Written Answers

The following are questions tabled by Members for written response and the ministerial replies as received on the day from the Departments [unrevised].
Questions Nos. 1 to 8, inclusive, answered orally.

Garda Deployment

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

9 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of gardaí dedicated to the Criminal Assets Bureau in the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; the budget of the bureau in each of those years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35354/10]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that at present there are 68 staff in the Criminal Assets Bureau of whom 37 are members of An Garda Síochána. The budgetary allocation for 2010 for the Bureau is over €8m. The Bureau is also staffed with Bureau Officers from the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Social Protection as well as analysts, legal experts and technical and administrative support staff. The total staffing figure together with the corresponding budget for the years 2006 to 2009 are provided in the table which I am circulating with this answer. There are also 128 asset profilers across all Garda Divisions who have been trained by CAB and assist them with early preparatory investigative work.

The Deputy will be aware that the Bureau was established in 1996 and that its remit is to target the assets of persons who seek to derive profit from criminal activities. From its inception the Bureau has been at the forefront of fighting organised crime, including drug trafficking. CAB has been a central part of Ireland's response to the serious levels of organised crime that emerged in the 1990s. It has been extremely successful in disrupting the activities of criminal gangs and in taking away their ill-gotten gains. One of the important issues that it has addressed is that of tackling lower level criminality in a very visible way. The apparent sudden accumulation of wealth by people without any visible means of support remains a priority issue for investigation by the Bureau. The Bureau has already taken action in some cases which, although the level of assets have been relatively small, have nevertheless sent a very strong message to local communities that profiting from crime will not be tolerated. A strong focus on mid to low level criminality will continue to be a priority for CAB.

The Government is fully committed to ensuring that the Criminal Assets Bureau is in a position to continue its excellent work in targeting the proceeds of all criminal activity.

Year

Total Staff allocation

Number of Gardaí

Total Budget Provision

€million

2010

68

37

2010 allocation — 8.227

2009

69

37

6.877

2008

68

37

7.509

2007

59

32

5.108

2006

55

32

5.205

Statistics provided for 2009 and 2010 are provisional, operational and liable to change.

Explosive Ordinance

Emmet Stagg

Question:

10 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of occasions in 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010 in which grenades, bombs or improvised explosive devices have been used; the number of occasions in each year when the Garda called on the assistance of the Army ordinance unit to deal with such devices; the number of prosecutions initiated as a result of the discovery of such devices; if he is concerned at the increased use of such devices by criminal elements; the steps he is taking to curb the use of such devices; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35384/10]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that in 2010 (to 5th October, 2010) there have been 152 incidents involving suspected grenades, pipe-bombs or other improvised devices nationwide at which a Defence Forces Explosive Ordnance Device team has attended, with 196 such incidents recorded in 2009, 180 such incidents recorded in 2008 and 98 such incidents recorded in 2007. I am further informed that in respect of the incidents that occurred between 2008 to 2010 to date, a total of 21 cases are currently before the courts. In addition a further 43 investigation files have been submitted to the DPP.

The use of explosive devices and firearms by criminal gangs is a matter of ongoing concern both to me and to the Garda Authorities. Garda strategies in counteracting these activities are very firmly focused on disrupting the criminal groups which are involved and, where sufficient evidence is available, proffering charges and bringing such persons before the Courts. I have also put in place strong legislative measures to further strengthen the law dealing with those involved in criminal organisations. The Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009 created the offence of directing or controlling a criminal organisation with a penalty of a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, increased the maximum penalty for the offence of participation or involvement in organised crime from 5 years to 15 years imprisonment; protection of witnesses and juries from intimidation, provides for expert Garda opinion evidence on the existence and operations of criminal gangs to be admissible in evidence and provides for organised crime offences to be tried in the Special Criminal Court.

Other significant legislation introduced to target organised crime includes the Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Act 2009, which provides a statutory framework for evidence obtained by means of covert surveillance to be used in criminal trials, and the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 which further tightens the legislative provisions relating to guns and knives and similar weapons.

Prison Building Programme

Joan Burton

Question:

11 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the progress on the Thornton Hall project; if he will confirm that no prisoners will be accepted in Thornton Hall before 2014 at the earliest; and the total amount spent on the project to date [35358/10]

As the Deputy will be aware the development of the new prison campus at Thornton Hall, Kilsallaghan, County Dublin is now proceeding on a phased basis. Phase one, which is currently in progress, comprises essential preliminary works to facilitate the prison development including the construction of a dedicated access road, the installation of off-site services and the construction of the perimeter wall of the prison. The second phase of the project involves the provision of 400 cells along with related support facilities suitable to accommodate up to 700 prisoners. Subsequent phases of the project will see the provision of the balance of the 1,000 cells thus providing a total of 1,400 cells when completed with operational flexibility to accommodate up to 2,200 prisoners, thus future proofing the development.

Access Road

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that a contract for the construction of the access road to serve the prison development was awarded to SIAC Construction Limited in July 2010 and construction work is already well underway in relation to this phase of the project. The access road and underpass are scheduled to be completed during February next year.

Off-site Works

A procurement competition for the installation of the off-site services (e.g. sewerage, water mains, communications and technology ducting) to serve the prison development issued to companies on the Irish Prison Service Construction Framework in August. The closing date was 6 October 2010 and the evaluation of the tenders by the Irish Prison Service and its technical advisors has commenced . It is intended to award a contract in respect of the off-site works in November. The work will take approximately eight months to complete.

Perimeter Security Wall

The procurement process for the design and construction of the perimeter security wall of the prison is already in progress. A pre-qualification competition from which suitably qualified contractors will be invited to tender for the design and construction of the perimeter security wall of the prison and related works issued on the E-Tenders web site in August 2010. The closing date for expressions of interest was 28 September 2010. Twenty submissions were received and the evaluation of these submissions is already underway. A panel comprising 5 to 7 contractors will be established from this procurement competition and these contractors will be invited to tender for the construction of the perimeter security wall and ancillary works later this month. Construction of the perimeter wall is scheduled to commence in the first quarter of 2011 and will take just under a year to complete.

Prison Buildings

As I mentioned previously in the House, my priority is to provide good quality, regime focussed prison accommodation at Thornton Hall prison campus as quickly as possible. A phased development of the prison campus is now being pursued. The next phase of the works will see the procurement of prison accommodation blocks and related support facilities commencing in the New Year using traditional procurement methods. I cannot give a date for completion of work on the first phase but realistically speaking one could not expect the new facility to be available before 2014.

In relation to expenditure on the project, the total expenditure to end September is €42.46 million. This sum includes the site cost of €29.9 million. The cost of the site was almost completely offset by the sale of surplus prison lands at Shanganagh, County Dublin for €29 million. An additional 8.7 acres has also been acquired at a cost of €1.3 million to provide a dedicated access route to the main prison site. This was done following representations from the local community which reflected concern in relation to the potential effect of increased traffic generated by the prison development.

This sum also includes €7.3 million expended on professional fees, €2.9 million on site preparation and various surveys, €0.5 million on landscaping and €0.5 million on security. As is the case with all major infrastructure projects a comprehensive set of geological, engineering, archaeological and environmental surveys have been undertaken at the site in order to advance the construction programme for the development. These surveys will enable the Irish Prison Service to accelerate the timeframe for the construction of the first phase of the prison buildings to a maximum of two years.

Liquor Licensing Laws

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

12 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will explain the way his recently announced test purchasing scheme in which minors will be involved in attempting to catch publicans selling alcohol to minors correlates with the requirement for the State to uphold the best interests of the child as its primary consideration [35390/10]

Section 14 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008 makes provision for the test purchasing of alcohol products. It also provides that the Minister for Justice and Law Reform shall issue guidelines in respect of the procedures to be followed with respect of the practical operation of the scheme following consultation with the Garda Commissioner and the Minister for Health and Children. I am pleased to say that the test purchasing scheme was broadly welcomed in this House during the discussions leading up to enactment of the legislation in 2008.

The guidelines for the test purchasing scheme, which were recently launched by the Garda Commissioner and myself, were drawn up by a working group comprising representatives of the Gardaí, Office of the Minister for Children, Office of Tobacco Control and the Departments of Health and Children, and Justice and Law Reform. The primary concern of the group throughout the drafting process was to ensure the welfare of those involved in test purchasing operations. For this purpose, the group drew on test purchasing guidelines already in operation in England, and also had Northern Ireland's guidelines at its disposal. In addition, Garda representatives visited Liverpool during this period to observe test purchasing operations on the ground as well as the training and other safeguards put in place to safeguard the welfare of those involved in test purchasing operations.

I am satisfied therefore that the welfare of those involved has been taken fully into account in drafting the guidelines for the test purchasing scheme. The guidelines will ensure that their welfare will underpin each stage of test purchasing operations.

Control of Firearms

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

13 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the action he has taken to prevent the importation of arms such as the Ingram submachine gun; the extent if any to which steps have been taken to prevent any recurrences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35403/10]

In setting the policing priorities for An Garda Síochána in 2010, I have asked the Commissioner to continue the focus of the force on serious crime, in particular organised crime. This priority is reflected in the Garda Policing Plan for this year, which sets out a commitment to proactively target groups and individuals engaged in organised crime. To this end, An Garda Síochána is conducting intelligence-led operations focusing on organised crime groups in the greater Dublin area and in other cities. As a result of these operations, a number of individuals are before the courts charged with serious offences concerning the sale and supply of arms. There operations include Operation Anvil. Since its commencement, over 1,400 firearms have been recovered in the Dublin Metropolitan Region and 1,800 outside it.

An Garda Síochána is utilising all available legislation in respect of tackling organised crime. The force will continue to develop and implement strategies to dismantle and disrupt criminal networks, utilising analytical and intelligence methods to facilitate targeted operations which prevent such crimes by early intervention.

An Garda Síochána is committed to tackling the illegal importation of firearms. Inter-agency co-operation is essential to this, and the Garda Organised Crime Unit maintains liaison with the PSNI and the UK Serious and Organised Crime Agency. An Garda Síochána also has liaison officers based in the UK, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal and officers seconded to Europol and Interpol. There is also strong inter-agency co-operation with the Revenue Commissioners and the Naval Service. As a result of this co-operation, Irish and international figures are being successfully targeted.

There are very severe penalties for firearms offences in place. The Criminal Justice Act 2006 introduced a wide range of provisions to combat gun crime. It introduced mandatory minimum sentences of five or ten years for certain firearms offences, including possession of a firearm in suspicious circumstances, possession of a firearm with criminal intent, possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, possession of a firearm while hijacking a vehicle, use of a firearm to resist arrest and a new offence of altering a firearm.

Sexual Offences

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

14 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform his plans to make the purchase of sex an offence; if he has made any assessment of the present legislative developments in Sweden in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35357/10]

The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1993 makes it an offence to solicit in a street or public place for the purpose of prostitution. The offence can be committed by the prostitute, the client or a third party — a pimp, for example. The Act also provides for offences such as organising prostitution, coercing or compelling a person to be a prostitute, knowingly living on the earnings of a prostitute, or keeping or managing a brothel. In addition, the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 makes it an offence to knowingly solicit or importune a trafficked person, in any place, for the purpose of prostitution.

Currently under the criminal law in Ireland, it is not an offence, in itself, to sell sex. In general, it is not an offence to purchase sex either. The matter is currently being examined. Any proposal to amend the law in terms of criminalising the purchase of sex would require very careful consideration. During the Summer, the Swedish Government completed an evaluation of its 1999 legislation criminalising the purchase of sex. Sweden was the first country in the world to introduce such legislation and, more recently, Norway and Iceland have introduced similar bans.

The Dignity Project recently arranged a visit to Sweden to learn more about the evaluation and the delegation included representation from my Department. Dignity is an EU funded research project examining services provided to victims of human trafficking, with a view to replicating best practice models in partner countries, and is led by the Dublin Employment Pact and the Immigrant Council of Ireland. My Department's Anti-Human Trafficking Unit and the Garda National Immigration Bureau are partners with observer status. It is an inter-agency and inter-jurisdictional initiative with partners in Scotland, Spain and Lithuania. The visit to Stockholm took place from 14 to 16 September and my officials are preparing a report of the visit, including an assessment of the Swedish legislative provisions. I will examine the report in due course.

Garda Deployment

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

15 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the reason the creation of 900 civilian posts within the Garda has resulted in the release of only 144 Garda personnel for front-line policing duties, as highlighted in the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General; the steps he will take to ensure greater use of civilian personnel, as recommended in the recent report of the Garda Inspectorate on resource allocation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35379/10]

As the C&AG report acknowledges, increased civilian support for the Garda Síochána does not exclusively take the form of one-for-one replacement of individual Gardaí by civilian staff. Of course, in some instances, civilianisation does indeed enable the direct replacement of Gardaí who are engaged in exclusively clerical, administrative or technical duties by civilian staff. In a great many other cases, however, it allows Gardaí who would otherwise have to devote a substantial part of their working day to performing administrative duties to focus exclusively on front-line policing duties. Civilian staff may also be recruited to perform new or expanded administrative, managerial and professional support roles in the Garda Síochána, for example as crime analysts or IT specialists.

This in itself can indirectly free up Gardaí for operational duty. The report notes the estimate that the recently established Garda Information Services Centre in Castlebar, which is staffed by civilians, has freed up as many as 265 Gardaí on a daily basis, as they no longer have to personally input details of incidents onto PULSE. It is also the case that some of the additional civilian staff, for example those allocated to the expanded Garda Central Vetting Unit in Thurles, are performing a vital role which would otherwise have had to be undertaken by Gardaí redeployed from operational duty. This also needs to be factored into any calculations.

Of course I want to see the maximum number of Gardaí allocated to frontline operational duties, and I know that the Commissioner fully shares this objective. Indeed the whole time equivalent number of civilians in An Garda Síochána has increased from 1,688 at the end of 2007 to over 2,100 at the present time. Every opportunity to make further progress on this, whether through building on recommendations of the Garda Inspectorate or the use of redeployment under the Public Service Agreement, will be vigorously pursued.

Garda Promotions

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

16 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of the 170 Garda promotions, for which Cabinet approval has been given to fill vacancies arising from the many retirements now being experienced by the force, have now been made; when he expects the process to be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35380/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, the moratorium on recruitment and promotions in the Public Service applies to the Garda Síochána, both sworn members and civilian support staff. The situation is continually kept under review in consultation with the Garda Commissioner and derogations can be sought in exceptional circumstances from the Minister for Finance. I received sanction from the Minister for Finance for the filling of approximately 170 vacancies in An Garda Síochána including consequential vacancies. All of these promotions have now taken place and I am pleased to say that consequential promotions at all ranks to Sergeant level have also taken place. This brings to approximately 280 the number of promotions that have taken place in An Garda Síochána so far this year. As I have stated, the situation will be kept under close review on an ongoing basis.

Garda Strength

Emmet Stagg

Question:

17 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the total strength of the Garda Síochána at the latest date for which figures are available broken down by full members, those who have attested but not yet concluded their training, those in training; the expected number that will be recruited during 2010, the total anticipated numbers at each above category at the end of 2010, the total number of members of the force who are expected to retire during 2010, the total number who were recruited in the first half of 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35383/10]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that, on the latest date for which figures are available, the personnel strength of An Garda Síochána was 14,615. This figure includes 400 probationer Gardaí who have been attested and will graduate over the next six months. On that date there were also 9 unattested students in training. In relation to retirements, 236 members of the Force have so far either left the force or declared their intention to retire during 2010.

An Garda Síochána is of course subject to the moratorium on recruitment and appointments in the public service and the purpose of the present Garda recruitment campaign is to establish a panel of approved candidates who will be available to meet Garda recruitment needs in the future. Applicants who are currently on a panel and have gone through the medical, physical and character vetting procedures, and are available, will be offered positions as Garda Trainees, in strict order of where they were placed on the panel, upon the resumption of recruitment.

Garda Interpreters

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

18 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will confirm that many interpreters working for the Garda have no formal qualifications; the steps that are being taken to ensure interpreters have appropriate qualification and are of a suitable level of ability; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35386/10]

The provision of interpretation for the Garda Síochána is primarily an operational matter for the Garda Commissioner. I have been informed by the Commissioner that a range of interpretation services is available to the Force in accordance with contracts that have been put in place. These services operate where persons have been detained and in other circumstances, as required, and the Commissioner has reported that the current interpretation arrangements are working well. The Garda authorities have structured their contracts to ensure that persons carrying out interpretation work will be qualified to a high level. The Commissioner is aware that as things currently stand there are no national standards for the provision of interpretation services and he has indicated that he would support the adoption of such standards.

Garda Deployment

Seymour Crawford

Question:

19 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of gardaí stationed in the Cavan-Monaghan area in 2007: the numbers at the present time; his views that these gardaí cover a difficult Border region where ongoing threats by dissidents are a reality; if he is satisfied that sufficient personnel are available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35356/10]

I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that the personnel strength of the Cavan/Monaghan Garda Division was 402 on 31 December 2007 and 406 on 31 August 2010. These Divisional resources are augmented by relevant Garda national units as and when deemed necessary.

For operational reasons it is not the practice to comment on specific anti-terrorism measures relating to the security of the State. However, intelligence-led operations by An Garda Síochána, targeting the activities of dissident republican groups, continue to be given priority, commensurate with the threat posed, which is closely monitored in consultation with other law enforcement agencies. Such operations involve strategic deployment of both local and specialised operational Garda Units. Close cooperation exists at all levels between An Garda Síochána and their PSNI counterparts in the context of countering and investigating the activities of such groups.

Garda Investigations

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

20 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the investigation that has been held into the circumstances in which a highly confidential Garda file on the operations of a criminal gang, prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions, was brought to a Dublin city centre shop for photocopying; if he will confirm that the report was seen by a person who subsequently communicated information to the person referred to in it; the steps that are being taken to avert such a serious breach of security in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35364/10]

I understand from the Garda Commissioner that, in the course of preparing a comprehensive investigation file into the criminal activities of an organised criminal group for consideration by the DPP, a small but nonetheless important portion of the investigation file was brought under Garda supervision to the premises in question. During the course of the Garda visit to the premises, and while a designated member of staff was dealing with the printing request, members of An Garda Síochána became aware that this person communicated with a third party without the consent of An Garda Síochána. The Garda members present on the premises took immediate action to eliminate any risk of further exposure of this portion of the Garda investigation file.

The involvement of the designated member of staff with the third party in this matter is the subject of a continuing Garda investigation, and it would be inappropriate to comment further on this at this time. While the Commissioner is satisfied that the members of An Garda Síochána concerned acted in good faith in this matter, he is taking all steps necessary to avoid any recurrence of such an incident, including the issuing of a Garda Headquarters Directive instructing members on the appropriate measures to be taken in compiling investigation files.

Gaming Regulation

Sean Sherlock

Question:

21 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the progress of the major review of gambling announced in May 2010; when he expects the process to be concluded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35381/10]

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

50 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform when the consultation phase of the review of gambling in Ireland was completed; when the casino gaming control section was established in his Department; when he expects to publish his policy on regulating gaming in Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35227/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 21 and 50 together.

I launched the review of gambling in May of last year. The Casino Gaming Control Section of my Department was established from within the existing resources of my Department at that time to manage the review process. This Section also deals with all matters arising from my Department's current responsibility for the Gaming and Lotteries Acts, 1956 to 2003. The objective of the wide-ranging review is to provide Government with options for a new and comprehensive legal and organisational framework governing the gambling architecture in the State. Consultation was and continues to be an essential part of the review process. Written submissions were requested with a deadline for receipt of 30 September 2009, though the review team does not ignore submissions received, even at this late stage.

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

It is a matter of record that Governments of different hues have shied away from attempting any significant reform of our gambling laws since our existing gaming and lotteries legislation was enacted over 50 years ago. Notwithstanding the foregoing, however, I am resolved to make our gambling laws relevant to the 21st century. In light of this commitment, I make no apology for taking the time to make sure this is done effectively. We must first achieve a policy in relation to a new gambling architecture that is capable of broad spectrum agreement and it is when this goal is achieved that we will be in a position to address the matter of legislative change, with some degree of confidence.

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

that young people and the vulnerable are protected

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

that gambling is kept free of crime.

Following the settling of that policy, arrangements will be made in the normal course to address the necessary legislative change. As the first comprehensive review of our gambling law, effectively since the enactment of the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956 draws to a close, it is reasonable to expect that any new legislation that may arise, will be both complex and comprehensive.

Garda Security Escorts

Brian O'Shea

Question:

22 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform his plans to proceed with the plan to allow the Irish Prison Service to assume responsibility for escorting remand prisoners to and from court; if he will confirm that the Irish Prison Service has said that it cannot afford to take on responsibility for this task; the number of Garda hours used to provide this service each year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35372/10]

As part of the Proposal for Organisational Change in the Irish Prison Service (IPS), which was agreed with staff representatives in 2005, a dedicated Prison Service Escort Corp (PSEC) was established. Essentially, this is a dedicated corps of staff whose task is to escort prisoners to and from court in new cellular vehicles, thus eliminating the need to resort to overtime working as had been the practice heretofore.

During 2008 preliminary discussions were held between the Irish Prison Service and An Garda Síochána in relation to the potential for the PSEC to undertake some escorts that are currently being carried out by An Garda Síochána; specifically the escorting of remand prisoners. These discussions identified that there would be a necessary increase in Irish Prison Service staffing levels to allow it to undertake this work. The IPS were not at that time in a position to put the necessary additional staffing in place, and in September 2008 informed An Garda Síochána of that position. The IPS has, however, since the opening of the new Criminal Courts Complex in Dublin taken responsibility for some escorts that were previously carried out by An Garda Síochána.

In the context of the Public Service Agreement 2010-2014 my Department has been examining the potential for the delivery of efficiencies through greater cooperation and interaction between elements of the criminal justice system and issues such as this will be considered in that context. The following tables show the number of hours expended by Garda and civilian personnel in performing duties relating to the transportation of remand prisoners to / from Court by An Garda Síochána for 2009 and 2010 (to roster ending 19th September, 2010)

Period 12/1/09 – 10/1/10

Rostered Hrs

Overtime Hrs

Total

Garda

1,784

1,377

3,161

Civilian

6,552

4,250

10,802

Total

8,336

5,627

13,963

Period 11/1/10 – 19/9/10

Rostered Hrs

Overtime Hrs

Total

Garda

1,204

720

1,924

Civilian

6,528

3,977

10,505

Total

7,732

4,698

12,430

Liquor Licensing Laws

Róisín Shortall

Question:

23 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the recent annual report of the Garda diversion programme that teenagers came to the attention of the Garda for public drunkenness more than any other offence last year; the steps he is taking to deal with the illegal sale of alcohol to those under age; the steps planned to regulate so-called home deliveries of alcohol; when it is intended to implement the provision in the Intoxicating Liquor Act of 2002 providing for the traceability of take-away drink sales; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35374/10]

The Annual Report on the Garda Diversion Programme for 2009 indicates that there was a reduction of 13% in the number of incidents referred to the programme, and a reduction of 14% in the number of children referred to it, during that period. As regards alcohol-related offences, there was a reduction of 22% in the number of such offences compared with 2008. This suggests that the Government's approach to tackling alcohol-related offences, and associated anti-social behaviour, is proving effective and I want to congratulate the Gardaí for their work in this area.

