuous policy dialogue across a range of vital issues, to ensure that the overall Irish contribution to development has the maximum effect on the lives of the poorest people in the world.

EU Enlargement

Seán Barrett

Question:

41 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will report on the progress of negotiations for Iceland to join the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29686/10]

Iceland applied for membership of the EU in July 2009. On 24 February, the Commission delivered a largely positive opinion (avis) on Iceland’s readiness to begin accession negotiations and recommended that a date should be set for commencement of talks. In light of the Commission opinion the application was considered by Foreign Ministers at the General Affairs Council on 14 June and by Heads of State and Government at the European Council on 17 June 2010. The European Council decided that accession negotiations should be opened and invited the Council to adopt a general Negotiating Framework.

The Negotiating Framework will set out the broad principles, parameters and negotiating procedures governing the talks with Iceland. The Commission has prepared an initial draft of the Framework and this will be discussed by Member States at working group level over the coming weeks. The final draft will then be submitted to the General Affairs Council for approval and the Council will then set a date for the commencement of the formal talks.

Iceland is a country with which we have strong ties of geography, history, culture and politics. It is already closely integrated with the EU in several areas, through its membership of the European Economic Area and the Schengen area, all of which should facilitate the process of negotiating in some areas.

As in any negotiation, the eventual outcome and timeframe cannot be predicted. Some of the areas to be covered in the negotiations will present challenges both for Iceland and for some existing member states. I am confident that workable solutions can be found. The outcome of negotiations must, as I say, be awaited but the possible accession of Iceland is something I would regard as a positive development.

Human Rights Issues

Willie Penrose

Question:

42 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he is in recent receipt of appeals from those representing the Ahmedi people who are suffering repression and oppression in Pakistan; the assistance he may have offered; if he has discussed this matter with representatives of the Pakistan Government. [29644/10]

I have received a number of appeals in relation to the situation of the Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan, most recently in connection with the murder of over 90 members of that community in Lahore as they worshipped in two mosques in the city on 28 May.

I have condemned these murders on a number of occasions in this House, just as I now condemn the murders of innocent civilians in the attack on a Sufi shrine in Lahore last week. Nothing can justify attacks which cause such senseless carnage and destruction. On my own behalf, and on behalf of the Government, I once again extend my deepest sympathies to the bereaved families on their great loss.

These attacks bring to public attention once again the threats which exist to the Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan, the discrimination they can face there and in neighbouring countries, and issues relating to other minority communities more broadly.

Promoting religious tolerance remains a key objective of Ireland and the EU in relation to Pakistan. Bilaterally, and through the EU, we have urged the Government there to make every effort to promote effectively the rights of minorities and to improve their current conditions. In our bilateral contact with Pakistan, we have emphasized the importance of maintaining adequate protections for minorities in Pakistan. Minority and human rights issues in that country were discussed at political consultations held between Ireland and Pakistan at Political Director level in Islamabad on 10 February last. The issue of the recent attacks has been raised with the Embassy of Pakistan and my Department will continue to discuss issues relating to minorities in its ongoing bilateral contacts with Pakistan.

At EU level, Council Conclusions of 28 April and 8 December 2008 reaffirmed the importance of human rights in Pakistan as a central priority for the EU. Human rights and minority issues are regularly discussed with Pakistan, most recently at the second EU-Pakistan Summit held in Brussels on 4 June.

The Government of Pakistan has made it clear that it is committed to the protection of minorities, the promotion of religious tolerance and combating the terrorist actions of the local Taliban and other radicals. However, it faces very serious challenges in this regard. Many hundreds of innocent Pakistani civilians from many parts of the country, from many tribal and religious groups and from all levels in society have fallen victim to terrorists. In the case of the attacks on the Ahmadiyya community on 28 May, I note that the Punjab wing of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan has claimed responsibility and that the police are reported to have arrested seven men with alleged links to this group. There are also reports that a further two persons suspected of having taken part in the attacks were arrested in Lahore on 2 June and remain in custody.

The EU has pledged to assist the Government of Pakistan in its efforts to fight terrorism. In this context, leaders at the EU-Pakistan Summit on the 4 June agreed to further strengthen cooperation between the EU and Pakistan in the fight against terrorism, both within the framework of the United Nations as well as in other relevant forums. The EU and Pakistan also reiterated that counter-terrorism measures and the protection of human rights are complementary and mutually reinforcing, and should be implemented in full respect of international law.

Overseas Development Aid

Tom Hayes

Question:

43 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the priorities for spending for his Department’s allocation to Timor-Leste in 2010; if the new development strategy being drawn up will pursue the same priorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27560/10]

The Government has provided assistance to Timor-Leste through Irish Aid since 2000. In March 2003, Timor -Leste was designated a programme country, with a commitment to long term strategic assistance. The Conflict Resolution Unit of the Department of Foreign Affairs has been working with Timor-Leste since 2008, assisted by Ireland's Special Envoy, Nuala O'Loan.

In 2009, Ireland provided a total of €4.5 million in support to Timor-Leste, covering development activities and conflict resolution efforts. We are providing a similar level of funding this year.

This year, Ireland has completed a new Country Strategy for assistance to Timor Leste, for the period 2010-2013. This is an integrated strategy, bringing together development work and conflict resolution in one coherent programme. In developing the new programme, lessons have been learned from the experience of working in Timor-Leste over the past decade. The overall goal is to contribute to building peace and reducing poverty through three interlinked areas of assistance. Ireland will provide support for the development of basic infrastructure such as roads and bridges in rural areas, which will help create much-needed employment through private sector contractors. We will also help make government more accountable to its citizens through support for elections, building civil society and increasing the participation of women in politics. Finally, the programme will help strengthen peace-building in Timor Leste through support for remembrance and reconciliation efforts, developing systems to provide early warning of conflict, building political and community dialogue and assisting with security sector reform.

Despite the many challenges facing the people of Timor-Leste, important progress is being made in building a democratic system of government, with effective, accountable institutions. When I met President Ramos-Horta during his State Visit to Ireland in March, I assured him of our continuing commitment to working in partnership with government and local communities in Timor-Leste in support of their long-term development goals.

Northern Ireland Issues

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

44 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will support the call from the relatives of 11 unarmed civilians killed in Ballymurphy, Belfast, over three days in August 1971, by the same British army regiment that committed the Bloody Sunday atrocity in Derry just a few months later, for an independent and international inquiry; and if he will press the British government to accede to and co-operate with this demand. [29689/10]

The Government remains in close and regular contact with the British Government about the range of ongoing issues which are the legacy of the Troubles.

On 13 May, I visited Ballymurphy where the relatives of the eleven innocent people killed there between the 9 and 11 August 1971 took to the locations in the area at which their loved ones were killed. My visit was at the invitation of the families as agreed at my earlier meeting with them in January 2009. On both occasions, the relatives told me of their demand for an international, independent investigation, a demand I undertook to relay to the British Government. The families made similar views known to my colleague, Dermot Ahern, Minister for Justice & law reform, when they met with him in November 2008. My officials are in ongoing contact with the families and their representatives.

I have raised the relatives' case directly with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Owen Paterson, as I also did with his predecessor, Shaun Woodward. With both of them, I reiterated the Government's strong support for the Ballymurphy families. I understand that, since we last spoke on the matter, Secretary of State Paterson has confirmed his intention to meet with representatives of the families in the coming weeks.

As the Deputy is aware, the Ballymurphy families are not alone in seeking answers and justice for loved ones lost during the Troubles. Lord Saville's report into the events of Bloody Sunday, published last month, provided welcome relief and vindication for the families of those killed and injured on that dreadful day. Its success in doing so has, naturally, raised the question of how the needs of other victims might best be addressed.

This Government has consistently maintained that there should be no hierarchy of victims. Just as families in Ballymurphy are looking for information about how their loved ones were killed, there are families across the North and, indeed, in this jurisdiction, who lost loved ones in the many other atrocities of the conflict who are anxious to find out more about how their loved ones were killed. The challenge that political leaders in these islands face is finding a way for all of those people to get the answers they need.

Dealing with the terrible legacy of the conflict in the North will not be a single or a simple task. How to address this is a significant challenge for all those with a stakeholding in building a better, shared future, including political leaders.

Last year we saw the report of the Consultative Group on the Past presented to the Secretary of State. Its recommendations were wide ranging and have been much studied and commented on in the months since. The debate which that report provoked was a clear sign that dealing with the legacy of the Troubles will not be an easy task but it is one that is vital. The British Government has not yet responded to the formal consultation on Eames Bradley and I understand, following on from publication of the Saville report, the Secretary of State is intending to consult further on this whole question.

Last week, the Commission for Victims and Survivors presented a paper to the Secretary of State and to the First and deputy First Ministers on dealing with the past. I look forward to meeting with the Commissioners tomorrow to hear from them about their proposals.

As the Deputy himself said in this House last week during the debate on the Saville report We remember all the victims of the conflict without exception and sympathise with all the bereaved .” I fully agree. It is for all those victims and their relatives that we must continue to work with the British Government and with the Executive to deal with the legacy of the Troubles.

Guantanamo Detainees

Martin Ferris

Question:

45 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position regarding the resettlement in Ireland and Europe of persons detained in Guantanamo. [29693/10]

At an early stage, a number of EU Member States, including Ireland, agreed to accept former Guantanamo detainees cleared for release. To date, twenty-four former detainees have been received by EU Member States. I understand that in the case of certain Member States, the consideration of whether or not to accept detainees is ongoing.

Two former detainees have been received for resettlement in Ireland. They arrived in Ireland in late September 2009.

Together with our EU partners, Ireland continues to encourage the US to bring about the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in the shortest possible time.

Overseas Development Aid

Sean Sherlock

Question:

46 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the meetings held and matters discussed on his recent visit to Uganda; his priorities regarding that country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29642/10]

I visited Uganda from 27-30 June. The key objectives of my trip were to visit Irish Aid funded development projects and programmes, and to strengthen Irish-Ugandan bilateral and trade relations. Uganda is one of nine priority countries for the Government's aid programme. It is one of the poorest countries in the world, ranking 157 out of 182 countries on the UN's Human Development Index.

During my visit I met with 10 Government Ministers including Prime Minister Nsibambi and the Ministers for Foreign Affairs, Finance, and Education, to discuss political and development issues. Discussions focussed on key governance issues, human rights, economic and social development and the prospects for the economy in the light of the development of major oil and gas fields. I also had valuable discussions with the Ugandan Human Rights Commissioner and we reviewed both the progress which Uganda has made in human rights and the undoubted challenges that remain. I also met with the Inspector General of Police in relation to assistance that has been requested in community policing from the Garda and the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

During my visit, I launched our new Country Strategy for Uganda (2010-2014) which sets out our priorities for the next few years. The Country Strategy has a strong focus on reducing chronic poverty among some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in Uganda. Key areas of support will be: HIV and AIDS activities, education, gender, strengthening good governance, private sector development and support for Karamoja, which is one of the poorest and most marginalised regions in Uganda.

In line with the priorities set out in our Country Strategy, I visited the Karamoja region with Mrs. Janet Museveni, Minister of State for Karamoja and First Lady of Uganda, to officially launch Ireland's new programme of assistance for that region. To date, Irish Aid has helped to rehabilitate 11 primary schools and 2 teacher training colleges in Karamoja which has created some 2,000 additional student places. In addition, educational bursaries have been provided to 1,000 students. During my visit to the region, I also visited a local secondary school and opened a new wing which has been funded by Irish Aid. I can confirm that Ireland continues to work with the most vulnerable and marginalised in one of the most difficult operating environments in the world.

While in Kampala, I was pleased to open a new Centre of Excellence for Palliative Care, which has been part funded by Irish Aid. I also met with representatives of NGOs and Irish missionaries working on the ground and took the opportunity to thank them for their work, which is a source of great pride to the people of Ireland. Finally, I met with members of the local Irish community and Irish business people who are developing business opportunities in Uganda's growing private sector.

My visit has helped enhance Ireland's bilateral and trade relations with Uganda, which is one of our key partner countries in Africa and one in which there has been enormous progress in the last 25 years. It also provided me with an opportunity to see at first hand the real difference Ireland's development assistance programme is making to the lives of ordinary people in Uganda, and to reaffirm Ireland's commitment to reducing poverty and hunger in some of the poorest countries in the world. It also afforded me an insight into the real potential of Uganda, if its resources are husbanded and managed carefully, to become a middle income country within a generation.

Human Rights Issues

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

47 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he proposes to initiate or support efforts to declare the EU fishing agreement, which impinges on issues of self-determination for the Saharawi people, as null and void. [29661/10]

Jack Wall

Question:

65 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position regarding the implementation of a UN backed referendum regarding the future of the displaced persons and occupied territory of the Saraha Arab Republic; if he and his colleague Ministers in the EU have discussed this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29653/10]

Jack Wall

Question:

81 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will give details of his most recent interaction with MINURSO; when further interaction is planned; and the nature of such discussions. [29654/10]

Róisín Shortall

Question:

83 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on the Saharawi struggle for self-determination and independence; and, in view of this, if he has contacted the United Nations to include the human rights issues in the MINURSCO mandate. [29660/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 47, 65, 81 and 83 together.

Ireland continues to support the right to self-determination of the people of Western Sahara, as well as the continuing engagement of the United Nations in the search for a political solution in the territory based on the principle of self-determination. UN Secretary General Ban's Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, Christopher Ross, is continuing his efforts to convene direct negotiations between the two sides, following the last such discussions held in March 2008.

In an attempt to resume contact this year, Mr. Ross hosted a second round of informal discussions in New York in February following an initial round held in Austria in August 2009, but unfortunately he has had to report that so far there has been no real engagement between the two sides, Morocco and the Polisario, in resolving the outstanding issues. The major issue is Morocco's refusal to allow a Referendum in the territory which would include an option of independence for the people of the Western Sahara. This has been provided for in a number of UN peace plans, and it is difficult to see that there can be any genuine self-determination without such a referendum. Mr. Ross visited the region in the early part of this year, and reported back to the UN Security Council in some detail.

Issues pertaining to the Western Sahara are regularly raised at EU level within the framework of the EU-Morocco dialogue. The most recent EU — Morocco Summit took place in Granada on the 7 March. The EU conveyed its concerns over the situation of Western Sahara as well as the need to safeguard the rights of both Moroccan and Saharawi human rights defenders, and these concerns were reflected in the joint statement after the meeting.

The EU-Morocco Fisheries Agreement which was adopted in May 2006 is primarily the responsibility of the Agriculture Council of Ministers. The Agreement is of substantial economic importance to a number of our EU partners. The Agreement relates to Moroccan waters, and while Morocco considers that the Western Sahara and its waters is Moroccan, the EU does not accept this position.

As Morocco controls the territory and their waters, however, there is no practical way to ensure that fishing vessels do not follow the stocks — which move up and down the coast — into Saharan waters.

Ireland and other EU Member States worked to ensure that language was included in the agreement to make clear that it was without prejudice to the EU's position on the status of the Western Sahara, while Ireland also made a National Declaration at the time of adoption reiterating that the agreement was conditional on this.

Three members of the Permanent Defence Forces serve in an observer capacity with the MINURSO mission. Ireland has maintained such a presence with the mission since 1991, when the mission was established under UNSCR 690.

Ireland's Permanent Representation to the United Nations and the Department of Defence monitor and engage, as appropriate, on matters relating to MINURSO on an ongoing basis. Resolution 1920, adopted by the Security Council on 30 April 2010, extended the mandate of MINURSO until 30 April 2011. The Security Council considered a proposal to include human rights monitoring in the mandate of MINURSO, but did not include this in the renewed mandate. The UN Secretary General has reiterated his call that all parties should remain engaged in continuous and constructive dialogue with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), with a view to ensuring respect for the human rights of the people of Western Sahara, both inside the Territory and in the refugee camps.

Denis Naughten

Question:

48 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the progress being made to ban female genital mutilation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29184/10]

The practice of female genital mutilation is a clear violation of the human rights of women and girls. It has serious social, health and psychological consequences, and it infringes on children's rights to special protection. The World Health Organisation estimates that between 100 million and 140 million girls and women worldwide are currently living with the consequences of female genital mutilation. In Africa alone, it is estimated that three million girls are at risk annually.

Ireland is playing an active role in global policy development, funding and research to address this appalling practice. We recognise that it is a form of gender-based violence, and that it must be an important element in our comprehensive approach to tackling such violence through the overseas aid programme. The Government's 2006 White Paper on Irish Aid includes a firm commitment that Ireland will build its support for measures focused on preventing and responding to gender-based violence.

Irish Aid, the Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs which manages the Government's aid programme, is a founding member of the Joint Consortium on Gender Based Violence, which brings together representatives from Government Departments and Irish development, humanitarian and human rights Non-Governmental Organisations to promote a coordinated response to all forms of gender-based violence, including female genital mutilation.

Internationally, we are cooperating with United Nations agencies in a concerted effort to end the practice of female genital mutilation. Last year, the Government provided core funding of €8 million to the United Nations Fund for Children (UNICEF) and €3 million to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to support their work on child protection, gender equality, reproductive health, maternal mortality and HIV and AIDS. We are providing funding at the same levels for 2010. These agencies operate a joint programme to counter female genital mutilation with the aim of ending the practice in seventeen countries by 2012. Ireland contributed €0.5 million to this specific programme in 2007. In addition, in 2009 a total of €1.1 million was provided specifically for support to gender equality and women's empowerment, including through support for the UN Trust Fund for actions to Eliminate Violence Against Women.

Progress is being made towards ending the practice of female genital mutilation, but detailed international coordination and consultation remains essential. On 6 February 2010, the International Day Against Female Genital Mutilation, UNICEF and the UNFPA reported that there has been success in reducing the incidence of the practices in several countries where it was once prevalent. They noted that it is important to focus on encouraging change from within societies, and that where communities have chosen to make public declarations against the practice, for example in Senegal, declines of up to 65 per cent have been recorded.

Foreign Conflicts

Joan Burton

Question:

49 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will provide an update on the plight of refugees from Kyrgyzstan taking refuge in Uzbekistan; the assistance or advice he and the EU will provide; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29637/10]

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

70 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will respond to the statement by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe that international aid is urgently needed and an independent international commission should be established to investigate recent violence in Kyrgyzstan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29646/10]

Ulick Burke

Question:

74 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on the current unrest in Kyrgyzstan; and the threat this poses to the plans of the interim Government there for a referendum on constitutional reform. [29584/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 49, 70 and 74 together.

The outbreak of ethnic violence in southern Kyrgyzstan earlier this month left hundreds dead and thousands injured. I join with those who have condemned this violence. I also offer my condolences to the families of those killed and my sympathy to those who were injured or displaced.

The violence in Kyrgyzstan resulted in a serious humanitarian crisis. Tens of thousands of ethnic Uzbeks crossed the border into Uzbekistan while thousands more were displaced within Kyrgyzstan itself. The international community and NGOs responded quickly to the crisis. The OSCE, UN and EU have been working together effectively on the ground to help stabilise the situation and provide urgent humanitarian assistance in both Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

Irish Aid has responded to the crisis through a contribution of €250,000 to the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and an airlift of 2,650 blankets and water tanks from its emergency stockpiles. A member of Irish Aid's Rapid Response Corps has also been deployed to work as a Protection Officer with the UNHCR in Kyrgyzstan. The European Commission provided €5m in emergency aid. The Commission is also refocusing its €6m stabilisation and democratisation support package for Kyrgyzstan to address current challenges such as institutional reform and inter-ethnic relations.

Despite the violence and humanitarian crisis, the planned referendum went ahead on 27 June. The referendum proposed a new constitution and the confirmation of the appointment of Ms Roza Otunbayeva as Acting President. Provisional results indicate that the proposal was approved by a large majority. Turnout is estimated to have been in the region of 70%. The OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, which sent a limited mission to observe the vote, noted the peaceful conduct of the election, as well as the high turnout, despite the challenging circumstances. High Representative Ashton, on behalf of the EU, welcomed the peaceful conduct of the vote saying it marks "an important step towards the re-establishment of constitutional order and democratic process in the country".

While the situation in Kyrgyzstan has stabilised, and many of those who fled to Uzbekistan appear to be returning, assistance from the international community will be required for some time. The EU and regional organisations such as the OSCE are now considering ways in which to help Kyrgyzstan overcome both the immediate crisis and to meet its medium and long-term challenges. Ireland will play its part in this process.

Gas Prices

Mary Upton

Question:

50 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on current Russian relations with Belarus regarding gas prices; the implications for Ireland regarding winter energy prices; the communications he has had with the respective EU Commissioners for Energy and External Relations on this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29648/10]

John Perry

Question:

58 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views regarding the dispute between Russia and Belarus over gas supplies; his views on the fact that this could have implications for the availability of gas in Europe; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29588/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 50 and 58 together.

The recent gas dispute between Belarus and Russia appears to be moving towards a resolution and I understand that supplies into Belarus have resumed.

Although the dispute did not have any impact on Ireland, we kept the situation under close review through our participation in the EU's Gas Coordination Group. This expert group, which meets in Brussels, is chaired by the European Commission and consists of representatives from all EU Member States and the European gas industry. Its purpose is to monitor the gas security situation within the EU on an ongoing basis and to coordinate the EU's response to events such as the Russia and Belarus gas dispute.

At a meeting of the Gas Coordination Group on 18 June, Member States were briefed on the unfolding situation between Russia and Belarus by both the Energy and External Relations Directorates of the Commission. Reports were also received from Poland and Lithuania, the EU Member States for which Belarus provides transit for imports of Russian gas. Daily updates were subsequently provided to Member States. I understand that gas flows to Poland and Lithuania have now returned to normal.

The Russia/Belarus gas dispute again illustrates the importance of energy security for the EU and why this issue remains at the top of the EU agenda. A key driver for action to strengthen EU energy security was the experience of the Russia/Ukraine gas crisis in January 2009. Since then the EU's ability to respond quickly to potential gas supply problems has been strengthened significantly. In recent weeks agreement has been reached on a new EU regulation for security of gas supply. The aim of the new regulation is to increase the security of gas supply within the EU by ensuring each Member State has an adequate level of preparedness for a gas disruption. The regulation will greatly enhance cooperation across the EU in all aspects of planning for, and response to, a disruption to gas supply.

While the recent Russia/Belarus situation has not impacted adversely on Ireland, it does remind us that other parts of the EU gas market can experience volatility. As it now appears to have been resolved no impact is expected on our gas prices this winter.

All of this takes place within the political context of the EU's efforts to enhance relations with both its eastern partners and Russia leading to an environment where disputes can be addressed in a constructive atmosphere. In this regard, I welcome the significant improvements we have seen in the EU's relationship with Russia, as evidenced by the more positive atmosphere at recent EU-Russia Summits. I also welcome the ongoing development of the EU's Eastern Partnership initiative which was launched in Prague in May 2009. The Eastern Partnership aims to enhance the EU's relations with our eastern neighbours, including Belarus, and provides a mechanism through which we can help support domestic reform and economic development.

Overseas Development Aid

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

51 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will provide an update on the outcome of the interdepartmental committee meetings on Irish Aid; the position of his Department in such meetings in relation to trade issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29635/10]

The Government's 2006 White Paper on Irish Aid included a commitment to the establishment of an Inter-Departmental Committee on Development, to be chaired at Ministerial level. The Committee, which is currently chaired by Minister of State Power, was launched in April 2007 with the objective of strengthening coherence in the Government's approach to development and making best use of the expertise and skills available across the public service. It has become a key forum for the sharing of knowledge and views on development issues across Government Departments. The Committee is working to ensure that a strong development perspective is integrated into Government decision-making in all relevant areas, including trade, which is vital to developing countries' efforts to end poverty and eradicate the scourge of global hunger.

The Inter-Departmental Committee has met eleven times to date and has held discussions on a wide range of development policy issues. These have included the report and recommendations of the Government's Hunger Task Force; the impact of climate change on development; the views of Non-Governmental Organisations on improving policy coherence for development; Ireland's engagement with the Bretton Woods Institutions; health issues in the context of development; other countries' experience in developing a more integrated approach to development issues; the findings and recommendations of the OECD peer review of the Irish aid programme; and the upcoming Millennium Development Goals Review Summit in September.

At each meeting, the Committee has received reports on developments at EU level and on the ongoing work on policy coherence for development within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Two Sub-Groups have been established, and report regularly to the Committee. The Sub-Group on Multilateral Organisations focuses on the development of a coherent inter-Departmental policy approach for Ireland's participation in international meetings on development, particularly at the United Nations. The Sub-Group on Skills Sets is examining how to make best use across Ireland's development programme of the range of skills and expertise available throughout the public service.

Ireland's international development policy is strongly focused on the fight against global poverty and the eradication of hunger. In this respect, the Government seeks to ensure that the development of global trade builds economic growth and contributes effectively to the reduction, and eventual eradication, of extreme poverty in developing countries. Irish Aid, in the Department of Foreign Affairs, works closely with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation on trade and development issues, including in discussions at EU level and at the World Trade Organisation.

The Government is committed to ensuring that the close cooperation between relevant Government Departments which has developed under the Inter-Departmental Committee is maintained and strengthened so that the full range of policies, including on trade issues, supports the long term objective of eradicating poverty and hunger among the world's poorest people.

European External Action Service

Joe Costello

Question:

52 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the functions agreed for the new External Relations Agency headed by a person (details supplied) on behalf of the European Union; and the number of persons for such agency from Ireland. [29668/10]

The European External Action Service (EEAS) is an important innovation under the Lisbon Treaty to support the work of the new High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton.

The functions of the EEAS will focus on the High Representative's mandate to conduct the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and to ensure the consistency of the EU's external action. The EEAS will also have functions relating to the High Representative's role as President of the new Foreign Affairs Council and in respect of her role as a Vice-President of the Commission with responsibility for external relations and for coordinating other aspects of the EU's external action. An important instrument in carrying out its role will be the network of Union delegations which the EEAs will maintain in third countries.

As indicated in my reply to a question on 20 May, Ministers reached a broad political understanding at the April General Affairs Council on the essential elements of a Council Decision which will establish the organisation and functioning of the EEAS. Subsequent discussions with representatives of the Parliament have concluded recently and some amendments to the draft Council Decision have been proposed in light of those discussions. On this basis, it is hoped that agreement can be reached on the Council Decision at the July General Affairs Council.

The Treaty provides that the EEAS will comprise officials from relevant departments of the Commission and the Council Secretariat, as well as staff seconded from national diplomatic services of the Member States. The process for recruiting staff from these three sources will be laid out in the Council Decision but appropriate amendments to the EU's Staff Regulations will also be required and it is hoped that these amendments can be finalised in September.

Ireland has consistently pressed for the EEAS recruitment process to be open, transparent and merit-based, while also ensuring that EEAS staffing is representative of the diversity of the Union. I welcome the fact that these principles are reflected in the draft Council Decision. If agreement is reached at the July Council on the Council Decision, the High Representative can begin the process for recruitment to the EEAS although actual recruitment must await the relevant amendments to the Staff Regulations.

Irish candidates will be able to compete for positions within the EEAS on an equal footing with candidates from other Member States and from the EU institutions. My Department has sought general expressions of interest from its officers who might consider working for the EEAS and has received a very positive response. However, it is not possible to say at this stage how many Irish staff will serve in the EEAS as the overall size of the EEAS is still under consideration and it will be some years before it reaches full operational strength.

Staffing from the member States, including Ireland, is likely to start more slowly than from the EU institutions but a target has been set to have one third of the EEAS staff coming from the diplomatic services of the Member States by 1 July 2013. The High Representative has indicated that she intends to achieve this target on a phased basis over the next three years.

I expect there will be tangible benefits to the State from the experience which will be gained by Irish officials serving on rotation with the EEAS and returning to the Irish diplomatic service. I look forward to Irish candidates of the highest calibre being recruited into the new Service.

Before the EEAS recruitment begins formally, the process of appointing Heads of EU Delegations — formerly Commission Delegations — has already been opened to candidates from the diplomatic services of the Member States. I understand that a number of Irish candidates, including officers from my own Department, have applied for these posts, of which 34 are due to be filled this year. Applicants were subject to a preselection process and the remaining candidates are currently being assessed by interview panels on which Member States are represented as observers. Appointments are expected to be made soon.

Question No. 53 answered with Question No. 39.

Foreign Conflicts

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

54 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will offer direct humanitarian assistance to the Saharawi refugee camps in Tindouf and the other occupied territories. [29662/10]

In response to the Moroccan occupation of the former Spanish colony of Western Sahara in 1975 and the ensuing conflict, much of the indigenous population of the region fled into Algeria. This resulted in the creation of the Saharawi refugee camp in the Tindouf region of south-western Algeria, which now represents one of the world's most protracted refugee situations. There is no formal registration of refugees in the camp, but they are believed to number more than 150,000, of whom 80 per cent are believed to be women and children.

Ireland provides core funding to United Nations agencies which work on our behalf in areas such as Tindouf. For example, the World Food Programme, a key partner for Ireland, provides a general food package to the most vulnerable refugees in the Saharawi camp. Since 1986 the value of this assistance has totalled more than €125 million.

The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) is also active in the Tindouf region, where it provides for basic needs and services in most sectors including food, transport, domestic needs, water, sanitation, health, shelter, community service and protection. Providing health and education assistance is the responsibility of UN Children's Fund (UNICEF). Its role includes vaccination coverage, establishing family centres, distributing schools kits, and supporting the printing of text books and improving teacher training.

In addition, the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), to which Ireland has contributed €73 million since 2006, has provided funding for Tindouf. In 2009 UNHCR received funding from CERF for its emergency programmes to help some 90,000 Saharawi refugees.

Niger Food Crisis

Deirdre Clune

Question:

55 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the assistance he is providing to deal with the food crisis in Niger; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27559/10]

The Government is deeply concerned at the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Niger. The country is in the middle of a severe nutrition and food crisis following insufficient and irregular rains in 2009 that caused poor food harvests and water shortages. In Niger, as many as 7.1 million people, representing 48 per cent of the country's population, do not have access to sufficient food. According to the UN, at least 900,000 children are at risk of moderate malnutrition and 378,000 of severe malnutrition over the next 12 months if urgent action is not taken to prevent the consequences of a worsening food crisis caused by drought.

To date in 2010, Ireland has provided €700,000 in humanitarian funding to two of our partners, Concern and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Niger. Concern received funding of €500,000 for a food and nutrition programme targeting children under the age of five and pregnant women in Tahoua region. Funding of €200,000 was directed to MSF for its work in providing medico — nutritional assistance for children under five with acute malnutrition and associated diseases in Zinder region.

The Government will continue to closely monitor the situation in Niger, in co-operation with our partners on the ground including NGOs, the Red Cross and UN agencies.

Foreign Conflicts

Paul Connaughton

Question:

56 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on the recent upsurge in clashes in Sudan which has led to the deaths of three UN peacekeepers in the Darfur region recently; the steps being taken at international level to deal with this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29587/10]

The security situation in the Darfur region of Sudan, where the UN estimates that seven years of conflict have resulted in the deaths of over 300,000 and the displacement of nearly three million, is of grave concern. The persistence of sporadic violence in the region is not only affecting the population but is also directly targeting the humanitarian community. The United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) has come under attack on several occasions in recent weeks and the UN has warned that the killing of peacekeepers, repeated kidnappings of humanitarian staff, as well as vehicle hijackings and banditry, are seriously impeding the overall humanitarian access. The most recent incident took place on Monday 19 June, resulting in the deaths of three Rwandan peacekeepers and bringing to 27 the number of UNAMID members killed in Darfur since the force was deployed there in January 2008.

Progress on the political front in Darfur is crucial to seeing some improvement in the security situation. The Doha peace process is the focal point for international efforts to bring an end to the conflict in Darfur. The negotiations are being led by the joint AU-UN chief mediator, Djibril Bassole, whose work Ireland fully supports. Unfortunately, after some welcome progress earlier in the year, the Doha process suffered a serious setback in May when the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), one of Darfur's biggest rebel groups, withdrew from the negotiations.

The AU-UN chief mediator, Bassole, has sought in recent weeks to persuade the main parties back to the negotiating table. JEM has publicly announced a number of requirements before any return to the talks. While the Government of Sudan continues its negotiations with the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) umbrella group of rebels, it is doubtful that this group has enough numbers of combatants in south Darfur to result in substantial security gains on the ground. Meanwhile, the Sudanese Liberation Army/ Abdul Wahid faction (SLA/AW) continues to refuse to participate in the Doha peace process or any other consultative process. The Government of Sudan now seems to be applying a two-pronged approach by trying to weaken militarily JEM and SLA/AW, while negotiating politically with LJM.

The security situation in Darfur is further exacerbated by the fact that those responsible for the violence appear free to operate in the area with impunity. This problem has been raised frequently by the UN Secretary General in his reports on Darfur. It has also been highlighted in the report last year of the AU High Level Panel led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki and by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Louis Moreno Ocampo, most recently in his statement last month to the UN Security Council. In this regard, Ireland urges the Government of Sudan to fulfil its international obligations and cooperate in full with the International Criminal Court.

Ireland, with its EU partners, will continue to support the ongoing efforts of the AU-UN chief mediator to achieve progress in the Doha talks. We also welcome the commitment of other regional and international stakeholders to securing peace in Darfur. At the same time, we believe that it is essential that a unified and coherent international approach is taken. This approach will continue to inform EU policy on Darfur. Ireland will also continue through its humanitarian aid programme in the region, which totalled almost €3.5 million since 2008, to provide assistance to the large numbers of people displaced by the conflict.

Extractive Industries

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

57 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on the recent Concord proposals regarding European Union policy on extractive industries in view of the fact that such considered proposals represent a wide consensus among European non-governmental organisations. [29640/10]

A recent report by Concord, the European umbrella organisation for development Non-Governmental Organisations, focuses on the use of tax planning and trade pricing mechanisms by multinational mining corporations to avoid tax payments in African countries. It calls for the implementation of a series of measures to counteract such practices, including "country by country" reporting in European and international accounting regulation and the imposition of sanctions for uncooperative tax havens. The report also focuses on the need to build the capacity of tax collection administrations in developing countries.

The Government believes strongly that the building of developing countries' capacity to mobilise domestic revenues is vital to development. This is particularly the case in countries which are rich in natural resources. Several of the priority countries for Ireland's development programme rely on the utilisation of natural resources to augment their domestic revenues: for example gold, precious stones and minerals in Tanzania, oil in Uganda and copper in Zambia.

The Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) initiative, which has been developed under the EU-Africa Governance Partnership, has been instrumental in supporting improved governance and accountability through the verification and full publication of company payments and government revenues from oil, gas and mining. Ireland strongly supports the further development of this important initiative.

We also support the work now taking placing within the OECD to examine the question of a mandatory county-by-country reporting requirement for the extractive industry sector.

In recent months, Ireland has contributed to the formulation of Council Conclusions on Tax and Development which were adopted by the June 2010 Foreign Affairs Council. They set out an action plan for the further development by the EU of a comprehensive approach to support for tax administration and reforms. They promote improved donor coordination in the tax area, and a concerted EU effort to contribute to the wider OECD agenda on tax transparency, including on transfer pricing, exchange of information, and country-by-country reporting.

The EU also seeks to promote good governance in taxation as an essential element in development cooperation. Ireland is actively supporting these efforts to develop a more transparent, cooperative and fair international tax environment, which we regard as essential to enable developing countries to finance their development, fight poverty and reduce their dependency on aid.

Question No. 58 answered with Question No. 50.

Dublin-Monaghan Bombings

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

59 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the actions that he has taken in the two years following the all-party motion of 10 July 2008 calling on the British Government to co-operate with an independent international inquiry into the Dublin-Monaghan bombings and other atrocities in which British State collusion is alleged. [29691/10]

I understand that the all-party motion was forwarded by this House to Parliament in Westminster. In the context of the clear view taken by this House on these matters, it would be for this House to decide what further steps, if any, it may wish to take in pursuance of the motion.

EU Enlargement

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

60 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the current thinking within the EU in relation to European enlargement; the extent to which he has engaged with his EU colleagues on this issue with particular reference to Turkey and the Western Balkans and the identification of a specific timescale subject to compliance with the Acquis Communautaire; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29613/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

399 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the degree to which he has expressed his views to his EU colleagues in respect of EU enlargement, with particular reference to Turkey and the Western Balkans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30181/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 60 and 399 together.

The issue of enlargement features regularly on the agenda of the General Affairs Council which I attend and in my bilateral discussions with EU Ministerial colleagues. The December 2009 Council adopted detailed conclusions, subsequently endorsed by the European Council, regarding enlargement generally and in relation to the position of various aspirant member states. It underlined that enlargement is based on consolidating commitments, fair and rigorous conditionality and the EU's capacity to integrate new members, and that each country is assessed on its own merits.

On Turkey, the December Council welcomed progress in some areas of reform including judicial reform and civil-military relations. It identified areas where further efforts are required and invited Turkey to step up the pace of reform. Recalling previous conclusions the Council noted with deep regret Turkey's non-compliance with its obligations under the Ankara Protocol and that it had not made progress towards normalisation of its relations with the Republic of Cyprus. It called for further progress without delay. I may add that I had interesting and productive exchanges with Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu on the negotiations when he was in Dublin on 10 March 2010.

The December Council also reaffirmed its full support for the European perspective of the Western Balkan countries, which it considered remains essential for the stability, reconciliation and future of the region. It set out detailed conclusions in respect of each of the countries in the region.

The Council commended Croatia for the considerable efforts it had made in 2009 and the good overall progress achieved in meeting benchmarks in the accession process. It noted that negotiations were entering their final phase and underlined that further efforts would be required in respect of a number of areas of reform and in relation to cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. A working group commenced work on the drafting of the Croatian Accession Treaty in December 2009.

Foreign Ministers had a further discussion on the Western Balkans at the Foreign Affairs Council on 14 June and heard the views of prosecutor Brammertz of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia on current cooperation of Serbia and Croatia. The June Council reaffirmed the EU's unequivocal commitment to the European perspective of the Western Balkan countries and reiterated that each country's progress towards the European Union depended on its individual efforts to comply with the Copenhagen criteria and the conditionality of the Stabilisation and Association Process. It welcomed the commitment of the Western Balkans to intensify the pace of reform in key areas and stressed the importance of addressing the challenges ahead.

On 17 June, the European Council decided that accession negotiations should be opened with Iceland and it invited the Council to adopt a general Negotiating Framework.

It is important to note that enlargement is a negotiated process and, as in any negotiation, the eventual outcome and timeframe cannot be predetermined. The next key milestone will be the publication by the Commission in October of annual progress reports on candidates and applicant member states. This in turn will provide a basis for further discussion and conclusions at the December Council.

As a beneficiary of past enlargement, and on the experience of more recent accessions, Ireland is generally supportive of enlargement. The prospect of enlargement bolsters economic and political reform processes and helps to promote stability, security and prosperity in Europe. Ireland takes an active role in discussions on the issue, both at Council meetings and in bilateral discussions with existing and aspirant member states.

Nuclear Disarmament Initiative

John Perry

Question:

61 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will report on discussion at EU level on possible sanctions on Iran; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29589/10]

Emmet Stagg

Question:

71 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if his attention has been drawn to claims that Iran is to begin nuclear talks with Turkey and Brazil, nations which have voted against a sanctions resolution at the United Nations Security Council; the implications such a development will have for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29652/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

391 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the extent to which he and his EU or UN colleagues have engaged with the authorities in Iran with particular reference to addressing the nuclear threat and human rights issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30173/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

392 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the extent to which he directly or in conjunction with the international community has focused on Iran, with particular reference to the need to encourage peaceful coexistence and mutual respect in the region. [30174/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 61, 71, 391 and 392 together.

The issue of Iran and the major international concerns regarding its nuclear programme was discussed at the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on 14 June, which I attended. Discussion focussed on appropriate follow-up by the EU to the new UN Security Council Resolution 1929 which had been adopted on 9 June and which imposes further sanctions against Iran in light of its continuing non-compliance with previous UN Security Council and IAEA Resolutions. Conclusions were agreed welcoming the adoption of Resolution 1929 and reiterating the Council's support for a negotiated solution and for the continuing efforts of High Representative Ashton to engage in direct negotiations with Iran on its nuclear programme as well as on other important international issues.

I briefed colleagues at the Council on the discussions which I had had with Iranian Foreign Minister Mottaki during the course of a recent visit to Dublin. I emphasised that my message to Foreign Minister Mottaki on the nuclear issue had been very firm and clear and that I had strongly encouraged Iran to engage with High Representative Ashton on this and other matters. I also briefed on the discussions which I had had with Foreign Minister Mottaki on human rights issues and the Middle East Peace Process.

The Foreign Affairs Council of 14 June also considered and agreed a draft Declaration on Iran which was subsequently adopted at the European Council meeting in Brussels on 17 June. The Declaration underlined the EU's deepening concerns about Iran's nuclear programme and, in welcoming the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1929, invites the Foreign Affairs Council to adopt accompanying EU restrictive measures which would focus on the areas of trade, the financial sector, the transport sector, key sectors of the gas and oil industry and new visa bans and asset freezes, especially in relation to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

The European Council Declaration made clear that these additional EU restrictive measures were necessary because Iran had consistently failed to avail of the many opportunities which had been offered to it to remove the concerns of the international community over the nature of its nuclear programme. Indeed, the decision by Iran to enrich uranium to the level of 20 per cent, contrary to its international obligations under existing UN Security Council and IAEA Resolutions, had further increased these concerns. In this regard, I particularly note the last report of the IAEA of 31 May and the concerns which it clearly identified.

The European Council Declaration also welcomed the recent efforts by Brazil and Turkey to secure progress on the Tehran Research Reactor agreement proposed to Iran by the IAEA in October 2009. As I made clear at my meeting with Foreign Minister Mottaki on 9 June, the tripartite agreement reached between Iran, Brazil and Turkey in Tehran on 17 May, while welcome, essentially constituted a confidence-building measure rather than addressing the core issues arising in relation to Iran's nuclear activities. The involvement of Turkey and Brazil in negotiating this agreement with Iran was no doubt a contributory factor to the decision of both countries to vote subsequently against Resolution 1929 which was otherwise adopted with twelve votes in favour and one abstention by Lebanon. Foreign Minister Amorim of Brazil has indicated that he does not envisage any future role for his country in relation to negotiations on the Tehran Research Reactor.

As the European Council Declaration made clear, Ireland and our EU partners remain fully committed to working for a diplomatic solution of the issue of Iran's nuclear programme. The door to diplomatic engagement remains open and it is very much in Iran's own interests to walk through it and to take up the offer of serious negotiations with High Representative Ashton. Ireland will also continue working with our EU partners to ensure that any accompanying EU measures agreed and adopted in the coming weeks will focus on those within the regime who are driving forward the nuclear programme and will seek to avoid penalising the Iranian people at large.

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

62 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the contact he has had with, or the communication he has received from, the Mexican Government regarding the implications which arise following the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. [29656/10]

I have not had any contact with or communication from the Mexican Government on this matter.

Rapid Response Corps

Michael Creed

Question:

63 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the current deployment of the Rapid Response Corps; the nature and expected duration of each deployment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27561/10]

The Government's Rapid Response Corps is a roster of skilled and experienced volunteers who make themselves available to deploy at short notice to work in humanitarian emergency situations.

The Corps comprises 155 individuals with specialised skills in logistics, engineering, public health, humanitarian coordination and protection. Most will have worked extensively overseas in humanitarian and/or development settings.

Individual members of the Corps are deployed at the request of the UN and other humanitarian organisations in need of their specific skills. Those agencies and organisations have the requisite knowledge and experience to determine where gaps exist and how best to use the skills of the Corp members.

Since 2007, there have been 82 deployments of the Corps to more than 20 countries. Currently there are 13 members of the Corps on deployment, working for four different organisations in eight different countries. In addition, another five members of the Corps will be deployed in the coming weeks to Haiti (2), Niger, the Philippines and Sudan. Details on the current deployments are set out below.

Current Deployments

Country

Agency

Start Date

End Date

Chad

UNHCR

27-Apr

26-Oct

DRC

OCHA

12-Apr

31-Jul

Ethiopia

Concern

24-Jun

16-Aug

Haiti

Concern

05-May

06-Aug

Haiti

OCHA

01-Apr

30-Jul

Haiti

OCHA

20-Feb

19-Aug

Haiti

WFP

28-Jun

02-Sep

Haiti

WFP

19-Jun

18-Dec

Iraq

UNHCR

14-Mar

10-Sep

Kenya

UNHCR

11-Mar

10-Sep

Kyrgyzstan

UNHCR

02-Jun

01-Aug

Somalia

Concern

24-May

24-Nov

Somalia

UNHCR

04-May

03-Nov

Deployments Pending

Country

Agency

Start Date

End Date

Haiti

Concern

12-Jul

10-Sep

Philippines

OCHA

17-Jul

21-Aug

Haiti

Concern

22-Jul

21-Oct

Niger

Irish Red Cross

01-Aug

30-Sep

Sudan

WFP

09-Aug

08-Jan 2011

Question No. 64 answered with Question No. 32.
Question No. 65 answered with Question No. 47.

Emigrant Support Services

Denis Naughten

Question:

66 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the progress made on resolving the issue of undocumented Irish in the US; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29183/10]

I am very much aware of the difficulties confronting undocumented Irish citizens in the United States and the distress which both they and their families in the US and Ireland experience arising from their situation. I would urge anybody who might be tempted in the current economic climate to follow in the footsteps of the undocumented to take account of the plight in which they now find themselves.

Finding a solution for our undocumented citizens in the United States continues to be an important priority for this Government. We are also committed to enhancing our bilateral migration arrangements with the US through the establishment of a reciprocal two year renewable visa scheme, known as the E3 visa, and the further development of the recently agreed working holiday programme.

Over the last 12 months my Department and the Embassy in Washington in particular, has worked proactively with the US Administration and Congressional leaders to achieve positive progress on this important issue. The status of the undocumented can only be changed by virtue of legislation passed by both Houses of Congress in the US — it is not merely a matter of bilateral engagement between the two Governments.

During our St Patrick's Day visit to Washington, the Taoiseach and I took the opportunity to discuss immigration reform and the plight of the undocumented Irish in our meetings with President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton and leading members of Congress. As part of his St Patrick's Day address, President Obama offered an assurance that his own commitment to comprehensive immigration reform remains unwavering.

President Obama has since reiterated this commitment to reform, most recently in his comprehensive speech on the issue delivered in Washington on 1 July, in which he signalled his willingness to move forward and shape a "practical, common-sense approach". Previously, President Obama welcomed what he described as the "strong proposal" for reform presented at the end of April by senior Democratic Senators Harry Reid, Charles Schumer, and Robert Menendez.

The Democratic Senators' outline legislative proposal draws on the draft framework for action on immigration published in March by Senator Lindsay Graham and Senator Charles Schumer. This bipartisan proposal included provision for a path towards legalisation for the undocumented, including the Irish, provided they first admit to having violated US laws, undertake the repayment of taxes and perform community service. This outline legislation also specifically mentions an E-3 visa arrangement for Irish citizens. Although the proposal is only the first step in a long process, the inclusion of an Irish E3 scheme at this initial stage is an important achievement for the Government and the Irish community.

While I am encouraged by these developments, very considerable political challenges remain, particularly in an election year.

The Government will continue to maintain very close contact with the US Administration and Congress, as well as with Irish community advocates, to address this issue in the period ahead. Through the Emigrant Support Programme, we have provided $285,000 to the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, since 2006, to assist with their lobbying efforts. In 2009, we also provided $10,000 to the Chicago Celts for Immigration Reform.

Passport Applications

Andrew Doyle

Question:

67 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of Irish passports lost, mislaid or stolen in 2009 and to date in 2010; the percentage as a total of all passports requested; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29632/10]

Details of the numbers of passports reported as lost or stolen since 2009 are set out in the table below.

Year

Passports issued

Lost or mislaid

Stolen

Total

% of total issued

2009

579,508

29,801

4,821

34,622

5.97%

2010 to date

325,998

13,328

2,188

15,516

4.76%

The percentages of Irish passports which are lost and stolen is in line with other countries, including the United Kingdom.

Individual citizens are primarily responsible for the safe keeping of their own passports. In this regard the Department is constantly urging that passports should always be kept in a secure place and that citizens take particular care of the document when travelling. However, passports are lost and the Department strongly advises that citizens notify the Passport Service of any lost passport at the earliest opportunity.

Once a passport is reported lost, this information is relayed to Interpol through An Garda Síochána. Interpol receives these updates on a daily basis. The information is then made available immediately to police forces and border control officers worldwide. Any individual who attempts to travel on a lost or stolen passport will as a result most likely be stopped at border control points.