The sale of alcohol products to underage persons is already prohibited under licensing law. It is an offence under section 31(2) of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1988 for a license holder to sell or deliver, or permit another person to sell or deliver, intoxicating liquor to a person under 18 years. This applies equally to premises with off-licences, including supermarkets, convenience stores and similar outlets, and those with on-licences such as public houses. The penalties for selling or delivering alcohol products to under-18s, originally set out in the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1988, were substantially increased in the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008. On conviction for a first offence, a mandatory closure order of between 2 and 7 days will be imposed, together with a fine of up to €3,000. The penalties for a second, or subsequent, offence is a closure order of between 7 and 30 days, and a fine of up to €5,000. In addition, the licensee is required to continue to pay staff for the duration of the closure period.

The Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008 also provided the Gardaí with significant additional powers to address the problem of alcohol sales to underage persons. Section 14 contains provisions which allow a Garda who believes with reasonable cause that such a person possesses a bottle or other container containing intoxicating liquor which is being, or is intended to be, consumed by him or her to seize and remove the container. Section 14 of the 2008 Act also makes provision for the test purchasing of alcohol products. The primary objective of the scheme, which entered into force on 1 October, is to enable the Gardaí to target those licensed premises which are suspected of engaging in illegal sales to young people. This scheme will provide them with an additional instrument in their overall enforcement programme.

As regards additional measures to combat home deliveries of alcohol products to underage persons, I have already announced my intention to make it an explicit offence in the forthcoming Sale of Alcohol Bill for a third party, e.g. courier or taxi, to deliver alcohol to an underage person. I am also considering the possibility of introducing of a ‘test delivery' scheme to complement the test purchasing scheme. It would cover both home deliveries to under 18s, and also deliveries to any person where, contrary to the law, payment for the alcohol product is accepted on delivery.

As regards the labelling of alcohol containers, section 22 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2003 already provides for the making of regulations to specify particulars to be displayed on containers which are adequate to enable the licensee and the licensed premises concerned to be identified. However during consultations between my Department and the Attorney General's Office on implementation of section 22, the Attorney General's office expressed serious doubts about the evidential value of possession of a labelled container by an under-18 year old. For example, the container might have been taken from the home by the underage person, or legally sold to a person over 18 years and passed on to the underage person. This has cast serious doubt on the benefits to be gained from any regulations that might be made under the 2003 Act.

Prisoner Releases

Alan Shatter

Question:

24 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of persons sentenced to terms of imprisonment during the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010 granted temporary release who have failed in each of those years to return to prison as required and who remain on the run; if he will detail the offences for which they were convicted; the length of sentences imposed and the steps being taken to locate those who have absconded. [35225/10]

The vast majority of the persons are classified at large because of a technical breach, i.e., failing to sign on at the prison at an allotted time having been granted temporary release. It is not possible without manually examining each and every case to provide information on the exact length of sentence being served or the date that each person went at large, however, the overwhelming majority of persons were nearing the end of their sentences. The Gardaí are informed where prisoners are unlawfully at large and have the power to detain, arrest and return such persons to prison. I can also advise the Deputy that ongoing contact takes place between the Gardaí and the Prison Service in relation to persons at large.

Four hundred and nine prisoners were classified as being at large at a date during this year. Additionally,135 prisoners currently classified at large date from 2009, 40 date from 2008 and six date from 2007. Experience has shown that most offenders who go at large do not remain so for very long and it is not therefore surprising that the majority of persons on this list went at large in the not too distant past. A breakdown of the offences concerned is appended below.Legislation granting temporary release to a person detained in an institution is provided for in section 2 of the Criminal Justice Act 1960 as substituted by section 1 of the Criminal Justice (Temporary Release of Prisoners) Act 2003 and as amended by section 110 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006. This legislation grants the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the power to make rules for the temporary release of persons serving a sentence of imprisonment and these regulations are currently set out in the Prisoners (Temporary Release) Rules 2004 (S.I. No. 680 of 2004).

Where a person serving a custodial sentence has been granted temporary release, that person is entitled to be at liberty, so long as they comply with the conditions of their temporary release. Section 6(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 1960 sets out the circumstances in which a person on temporary release may be regarded as a person unlawfully-at-large. The Act also provides that a breach of a condition automatically terminates temporary release and thereafter the person is deemed to be unlawfully-at-large. Section 7 of the 1960 Act provides that such a person unlawfully-at-large may be arrested without warrant by a member of the Garda Síochána where that member suspects the person to be unlawfully-at-large, and that member may take such person to the place in which he is required in accordance with law to be detained.

The offence breakdown is set out in the following table:

Offence Category

Total

Theft and Related Offences

161

Public Order and other Social Code Offences

58

Controlled Drug Offences

54

Attempts/Threats to Murder, Assaults, Harassments and related offences

50

Burglary and Related Offences

44

Other Road and Traffic Offences

47

Dangerous or Negligent Acts

41

Offences against Government, Justice Procedures and Organisation of Crime

32

Damage to Property and to the Environment

28

Weapons and Explosives Offences

31

Fraud, Deception and Related Offences

27

Offences Not Elsewhere Classified

13

Robbery, Extortion and hijacking offences

2

Homicide Offences (both are death by dangerous driving)

2

Sexual Offences

0

Kidnapping and Related Offences

0

Garda Recruitment

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

25 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of persons recruited to An Garda Síochána since the Minister announced the commencement of a new recruitment campaign on 4 June 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35353/10]

In June 2010, 106 Garda Trainees were attested as members of An Garda Síochána and the strength of the force, on the latest date for which figures are readily available, was 14,615. An Garda Síochána is of course subject to the moratorium on recruitment and appointments in the public service and the purpose of the present Garda recruitment campaign is to establish a panel of approved candidates who will be available to meet Garda recruitment needs in the future. Applicants who are currently on a panel and have gone through the medical, physical and character vetting procedures, and are available, will be offered positions as Garda Trainees, in strict order of where they were placed on the panel, upon the resumption of recruitment.

Official Engagements

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

26 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the matters discussed at the inaugural meeting of Ministers with responsibility for justice from both parts of Ireland and Scotland on 27 September 2010; the measures that were agreed to provide an intergovernmental approach to human trafficking, organised crime, drug crime and paramilitary organisations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35465/10]

I met with Northern Ireland Minister of Justice David Ford MLA and Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Justice Kenny MacAskill MSP on 27 September 2010 at Stephenstown Pond in Co. Louth. The genesis of this meeting lies in discussions in bilateral meetings I had previously held with both Ministers. I met with Mr. MacAskill in April 2010, to build on contact at official level and with a view to discussing areas of common interest and exploring the exchange of policy ideas and best practice. I have met regularly with Mr. Ford since his appointment, both under the aegis of the Intergovernmental Agreement on Cooperation on Criminal Justice Matters and informally, to discuss matters of cooperation and common interest in the justice and policing spheres. Most recently, we opened and addressed the Cross Border Organised Crime Seminar which was held in Belfast at the start of this week.

Given the similar issues faced by our three jurisdictions and the cultural similarities and historical ties between Scotland and Ireland as a whole, I was convinced we could benefit from meeting together, particularly in the context of ensuring closer cooperation in meeting the challenges posed by organised crime in particular. At the meeting we discussed, inter alia, human trafficking, organised crime, forensic science, DNA legislation and police training.

In relation to human trafficking I outlined the measures being taken in this jurisdiction, including the enactment of the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 and the provisions contained in the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill. We discussed the possibility of including human trafficking as a discrete area of co-operation under the Intergovernmental Agreement, and committed to building on current links with the Scottish Government in this area. Minister Ford and I discussed plans to develop a Memorandum of Understanding between our Forensic Science Laboratory and Forensic Science Northern Ireland to provide for mutual support in the event of sudden loss or damage to facilities.

In the context of the introduction of our own DNA Bill, Cabinet Secretary MacAskill outlined the Scottish regime with regard to the retention of DNA samples, which was recently praised by the European Court of Human Rights. On police training, we already have excellent cooperation with the PSNI, including under the provisions of the Intergovernmental Agreement on Police Cooperation. Since my meeting with Mr. MacAskill earlier this year, invitations have been extended to senior Scottish police officers to participate on the Executive Leadership training course at Templemore, and I expect at least one Scottish participant on the course in the coming months.

Regarding initiatives to reduce offending, I briefed the meeting on the White Paper on Crime process which is currently being undertaken. Cabinet Secretary MacAskill and Minister Ford shared details of recent developments in Scotland and Northern Ireland. There was also a discussion relating to the threat posed by paramilitary groups. Overall, it was very useful to meet with Mr. Ford and Mr. MacAskill together and it is a relationship that I intend to pursue for the benefit of all the people of Ireland and Scotland.

Tribunals of Inquiry

Mary Upton

Question:

27 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the latest information available to him regarding the progress made by the Smithwick tribunal established by resolution of the Oireachtas in March 2005; when the tribunal intends to commence public hearings; the evidence that has been taken in public; if the tribunal has secured the co-operation of all potential witnesses, particularly those from outside the jurisdiction; if the tribunal intends to publish any interim report on its progress since 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35387/10]

The Smithwick Tribunal was established pursuant to the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Acts 1921-2002, to enquire into suggestions that members of the Garda Síochána or other employees of the State colluded in the fatal shootings of RUC Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and RUC Superintendent Bob Buchanan in 1989. The Tribunal was established by resolutions passed by the Oireachtas in March 2005. The Tribunal is chaired by His Honour Mr. Justice Peter Smithwick.

The Deputy will be aware that the Tribunal Chairman is independent in his functions in accordance with the provisions of the Acts. The terms of the Resolutions of Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann and the Instrument establishing the Tribunal provide for the submission of interim reports to the Clerk of the Dáil within ten days of the commencement of oral hearings regarding the granting of representation before the Tribunal, progress to date, likely duration and any other matters which the Tribunal considers appropriate. I am informed that the Tribunal is in an investigative phase at present. Public hearings will take place once that phase is completed.

As to whether the Tribunal has secured all the co-operation it requires, that is a matter for the Tribunal itself and will, I have no doubt, be addressed by it in the final report. In any event the resolutions passed by the Houses permit the Chairman to write to the Clerk of the Dáil if he believes that he is not receiving full co-operation.

Crime Levels

Joe Costello

Question:

28 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of recorded cases of so-called tiger robberies, in which staff or relations of staff of financial institutions were taken hostage in each year from 2005 to 2009 and to date in 2010; the amount of money taken in such robberies; if he is satisfied the protocols agreed with the banks to deal with such situations are adequate having regard to the ongoing incidences of such robberies; to explain the way in which he believes that increased ATM fees for the public would contribute to the reduction of such robberies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35360/10]

Seán Barrett

Question:

31 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the steps being taken to prevent family members of bank employees being taken hostage and bank employees being coerced into facilitating bank robberies; if he regards the existing protocols applicable to such circumstances and training afforded to bank employees as adequate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35221/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 28 and 31 together.

This is a despicable type of crime. The abduction and false imprisonment of a person's family or friends, in order to coerce them into assisting with a robbery is a particularly abhorrent type of crime. The trauma visited on the innocent victims involved by heartless criminals can only be imagined by the rest of us. I know my contempt for those responsible will be shared by members of this House and by the wider public.

It is the policy of An Garda Síochána not to disclose the amount of money taken during such crimes. There are agreed response procedures in place for dealing with such incidents. Regular meetings are held between An Garda Síochána and financial institutions to discuss bank security issues and in particular kidnap prevention and response protocols. Clearly it is incumbent upon the banks and financial institutions to do everything possible to prevent these robberies. That means that the protocols must be followed and systems put in place to ensure that, for example, it is not possible for employees who have been placed under terrible duress to be in a position to access large amounts of cash. When the protocols are followed the Gardaí are given a great advantage in their efforts to foil these crimes and arrest those responsible. That has been proven to be the case.

I want to assure the House that the Gardaí are totally focused in combating this form of criminality as part of the concerted efforts being made to tackle organised criminal gangs. New legislation has been put in place to provide for covert surveillance evidence to be used in Court. I have also introduced legislation which specifically targets the organised criminal gangs responsible for these reprehensible crimes. The Deputy will appreciate that bank charges and fees are not primarily a matter under my control as Minister for Justice and Law Reform. I have in any case made it clear that I am not proposing that additional costs should be imposed on the consumer. I am of the view that we should examine the current levels of cash in circulation within the economy. This is a matter that has been raised with me including by bank staff representatives.

To date in 2010 five so-called ‘tiger' kidnappings have taken place and the following table shows the number of similar incidents recorded between 2005-2009.

Year

No. of incidents recorded*

2009

6

2008

1

2007

1

2006

4

2005

1

*The total number of incidents in 2006 and 2007, namely 5, is the same as that I provided in reply to Question No. 172 of 30 June 2010. However, the Garda authorities advise that the figures in question fall to be revised to 4 and 1 respectively, not 2 and 3 which was in the earlier reply.

Sex Offender Treatment Programme

Leo Varadkar

Question:

29 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform by application of the current remission system the number of convicted sex offenders he anticipates will be released in the next 12 months having completed their sentences; the number of such offenders who have to date engaged in a treatment program; the numbers of those scheduled for release within 12 months who he anticipates will have participated in such a program prior to release and to detail the nature of the programs concerned and the qualifications and training of those who provide such programs. [35233/10]

I would like to advise the Deputy that the information requested is currently being compiled and will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as it is available.

Proposed Legislation

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

30 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform when the Bill on mental capacity and guardianship to implement the 2006 recommendations of the Law Reform Commission will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35226/10]

The Government Legislation Programme, published on 29 September 2010, indicates that the Mental Capacity Bill will be published in this Session. The Bill will reform the law on mental capacity taking into account the Law Reform Commission's Report on Vulnerable Adults and the Law. It is intended that the Bill will replace the Wards of Court system with a modern statutory framework governing decision-making on behalf of adults who lack capacity.

Question No. 31 answered with Question No. 28.

Probation and Welfare Service

Mary Upton

Question:

32 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform his plans to increase investment in the probation service and enhance diversion programmes in respect of anti-social behaviour and minor public order offences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35388/10]

The Probation Service of my Department is the lead agency in the assessment and management of offenders in our communities. In common with the rest of the Civil Service the Probation Service is subject to the Government's moratorium on recruitment and promotion and its staff also have access to the Incentivised Career Break Scheme and the Incentivised Scheme of Early Retirement. Where vacancies do arise, the Probation Service is required to further prioritise its workload. When the Probation Service was restructured five years ago, increased emphasis was placed on working with higher risk offenders and juvenile offenders and in developing the Community Service system as an effective alternative to custody. These remain the priority areas for the Probation Service.

As the Deputy may know currently the most common non-custodial sanction used by the Courts is the imposition of a fine. Indeed, the recently enacted Fines Act, 2010 makes provision for the use of non-custodial options for the non-payment of fines such as Community Service in less serious cases. I am glad to tell the Deputy that my Department recently obtained Department of Finance sanction for recruitment to a number of priority, frontline posts in the Probation Service, by way of exceptions to the current Moratorium. This involves the recruitment of 8 Probation Officers and 3 Community Service Supervisors and follows on from the recent filling of 2 posts at Senior Probation Officer level. This current investment of staffing resources into the Probation Service is further evidence of the priority being given to the delivery of core frontline services. My Department and Probation Service management are keeping the situation under constant review to ensure that the resources at the disposal of the Service are managed as effectively and efficiently as possible.

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

Turning to the issue of juveniles, tackling youth crime is a key priority for this Government. The Government's policy on youth crime is set out in detail in the National Youth Justice Strategy 2008-2010. This strategy is underpinned by the principles of the Children Act 2001, as amended. The approach adopted by the Government involves the deployment of Garda Juvenile Liaison Officers, Community Gardaí and the use of measures such as the Garda Diversion Programme, Garda Youth Diversion Projects, Young Persons Probation Projects, community sanctions and the incremental process of warnings, good behaviour contracts and anti-social behaviour orders, all of which attempt to confront youth crime and related behaviours in an incremental way, with detention as a last resort. I am not in a position to give an indication as to a possible increase in the level of investment in 2011 in diversion and community sanctions until the 2011 Estimates process has been completed.

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

With regard to adults, these include a behaviour warning and the making of a civil order by the Court. With regard to children, they range from a warning from a member of An Garda Síochána, to a good behaviour contract involving the child and his or her parents or guardian, to referral to the Garda Juvenile Diversion Programme and finally to the making of a behaviour order by the Children Court.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that, up to 30 September, 2010, 2,208 behaviour warnings have been issued to adults and 1,476 to children. Fifteen good behaviour contracts have been issued to children. Four civil orders (in respect of adults) and three behaviour orders (in respect of children) have been issued by the Courts. In setting up the regime the intention was that interventions short of a Court Order would address the problem behaviour. If they succeed, there will be no need to apply to the Courts. It is only if they fail to lead to a behaviour adjustment by the person in question, that a Court Order will be applied for. Given the small number of Court Orders which have been finalised (seven in all) compared to the number of warnings given, it would appear that this is in fact happening and that the Gardaí are exercising their powers under the legislation pragmatically and the option of a Court Order is very much a last resort.

I should also add that the most recently published Discussion Document of the White Paper on Crime series, ‘Criminal Sanctions', included an examination of the use of non-custodial sanctions generally. Submissions on this Document were invited and in August 2010 my Department published reports of both the submissions received and a consultation seminar held in Dublin Castle on the 28 May 2010. The opinions received will all feed into the development of future policy in this field.

Gaming Regulation

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

33 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the action the Garda intends to take regarding the continued operation, especially in the Dublin area, of gaming arcades and other premises operating in breach of the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956, particularly in regard to the maximum permitted stake; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35367/10]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question No 100 for answer on 30 June 2010, in which the operation of gaming premises was previously addressed. Subsequent to that reply, my officials have sought advice from the Office of the Attorney General on the matter. I can assure the Deputy that should the law need to be changed consequent on any advices received, to ensure an appropriate level of enforcement or control of gaming, I will not hesitate to do so as part of the outcome of the review of gambling currently underway.

Remission of Prison Sentences

Brian O'Shea

Question:

34 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will amend the rules governing remission of prison sentences so that those convicted of serious sexual offences will only qualify if they have satisfactorily completed a course of treatment during their sentence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35371/10]

The granting of sentence remission is a feature of many prison systems worldwide and has been a feature of the Irish criminal justice system since the foundation of the State. Indeed our Courts are aware of the statutory entitlement to remission when passing sentence. Section 35 of the Prisons Act, 2007 (No. 10 of 2007) provides that the Minister may make rules for the regulation and good government of prisons and such rules may provide for the remission of a portion of a prisoner's sentence. New Prison Rules (S.I. No. 252 of 2007) ,effective from 1st October, 2007, specifically deal with the matter of remission at Rule 59.Prisoners sentenced to imprisonment (other than the categories listed below) are entitled by law to remission of one quarter of sentence provided they are of good behaviour during their time in custody.

There are a number of categories of prisoner who are excluded from standard remission of sentence under the Prison Rules and these are as follows:

Life sentence prisoners;

Persons convicted of debtor offences;

Persons convicted of contempt of court;

Persons being held on remand warrants; and

Persons serving a sentence of less than one month.

I should also add that European Court of Human Rights has held that a loss of remission requires a specific finding of a breach of prison discipline. In practice therefore, a prisoner will normally get 25% remission unless they have breached prison discipline and a sanction of loss of remission has been imposed.

As stated already remission and conditional release are a common feature of prison systems throughout Western Europe. Remission rates can vary between 25% and 50%. For example, in the Netherlands prisoners are entitled to automatic remission of one third of their sentence. The UK also used to provide automatic remission of one third but their system was changed in 2006 to a system of conditional release after 50% of the sentence was served. There would be constitutional issues in trying to introduce any new system which would reduce the amount of remission for prisoners who have already been sentenced.

In relation to interventions specifically aimed at the cohort of prisoner serving sentences relating to sexual offences I would like to tell the Deputy about a new programme of group interventions for such offenders which was introduced in the Irish Prison Service in January 2009. The programme, "Building Better Lives", allows more responsive and flexible delivery to a greater number of offenders than heretofore. The new treatment programme will ensure that all sex offenders serving sentences of one year or more will have access to appropriate treatment. This new programme replaced the Sex Offender Programme which ran from 1994 to 2008. There is a comprehensive range of services available to sex offenders and any willing participant can be facilitated within the range of therapeutic interventions. These comprise notably one-to-one interventions, group interventions, community-based services and interventions available to prisoners generally. Therapeutic interventions with sex offenders are delivered primarily through the Psychology Service of the Irish Prison Service.

Research indicates that there is no evidence to support the idea that mandatory attendance, or indeed attendance achieved under threat of punishment, at rehabilitation programmes was of any value in reducing re-offending. Incentives to encourage voluntary participation offer a greater chance of success. On the contrary all indications are that rehabilitation does not work unless the offender is motivated to engage with the process. The successful completion of any group treatment course depends critically on the full and willing participation of self-motivated individuals. Otherwise, the elements of the programme concerned with challenging the offender to take responsibility for his offending behaviour will not succeed. I will continue to keep under review what measures (including remission) are appropriate to maintain effective participation rates in therapeutic programmes by sex offenders.

Crime Levels

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

35 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to recent statistics released by the Central Statistics Office which showed a significant number of offences committed by persons on bail in the past three and a half years, including 33 murders; if he is satisfied with the current operation of the bail laws in view of these figures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35362/10]

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

The statistics compiled by the Central Statistics Office indicate that in 2009 there was a reduction of 7% in the number of offences recorded where the suspected offender was on bail, compared with the previous year. Towards the end of last year, I obtained Government approval to commence work on a new Bail Bill. The Bill will restate and consolidate bail law. In addition, a number of matters to improve the operation of the law are being examined. These include:

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

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

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

I hope to be in a position to bring proposals to Government before the end of this year.