Overseas Development Aid

David Stanton

Question:

68 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will guarantee that there will be no further cuts in the overseas aid budget in 2011 and 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27557/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

403 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the degree to which it is expected to meet overseas development aid requirements in 2010; how this compares with 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30185/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

404 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the extent to which overseas development aid is likely to proceed in 2010 in view of the likelihood of increased need arising from the world economic downturn; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30186/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 68, 403 and 404 together.

For 2010, the Government has provided an overall allocation for Official Development Assistance (ODA) of €671 million. Based on current projections Ireland's expected expenditure on ODA in 2010 will amount to approximately 0.52% of GNP, and confirms that Ireland will remain one of the most generous donors internationally on a per capita basis.

The 2010 allocation represents a slight decrease of about €25 million on the 2009 ODA allocation of €696 million. Effectively, against a background of enormous budgetary pressures, the Government succeeded in stabilising the 2010 ODA budget at its 2009 level. This was a significant achievement, and firmly reflects the Government's continued determination, supported by the Irish people, to help those in the world who can least help themselves.

As the Deputy is aware, ODA as a percentage of GNP is the internationally recognised comparator of a country's aid effort. The UN has established a target for developed countries to spend 0.7% of their GNP on ODA. The EU has committed to meeting the UN target by 2015. Following the budget last December, the Government committed Ireland to meeting the UN target by 2015, thereby aligning us with our fellow EU Member States. Ireland remains ahead of most Member States in progress towards the 2015 target and we will exceed the interim target set by the EU of spending at least 0.51% of GNP on ODA in 2010.

As we move towards 2015, the Government will make every effort, subject to the need to stabilise our public finances, to progress to the 0.7% target.

For 2010 the Government is determined that our aid programme will continue to maintain its sharp focus on poverty reduction, concentrating on a limited number of very poor, mainly African, countries. I have just returned from visits to Uganda and Ethiopia where I witnessed for myself the excellent work being carried out on the ground by my Department, through Irish Aid and by other development organisations such as NGOs and missionaries. We are making a real and tangible difference in the lives of many and there is great hope for the future.

In the current difficult economic environment, we will work to ensure that we continue to deliver the programme so that it has maximum impact and is rigorously focused on achieving clear results for the lives of the poor and the hungry.

International Relations

Brian O'Shea

Question:

69 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on the recent presidential election in Colombia. [29649/10]

On 20 June 2010, the second round of Presidential elections took place in Colombia. Juan Manuel Santos of the Social National Unity Party (Partido Social de Unidad National), was declared the winner with 69% of the vote while the Green Party candidate, Antanas Mockus, attained 27.5% of the vote. President-elect Santos will take office on 7 August. The Organization of American States electoral observation mission noted that the elections took place in a transparent manner and were conducted correctly.

I note that President-elect Santos has called for a Government of National Unity with a view to consolidating democracy in Colombia. Ireland will fully support all efforts by the incoming Government to advance social and economic development for the people of Colombia.

Question No. 70 answered with Question No. 49.
Question No. 71 answered with Question No. 61.

Departmental Offices

Pat Breen

Question:

72 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his plans to set up additional satellite passport offices outside of Dublin and Cork; his views on locating one of these satellite offices at Shannon Airport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29582/10]

As I indicated to the Deputy on 02 June last I have asked my officials to examine the feasibility of providing passport production equipment in other parts of the country. However, I do not expect that a decision in this regard will be made in the short term. The priority for the Passport Service at present is to reduce the substantial backlog in passport applications and to restore the normal turnaround time for passport processing at the earliest opportunity. At that time the question of additional passport office services will be examined in more detail.

Nuclear Disarmament Initiative

Emmet Stagg

Question:

73 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on China’s proposed sale of nuclear reactors to Pakistan; the regional implications of such a sale; his position on the matter; the implications for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29651/10]

I am aware of China's announcement that it is planning to sell two nuclear reactors to Pakistan. This has raised concerns in the international community both in relation to undertakings by China regarding the transfer of nuclear goods, as well as potential proliferation risks associated with Pakistan. At the recent plenary meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers' Group, Ireland was among those who expressed concern and sought further information on the issue. A representative of China at the meeting explained that in recent years China has had a level of cooperation with Pakistan in civil/nuclear energy in line with the two countries' legal obligations. He assured the plenary that such cooperation was exclusively for peaceful purposes and that the facilities were subject to IAEA safeguards.

Pakistan has long been the focus of international unease related to nuclear proliferation. There are serious concerns that rogue states or terrorist organizations could obtain nuclear material or expertise from Pakistan. This concern has been heightened due to the ongoing conflict in neighbouring Afghanistan, and the porous nature of their common border. These worries have not been helped by the knowledge that a former top Pakistani nuclear official — A.Q. Khan — for many years used a clandestine network to supply Libya, North Korea, and Iran with materials related to uranium enrichment.

The proposed China-Pakistan deal underlines again the pressing need for Pakistan to adhere to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapon State. Pakistan is one of only three States not party to the Treaty. India — another key regional player — and Israel are the other two. In May this year I addressed the Review Conference of the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty in New York and called on these three States to join the Treaty. We will continue to press for the Treaty's universality, and for these three States to place all their nuclear facilities under IAEA Full-Scope Safeguards. Only in this way can the international community have the necessary confidence that potentially deadly materials cannot be diverted for terrorist or other destructive purposes.

Question No. 74 answered with Question No. 49.
Question No. 75 answered with Question No. 32.

Genetically Modified Organisms

Joan Burton

Question:

76 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on suggestions that food shortages in Africa will encourage a peremptory introduction of genetically modified crops and food; if he is opposed to such proposals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29638/10]

The Deputy has highlighted an issue that is both current and sensitive, and it is true that food shortages give rise to discussion about the potential of genetically modified crops to feed the growing world population.

We have a very clear position on this issue in relation to our aid programme. Ireland's support to the agricultural strategies of partner countries is provided within the context of the national policies of each country and in accordance with Ireland's policy of promoting local ownership of the development process. The use of genetically modified (GM) food and crops to feed the growing population in the developing world is a matter for the government of each developing country and we respect their decision in this regard.

Millennium Development Goals

Mary Upton

Question:

77 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the meetings he plans to hold in preparation for this year’s review of the world millennium development goals; if he will provide further consideration to caucus meetings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29647/10]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

380 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs which sections of his Department will be represented on the official delegation to the UN ten-year review of the millennium development goals in New York in September. [29243/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 77 and 380 together.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) adopted by Heads of Government at the Millennium Summit in 2000 provide the framework for international development up to 2015. Progress on the MDGs will be reviewed at a UN Summit in New York in September. The Government has been actively engaged at the UN and with our EU partners to ensure that, working together, developed and developing countries can maintain their commitments to the world's poorest people in the face of increased global challenges and continuing international economic difficulty. Ireland is playing an important role in the preparations for the Review Summit.

The Report on the MDGs for 2010, which was launched recently by the UN Secretary General, notes that much progress has been made and that, through nationally-owned development policies and plans supported by international partners, the MDGs can still be achieved by 2015. However, progress remains too slow and in some cases progress has been eroded by the global financial, economic and food crises since 2007.

The Government has taken a lead internationally to focus attention at the Summit on the continuing scandal of global hunger. We have made the point strongly at meetings in Europe, Africa and the United States that slow progress on the first of the MDGs, the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, is not only a scandal in itself, but is impeding progress across the whole range of development goals. We are also arguing that priority be given to those regions and groups that are making the slowest progress, in particular those most vulnerable to extreme poverty and hunger in sub-Saharan Africa, which is the primary geographic focus of the Government's aid programme.

Ireland played a major role in the preparation of a strong EU position for the Summit. Two weeks ago the Foreign Affairs Council adopted Conclusions focusing on increasing the direct engagement of developing countries in achieving the MDGs, improving the effectiveness of development efforts and mobilising resources for development.

Nationally, we are also preparing with the US Administration for the organisation of a joint High Level Forum which I will chair with Secretary of State Clinton during the Summit to promote a comprehensive international approach to the global hunger crisis. This will highlight the need to link agriculture, food security and nutrition programming in order to provide a realistic and sustainable solution to world hunger. We are also consulting closely with Irish and other development NGOs in advance of the Summit.

The Government is determined that Ireland will play an important role at the New York Summit, in line with the effectiveness and international reputation of our development programme. I will ensure that the composition of the delegation from my Department will reflect this foreign policy priority.

Human Rights Issues

Willie Penrose

Question:

78 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the discussions he has held regarding recent processes in certain countries in Africa to punish persons engaged in same-sex relationships with custodial sentences or worse. [29643/10]

I am extremely concerned about the situation of those in same-sex relationships in certain African countries. In many countries in Africa, though not all, same-sex relationships are illegal. Even where they are not illegal, they are often not well tolerated, with people suffering violence and discrimination as a result of their sexual orientation. At the same time, many such countries have signed up to international conventions and made commitments in relation to human rights which they must be urged to respect in full.

Most recently, there have been high profile situations of concern in Uganda and Malawi, which we have been monitoring since they arose. In Uganda a new Private Member's Bill entitled "Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009" was submitted by MP David Bahati late last year which aimed to broaden the criminalisation of homosexuality by introducing the death penalty for certain categories of conviction. The Bill subsequently was sent to a committee for review, although it has not yet been withdrawn. In Malawi, two men, Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, who held a traditional engagement ceremony were charged with "unnatural practices between males and gross public indecency" and subsequently convicted for "unnatural acts" and gross indecency and sentenced to 14 years' hard labour. Although President Mutharika subsequently granted them an unconditional pardon, the decision was taken on humanitarian grounds and the law which was used to convict them has not changed.

Our ongoing dialogues with Governments in Africa include human rights issues. Uganda and Malawi are priority countries for our Irish Aid programme and as such we have better access to the Governments of those countries. Since the Bill was first proposed, our Embassy in Kampala expressed our deep concerns to the Government of Uganda. When I was in Kampala last week, I availed of the opportunity in meeting with Foreign Minister Kutesa, to raise this issue again and to renew our serious concerns. The Foreign Minister assured me that his Government is dealing with the matter; he reiterated that this was a Private Member's Bill which was not sponsored by the Government. I also discussed the matter with the Chair of the Uganda Human Rights Commission, which has been asked by Parliament to give its views on the Bill and which underlined to me its view that Uganda should respect its obligations under international covenants. The Irish Embassy in Kampala will continue to monitor the situation closely and will remain in contact with local human rights and representative groups on this issue.

Similarly, our Embassy in Lilongwe expressed our serious concerns to the Government of Malawi as soon as charges were brought in the case there. My colleague, the Minister of State for Overseas Development, Peter Power, TD, made a public statement condemning the conviction. In addition, we supported a similar statement made by Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The Irish Embassy in Lilongwe will continue to coordinate with partners to seek appropriate changes to the relevant laws in Malawi.

Another forum for discussion is the Universal Periodic Review mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council, which provides opportunities to raise human rights situations of concern and allows each State under review to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations. Ireland has been an active participant in this process, raising matters of interest and making recommendations, including on issues of sexual orientation in the case of a number of reviews. The 9th session of Universal Periodic Reviews at the Human Rights Council will take place in November, when the human rights situation in Malawi will be reviewed. Uganda's review will take place at the 12th Session in late 2011.

Both Malawi and Uganda are states parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Human Rights Committee, which monitors the implementation of the ICCPR, has affirmed that the principle of non-discrimination includes the prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. This principle underpins the ICCPR, as it underpins the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Along with EU and international partners we shall continue to impress upon both Governments the need for them to comply with their own obligations under international human rights agreements and to protect all their citizens.

Question No. 79 answered with Question No. 39.

Ulick Burke

Question:

80 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on the setting up by the UN of a panel to investigate alleged human rights abuses in Sri Lanka; if he will report on any discussions which have taken place at EU level regarding this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29585/10]

I welcome the decision taken by the UN Secretary General on 22 June to appoint a Panel of Experts to advise on the issue of accountability with regard to alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law during the final stages of the conflict in Sri Lanka, which ended in May last year.

The Panel will be made up of three distinguished legal officials, Mr Marzuki Darusman (Indonesia), who will serve as Chairperson, Ms Yasmin Sooka (South Africa) and Mr Stephen Ratner (USA). It is expected to complete its work within four months. In particular, it will look into "modalities, applicable international standards and comparative experience with regard to accountability processes, taking into account the nature and scope of any alleged violations in Sri Lanka".

As reported to Deputies previously, I have long called for the establishment of an independent inquiry to investigate responsibility for alleged violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law committed by both the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the course of the conflict in Sri Lanka, particularly during its final months. I believe that accountability is an integral part of the process of reconciliation in Sri Lanka.

The European Union has taken the same view. In Council Conclusions issued on 27 October 2009, EU Foreign Ministers repeated their view that possible violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law by all actors in Sri Lanka should be subject to an "independent and credible inquiry".

Regrettably, intensive efforts by the EU last year to secure the agreement of the UN Human Rights Council for the establishment of such an inquiry were unsuccessful. Nevertheless, in spite of this, I am still firmly of the view that an inquiry of this kind is essential, though I am not optimistic that one will be authorized in the near future.

The Panel which has now been set up by the Secretary-General is particularly welcome in these circumstances and I believe its work will form an important element in the overall response of the international community to Sri Lanka's post-conflict rehabilitation and reconstruction needs. In this context, it is deeply disappointing that the Government of Sri Lanka has reacted in such a negative way to the appointment of the Panel, describing it as an unwarranted and unnecessary interference in the affairs of a sovereign nation.

A genuine process of dialogue and reconciliation must be initiated in Sri Lanka with a view to securing sustainable peace for all the people of the island. Such a process should involve the UN and others in the international community. Without reconciliation there can be no return to long-term security or prosperity for Sri Lanka. Ireland will continue with its efforts, both bilaterally and with our partners in the EU, to support the peace process in Sri Lanka.

Question No. 81 answered with Question No. 47.

Hunger Eradication

Liz McManus

Question:

82 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the relative roles of the Committee on World Food Security and the World Bank within the proposed global partnership for agriculture, food security and nutrition. [29666/10]

The eradication of global hunger is a key component of Ireland's foreign policy and a cornerstone of our development programme. We recognise that strengthening international coordination and enhancing global governance for agriculture, food and nutrition security through a global partnership among development partners, which builds on existing institutions and fosters effective partnerships among key stakeholders, is fundamental to addressing world hunger. We also recognise the central role that the United Nations' Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and its Committee on Food Security play in the shared objective of increasing agricultural productivity and providing food and nutrition security for the world's rapidly growing population.

A reform process is underway at FAO in order to enhance its authority and capacity to effectively and rapidly respond to the challenge of world hunger. While the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has primary responsibility for Ireland's engagement with the FAO and its reform process, I expect that the Committee on Food Security will become the main global forum for discussion on global food and nutrition security issues. Its revitalised role will ensure greater policy convergence including through the development of international strategies and voluntary guidelines on food security and nutrition based on best practices and lessons learned from countries which have managed to make progress in reducing hunger.

The new Committee is also now the most inclusive food security forum, ensuring that all relevant voices are heard in the policy debate on food and agriculture. Its participation has been expanded to include a wide range of organisations working in the food security and nutrition areas from UN agencies and international financial institutions, to civil society and non-governmental organisations, and international agricultural research institutions.

As noted by the Deputy, the World Bank also has a key role to play in the area of agriculture, food security and nutrition. Ireland, acting through the Department of Finance which has lead responsibility, and my own Department, supports the World Bank's activities and operations aimed at increasing agricultural productivity in developing countries and improving nutrition outcomes in the households of the world's most poor and vulnerable people.

Ireland supports the World Bank's International Development Association, one of its development institutions which aims to reduce poverty and improve living standards with a focus on the world's poorest and most food insecure nations. We also support the Bank's International Finance Corporation and its private sector development work, which includes assisting developing countries to enhance the role of agribusiness and improve access to markets for farmers.

We support the World Bank's Global Food Crisis Response Programme established in 2008 to provide rapid financing to poor countries hard hit by rising food prices. We support the Bank's continued investment in agricultural development through its various programmes in developing countries, which is estimated at some $8 billion this year. These programmes focus on increasing agricultural productivity, and improving farmers' access to markets. We supported the establishment last year of a new Agriculture Finance Support Facility to increase farmers' access to financial services, such as credit and insurance.

Just last week, Ireland contributed €500,000 to the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme, a new trust fund managed by the World Bank to scale up support to help poor countries improve food security through increased agricultural production.

Our support to the World Bank's agricultural interventions, and for a more effective and coherent Food and Agricultural Organisation and Committee on Food Security, are fully in line with the recommendations of the Government's 2008 Hunger Task Force.

We are committed to giving effect to the recommendations of Hunger Task Force and continue to work on the three priority areas identified in its Report, namely: increasing smallholder agricultural productivity in Africa; targeting under-nutrition, especially maternal and infant; and promoting governance and leadership action on tackling global hunger. We are making good progress in implementing the recommendations of the Report across the Irish Aid programme, the overseas development assistance programme channelled and delivered through my Department.

The Government will continue to ensure that Ireland plays its role in all efforts to eradicate the scourge of global hunger and to meet our clear international target, the hunger target of the first Millennium Development Goal, to halve the number of hungry by 2015. Ireland’s Special Envoy on Hunger, Kevin Farrell, will report on the progress that we and our partners are making towards the end of this year.

Question No. 83 answered with Question No. 47.

Disaster Relief

John Deasy

Question:

84 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the ongoing support, in funding and personnel, he is giving the Haitian people to rebuild their country in the vital areas of housing, social and physical infrastructure, urban and spatial planning and shelter advice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27556/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

401 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the follow-up in international aid for Haiti and other disaster areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30183/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 84 and 401 together.

The entire world was deeply moved by the plight of the Haitian people following the earthquake on 14 January. The devastation wrought and the impact on peoples' lives were made all the worse by the levels of poverty experienced by most Haitians.

The Government responded quickly to the events in Haiti by undertaking Irish Aid's largest-ever humanitarian airlift. More than 130 tonnes of emergency shelter, water and sanitation equipment were transported to Haiti on two DC10s and a Hercules C130 aircraft and were distributed by Irish NGOs Concern, Goal and Trócaire. More than 12,000 Haitian families received vital assistance in the aftermath of the earthquake as a result of this operation. The Government also provided emergency funding to UN and other humanitarian agencies working to save lives in Haiti. Lives were saved by our rapid response to this enormous natural disaster.

My colleague the Minister of State for Overseas Development, Deputy Peter Power, is visiting Haiti this week to assess the impact of Ireland's contribution to the relief effort and to discuss the recovery and reconstruction of Haiti with representatives of the United Nations. While in Port au Prince he will visit a number of Irish Aid-funded projects being implemented by development agencies, as well as meeting members of Irish Aid's Rapid Response Corps.

At an International Conference on the reconstruction of Haiti held on 31 March the Government pledged €13 million over three years towards relief, recovery and development in Haiti. This includes €1 million towards the cancellation of Haiti's remaining debt to the World Bank. The Irish statement to this conference highlighted the generosity of the Irish public in contributing millions of Euro to emergency appeals, as well as the role played by Irish NGOs and others in addressing the humanitarian crisis. The International Conference mobilised more than US$9 billion in donor support for Haiti's recovery and reconstruction, including €1.2 billion from the EU. The international community, in partnership with the Haitian government, has established an Interim Commission to oversee the reconstruction effort and a Trust Fund, which will be managed by the World Bank.

To date direct emergency funding provided by Ireland in response to the earthquake amounts to more than €3.2 million and covers a range of sectors, including sanitation, child protection, education, cash for work and agricultural recovery. Funding has been provided through three groups of partners: UN humanitarian agencies, the Red Cross and NGOs such as Christian Aid, Concern, Goal, Haven, Plan Ireland and World Vision.

Because of the direct impact of the earthquake on personnel and infrastructure, the Haitian Government will require technical and other support from international experts in order to fully discharge its responsibilities. In response to this, Irish Aid has allocated €200,000 to the UN Human Settlements Programme, UN-HABITAT, for the provision of technical and secretariat support services to the Haitian Government, to assist them and build their capacity in areas such as housing, social and physical infrastructure, and urban and spatial planning. UN-HABITAT carried out an extensive analysis of the urban spatial and planning requirements of Port au Prince prior to the earthquake and had already identified areas where improvements needed to be made to ensure a safer city.

The Government's contribution of in kind assistance via our humanitarian airlift exceeds €1.4 million. This also includes the deployment to date of eleven members of Ireland's Rapid Response Corps. These highly skilled volunteers have been supporting the emergency operations of organisations such as the World Food Programme, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Concern and Goal.

In addition to our direct support to Haiti, Ireland is a strong supporter of the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund which has provided funding to Haiti as part of its remit to respond to humanitarian crises around the globe. Ireland has contributed €73 million to the CERF since it was established in 2006.

Foreign Conflicts

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

85 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the evidence on which he bases his rejection of the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel and in particular the evidence of any positive influence on Israel as a result of Ireland’s affording it preferential trade. [29690/10]

Trade relations with Israel are determined at EU level.

I have been very active in criticising and drawing attention to those aspects of Israeli policy with which we disagree, particularly in relation to the continuing occupation of Palestinian Territories. I will continue to do so, both directly and at EU and UN level, and also to encourage both Israelis and Palestinians who are prepared to work and engage together to achieve a settlement.

However, as I have made clear on many occasions, including at the ICTU Conference on Palestine in April 2010, the Government does not support proposals for trade, academic, cultural or other boycotts against Israel. This has been the consistent policy of successive Irish Governments.

Such an approach would not increase our influence on Israeli policy or public opinion, nor among our EU colleagues. Nor is there any possibility of reaching agreement on such a policy at EU level.

As the Deputy will be aware, I set out my views on this matter in more detail in a recent meeting with the Joint Committee on European Affairs, on 22 June 2010.

Disputed Territories

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

86 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position regarding jurisdiction claims over Rockall; if the Irish claim has been accepted by the UK; the position regarding agreements between Ireland and the UK on the continental shelf. [29590/10]

Rockall is a small uninhabitable rock, 25 by 30 metres wide, located approximately 160 nautical miles west of the Scottish islands of St. Kilda and 230 nautical miles to the north-west of Donegal. It marks a point at which the Rockall Bank, part of the very large Hatton-Rockall area of continental shelf extending under the north-east Atlantic Ocean, protrudes 21 metres above sea level. During the 1960s and 1970s the issue of Rockall was a source of legal and political controversy in both Ireland and the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom claims sovereignty over Rockall and his sought to formally annex it under its Island of Rockall Act 1972.

As I said in response to the most recent question on this issue on 19 May last, while Ireland has not recognised British sovereignty over Rockall it has never sought to claim sovereignty for itself. The consistent position of successive Irish Governments has been that Rockall and similar rocks and skerries have no significance for establishing legal claims to mineral rights in the adjacent seabed and to fishing rights in the surrounding seas.

During the course of the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, which took place from 1973 to 1982, Ireland worked hard to achieve agreement on this principle. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which was adopted at the conclusion of the Conference on 10 December 1982, provides at Article 121, paragraph 3 that: "Rocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own shall have no exclusive economic zone or continental shelf." Rockall falls into precisely this category.

In 1988, Ireland and the UK reached agreement on the delimitation of areas of the continental shelf between the two countries, stretching out up to 500 nautical miles from their respective coastlines. This included the division of the Hatton-Rockall area of continental shelf on which Rockall is situated, although under the terms of the Law of the Sea Convention the location of Rockall was irrelevant to the determination of the boundary. According to that determination, Rockall is situated to the north of the boundary agreed with the UK in 1988 and lies outside the zone claimed by Ireland.

As with any claim to continental shelf lying beyond 200 nautical miles from shore, the UN Convention requires that Ireland and the UK submit their claims for examination by the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. However, the claims to the Hatton-Rockall shelf agreed between Ireland and the UK are not accepted by Iceland or the Faeroe Islands, which make their own claims. The four sides have met regularly since 2001 in an effort to resolve the overlapping claims issue but to date have been unable to reach agreement. In view of the 10-year deadline for the making of submissions to the UN Commission — which for Ireland expired in May last year — Ireland lodged its national claim for this area in March 2009. While the Commission's rules of procedure prevent consideration of the submission without the consent of all the states concerned, its submission at this time stops the clock on the deadline and preserves Ireland's legal position. In the meantime, the four sides intend to keep the matter under regular review and we will continue to work for the creation of conditions that will permit consideration of the submission by the Commission as soon as possible.

The State's continental shelf has already been successfully extended beyond 200 nautical miles in the area to the west of the Porcupine Bank. Together with France, Spain and the UK, we have also made a successful submission to the UN Commission in relation to a large area of seabed in the Celtic Sea and Bay of Biscay and the four countries will shortly begin discussions on its division between them.

Departmental Staff

Noel Coonan

Question:

87 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of vacant posts at the Limerick office of Irish Aid in each of the years 2008, 2009 and 2010; the breakdown of these vacancies between diplomatic and non-diplomatic posts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27562/10]

The table below sets out the number of vacant posts in my Department's office in Limerick.

Post Type

Total Posts

Occupied 2008

Vacancies 2008

Occupied 2009

Vacancies 2009

Occupied 2010

Vacancies 2010

Diplomatic

24

23

1

18

6.0

18

6

Non-diplomatic

114

102

12

98

18.0

97.5

16.5

Total

138

125

13

116

22

115.5

22.5

Staff numbers in my Department, like those across the civil service as a whole, have fallen as a result of the Government's early retirement scheme and the embargoes on promotions and recruitment. This reduction in staff numbers is seen across the Department, including in the Limerick office.

Question No. 88 answered with Question No. 32.

International Relations

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

89 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he has held discussions with colleague Ministers at EU level regarding the need to put pressure on the Government of Angola to allow a neutral and independent national electoral commission to be set up to oversee the preparations for and processes of the forthcoming elections. [29664/10]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

93 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on the position in Angola regarding reports that institutional corruption is rampant and that those who run the country are not prepared to relinquish power, as is democratically needed; and his further views that a general election due to take place in 2010 will require international assistance in preparation for real participation. [29663/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 89 and 93 together.

Angola has undergone major development since the end of its civil war, one of the longest-running civil wars in Africa, in 2002. It has achieved rapid economic growth, thanks to a boom in oil production and high international oil prices. However, this wealth has not translated to the general population but has remained in the hands of a restricted number with a huge disparity between wealth and poverty. In addition, hopes that the ending of the civil war would lead to more political openness have only partially been fulfilled.

Angola last held parliamentary and presidential elections in September 2008. While an EU Election Observation Mission welcomed the peaceful conduct of the elections it did not go as far as describing them as free and fair and made several recommendations in its final report, including strengthening the impartiality the National Elections Commission (CNE). Although the Government of Angola took note of the recommendations of the report, no major changes have been implemented to date. The next Parliamentary elections are due to be held in 2012. In relation to possible international assistance for the elections, the EU-Angola Country Strategy Paper for the period 2008-2013 allows for support to the Angolan electoral cycle as defined. The areas of voter education and capacity-building to key institutions, including the National Electoral Commission have been identified as possibilities for assistance. However, EU assistance, including a possible electoral observation mission, is of course dependent on a request being made by the national authorities.

The situation in Angola has not been the subject of recent discussions at Ministerial level in the EU. It is, however discussed at working group level of the EU and EU missions in Luanda work with the Government of Angola on an ongoing basis including political dialogue within the framework of Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement.

Corruption in Angola is a serious problem, with the country regularly amongst Transparency International's top 20 most corrupt countries. There have been some efforts in recent months by the Government to improve governance and introduce more accountability into the system. Measures include legislation to introduce greater transparency to the national budget which was passed by the National Assembly in March.

Conscious that the country's rapid economic growth masks huge inequalities, Irish Aid provides some funding to the Angolan people, amounting to almost €7.6 million since 2006. This funding is channelled through Irish and international NGOs including Trócaire, Concern and Christian Aid and through Irish missionaries . These funds have been employed in programmes promoting good governance, also programmes combating HIV & AIDS, reducing food insecurity and various humanitarian assistance projects.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

90 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the meetings held and matters discussed on his recent visit to Ethiopia; his priorities regarding that country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29641/10]

I spent last week visiting Uganda and Ethiopia, two of the nine priority countries for the Government's aid programme, where we have a commitment to long term strategic assistance.

I visited Ethiopia from 30 June to 2 July. My main objective was to assess the impact of our development programme on the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable communities in Ethiopia, and its contribution to the remarkable development and economic growth which the country has experienced in recent years. I held political discussions with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and Acting Foreign Minister, Dr. Tekeda Alemu, and I reviewed regional issues, including the situation in Sudan, with the Chairman of the African Union Commission Jean Ping, at the Headquarters of the organisation in Addis Ababa.

Ireland has been providing development assistance to Ethiopia since 1990. Ethiopia has been a priority country for long term development assistance from Irish Aid since 1994. Building on the remarkable work of Irish missionaries over many decades, the Irish aid programme has focused clearly on hunger and food security and the provision of basic services to the Ethiopian people. I witnessed the impact of this cooperation when I visited health facilities and schools outside Addis Ababa with the Minister of Health, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. I also visited projects being undertaken by Irish NGOs and missionaries with street children and with people living with HIV and AIDS. I met with a wide range of Irish NGOs and volunteers working in Ethiopia with a commitment to partnership with local communities to tackle poverty, hunger and disease and building a brighter future for the country and its people.

Ethiopia has made enormous progress in recent years. The proportion of people living on less than $1 a day has fallen from 60% in 1990 to 36% in 2007. Over the past twenty years, primary school enrolment has quadrupled, and child mortality has been reduced by almost fifty percent. The country continues to face significant development challenges, not least as a result of continuing population growth and the effects of climate change. However, I was deeply impressed by the commitment of the Government and the Ethiopian people to the development of their economy and their country. I visited the new Ethiopian Commodity Exchange, which has been developed with support from Irish Aid, and saw the impact it is having on the lives of producers of basic commodities including coffee, and the influence it is beginning to bring to bear on the lives of rural communities and on Ethiopia's economic role in Africa. I also met with a number of Irish business people who are investing in Ethiopia, helping to create opportunities for employment, trade and new links with Ireland and Europe.

I am convinced that by continuing to focus on a development partnership with Ethiopia aimed at reducing poverty and fighting hunger and at the same time building closer business and trade links between our two countries, Ireland can continue to make a very significant contribution to sustainable development in the country and the wider region.

Ireland's role in Ethiopia over many decades was recognised in all my discussions during my visit. Against this background, I had the opportunity for very open discussions with the Prime Minister and other political leaders on political developments in Ethiopia and on the conduct and aftermath of the recent elections, the human rights situation and the very positive role Ethiopia is playing internationally on global issues, including climate change.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

91 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on the role of China in the future development of Africa; his further views on the long-term implications of Chinese involvement on the continent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29639/10]

China has rapidly increased its engagement with nearly every African state in recent years. Trade between Africa and China has grown an average of 30% per annum in the past decade and now stands at over US$100 billion, making China the continent's second largest trading partner after the US. China shares with other major economic powers a desire to gain access to natural resources, but also important is the desire to tap Africa's huge market of one billion people. This is testament to the enormous economic potential of Africa, which is now the third fastest growing region in the world, after China and India. It is also indicative of a growing trend of economic ties being formed between African and other developing and emerging market countries. This South-South trade cooperation is proving to be a critical new catalyst for Africa's economic growth.

I am aware of the contrast often made between what has been perceived as the commercial focus of China's policy in Africa and the primary focus of Ireland and the EU on issues such as poverty reduction, human rights and good governance. However, I believe that this contrast can be overstated. There are signs that China is increasingly aware of the importance of peace and stability in Africa and, as such, these are areas of shared interest with Ireland and the EU. China also has a large contribution to make in Africa by the sharing of experience on the reduction of poverty, including in some key areas for Africa such as raising agricultural productivity. At the most recent EU-China Summit, held in Nanjing last November, both sides welcomed trilateral dialogue between the EU, China and Africa, and agreed to explore appropriate areas for cooperation. They reaffirmed their commitment to supporting the full and timely achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and to supporting Africa's sustainable development and early economic recovery from the global financial crisis. I am also of the view that the commitment of African countries to human rights, gender equality, good governance and the fight against corruption is not only the product of pressure related to assistance from donors. African countries are participants in a wide range of international instruments which guarantee such freedoms and are, as is Ireland, accountable under the terms of these international agreements.

Ireland, for our part, has had a long and fruitful relationship with Africa. With the increasing globalisation of Africa, opportunities also lie there for Ireland to develop our relationship with the continent in new areas that will benefit us both. Ireland's total merchandise trade with Africa in 2009 was approximately €1.4 billion. However, I firmly believe that there is potential to grow and expand our trading relationship with the continent of Africa. The improvements in infrastructure, energy, and the availability of skilled workforces achieved in many partner countries with support from Irish Aid, means that doing business in Africa can be a real possibility for the right companies in the right sectors. My Department welcomes the opportunity to provide support to Irish companies wishing to expand their business into Africa.

United Nations Resolutions

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

92 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will respond to the concerns shared by a number of non-governmental organisations that in developing its national action plan for the inplantation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, the Government failed to conduct a broad and inclusive consultation process; if he will confirm that the eight essential steps contained in the best practice guide entitled UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security: Towards an Effective and Inclusive Irish National Action Plan will inform the national action plan. [29692/10]

I refer the Deputy to my reply of 22 June last to Parliamentary Question number 26769/10 regarding the extensive consultation process undertaken by my Department as part of the development of Ireland's National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325.

The guide referred to by the Deputy is a welcome addition to the extensive literature already in existence on how to shape a National Action Plan. The eight steps mentioned in this recent publication have informed the work of developing the draft National Action Plan and are an important input to the process. They reflect ideas which have been conveyed by civil society members of the consultative group on 1325, which was established to advise on the drafting of the Plan.

The National Women's Council of Ireland and the Joint Consortium on Gender Based Violence were invited to select participants to contribute to the group's work and the Department also nominated other experts to become involved in its work.

A comprehensive audit of Government activity in the areas covered by UNSCR 1325 was also conducted and replies were received from the Departments of Defence and Justice, incorporating responses from the Permanent Defence Forces and the Garda Síochána. My Department also conducted an audit of its own activities and a submission was received from the civil society organisations present on the consultative group. The structure and content of the draft National Action Plan, currently being prepared, draws on the Resolution itself and deals with the key issues of participation, protection and gender perspectives. The draft also proposes a monitoring framework which sets out clear actions and indicators, and allocates responsibility to a specific Government body, with clear timelines for each action.

The success of the National Action Plan will depend on effective monitoring and evaluation and I look forward to further discussions with civil society representatives as to how best this can be achieved.

Question No. 93 answered with Question No. 89.

Overseas Development Aid

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

94 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the support that he and the EU are giving, or propose to give, to enable African countries achieve the aims of the Maputo declaration on agricultural production as a proportion of GDP. [29634/10]

Ireland supports African countries' efforts to achieve the aims of the Maputo Declaration in a variety of ways. We are directly engaged in the agricultural sector in a number of countries particularly Malawi and Tanzania. Ireland's programmes of General Budget Support are also helping our partner countries meet the Maputo Declaration target. We also support the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme, or CAADP.

CAADP is an African owned regional framework for guiding investment in the agricultural sector that was endorsed by the member states of the African Union in the Maputo Declaration of 2003. CAADP is based on the pursuit of six percent average annual growth in the agricultural sector at national level as well as the Maputo Declaration's explicit target of an allocation of ten percent of national budgets to agriculture. Agricultural spending by African governments is now increasing. To date at least eight countries have met the ten percent target while another sixteen countries reached expenditure shares of five to ten percent. There is an increasing body of evidence suggesting that the agricultural sectors of countries signed up to the CAADP agenda are already demonstrating improved growth.

Ireland supports the CAADP process on a number of levels. Last year we provided €1.5m through the appropriate World Bank Multi Donor Trust Fund which was established to support the development of the CAADP process. Eighteen African countries have now signed up to the framework and aligned their agricultural policies. This year Irish Aid has contributed €500,000 to the new Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme of the World Bank which is managing support for the national investment plans developed through CAADP. In addition we are focusing our support at country level to ensure the quality of these investment plans, particularly in Malawi and Tanzania, two countries where we are coordinating all donors in the agriculture sector. The €23m of Irish Aid funding channelled through the European Development Fund in 2010 is also a significant and relevant contribution to the agricultural work of our partner governments. The European Commission is a major donor to the agricultural sector in general and also to CAADP. In relation to the CAADP process it has provided €5m over the last three years.

The Commission will continue to provide significant levels of funding to the development of the agriculture sector in Africa in various ways that are aligned with CAADP priorities. We understand that the overall level of assistance from the Commission for CAADP and related agriculture sector development programmes is likely to remain above €400m per annum up to 2013.

Constituency Data

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

95 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Taoiseach the age distribution of the population in each electoral district of Meath East in the latest revision; the distribution by social class in each electoral district; and the distribution of permanent private households by year their house was built in each electoral district. [29177/10]

The information requested by the Deputy is contained in the following tables. It should be noted that the information was taken from the Census 2006, but that the figures are for the Revised Meath East as per the Report on Dáil and European Parliament Constituencies 2007.

Population usually resident in Revised Meath East, classified by age group

DED

0- 4 years

5- 9 years

10-14 years

15-19 years

20-24 years

25-29 years

30-34 years

35-39 years

40-44 years

45-49 years

50-54 years

55-59 years

60-64 years

65-69 years

70-74 years

75-79 years

80-84 years

85 years and over

Total

004 Drumcondra

91

93

88

95

87

74

95

73

95

101

88

97

54

38

36

35

30

19

1,289

005 Grangegeeth

38

45

40

35

26

35

44

41

49

35

27

38

19

17

16

14

13

6

538

006 Killary

75

72

82

81

89

74

105

87

83

96

81

64

64

42

36

30

28

10

1,199

007 Culmullin

54

58

73

100

91

44

60

67

81

78

73

92

55

26

19

17

19

25

1,032

008 Donaghmore

583

551

609

702

820

779

728

690

669

584

582

464

283

146

101

68

44

26

8,429

009 Dunboyne

723

766

685

680

687

607

641

720

773

662

486

362

273

219

144

101

61

66

8,656

010 Dunshaughlin

379

469

436

403

363

360

310

450

466

413

341

275

215

128

94

73

51

41

5,267

011 Kilbrew

212

168

157

157

202

418

350

219

185

132

114

105

96

41

51

20

19

9

2,655

012 Killeen

60

81

96

75

68

60

67

63

95

84

95

78

57

35

24

22

14

13

1,087

014 Kilmore

85

98

96

131

131

107

88

100

90

112

133

90

66

36

28

26

12

18

1,447

015 Rathfeigh

60

63

66

86

77

48

61

60

66

74

68

51

38

24

22

24

17

19

924

016 Ratoath

1,067

907

651

454

418

775

1,052

1,040

796

475

365

276

179

156

88

60

38

30

8,827

017 Rodanstown

70

71

59

64

86

71

56

72

79

68

80

89

79

45

26

19

11

11

1,056

018 Skreen

94

106

106

121

96

71

73

98

122

111

123

88

77

46

43

22

18

12

1,427

019 Ardagh

27

38

52

58

56

37

39

47

46

38

54

32

29

22

33

13

14

7

642

024 Carrickleck

25

24

41

35

36

28

30

23

30

41

33

36

24

16

19

11

10

4

466

027 Cruicetown

30

34

32

29

19

22

27

22

31

32

21

12

5

16

8

16

3

5

364

029 Kilmainham

49

44

42

56

60

51

55

50

36

52

42

44

36

17

33

23

23

28

741

032 Maperath

32

32

31

28

21

19

25

36

41

32

32

18

34

36

18

12

11

6

464

034 Moybolgue

16

18

13

14

17

17

12

13

15

25

13

10

7

8

6

6

3

2

215

035 Moynalty

42

39

54

34

38

28

46

38

48

37

43

33

21

35

24

20

15

9

604

036 Newcastle

25

28

32

27

27

33

36

23

28

28

26

27

13

16

11

10

9

3

402

037 Newtown

57

65

52

38

40

41

54

65

54

39

15

25

24

19

5

7

5

5

610

038 Nobber

42

41

47

47

43

45

46

47

44

57

41

34

23

28

20

11

13

14

643

Population usually resident in Revised Meath East, classified by age group — continued

DED

0- 4 years

5- 9 years

10-14 years

15-19 years

20-24 years

25-29 years

30-34 years

35-39 years

40-44 years

45-49 years

50-54 years

55-59 years

60-64 years

65-69 years

70-74 years

75-79 years

80-84 years

85 years and over

Total

039 Posseckstown

14

16

13

19

7

5

12

11

8

9

17

7

4

9

12

5

4

2

174

040 Staholmog

29

31

32

30

26

30

30

24

33

30

21

16

20

13

13

9

9

4

400

042 Trohanny

18

30

28

29

21

20

28

23

34

31

20

18

19

14

9

6

9

4

361

043 Ardcath

135

118

147

151

154

130

125

118

143

144

156

138

82

46

29

42

22

8

1,888

044 Duleek

412

352

244

247

327

487

516

422

292

232

174

194

158

109

82

46

32

16

4,342

046 Mellifont

41

30

29

30

39

26

40

38

47

33

31

30

34

19

21

16

13

8

525

048 Stamullin

418

303

208

198

206

436

552

408

260

179

136

167

116

72

54

31

28

52

3,824

050 Ardmulchan

65

62

75

81

66

48

50

60

76

97

79

52

33

24

25

15

12

15

935

052 Castletown

96

83

81

74

61

78

63

77

100

75

66

41

32

28

29

18

14

6

1,022

053 Domhnach Phádraig

135

157

133

121

97

92

127

147

126

112

116

70

64

39

40

31

24

11

1,642

054 Kentstown

166

133

118

117

120

175

191

154

121

119

98

96

57

41

27

14

14

8

1,769

056 Painestown

77

89

67

73

90

61

74

96

86

83

83

68

52

31

42

26

17

10

1,125

057 Rathkenny

35

37

39

37

37

38

44

48

48

42

24

34

43

14

12

10

5

7

554

058 Slane

132

116

83

93

75

126

176

145

118

91

92

89

70

44

31

35

26

9

1,551

059 Stackallan

47

50

41

37

33

41

30

42

45

50

39

42

25

19

14

13

11

5

584

060 Tara

70

73

62

73

73

67

58

54

77

82

84

94

75

43

42

28

27

18

1,100

001 Ceannanus Mór (Kells) Urban

156

178

135

140

145

147

182

175

134

106

114

81

83

64

78

54

34

24

2,030

026 Ceannanus Mór (Kells) Rural (part)

274

268

264

236

302

333

335

295

303

228

184

162

135

108

82

57

27

33

3,626

Total

6,256

6,037

5,439

5,336

5,477

6,184

6,733

6,481

6,073

5,149

4,510

3,839

2,873

1,949

1,547

1,116

809

628

76,436

Population in Revised Meath East, classified by social class

DED

Professional workers

Managerial and technical

Non-manual

Skilled manual

Semi-skilled

Unskilled

All other gainfully occupied and unknown

Total

004 Drumcondra

77

289

188

257

157

85

236

1,289

005 Grangegeeth

23

141

97

131

74

30

42

538

006 Killary

71

237

186

240

147

97

221

1,199

007 Culmullin

86

365

184

155

76

34

132

1,032

008 Donaghmore

477

2,672

1,622

1,589

814

278

977

8,429

009 Dunboyne

709

3,090

1,582

1,388

596

271

1,020

8,656

010 Dunshaughlin

491

1,871

906

886

421

128

564

5,267

011 Kilbrew

161

840

555

515

217

104

263

2,655

012 Killeen

90

358

176

203

83

52

125

1,087

014 Kilmore

92

476

287

309

98

57

128

1,447

015 Rathfeigh

48

358

126

157

54

46

135

924

016 Ratoath

716

3,450

1,721

1,362

556

174

848

8,827

017 Rodanstown

101

367

180

187

73

49

99

1,056

018 Skreen

105

516

236

229

128

42

171

1,427

019 Ardagh

9

127

93

154

85

38

136

642

024 Carrickleck

6

120

74

123

60

21

62

466

027 Cruicetown

22

81

58

97

38

30

38

364

029 Kilmainham

21

127

85

197

132

42

137

741

032 Maperath

22

187

60

89

32

20

54

464

034 Moybolgue

10

62

47

47

28

4

17

215

035 Moynalty

26

196

85

140

65

32

60

604

036 Newcastle

19

98

102

93

34

18

38

402

Population in Revised Meath East, classified by social class — continued

DED

Professional workers

Managerial and technical

Non-manual

Skilled manual

Semi-skilled

Unskilled

All other gainfully occupied and unknown

Total

037 Newtown

28

112

108

131

96

26

109

610

038 Nobber

30

150

116

153

79

46

69

643

039 Posseckstown

20

35

28

48

21

2

20

174

040 Staholmog

25

59

66

111

45

24

70

400

042 Trohanny

22

83

61

94

38

20

43

361

043 Ardcath

107

430

306

454

210

90

291

1,888

044 Duleek

146

873

756

941

648

288

690

4,342

046 Mellifont

36

168

99

101

54

31

36

525

048 Stamullin

243

1,175

655

805

349

111

486

3,824

050 Ardmulchan

76

308

160

204

71

24

92

935

052 Castletown

72

249

176

207

101

68

149

1,022

053 Domhnach Phádraig

85

473

267

407

172

79

159

1,642

054 Kentstown

116

422

313

375

182

89

272

1,769

056 Painestown

49

317

181

265

113

51

149

1,125

057 Rathkenny

18

171

84

156

49

34

42

554

058 Slane

94

414

210

311

199

98

225

1,551

059 Stackallan

35

170

103

125

55

29

67

584

060 Tara

127

309

199

206

79

35

145

1,100

001 Ceannanus Mór (Kells) Urban

43

289

303

383

325

152

535

2,030

026 Ceannanus Mór (Kells) Rural (part)

186

989

633

701

468

174

475

3,626

Total

4,940

23,224

13,474

14,726

7,322

3,123

9,627

76,436

Private dwellings in permanent housing units in Revised Meath East, classified by period in which built

DED

Before 1919

1919 to 1940

1941 to 1960

1961 to 1970

1971 to 1980

1981 to 1990

1991 to 1995

1996 to 2000

2001 or later

Not stated

Total

004 Drumcondra

79

42

44

29

86

49

19

31

39

11

429

005 Grangegeeth

35

19

15

3

24

19

10

16

28

2

171

006 Killary

67

46

34

22

72

48

13

26

42

16

386

007 Culmullin

27

19

32

31

84

48

12

13

34

9

309

008 Donaghmore

46

42

39

118

627

538

181

291

774

60

2,716

009 Dunboyne

82

90

122

163

367

354

222

618

542

76

2,636

010 Dunshaughlin

55

40

68

102

211

342

261

274

215

60

1,628

011 Kilbrew

45

42

28

31

86

72

32

186

413

24

959

012 Killeen

49

25

34

25

89

48

14

17

33

3

337

014 Kilmore

36

21

73

26

91

65

18

21

65

11

427

015 Rathfeigh

32

15

25

25

60

46

17

23

29

4

276

016 Ratoath

54

51

47

72

245

107

158

640

1,371

47

2,792

017 Rodanstown

32

27

28

40

101

54

12

19

21

3

337

018 Skreen

62

42

37

33

110

80

17

22

38

14

455

019 Ardagh

37

14

30

16

32

36

6

14

19

2

206

024 Carrickleck

24

21

18

5

29

29

4

7

13

150

027 Cruicetown

25

16

14

5

6

10

6

7

14

5

108

029 Kilmainham

42

20

8

17

38

19

10

27

55

3

239

032 Maperath

36

18

15

10

33

11

9

14

14

2

162

034 Moybolgue

11

10

7

2

8

7

5

7

8

1

66

035 Moynalty

55

27

23

11

34

18

8

11

16

1

204

036 Newcastle

38

12

11

9

15

12

8

5

22

132

037 Newtown

19

19

16

2

15

21

5

19

77

6

199

038 Nobber

40

19

23

24

33

28

11

11

23

6

218

039 Posseckstown

13

8

9

2

5

3

3

9

52

040 Staholmog

26

21

9

6

18

15

3

6

11

9

124

Private dwellings in permanent housing units in Revised Meath East, classified by period in which built — continued

DED

Before 1919

1919 to 1940

1941 to 1960

1961 to 1970

1971 to 1980

1981 to 1990

1991 to 1995

1996 to 2000

2001 or later

Not stated

Total

042 Trohanny

27

14

14

5

13

16

6

4

8

1

108

043 Ardcath

67

49

58

32

188

82

20

27

43

24

590

044 Duleek

93

45

71

69

207

89

43

194

671

29

1,511

046 Mellifont

39

21

19

10

36

11

8

6

15

165

048 Stamullin

81

25

53

47

128

72

26

130

687

26

1,275

050 Ardmulchan

45

16

34

26

50

50

14

20

25

3

283

052 Castletown

33

42

40

24

51

34

13

23

40

9

309

053 Domhnach Phádraig

63

74

38

23

78

51

33

50

71

13

494

054 Kentstown

55

25

42

32

95

41

13

26

230

14

573

056 Painestown

61

33

31

40

79

24

16

26

35

9

354

057 Rathkenny

33

25

15

12

23

25

9

14

23

4

183

058 Slane

75

24

43

31

83

48

30

65

109

20

528

059 Stackallan

49

17

16

15

25

17

9

12

15

10

185

060 Tara

37

27

30

40

95

38

11

15

32

9

334

001 Ceannanus Mór (Kells) Urban

128

84

81

33

95

33

32

137

103

62

788

026 Ceannanus Mór (Kells) Rural (part)

47

39

31

54

244

86

38

184

459

31

1,213

Total

2,000

1,286

1,425

1,322

4,009

2,796

1,382

3,261

6,491

639

24,611

National Lottery Funding

Noel Ahern

Question:

96 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Taoiseach if he will outline the amount of funding from the national lottery received in each of the years 2007, 2008, and 2009 and if he will give further details of the programmes, services and capital developments for which this funding was used quoting the amount so used in each case and whether the lottery funding fully or partially funded the programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29178/10]

My Department did not receive any funding from the National Lottery during the years 2007 to 2009.