Gangland Killings

Joe Costello

Question:

36 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of cases of murder in which firearms were used; the number of such cases in which prosecutions for murder were initiated; the number of such cases where convictions were secured; if he is satisfied with the level of detection and conviction in such cases in respect of each year from 1998 to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35361/10]

All cases of murder where proceedings have not yet been taken remain under active investigation. The detection rate by its nature increases over time as Garda investigations progress. It is expected that the number of convictions obtained will increase as Garda investigations are concluded and proceedings commenced are finalised by the courts. This applies particularly to murders committed in the most recent years. In addition, directions may be received from the law officers to charge persons arrested in connection with such incidents with offences other than murder, for example firearms offences. Furthermore, such persons charged and brought before the courts may be convicted of offences other than murder.

While An Garda Síochána has made significant progress in the investigation of a number of killings, the reality is that there can be considerable difficulties in obtaining evidence in shootings which are the result of gangland activities from associates of a victim of a gangland killing, or indeed from gangland figures even when they themselves are the victims of violence. It has also to be accepted that there is often no connection or personal association between the victim and the perpetrator, which makes it very difficult for An Garda Síochána in their investigation of such a murder. Witnesses may also be subject to high levels of intimidation not to come forward, and it is to assist such witnesses that the Witness Protection Programme is in place. Against that background, I am informed by the Garda authorities that of the 203 murders involving a firearm recorded during the period 1 January, 1998 to 3 October, 2010, the most recent date for which figures are available, proceedings have commenced in 61 cases and 25 convictions secured. Figures are operational and liable to change.

I am, of course, deeply concerned about the incidence of gun murders and I deplore all such killings. All killings, regardless of the circumstances involved, are the subject of rigorous investigation by An Garda Síochána and will continue to be so. In setting the policing priorities for An Garda Síochána in 2010, I asked the Commissioner to continue the focus of the force on serious crime, in particular organised crime. This priority is also reflected in the Garda policing plan for this year, and specific initiatives, including under Operation Anvil and involving members of the Emergency Response Unit, have been put in place.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that multi-agency approaches have been and continue to be used where National Units — the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Criminal Assets Bureau, the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation and the Garda Technical Bureau — are used to combat serious crime, including gangland crime. These units are also supported by the Security and Intelligence Section which assists with intelligence briefings and timely information. This integrated approach adopts best practice in implementing a coordinated use of Garda resources and using available criminal legislation to its fullest extent. Operations are reviewed on an ongoing basis to ensure their effectiveness. These specific initiatives are in addition to the activities of all members of An Garda Síochána in implementing and enforcing the criminal law.

It was in that overall context that I introduced greatly strengthened legislation in the area of organised crime which is being fully utilised by An Garda Síochána, including the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009, the Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Act 2009, the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and the Criminal Procedure Act 2010. I have introduced further significant legislative proposals in the Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System) Bill, and I will not hesitate to introduce additional measures if that becomes necessary. In addition, I have secured Government approval to commence work on a new Bail Bill to consolidate and update bail law with a view to presenting a clear, accessible and modern statement of the law.

There are very severe penalties for firearms offices in place under the Criminal Justice Act 2006. For example, possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life and using a firearm to resist arrest or aid escape carry a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years. Possessing a firearm while hijacking a vehicle, possessing a firearm or ammunition in suspicious circumstances, carrying a firearm with criminal intent and altering a firearm all carry a mandatory minimum sentence of five years.

Prisoner Releases

Alan Shatter

Question:

37 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if a convicted drug dealer (details supplied) who absconded having been granted a temporary release from prison remains at large; if he will provide the exact offence for which they were convicted; the length of sentence imposed; the date when granted temporary release and the steps being taken by An Garda Síochána to ascertain their whereabouts since they absconded. [35224/10]

The person referred to was given a cumulative sentence totalling 4 years imprisonment in October, 2007 for a number of sentences including no insurance, dangerous driving and assault. Following a sentence management review in mid 2009, the prisoner in question was deemed suitable for a transfer to an open centre and was transferred to Shelton Abbey on 5 September 2009.

I am advised by the Director General of the Irish Prison Service that he absconded from Shelton Abbey on 11 October, 2009 and that he remains unlawfully at large. Gardaí were notified of his status by the prison staff on the same date. I am also advised that at no stage was the prisoner in question granted temporary release during this sentence. Section 7 of the Criminal Justice Act 1960 provides that a person unlawfully-at-large may be arrested without warrant by a member of the Garda Síochána where that member suspects the person to be unlawfully-at-large. The Act also provides that the member may take such a person to the place in which he is required in accordance with law to be detained. Every effort is made by members of An Garda Síochána to return all such persons to custody.

Garda Inspectorate

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

38 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the concern expressed by the head of the Garda Inspectorate (details supplied) at the failure of the Garda to implement a number of recommendations of the Abbeylara inquiry; the recommendations that are still be implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35366/10]

P. J. Sheehan

Question:

46 Deputy P. J. Sheehan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the reason three key and urgent recommendations 2.40, 2.41 and 2.42 made in the Abbeylara report published in February 2007 with regard to the need for formal arrangements for a team of mental health professionals to be established to assist the Garda in dealing with hostage incidents remain to be implemented and the action that has been taken to date to implement these particular recommendations. [35220/10]

Alan Shatter

Question:

135 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the reason three key and urgent recommendations, 2.40, 2.41 and 2.42, made in the Abbeylara report published in February 2007 with regard to the need for formal arrangements for a team of mental health professionals to be established to assist the Garda in dealing with hostage incidents remain to be implemented; and the steps that have been taken to date to implement these particular recommendations. [35547/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 38, 46 and 135 together.

Following on from the Barr Tribunal, the Garda Inspectorate published its second report,Review of Practices and Procedures for Barricade Incidents, in February 2007. The report contains eighty-four recommendations made by the Inspectorate. To date, seventy-four of these have been fully implemented, a further seven have been partially implemented and further progress remains to be made in relation to three. These three remaining recommendations relate to the need for a formal arrangement for the provision of professional mental health advice and support to the Garda Síochána at barricade incidents. This is one of a number of issues currently being considered by a high level Cross-Sectoral Working Group, chaired jointly by my Department and the Department of Health & Children. This Working Group includes representatives from An Garda Síochána and the Health Service Executive. In the meantime, the Central Mental Hospital continues to provide the Garda Síochána with specialist medical support in critical incidents.

Joint Policing Committees

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

39 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he is satisfied with the operation of the local policing committees; the numbers of such committees established to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35376/10]

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

On 24 September, 2008, I launched, with my colleague the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, guidelines for the Committees, which took into account the experience gained during a pilot phase and which provided for the establishment of Committees in all 114 local authority areas by the relevant local authority and the Garda Commissioner. I am informed by the Garda authorities that 110 Committees have been established to date. I attach great importance to the work of the Committees and believe that they are playing a constructive role in providing a collaborative approach to preventing and tackling crime at the local level and facilitating appropriate and relevant responses to local issues.

Departmental Expenditure

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

40 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will outline the recommendations of the McCarthy report on public service numbers and expenditure that he intends to implement during 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35375/10]

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

A significant proportion of the recommendations (€84 million) related to reductions in payroll costs on items such as allowances payable to members of the Garda Síochána and the Prisons Service. In common with all Departments, there are significant reductions in payroll related provisions in 2010 to take account of the reductions in payroll rates and other factors. The overall reduction in gross payroll budgets for the Justice Sector compared with the 2009 estimate is in the region of €126 million. A number of recommendations were made by the McCarthy Group on structural reform and rationalisation across the Justice and Equality Sector. Decisions in respect of a number of these recommendations will be a matter for decision by Government in due course.

In other cases progress is being made on measures such as the reduction of staffing in the Children's Detention Schools under the ambit of the Irish Youth Justice Service. Any expenditure reductions arising will be reflected in the budget for the Sector in future years as appropriate. A number of the recommendations in this context refer to the Equality, Disability, Integration and Human Rights areas, which are now the responsibility of the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs.

While it was never the intention that the full €134 million reduction recommended in the McCarthy report would be delivered in 2010, significant progress in this regard has been made. This is through a combination of the recommendations in the report and other measures being taken as part of the Government's budgetary policy.

Juvenile Offenders

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

41 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will make a commitment that projects working with young people involved in, or at risk of involvement, in criminal activity that receive State funding via the probation service will have their funding held at least at its current level next year. [35396/10]

I am well aware of the importance of funding for these projects but I am currently not in a position to give an indication of the level of funding for next year until the 2011 Estimates process has been completed. It is important to point out that tackling youth crime is a key priority for this Government. The Government's policy on youth crime is set out in detail in the National Youth Justice Strategy 2008-2010. This strategy is underpinned by the principles of the Children Act 2001, as amended. The approach adopted by the Government involves the deployment of Garda Juvenile Liaison Officers and the use of measures such as the Garda Diversion Programme, Garda Youth Diversion Projects, Young Persons Probation Projects, community sanctions and the incremental process of warnings, good behaviour contracts and anti-social behaviour orders, all of which attempt to confront youth crime and related behaviours in an incremental way, with detention as a last resort.

Proposed Legislation

Deirdre Clune

Question:

42 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform his plans to reform and modernise bankruptcy legislation here as recommended by the innovation task force report; if he intends to introduce a system compatible with that which exists in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35399/10]

I assume that the Deputy is referring to recommendation number 10.7 contained in the Report of the Innovation Taskforce that provides for modernisation of bankruptcy law. The Deputy will appreciate that the recommendation envisages that any such modernisation should follow the conclusion of the Law Reform Commission's consultation process on Personal Debt Management and Debt Enforcement. I can assure the Deputy that my Department will give early attention to consideration of the detail of the Final Report of the Law Reform Commission on the subject of modernisation of bankruptcy when it becomes available in the near future.

Organised Crime

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

43 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the extent to which he has used all available legislation to combat the activities of each criminal gang having particular regard to the extent to which he and/or his Department have specific knowledge regarding the number, location, strength and activity of such gangs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35404/10]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that there are two categories of organised crime groups operating within this jurisdiction. The first category consists of groups that are well established and tightly structured and are involved in drug trafficking, armed robbery and firearms offences. The second category involves groups whose activities are characterised by less cohesive group structures, and criminal activities which are mainly confined to Ireland. Membership of organised crime gangs tends to be fluid and the nature of criminal activity is such that offences committed by members of gangs may or may not be connected with the individual's membership of such gangs. The identification of offenders as members of a criminal gang is generally not an essential criterion in the prosecution of offences. It is not therefore possible to ascertain the precise number of criminals or criminal gangs operating in this country at a particular given time.

As the Deputy is aware, the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009 entered into force, in its entirety, on 23 July 2009. The primary purpose of the legislation is to make additional measures available to An Garda Síochána to combat organised crime. The Act introduced an amended offence relating to participation or involvement in organised crime with a penalty of up to 15 years imprisonment. Where there is justification and a legal basis, those suspected of involvement in criminal activity are arrested, detained and questioned in relation to specific crimes. To date, the Act has been used on eighty-three occasions where arrests have been made in relation to organised crime. Eight individuals have been charged under the legislation. Many of the other arrests have also resulted in charges being preferred for other offences such as firearms offences, drug trafficking, violent disorder, theft, aggravated burglary etc.

Members of An Garda Síochána are utilising all available legislation relating to organised crime. An Garda Síochána will continue to develop and implement strategies to dismantle and disrupt criminal networks, utilising advanced analytical and intelligence methods to facilitate targeted operations to enable early intervention and prevention of such crimes.

Prison Committals

Seymour Crawford

Question:

44 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of persons in prison at the present time as a result of non-payment of fines and or failure to pay debts; if he accepts that this is not the most cost effective or beneficial way of dealing with such an issue and that it would be better dealt with by agreed payments through income or social welfare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35355/10]

I can advise the Deputy that the number of such persons actually held in custody at any one time is a minute fraction of the overall prisoner population. To illustrate this point, 14 prisoners out of a total of 4.366 or 0.3 % of the prison population on 05 October 2010 fell into this category. On the same date there was 1 person in custody for failing to pay a civil debt.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Fines Act 2010 was signed into law at the end of May this year. It provides for an innovative, balanced and more humane approach to the determination and collection of fines. Capacity to pay, equality of impact and payment by instalment are key features of the legislation. The Act addresses the issue of capacity to pay by requiring the court to examine the financial circumstances of the person before determining the amount of the fine. The person on whom the fine has been imposed will be entitled to make an application to the court to pay by instalments.

The Act also provides for alternatives to imprisonment in the event of non-payment of a fine. In such circumstances, a recovery order can be activated and a receiver will be entitled to recover the fine or to seize and sell property from the person and recover the fine from the proceeds. A community service order is also an option. Imprisonment in the event of default will be a last resort.

Control of Firearms

Arthur Morgan

Question:

45 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the decision making process and principal factors taken into consideration by his Department when considering requests from foreign security personnel to carry firearms in this State; and the number of requests he has received each year for the past five years. [35395/10]

The Deputy will appreciate that for obvious reasons it is not the practice and it would not be in the public interest to comment on matters related to the security of VIPs. The importation of firearms is strictly governed by legislation. In particular, pursuant to the Firearms (Firearms Certificates for Non-Residents) Act 2000, the Minister is empowered to grant firearms certificates to non-residents who apply for a firearms certificate for purposes other than hunting or sporting purposes. Any decision to grant a firearms certificate is made in consultation with the Garda Síochána, which at all times retains responsibility for law enforcement matters generally and in relation to visiting VIPs.

Question No. 46 answered with Question No. 38.

Garda Investigations

Sean Sherlock

Question:

47 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the arrangements that will be made to instruct members of the Garda Síochána that it is not necessary to take a longhand note of interviews with persons in custody where such interviews are being electronically recorded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35382/10]

Proposals for the introduction of a new system which would allow the taking of contemporaneous written notes to cease where interviews are electronically recorded have been considered by my Department and the Garda Síochána, in consultation with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Office of the Attorney General. While proposals for a new system are well advanced, it is not a straight-forward matter and there are a number of legal, technological, training and financial issues to be addressed before any changeover to a new system can take place.

Accordingly, the matter is one of a number of issues now being considered by the Advisory Committee on Garda Interviewing which I established earlier this Summer. This Committee, Chaired by the Honourable Mr Justice Esmond Smyth, was established, following the recommendations of the Morris Tribunal, to oversee policy on interviews in Garda custody and to ensure that the law and systems of interviewing are kept under continual review. I will give very careful consideration to the views of the Committee on this matter.

Commercial Rent Reviews

Joan Burton

Question:

48 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he has now received the report of the working group to look at the issue of commercial rent reviews which was to report by 30 June 2010; the main findings of the group; when it is intended to publish the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35359/10]

The report of the Working Group on transparency in commercial rent reviews was published on 17 August. It is available on my Department's website — www.justice.ie. The Working Group recommended the establishment of a public database containing relevant details of letting arrangements and rent reviews in the commercial property market. An appropriate amendment is being developed within the Department for inclusion in the Property Services (Regulation) Bill 2009 which would see the Property Services Regulatory Authority being given responsibility for the management of the database. The precise operational details pertaining to the database have yet to be finalised.

Also amongst the recommendations is the adoption, by landlords and tenants alike, of the rent review arbitration code which is appended to the report and which is intended to achieve a uniform and transparent procedure for the resolution of disputes in the sector. The Group which I established had representatives from all of the key stakeholders in the commercial property market. They have all signed up to the Report and I am confident that there is a willingness to implement its recommendations.

The Group has also made a number of ancillary recommendations which are largely intended to point parties in the direction of good practice. For example, it is recommended that rent reviews take place as close to the review date as is possible to avoid any unnecessary lag between the market conditions prevailing at that date and those at the time the review actually takes place.

Courts Service

Jack Wall

Question:

49 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the reason for the decision to withdraw the €35 per day paid to volunteers of the court support service; his plans for the future of the service in view of the support and assistance the service has been providing to victims and witnesses appearing in courts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35389/10]

I should say at the outset that my Department has not withdrawn funding from the organisation which provides services to victims of crime in respect of court support services. I understand that since its inception in 2005 the Commission for the Support of Victims of Crime has provided grant assistance to the Court Support Services Organisation. The Commission continues to fund the Court Support Services in 2010. The Commission is an independent body operating under the aegis of my Department.

I am advised that the Commission has expended considerable time and energy over a number of years in relation to significant governance issues in the Court Support Services. Since June, 2009 the board of the Court Support Services has actively worked to resolve these issues. An independent report on developing effective governance and management for the Court Support Services in summer, 2010 found the governance structures inadequate and recommended that a range of measures needed to be implemented.

In relation to the subject matter of the current question, I am advised that the Board of the Court Support Services is replacing a system of unvouched expenses for volunteers with a system supported by receipts. The independent report mentioned above recommended such a system. I understand that the Board of the Court Support Services is actively seeking to implement all of the recommendations of the independent report, so that the Court Support Services can become a sustainable organisation with the ability to deliver top class services to victims of crime. The Board is about to recruit a new manager for the service.

Existing nationwide court accompaniment services for victims of domestic violence, rape and sexual assault and Dublin-based services for those under eighteen years of age continue to operate at full capacity. A court accompaniment service in the Central Criminal Court is being provided this week by the Court Support Services and other highly experienced volunteers. It is my considered view that all of the organisations funded by the Commission for the Support of Victims of Crime must aim to achieve the highest standard of service for victims of crime.

Question No. 50 answered with Question No. 21.

Prison Committals

Liz McManus

Question:

51 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of prisoners held in the State and on temporary release at the latest date for which figures are available; if he will give the equivalent figures for the same date for each year since 2002; the average number of prisoners on temporary release for each month of this year; the steps that are being taken to deal with overcrowding and to reduce the number of prisoners availing of temporary release; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35370/10]

It is important to put our increasing prisoner population in context and within the management of this population to look at the role that temporary release can play. Indeed Ireland is not unique in having to manage an increasing prisoner population — a fact acknowledged by the Inspector of Prisons in his commentary on this issue. It is evident from a perusal of the prison statistics for recent years that there has been a consistent increase in the total prisoner population. For example, over the past 12 months the total number in custody has increased by 412 or a 10.41% rise in the number in custody. This increase — evident over recent years — is due in large measure to the significant additional resources this Government has invested in the Criminal Justice System. The Garda Síochána has been increasingly successful in prosecuting criminals and combined with extra court sittings we have a higher rate of committals to our prison system which itself has also benefited from additional capital investment to provide new and upgraded prison spaces.

The Criminal Justice Act 1960, as amended by the Criminal Justice (Temporary Release of Prisoners) Act 2003 provides that the Minister may approve the temporary release of a sentenced prisoner. This discretionary instrument assists in gradually preparing suitable offenders for release and in administering short sentences, and is an incentive to well-behaved prisoners.

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

Turning to data on the percentage of prisoners on temporary release again it may interest the Deputy to put some context on the current situation. For example in 1997 some 19.2% of prisoners were on temporary release. Turning to current figures over a decade later and mindful of our increased overall population, on 5 October 2010 there were 605 prisoners on temporary release. This represented 11.78% of the overall prisoner population for that day. The figures for the corresponding date from 2002 onwards are as follows:

Year

Total number on Temporary release

Total number in custody on 5 October 2010

2002

310

3,152

2003

253

3,184

2004

248

3,161

2005

127

3,037

2006

167

3,203

2007

125

3,309

2008

329

3,572

2009

609

3,954

The average number of prisoners on temporary release for each month this year is set out in the table below.

Month

Average on Temporary Release

January

551

February

647

March

750

April

836

May

882

June

943

July

870

August

709

September

659

I have acknowledged previously our increasing prisoner population. In doing that I have also referred to the Government's commitment to providing resources to the Irish Prison Service so that an extensive programme of investment in prisons infrastructure could be undertaken which has involved both the modernisation of the existing estate and the provision of extra prison spaces. This significant programme of capital works includes the new prisons in Castlerea, the Midlands, Cloverhill, the Dóchas Centre and new accommodation in Limerick, Portlaoise, Castlerea and Wheatfield prisons and at the open centres in Shelton Abbey and Loughan House. Since 1997 almost 1,800 new prison spaces have come on stream in the prison system and this figure will rise to 1,920 when the new block in Wheatfield is fully open.

In addition, Government capital investment will allow the Irish Prison Service to continue with its building programme. The Irish Prison Service plan to commence construction later this year on a new accommodation block in the Portlaoise/Midlands prisons complex which will provide 300 prison spaces in 2012. Also in the short term, work is due to commence on converting an administrative building on the Dóchas site into a new accommodation block which will provide 70 spaces by the end of 2010.

I am confident that the Government's continued commitment to providing additional prison spaces which these new developments will provide will no doubt assist the Irish Prison Service in reducing the rate of prisoners on temporary release in the future.

Prison Drug Treatment Services

Terence Flanagan

Question:

52 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of prisoners on a waiting list to participate in a drug treatment programme; the number, if any, who have been on such waiting list for in excess of three months and the steps being taken, if any, by the Minister to ensure such treatment is speedily provided for prisoners who require or request it. [35223/10]

Alan Shatter

Question:

134 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform in respect of each of our prisons the number of prisoners on a waiting list to participate in a drug treatment program; the number, if any, who have been on such waiting lists for in excess of three months; and the steps being taken, if any, by the Minister to ensure treatment is speedily provided for prisoners who require or request it. [35546/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 52 and 134 together.

As of 30 September 2010, there were 34 prisoners throughout the prison system on waiting lists for drug treatment programmes. No prisoner has been on the waiting list for more than three months. Table 1. shows the number on the waiting list by prison. I am advised by the Director General of the Irish Prison Service that the current waiting list will be cleared within 1 month.

Prison

Number of Waiting List

Mountjoy

23

Midlands

3

Wheatfield

2

Cloverhill

6

A report on Prison Drug Treatment Services in Ireland (March 2008) highlighted the high level of need for addiction services among the prison population and the upward increase in the number of prisoners treated. This clinical evaluation confirmed that the Irish Prison Service drug treatment services are to the forefront internationally, particularly when judged against the numbers receiving methadone maintenance treatment.

Public Order Offences

Denis Naughten

Question:

53 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the steps he will take to address anti-social behaviour; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35228/10]

Strong provisions are in place to combat anti-social behaviour. The Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 modernised the law in this regard. Furthermore, because of concerns about the abuse of alcohol and its contribution to public order offending and broader social problems, provisions were brought forward to deal with alcohol abuse and its effect on public order in the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2003. The Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 2003 also provides the Gardaí with powers to deal with late night street violence and anti-social conduct attributable to excessive drinking.

The Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008 gives further powers to the Gardaí to tackle misuse of alcohol. Gardaí now have the power to seize alcohol in the possession of an under 18 year old which they suspect is for consumption in a public place. They can also seize alcohol where they reasonably believe that there is the danger of public disorder or damage to property and require the person to leave the place. Gardaí may also issue fixed charge notices for the offences of intoxication in a public place and disorderly conduct in a public place. These notices are a more efficient and effective use of Garda resources and avoid court proceedings when an offender pays the penalty.