Departmental Expenditure

P. J. Sheehan

Question:

97 Deputy P. J. Sheehan asked the Taoiseach the amount paid by his Department in legal fees for each of the years from 2000 to date in 2010; the amount paid in legal fees by each of the agencies and bodies under the aegis of his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29179/10]

The amount paid by my Department in Legal Fees from 2000 to the 31st May 2010 is detailed in the following table.

Year

Department Spend

2000

2001

3,893

2002

2003

32,887

2004

8,616

2005

13,609*

2006

56,006

2007

12,197*

2008

159,677*

2009

51,843

To end May in 2010

29,846

*175,179 of this spend relates to spend for the Commission of Investigation.

The amount paid by agencies and bodies under the aegis of my Department, other then the Tribunals and Commission of Inquiry from 2000 to the 31st May 2010 is detailed in the following table.

Year

National Forum on Europe

Central Statistics Office

National Economic and Social Development Office

2000

2001

2002

2,704

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

26,710

2008

1,706

29,876

2009

To end May in 2010

Dublin-Monaghan Bombings

Finian McGrath

Question:

98 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Taoiseach if he will give an update on British co-operation regarding the Dublin-Monaghan bombings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29245/10]

With regard to the Dublin/Monaghan Bombings the Deputy will be aware that the Clerk of the Dáil received a reply from the Clerk of the House of Commons arising from the Oireachtas resolution of 10 July, 2008. As I have said previously in the House, any future follow up to this should be considered in consultation with the Parties and can be raised with the Whips.

Departmental Taxation Compliance

Joan Burton

Question:

99 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach the number of unprompted voluntary disclosures made by his Department to the Revenue Commissioners in the years 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010 under each of the following headings, Employer issues — PAYE/PRSI, value added tax, public service withholding tax, relevant contracts tax; if, in relation to these unprompted voluntary disclosures, he will provide a summary of the tax, interest, and penalties collected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29423/10]

There have been no unprompted voluntary disclosures made by my Department during the years 2005 to end of June 2010.

Joan Burton

Question:

100 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach if he has made any settlements with the Revenue Commissioners under Section 985B, Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 in the years, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29424/10]

My Department has made no such settlements with the Revenue Commissioners under Section 985B, Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, in the years 2005 to end of June 2010.

Departmental Audits

Joan Burton

Question:

101 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach if he will provide details of tax audits carried out by Revenue Commissioners' staff on his Department in the years 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010 under each of the following headings: Employer issues — PAYE/PRSI, value added tax, public service withholding tax, relevant contracts tax; if, in relation to the audits, he will provide an analysis of the results, including the amount of tax, interest and penalties assessed and collected; the number of audits where incorrect operation was discovered but no assessment was entered; the number of audits where operation was found in order; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29425/10]

There have been no tax audits carried out by Revenue Commissioners in my Department in the years 2005 to end of June 2010.

Constituency Data

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

102 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Taoiseach the age and distribution of the population in each electoral district in Dublin South-East in the latest revision of the census; the distribution by social class in each electoral district; and the distribution of permanent private households by year their house was built in each electoral district. [29775/10]

The information requested by the Deputy is contained in the following tables. It should be noted that the information was taken from the Census 2006, but that the figures are for the Revised Dublin South East as per the Report on Dáil and European Parliament Constituencies 2007.

Population usually resident in Revised Dublin South East, classified by age group

DED

0- 4 years

5-9 years

10-14 years

15-19 years

20-24 years

25-29 years

30-34 years

35-39 years

40-44 years

45-49 years

50-54 years

55-59 years

60-64 years

65-69 years

70-74 years

75-79 years

80-84 years

85 years and over

Total

117 Mansion House A

158

184

138

193

785

718

343

220

187

179

157

134

119

100

73

56

35

19

3,798

118 Mansion House B

13

3

2

17

117

110

61

43

32

17

25

23

22

16

3

7

5

1

517

125 Pembroke East A

213

243

242

292

437

627

532

423

301

323

238

203

183

168

137

119

83

23

4,787

126 Pembroke East B

191

189

175

174

259

338

279

231

241

255

206

177

143

109

106

144

85

92

3,394

127 Pembroke East C

166

192

193

188

285

415

333

251

242

242

241

231

168

134

125

120

95

125

3,746

128 Pembroke East D

133

153

168

213

360

388

300

230

223

230

235

271

173

177

191

168

134

127

3,874

129 Pembroke East E

154

117

114

103

258

490

349

268

232

204

232

177

155

121

110

81

56

42

3,263

130 Pembroke West A

160

144

97

117

427

749

545

375

227

198

171

192

135

152

130

94

73

39

4,025

131 Pembroke West B

108

92

65

112

259

360

323

224

215

177

172

129

118

62

75

54

51

50

2,646

132 Pembroke West C

98

78

70

91

358

727

521

296

206

209

197

185

166

131

87

76

51

51

3,598

133 Rathfarnham

163

170

223

442

573

479

310

234

213

272

313

251

171

116

115

126

102

84

4,357

134 Rathmines East A

147

113

101

153

546

817

524

300

238

187

185

176

124

109

105

89

106

131

4,151

135 Rathmines East B

246

175

125

191

622

936

685

410

284

221

231

194

149

136

157

169

128

147

5,206

136 Rathmines East C

199

183

161

189

347

405

246

200

235

235

234

185

145

79

101

99

72

77

3,392

137 Rathmines East D

137

106

91

116

328

556

315

217

187

139

144

109

74

51

49

53

41

28

2,741

138 Rathmines West A

156

91

79

144

902

1,305

694

377

203

178

179

137

87

71

86

95

72

42

4,898

139 Rathmines West B

109

78

58

107

566

844

448

251

173

140

126

89

79

56

39

39

23

18

3,243

140 Rathmines West C

119

122

102

111

332

462

292

167

158

151

135

133

78

54

32

29

28

33

2,538

141 Rathmines West D

146

152

121

149

418

586

323

227

181

206

197

140

87

59

67

54

38

29

3,180

142 Rathmines West E

150

125

109

140

392

566

350

237

222

185

172

162

93

78

66

54

68

78

3,247

143 Rathmines West F

105

80

89

107

458

659

336

192

158

125

132

107

93

50

35

31

33

40

2,830

144 Royal Exchange A

45

50

45

109

540

648

335

208

192

160

123

142

103

70

40

20

26

12

2,868

145 Royal Exchange B

41

49

55

126

218

219

133

117

118

90

83

58

41

44

34

32

17

4

1,479

146 St. Kevin’s

144

84

90

180

667

922

579

408

262

189

157

140

129

104

70

59

43

56

4,283

147 South Dock

210

77

86

150

784

1,317

697

339

182

167

129

129

88

90

84

61

42

40

4,672

161 Wood Quay A

93

112

110

137

258

275

201

170

200

201

183

164

124

107

92

54

45

19

2,545

162 Wood Quay B

130

101

85

102

443

641

472

314

234

171

146

176

108

85

71

68

56

68

3,471

Total

3734

3263

2994

4153

11939

16559

10526

6929

5546

5051

4743

4214

3155

2529

2280

2051

1608

1475

92749

Population in Revised Dublin South East, classified by social class

DED

Professional workers

Managerial and technical

Non-manual

Skilled manual

Semi-skilled

Unskilled

All other gainfully occupied and unknown

Total

117 Mansion House A

213

542

468

394

416

237

1,528

3798

118 Mansion House B

71

109

45

20

26

3

243

517

125 Pembroke East A

322

915

796

865

621

369

899

4787

126 Pembroke East B

638

1,246

494

228

170

52

566

3394

127 Pembroke East C

837

1,465

541

137

95

14

657

3746

128 Pembroke East D

767

1,186

401

214

188

70

1,048

3874

129 Pembroke East E

685

1,110

369

119

81

26

873

3263

130 Pembroke West A

559

1,252

575

443

266

119

811

4025

131 Pembroke West B

548

819

271

98

111

38

761

2646

132 Pembroke West C

647

1,117

400

169

145

43

1,077

3598

133 Rathfarnham

1,044

1,377

563

169

124

33

1,047

4357

134 Rathmines East A

806

1,248

513

220

205

35

1,124

4151

135 Rathmines East B

1,190

1,835

643

203

193

37

1,105

5206

136 Rathmines East C

929

1,186

432

184

99

20

542

3392

137 Rathmines East D

475

950

388

188

161

31

548

2741

138 Rathmines West A

624

1,250

771

408

432

124

1,289

4898

139 Rathmines West B

443

855

466

245

268

81

885

3243

140 Rathmines West C

568

834

376

169

126

21

444

2538

141 Rathmines West D

506

935

417

246

226

80

770

3180

142 Rathmines West E

561

1,093

493

198

190

47

665

3247

143 Rathmines West F

550

867

443

177

174

43

576

2830

144 Royal Exchange A

245

489

339

208

251

127

1,209

2868

145 Royal Exchange B

53

145

162

196

127

87

709

1479

146 St. Kevin’s

408

840

523

399

345

111

1,657

4283

147 South Dock

682

1,281

653

342

328

105

1,281

4672

161 Wood Quay A

77

304

372

334

368

231

859

2545

162 Wood Quay B

383

821

572

387

333

111

864

3471

Total

14,831

26,071

12,486

6,960

6,069

2,295

24,037

92,749

Private dwellings in permanent housing units in Revised Dublin South East, classified by period in which built

DED

Before 1919

1919 to 1940

1941 to 1960

1961 to 1970

1971 to 1980

1981 to 1990

1991 to 1995

1996 to 2000

2001 or later

Not stated

Total

117 Mansion House A

148

317

131

28

55

117

168

249

44

280

1,537

118 Mansion House B

101

6

6

7

9

8

5

5

10

34

191

125 Pembroke East A

382

283

241

22

196

138

107

144

235

122

1,870

126 Pembroke East B

364

260

183

49

100

141

25

29

42

93

1,286

127 Pembroke East C

253

277

107

65

157

327

59

52

28

144

1,469

128 Pembroke East D

160

106

339

105

146

210

77

83

30

190

1,446

129 Pembroke East E

244

125

117

83

116

231

168

78

33

126

1,321

130 Pembroke West A

635

325

68

27

21

60

120

70

373

160

1,859

131 Pembroke West B

412

89

37

46

72

67

106

94

27

142

1,092

132 Pembroke West C

637

58

123

112

191

192

71

28

17

219

1,648

133 Rathfarnham

364

240

101

63

91

396

87

46

180

123

1,691

134 Rathmines East A

658

113

49

80

136

278

106

46

47

325

1,838

135 Rathmines East B

432

284

88

49

128

249

188

186

323

196

2,123

136 Rathmines East C

596

185

121

56

83

79

23

16

11

146

1,316

137 Rathmines East D

513

203

111

55

32

30

26

8

18

201

1,197

138 Rathmines West A

924

289

230

96

60

99

111

124

150

445

2,528

139 Rathmines West B

675

128

59

56

50

112

115

70

55

275

1,595

140 Rathmines West C

390

120

50

28

54

187

22

10

26

240

1,127

141 Rathmines West D

540

169

73

79

62

175

43

27

49

211

1,428

142 Rathmines West E

659

155

70

45

67

65

59

34

50

257

1,461

143 Rathmines West F

583

116

46

35

95

71

33

24

56

204

1,263

144 Royal Exchange A

149

27

87

40

28

88

164

222

148

278

1,231

145 Royal Exchange B

32

60

80

81

50

20

61

18

9

127

538

146 St. Kevin’s

727

60

79

109

32

64

126

177

133

208

1,715

147 South Dock

246

48

93

134

95

184

257

455

425

247

2,184

161 Wood Quay A

422

171

78

9

42

60

109

57

53

140

1,141

162 Wood Quay B

1,031

186

85

48

51

37

14

15

47

227

1,741

Total

12,277

4,400

2,852

1,607

2,219

3,685

2,450

2,367

2,619

5,360

39,836

Oireachtas Reform

David Stanton

Question:

103 Deputy David Stanton asked the Taoiseach further to Parliamentary Question No. 94 of 29 June 2010, if he intends to publish the Government proposals on Dáil reform; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29779/10]

The proposals agreed at Government were brought before the relevant forum of the Dáil Committee on Procedure and Privileges Sub-Committee on Dáil Reform. Work is ongoing with the various Party representatives on this Sub-Committee with a view to achieving the highest possible level of cross-party consensus in relation to proposals for the reform of Dáil procedures.

I do not believe that publication of the Government's proposals at this point in time would in any way help to expedite the achievement of that consensus.

Demographic Trends

Richard Bruton

Question:

104 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Taoiseach if he will indicate the level of emigration in each period between censuses since 1911. [29822/10]

The information requested by the Deputy is contained in the following table. Net migration is derived as the difference between the population change and natural increase (births less deaths) for each of the intercensal periods since 1911. Immigration and emigration were only separately estimated from 1986 onwards.

Average annual births, deaths, natural increase and estimated net migration for each intercensal period, 1911-2006

Period

Births

Deaths

Natural increase

Change in population

Estimated net migration

Estimated immigration

Estimated emigration

1911 – 1926

65

49

16

-11

-27

1926 – 1936

58

42

16

0

-17

1936 – 1946

60

43

17

-1

-19

1946 – 1951

66

40

26

1

-24

1951 – 1956

63

36

27

-12

-39

1956 – 1961

61

34

26

-16

-42

1961 – 1966

63

33

29

13

-16

1966 – 1971

63

33

30

19

-11

1971 – 1979

69

33

35

49

14

1979 – 1981

73

33

40

38

-3

1981 – 1986

67

33

34

19

-14

1986 – 1991

56

32

24

-3

-27

26

53

1991 – 1996

50

31

18

20

2

35

34

1996 – 2002

54

31

23

49

26

53

27

2002 – 2006

61

28

33

81

48

78

30

Departmental Procurement

Terence Flanagan

Question:

105 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Taoiseach if he will deal with a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30059/10]

My Department has not sent any printing jobs abroad in the last 12 months.

Consumer Protection

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

106 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation his views regarding the EU Commission proposal C(2010) 3021 for the use of a harmonised methodology for classifying and reporting consumer complaints and queries; his further views on whether agencies and regulators under the auspices of his Department should adopt these proposals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29483/10]

Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 October 2004 on cooperation between national authorities responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection laws was transposed into Irish law by Statutory Instruments No. 290 of 2006 and No. 316 of 2008. My Department coordinates the national response to the Commission's requests for information in respect of this Regulation.

Article 16 of the Regulation specifically mandates the Commission to work with the Member States, in the context of the work of the Committee set up under this Regulation, to develop a common classification for reporting consumer complaints and enquiries, which they will use to inform future policy decisions. On 12 May 2010, the EU Commission issued two documents on this issue: 2010 Document C(2010) 3021 and document SEC(2010) 572. The latter contains very detailed specifications in regard to a harmonised methodology for classifying and reporting consumer complaints and enquires across a broad range of sectors. The Commission has requested my Department to use this methodology in reporting consumer complaints and enquiries for 2009. My Department is currently in contact with all relevant stakeholders in this regard.

National Standards Audits

Willie O'Dea

Question:

107 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation if his attention has been drawn to the difficulties of contractors and suppliers of home insulation receiving an audit from the National Standards Authority of Ireland; if his further attention has been drawn to the number of external insulation contractors currently awaiting an audit and the measures he proposes to take in conjunction with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland to deal with this backlog; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30101/10]

I am advised that the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) is running a grant scheme called the "home energy savings scheme" which gives grants to homeowners to upgrade the thermal performance of their homes. Two of the methods that can achieve this are insulating the external wall using external insulation and/or full fill cavity insulation.

The National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI), operates certified installer schemes for contractors to allow them to offer services in accordance with the home energy savings scheme. In total, the NSAI currently has 3 installer schemes: Full Fill Cavity Wall Insulation (262 registered installers); Blown Loft Insulation (10 registered installers); External Insulation (34 registered installers). NSAI has established these schemes where the quality of installation and workmanship is critical to the performance of the system/product. The schemes are focused on the verification of the competence of the installers and ensuring that they have a quality system in place.

An additional 125 applications are awaiting an audit. I am advised that all of these outstanding applications are for registration on the external insulation installer scheme. Of the 125 contractors waiting to be audited 78 have been contacted to arrange a suitable date for an audit.

Redundancy Payments

Olwyn Enright

Question:

108 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation further to Parliamentary Question No. 60 of 27 May, 2010, if he will confirm when payment will issue to a person (details supplied) who was made redundant in November 2009 and has not yet received their statutory redundancy payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29207/10]

Olwyn Enright

Question:

109 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation further to Parliamentary Question No. 29 of 2 June, 2010, if he will confirm when payment will issue to a person (details supplied) who was made redundant in November 2009 and has not yet received their statutory redundancy payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29208/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 108 and 109 together.

My Department administers the Social Insurance Fund (SIF) in relation to redundancy matters on behalf of the Department of Social Protection. 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 statutory redundancy lump sum claims on 25 March, 2010 in respect of the individuals concerned. These claims await processing. In respect of redundancy lump sum payments paid directly to employees, such as in this instance, the Section is, in general, processing claims dating from November 2009.

In relation to Redundancy claims, the scale of the challenge is evident from the statistics that show incoming redundancy claims in 2009 amounted to 77,001 which represents a threefold increase over the level of claims lodged in 2007 and earlier years. In 2007, claims received were of the order of 25,000. Efforts continue to be made by my Department to deliver more acceptable turnaround processing times for Redundancy payments given the difficulties that this gives rise to for both individual employees and the business community. Measures already taken in the Department in 2009 to alleviate the pressures on the Payments area include:

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

Prioritisation of the Department's overtime budget towards staff in the Section to tackle the backlog outside normal hours;

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

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

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

The backlog and waiting times remain at unacceptable levels. However, improvements are evident. I should point out that my Department has, in 2009, processed 50,664 claims, up 70% on 2008. In the period 1 January 2010 to 30 June 2010 new claims amounted to 33,876 — a fall off of 20% on the corresponding 6 month period in 2009 when 42,323 new claims were lodged. The reduction in incoming claims is most welcome. Inroads are being made in the backlog of claims reducing from 42,591 in December 2009 to a level of 33,729 at end June 2010. In the first six months of 2010, 40,527 claims were processed, up 115% on the same period last year.

Responsibility for the payment functions arising under the Redundancy and Insolvency payment schemes is due to be transferred to the Department of Social Protection with effect from 1 January 2011. In transferring the functions between Departments, it is the intention that this will operate seamlessly and without any adverse impact on the service levels being experienced by individuals or the business community awaiting payment of redundancy claims.

International Trade

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

110 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the total value of imports from Israel in 2009; the portion of those imports that were entitled to preferential duty; if those imports which did not get preferential duty were produce from settlements illegal under international law; and the percentage of these which did not get a preferential tariff. [29273/10]

In 2009 Ireland imported goods from Israel to the value of €82.5 million. In addition, services imports from that country for 2008, the last year for which data are available, were valued at €75 million.

I understand that a preferential customs status applies for certain goods traded between the EU and Israel but that goods exported from illegal Israeli settlements cannot benefit from these preferential rates. However, it is the Revenue Commissioners Customs Service that is the competent Irish Authority to implement rules of origin controls on imports of goods into Ireland and to apply the appropriate tariff duties. My Department has no function in regard to these matters.

Redundancy Payments

Denis Naughten

Question:

111 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation further to Parliamentary Question No. 174 of 20 April 2010, if he will provide an update; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29381/10]

My Department administers the Social Insurance Fund (SIF) in relation to both the Redundancy and Insolvency Payments Schemes on behalf of the Department of Social Protection. As I advised the Deputy in previous replies, I can confirm that my Department has received claims for the former employees of the company concerned under both Schemes.

In relation to the Redundancy Payments Scheme 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 payable to employees whose employers are insolvent and/or in receivership/liquidation. I can advise the Deputy that payment issued on 14 June 2010 in respect of six statutory redundancy lump sum claims received in my Department over the period October/November 2009 for the former employees of the company concerned.

In relation to the claims under the Insolvency Payments Scheme, my Department received applications from the liquidator in respect of holiday pay for 11 former employees of this company in the period November 2009 to April 2010. These claims have been processed by the Insolvency Payments Unit and payments issued in respect of eligible claims in May 2010.

Consumer Protection

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

112 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation his views on the recent proposals by the EU Commission concerning the consumer rights directive, in particular the proposal to adopt a mixed harmonised approach distinguishing between contracts concluded face to face and, on the other hand, contracts concluded at a distance and off premises; if his attention has been drawn to the concerns of consumer groups regarding such proposals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29457/10]

I would like first to clarify that there has been no formal proposal from the European Commission for a mixed harmonisation approach to the proposed Consumer Rights Directive under which a distinction would be made between, on the one hand, on-premises contracts and, on the other, distance and off-premises contracts.

In an address to the European Consumer Day Conference on 15 March 2010, Vice-President Viviane Reding, who took over responsibility for the proposed Directive in February 2010, acknowledged the concerns among member states, consumer organisations and members of the European Parliament that full harmonisation of all aspects of the proposal might reduce the level of consumer protection in some member states and curtail the ability of national legislatures to react quickly and appropriately to new market developments. She indicated that, in the light of these concerns, she would look at whether the level of harmonisation in the proposed Directive was sufficiently targeted towards those issues that would have most benefit from a Single Market point of view. She added that ‘a possibility' in this context ‘could be to go for fully harmonised rules on distance contracts and allow diverging national rules for face-to-face contracts.'

While Vice-President Reding has restated her willingness to take a flexible approach to future discussions on the proposed Directive, her more recent remarks have signalled something of a shift from the previous suggestion that different levels of harmonisation might apply to different types of contracts. In an address to the 2nd Consumer Rights Forum on 2 June 2010, she stated that a distinction between distance and off-premises contracts on the one hand and on-premises contracts on the other was ‘less helpful' in the areas of remedies and guarantees for faulty goods and of unfair contract terms. In the area of pre-contractual information requirements for consumers, she appeared to suggest that the proposed Directive might retain fully harmonised rules for distance and off-premises contracts as these were the types of transaction for which the single market case was strongest. In the case of information requirements for on-premises contracts, however, it ‘could be appropriate to allow Member States to keep their current rules' rather than to have Community rules that would apply on a minimum harmonisation basis.

The comments and suggestions from Vice-President Reding should be viewed in the context of the fluid and complex character of the discussions and perspectives on the proposed Directive. If agreement is to be reached on the proposal, all sides will have to show flexibility and a willingness to consider new approaches while upholding a commitment to the maintenance of a high level of consumer protection.

I am not aware of any specific concerns expressed by consumer groups at suggestions that a mixed harmonisation approach might be taken to the proposed Directive. As consumer groups had previously expressed concern at the across-the-board application of full harmonisation to the proposal, it is not implausible that some may have taken encouragement from the signs of greater flexibility on the issue.

Industrial Properties

Sean Sherlock

Question:

113 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the position regarding a site (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29604/10]

In 2005, IDA Ireland identified a site of approximately 54 hectares of land in Carrigtwohill East as suitable for development and acquired it. Amgen subsequently entered into contracts to purchase the entire holding from IDA and, in 2006, applied for Planning Permission for a Bulk Manufacturing facility and associated works. Site ground works commenced in late 2006. The terms of the agreement, between IDA and Amgen included a provision for the reversion of the beneficial interest in the site to IDA in the event of the project not proceeding and this occurred formally in January 2010.

In October, 2007, Amgen announced a postponement of its Cork Project. At that time Amgen gave an undertaking to maintain the site in a good secure manner in order to protect the asset and maintain good local community relations. An assessment of its business needs has led Amgen to conclude that it no longer wishes to proceed with the project. In keeping with the terms of the original agreement, ownership of the Carrigtwohill site has now reverted to IDA Ireland. IDA Ireland will continue to market this Strategic Site and the Cork City Gateway. Since 2007 there have been 35 IDA supported announcements with in excess of 3,000 jobs and over €728 million total investments agreed and announced for the South West.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

114 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation his plans for the vacant Industrial Development Authority units in Youghal, County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30072/10]

The day-to-day management of IDA Ireland's industrial property portfolio is an operational matter for the agency and not one in which I have a function. I am informed by IDA Ireland that the Agency has two industrial estates in Youghal, namely Foxhole and Springfield. There are no buildings in IDA ownership in either estate. There was one building in IDA ownership on the Foxhole estate, which was disposed of by the agency in 2009. There were two advance units on the Springfield estate, which IDA disposed of in 1987 and 1996 respectively. IDA Ireland will continue to provide details of the properties in Youghal to prospective investors, however the final decision as to where to locate lies with the investor.

Departmental Procurement

Terence Flanagan

Question:

115 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation if he will deal with a matter (details supplied). [30794/10]

My Department and the Offices of my Department rely on the National Procurement Service of the Office of Public Works for the tendering and procurement of printing services. This service is provided principally by means of drawdown contracts, which sets out prices, terms and conditions under which supplies are delivered. My Department and the Offices of my Department obtain their supplies of printed file covers from Enterprise Stationery Limited of Lurgan, Co Armagh, which was awarded the contract to provide this service by the National Procurement Service. During 2009 and to date in 2010 my Department and the Offices of my Department have paid €13,000 to Enterprise Stationery Limited. All other printing jobs for my Department and the Offices of my Department in 2009, which amounted to €294,870, were awarded to companies based in the State.

I have no information or function in regards to the arrangements made by other Government Departments for the procurement of printing services.

Mortgage Lending

Phil Hogan

Question:

116 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Finance his views on the role that mortgage indemnity insurance can play in the future housing market; his further views on whether it can assist in reducing risk and exposure for high loan-to-value lending; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29252/10]

Phil Hogan

Question:

125 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Finance his views on the wider use of credit risk mitigants, such as mortgage indemnity insurance, as a mandatory requirement for the underwriting of high loan-to-value loans in the context of new regulatory requirements for future mortgage lending; if his attention has been drawn to the positive and constructive impact of mortgage indemnity insurance in other jurisdictions in terms of reducing both the capital risk arising from negative equity and the consequent exposure for customers; the steps he is taking to investigate the potential benefits of mortgage indemnity insurance in the context of preparing a prudent regulatory structure for the future mortgage. [29251/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 116 and 125 together.

Mortgage indemnity insurance products allow lenders to reduce their exposure in the event of a default. They provide protection, typically, to the lender and not the borrower. As against this, they would reduce the systemic risk of high loan to value loans. Like other insurance products, they have a premium so making such insurance mandatory imposes an additional cost which is likely to ultimately fall on the borrower. I would expect that the role of such credit risk mitigants in the mortgage market going forward will be considered by the Expert Group on Mortgage Arrears and Personal Debt in the next phase of their work.

Tax Code

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

117 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance if he has received a submission from the solid fuel trade group in respect of the impact of carbon tax in view of the country’s economic position; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29315/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

119 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance if he has received a submission from the solid fuel trade group in respect of the impact of carbon tax in view of the country’s economic position; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29864/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 117 and 119 together.

I can confirm that my Department has received many submissions in respect of the carbon tax including from the Solid Fuel Trade Group. I am happy to outline to the Deputy the current situation on the implementation of the carbon tax, at a rate of €15 per tonne, which I announced in the Budget last December. The first phase involved the carbon tax being applied to transport fuels, petrol and auto-diesel, from Budget night onwards, ie, December 10, 2009. The second phase came into effect from 1 May 2010 with the carbon tax applying to kerosene, marked gas oil (also known as ‘green diesel' or ‘agricultural diesel'), liquid petroleum gas (LPG), fuel oil and natural gas. The third and final phase involves the application of the tax to coal and commercial peat, which is subject to a Ministerial Commencement Order.

Solid fuels are subject to a commencement order so as to allow time for issues such as fuel poverty and the sourcing of coal of a lower environmental standard from Northern Ireland to be addressed. In the context of preparing for the final phase of the application of the carbon tax the views of the Solid Fuel Trade Group are being considered and indeed meetings have taken place with the relevant Government Departments in this area.

Architectural Heritage

Denis Naughten

Question:

118 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 420 of 23 June 2009 if he will provide an update; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29419/10]

Following the fencing of the site at Rathcrogan, the Office of Public Works now has a grazing regime in place. The OPW is in close contact with Cruachain Aí Visitor Centre in Tulsk on the matter of provision of literature on the site and guided tours. It is intended that invitations to tender for the provision of information panels on the site will be issued shortly.

Question No. 119 answered with Question No. 117.

Tax Code

Brendan Kenneally

Question:

120 Deputy Brendan Kenneally asked the Minister for Finance when a stamp duty refund will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Waterford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29980/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the application for refund was furnished in November 2009 but, because of the requirement to furnish supporting evidence and delays in the re-submission of the application under the new stamping system introduced in December 2009, the application was not considered until May 2010. Revenue regrets the delay in processing the application, but can confirm that its examination of the case is now completed and it is in the process of advising the applicant of the outcome.

Environmental Policy

Sean Sherlock

Question:

121 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Finance when the working group on the Haulbowline site in Cobh, County Cork, will be established; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30018/10]

In April of this year, the Office of Public Works chaired the first meeting of the Working Group tasked with developing a structured and coherent approach to the further management and development of the former Irish ISPAT site in Haulbowline. The members of this group comprises, in the first instance, representatives from the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, the Department of Defence, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation and the Department of Finance. The Working Group is currently in session and it is envisaged that a report will be ready for Government before year end.

Consultancy Contracts

Terence Flanagan

Question:

122 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance if he will deal with a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30059/10]

In general, it is national policy to advertise public contracts, to invite tenders and award contracts in a process that is transparent and achieves best value for money. Under EU rules, contracts for supplies and services above certain thresholds must be advertised EU wide. The thresholds are currently €125,000 for the Central Government sector and €193,000 for most other authorities. It would be a breach of the rules for a public body to favour or discriminate against particular candidates on grounds of nationality and there are legal sanctions which may be used against any public body infringing these rules.

The Government recognises the important business opportunities that public service contracts represent for business enterprises and encourages participation to the greatest extent possible. My Department has been examining issues impacting on the small and medium business sector in the current public procurement market and, in consultation with the recently established National Procurement Service within the Office of Public Works, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and other stakeholders in the public procurement market, has developed guidance for contracting authorities on measures to facilitate SME participation in the public procurement market. This will be issued shortly.

Fiscal Policy

Tom Hayes

Question:

123 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding a person (details supplied) in Co. Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29190/10]

As the Deputy is aware, it is not the usual practice to comment on any possible changes in taxation prior to the annual Budget.

Tax Code

Joan Burton

Question:

124 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the likely full year cost to the Exchequer of reducing the rate of VAT charged on non-oral medicines to 13.5%, 5% and 0% respectively; if such reductions are permissible under EU legislation; the reason non-oral medicines continue to attract the standard rate VAT charge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29214/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the full year cost to the Exchequer of reducing the rate of VAT charged on non-oral medicines from the current rate of 21% to 13.5%, 5% and the zero rate is estimated to be €30 million, €64 million and €83 million respectively. As the Deputy will be aware, Member States must apply a standard rate of VAT, and may opt to also apply one or two reduced rates of VAT to certain goods and services listed in Annex III of the EU VAT Directive. In addition, where a Member State applied a zero rate or reduced rate to specific goods or services on 1 January 1991, they may retain that system. However, no other items may be charged at the zero rate, or items outside of those listed in Annex III at a reduced rate, where they had not been subject to the reduced or zero rate before 1991. In this context, Annex III permits Member States to apply a reduced rate to certain pharmaceutical products, of between 5% and 15%, and this applies to non-oral medicines. However, as the zero rate did not apply to non-oral medicines on 1 January 1991, they cannot legally apply at that rate.

In Ireland the zero VAT rate applies to oral medicines, as it was in place prior to 1 January 1991. The standard VAT rate of 21% applies to non-oral medicines, as it does to the majority of all goods and services in the State. The standard rate of VAT is applied to non-oral medicines in view of the cost involved in applying a reduced rate. The application of a reduced rate to such medicines would also lead to calls for other goods and services to be charged at a reduced rate.

Question No. 125 answered with Question No. 116.

Israeli Imports

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

126 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Finance the total value of imports from Israel in 2009; the portion of those imports that were entitled to preferential duty; if those imports which did not get preferential duty were produce from settlements illegal under international law; and the percentage of these which did not get a preferential tariff. [29274/10]

According to data published by the Central Statistics Office, Ireland imported merchandise goods to the value of €82.3 million from Israel in 2009. Slightly over 40% received preferential treatment. While the remainder did not qualify for preferential treatment, it does not mean the goods were produced in illegal settlements since a large quantity of goods in this category have a zero rate of duty and there is no preferential status to claim in respect of zero rate of duty goods.

Financial Services Regulation

Joan Burton

Question:

127 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the number of loan refusals that have been referred to the Credit Review Office to date; the number of same that have been processed; the number processed that have resulted in an unfavourable review; the number of cases in which the original loan refusal was upheld as being justified; if he received an analysis from the Credit Review Office of its activities to date; if so, when he will publish this analysis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29318/10]

I recently received the first quarterly from the Credit Reviewer, Mr. John Trethowan. This report includes, amongst other things, the information which the Deputy has sought in the parliamentary question. I can confirm that numbers of reviews to date are quite low. I intend bringing the report to Government and will lay it before the House as soon as possible after that. I will ensure that a personal copy is provided to the Deputy at that stage.

Banking Sector Regulation

Joan Burton

Question:

128 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance when he expects the EU Commission to issue its decision on the restructuring plans of banks (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29319/10]

As the Deputy is aware, the following institutions were required under state aid rules to submit restructuring plans following receipt of state aid and the plans were submitted on the following dates:

Bank of Ireland Plan — 30 September 2009,

Allied Irish Banks Plan — 13 November 2009

Anglo Irish Bank Plan — 30 November 2009

EBS plan — 31 May 2010

INBS plan — 22 June.

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

Joan Burton

Question:

129 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance if it is envisaged that the dividend rate of the preference shares held by the National Pensions Reserve Fund in Allied Irish Banks will be revised upwards, as happened recently with its preference share holding in Bank of Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29320/10]

The Financial Regulator has determined that AIB must raise additional equity capital of at least €7.4 billion by the end of the year to meet the new base case capital standards. As the first step in meeting its capital needs AIB has commenced the process of sale of overseas assets. The disposal proceeds will provide significant capital but will not be sufficient to address the full requirement. To the extent that the gap is not filled by the private sector the State is willing to convert some or all of its preference shares as required on terms to be agreed that will provide full value for the State. Accordingly, I am not in a position at this stage to say how the dividend rate on the State's preference share investment in the bank will be affected.

Fiscal Policy

Joan Burton

Question:

130 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 94 of 17 June 2010, the number of cost benefit analyses that have been carried out since 2006 on major tax expenditure schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29321/10]

The Deputy will be aware that the following reviews were carried out in 2005 and 2006 as follows (1) Indecon Review of Property-based Tax Incentive Schemes; (2) Goodbody Review of Area-Based Tax Incentive Schemes and (3) an Internal Review of Certain Tax Schemes by the Department of Finance. Furthermore Goodbody Economic Consultants carried out a review of the Proposed Shannon Corridor Tourism Infrastructure Scheme in 2006. The Deputy will also be aware that my Department has recently completed a Report on a cost-benefit analysis of Tax Expenditures provided for in Finance Act 2010, setting out the costs of the tax forgone, and the benefits in terms of job creation or otherwise.

The focus in recent years has been, in line with the recommendations of the Commission on Taxation to further restrict and where appropriate terminate major tax expenditures. All expenditure projects are subject to in depth analysis, consultation with key stakeholders, and a rigorous examination at the introductory stage. My Department monitors large expenditure projects and regularly carries out reviews.

Tax Code

Niall Collins

Question:

131 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance the amount of stud fees earned and exempted from taxation from both stallions and greyhounds analysed separately for the years 2004 to 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29331/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the relevant information available on the amount of stud fees exempted from taxation from both stallions and greyhounds is based on personal income tax returns filed by non-PAYE taxpayers and corporation tax returns filed by companies for the years 2004 to 2008, the latest year for which it is available. These are set out in the following table:

Exemption

Year

Amount Claimed

€m

Stallion Stud Fees

2004

28.7

Stallion Stud Fees

2005

51.8

Stallion Stud Fees

2006

90.7

Stallion Stud Fees

2007

59.6

Stallion Stud Fees

2008

91.4

Greyhound Stud Fees

2004

0.4

Greyhound Stud Fees

2005

0.6

Greyhound Stud Fees

2006

0.4

Greyhound Stud Fees

2007

0.4

Greyhound Stud Fees

2008

0.0

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

The figures for 2008 are subject to adjustment in the event of late returns being filed or where returns already filed are subsequently amended.

It should be noted that the tax exemption for stallion and greyhound stud fees ceased to apply in relation to any profits or gains arising on or after 1 August 2008.

Tax Collection

Mary O'Rourke

Question:

132 Deputy Mary O’Rourke asked the Minister for Finance the percentage of the Judiciary now paying the levy; if he will name those who have paid and those who have not paid. [29343/10]

The Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009 does not apply to the Judiciary for constitutional reasons. However, arrangements were put in place on an administrative basis between the Chief Justice and the Revenue Commissioners in April 2009 to facilitate voluntary payments by members of the Judiciary in the context of the pension related deduction scheme. I have no function in relation to those arrangements. However, I understand that information in relation to the voluntary payments in 2009 was published in Revenue's Annual Report for that year. This showed that by 31 December 2009, 109 Judges had paid, or made arrangements to make voluntary payments, under these arrangements. The Annual Report also showed that payments amounting to just over €652,000 had been received by the Commissioners by that date. In addition, commitments via standing orders, etc, which amounted to €56,800 per month, had been given. I am further informed by the Revenue Commissioners that arrangements with individual judges are personal information and are confidential. The Deputy may be aware that Section 161 of the Finance Act 2010 replaced the administrative arrangements mentioned above by providing for a voluntary scheme which enables members of the Judiciary to make a gift to the State of an equivalent amount to the pension related deduction imposed on State employees under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009. Subsection (8) of that Section specifically provides that:

"(8) The Revenue Commissioners shall publish for each year of assessment only details of the number of donors who avail of this scheme in the year, and the aggregate amounts gifted for the year".

The Deputy will appreciate that in view of this provision, personal information such as names cannot be published and neither can information in respect of voluntary payments in 2010 under the Section 161 arrangements be published at this stage, but I understand from the Revenue Commissioners that it is their intention to publish aggregate information in accordance with section 161(8) after the end of the year of assessment.

Joan Burton

Question:

133 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the events which led to the acceptance between 1 January 2010 and 31 March 2010 by the Revenue Commissioners of a settlement from Donegal County Council in the sum of €799,928, of which € 547,775 in respect of the underdeclaration of PAYE and PRSI and €252,153 in respect of interest and penalties; the number of instances of tax settlements and the amount of money in each case, involving a local authority, State or semi-State authority there have been in each of the past five years to date in 2010; the schedule of all such settlements; the steps that have been taken to ensure that this does not re-occur in future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29350/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that for reasons of taxpayer confidentiality, they do not comment or provide details on individual cases except as provided for by law. The settlement of €799,928 paid by Donegal County Council arising from a Revenue audit was published in Iris Oifigiúil in respect of the period beginning on 1 January 2010 and ending on 31 March 2010. The settlement was made in respect of an under-declaration of PAYE/PRSI and comprised the payment of tax in the amount of €547,775 and the payment of interest and penalties in the amount of €252,153.

I am also advised by the Revenue Commissioners that information in relation to tax settlements is not maintained separately for local authorities, State or semi-State authorities. As I advised the Deputy when replying to a number of similar questions recently, the Revenue Commissioners maintain sectoral audit records on the basis of an internationally recognised 4 digit NACE Code system. NACE code classifications in tax records are compiled by reference to the primary area of economic activity reported by individual and corporate taxpayers on their own behalf. While the accuracy of the NACE codes on tax records is sufficient to underpin broad sector-based analyses there will undoubtedly be some inaccuracies at individual level. This should be borne in mind when considering the information provided as follows: The Commissioners have identified the following codes to be the most relevant to the Deputy's questions: 7511 — General (overall) public service activities; 7512 — Regulation of the activities of agencies that provide health care, education, cultural services and other social services, excluding social security; 8511 — Hospital activities; 8514 — Other human health activities. The first two codes cover many Government Departments as well as other Government Agencies.

Furthermore, the Commissioners have advised me that they have attempted to exclude obvious private sector bodies, which are also included in those NACE Codes because of the activities they are engaged in. On that basis, the following information may be helpful:

Table 1: Audit Results

Category

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010 (to March)

Total Number of Audits

20

36

26

9

4

Number yielding

15

28

21

7

4

Tax*

€1,043,571

€3,601,000

€1,696,000

€99,000

€576,000

Interest

€524,225

€406,000

€140,000

€6,000

€91,000

Penalties

€240,100

€246,000

€82,000

€17,000

€168,000

Total Yield

€1,807,896

€4,253,000

€1,918,000

€122,000

€835,000

Number Nil yielding

5

8

5

2

*A breakdown on a tax head basis is not available without conducting an extensive investigation of the individual audit records of the cases.

A similar breakdown is not available for years prior to 2006 as this information was not held in a similar format and is not easily accessible at this stage.

Where material issues, giving rise to tax undercharges, arise in the course of an audit, Revenue will pursue payments for interest and penalties. Where it is clear that a taxpayer has broadly done their best to ensure that the tax returns for the various taxes are accurate, adjustments are not made for small inaccuracies.

Revenue also informs me that, as well as audits, it carries out a range of assurance checks to supplement general audit activity. All such interventions are initiated with the intention of assuring Revenue, without recourse to a resource intensive audit or enforcement activity, that the customer is broadly compliant for the taxes and duties, which are the subject of the intervention. Over 350,000 such checks were carried out in 2009 and would have included public bodies. Due to the volume of these assurance checks, they are not recorded by sector.

The Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies is very clear as to the standard of tax compliance expected from such bodies. The following is a quotation taken directly from the Code: "State bodies should be exemplary in their compliance with taxation laws and should ensure that all tax liabilities are paid on time on or before the relevant due dates."

The Revenue Commissioners inform me that they have emphasised these requirements on many occasions. Most recently, the Chairman of the Revenue Commissioners personally wrote to the Secretaries General of all Government Departments highlighting the subject of tax compliance in the context of the corporate governance responsibilities of Departments and their Agencies / Public Bodies in the exercise of their official duties. She advised that tax compliance is a matter that should be part of the corporate governance framework and, in particular, the risk management processes of these organisations. Revenue supplied information on the common issues that arise for Public Bodies under all tax heads.

At a local level, Revenue Districts have engaged proactively with public bodies in advising them of their tax and duty obligations. Revenue officials have made presentations to the Heads of Finance of Government Departments and the Finance Officers of Local Authorities at which tax compliance matters were discussed and contact points given to be used if further tax information or clarification was required.

The Deputy may also be interested to know that Revenue is working closely with representatives (generally finance managers) of County and City managers to support compliance ab initio in relation to the introduction of VAT to Local Authorities from 1 July 2010. As part of this communication initiative, wide ranging discussions have taken place on general tax and duty compliance issues.

National Conference Centre

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

134 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance when the first payment for the Convention Centre, Dublin, is due to Treasury Holdings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29359/10]

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

135 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance the agreed annual payment due to Treasury Holdings in respect of the Conference Centre; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29363/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 134 and 135 together.

The Contract for the National Conference Centre project, now known as the Convention Centre Dublin, was awarded to the Spencer Dock Convention Centre Dublin Ltd (SDCCD) Consortium. The first payment to SDCCD is due from August 2010 and the annual payment will be approximately €47m a year for years 1-5 and approximately €23.9m a year from years 6-25.

Garda Stations

Denis Naughten

Question:

136 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 122 of 11 May 2010, the position regarding this project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29387/10]

Tenders for construction and refurbishment works at Clonark Garda Station have been received and are being evaluated by the Office of Public Works. Subject to a satisfactory outcome to the evaluation process, it is anticipated that a contract will be placed within the coming weeks.

Tax Collection

Richard Bruton

Question:

137 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance his views on making it compulsory for capital acquisitions tax to be filed on-line; the consideration given to those without Internet or computer access; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29400/10]

The Deputy will be aware that Finance Act 2010 introduced significant changes to modernise and simplify the probate process and Capital Acquisitions Tax (CAT). One of the key changes is to the filing of CAT returns (Forms IT38). A new simplified paper form has been developed and may be used where the following conditions are met:

no relief/exemption/credit is claimed, apart from the small gift exemption;

the benefit taken is an absolute interest without conditions or restrictions; and

the property included in the return was taken from only one disponer (that is, the person making the gift or leaving the inheritance) and is not part of a larger benefit.

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that about 75% of all inheritance tax cases are non-taxable. Of the taxable inheritances, it is estimated that the new simplified return can be used in about 25% of cases. Where any other relief/exemption/credit is being claimed, the return must be filed electronically through Revenue's On-line Service (ROS). Returns through ROS may be made by the taxpayer or by a practitioner (for example, a solicitor or accountant) acting on his or her behalf. Reliefs from CAT can be very significant; for example, agricultural and business property reliefs can reduce the taxable values by 90% and dwelling house relief gives a full exemption.

CAT is also one of the more complex taxes resulting in many calculations and potential adjustments. Online filing and calculation reduces the scope for error and miscalculation. The online form is relatively simple and quick to complete as only questions that are pertinent to the return are presented for answers. As information is entered, the system progressively customises the return screens that have to be completed, thus minimising the number of screens and options presented.

Furthermore, the 2009 Report of the Commission on Taxation recommended that where data on "tax expenditures" are required to facilitate evaluation and cost-benefit analysis, taxpayers availing of the tax reliefs should be required to e-file their tax returns. The opportunity was taken to implement the Commission's recommendation for CAT as part of the modernisation and simplification changes.

In summary, the CAT modernisation process has provided a much simpler paper system for 25% of cases, and in cases where electronic filing is mandatory, I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that it would be very unusual for a person claiming the more complex reliefs not to be represented by a practitioner. If an individual taxpayer in the more complex cases is not using a practitioner and has genuine capacity difficulties in relation to online filing, that individual can contact Revenue directly to discuss his or her individual circumstances and will be facilitated as far as possible.

Flood Relief

Denis Naughten

Question:

138 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 144 of 27 April 2010, if he will provide an update; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29412/10]

Following an assessment of the applications submitted by Roscommon County Council under the scheme in question, a total of €888,120 has been allocated to the Council in respect of minor flood mitigation works and studies to be carried out at eleven locations during 2010. This funding is in addition to an amount of €113,923 allocated to the Council for works and studies commenced in 2009 at five locations. The total estimated cost of applications received to date in 2010 from all Local Authorities under the scheme is €26,257,494. As indicated previously, it is open to local authorities to submit further applications during the year.

Tax Code

Sean Fleming

Question:

139 Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide the stamp duty payable in respect of non first time buyers of both new and second hand houses; the various rates payable depending on value; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29427/10]

The rates of Stamp Duty in respect of non first time buyers of new and second hand houses (including apartments) are set out in the following table.