An Garda Síochána works to reduce public disorder by identifying and proactively targeting local hot spots and responding quickly to reports of public disorder and anti-social behaviour. Operation Encounter has been in operation since 2002 to target public disorder and anti-social behaviour and specifically targets offences contrary to the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 and the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1988. Almost 615,000 offences have been detected since the operation's commencement.

Part 11 of the Criminal Justice Act, 2006, which provides for civil proceedings in relation to anti-social behaviour by adults, was commenced on 1 January, 2007. Part 13 of the Act relating to anti-social behaviour by children was commenced on 1 March, 2007. These provisions set out an incremental procedure for addressing anti-social behaviour by adults and children. With regard to children, these range from a warning from a member of An Garda Síochána, to a good behaviour contract involving the child and his or her parents or guardian, to referral to the Garda Juvenile Diversion Programme and to the making of a behaviour order by the Children Court. I am informed by the Garda authorities that, up to 30 September, 2010, 2,208 behaviour warnings have been issued to adults and 1,476 to children. Fifteen good behaviour contracts have been made with children. Four civil orders (in respect of adults) and three behaviour orders (in respect of children) have been issued by the courts.

The Garda Adult Cautioning Scheme enables warnings to be issued to offenders in certain circumstances (specified by the Director of Public Prosecutions), instead of their being prosecuted. While it reduces the volume of cases prosecuted through the courts by An Garda Síochána and allows less serious offenders, who are considered unlikely to re-offend, to have their cases dealt with expeditiously. It also forces offenders to confront the reality of the offences they have committed. Most of the offences covered by the Scheme are public order and anti-social behaviour offences and include offences under the Public Order Act 1994 (for example, intoxication in a public place, threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour in a public place and failure to comply with a direction of a Garda) and the Intoxicating Liquor Acts (for example, disorderly conduct).

Tackling youth crime is a key priority for this Government. The Government's policy on youth crime is set out in detail in the National Youth Justice Strategy 2008-2010. This strategy is underpinned by the principles of the Children Act 2001, as amended. The approach adopted by the Government involves the deployment of Garda Juvenile Liaison Officers, community Gardaí and the use of measures such as the Garda Diversion Programme, Garda Youth Diversion Projects, Young Persons Probation Projects, community sanctions and the incremental process of warnings, good behaviour contracts and anti-social behaviour orders, all of which attempt to confront youth crime and related behaviours in an incremental way, with detention as a last resort.

An Garda Síochána also works very closely with local authority personnel with regard to the enforcement of the provisions of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, in respect of anti-social behaviour and related matters, by persons provided with local authority housing.

Garda Reserve

Willie Penrose

Question:

54 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the total number of the Garda Reserve recruited to date; if he will list the stations to which they have been allocated; the total number of applicants for the Reserve currently in training; if he is satisfied with the rate of recruitment; when he expects the full complement of 1,500 will be in place; if any restrictions have been placed on recruitment to the Reserve arising from budgetary restrictions; if he intends to undertake the review of the operation of the Garda Reserve, as recommended in the report of the Garda Inspectorate on resource allocation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35378/10]

I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that the personnel strength of the Garda Reserve, on the latest date for which figures are readily available, was 626 with a further 144 in training. I have asked the Commissioner for the latest report on the allocation of Garda Reserve members throughout the country and as soon as this becomes available I will communicate it to the Deputy. The Government has set a target strength for the Reserve at 10% of the full time strength of the Force. Recruitment is ongoing and the Government is strongly committed to the development of the Reserve. The moratorium on recruitment and appointments in the public service does not apply to the Garda Reserve, as members are volunteers and do not draw a salary. The Garda Commissioner is responsible for determining the range of powers and duties of Reserve members, and I am sure that he will keep these under review in line with the recommendation of the Inspectorate.

Garda Inspectorate

Willie Penrose

Question:

55 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform to indicate which of the recommendations contained in the latest report of the Garda Inspectorate on resource allocation will be implemented during 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35377/10]

I am informed by the Garda Commissioner, that following the publication of the Garda Inspectorate Report on Resource Allocation, Deputy Commissioner Strategy and Change Management was appointed to consider the report and to co-ordinate an agreed and pragmatic programme of work to advance the implementation of the twenty-seven recommendations. My officials will work closely with the Garda Síochána and the Garda Síochána Inspectorate on implementation of the recommendations in order to maximise efficient allocation of Garda resources.

While every effort will be made to progress the recommendations of the Garda Inspectorate Report on Resource Allocation, it is recognised by both An Garda Síochána and the Garda Inspectorate that, due to the current economic situation, there is limited scope to fund change proposals. Where recommendations involve significant capital costs, interim measures, where possible, will be considered until such time as funding is available for full implementation. However, implementation of some recommendations will not require capital investment and I am keen to make progress, in particular, on necessary revision of Garda rosters, the implementation of which is included under the Transformation Agenda which has been agreed with the Garda representative bodies. I am also keen to progress an examination of station opening hours as part of measures to improve the matching of Garda resources to the demand for policing services.

Garda Operations

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

56 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the monthly cost of policing around the Corrib gas project in 2010 and the total cost to date. [35397/10]

I am informed by the Garda Authorities that the overall costs of the policing operation to date for the Corrib Gas project, from the commencement of the operation in August 2005 to end September 2010 is approximately €13.925 million. The figure for 2010 to end September is €337, 777. A detailed breakdown of the figures is set out in the table below. These figures do not include the basic salaries of the members who performed the duty at the Corrib Gas project. These costs and the breakdown of costs by month are not readily available and could only be obtained by the disproportionate expenditure of Garda time and resources relative to the information sought.

Corrib Gas operation

January – September 2010

August 2005 – September 2010

Overtime and allowances

217,950

8,801,935

Travel & Subsistence

86,723

4,403,828

Employer’s PRSI

12,578

449,476

Miscellaneous Expenses

20,526

269,281

Total

337,777

13,924,520

Juvenile Offenders

Róisín Shortall

Question:

57 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform his views on the reported increase in juvenile crime, with the number of juveniles charged with criminal offences in the Children’s Court increasing by 90% between 2004 and 2008; the steps he will take to combat the increase in juvenile crime; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35373/10]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 16 on Thursday, 13 May, 2010. The position remains essentially as stated. However, I would like to add that in August I published the 2009 Annual Report of the Committee appointed to monitor the effectiveness of the Garda Diversion Programme. This report showed a reduction of 13% in the number of incidents referred to the programme and the 14% reduction in the number of children referred, compared to 2008. The number of children deemed unsuitable for inclusion in the Diversion Programme provides a reliable indicator of the number of children considered for prosecution before the courts. The Diversion Programme Reports for 2004 and 2009 show that 2,718 children were deemed unsuitable for diversion in 2004 compared to 2,966 in 2009. This is an increase of 248 children, which is equivalent to a 9.1% increase over 5 years.

Garda Investigations

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

58 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the outcome of the Garda investigation into allegations that Irish passports were used by Israeli agents involved in the assassination of a Hamas official in Dubai; if the file has been referred to the DPP; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35385/10]

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

Misuse of Drugs

Arthur Morgan

Question:

59 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform his views on an opinion reportedly expressed by the Garda that the use of crystal meth is confined to foreign nationals; and the steps he will take to address this drug. [35394/10]

Crystal meth is a form of methamphetamine and as such is a controlled drug under schedule 2 of the Misuse of Drugs Acts 1977 and 1984. As such, it is subject to stringent controls. It has no medicinal use and cannot be prescribed by doctors, sold or distributed and it is also illegal to possess the drug. The chemicals used to produce the drug are strictly controlled and monitored under both EU and national regulations.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the misuse of methamphetamine/methylam-phetamine (‘crystal meth') has never been exclusively confined to foreign nationals. However, in 2009 there were only 27 cases of methamphetamine recorded at the Forensic Science Laboratory, the majority of which primarily involved Eastern European nationals. In 2007, the Garda National Drugs Unit hosted an international seminar, under the EU-funded AGIS Programme, to examine the potential threat posed by methamphetamine within the European Union. Among the findings of that seminar were that the drug is not currently regarded as one of the more prolific misused drugs in Ireland and that the very real dangers associated with this drug are enough of a deterrent for most users. Nonetheless, I am assured by the Garda authorities that the Garda National Drugs Unit, as part of its national remit, and in liaison with its European counterparts, will continue to closely monitor the availability of the drug within this jurisdiction, based on an on-going analysis of intelligence and drug-seizure data.

Garda Investigations

Liz McManus

Question:

60 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding the Garda investigation into matters arising from the Report of the Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin; if he is in a position to state if the Government plans to establish a commission of investigation into other dioceses in the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35369/10]

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

I am informed by my colleague the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs that the Health Service Executive is continuing its audit of Catholic dioceses to ensure that it, as the statutorily responsible body, is fully aware of all cases of clerical child sex abuse known to the Church and that each diocese is prepared, in terms of the policies and procedures in place, to handle allegation of child sexual abuse and prevent the possibility of such abuse in the future. The HSE hopes to complete its audit in the near future, following which it will submit its report to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. A HSE audit of religious orders is also under way. Consideration of the results of these investigations will include consideration of what further actions require to be taken, including a possible extension of the Commission's remit. The Commission is at present examining the Diocese of Cloyne, and the Government has extended its term to 31 October to allow this work to be completed. Bringing the perpetrators of child sexual abuse to justice, whenever and wherever the abuse occurred, must be the absolute priority. I repeat my call and that of the Commissioner for any person, including any member of the clergy, who has any knowledge of such abuse to contact An Garda Síochána.

Prison Building Programme

Martin Ferris

Question:

61 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the status of Government plans to build a new prison at Thornton Hall in north Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35392/10]

As the Deputy will be aware the development of the new prison campus at Thornton Hall, Kilsallaghan, County Dublin is now proceeding on a phased basis. Phase one comprises essential preliminary works to facilitate the prison development including the construction of a dedicated access road, the installation of off-site services and the construction of the perimeter security wall of the prison.

Access Road

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that a contract for the construction of the access road to serve the prison development was awarded to SIAC Construction Limited in July 2010 and construction work is already well under way in relation to this phase of the project. The access road and underpass are expected to be completed in February next year.

Off-site Works

A procurement competition for the installation of the off-site services (e.g. water mains, sewerage and communications/technology ducts) to serve the prison development issued to companies on the Irish Prison Service Construction Framework in August. The closing date was 6 October 2010 and the evaluation of the tenders by the Irish Prison Service and its technical advisors has commenced. It is intended to award a contract in respect of the off-site works in November. The work will take approximately eight months to complete.

Perimeter Security Wall

The procurement process for the design and construction of the perimeter wall of the prison is already in progress. A pre-qualification competition from which suitably qualified contractors will be invited to tender for the design and construction of the perimeter wall of the prison and related works issued on the E-Tenders web site in August 2010. The closing date for expressions of interest was 28 September 2010. Twenty submissions were received and the evaluation of these submissions is already under way. A short list comprising 5 to 7 candidates will be established from this procurement competition and these candidates will be invited to tender for the construction of the perimeter wall and ancillary works later this month. Construction of the perimeter wall is scheduled to commence in the first quarter of 2011 and will take just under a year to complete.

Prison Buildings

As I mentioned previously in the House, my priority is to provide good quality, regime focused prison accommodation at Thornton Hall prison campus as quickly as possible. A phased development of the prison campus is now being pursued. The next phase of the works will see the procurement of prison accommodation blocks and related support facilities commencing in the New Year using traditional procurement methods. This phase will provide 400 cells capable of accommodating up to 700 prisoners. Subsequent phases will see the balance of 1,000 cells provided at the site.

Proposed Legislation

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

62 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform when he expects to publish the Judicial Council Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35365/10]

The Government Legislation Programme for the Autumn Session, announced by the Chief Whip on 29th September 2010, indicates that my proposals for a Judicial Council bill are in the course of being formally drafted with a view to publication in mid-2011.

Court Procedures

Deirdre Clune

Question:

63 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the steps he will take to respond to cases where maintenance payments have not been made for periods longer than 26 weeks; if parents will be allowed recover unpaid maintenance beyond the 26-week period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35398/10]

I assume the Deputy is referring to section 8 of the Enforcement of Court Orders Act 1940 under which the District Court can order arrears of maintenance of up to six months. The provision is obviously one of long standing and was an attempt to strike a balance between the ability of a debtor to pay and the need to support a spouse and children on the basis of what is reasonable in all the circumstances. I look forward to debate on my proposals for the better enforcement of maintenance orders which are contained in the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill currently before the House.

Road Safety

Joe Costello

Question:

64 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform when the national safety camera programme will start; the number of cameras that will be available; the number of civilian personnel that will be employed by an operator (details supplied); the method of payment of the private company; the number of gardaí that will be involved in the programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35053/10]

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

In accordance with the provisions of the contract, following the necessary preparatory work, roll-out of the national safety camera network is scheduled to commence in the coming weeks and will reach full capacity in early 2011.

An Garda Síochána will determine the scheduling of the speed monitoring and survey sessions, with a Garda Superintendent overseeing the day-to-day running of the project, including the allocation of Garda resources. The selected supplier will have responsibility for ensuring monitoring and survey sessions are conducted in accordance with the schedules and providing survey and monitoring data to An Garda Síochána. The selected supplier will provide the necessary vehicles, monitoring and survey equipment and operating personnel. An Garda Síochána will issue fixed charge notices to speeding drivers who are detected and pursue any court prosecutions undertaken.

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

School Curriculum

John Cregan

Question:

65 Deputy John Cregan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills her plans to introduce extracurricular activities, such as hairdressing training during school hours in second level colleges; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35473/10]

Hair and Beauty is one of the courses within the Leaving Certificate Applied programme. This vocational specialism facilitates personal development and provides an introduction to the knowledge and practical skills of hair care, beauty care, body care, customer care and salon care. It is useful as a preparation for employment or possible future training in the hairdressing or beauty business. Students can also apply the knowledge and skills acquired to improving their own personal presentation.

The LCA emphasises experiential learning practical project and portfolio work and the completion of tasks throughout the cycle towards the final assessment. Courses are offered in 3 main areas - vocational preparation and training, (including enterprise and a work experience programme and communications) general education and vocational education. The programme is modular and vocational specialisms are chosen from the range which includes Agriculture/Horticulture, Hotel, Catering and Tourism, Engineering Technology Office Skills and Retail Distribution, Community Care, Construction/Manufacturing, Craft and Design IT, Hair Care Leisure Studies. Students are examined in English and Communications, 2 vocational specialisms, Mathematical Applications, Language (Irish and Modern European language) and Social education. Some 6700 students (2 year cohort) follow this option. Other than in the Leaving Certificate Applied there are no plans for the inclusion of Hairdressing in the second level curriculum.

It should also be noted that hairdressing awards approved by the Further Education and Training Awards Council are also available in Post Leaving Certificate Courses, the Vocational Training Opportunity Scheme for unemployed adults, the Back to Education Initiative, programmes for early school leavers such as Youthreach and in FÁS programmes, both as major and minor awards.

FÁS Training Programmes

John Cregan

Question:

66 Deputy John Cregan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills her plans to implement the FÁS hairdressing apprenticeship course; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35474/10]

A number of FÁS training centres currently offer hairdressing courses for those wishing to pursue a career in the industry. Course details are available from the FÁS website or from FÁS employment services offices throughout the country. FÁS, in consultation with the Irish Hairdressing Federation and other industry stakeholders, has developed a hairdressing apprenticeship curriculum. However, some issues around course delivery, timing and sequencing require further development in this context.

Schools Building Projects

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

67 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the development of the promised new school at Ballygarvan, County Cork; if she will confirm that money has been ring-fenced for the project; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35478/10]

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

71 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a contract for the construction of a school (details supplied) awarded to a firm in interim examinership; whether the contract will be awarded on the basis of the next best tender; the way in which the start date will be affected; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35560/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 67 and 71 together.

The Deputy will be aware that planning permission for the proposed new school was granted in May and the acquisition of the site was completed by the Patron in recent weeks. Discussions are currently under way with the preferred bidder. When these discussions have concluded, the implications for the project will then be examined. My Department will continue to liaise with the patron and the school authorities regarding the proposed project.

Higher Education Grants

Paul Connaughton

Question:

68 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an appeal of a decision not to grant a higher education grant in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Galway; the reason the person was not informed of the residency requirement when applying for the grant; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35489/10]

An appeal has recently been received by my Department from the person referred to by the Deputy. The appeal is currently under consideration and a response will issue to the candidate as soon as the review process is completed. The terms and conditions attaching to student grants, including those relating to residency, are published in the schemes, application form and guidance notes each year. In addition, changes to the 2010 schemes were announced in advance by the former Minister when he published last year's grant schemes in July 2009.

Schools Building Projects

Dan Neville

Question:

69 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will provide the necessary funding for an application on behalf of a school (details supplied) for grant assistance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35490/10]

I can confirm that the school to which the Deputy refers made an application to my Department for large scale capital funding for an extension. The application has been assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for large scale building projects and assigned a band 3.3 rating. Information in respect of the current school building programme along with all assessed applications for major capital works, including the project referred to by the Deputy, is available on the Department's website at www.education.ie.

The priority attaching to individual projects is determined by published prioritisation criteria, which were formulated following consultation with the Education Partners. There are four band ratings under these criteria, each of which describes the extent of accommodation required and the urgency attaching to it. Band 1 is the highest priority rating and Band 4 is the lowest. Documents explaining the band rating system are also available on the Department's website. The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, from initial design stage through to construction phase will be considered in the context of the Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. However, in light of current competing demands on the capital budget of the Department, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of the project at this time.

I can also confirm to the Deputy that in March 2010 the school authority was approved grant aid for the provision of 1 Mainstream Classroom and 2 Resource Rooms to meet the school's immediate needs.

School Transport

Michael Ring

Question:

70 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if a request for school transport for a person (details supplied) in County Mayo could be re-examined. [35506/10]

Under the terms of my Department's Primary School Transport Scheme, pupils who reside 3.2 kilometres or more from, and are attending, their nearest suitable national school as determined by my Department, are eligible for free school transport. Bus Éireann, which operates the school transport scheme on behalf of my Department, has advised that the pupil referred to by the Deputy, in the details supplied, resides less than 3 kilometres from school and therefore is not eligible for school transport. It is open to pupils who reside less than 3.2 kilometres from their nearest school to apply for concessionary fare-paying transport to the school which they are attending. Concessionary transport is offered subject to a number of terms and conditions, including the availability of spare seating on an existing service. The parents of the pupil referred to by the Deputy should liaise with their local Bus Éireann office regarding the availability of concessionary transport.

Question No. 71 answered with Question No. 67.

Institutes of Technology

Arthur Morgan

Question:

72 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the difference there shall be in terms of status, financial resourcing and so on between the current institutes of technology and the proposed technological universities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35561/10]

The terms of reference for the High Level Group which was established to develop proposals for a new national strategy for higher education provided for an extensive examination of all issues relating to the future development of the higher education sector. The Group engaged in an extensive consultation process and a wide range of proposals and suggestions relating to the governance, management, resourcing and configuration of the sector were considered. The Group has now completed its work and I will be consulting with my Government colleagues in relation to its report in the coming weeks. The timeframe for publication of the report will be decided in that context.

Schools Building Projects

Arthur Morgan

Question:

73 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a school (details supplied) with regard to its application for major capital works. [35562/10]

The project to which the Deputy refers is at an advanced stage of the tender process. Subject to the preferred bidder addressing various issues (e.g. evidence of bond, insurances, tax clearance etc.) the contract will be awarded and the project will proceed to construction.

Departmental Agencies

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

74 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the remuneration awarded to all board members of all State agencies under her Department’s control in the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35568/10]

The information requested is currently being collated and will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.

School Evaluations

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

75 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of whole school evaluations carried out at primary and post-primary levels in the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35569/10]

In the 2007-2009 period, whole-school evaluations were conducted in primary schools as follows:

2007: 244 WSE;

2008: 245 WSE;

2009: 253 WSE.

In the 2007-2009 period, whole-school evaluations were conducted in post-primary schools as follows:

2007: 59 WSE;

2008: 60 WSE;

2009: 57 WSE.

To date in 2010, 167 primary WSE and 42 post-primary WSE have been conducted or are currently under way.

Higher Education Grants

John Cregan

Question:

76 Deputy John Cregan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the reason a higher education grant has not been awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [35599/10]

The decision on eligibility for a student grant is a matter, in the first instance, for the relevant grant awarding authority i.e. the applicant's local authority or VEC. Where a grant application is refused, the reason for the refusal is given by the grant awarding authority. An applicant may appeal the decision to the relevant local authority or VEC. Where the grant awarding authority decides to reject the appeal, the applicant may appeal this decision to my Department by submitting an appeal form outlining clearly the grounds for the appeal. No appeal has been received by my Department to date from the candidate referred to by the Deputy.

Adult Education

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

77 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if a safe pass course can be offered to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35604/10]

I understand that Safe Pass Courses are scheduled for Maynooth on 20 October and 20 November 2010 and that FÁS will offer the individual concerned a course place.

Special Educational Needs

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

78 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if and when the required full complement of five hours resource teaching will be awarded in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35605/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. I have arranged for the details supplied to be forwarded to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply. All schools have the names and contact details of their local SENO. Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie.

School Accommodation

Michael McGrath

Question:

79 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the provision of an extension for the existing special needs unit in a school (details supplied) in County Cork. [35647/10]

The school to which the Deputy refers is currently at an advanced stage of architectural planning. An application for a Disability Access Certificate (DAC) has been made to the Local Authority and a decision is pending. Once the DAC is received, and assuming no problems arise, it is envisaged that the project will then progress to tender and construction.

Schools Building Projects

Noel Ahern

Question:

80 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will provide an update on plans to construct a school hall at a school (details supplied) in Dublin 9; if approval for same has been granted; the cost estimation for same; if provision is included in 2010 finances; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35667/10]

My Department has no record of receiving an application from the school to which the Deputy refers for capital funding to construct a school hall. However, I have arranged for an application form to be furnished to the school for completion. Any application received will be considered in the context of the capital budget available to my Department for school buildings generally.

Schools Refurbishment

Noel Ahern

Question:

81 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the summer works scheme for primary and secondary level schools and in relation to projects approved for 2010, if cost estimates and actual costs, if available, be authorised for schools (details supplied). [35668/10]

The Summer Works Scheme (SWS) was introduced in 2004 to provide devolved funding to individual school authorities to undertake small scale building works which, ideally, can be carried out during the summer months or at other times that avoid disrupting the operation of the school. Since then, thousands of projects have been completed in schools — such as gas, electrical and mechanical works, roof replacements and repairs, windows replacement, toilet upgrades, structural improvements and access works. A key principle behind this Scheme is that responsibility for the management of the project is devolved to the school authority. The school authority can make use of its local knowledge and presence on the ground to manage the project more effectively and ensure better value for money for the taxpayer.