Consideration/Value

Rate of Duty

First €125,000

Nil

Next €875,000

7%

Excess over €1,000,000

9%

Transactions for residential property, where the consideration (or the aggregate consideration) does not exceed €127,000, are exempt from stamp duty. The purchase of a new house or apartment with a floor area not exceeding 125 square metres is exempt from Stamp Duty where the house or apartment is occupied as the main residence of the purchaser for a period of two years from the date of the purchase.

There is a relief from Stamp Duty in the case of the purchase of a new house or apartment where the floor area exceeds 125 square metres and the house or apartment is occupied as the main residence of the purchaser for a period of two years from the date of the purchase. Under this relief, Stamp Duty at the above rates is charged on the site value or one quarter of the total value of the property (excluding VAT), whichever is the greater. Non-owner occupiers do not qualify for either the exemption or relief from stamp duty for new houses. They are liable to Stamp Duty on the transfer to them of new or second hand residential property at the rates shown above.

Brendan Kenneally

Question:

140 Deputy Brendan Kenneally asked the Minister for Finance the number of persons who availed of the first time buyers exemption from stamp duty this year on a county basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29436/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the necessary basic data are not currently available in such a manner as to provide a basis for compiling the information requested by the Deputy.

Tax Yield

Brendan Kenneally

Question:

141 Deputy Brendan Kenneally asked the Minister for Finance the amount of revenue generated through stamp duty on a county basis to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29437/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the necessary basic data are not currently available in such a manner as to provide a basis for compiling the information requested by the Deputy.

Banking Sector Regulation

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

142 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding customers of a bank (details supplied) who still have money in current and savings accounts of that bank after 23 June 2010 when the retail division of the bank closed; if his officials have been in touch with the bank regarding same; if such issues are covered by legislation or the consumer protection code; if he will ensure that arrangements are in place for consumers to reclaim their money if they wish to do so post 23 June 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29475/10]

The Financial Regulator has advised me of the arrangements that are in place for Halifax current account and savings account customers to reclaim any money owed. As regards closing a current account, Halifax requires written confirmation from the customer either by letter or by completing a closure form. Any credit balances or credit interest due to customers will be returned as part of this account closure. As regards closing savings accounts, Halifax requires written confirmation either by letter or by completing a closure form. On the form customers can elect to receive their funds electronically to another account or by cheque. Halifax has information on its website with regard to how customers should process account closures. The Financial Regulator has been working with Halifax's parent company Bank of Scotland (Ireland) to ensure that consumers' interests are protected in accordance with the Financial Regulator's Consumer Protection Code. As required by the Code all customers were given three months notice of bank closures.

Flood Relief

Frank Fahey

Question:

143 Deputy Frank Fahey asked the Minister for Finance if he has received the report from the Irish Insurance Federation regarding the results of the working group established to examine the flooding issue in November 2009; the details of this report; the extent of the withdrawal of cover from households which were the victims of flooding; the other relevant details from the report; and in the event of the report not being available if he will indicate when he hopes to receive the report from the Irish Insurance Federation. [29493/10]

The background to the Irish Insurance Federation (IIF) working group was a request from my Department for detailed information in relation to the November 2009 flooding. The type of information being sought included amongst other things a list of the locations where insurance companies were having difficulty providing cover as well as an indication of the number of policies they expected not to renew as a result of the flooding. The reply my Department received provided a breakdown of claims on a county basis. It did not identify the specific problem locations. The IIF did indicate however that approximately 98% of those with household insurance currently have flood cover and that its withdrawal at renewal only happens in exceptional cases where there has been repeated flooding.

In order to develop a better understanding of the situation, more detailed information is required. My Department has therefore requested the IIF to provide information on where people are having difficulties in getting flood cover in particular the specific areas/localities. The OPW has also been asked to outline the extent and location of the flooding problems and what is being done to address them. It is hoped that both sets of information will be provided shortly. The purpose of seeking information from both sources is to align them and determine the extent of the current problem, particularly from a flood cover perspective. Such information is necessary as in many cases remedial work may address flooding problems in the short term or over the next number of years thus making flood cover easier to obtain. This research will provide essential information and context to any future policy decisions in relation to the provision of flood cover. Finally, it should be noted that my Department is also examining how other countries deal with the provision of flood cover in such circumstances.

Tax Collection

Leo Varadkar

Question:

144 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance the reason a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15 was taxed on a bonus paid in 2010 on a different basis than those individuals who remained employed by the same company (details supplied); the moneys collected by the Revenue Commissioners in such fashion in 2009 and 2010 to date; the number of individuals to whom this applied; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29499/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that pay (which includes bonus payments) is appropriate to the year that it is earned and the tax to the year it is deducted. For administrative purposes, where an employer makes a payment that refers to a previous year it applies the current tax credits and standard rate cut-off point to the pay. Where the employee is no longer in the employment, the employer deducts the tax by reference to the amount of the employee's tax credits and standard rate cut-off point, had the payment been made on the date the employee ceased to be employed.

The taxpayer in question ceased employment in November 2008 and received the bonus payment in March 2009. In May and June 2010 the taxpayer's final liability was reviewed for the years 2008 and 2009 and PAYE Balancing Statements issued. The bonus payment was appropriated to 2008 and the tax to the year 2009. The tax overpaid in 2009 was offset against the arrears for 2008. I am also informed by the Revenue Commissioners that as income tax on bonus payments is not distinguished on the P35 return from income tax on other employment income, it is not possible for the Revenue Commissioners to provide statistics on the number of recipients of bonus pay or of the tax deducted there from.

Proposed Legislation

Michael Creed

Question:

145 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Finance if he will clarify the situation regarding the proposed changes to the retirement age for public servants; if legislation is required to give effect to raising the retirement age; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29527/10]

As the Deputy may be aware, the Public Service Superannuation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2004 removed the maximum retirement age (the age by which a public servant must retire) for most new entrants to the public service; for staff recruited before 2004, a maximum retirement age of 65 generally applies. Retirement age is different to pension age (the minimum age at which a public servant may draw his or her pension without actuarial reduction). As I announced in Budget 2010, legislation is in preparation which will provide a new single scheme for new entrants to the public service and for the setting of a maximum retirement age of 70 years. The Bill will be introduced later this year.

Tax Code

Dan Neville

Question:

146 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Finance if he will confirm that the Valuation Office calculates the rateable valuation in proportion to the rateable value of the property; if this is the case if he will explain the way valuations could be adjusted in light of the reduction in rent now occurring. [29537/10]

The responsibility for assessing the Rateable Valuations of properties rests with the Commissioner of Valuation under the Valuation Act, 2001. There are two provisions in the legislation governing the assessment of valuations, i.e. revision and revaluation. Revision of valuation is the mechanism used to maintain existing local authority valuations lists. It is used to add new properties to the list, to amend the valuations of altered properties and to remove demolished or defunct properties from the list. The valuations of commercial properties at revision are determined by reference to the values of comparable properties on the same valuation list. That is to say that they are compared with similar type properties in the same local authority area to ensure, in so far as it is possible, that they are all treated equally. Therefore rising or falling property values have no impact on valuations determined at revision.

In a revaluation the entire valuation list for a local authority is brought up-to-date by reference to values at a specific valuation date and the entire list is published on one date (usually 31 December) and comes into effect on 1 January the following year. To-date revaluations have been completed in South Dublin and Fingal County Councils and the revaluation of Dún Laoghaire County Council in nearing completion. The Commissioner of Valuation is responsible for the administration of the Valuation Act and is independent in the exercise of his duties under the act and I as Minister for Finance have no function in decisions in this regard.

Departmental Properties

Question:

147 Deputy Michael P. Kitt asked the Minister for Finance if agreement has been reached to transfer a property (details supplied) in County Galway; when this transfer will take place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29706/10]

The position is that the Office of Public Works has agreed to make the site in question available to Galway County Council, subject to a License Agreement. Matters will be finalised when the legal formalities are completed.

Brian Hayes

Question:

148 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No 130 of 15 June 2010, when a reply will issue. [29746/10]

The annual rent paid on behalf of each Government Department/Office for the period 2007-2009 and to date in 2010 is shown in the following table. The expenditure incurred in 2006 is currently being extracted from a former accounts system. The financial values for 2006 and the information relevant to rent reviews will be made available to the Deputy as soon as the required analysis is completed.

Department

2007

2008

2009

2010

Agriculture & Food

5,544,408.78

5,344,949.36

6,372,464.46

2,278,255.66

Arts, Sports & Tourism

1,006,229.69

1,073,290.49

1,090,403.10

329,286.25

Attorney General

83,456.36

86,015.97

89,730.79

42,730.09

Central Statistics Office

971,728.99

964,181.31

1,222,105.00

289,937.86

Chief State Solicitor’s Office

592,339.93

609,737.01

746,193.18

312,453.86

Communications, Marine & Natural Resources

3,170,021.76

3,197,370.88

4,294,413.15

1,730,322.46

Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs

1,633,027.74

1,783,187.95

2,006,930.98

974,923.19

Comptroller & Auditor General

575,101.71

590,690.66

738,362.66

1,033,707.99

Courts Service

910,183.05

1,029,598.72

1,484,974.58

724,881.86

Defence

443,859.20

417,454.79

562,591.91

271,792.02

DPP

1,074,520.58

1,101,279.16

695,165.42

53,666.15

Education & Science

4,457,493.18

4,472,297.87

4,790,936.79

2,049,333.64

Enterprise, Trade & Employment

5,976,540.40

6,361,653.24

7,769,436.76

3,444,616.06

Environment, Heritage & Local Government

2,261,492.01

2,313,522.97

3,044,088.13

1,274,271.19

Finance

3,049,365.28

3,210,093.79

2,539,916.88

799,568.84

Foreign Affairs

4,879,556.72

5,031,826.81

6,720,650.44

2,388,957.03

Garda

6,378,265.86

7,138,717.41

7,440,734.35

3,474,634.21

Health & Children

1,954,648.81

1,781,942.67

2,042,978.01

986,907.55

HSE

0.00

0.00

277,815.00

234,710.00

Irish Prison Service

872,314.04

776,394.21

703,304.15

269,486.97

Justice, Equality & Law Reform

13,862,247.18

13,828,701.57

18,355,265.89

6,661,740.85

Land Registry & Registry of Deeds

1,395,981.72

1,411,026.40

1,504,212.29

551,563.46

National Gallery

21,970.10

17,579.90

58,239.08

53,789.30

Office of Public Works

2,843,283.65

3,949,189.44

6,360,658.04

265,509.32

Oireachtas

786,043.16

887,278.55

1,215,860.69

744,491.16

Ombudsman

1,095,000.00

1,095,000.00

1,916,250.00

547,500.00

Public Appointments Service

2,093,698.42

2,105,056.08

2,454,020.41

1,221,503.71

Revenue Commissioners

16,712,680.63

19,629,197.75

22,948,844.49

8,642,303.32

Social & Family Affairs

11,465,426.68

12,162,134.25

14,163,741.94

5,534,151.84

Taoiseach

254,623.48

177,856.29

202,703.55

81,081.42

Transport

3,875,409.05

5,249,625.29

5,616,869.95

2,427,185.47

Valuation Office

1,310,000.00

1,310,000.00

1,637,500.00

661,250.00

Tax Code

Sean Fleming

Question:

149 Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Finance if a person (details supplied) in County Laois is in receipt of the correct amount of tax relief at source in respect of their mortgage interest payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29810/10]

This is a matter for the Revenue Commissioners who are responsible for the administration of mortgage interest relief through the tax relief at source (TRS) system. I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that following contact with the person concerned and clarification by the person of the precise circumstances of the mortgages taken out in 2006 and 2008, entitlement to mortgage interest relief for 2010 and beyond has been confirmed. Accordingly, unpaid relief to date for 2010 will be paid directly by the lender.

Departmental Properties

Sean Fleming

Question:

150 Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Finance the moneys expended; to whom they were paid; the moneys received during the same period under various headings in respect of a property (details supplied) in County Laois; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29812/10]

The Commissioners of Public Works are collating the information requested in the property concerned and will revert to the Deputy directly.

Financial Services Regulation

David Stanton

Question:

151 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 115 of 29 June 2010 the way in which a register of persons holding licences can be inspected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29814/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that while Revenue issues licences as provided for in the Auctioneers and House Agents Act 1947, there are no provisions within that Act for the provision of a register of licensees for inspection, as set out in the query. However, Section 30 of the Property Services (Regulation) Bill 2009, provides for the display for inspection by the public, of a register of licensees to be known as the Property Services Register. The provision and maintenance of this Register will be the responsibility of the Property Services Regulatory Authority. In that context the Deputy may wish to be aware that the Authority currently has a list of the Auctioneers and House Agents licensed by the Revenue Commissioners under the Auctioneers and House Agents Acts, 1947 to 1973 on its website www.npsra.ie.

Joan Burton

Question:

152 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance further to his reply to Parliamentary Question No. 55 of 17 June 2010, if he will provide equivalent figures for each of the past five years. [29827/10]

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

The CBFSAI has advised me that over the last five years some 50 per cent of the total costs of the Financial Regulator have been met by the imposition of levies on the industry. The balance of the total annual costs is provided by the CBFSAI in accordance with Section 33(L) of the Central Bank Act 1942. In 2009, the CBFSAI bore the full cost of certain securities market supervision activities carried out within the Financial Regulator.

The tables below set out the total cost of regulation, the total contribution from industry (annual funding requirement –AFR- set out in the fourth column of each table) and the contribution from each industry category for each of the last five years.

Year

Financial Regulator Total Expenses***

Subvention from CBFSAI

Annual Funding Requirements from Industry*

€m

€m

€m

2005

41.3

20.4

20.4

2006

48.7

24.4

21.2

2007

52.6

25.4

23.4

2008

59.9

29.1

25.4

2009

61.1

27.3

34.9**

*This figure takes account of a surplus or deficit in the previous years funding requirement. Any surplus is offset against the next year's figures.

**This figure includes the 100 percent funding levy on the credit institutions for the cost of the government guarantee.

***The expenses of the Financial Regulator, as published in its Statement of Income and Expenditure, reflect the actual costs incurred each year in the operations of the Regulator. The Annual Funding Requirement (AFR) is determined on the basis of the budgeted expenses of the Financial Regulator for a given year, adjusted for any surplus/deficit from the previous year that may arise from (i) differences between budgeted and actual expenditure and (ii) any shortfall in levies collected within specific industry categories. The AFR is then used to determine the levy to be applied to industry categories and within such categories to individual firms. (In any particular year the figure in column 3 is not calculated by reference to the figure in column 4.)

2005

Industry Category

Net 2004 Surplus/ Deficit

2005 Budget Funding Requirement

2005 AFR

€ 000

€ 000

€ 000

A: Credit Institutions

674

7,561

6,887

B: Insurance Undertakings

92

4,452

4,360

C: Intermediaries

414

2,868

2,454

D: Securities and Investment Firms

168

1,626

1,458

E: CIS and other Service Providers

116

3,950

3,834

F: Credit Unions

0

1,140

1140

G: Moneylenders

1

137

136

H: Approved Professional Bodies

23

61

38

I: Exchanges

24

117

93

J: Bureau de Change/Money Transmitters

1

31

30

K: E-Money Providers

0

0

0

L: Default Assessment

n/a

n/a

n/a

M: Home Reversion/Retail Credit Firms

n/a

n/a

n/a

Total

1,513

21,943

20,430

2006

Industry Category

Net 2005 Surplus / Deficit

2006 Budget Funding Requirement

2006 AFR

€ 000

€ 000

€ 000

A: Credit Institutions

685

8,074

7,389

B: Insurance Undertakings

351

5,176

4,825

C: Intermediaries

530

2,905

2,375

D: Securities and Investment Firms

163

1,649

1,486

E: CIS and other Service Providers

355

3,917

3,562

F: Credit Unions

0

1,294

1,294

G: Moneylenders

-13

144

157

H: Approved Professional Bodies

8

27

19

I: Exchanges

31

132

101

J: Bureau de Change/Money Transmitters

0

36

36

K: E-Money Providers

0

0

0

L: Default Assessment

n/a

n/a

n/a

M: Home Reversion/Retail Credit Firms

n/a

n/a

n/a

Total

2,110

23,354

21,244

2007

Industry Category

Net 2006 Surplus/ Deficit

2007 Budget Funding Requirement

2007 AFR

€ 000

€ 000

€ 000

A: Credit Institutions

832

9,006

8,174

B: Insurance Undertakings

172

5,008

4,836

C: Intermediaries

586

2,359

1,773

D: Securities and Investment Firms

112

1,812

1,700

E: CIS and other Service Providers

-272

4,249

4,521

F: Credit Unions

0

1,959

1412

G: Moneylenders

15

200

185

H: Approved Professional Bodies

4

26

22

I: Exchanges

-46

122

168

J: Bureau de Change/Money Transmitters

11

53

42

K: E-Money Providers

0

0

0

L: Default Assessment

n/a

n/a

n/a

M: Home Reversion/Retail Credit Firms

n/a

n/a

n/a

Total

1,414

24,794

23,380

2008

Industry Category

Net 2007 Surplus/ Deficit

2008 Budget Funding Requirement

2008 AFR

€ 000

€ 000

€ 000

A: Credit Institutions

448

9,330

8,882

B: Insurance Undertakings

34

5,836

5,802

C: Intermediaries

257

2,445

2,188

D: Securities and Investment Firms

42

2,005

1,963

E: CIS and other Service Providers

19

4,396

4,377

F: Credit Unions

0

1,862

1,430

G: Moneylenders

27

185

158

H: Approved Professional Bodies

2

13

11

I: Exchanges

21

169

148

J: Bureau de Change/Money Transmitters

-8

63

71

K: E-Money Providers

0

0

0

L: Default Assessment

n/a

n/a

n/a

M: Home Reversion/Retail Credit Firms

n/a

n/a

n/a

Total

842

26,304

25,462

2009

Industry Category

Net 2008 Surplus/ Deficit

2009 Budget Funding Requirement

2009 AFR

€ 000

€ 000

€ 000

A: Credit Institutions

-470

18,108

18,578

B: Insurance Undertakings

253

5,549

5,296

C: Intermediaries

-40

2,200

2,240

D: Securities and Investment Firms

-38

2,022

2,060

E: CIS and other Service Providers

-99

4,099

4,198

F: Credit Unions

0

1,769

1,394

G: Moneylenders

11

271

260

H: Approved Professional Bodies

0

5

5

I: Exchanges

9

158

149

J: Bureau de Change/Money Transmitters

-27

91

118

K: E-Money Providers

0

0

0

L: Default Assessment

n/a

n/a

n/a

M: Home Reversion/Retail Credit Firms

0

251

251

Total

-401

34,523

34,924

Tax Code

Michael Creed

Question:

153 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Finance if persons who have been approved for a medical card are liable for the income and health levies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29830/10]

The position is that where an individual has an entitlement to a full medical card they are excluded from the income levy and the health levy.

John McGuinness

Question:

154 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Finance if he will review the off-licence fee paid by large multiple supermarkets to base the fee on turnover as is the case with public houses which pay their licence fee based on revenue bands; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29832/10]

As the Deputy may be aware the rate of excise duty on off-licences was reviewed in the context of the 2008 and 2009 Budgets. The annual excise duty payable on each off-licence was increased from €250 to €500. An off-licence selling the full range of alcohol products requires three licences — spirits, beer and wine. Consequently, supermarkets who wish to sell wine, beer and spirits must obtain Retailers Off Licences which usually cost €1,500 per annum. It was decided not to apply a graduated scale of renewal fee charges, based on turnover, to off-licences. In that context it should be noted that while a graduated scale of renewal fee charges apply in the case of pub licences, the maximum rate of excise duty paid is €3,805, and that in excess of 80% of pubs pay licence duty of under €1,500.

Debt Management

Michael McGrath

Question:

155 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance his views on a matter (details supplied). [29843/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, I set up an Expert Group to report to me with recommendations on a range of matters regarding mortgage arrears and personal debt. In the course of the data gathering phase of its work, the Expert Group met with the Future Group and listened to its submission on how to deal with the issue of providing independent advice to borrowers in difficulty. The Expert Group has recently made interim recommendations to me and are expected to complete a final report by the Autumn. Proposals received from the Future Group and others who made submissions not covered in the interim report will be given full consideration by the Expert Group in the next phase of its work as it completes its final report.

Tax Code

Michael McGrath

Question:

156 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the taxation treatment of a matter (details supplied). [29858/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that Ireland has a double taxation agreement (DTA) with Australia since 1983. It generally reflects the provisions found in the OECD model tax agreement. The full text of the Australian DTA can be found on the Revenue website at: http://www.revenue.ie/en/practitioner/ law/double/australia.html The effect of the DTA may be summarised as follows: The purpose of a DTA is the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion. Double taxation arises where the same income or gain is taxed by two jurisdictions. This normally occurs where income or gains arise in one country and are paid to a resident of another country. DTAs seek to allocate exclusive taxing rights to one or other country for particular items of income or, where the DTA allows items of income or gains to remain taxable in both countries, to require the country of residence of the taxpayer to grant credit against its tax on the income or gain for the tax paid in the other country.

In relation to the Australian DTA, business profits earned by a resident of one country from sources in the other country are taxable only in the country of residence of the taxpayer unless that taxpayer has a permanent establishment in the other country. If there is a permanent establishment then the other country can tax the profits earned through it and in such circumstances the country of residence will give a credit for such tax.

Dividends paid by a company resident in one country to a resident of the other country may be taxed at a rate of 15% in the first-mentioned country. The country of residence will give a credit for such tax. Note however that Ireland does not impose any tax on dividends paid to residents of Australia (or any other treaty country). Similarly, payments of interest or royalties from one country to a resident of the other may be taxed in the paying country at a rate of 10% and the country of residence of the taxpayer will give a credit for such tax. Income and gains derived by a resident of one country from immovable property situated in the other country may be taxed in both the country where the immovable property is situated and also in the country of residence of the alienator. The country of residence will grant a credit for such tax.

Income from employment of a resident of one country may be taxed in the other country if the employment is exercised there. However, the income will be taxable only in the country of residence of the taxpayer if the presence in the other country is less than 183 days in the tax year and the employer is not resident in the other country and does not have a permanent establishment there. Pensions are taxable only in the country of residence of the taxpayer. Where a taxpayer is resident for tax purposes in both countries at the same time according to their laws, there are tie-breaker provisions in the DTA that decide which country the taxpayer will be treated as a resident of for the purposes of the DTA. For individuals the main test is where the individual has a permanent home.

Credit Union Sector

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

157 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding his recent dealings with the credit union movement regarding proposals for sections 35A and 35B of the Central Bank Reform Bill 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29873/10]

I engaged in detailed discussions with the credit union representative bodies, ILCU and CUDA, in relation to the Section 35 issue in meetings with each body on two separate occasions in May and June 2010. I also met members of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Economic Regulatory Affairs. Having reflected on the views expressed, I introduced at Report Stage of the Central Bank Reform Bill 2010 on 1 July 2010, eight significant measures which amended the section 35 proposals in the Bill as published and imposed an obligation on the Central Bank to establish an advisory group on credit unions. The measures relating to section 35 accord precisely with proposals circulated to the representative bodies on 10 June 2010 and which I put on the record of Dáil Éireann at Committee Stage.

The full eight measures are as follows:

1. The proposed sections 35A and 35B in the Bill as published are deleted.

2. The easing of section 35 lending limits is now linked directly with the necessary balancing provisions in a cohesive framework within section 35.

3. A specific statement is introduced in section 35(2C) meaning that the Central Bank may give notice to credit unions in relation to lending requirements only where it considers it necessary for the adequate protection of members' savings.

4. A further new provision means that in applying requirements in relation to lending by credit unions, the Central Bank must have regard to the lending framework provided for in section 35.

5. Wider powers originally intended for the Central Bank in relation to loans or specified classes or types of loans [under section 35(A)(1) as published] have been dropped.

6. Wider powers to enable the Central Bank to impose requirements other than by making rules [under section 35A(3) as published] have also been dropped.

7. The systems, controls and reporting requirements originally provided for in Section 35(A)(1)(f) are now specifically tied into the lending requirements in the section.

8. The Central Bank must establish an advisory group on the exercise of its powers and functions relating to credit unions.

Taken together, these measures represent a significant package of changes which will establish a lending framework through which the Registrar of Credit Unions can give notice of requirements arising from the relaxation of lending limits provided for in the section 35 in a prudent, balanced and proportionate manner but no more than that. The new advisory group will provide a forum through which the Bank will access the views of credit unions in a more effective and direct way.

Reasonable conditions and generous transitional arrangements will also apply in relation to the new section 35 provisions. For example, the Registrar of Credit Unions wrote to all credit unions on 24 May 2010 indicating that the transitional arrangements will include a 15% provisioning requirement up to 30 September 2011, trial periods, exceptions with regard to top-up loans and relaxation of the 100% provisioning requirement in respect of rescheduled loans which have missed two or more payments. This should help to ease the position for credit unions in the current financial year and the next financial year ending in September 2011 and allow time for credit unions to adjust to the new regime. Overall, the Registrar will take account of individual circumstances in credit unions in exercising the powers being given to him in the Bill. There is no question of a “one size fits all” approach as is being suggested by the League.

The section 35 amendments passed by Dáil Éireann on 1 July 2010 go a considerable way towards meeting the reasonable concerns of credit unions. At the same time, there is an irreducible minimum level of protection which depositors, credit union members and the general public are entitled to expect. Overall, the measures which have been brought forward provide for this level of protection. I believe that constructive engagement and dialogue with the credit union movement are both necessary and appropriate. Credit unions have a valuable role to play in Ireland and my primary motivation and concern is to put in place conditions in which the movement can be sustained and developed over the coming years. My Department and I are willing and anxious to engage with the credit union representative bodies and to discuss issues of concern including the implementation of the statutory changes provided for in the Central Bank Reform Bill. But it is not possible, of course, to give a veto to any group in relation to its own regulation and I feel sure the Credit Union-related organisations would not expect that.

Departmental Properties

Michael McGrath

Question:

158 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the transfer of land by the Office of Public Works to a local authority (details supplied). [29988/10]

The Office of Public Works has approved the transfer of land to the Local Authority and the Chief State Solicitors Office is currently preparing a license in this regard.

Social Welfare Benefits

Sean Sherlock

Question:

159 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Finance his views on the Eurostat survey that found that Ireland has the second highest food and drink prices in the EU; if he will bear this in mind when looking at social welfare levels ahead of the December budget; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30045/10]

According to Eurostat, food prices in Ireland were among the highest in Europe when surveyed in 2009. This is reflective of factors including the relatively large import content of processed food and our peripheral geographical location. However, in the twelve months to May 2010, the price of food and non-alcoholic beverages has fallen by 6 per cent in Ireland but remained unchanged on average in the EU as a whole. I would therefore expect to see noticeable convergence when the 2010 data are published next year. Between 2000 and 2010 the non-contributory state pension increased by 59 per cent in real terms while jobseekers' allowance increased by 60 per cent in real terms. Any decision with regard to social welfare rates of payment is a matter for Government for the 2011 Budget.

Question No. 160 withdrawn.

Departmental Properties

Joan Burton

Question:

161 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding a building (details supplied) in Dublin 15 owned by the Office of Public Works; the date on which the building was acquired by the OPW; the cost at which the building was acquired by the OPW; the financial outlay by the OPW or other Government authority in respect of this building since its acquisition; the ongoing annual cost of insuring and making secure this building; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a number of local voluntary and charitable organisations have made inquiries regarding the potential for using this building; the detail of any such enquiries made to the OPW or to him directly; if he will make this building available on a temporary basis to local voluntary and charitable organisations, pending a decision on the building’s long-term future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30077/10]

The property referred to by the Deputy was purchased in April 2002. The total cost of purchase was €1.5m. A sum of €6,129.00 incl. VAT was expended on upgrading works to the facade of the building in August 2006. A further sum of €1,010.15 incl. VAT was spent on removal of graffiti and making good, etc. in December 2006. Ongoing electricity costs amounts to approx. €4,750.00 per annum. There are no direct insurance costs, as the State carries its own insurance. Planning permission to convert the building for use as a Driving Test Centre has been granted and we would propose to proceed with this development when funding becomes available. I am aware that a number of voluntary bodies and organisations have expressed an interest in the past in acquiring the property. However, as the building is not deemed to be surplus to State requirements, it is not feasible at this time to make it available to any such body, even on a temporary basis.

Medical Cards

John Perry

Question:

162 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a medical card application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Sligo; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30044/10]

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

Richard Bruton

Question:

163 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to introduce a scheme whereby persons whose health condition is unchanging and whose income sources are constant, would not have to submit forms for regular renewal of a medical card; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29176/10]

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

Departmental Expenditure

Joe Costello

Question:

164 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount her Department has contributed to the cost of running the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre in each of the past ten years; the amount she proposes to contribute in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29191/10]

My Department and the HSE are collating the information requested and I will communicate further with the Deputy as soon as it is at hand.

Health Services

Jack Wall

Question:

165 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for dental treatment in respect of a person (details supplied); if the person is entitled to treatment under the medical card; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29210/10]

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

Sean Sherlock

Question:

166 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has given direction to the Health Service Executive on the conditions that constitute a clinical emergency with regard to the provision of dentures under the dental treatment services scheme in view of the fact that applications are being returned to dental practices on the basis that the HSE has given no direction to the principal dental surgeons as to what constitutes an emergency; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29250/10]

Denis Naughten

Question:

203 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will withdraw the Health Service Executive circular of 26 April 2010 regarding the dental treatment services scheme in view of its impact on medical card holders; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29378/10]

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

278 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has advised principal dental surgeons and contracting dentists of the circumstances under which approval may be given for emergency dentures. [29849/10]

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

280 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ensure that the claims processing staff in the primary care reimbursement service have been apprised of the new arrangements. [29851/10]

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

281 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on whether the criteria imposed by the Health Service Executive in the recent circular to dentists are clinically and administratively clear and unambiguous; and if she has ensured that operational guidelines have been issued to the principal dental surgeons. [29852/10]

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

284 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on whether it is an appropriate use of medical consultants' time to dictate letters requesting approval for dental treatments which are necessary for patients requiring urgent medical treatments. [29855/10]

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

286 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Health and Children the specific arrangements in place for routine dental treatment for medical card patients, who have entitlements under the provisions of the Health Acts, since May 2010. [29857/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 166, 203, 278, 280, 281, 284 and 286 together.

The Government's decision to limit the funding available to the Dental Treatment Services Scheme (DTSS) was made in view of the current position of the public finances and the 60% increase in expenditure in the DTSS over the past five years. The Health Service Executive (HSE) has introduced measures to contain DTSS expenditure at the 2008 level of approximately €63 million. There are no plans to reverse these changes.

Under the new measures the range of treatments available are being prioritised. These measures have been introduced to protect access to emergency dental care for medical card holders and to safeguard services for children and special needs groups. Services for high-risk patients and those requiring exceptional care continue to be available. The remaining care provision is subject to prior approval, which will be required from a clinician in the HSE, who will prioritise for:

High risk and exceptional patients,

Those requiring emergency care, and

Patients who are considered to have greater clinical urgency and/or necessity in receiving care.

Where prior approval is required for the treatment, the HSE Principal Dental Surgeons will apply their professional judgment to determine, in the circumstances, whether or not there is a clinical emergency, and whether or not treatment should therefore be approved.

I have given no direction to the HSE concerning what constitutes a clinical emergency. In the DTSS an emergency is determined by the treating clinician, the contracted General Dental Practitioner, in agreement with the local HSE Principal Dental Surgeon, or a delegate who is also a clinician. Where a patient requires dental treatment in advance of urgent medical treatment, this must be communicated to the HSE Principal Dental Surgeon. The manner in which this approval is sought has not changed and is a matter for those involved in the process.

The staff of the Primary Care Reimbursement Service of the HSE are aware of the changes and are implementing them. The HSE will continue to engage with dental professionals to ensure clarity and consistency in implementing these changes. The HSE will also monitor the ongoing effect of these changes from a clinical and budgetary perspective. The dental and oral health services currently provided through the HSE Public Dental Service will not be affected by these changes to the DTSS.

Services for People with Disabilities

Noel Coonan

Question:

167 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of jobs at risk and the services that have been reduced or suspended at a school (details supplied) in County Tipperary as a result of funding cutbacks to the Daughters of Charity service; if she will address concerns that same cutbacks will lead to further job losses and certain services being terminated; and if she will provide additional funding and support for persons with intellectual disabilities across north Tipperary. [29254/10]

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 Waiting Lists

Olwyn Enright

Question:

168 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children if a procedure will be arranged in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Offaly through the National Treatment Purchase Fund; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29257/10]

As this is a service issue the case has been referred to the National Treatment Purchase Fund for direct reply. A patient's general practitioner or anyone acting on their behalf may contact the National Treatment Purchase Fund on behalf of a patient if their medical condition warrants it. The National Treatment Purchase Fund currently arranges, from within available resources, treatment for patients who have been waiting longest on surgical in-patient waiting lists, and in some cases, diagnostic procedures for public patients.

Hospital Services

Finian McGrath

Question:

169 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the new cystic fibrosis units at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29258/10]

Denis Naughten

Question:

211 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 63 of 2 July 2009, if she will provide an update; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29413/10]

Joe Carey

Question:

215 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the development of life saving isolation rooms for cystic fibrosis patients and services at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29431/10]

Joe Carey

Question:

216 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Health and Children the timeframe for the development of the additional isolation rooms for cystic fibrosis patients at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29432/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 169, 211, 215 and 216 together.

The project continues to be a priority for the Government and the HSE. Following work with the HSE's senior management, St. Vincent's Hospital and the Department of Finance, I announced in 2009 that the project would proceed to construction on the basis that the building will be paid for at the end of the construction phase. The site at the hospital is cleared and ready for construction to commence and the HSE's capital funding remains ring-fenced for the new development. The 100 inpatient bed unit (in single en-suite rooms) will accommodate many other patients whose medical requirements necessitate single en suite facilities and reflects best practice in terms of infection control. It will also provide 10 single day treatment rooms with en-suite sanitary facilities.

In the normal course payments for construction of a project such as this would have been phased over the construction period. However under the financing method being utilised for this project, the construction company will source bridging finance for the project until the construction is complete. Following receipt of tenders for construction, the procurement process has been particularly difficult and protracted in this case, due to prevailing conditions in the Irish construction industry. The Hospital has now issued a "letter of intent" to a preferred bidder in the tender process for the building of the new ward block.

It is hoped to award the contract in the next few weeks after which construction of the new facility will take about 18 months. The process is under continuous review in order to ensure earliest possible delivery of the new ward block. St Vincent's University Hospital and the HSE remain committed to this project, and are taking every possible step to expedite contract award and earliest commencement of construction on site.

Health Insurance

Mary Upton

Question:

170 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will investigate a case in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 4; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29259/10]

The matter raised in this question is appropriate to the Health Insurance Authority (HIA), which is the regulator for the private health insurance market. I have no role in relation to the approval or otherwise of cover in respect of particular procedures by Vhi Healthcare or any of the private health insurers. I have asked the HIA to investigate the matter and to reply directly to the Deputy as a matter of urgency.

Health Service Allowances

Olwyn Enright

Question:

171 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Kildare was refused a claim for mobility allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29270/10]

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

Olwyn Enright

Question:

172 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly will receive an appointment at the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital, Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29276/10]

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

Housing Aid for the Elderly

Olwyn Enright

Question:

173 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 13 and 40 of 27 May 2010, the reason any outstanding applications, made under the former special housing aid for the elderly scheme in counties Laois and Offaly were not completed under the funding allocation of €0.5 million from the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government in July 2009; the reasons there are outstanding applications under this scheme waiting to be processed and the reason her Department did not apply for additional funding to complete these outstanding applications; if she will provide a breakdown of the proportion of this €0.5 million allocation spent in counties Laois and Offaly; if her Department spent any of this €0.5 million allocation on other schemes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29277/10]

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

Hospital Services

Olwyn Enright

Question:

174 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount a hospital (details supplied) has been penalised or awarded under the Health Service Executive casemix management system between 2005 and 2010 inclusively; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29278/10]

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

Olwyn Enright

Question:

175 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount a hospital (details supplied) has been penalised or awarded under the Health Service Executive casemix management system between 2005 and 2010 inclusively; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29279/10]

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

Olwyn Enright

Question:

176 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount a hospital (details supplied) has been penalised or awarded under the Health Service Executive casemix management system between 2005 and 2010 inclusively; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29280/10]

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

Mental Health Services

Olwyn Enright

Question:

177 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of children who have been assessed and diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder in the mid-Leinster region in the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29284/10]

Olwyn Enright

Question:

178 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of children with a diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder currently receiving therapy including psychology, occupational, speech and language and physiotherapy by an early intervention team in County Laois; the number of children with a diagnosis of ASD currently receiving therapy by an early intervention team in County Offaly; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29285/10]

Olwyn Enright

Question:

179 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of children with a diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder currently receiving therapy including psychology, occupational, speech and language and physiotherapy in post-early intervention service in County Laois; the number of children with a diagnosis of ASD currently receiving therapy in post-early intervention service in County Offaly; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29286/10]

Olwyn Enright

Question:

180 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of children with a diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder currently on waiting lists for assessment from an early intervention team in County Laois; the number of children with a diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder currently on waiting lists for assessment from an early intervention team in County Offaly; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29287/10]

Olwyn Enright

Question:

181 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of children with suspected autistic spectrum disorder currently on waiting lists for assessment from a post-early intervention team in County Laois; the number of children with suspected autistic spectrum disorder currently on waiting lists for assessment from a post-early intervention team in County Offaly; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29288/10]

Olwyn Enright

Question:

182 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of children with a diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder currently on waiting lists for therapy with a diagnosis of ASD from an early intervention team in County Laois; the number of children with a diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder currently on waiting lists for therapy with a diagnosis of ASD from an early intervention team in County Offaly. [29289/10]

Olwyn Enright

Question:

183 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of children with a diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder currently on waiting lists for therapy from a post-early intervention team in County Laois; the number of children with a diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder currently on waiting lists for therapy from a post-early intervention team in County Offaly; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29290/10]

Olwyn Enright

Question:

184 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the approximate timeframe that children with autistic spectrum disorder may expect to wait for assessment and therapy from an early intervention team in County Laois; the approximate timeframe that children with autistic spectrum disorder may expect to wait for assessment and therapy from an early intervention team in County Offaly; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29291/10]

Olwyn Enright

Question:

185 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the approximate timeframe that children with autistic spectrum disorder may expect to wait for assessment and therapy from a post-early intervention team in County Laois; the approximate timeframe that children with autistic spectrum disorder may expect to wait for assessment and therapy from a post-early intervention team in County Offaly; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29292/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 177 to 185, inclusive, together.

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

Health Service Staff

Olwyn Enright

Question:

186 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of posts currently vacant, including those where therapists are on maternity leave, on the early intervention team in County Laois; the number of posts currently vacant, including those where therapists are on maternity leave, on the early intervention team in County Offaly; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29293/10]

Olwyn Enright

Question:

187 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of posts currently vacant, including those where therapists are on maternity leave, on post-early intervention teams in County Laois; the number of posts currently vacant, including those where therapists are on maternity leave, on post-early intervention teams in County Offaly; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29294/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 186 and 187 together.

Subject to overall parameters set by Government, the Health Service Executive has the responsibility for determining the composition of its staffing complement. In this 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 vacancies for therapists, as this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply to you.

Olwyn Enright

Question:

188 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children her policy regarding the filling of posts vacant as a result of therapists including occupational, speech and language and physiotherapy services on leave including maternity; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29295/10]

Subject to overall parameters set by Government, the Health Service Executive has the responsibility for determining the composition of its staffing complement. In this 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 filling of therapy posts, as this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply to you.

Services for People with Disabilities

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

189 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of funding that is being provided to the Health Service Executive northeast-Louth/Meath/Cavan/Monaghan area for disability services for 2009 and to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29305/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

191 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of funding for disability services targeted for County Meath in 2009 and in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29307/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

192 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of funding provided in 2009 and 2010 for the Meath adult physical and sensory disability service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29308/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

200 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of funding provided in 2009 and 2010 for the Meath adult physical and sensory disability service; the amount per capita this equals; the amount of funding that is spent on management or administration and related areas; the amount allocated to clinical supports for adults with physical and sensory disability; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29348/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 189, 191, 192 and 200 together.

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

190 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount spent in each area of disability, physical and sensory, autism, intellectual disability and other in 2009 and to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29306/10]

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.

Questions Nos. 191 and 192 answered with Question No. 189.

Hospital Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

193 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans for the future of Drogheda Memorial Hospital, the Curragh, County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29309/10]

Government policy in relation to Palliative Care is based on the Report of the National Advisory Committee on Palliative Care (2001). In line with the Report, a ‘Palliative Care Services Medium Term Development Framework' was published by the HSE in July 2009. This Framework sets national priorities which have been agreed by all stakeholders based on solid needs analysis. The national priorities reflect the gaps that currently exist in particular areas and services, and the prioritisation reflects the largest gaps. The national priorities selected are aligned to national healthcare policy and the HSE's Transformation Programme and Corporate Plan. However, all developments are subject to current budget and economic considerations.

As the specific issue raised by the Deputy is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

194 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the extent to which accountancy practices in the Health Service Executive are subject to audit and performance controls; the extent to which this applies to the operation of Tallaght Hospital, sector by sector; the extent to which such stress testing relates to whether buildings, wards, beds or procedures are in accordance with requirements; the action or actions taken if any, in the event of system failure or deficiency; if any specific accountancy or accountability defects in the system have been identified or rectified or both; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29310/10]

Each year the HSE prepares an Appropriation Account which is required to comply with the provisions of the Public Financial Procedures, published by the Department of Finance, and other directions of the Minister for Finance and is audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General and considered each year by the Committee of Public Accounts. Section 36 of the Health Act, 2004 also requires the HSE to prepare Annual Financial Statements (AFS), on an income and expenditure basis. The AFS are audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General and they are, together with the audit report, laid before the Oireachtas and are examined by the Committee of Public Accounts alongside the Appropriation Account. The accounts of hospitals established by statute are also audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General and laid before the Oireachtas. The audited accounts of other service providers funded by the HSE under Section 38 and 39 of the Health Act 2004 are submitted to the HSE for its examination as part of the framework for accountability in respect of the delivery of services and the expenditure of public funds. The arrangements by the HSE with such service providers also encompass reporting and monitoring arrangements in respect of the provision of services and associated expenditure.

The above position reflects the general arrangements governing the financial and service accountability of the HSE and the service providers it funds. If there are specific matters giving rise to the Deputy's enquiries I will be happy to have these addressed by the HSE.

Health Services

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

195 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that speech therapy services for under five year olds at a facility (details supplied) have been withdrawn due to the recruitment embargo; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29322/10]

Subject to overall parameters set by Government, the Health Service Executive has the responsibility for determining the composition of its staffing complement. In this 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 speech therapy services, as this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply to you.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Michael McGrath

Question:

196 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an outpatient appointment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [29327/10]

Michael McGrath

Question:

197 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an outpatient appointment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [29328/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 196 and 197 together.

The management of out-patient waiting lists is a matter for the HSE and the individual hospitals concerned. I have, therefore, referred the Deputy's questions to the Executive for direct reply.

Health Services

Sean Sherlock

Question:

198 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children if the management structure at a facility in north Cork is under the control of the Health Service Executive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29341/10]

The facility referred to by the Deputy is not under the control of the HSE. It is a voluntary nursing home operated by a religious order.

Hospital Services

Sean Sherlock

Question:

199 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children if an appointment for surgery is being expedited in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29342/10]

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

Question No. 200 answered with Question No. 189.

Chris Andrews

Question:

201 Deputy Chris Andrews asked the Minister for Health and Children the timeframe for the transfer of assets and equipment from St. Luke’s Hospital, Dublin 6, to the Health Service Executive; the future plans for this equipment; the names of the members of the Hollywood Committee and their professions; if there was any patient input into which hospitals should be designated as cancer centres of excellence; and the reason St. Luke’s was not chosen as a centre of excellence. [29353/10]

The HSE's National Cancer Control Strategy, which was launched in 2006 set out the future framework for delivery of cancer treatment in Ireland. It also endorsed the National Plan for Radiation Oncology (NPRO) which had been approved by Government in 2005. This Plan was based on the recommendations in The Report on the Development of Radiation Oncology Services in Ireland, otherwise known as the Hollywood Report, which was published in 2003. This recommended that there should be two centres in the East in order to cater for radiotherapy needs.

Extensive consultation formed part of the Group's deliberations in producing the Hollywood Report. A study was commissioned to investigate patient priorities in the development of new radiation oncology services. The aim was to ensure that future service developments would be based on best practice and sensitive to patient needs, preferences and priorities. The study included a series of focus groups and a postal questionnaire, sent by random sample to all major cancer groups who had completed their first course of radiotherapy.

The Members of the Expert Working Group on Radiation Oncology Services, which produced the 2003 Hollywood Report, are listed below.

Name

Organisation

Position

Prof. Donal Hollywood (Chair)

St. Luke’s Hospital, Trinity College

Professor of Clinical Oncology

Dr John Armstrong

St. Luke’s Hospital

Consultant Radiation Oncologist

Ms Mary Coffey

Trinity College Dublin

Director, School of Radiation Therapy

Dr Harry Comber

National Cancer Registry

Director, National Cancer Registry

Dr Tom Conere

Cork University Hospital

Chief Physicist

Mr Joseph Cregan

Department of Health and Children

Principal Officer

Ms Yvonne Davidson

Cork University Hospital

Business Manager, Division of Oncology

Dr Ruth Eakin

Northern Ireland Cancer Centre

Consultant Clinical Oncologist

Dr Liam Grogan

Beaumont Hospital

Consultant Medical Oncologist

Mr Wilfrid Higgins

Department of Health and Children

Engineering Advisor

Dr Tony Holohan

Department of Health and Children

Deputy Chief Medical Officer

Dr Maurice Hurley

Cork University Hospital

Consultant Clinical Oncologist

Ms Joan Kelly

Irish Cancer Society

Nursing Services Manager

Dr Marie Laffoy

Eastern Regional Health Authority

Director of Public Health

Ms Eileen Maher

St Luke’s Hospital

Director of Nursing

Dr Brendan McClean

St Luke’s Hospital

Chief Physicist

Dr Regina McQuillan

St Francis Hospice

Consultant Palliative Care Physician

Dr Aiden Meade

Irish College of General Practitioners

General Practitioner

Dr Seamus O’Cathail

Cork University Hospital

Consultant Radiation Oncologist

Dr Bernadette O’Keefe

Department of Health and Children

Deputy Chief Medical Officer

Ms Ber Ryan

Aid Cancer Treatment (ACT)

Patient Advocate

Dr Sheelah Ryan

Western Health Board

Chief Executive Officer

Mr Gordon Watson

South Eastern Health Board

Consultant Surgeon

*Organisational attachments are as applicable at the time of completion of the report.

Following publication of the Hollywood Report, the Chief Medical Officer was asked by the then Minister for Health and Children to advise on the location of radiation oncology services in the Eastern Region. A panel of national and international experts was established to assist in the process. A request for proposals for the development of radiation oncology services in the Eastern Region was issued to six hospitals in Dublin. The document set out the evaluation criteria against which the proposals would be assessed. Six hospitals submitted proposals. These were evaluated by the Expert Panel. Based on the advice of the Panel, I announced in 2005 that radiation oncology services in the Eastern Region should be located at Beaumont and St James's Hospital. This entailed the eventual transfer of St Luke's staff and resources to the new centres.

As part of the implementation of the 2006 National Cancer Control Strategy, the HSE set up an Advisory Group to assist it in configuring the managed cancer control networks and identifying the designated cancer centres. Combined modality treatment, delivered by multi-disciplinary teams, was a key requirement for the designated cancer centres. The HSE's National Cancer Control Programme was launched in 2007. It set out the configuration of the cancer services in such centres, and identified the 8 designated cancer centres, including Beaumont and St James's Hospitals.

The two new radiotherapy centres at St James's and Beaumont Hospitals will open at end 2010/early 2011 under Phase 1 of the NPRO, providing significant additional capacity for public patients. These centres will be under the governance of the HSE National Cancer Control Programme. The existing radiotherapy centre at St Luke's and these new centres at Beaumont and St James's will together form the St Luke's Radiation Oncology Network. This will allow for seamless patient transfer between services and more effective, patient-centred services, resulting in best outcomes for patients. Some staff and resources of St Luke's will transfer to other sites in the St Luke's Network in the second half of 2010. Radiotherapy services will continue to be delivered at St Luke's until at least the end of 2014. At that stage, additional capacity is scheduled to come on stream under Phase 2 of the NPRO and the remaining staff and resources will transfer from St Luke's.

Hospital Staff

Joe Carey

Question:

202 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Healt