A total of €128 million was allocated for Summer Works Scheme in 2010. The list of approved schools/projects is available on my Department's website at www.education.ie. Approved 2010 Summer Works Grants for Schools in the Dublin area are as follows: Dublin Belgard Schools — in excess of €7.226 million; Dublin City Schools — in excess of €18.324 million; Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown Schools — in excess of €6.564 million; Dublin Fingal Schools — in excess of €3.659 million.

Noel Ahern

Question:

82 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will provide an update on plans to refurbish a school hall (details supplied) in Dublin 9; the details of proposed works; the estimated cost of same; the planning and preparation necessary and if a timetable for start of refurbishment and duration of works can be outlined. [35669/10]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that a devolved grant for the complete refurbishment of the GP hall at the school in question has been approved. The school authority is managing this project on a devolved basis and I understand from the school that works are due to commence early in December.

Departmental Funding

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

83 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for Finance if he intends to provide the same level of funding to the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs as was provided in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35496/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, 2011 funding for all Departments will be considered by Government in the context of the ongoing Estimates process. It would be premature to make any comment on such matters in advance of the conclusion of that process.

Departmental Properties

David Stanton

Question:

84 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Finance, further to Questions Nos. 44 and 56 of 17 June 2010, with regard to the Office of Public Works working group established to develop a structured and coherent approach to the management and development of the former Irish Ispat site at Haulbowline, County Cork, if he has received a report from the group outlining its decisions and deliberations regarding the future uses of the site as per its terms of reference; if not, when he expects the group to report; his plans to publish same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35472/10]

The Working Group, established by the Government, to assess the future use of the former Irish ISPAT site at Haulbowline, County Cork, is close to concluding its deliberations. The Working Group expects to report to Government by the end of the year. It will be a matter for Government to decide whether to publish the report.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

85 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Finance, further to Question No. 153 of 18 November 2009, if he will furnish a list of the buildings and the leases mentioned (details supplied); the annual rental costs in each case; the leases which were reviewed upwards at their most recent renewal and the instances where arbitration was employed in order to reach agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35508/10]

In the time available to answer the question, it has not been possible to compile all the information sought by the Deputy. However, the information will be compiled shortly and forwarded to the Deputy directly.

Tax Collection

Jack Wall

Question:

86 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare can be furnished with a P21 balancing statement for 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35509/10]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a PAYE Balancing Statement P21 for the year 2009 will issue to the person concerned shortly.

Proposed Legislation

Terence Flanagan

Question:

87 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance, further to Question No. 100 of 16 June 2010 (details supplied), when in 2011 he proposes to introduce this legislation; whether a title for the Bill been introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35516/10]

The National Pensions Framework includes a commitment to extend, from next year, the option to invest in an Approved Retirement Fund (ARF) to all members of Defined Contribution occupational pension schemes in respect of the main benefits from those schemes (subject to meeting a specified income requirement). I have also previously confirmed to the Deputy that the Government is aware that individuals who invested some or all of their pension funds in an Approved Minimum Retirement Fund (AMRF) because they did not satisfy the specified income requirement at retirement, may later satisfy that condition. The Government has decided to allow those individuals who meet the specified income conditions after retirement to have their AMRFs treated as ARFs to which they will have access. Details of how these changes are to be given effect are being examined as part of the work on the implementation of the Framework. In my reply to the Deputy's question in June last, I said that I considered that these matters would be dealt with in legislation next year and that the details would be made known at that time. That remains the position.

Departmental Review

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

88 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance the costs associated with carrying out the planned independent review of the Department of Finance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35567/10]

It is estimated that the cost of the Independent Review of the Department of Finance will be of the order of €200,000. This will cover all costs associated with the Review, including the payment of the Panel members, travel and accommodation costs incurred by the non-Irish members and the production of their Report in accordance with the terms of reference.

Banking Sector Regulation

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

89 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance the terms of reference of the commission of investigation into the banking sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35570/10]

The Deputy will be aware that under Section 3 of the Commissions of Investigation Act 2004, a Commission of Investigation may be established by Government Order, once a draft of the proposed Order and a statement of reasons for establishing the Commission have been laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas and a resolution approving the draft has been passed by each House. A resolution approving the proposed Order was agreed by both Houses on 8 July last and the Commission of Investigation (Banking Sector) Order 2010 (S.I. No. 454 of 2010) was signed by the Taoiseach on 21 September 2010. The terms of reference, as set out in the Order are:

"a commission is established to investigate the following specific matters considered by the Government to be of significant public concern and requiring, in the public interest, an expedited examination:

(a) the main causes of the serious failure, during the period 1 January 2003 to 15 January 2009, within each of the covered institutions, to implement and adhere to, appropriate standards and controls (including checks and balances) in the context of corporate governance and prudent risk management policy and procedures such as would have avoided the requirement for the provision of exceptional financial support from the State;

(b) the main causes for the adoption, during the period 1 January 2003 to 15 January 2009, by the Boards of Anglo Irish Bank Corporation and Irish Nationwide Building Society of business models and strategies, and the implementation by the senior managements of those institutions of business and lending practices, which resulted in those institutions experiencing severe financial distress;

(c) whether in respect of the period 1 January 2003 to 15 January 2009 the external auditors of the covered institutions commented in their audit reports or other communications to the institutions concerned on the failures referred to in subparagraph (a) or the business models and strategies and business and lending practices referred to in subparagraph (b);

(d) the main causes for the failures, during the period 1 January 2003 to 28 September 2008, in the performance of the statutory roles and responsibilities of the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland in respect of the regulation and supervision of the covered institutions and the maintenance of financial stability, in particular in relation to the supervision and oversight of corporate governance and risk management policies and practices in the covered institutions, and the relevance in that regard of any advices or directions given by the Department of Finance to the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland in relation to its supervisory role.

The Commission shall complete the report or reports required in relation to its investigation no later than 6 months from the date of its establishment."

I might add that during the debate in the Dáil on 8 July 2010 on the motion to approve the Order establishing the Commission, I agreed to seek the approval of the Government for an amendment to the terms of reference to extend the period to be investigated by the Commission of Investigation from 28 September 2008 to 15 January 2009 in respect of subparagraph (d) above. Subject to the agreement of the Government, a draft amending Order will shortly be laid before both Houses for approval. The terms of reference are also available on the Commission's website atwww.bankinginquiry.gov.ie.

Departmental Agencies

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

90 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance the remuneration awarded to all board members of all State agencies under his Department’s control in the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35576/10]

With regard to the State agencies under the remit of my Department, the following table outlines the remuneration awarded to all board members in respect of the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010.

2007

2008

2009

2010

Central Bank

€262,500

€280,001

€277,666

Figures not yet published

National Lottery Company

€14,000

€14,000

€14,000 (to 30 April 2009); €12,600 w.e.f. 1 May 2009

€12,600

Details in relation to the NTMA were not available in the time allowed and will be forwarded directly to the Deputy.

Financial Institutions Support Scheme

Noel Ahern

Question:

91 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Finance the cost of assistance given to banks and building societies in the current crisis in the past few years to include investments made to each institution, cash transfer, current, to each institution or promised to each institution and the phases of the promised transfers; in respect of payments to date, the source of the funds, for example, the National Pensions Reserve Fund, current Government expenditure and borrowings and if he will outline his efforts to inform the public that their taxes are not going to bail out the banks as is the current perception. [35600/10]

The various banking interventions by the Government since the introduction of the State guarantee for the domestic banking system in 2008 have served to protect the banking system and to avoid even greater financial and indeed other costs, for the public which would otherwise have occurred. A failure to meet the bank capital requirements could have resulted in bank failures and an even greater cost to the taxpayer. I have outlined the cost of assistance to each of the institutions in the following table.

Capitalisation of Credit Institutions, September 2010

Credit Institution

Cost of Share Acquisition

Cost of Preference Shares

Value of Promissory Notes Issued

Capital Provided to 30 September 2010

Projected Future Assistance

Return on Investment to date

Projected Total Assistance

€bn

€bn

€bn

€bn

€bn

€bn

€bn

Anglo Irish Bank

4.00

18. 88

22.88

6.40

29.28

Allied Irish Banks

0.28

3.50

3.78

3.70

7.48

Bank of Ireland

1.95

1.80

3.75

-0.49

3.26

Irish Nationwide Building Society

0.10

2.60

2.70

2.70

5.40

EBS Building Society

0.10

0.25

0.35

0.35

Total

6.43

5.30

21.75

33.48

12.80

-0.49

45.74

Notes

1. All investments to date and projected for AIB and Bank of Ireland is to be provided through the NPRFC.

2. Promissory Notes — An amount equal to 10% of the principal amounts outstanding will be paid annually from the central fund, the full cost of the Promissory Notes will impact on the GGB in 2010.

3. In 2010, Allied Irish Banks (€280 million) and Bank of Ireland (€250 million) paid the State dividends due on preference shares in the form of ordinary shares of the banks. These are included in the States investment at the value when the shares were acquired by the State.

4. The State received €491 million in cash through the buyback of warrants by Bank of Ireland in April 2010.

5. Initial investments in Anglo (€4bn), INBS (€100m) and EBS (€100m) were paid in cash from the Central Fund.

Public Procurement

Michael Ring

Question:

92 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Finance the reason small contractors, under the evidence of economic and financial standing criteria, Article 54 of Directive 2004/17/EC and Regulation 56 of SI No. 50 of 2007 and Article 47 of Directive 2004/18/EC and Regulation 55 of SI No. 329 of 2007 require a minimum average turnover of €1.5 million to qualify for the award of contracts; the plans to review the minimum average turnover level in view of the present economic climate; that the scheme and directive be urgently reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35654/10]

There are no requirements for a minimum average turnover, in order to qualify for the award of contracts, in either the EU Directives or Statutory Instruments mentioned. The general rule is that any financial capacity levels required must be relevant and proportionate to the needs of the contract. My Department recently issued new guidelines to public bodies which are aimed at facilitating greater participation by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in public procurement opportunities. As part of these provisions, public bodies were firmly reminded that the levels they set for suitability criteria (especially in relation to a potential tenderer's turnover) must be both justifiable and proportionate to the needs of the contract and guidance was provided on these matters.

Fiscal Policy

Noel Ahern

Question:

93 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details in percentages of overall Government debt to GDP for a sample or range of years since 1980; the years in which it was at its highest in the 1980s and the way this compares with current levels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35670/10]

There are two principal measures of government debt. The National Debt is the total outstanding amount of principal borrowed by Central Government and not repaid to date less liquid assets available for redemption of those liabilities at the same date. The General Government Debt (GGD) is the standard measurement of gross indebtedness used for comparative purposes within the EU. It also includes the debts of the non-commercial state-sponsored bodies, the extra budgetary funds, as well as the debt of local authorities. Also, the General Government Debt is a gross measure.

As the General Government measure was not used prior to the implementation of the terms of the Maastricht Treaty, National Debt is the appropriate measure when comparing the evolution of government debt since the 1980s. The National Debt peaked at 117.6% of GNP (106.8% of GDP) in 1987. From then it started to fall back to 99.4% of GNP (88% of GDP) in 1990, 73.2% of GNP (64.6% of GDP) in 1996 and 40.8% of GNP (34.8% of GDP) in 2000. It continued to fall to a low of 23.1% of GNP (19.8% of GDP) by 2007, one of the smallest in the EU and indeed in the world. Since the economic downturn National Debt has inevitably risen and had reached 57.3% of GNP (47.1% of GDP) in 2009. According to the National Treasury Management Agency, National Debt was approximately 70% of GNP (56% of GDP) by the end of September this year.

Restoring sustainability to the public finances is a necessary step in creating an environment that will facilitate growth in our economy. Increasing levels of borrowing mean more and more of the Government's resources must be spent on servicing debt as opposed to being used to support the economy and provide public services. The focus of all in Government is firmly fixed on improving the fiscal and economic position and at the same time on ensuring that, as far as possible, we protect the economy and generate employment.

Official Engagements

John McGuinness

Question:

94 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Finance if his officials will meet with a company (details supplied). [35675/10]

If the company makes contact with the Office of Public Works, National Historic Properties, Dublin Castle, Dublin 2 (Tel: 01 6458883) arrangements can be made for a meeting. Such contact can be made without the necessity for a Parliamentary Question.

Health Service Allowances

James Reilly

Question:

95 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if a mobility allowance will be restored in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin. [35480/10]

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

Medical Cards

Billy Timmins

Question:

96 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35493/10]

Medical cards are made available by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to persons and their dependants who would otherwise experience undue hardship in meeting the cost of General Practitioner (GP) services. In general, eligibility for medical cards and GP visit cards is determined following an examination of the means of the applicant and his/her dependants (income and relevant outgoings). In assessing a medical card/GP visit card application, the HSE uses guidelines based on people's means which includes their income after tax and PRSI, and takes account of reasonable expenses incurred in respect of rent or mortgage payments, child care and travel to work. The assessment process also takes account of other factors, such as medical need, which may impact on people's ability to meet the cost of GP services.

Under the HSE's Medical Card/GP Visit Card National Assessment Guidelines, savings or similar investments of €36,000 for a single person are disregarded.

The next €10,000 in savings is assessed as income of one Euro per week per €1,000.

The next €10,000 in savings is assessed as income of two Euro per week per €1,000.

Savings in excess of the above are assessed as income of four Euro per week per €1,000.

I following table gives details of the current Medical Card and GP Visit Card income guidelines.

Category

Medical Card Weekly amount

GP Visit Card Weekly amount

Single person Living Alone

Aged up to 65 years

184.00

276.00

Aged between 66-69 years

201.50

302.00

Single person living with family

Aged up to 65 years

164.00

246.00

Aged between 66-69 years

173.50

260.00

Married Couple/Single Parent Families with Dependant Children

Aged up to 65 years

266.50

400.00

Aged between 66-69 years

298.00

447.00

Allowances for Dependent Children

For each of the first two children

38.00

57.00

For third and each subsequent child

41.00

61.50

For each of the first two children aged over 16

39.00

58.50

For third and each subsequent child aged over 16

42.50

64.00

Dependant over 16 years in full-time education and not grant-aided

Allowance for each child

78.00

117.00

In relation to the particular case referred to by the Deputy, based on the information supplied it is not possible to make a definitive assessment regarding medical card eligibility. However, if the person contacts the HSE's local health office with all relevant information, including income from the widow's pension, children's allowance, etc. and details of savings and relevant outgoings, such as mortgage, childcare, travel to work and medical expenses, the HSE staff will be able to make a determination regarding medical card or GP visit card qualification.

Prescription Charges

Michael Creed

Question:

97 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health and Children further to the recently introduced 50 cent charge per item on prescribed medicines if she will consider exempting patients on dialysis from this charge and include this condition on the list of long-term illnesses; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35495/10]

There are no plans to extend the list of eligible conditions covered by the Long Term Illness Scheme. Under the Drugs Payment Scheme no individual or family pays more than €120 per calendar month towards the cost of approved prescribed medicines. The scheme is easy to use and significantly reduces the cost burden for families and individuals incurring ongoing expenditure on medicines.

In addition, people who cannot, without undue hardship, arrange for the provision of medical services for themselves and their dependants may be entitled to a medical card. In the assessment process, the Health Service Executive can take into account medical costs incurred by an individual or a family. Those who are not eligible for a medical card may still be able to avail of a GP visit card, which covers the cost of general practice consultations.

Since 1 October 2010, medical card holders are required to pay a 50c charge for medicines and other prescription items supplied to them by community pharmacists. The charges are subject to a cap of €10 per month for each person or family. Prescription charges do not apply to children in the care of the HSE or to methadone supplied to patients participating in the Methadone Treatment Scheme. There are no plans to exempt any other products or categories of patients from the charge.

Health Service Allowances

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

98 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Cork was refused an emergency payment and the back to school allowance; and when they can expect a decision on their appeal. [35498/10]

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

Health Services

James Reilly

Question:

99 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the total budget allocation for home care packages for the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010, in tabular form; the number of persons who have benefited from home care packages on an annual basis for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35499/10]

Home Care Packages (HCPs) are enhanced supports over and above existing mainstream community services, with the objective of maintaining older people at home and in their communities. They are targeted at those at risk of inappropriate admission to long-term care or acute hospitals, or those who require discharge home from acute hospital. There has been considerable investment over the past few years in Home Care Packages as set out below.

Activity

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

No. of clients in receipt of a HCP at year end (ongoing capacity measure)

5,283

8,035

8,990

8,959

9,613 (Target)

No. of clients benefiting from a HCP (throughput) in a calendar year

7,003

11,565

11,987

12,003

13,200 (Target)

Funding €

55m

110m

120m

120m

130m

James Reilly

Question:

100 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the total budget allocation for home help hours for each of the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010, in tabular form; the number of persons who have benefited from home help hours for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35500/10]

The Home Help service is one of a wide range of community based services being provided by the HSE including Primary Care Teams, Home Care Packages, Meals on Wheels, support to voluntary agencies that provide health and/or personal social services, etc.

The Home Help Service is a core community service enabling people who require some additional support to remain at home. The Home Help Service is also a critical mainstream support to older people in facilitating their early discharge from hospital and in preventing inappropriate admission to acute hospitals and long-stay residential care. As the budget for the Home Help service is finite, the outturn position in relation to the number of clients at the end of each year can depend on a number of operational factors, including the demands and complexities involved in providing the service to clients over the course of the year. This would account for the reduction in the number of clients, at year end, between 2008 and 2009.

Activity

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

Hours provided

10.8m

11.78m

11.96m

11.97m

11.98m (Target)

No. of clients benefiting at 31st Dec each year

49,578

54,736

55,366

53,791

54,500 (Target)

Funding €

185.4m

206.4m

211m

211m

211m

Medical Cards

Jack Wall

Question:

101 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35512/10]

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

Health Services

Dan Neville

Question:

102 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will make a statement on a matter (details supplied). [35514/10]

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

Prescription Charges

Mary Upton

Question:

103 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children the situation regarding patients attending psychiatric clinics at their local health centres in relation to their entitlement to free prescription for their essential medication; if local pharmacies will continue to provide this medication free of charge; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35544/10]

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

Hospitals Building Programme

James Reilly

Question:

104 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the total cost to the State for her co-location hospital plan; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35548/10]

The Renewed Programme for Government re-affirms the Government's commitment to the current co-location programme. Preferred bidders have been selected for six co-located projects. The co-location programme is a complex public procurement process. A core principle underlying the co-location initiative is that the private sector should bear all normal business risks. It is a matter for each successful bidder to arrange its finance under the terms of the relevant Project Agreement. The co-location initiative, like other major projects, has to deal with the changed funding environment. There is a requirement on each of the successful bidders to pay a non-refundable deposit to the HSE on the signing of the project agreement. The intention of this requirement is to allow the HSE to recoup the expenses that it has incurred in this context.

Medical Cards

Jack Wall

Question:

105 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will receive their medical card; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35551/10]

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

Health Services

Joe McHugh

Question:

106 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children to acknowledge international research findings that instances of diabetic foot disease can be reduced by over 50% with foot screening and an annual check-up for diabetic patients; to acknowledge that an investment of €1.56 million per annum in employing 20 podiatrists for diabetes would provide a nationwide podiatry service pursuant to the Health Service Executive’s diabetes expert advisory group report, April 2008; if she will establish a diabetic foot disease screening programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35552/10]

Matters relating to services have been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply. I acknowledge the evidence of the benefits of early interventions for diabetes patients suffering foot problems. GPs are competent in managing diabetes and all of its complications including those affecting the foot. In relation to the diabetic foot screening programme, this has been prioritised under the National Diabetes Programme. This initiative is currently at an advanced planning stage and several meetings have been held between the various stakeholders, including clinical specialists, podiatrists, diabetes specialist nurses and the Diabetes Federation of Ireland. It is hoped that the programme will encompass not just foot screening but care of patients with at-risk feet. It will provide for the prevention and management of foot ulcers, thereby reducing the number of hospital in-patients beds occupied by patients with foot problems. The programme will also establish referral pathways with rapid access to specialised care within a multidisciplinary foot-care service. The cost of implementation of the proposed programme will be met from within current resources.

Parliamentary Questions

Joe McHugh

Question:

107 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children in the interests of accountability, if parliamentary questions referred by her Department to the Health Service Executive for direct reply will be answered within a maximum of six days; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35554/10]

In 2009 my Department received a total of 5,797 Parliamentary Questions, 55% (3,179 P.Q.s) of which were referred to other bodies, mainly the HSE for reply. These questions related to operational issues, a large number of which concerned individual cases.

The operation of the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the HSE (PAD) allows for the centralised receipt, assignment and tracking of Parliamentary Questions within the HSE's extensive network of operations. More generally, PAD monitors overall performance in relation to the timely issue of replies and provides a central contact for all requests from Oireachtas members for information relating to matters within the statutory remit of the Executive. It reports on a regular basis to the Chief Executive Officer and his management team.

In 2007 the Executive worked to a timeframe of responding to referred questions within 20 working days and this target was met for 65% of referred questions. From January 2008, this timeframe was reduced to 15 working days and 73% of referred questions were answered within this period. In 2009, 62% of questions referred to the Executive were answered within the 15 day timeframe.

However, between January and September 1st of this year, the number of questions answered within the 15 day timeframe dropped to 43%. This was due to a period of industrial action which commenced on a limited basis within the Health Service Executive on 4 January 2010 and which escalated in effect from 1 March through to 15 June. In effect no new Parliamentary Questions could be forwarded to the Executive by my Department during the latter period.

The Executive is very conscious of the need for prompt responses to Parliamentary Questions and there is regular liaison between my Department and the Executive in this regard. While the Executive attempts to answer all questions referred to it as quickly as possible, many of the questions submitted by Deputies request large and detailed amounts of statistical data on a variety of subjects which require input and co-ordination from all areas of the Executive. Recent questions of this nature submitted to my Department include:

the number of home help hours provided in each year from 2007 to 2010 on a county basis;

the number of TB cases diagnosed in every county for each year between 2005 and 2010;

the number of persons on the waiting list for hearing aids in each HSE region;

the number of persons currently on waiting lists to see consultants in every hospital and the length of time each person has been on the list.

Given the volume of information sought in these type of questions, the Deputy will appreciate that it may not be possible to provide responses to such questions in the timeframe suggested by the Deputy. However, my officials are working closely with the HSE to try to improve the service to members of the Oireachtas generally including questions and representations relating to individuals. I am aware that the Department of Social Protection provides a high standard of service in this regard.

At recent meetings with the new CEO of the HSE, Mr. Cathal Magee, I have stressed the importance of providing responses to Parliamentary Questions that are both prompt and of a high quality. Mr. Magee is very aware of my concerns in this regard and is committed to improving the handling of parliamentary affairs within the HSE.

Hospital Services

Joe McHugh

Question:

108 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children in reference to the proposed Altnagelvin Hospital radiotherapy unit, to respond to public concern arising from comments made last Friday, 1 October 2010, by Northern Ireland Minister for Health (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35555/10]

Joe McHugh

Question:

109 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will meet with a group (details supplied) at her convenience; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35556/10]

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

The Government decided in July 2005 that the best option for improving geographic access for patients in the North West to radiation oncology services in the short term was to facilitate access to Belfast City Hospital and accordingly, a Service Level Agreement is in place for the referral of radiation oncology patients from Donegal to BCH. This is in addition to the services available at St Luke's Hospital, Dublin and at University Hospital Galway.

The Government also decided in 2005 to explore the scope in the medium term for developing a joint venture based on a satellite centre in the North West linked to Belfast City Hospital. In April 2008, Minister McGimpsey of the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSS&PS), Northern Ireland announced the provision of a satellite centre (linked to Belfast City Hospital) to be located in Altnagelvin. It will provide the additional radiotherapy capacity needed to meet an anticipated increase in cancer in Northern Ireland. It also recognises the potential for cross Border co-operation in the development of this resource. I welcomed the announcement by Minister McGimpsey and officials from my Department and their counterparts in Northern Ireland continue to hold discussions in this regard. I understand that the facility is expected to be operational by 2015.

I met with the group referred to by the Deputy in October last year during which a number of issues were discussed, including the development at Altnagelvin. My Department has also been in correspondence with the group within the past year. It remains the position that the Business Case for the development has now been finalised and is awaiting approval by Minister McGimpsey.

My Department and the HSE's National Cancer Control Programme have nominated representatives to the Cross Border Sub Group, the Project Board and the Service Design and Workforce Planning Subgroup for the development. I have committed to providing a capital contribution to the development, in recognition of the fact that approximately one third of the patients who will attend the Altnagelvin Centre will be from Donegal and the surrounding areas. In addition, the Health Service Executive's National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) will contribute on an agreed basis to the operating costs in respect of patients from the Republic of Ireland who attend this service.

National Lottery Funding

Joe Carey

Question:

110 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for national lottery funding in respect of an organisation (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35559/10]

My Department has received an application for funding from the 2010 National Lottery allocation from the organisation in question. This is one of a large number currently being assessed by my Department. The Deputy will be informed of the outcome of the application as soon as a decision has been made.

Departmental Agencies

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

111 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Health and Children the remuneration awarded to all board members of all State agencies under her Department’s control in the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35577/10]

There are four categories of fees payable to chairpersons and directors of non-commercial state-sponsored bodies. The applicable category is determined by the salary of the CEO of the body relative to certain Civil Service salary scales. In some Bodies fees are approved in respect of the Chairperson only. The applicable rates from 1st January 2006 were:

Category

Chair

Director

1

35,000

17,500

2

24,000

14,000

3

14,000

9,000

4

10,500

7,000

Applicable fees were reduced by 10% with effect from 1st May 2009 as follows:

Category

Chair

Director

1

31,500

15,750

2

21,600

12,600

3

12,600

8,100

4

9,450

6,300

Fees were reduced again by 5% with effect from 1st January 2010 and the new rates currently are:

Category

Chair

Director

1

29,888

14,963

2

20,520

11,970

3

11,970

7,695

4

8,978

5,985

Child Care Services

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

112 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 193 and 194 of 25 May 2010, the development in terms of the steps she has taken, including if she is making the necessary funding available, to enable the 116000 hotline for missing children to be up and running on an island wide basis. [35585/10]

A hotline for missing children is in operation in some EU Member States. My Office is currently involved in discussions with other relevant Government Departments in relation to the establishment of this service. I will keep the Deputy informed of developments in this regard.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

113 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of children who have gone missing from the Health Service Executive’s care, and of those who were subsequently located, the location and circumstances in which they were found. [35586/10]

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

General Medical Services Scheme

Thomas Byrne

Question:

114 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children if the provision of a drug (details supplied) is covered on the medical card scheme. [35587/10]

I can confirm that methadone prescribed for pain relief is available under the General Medical Services scheme.

Finian McGrath

Question:

115 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support a matter (details supplied). [35596/10]

The contract between the Health Service Executive (HSE) and general practitioners (GPs) under the General Medical Services (GMS) Scheme stipulates that fees are not paid to GPs by the HSE in respect of certain medical certificates which may be required, for example, "under the Social Welfare Acts or for the purposes of insurance or assurance policies or for the issue of driving licences".

Consultation fees charged by general practitioners to private patients and to GMS patients outside the terms of the GMS contract are a matter of private contract between the clinicians and the patients. While I have no role in relation to such fees, I would expect clinicians to have regard to the overall economic situation in setting their fees.

Medical Cards

Noel Ahern

Question:

116 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of persons over 70 years in receipt of a medical card; the number who have lost their cards on income grounds since means testing was introduced; the estimated annual savings as a result of the means testing decision; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35601/10]

Most recent figures supplied by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to my Department show 343,399 medical card holders aged 70 or over as at 1 September 2010. Following the enactment of the Health Act 2008, the HSE wrote to all medical card holders aged 70 or over in January 2009 advising them to complete a return slip if they were over the threshold for a medical card. Approximately, 12,000 clients responded and their cards were removed from the Executive's medical card register. In addition, approximately 5,000 medical cards for persons aged 70 or over were removed from the medical card register in 2009 as part of the HSE's medical card data quality exercise.

It had been estimated that 20,000 persons aged 70 or over would lose eligibility to a medical card under this measure, resulting in savings in the region of €20 million. A further €16 million in savings was targeted through the introduction of a revised capitation fee in respect of medical card holders aged 70 or over living in the community. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to reply directly to the Deputy in relation to the actual annual savings resulting from the withdrawal of automatic entitlement to a medical card for persons aged 70 or over.

Noel Ahern

Question:

117 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Health and Children the number and types of medical cards — full, over 70 years and general practitioner-only — currently in issue on the most recent date available; if figures are available nationally or for each region; and the number of cards withdrawn in the past few years. [35602/10]

Details of the number of medical cards and GP visit cards are provided to my Department each month by the Health Service Executive (HSE). The figures are provided on a net basis, showing the balance after new cards have been issued and other cards, as appropriate, have been deleted from the Executive's database, e.g. following a review of a person's circumstances. The most recent figures provided to my Department by the HSE reflect the position as at 1 September 2010 and show 1,578,613 medical card holders and 106,373 GP visit card holders on that date. There were 343,399 medical card holders and 236 GP visit card holders aged 70 and over as at 1st September 2010.

The HSE has produced National Medical Card/GP Visit Card Assessment Guidelines for its staff and these are regularly updated in order to provide a clear framework for decision makers to assist them in making reasonable, consistent and equitable decisions when assessing people under the General Medical Services (GMS) Scheme.

The HSE with my full support, decided to centralise the processing of all medical cards and GP visit card applications and renewals to its Primary Care Reimbursement Service (PCRS) in Dublin. In January 2009, the PCRS took over the processing of all medical card applications for persons aged 70 or over. In September 2009, the processing of all applications from two Local Health Offices in Dublin transferred to the PCRS. The HSE has advised that when fully implemented, the initiative to centralise the processing of all medical card and GP visit card applications and renewals will ensure a consistent and equitable application of eligibility and service provision.

My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to reply directly to the Deputy in relation to the number of card holders by region and the number of cards withdrawn in recent years.

Noel Ahern

Question:

118 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Health and Children to examine the case of withdrawal of medical card from a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35603/10]

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

119 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if a full medical card will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35606/10]

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

Health Services

John McGuinness

Question:

120 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if an appointment and bed will be arranged in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if she will expedite the matter. [35674/10]

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

John McGuinness

Question:

121 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if an application for a grant made to the Health Service Executive will be approved in respect of a person (details supplied). [35677/10]

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

John McGuinness

Question:

122 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if treatment will be provided for a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if she will expedite a response. [35683/10]

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

Finian McGrath

Question:

123 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (details supplied). [35684/10]

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

State Airports

Joe Carey

Question:

124 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Transport if any work was done by a company (details supplied) on his behalf in respect of the Dublin Airport Authority and Aer Lingus; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35522/10]

The company in question has not been engaged by my Department to undertake any work in relation to Dublin Airport Authority and Aer Lingus.

Departmental Agencies

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

125 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Transport the remuneration awarded to all board members of all State agencies under his Department’s control in the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35580/10]

The fees payable to Board members are determined by Government and are published in the Annual Accounts of the bodies concerned.

Gangland Killings

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

126 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the steps he plans to take to deal with the continuing spate of gangland murders, particularly in the greater Dublin area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35524/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

157 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of suspected gangland killings recorded in each of the past three years to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35640/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 126 and 157 together.

I am, of course, deeply concerned about the incidence of gang related murders and I deplore all such killings. All killings, regardless of the circumstances involved, are the subject of rigorous investigation by An Garda Síochána and will continue to be so. In setting the policing priorities for An Garda Síochána in 2010, I asked the Commissioner to continue the focus of the force on serious crime, in particular organised crime. This priority is also reflected in the Garda policing plan for this year, and specific initiatives, including under Operation Anvil and involving members of the Emergency Response Unit, have been put in place.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that multi-agency approaches have been and continue to be used where National Units — the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Criminal Assets Bureau, the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation and the Garda Technical Bureau — are used to combat serious crime, including gangland crime. These Units are also supported by the Security and Intelligence Section which assists with intelligence briefings and timely information.

This integrated approach adopts best practice in implementing a coordinated use of Garda resources and using available criminal legislation to its fullest extent. Operations are reviewed on an ongoing basis to ensure their effectiveness. These specific initiatives are in addition to the activities of all members of An Garda Síochána in implementing and enforcing the criminal law.

It was in that overall context that I introduced greatly strengthened legislation in the area of organised crime which is being fully utilised by An Garda Síochána, including the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009, the Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Act 2009, the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and the Criminal Procedure Act 2010. To date, eight individuals have been charged under the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act of directing the activities of a criminal organisation or participating or contributing to certain activities. Other offences against the legislation are under investigation.

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

All cases of murder where proceedings have not yet been taken remain under active investigation. The detection rate by its nature increases over time as Garda investigations progress. It is expected that the number of convictions obtained will increase as Garda investigations are concluded and proceedings commenced are finalised by the courts. This applies particularly to murders committed in the most recent years. In addition, directions may be received from the law officers to charge persons arrested in connection with such incidents with offences other than murder, for example firearms offences. Furthermore, such persons charged and brought before the courts may be convicted of offences other than murder.

While An Garda Síochána has made significant progress in the investigation of a number of killings, the reality is that there can be considerable difficulties in obtaining evidence in shootings which are the result of gangland activities from associates of a victim of a gangland killing, or indeed from gangland figures even when they themselves are the victims of violence. It has also to be accepted that there is often no connection or personal association between the victim and the perpetrator, which makes it very difficult for An Garda Síochána in their investigation of such a murder. Witnesses may also be subject to high levels of intimidation not to come forward, and it is to assist such witnesses that the Witness Protection Programme is in place. Against that background, I am informed by the Garda authorities that during the period 2007 to 2010, up to 5 October, 64 gang related murders were recorded.

Garda Deployment

Charles Flanagan

Question:

127 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of gardaí assigned to tackle child pornography exclusively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35529/10]

It is worth making the point at the outset that all members of An Garda Síochána are tasked with the investigation of criminal activity, including child pornography. Specifically in relation to this type of crime, the Sexual Crime Management Unit was recently established within the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Investigation Unit of the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

The functions of this unit include the evaluation and monitoring, in conjunction with the investigating member and local senior management, the investigation of child sexual abuse, child neglect and other selected sexual offences, to ensure that such investigations are receiving the appropriate attention and being brought to a prompt conclusion in accordance with best practice in investigation methodology. The Unit also acts as a Central Point of Contact for Divisional and District Senior Investigating Officers tasked with the investigation of this specific type of crime.

Personnel currently allocated to the Unit include 1 Detective Inspector, 1 Detective Sergeant and 5 Detective Gardai. Interviews are ongoing at present to fill a number of other vacancies within the Unit. Members of this Unit are qualified in interviewing suspects and injured parties, are fully conversant in Garda Policy in the area and will undergo training as Specialist Victim Interviewers and in the assessment and management of Sex Offenders, where appropriate.

Resources within the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation, in particular within the Computer Crime Investigation Unit, are also utilised by Senior Investigating Officers in the investigation of sexual crimes involving the forensic examination of computer media seized where images of child pornography are suspected.

Child Abduction

Finian McGrath

Question:

128 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if Irish parents of children who go missing abroad can rely on the Hague Convention as a guardian under US law. [35486/10]

I refer the Deputy to my Written Reply to Question No. 268 of 5 October 2010 which addresses this issue.

Vetting of Personnel

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

129 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the average and longest waiting times for the completion of Garda clearance requests. [35491/10]

The Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU) provides employment vetting for a large number of organisations in Ireland registered with the Gardaí for this purpose and which employ persons in a full-time, part-time, voluntary or training capacity to positions where they would have substantial, unsupervised access to children and/or vulnerable adults. The GCVU has managed a substantial increase over recent years in the numbers of vetting applications it receives — 187,864 in 2007; 218,404 in 2008 and 246,194 in 2009. At present, there are approximately 60,000 vetting applications in the course of being processed.

The processing time for vetting applications fluctuates during the year due to seasonal demands when the volume of applications received from certain sectors can increase. Additional time may be required to process an individual vetting application in cases where clarification is required as to the details provided or where other enquiries need to be made, for example, when the person in question has lived and worked abroad. There will always be a reasonably significant time period required to process a vetting application. Registered organisations have been advised to take account of this in their recruitment and selection process. However, the Gardaí make every effort to reduce this to the minimum possible consistent with carrying out the necessary checks. I am informed by the Garda Authorities that the current average processing time for vetting applications received at the GCVU is in the region of ten to 12 weeks, given that demand is particularly high at present.

The allocation of Garda resources, including personnel, is a matter for the Garda Commissioner. Due to the high volume of applications, an additional ten persons have recently been recruited to the Vetting Unit on a temporary basis. In addition, overall staffing arrangements at the Unit are under review at present, in the light of the increasing demands being made upon it.

Redress Schemes

Chris Andrews

Question:

130 Deputy Chris Andrews asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the current position in relation to proposals for a redress scheme as requested by a group (details supplied). [35502/10]

The Magdalen Laundries were private, religious run institutions without any legislative or State mandate for their general operation. As I have previously informed the House, the vast majority of females who entered or were placed in Magdalen Laundries did so without any direct involvement of the State. It may be helpful to the Deputy to know that my Department's research indicates that a small proportion of entrants to Magdalen Laundries came through the criminal justice system — women offenders under the Probation of Offenders Act 1907 or a suspended sentence. In addition, one institution was used for a period as a remand centre for young women charged with criminal offences. The detail of the role of the criminal justice system, including the limited records held by my Department and the National Archives, are set out in my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 94 on 13 May 2010 and that remains the position.

My Department has met with representatives of Justice for the Magdalenes, has exchanged views and offered every assistance possible to allow access to the limited available records in the normal way. However, there are no plans to introduce a State funded redress scheme. I remain, of course, open to considering any further assistance by, for example, the continued sharing of records that might be provided to the many elderly survivors and/or the families of people who were in these institutions.

Citizenship Applications

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

131 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding the case of persons (details supplied). [35540/10]

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

133 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will meet persons (details supplied) to discuss their case. [35542/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 131 and 133 together.

A valid application for a certificate of naturalisation from the first-named person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in April 2008 and I decided in my absolute discretion not to grant a certificate of naturalisation. The person concerned was informed of this decision in a letter issued to him on 3 February, 2009.

The granting of Irish Citizenship through naturalisation is a privilege and an honour and not an entitlement. Applications must be processed in a way which preserves the necessary checks and balances to ensure that it is not undervalued and is only given to persons who genuinely satisfy the necessary qualifying criteria. I do not consider that a meeting would serve any beneficial purpose.

Having regard to the overall resources available, which are kept under constant review, the procedures involved in the processing of applications for certificates of naturalisation have been developed and refined over a number of years and I am satisfied that they are necessary and sufficient to maintain the integrity of the naturalisation process. There is no appeals process under the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended, however it is open to the person in question to lodge a new application for a certificate of naturalisation with the Citizenship Division of my Department at any time.

Residency Permits

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

132 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding the case of persons (details supplied) with specific reference to the possibility of the waiving of the without condition as to time residency stamp as has been applied for. [35541/10]

I have been informed that a representation on behalf of the person referred to by the Deputy has been received in my office and is currently under consideration in the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service. I should remind the Deputy that queries in relation to the status of individual Immigration cases may be made direct to INIS by e-mail using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. The service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek this information through the more administratively expensive Parliamentary Questions process.

Question No. 133 answered with Question No. 131.
Question No. 134 answered with Question No. 52.
Question No. 135 answered with Question No. 38.

Departmental Expenditure

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

136 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the tender competition for the supply and delivery of three tractors to the Irish Prison Service recently; his views that this is the most appropriate spending of public moneys in this era of reduced public funding, and was a value for money assessment made prior to tender notice; the other options that were looked at; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35549/10]

I wish to inform the Deputy that the Irish Prison Service are currently conducting a tender competition for the purchase of three tractors. It also plans to purchase a fourth tractor from an existing National Procurement Service contract for the supply of tractors. The tractors are being purchased to replace existing tractors which require constant repair and maintenance due to their age.

The Irish Prison Service intends to use the tractors at its two open centres, Shelton Abbey and Loughan House. There are already significant agricultural, horticultural and other environmental activities in the two open centres, which between them have in the region of 125 acres of land surrounding the accommodation units. Both centres have had substantial increases in prisoner populations in recent years and it is intended to extend the range of outdoor activities and increase the daily employment and vocational training opportunities for the prisoners. I am advised by the Director General of the Irish Prison Service that the proposal to purchase the tractors in question has been carefully evaluated to ensure that the proposed expenditure is justified on both financial and operational grounds.

Departmental Agencies

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

137 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the remuneration awarded to all board members of all State agencies under his Department’s control in the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35578/10]

As the Deputy may be aware, fees payable to members of the boards of non-commercial Public Service bodies are paid under four distinct categories in accordance with relevant Department of Finance Circulars, copies of which can be found onwww.finance.gov.ie. Under the current Circular, the fees paid under the various categories range from €8,978 to €29,888 for Chairpersons and from €5,985 to €14,963 for Directors.

It is not feasible to extract the information sought by the Deputy without a disproportionate use of resources in disaggregating individual costs which I do not believe can be justified in the current climate. I also wish to advise the Deputy that the Financial Emergency Measures providing for the reduction of the remuneration of certain persons in the Public Service have been applied to the fees payable to members of all boards under the aegis of my Department.

Garda Deployment

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

138 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the total number of gardaí currently deployed to the various Garda stations throughout County Kildare; the degree to which this meets station requirement rosters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35621/10]

I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that the personnel strength of each Garda Station in the Kildare Garda Division, on the latest date for which figures are readily available, was as set out in the table hereunder:

Station

Strength

Athy

28

Ballytore

2

Castledermot

3

Kildare

34

Monasterevin

4

Newbridge

45

Rathangan

4

Carbury

4

Celbridge

20

Kilcock

8

Leixlip

35

Maynooth

16

Ballymore Eustace

1

Clane

10

Kilcullen

2

Kill

4

Naas

102

Robertstown

5

Responsibility for the allocation of resources, including personnel, within the Force rests with the Garda Commissioner, in consultation with his senior management team. Resource levels are constantly monitored, in conjunction with crime trends and other demands made on An Garda Síochána, and the situation is kept under continuing review to ensure optimum use is made of these resources and the best possible Garda service is provided to the public.

Drug Seizures

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

139 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of drug related convictions in County Kildare in each of the past five years and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35622/10]

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

Crime Levels

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

140 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the total number of crimes reported in County Kildare in each of the past three years and to date in 2010; the number of prosecutions; the number of convictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35623/10]

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

141 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the extent to which burglaries reported in each of the past three years wherein the security breach was achieved due to the inadequacies of the intruder system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35624/10]

Issues relating to deficiencies with alarm systems are matters for the service providers concerned and, accordingly, not within the remit of my Department.

Deportation Orders

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

142 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will defer a deportation order in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35625/10]

The person concerned arrived in the State on 31st August 2006. She claimed asylum on 1st September 2006 and her application was refused following consideration of her case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. The person concerned was informed by letter dated 20th May 2008 that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of her and afforded her three options in accordance with Section 3(3)(b)(ii) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), namely to leave the State voluntarily, to consent to the making of a Deportation Order or to submit, within 15 working days, written representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why she should not be deported.

Her case was examined under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended) on the Prohibition of Refoulement. On 21st September 2010 having considered all representations submitted on her behalf, I signed a Deportation Order in respect of her. Notice of this order was served by registered post requiring the person concerned to present themselves at the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB),13-14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2 on Thursday 14th October 2010 in order to make travel arrangements for her removal from the State.

The effect of the Deportation Order is that the person concerned must leave the State and remain thereafter out of the State. The enforcement of the deportation order is an operational matter for the Garda National Immigration Bureau. The Deputy might wish to note that, in addition to the eleven factors contained in Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), I must, as stated earlier, also have regard for Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended) on the Prohibition of Refoulement before making a deportation order. This essentially means that the safety of returning a person, or refoulement as it is commonly referred to, is fully considered in every case when deciding whether or not to make a deportation order i.e. that a person shall not be expelled from the State or returned in any manner whatsoever to a State where, in my opinion, the life or freedom of that person would be threatened on account of his or her race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.

My Department uses extensive country of origin information drawn from different independent sources, including the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), in evaluating the safety of making returns to Nigeria and other third countries. In this case, I am entirely satisfied that there are no refoulement related reasons to prevent the deportation of the person concerned. Further, I am satisfied that the application made by the person concerned for asylum and subsequently her representations as to why she should not be deported, together with all refoulement issues, were fairly and comprehensively examined and, as such, the decision to deport her is justified.

I should remind the Deputy that queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to INIS by Email using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. The service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek this information through the more administratively expensive Parliamentary Questions process.

Citizenship Applications

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

143 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding an application for naturalisation and citizenship in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35626/10]

A valid application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in July 2010.

All valid applications are dealt with in chronological order as this is deemed to be the fairest to all applicants.The average processing time from application to decision is now at 26 months. More complicated cases can at times take more than the current average, while an element of straight forward cases can be dealt with in less than that timescale. However, I understand that the person concerned is a refugee. In accordance with the Government's obligations under the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, every effort is made to ensure that applications from persons with refugee status are dealt with as quickly as possible.

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

I should remind the Deputy that queries in relation to the status of individual Immigration cases may be made direct to INIS by Email using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. The service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek this information through the more administratively expensive Parliamentary Questions process.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

144 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the progress to date on an application for residency, naturalisation and citizenship in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35627/10]

A valid application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in March 2007.

All valid applications are dealt with in chronological order as this is deemed to be the fairest to all applicants.The average processing time from application to decision is now at 26 months. More complicated cases can at times take more than the current average, while an element of straight forward cases can be dealt with in less than that timescale. However, I understand that the person concerned is a refugee. In accordance with the Government's obligations under the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, every effort is made to ensure that applications from persons with refugee status are dealt with as quickly as possible. Officials in the Citizenship Division inform me that processing of the application is ongoing and the file will be submitted to me for a decision in due course.

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

I am informed by Officials that no application for Long Term Residency from the person referred to by the Deputy has been received in my Department. I should remind the Deputy that queries in relation to the status of individual Immigration cases may be made direct to INIS by Email using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. The service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek this information through the more administratively expensive Parliamentary Questions process.

Residency Permits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

145 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the current and expected position in respect of residency and procedure to be followed in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 22; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35628/10]

The person concerned was granted temporary permission to remain in the State for a three year period, valid to 19 February 2012. This decision was conveyed in writing to her by letter dated 19 February 2009. This position still obtains.

I should remind the Deputy that queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to INIS by Email using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. The service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek this information through the more administratively expensive Parliamentary Questions process.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

146 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the residency status in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 22; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35629/10]

The person concerned is the subject of a Deportation Order, signed on 21 September 2010, following a comprehensive and thorough examination of her asylum claim and her application for subsidiary protection, and a detailed examination of the representations she submitted for consideration under Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended).

The effect of the Deportation Order is that the person concerned must leave the State and remain thereafter out of the State. The enforcement of the Deportation Order is an operational matter for the Garda National Immigration Bureau. I should remind the Deputy that queries in relation to the status of individual Immigration cases may be made directly to INIS by Email using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. The service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek this information through the more administratively expensive Parliamentary Questions process.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

147 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform when stamp four will be offered to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35630/10]

I have been informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service that the person concerned was granted long term residency on 5 August 2009. As this person is in the State as a dependant of her husband, she was granted a Stamp 3, which is the appropriate stamp in her case.

If it is the case that this person wishes to work in the State, a prospective employer must first obtain a work permit in respect of her. If her husband holds a valid work permit/work authorisation, she may be eligible for a spousal dependant work permit. The issuing of Work Permits is a matter for the Work Permits Division of the Department of Enterprise Trade and Innovation, Davitt House, Adelaide Rd., Dublin 2. Further information is available at:www.deti.ie.

I should remind the Deputy that queries in relation to the status of individual Immigration cases may be made direct to INIS by Email using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. The service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek this information through the more administratively expensive Parliamentary Questions process.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

148 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if and when a travel document will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 6; if he will set out precisely the procedures to be followed in such cases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35631/10]

The Travel Document Unit of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) informs me that the person referred to in the Deputy's question has been granted as an exceptional measure, temporary permission to remain in the State until 12 May 2011. I am advised by INIS that the holding of this permission does not extend to the issuance of a temporary travel document.

In exceptional cases an application for Irish temporary travel document may be considered in respect of qualifying non Irish nationals who are resident in Ireland. In all such cases, INIS must be satisfied that there is no alternative open to the applicant before an Irish temporary travel document will issue. The person concerned has to show that they have made reasonable and formal efforts to obtain a national passport, that it has been formally and unreasonably refused and that their own consular authorities are unable to offer consular assistance to them whilst resident in the State.

The INIS informs me that the person concerned has had two recent applications for Irish temporary travel documents refused on 02 September 2010 and 23 September 2010. He was advised on both occasions to contact his own consular authorities to establish the procedures to be followed which would allow for him to procure a national passport whilst resident in this State without the assistance of the Irish authorities. It is open to the person in question to submit a new application for a temporary travel document accompanied by the relevant supporting documentation to the Travel Document Unit of INIS which is located at 13-14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2. Full information in this regard and the applicable application form is available at www.inis.gov.ie.

I should remind the Deputy that queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made direct to INIS by Email using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. The service enables up to date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek this information through the more administratively expensive Parliamentary Questions process.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

149 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the residency status in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35632/10]

I have been informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service that the residency status of the person referred to by the Deputy is currently in permission on "Work Permit" conditions, valid to 11 October 2010. I have also been informed that there is no record of an application having being received from the person in question. They should be advised to write to the General Immigration Division of my Department, which is located at 13-14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2, providing full details and documentation regarding their application.

I should remind the Deputy that queries in relation to the status of individual Immigration cases may be made direct to INIS by Email using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. The service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek this information through the more administratively expensive Parliamentary Questions process.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

150 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the residency status in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35633/10]

I wish to inform the Deputy that the person to whom he refers was granted permission to remain in the State under the revised arrangements for the non-EEA parents of children born in Ireland prior to 1 January, 2005, known as the IBC/05 Scheme. This permission to remain was renewed recently and is currently valid until 11 August 2013.

I should remind the Deputy that queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to INIS by Email using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. The service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek this information through the more administratively expensive Parliamentary Questions process.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

151 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the procedure to be followed to regularise residency status in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35634/10]

The person to whom the Deputy refers arrived in Ireland in 1997 along with his mother. His mother was granted permission to remain in the State under the arrangements then in place for the non-EEA parents of children born in the State. I should add that a minor child is covered by the permission granted to his parent once he is resident with the parent in the State. On reaching the age of sixteen, a child is required to register in his own right with the Garda National Immigration Bureau having obtained the permission of the Minister to do so. Accordingly, I would advise the person concerned, on reaching 16 years of age, to write to the Irish Immigration and Naturalisation Service, PO Box 10003, Dublin 1, requesting permission to remain in the State as a dependent of a parent who has been granted permission to remain in the State.

I should remind the Deputy that queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to INIS by Email using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. The service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek this information through the more administratively expensive Parliamentary Questions process .

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

152 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position in respect of residency status in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35635/10]

There is currently no application pending in my Department for residency in the case of the person whose details were supplied. If an application for asylum has been made by the person concerned the Deputy will of course be aware that it is not the practice to comment on asylum applications that are pending.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

153 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position in respect of a residency status in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35636/10]

The person concerned arrived in the State on 21 August 2003 and applied for asylum. The Refugee Applications Commissioner refused her a declaration of refugee status. It was determined that she was not eligible for Subsidiary Protection. A Deportation Order was made in respect of her on 11 June 2009.

The person concerned instituted Judicial Review proceedings on 15 July 2009 challenging the Deportation Order made in respect of her and accordingly, as the matter is sub judice, I do not propose to comment further. I should remind the Deputy that queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to INIS by Email using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. The service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek this information through the more administratively expensive Parliamentary Questions process.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

154 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position in respect of residency status and progress on family reunification application in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35637/10]

I refer the Deputy to my previous replies to Parliamentary Questions in this matter. I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that the person referred to made a Family Reunification application in January 2006. A decision in this case was issued to the person referred to on the 11th July 2008 enclosing original documentation submitted in support of their application. This decision letter was returned to INIS by An Post. The decision letter was reissued on 28th July 2008 and was again returned to INIS. I am further informed by INIS that the person referred to notified INIS on 9th March 2009 that he had changed address and the decision of 11th July 2008 was reissued to him at the new address provided. No further documentation has been received to date. Itis open to the person in question to make a new application in respect of his family members.

I should remind the Deputy that queries in relation to the status of individual Immigration cases may be made direct to INIS by Email using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. The service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek this information through the more administratively expensive Parliamentary Questions process.

Crime Levels

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

155 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of persons convicted of drug related offences including possession or possession for supply; the number of such convictions relating to senior crime bosses over the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35638/10]

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

156 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the full extent of anti-social behaviour incidents reported from each Garda division here in the past 12 months; the number of prosecutions, convictions or cases pending therefrom; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35639/10]

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

Question No. 157 answered with Question No. 126.

Organised Crime

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

158 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of convictions to date against criminal gang members under the Special Criminal Courts legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35641/10]

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

159 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the reason he has not taken steps to cut off the supply of firearms to the criminal elements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35642/10]

I refer the Deputy to my answer to Question No. 13 of today's date.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

160 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of occasions on which the special powers arising from legislation passed in the last two years have been invoked to combat organised criminal gangs; the degree of success in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35643/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

163 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the extent, if any, to which the number, location and membership of criminal gangs has been made known to the Garda or his Department; the action taken or proposed to address issues arising; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35646/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 160 and 163 together.

I refer the Deputy to my answer to Question No. 43 of today's date.

Control of Firearms

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

161 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the extent, if any, to which his most recent legislation in respect of legally held guns has affected the availability to criminals of submachine guns; the action he proposes to take, if any, to address this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35644/10]

The firearms provisions of the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 completed the necessary updating of our firearms licensing process. I have always made it clear that it was not brought forward specifically in the context of tackling gangland crime.

The 2009 Act brought in a wide range of measures to modernise the licensing system and to increase public safety. In this regard, all firearm owners must also comply with the security requirements as laid down in S.I. 307 of 2009 Firearms (Secure Accommodation) Regulations 2009. The minimum security standards required at a dwelling is dependent on the number and calibre of firearms held by an individual. This requirement applies to owners of all firearms. A person applying for a Firearm Certificate for target-shooting must now be a member of an authorised rifle or pistol club as laid down in the Firearms (Authorisation of Rifle or Pistol Clubs) Regulations, 2009 (S.I. 308 of 2009).

In relation to criminals and the work of the Gardaí, An Garda Síochána's Policing Plan 2010 sets out the commitment to proactively target groups and individuals engaged in organised crime and to this end there are currently a number of intelligence-led operations focusing on organised crime groups in the Greater Dublin area and regional cities. A key part of these operations is a focus on stemming the supply of firearms to such groups. As a direct result of these operations, a number of individuals are before the courts charged with serious offences concerning the sale and supply of firearms.

The Organised Crime Unit (OCU), within the National Bureau of Criminal Investigations, in particular, is committed to tackling the issue of organised crime, including the illegal importation of firearms.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

162 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the action taken by him and his Department to prevent criminal gangs from gaining access to firearms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35645/10]

An Garda Síochána's Policing Plan 2010 sets out a commitment to proactively target groups and individuals engaged in organised crime. To this end a number of intelligence-led operations, such as Operation Anvil, which focuses on organised crime groups in the Greater Dublin area and regional cities are currently being supported. A key part of these operations is a focus on stemming the supply of firearms to such groups. As a direct result of these operations, a number of individuals are before the courts charged with serious offences concerning the sale and supply of firearms. Since the commencement of Operation Anvil in excess of 1,400 firearms have been recovered in the Dublin Metropolitan Region, with a further 1,800 seized outside the Dublin Metropolitan Region up to the end of August, 2010.

The Organised Crime Unit (OCU) operating within the National Bureau of Criminal Investigations, in particular, is committed to tackling the issue of organised crime, including the illegal importation of firearms. In this regard, inter-agency cooperation is essential and the OCU maintains close liaison with the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Serious and Organised Crime Agency in the United Kingdom. Officers attend formal cross-border and international conferences and engage in joint policing operations targeting organised criminals operating within these jurisdictions. An Garda Síochána also has Liaison Officers based in the UK, The Netherlands, Spain and Portugal, with officers currently also seconded to Europol and Interpol. There is also strong inter-agency cooperation with the Revenue Commissioners (Customs) and the Naval Service.

There are, of course, already very severe penalties for firearms offences in place under the Criminal Justice Act 2006. For example, possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life and using a firearm to resist arrest or aid escape carry a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years. Possessing a firearm while hijacking a vehicle, possessing a firearm or ammunition in suspicious circumstances, carrying a firearm with criminal intent and altering a firearm carry a mandatory minimum sentence of five years. In addition, the controls on the issue of firearms certificates, and the conditions under which weapons can be held, have been strengthened in order to ensure that legitimately held firearms remain as far from the reach of criminals as possible.

The organised crime situation remains under constant review by senior management in An Garda Síochána. Members of An Garda Síochána are utilising all available legislation, including additional legislative provisions introduced by the Oireachtas in 2009 relating to organised crime. An Garda Síochána will continue to develop and implement strategies to dismantle and disrupt criminal networks, utilising advanced analytical and intelligence methods to facilitate targeted operations to enable early intervention and prevention of such crimes.

Question No. 163 answered with Question No. 160.

Jury Service

David Stanton

Question:

164 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if deaf persons are deemed to be ineligible for jury service; if so, the reasons for this exclusion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35659/10]

Section 64 of the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2008 introduced an amendment to the First Schedule of the Juries Act 1976 which places the emphasis on a person's capacity to perform the duties of jury service and does not automatically exclude any person because of an infirmity. My Department is considering, in consultation with the Attorney General, the recent High Court judgment in the Clarke case. In addition, as the Deputy may be aware, as part of itsThird Programme of Law Reform 2008-2014, the Law Reform Commission published a Consultation Paper on Jury Service on 29th March 2010, inviting submissions on the paper and its provisional recommendations. I look forward to the publication of the Commission’s final report and recommendations.

Prison Building Programme

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

165 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if the first stage of the development of Thornton Hall Prison is likely to be completed within four years, in view of the need for greater cutbacks in public expenditure; the costs associated with the project to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35666/10]

The need to urgently modernise the prison estate and replace Mountjoy prison has been well documented both by the Inspector of Prisons and the Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The prison development at Thornton Hall remains a cornerstone of our prison modernisation programme.

The Government recently approved the procurement of the first phase of the prison accommodation blocks and related support facilities for the prison campus at Thornton Hall. This work will proceed and will result in the provision of 400 cells capable of accommodating up to 700 prisoners. Work has already started on the construction of the access road and the procurement process for the other aspects of the project are being advanced. I cannot give a date for the completion of work on the first phase prison buildings until the tendering process has been completed but realistically speaking, one could not expect the new facility to be available before 2014.

This project has been identified in the Government's Infrastructure Investment Priorities 2010-2016 and funding for this project is being made available from within the capital envelope for my Department. The Deputy may also wish to know that the contract for the construction of the access road to serve the prison development was awarded to SIAC Construction Limited in July and construction work is already well under way in relation to this phase of the project. The access road and underpass are scheduled to be completed during February next year.

A procurement competition for the installation of the off-site services to serve the prison development issued to companies on the Irish Prison Service Construction Framework in August. The closing date was 6 October 2010 and the evaluation of the tenders by the Irish Prison Service and its technical advisors has commenced. It is intended to award the contract in respect of the off-site works in November. The work will take approximately eight months to complete.

The procurement process for the design and construction of the perimeter security wall of the prison is already in progress. A pre-qualification competition from which suitably qualified contractors will be invited to tender for the design and construction of the perimeter wall of the prison and related works issued on the E-Tenders web site in August 2010. The closing date for expressions of interest was 28 September 2010. Twenty submissions were received and the evaluation of these submissions is already under way. A panel comprising 5 to 7 contractors will be established from this procurement competition and these contractors will be invited to tender for the construction of the perimeter security wall later this month. Construction of the perimeter security wall is scheduled to commence in the first quarter of 2011 and will take just under a year to complete. The procurement process for the design and construction of the first phase of prison accommodation blocks will get under way early in 2011.

In relation to expenditure on the project, the total expenditure to end September is €42.46 million. This sum includes the site cost of €29.9 million. The cost of the site was almost completely offset by the sale of surplus prison lands at Shanganagh County Dublin for €29 million. An additional 8.7 acres has also been acquired at a cost of €1.3 million to provide a dedicated access route to the main prison site. This was done following representations from the local community which reflected concern in relation to the potential effect of increased traffic generated by the prison development.

The total expenditure to date also includes €7.3 million expended on professional fees, €2.9 million on site preparation and various surveys, €0.5 million on landscaping and €0.5 million on security. As is the case with all major infrastructure projects a comprehensive set of geological, engineering, archaeological and environmental surveys have been undertaken at the site in order to advance the construction programme for the development. These surveys will enable the Irish Prison Service to accelerate the timeframe for the construction of the first phase of the prison buildings to a maximum of two years.

Residency Permits

John McGuinness

Question:

166 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the reason a Garda National Immigration Bureau card has not been returned to a person (details supplied); and if he will expedite a resolution to the matter [35678/10]

I wish to inform the Deputy that the person to whom he refers was granted permission to remain in the State in 2001 under the arrangements then in place for the non-EEA parents of Irish born children. This permission was renewed on a regular basis and is currently valid until 15 October, 2012. However, I am informed that the Garda National Immigration Bureau card of the person concerned was retained by GNIB when it came to light in October of 2009 that her child was no longer resident in the State. The return of this card is a matter for GNIB but I should add that the case file of the person concerned will be examined by officials of my Department given that permission to remain in the State was granted on the basis of her child residing in the State.

I should remind the Deputy that queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to INIS by Email using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. The service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek this information through the more administratively expensive Parliamentary Questions process.

Social Welfare Benefits

Jack Wall

Question:

167 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) in County Kildare was refused domiciliary care; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35467/10]

An application for Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) was received on the 16th April 2010 from the person in question. This application was referred to one of the Department's Medical Assessors who found that her child was not medically eligible for DCA. A letter issued to the person in question on the 27th September 2010 where she was advised of the decision to refuse DCA. In the case of an application which is refused on medical grounds, the applicant may submit additional information and/or ask for the case to be reviewed or they may appeal the decision directly to the Social Welfare Appeals Office within 21 days.

Finian McGrath

Question:

168 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection if there is legislation protecting the rights of persons who are unable to sell their homes for over three years and who are now being refused benefits; and if he will clarify the current situation [35482/10]

Social welfare legislation provides that the yearly value of "property owned but not personally used or enjoyed" is assessable for means testing purposes. Such property includes houses and premises owned by a claimant which may or may not be put to commercial use. However, it does not include property such as the home at which they reside or, for example, a premises used by the claimant in carrying out a business.

For assessment purposes, the current market value of the property is established as well as the amount of any outstanding mortgages on that property. The balance (market value less outstanding mortgage) is assessed by reference to a formula. Where the current market value is less than the outstanding mortgage, no assessment is made. The current market value of a property is the best estimate of what would be achievable if the property was offered for sale. Such an estimate will have regard to reductions in prices over recent years.

In establishing the current market value of a property, my Department may make enquiry of the State Valuation Office. Alternatively, the market value may be established through receipt of a reasonable current valuation from a registered auctioneer, with reference to the purchase price and date of purchase of the property or, alternatively, the inspector may agree a valuation with a customer having regard to the type and location of the individual property and prevailing market values in that area. These provisions apply in the case of a homeowner who buys a house without having sold their original home. Where a claimant considers that a decision on his or her claim is based on a market value of a property which is too high, he or she may appeal that decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.

Social Welfare Appeals

Michael Ring

Question:

169 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social Protection if an appeal can be opened on a respite care grant refusal decision in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [35488/10]

I am informed by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that a form for the opening of an appeal has been forwarded to the person concerned and requesting her to state the grounds for her appeal. On receipt of her reply the appeal will be opened and processed in the normal manner. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

170 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will explain the reason it was determined that a person (details supplied) in County Cork had not proven that their centre of interest is Ireland [35497/10]

The Health Service Executive (HSE), have advised that the person concerned applied for SWA in June 2010 but her application was refused as in the opinion of the HSE, the person concerned was deemed not to be habitually resident based on an assessment of her particular circumstances. The HSE further advised that the person concerned appealed the decision to the HSE Appeals Office in July 2010. The Appeals Office in the HSE upheld the decision to refuse SWA. An appeal by the person concerned, against the decision to refuse her claim for SWA, was forwarded to the Social Welfare Chief Appeals Officer in August 2010. Every effort is being made to have this appeal determined as quickly as possible.

Employment Action Plan

Michael Ring

Question:

171 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social Protection if under the new work activation proposals in his Department, a person completed a fourth year on FÁS course can transfer to a rural social scheme (details supplied) [35507/10]

The Department of Social Protection is currently devising proposals for the development of new initiatives based on the Rural Social Scheme and the Community Services Programme which will offer employment opportunities. Details of the roll out of this initiative will be made available as soon as possible.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

172 Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Social Protection if specific measures are in place to match the skills or education profile of persons in receipt of jobseeker’s payments with the requirements of potential employers; if his Department makes referrals of appropriately qualified jobseeker’s benefit or jobseeker’s allowance recipients to the approximately 40,000 jobs posted on employment websites in addition to the 4,000 FÁS advertised jobs; if he will consider setting up a new public website on which the skills or education profile of recipients can be immediately accessed by potential employers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35521/10]

Currently systematic referral of jobseekers for training, education or employment opportunities is via the National Employment Action Plan (NEAP). Under the NEAP unemployed people are referred to FÁS on reaching specified duration thresholds on the live register. FÁS provides a range of services and supports to employers and jobseekers, including unemployed people referred under the NEAP. These services include local job matching and on-line services for jobseekers and employers with access provided to jobs data, vacancies, CVs, etc. The NEAP is a key element of the Government's labour market policy and it is based on the well-established principle that early intervention reduces the likely duration of unemployment.

The recently published ESRI report (National Profiling of the Unemployed in Ireland. ESRI Research Series No. 10) developed a statistical profiling model for Ireland that would identify individuals with a high risk of becoming long-term unemployed. The report quantifies the relative impact of a range of factors which contribute to long-term unemployment. These factors include low education levels, poor literacy or numeracy, advanced age or a history of unemployment periods in recent years. Effective prevention depends on being able to identify those at risk of becoming long-term unemployed at an early stage, and referring them to appropriate labour market programmes to improve their chances of obtaining employment. The implementation of the profiling model is currently in progress in the Department.

It is envisaged that the implementation of the profiling model will prove very effective in targeting resources appropriately and will therefore significantly enhance the current NEAP process.

The transfer of the employment services function of FÁS to the Department of Social Protection will also ensure a more coherent approach to the needs of jobseekers and employers. Bringing together, under the aegis of one department, the employment services of FÁS, the expertise of its placement officers and the unemployment services of this department, will facilitate the delivery of a more effective and streamlined response to the needs of both the unemployed and employers. Enhancements to existing FÁS services, or complementary ones, that facilitate matching vacancies with jobseekers will be examined in this context.

Social Welfare Benefits

Michael Ring

Question:

173 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of Irish citizens that have been refused supplementary welfare allowance based on failure to satisfy the habitual residency condition for each of the years 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35535/10]

Michael Ring

Question:

174 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of Irish citizens refused supplementary welfare allowance based on failure to satisfy the habitual residency condition that have been offered a ticket back to the country they previously resided in during 2008 and 2009; the number of such offers that were taken up; the number that were refused; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35536/10]

Michael Ring

Question:

175 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social Protection the way he expects Irish citizens who have failed to satisfy the habitual residency condition and have not been offered a ticket back to the county they previously resided in to avoid destitution and homelessness if they have no income to support themselves; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35537/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 173 to 175, inclusive, together.

The habitual residence condition (HRC) applies to all claimants for certain social welfare payments, including supplementary welfare allowance (SWA), regardless of nationality. The SWA scheme is the "safety net” within the overall social welfare system in that it provides a basic income support payment to eligible people in the State whose means are insufficient to meet their needs and those of their dependants. The main purpose of the SWA scheme is to provide immediate and flexible assistance for those in need who do not qualify for payment under other State schemes. However, SWA cannot at any time be viewed as a temporary or interim means of income support available independently of HRC. Once-off exceptional needs payments under the SWA scheme may be made to eligible applicants without reference to the HRC. These payments, including assistance with travel costs, may be made to help meet an essential, once-off cost which the applicant is unable to meet out of his/her own resources. There is no automatic entitlement to this payment. Each application is determined by the Health Service Executive based on the particular circumstances of the case. Statistics are not available on the numbers of Irish nationals who received support.

The vast majority of Irish nationals applying for social welfare support satisfy the HRC condition. Between 1 May 2004 and 31 December 2009, of those Irish nationals whose circumstances called for detailed investigation in this respect, 89% were found to satisfy the HRC. Only 11% were refused on HRC grounds. Figures for claimants refused SWA on HRC grounds are not included in these statistics as these statistics are not maintained by the various Health Service Executive areas.

Irish nationals returning to live here on a permanent basis should experience no difficulty in demonstrating that they satisfy the requirements of the habitual residence condition. However in the case of disallowance, every notice of disallowance sets out the claimant's rights to request a review of the decision or to lodge an appeal to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. These options allow every claimant the opportunity to produce additional evidence in support of their case, and to have any error of judgment addressed appropriately.

Michael Ring

Question:

176 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of Irish citizens who were refused a social welfare payment based on failure to satisfy the habitual residence condition, a supplementary welfare allowance payment based on failure to satisfy the habitual residence condition, have submitted an appeal to the social welfare appeals office for each of the years 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35538/10]

The following table sets out by scheme the number of Irish people who were disallowed a social welfare payment based on the failure to satisfy the habitual residence during the years 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009. Figures in respect of 2007 are also included for the Deputy's convenience.

Irish

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

Jobseeker’s Allowance

434

438

351

879*

530*

State Pension (Non-Con)

15

8

3

0

9

Blind Pension

0

0

0

0

0

Widow/er’s & Orphan’s Non-Con Pensions

0

0

0

0

0

One-Parent Family Payment

9

4

16

37

23

Carer’s Allowance

26

24

6

7

33

Disability Allowance

12

17

3

40

98

Child Benefit

11

6

2

22

45

Domiciliary Care Allowance†

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

0

Total

507

497

381

985

738

*It should be noted that the Live Register increased by over 70% in 2008 and by a further 46% in 2009.

†The Domiciliary Care Allowance scheme transferred to the Department on 1 April 2009.

It should also be noted that the figures in the above table include a number of people who, although they were not born in this State, are Irish passport holders by virtue of their ancestral ties with Ireland. Some never previously lived or worked here and claimed a social welfare payment almost immediately on entry to this country even though it was not their intention to reside permanently in this State. Accordingly, they do not meet the criteria for the habitual residence condition.

Statistics on the number of Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) claims that do not satisfy the habitual residence condition are not maintained by the various HSE areas. However, it is estimated that approximately 1.5% of all SWA claims are disallowed for HRC reasons.

It is open to any customer who is not satisfied with the decision on their claim to appeal that decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. The total number of persons who have appealed habitual residence decisions is set out in the table below:

Year

Number

2005

657

2006

786

2007

858

2008

1,015

2009

1,383

However, figures in relation to the number of Irish people who have appealed habitual residence decisions are not available as the nationalities of appellants are not recorded on the system.

Denis Naughten

Question:

177 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Social Protection, further to Question No. 1324 of 29 September 2010, if he will provide the figures for that area by local office; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35557/10]

As stated in my previous reply, processing times recorded by the Department relate to the time elapsed from when a claim is made to the date on which a decision is given. The part a social welfare inspector plays in relation to investigating the circumstances of customers forms just one part of the overall process. Some of the claims where social welfare inspectors have an input are processed in respect of the whole country at Sligo and Longford and thus processing times specific to Roscommon customers are not available. Processing times for the jobseekers allowance and one parent family payments that are processed in the Roscommon branch offices are given in the following tabular statement:

Processing times for Roscommon Social Welfare Branch Offices

September 2010

BOYLE

JA

OFP

Number of Cases

Processing Time (wks)

Number of Cases

Processing Time (wks)

Awards

36

4.83

1

9

Disallowances

3

13.00

0

0

Decisions

39

5.46

1

9

CASTLEREA

JA

OFP

Number of Cases

Processing Time (wks)

Number of Cases

Processing Time (wks)

Awards

60

9.25

4

9.54

Disallowances

9

17.78

0

0.00

Decisions

69

10.36

4

9.54

ROSCOMMON

JA

OFP

Number of Cases

Processing Time (wks)

Number of Cases

Processing Time (wks)

Awards

37

5.91

4

23.18

Disallowances

9

8.44

2

11.79

Decisions

46

6.41

6

19.38

Social Welfare Appeals

Dinny McGinley

Question:

178 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an appeal for jobseeker’s allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Donegal and when a date will be arranged for an oral hearing [35590/10]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeal from the person concerned has been referred to an appeals officer who proposes to hold an oral hearing in the case. The person concerned will be informed when arrangements have been made. In order to be fair to all appellants, oral hearings are arranged in strict chronological order. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Benefits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

179 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if the application for domiciliary care allowance will be re-examined in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35608/10]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 19 May 2010. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the deciding officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received back in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 27 August 2010 and the appeal will be referred in due course to an appeals officer who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing.

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

180 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding arrears of the child benefit element of jobseeker’s allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35609/10]

The person concerned is in receipt of a qualified child increase in respect of this child from 17 September 2010, the date on which an application was submitted with proof of continuation by the child concerned in full-time education. Entitlement to arrears in respect of this child is currently being examined.

Social Welfare Appeals

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

181 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection when an oral hearing will be held in respect of one parent family allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35611/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

182 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection when an oral hearing will be held in respect of child benefit in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35612/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 181 and 182 together.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeals from the person concerned have been referred to an appeals Officer who proposes to hold an oral hearing in both cases. The person concerned will be informed when arrangements have been made. In order to be fair to all appellants, oral hearings are arranged in strict chronological order. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Benefits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

183 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will clarify the position regarding a cheque which was not enclosed with rent support in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35613/10]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that the person concerned moved into his current accommodation on 16 March 2010. However his rent supplement was only paid from 1 April 2010. The person concerned made an application for arrears of rent supplement for March and following review, it was noted the person concerned had received rent supplement in respect of his previous address until 19 March 2010. Payment of arrears of rent supplement from 20 March 2010 to 31 March 2010 issued to the person concerned on 6 October 2010.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

184 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a jobseeker’s claim has not yet been processed or awarded in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; if he will take urgent action to address this case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35614/10]

The person concerned made a claim for jobseeker's allowance in May 2010. It was closed in July 2010 as he failed to provide documentation requested. The person concerned made a repeat claim on 19 July 2010, furnishing the outstanding documentation. His claim was reviewed by a social welfare inspector in August and will shortly be decided by a deciding officer. Account will be taken of the period he has been in employment since he lodged his claim.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

185 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will restore jobseekers allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 24; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35615/10]

The person concerned applied for one parent family payment in January 2010 at Navan Local Office. She was interviewed by an Inspector in February 2010 and was requested to submit further details in support of her application, which she failed to submit.

On 15 September 2010 the person concerned requested to have her application transferred to Tallaght Local Office. Her file has been referred to an Inspector in Tallaght for an investigation of her current circumstances.

According to the records of the Department no application for jobseeker's allowance has been received in respect of the person concerned.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

186 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if and when back to education allowance will be approved and paid in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35616/10]

The person concerned was approved for a back to education allowance on 7 September 2010. Payment of the allowance will be processed through his bank account with effect from 7 October 2010. The annual allowance towards the cost of his studies will issue to him in the next few weeks.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

187 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason rent support was reduced in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35617/10]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that the person concerned was in receipt of mortgage interest supplement of €445.70 per month based on the household income from jobseekers benefit and earnings from part-time employment. The HSE has further advised the person concerned is now in receipt of mortgage interest supplement of €399.40 per month as both the person concerned and his spouse are now in receipt of full rate jobseekers benefit payments.

Social Welfare payments, including jobseekers benefit, are assessable in full for mortgage interest supplement purposes and are not eligible for the additional household income disregard. If the person concerned is not satisfied with the decision of the HSE he can appeal the decision to the HSE Appeals Office.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

188 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if and when disability allowance will be paid in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35618/10]

The person concerned applied for Disability Allowance on 11 November 2008. On 18 June 2009 he was awarded disability allowance from 12 November 2008 and he is currently in receipt of the maximum weekly payment of €196.00, plus an increase for three qualified children of €89.40 and a fuel allowance of €20.00.

The person applied to have his claim backdated to July 2008 as he had ceased employment on 30 June 2008. This application was refused by a Deciding Officer on 6 August 2009 and the person was notified of this decision and of his right of appeal to the Social Welfare Appeals Office

There is a requirement under social welfare legislation that claims for disability allowance must be made within seven days from the date of entitlement to the allowance. However, provision is made in the legislation to make payments, within certain limits, where there is "good cause" for the late claim.

The person subsequently appealed this decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. The file was sent to the Social Welfare Inspector to clarify some aspects of the claim and I understand the Inspector will have the investigation completed shortly. A Deciding Officer will again examine the case in light of the Inspector's report and if it is decided to backdate the claim the person will be notified directly. If the Deciding Officer decides not to backdate the claim the file will be sent to the Appeals Office and the person will be contacted directly by that Office.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

189 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if rent allowance is payable retrospectively to June 2008 in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35619/10]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that the person concerned made an application for rent supplement on 29 June 2009 and was awarded rent supplement from 1 July 2009. The HSE further advised that the person concerned has not requested rent supplement to be payable from June 2008. If the person concerned wishes to make an application for arrears of rent supplement he should contact the HSE at his local health centre.

Michael Ring

Question:

190 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social Protection if a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be approved and granted jobseeker’s allowance [35649/10]

The person concerned has no current jobseeker's allowance application. She is attending a VTOS course.

Michael Ring

Question:

191 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social Protection if a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be approved and granted the domiciliary care allowance [35653/10]

An application for Domiciliary Care Allowance was received by the Department on 16th September 2010. This application together with medical reports has been forwarded to one of the Department's Medical Assessors for a medical opinion on the case. Upon receipt of this opinion a decision will issue to the person concerned. Currently it takes approximately eight weeks to process an application.

Pension Provisions

Noel Ahern

Question:

192 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Social Protection the rate of contributory old age pension for a single person for each year from 1997 to date in 2010; the relevant consumer price index inflation rate if available for each year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35671/10]

Progress has been made in recent years in securing the position of older people in Irish society. Increases in the State pension (contributory) have brought the personal rate of pension to a maximum weekly rate up to €230.30 per week. A pensioner couple would be eligible for a weekly income of €436.60. These pension increases exceeded increases in prices over the period so that significant improvements were made in real terms in pension rates.

In Budget 2010, the Government avoided any cuts in the State pension. Weekly rates of payments to pensioners (those 66 and over) were not reduced and neither were other supports such as the Household Benefits package which includes the free TV licence, electricity/gas allowance and telephone allowance. The living alone and over 80 allowances were also retained at existing levels. In 2010 nearly €4.53 billion has been made available to support over 400,000 pensioners.

The maximum weekly rates of State pension (contributory), together with details of the consumer price index for the years 1997 to date are detailed in the table below:

Year

Under 80 max personal rate

Over 80 max personal rate

Consumer Price Index (base 1996 = 100)

1997

£78.00

£83.00

101.9

1998

£83.00

£88.00

103.6

1999

£89.00

£94.00

107.1

2000

£96.00

£101.00

113.4

2001

£106.00

£111.00

118.2

2002

€147.30

€153.70

124.1

2003

€157.30

€163.70

126.5

2004

€167.30

€173.70

129.8

2005

€179.30

€185.70

133.0

2006

€193.30

€203.30

139.5

2007

€209.30

€219.30

146.1

2008

€223.30

€233.30

147.7

2009

€230.30

€240.30

140.3

2010

€230.30

€240.30

141.1

Sports Capital Programme

Terence Flanagan

Question:

193 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport if he will support a matter (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35518/10]

Under the terms of the Sport Capital Programme grants are allocated to sporting organisations towards the provision of new facilities or the renovation/extension of existing facilities. Since 1998 over €730m. has been allocated to 7,400 projects nationwide.

No decision has been made on the timing of the next round of the Sports Capital Programme. When such a Programme is launched, it will be open to the club to apply for a grant if it has a suitable proposal.

Departmental Agencies

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

194 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the remuneration awarded to all board members of all State agencies under her Department's control in the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [35579/10]

The State agencies under the aegis of my Department are categorised as follows for the purpose of payment of Board fees approved by the Department of Finance and the relevant fees for the period referred to by the Deputy are also set out below: Tourism Ireland is a North/South body in respect of which board fees are set by the North South Ministerial Council. The relevant fees for the period in question are:

Body

Category

The Arts Council

4

Culture Ireland

4

Fáilte Ireland

2

The Irish Film Board

4

The Irish Manuscripts Commission*

4

The Irish Museum of Modern Art*

4

The Irish Sports Council

4

The National Concert Hall*

4

The National Gallery of Ireland

4

The National Museum of Ireland

4

The National Library of Ireland

4

National Sports Campus Development Authority

4

* Fees paid to Chairperson but not to other Directors.

Approved rate

Category 2 body

Category 4 body

1 January 2006

Chairperson €24,000

Chairperson €10,500

Directors €14,000

Directors €7,000

1 May 2009

Chairperson €21,600

Chairperson €9,450

Directors €12,600

Directors €6,300

1 January 2010

Chairperson €20,520

Chairperson €8,978

Directors €11,970

Directors €5,985

Tourism Ireland is a North-South body in respect of which board fees are set by the North-South Ministerial Council. The relevant fees for the period in question are

December 2000

Chairperson: Ir £8,000/£6,400 Stg per annum;

Vice-chairperson: Ir £6,500/£5,200 Stg. per annum;

Director: Ir £5,000/£4,000 Stg per annum.

December 2007

Chairperson: €14,000/£9,520 Stg per annum;

Vice-chairperson: €11,500/Stg £7,820 per annum;

Member: €9,000/Stg £6,120 per annum.

November 2009

Chairperson: €12,600/£8,570 Stg per annum;

Vice-chairperson: €10,350/£7,040 Stg. per annum;

Member: €8,100/£5,510 Stg. per annum.

The payment of the above fees is a matter for the bodies in question.

Special Protection Areas

David Stanton

Question:

195 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government further to his proposal to designate the Blackwater Estuary in County Cork as a special protection area, (details supplied) the impact, if any, this proposed designation would have on the use of the river by those involved in water based activities such as power-boating, sailing, water-skiing, fishing and other such activities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35466/10]

My Department is currently engaged in a programme of classification of Special Protection Areas under the Birds Directive. This exercise includes the re-classification of many existing SPA sites, including Blackwater Estuary which was first designated some sixteen years ago. A judgment delivered by the European Court of Justice against Ireland in December 2007 found that Ireland's classification of its SPAs had been inadequate in some respects and this has necessitated the re-classification of many of the older sites.

The proposal to update the designation of Blackwater Estuary was advertised on 4 August, 2010. Appeals by affected landowners or land users may be made up to 3 November, 2010. The re-designation process will be concluded, following consideration of any appeals submitted, with the making of a new Statutory Instruments for the site. My Department does not have concerns about current levels of recreational activities at this site.

Sustainable Development Strategy

Seán Power

Question:

196 Deputy Seán Power asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if funding will be made available for a project (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35476/10]

My Department has been in regular contact with Kildare County Council in connection with this project, which has been approved to progress under the Towards Carbon Neutral programme. Budget approval was given in April 2010 with a view to the Council progressing this project to planning. My Department is committed to the early advancement of this project as part of the Towards Carbon Neutral programme, and will examine the detailed proposals as soon as they are received from the Council.

Seán Power

Question:

197 Deputy Seán Power asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will confirm that he has received an application from Kildare County Council for a development (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35477/10]

Approval in principle for the project in question recently issued from my Department, subject to the receipt of further information from Kildare County Council on a number of issues. This information is awaited from the Council.

Local Authority Funding

Finian McGrath

Question:

198 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will support a matter (details supplied) [35485/10]

The Government's Water Pricing Policy requires local authorities to recover the cost of providing water services from non-domestic users of these services. Businesses can reduce their costs through introducing water conservation measures. Water charges are calculated based on the costs incurred by the local authority in providing the services. The combined water and waste water charge in Dublin City Council for 2010 is €1.72 per cubic metre, while the charges in South Dublin, Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown and Fingal Councils are €1.88, €2.32 and €1.82 respectively. The national average water charge is €2.32 per cubic metre.

In relation to commercial rates, local authorities are under a statutory obligation to levy rates on any property used for commercial purposes in accordance with the details entered in the valuation lists prepared by the independent Commissioner of Valuation under the Valuation Act 2001. The levying and collection of rates are matters for each individual local authority. However, I have urged local authorities to exercise restraint in setting the Annual Rate on Valuation (ARV) in this and previous years and in 2010 Dublin City Council has reduced its ARV by 2%.

My Department continues to keep matters relating to commercial rates under regular review.

Foreshore Licences

Paul Kehoe

Question:

199 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the reason for the delay in issuing a response to a person (details supplied); if an urgent response to the query can be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35505/10]

Certain functions in relation to the foreshore consent process did not transfer to my Department until January 2010. My Department has subsequently been in contact with the individual who made the enquiry and has outlined general information with regard to the procedures involved in obtaining a foreshore licence; these are also set out on the Department's website at www.environ.ie Before my Department can be of any further assistance, the person concerned has been asked to provide more site specific information in relation to his proposed project, and he has undertaken to do so at a later date as part of a further pre-application consultation process.

Although there are no Irish guidelines specifically in relation to the sinking of vessels for the purpose of creating artificial reefs, the person concerned has been furnished with a copy of a document titled National Guidance: Best Management Practices for Preparing Vessels Intended to Create Artificial Reefs, as recommended by the Marine Institute.

Homeless Persons

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

200 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of homeless persons identified in the homeless counts of 2008 and 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35566/10]

The Counted In survey, which is a special purpose count of people using homeless services carried out in Dublin every three years since 1999 through the Homeless Agency, supported by my Department, is generally considered to provide the most robust indicator. The results of the most recent survey, in March 2008, reported a total of 1,436 homeless households in Dublin, compared with 1,361 in 2005. While this was a numerical increase of around 5%, the position relative to overall population was unchanged. A further 708 households were recorded as residing in long-term or transitional accommodation; however, it would not be correct to regard all of these as homeless, particularly where, for example, households were resident in suitable accommodation that would be likely to provide their most appropriate home in the long-term, or where they had begun to make a transition out of homelessness.

The Counted In survey method was also used for the first time in Cork, Galway and Limerick in 2008. The results indicated a total of 767 households homeless in these centres. However, that figure includes households in long-term and transitional accommodation some of whom, as indicated in relation to Dublin, should not properly be regarded as homeless. The next Counted In survey is due to take place in 2011.

Departmental Agencies

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

201 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the remuneration awarded to all board members of all State agencies under his Department’s control in the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35575/10]

The remuneration payable to board members of agencies under the aegis of my Department, where applicable, from 2007 to date is outlined in the following table:

Agency/Body

Post

Remuneration (Salary Comparator/Annual Fee/Per Diem Fees)

2007

2008

2009*

2010**

An Bord Pleanála***

Chairperson

High Court Judge equivalent

Deputy Chairperson

Assistant Secretary equivalent (Maximum Point)

Member

Assistant Secretary equivalent (Minimum Point)

An Chomhairle Leabharlanna — Library Council

Chairperson

10,500

No change

9,450

8,978

Member

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Affordable Homes Partnership

Chairperson

14,000

No change

12,600

11,970

Member

9,000

No change

8,100

7,695

Building Regulations Advisory Body (BRAB)

Chairperson

10,500

No change

9,450

8,978

Member

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Designated Area Appeals Advisory Board****

Chairperson

12,500

13,500

2,450

4,500

Member*****

19,000

20,600

3,360

7,200

Dublin Docklands Development Authority

Chairperson

24,000

No change

21,600

20,520

Member

14,000

No change

12,600

11,970

Heritage Council

Chairperson

10,500

No change

9,450

8,978

Member

7,000

No change

6,300

5,985

Housing Finance Agency

Chairperson

14,000

No change

12,600

11,970

Member

9,000

No change

8,100

7,695

Agency/Body

Post

Remuneration (Salary Comparator / Annual Fee / Per Diem Fees)

2007

2008

2009*

2010**

Irish Water Safety

Chairperson

10,500

No change

9,450

8,978

Member

7,000

No change

6,300

5,985

Limerick Regeneration agencies (per agency)

Chairperson

10,500

No change

9,450

8,978

Member

7,000

No change

6,300

5,985

National Building Agency

Chairperson

14,000

No change

12,600

11,970

Member

9,000

No change

8,100

7,695

National Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee

Chairperson

10,500

No change

9,450

8,978

Member

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Private Residential Tenancies Board

Members are paid a per diem fee for attending board and committee meetings and when they sit as members of tenancy tribunals. Details regarding the amounts paid are published in the annual reports of the PRTB.

Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII)

Chairperson

14,000

No change

12,600

11,970

Member

9,000

No change

8,100

7,695

Rent Tribunal

Members are paid a per diem fee for attending board and committee meetings. Details regarding the amounts paid are published in the annual reports of the Rent Tribunal.

*Fees reduced by 10% from 1 May 2009 in line with government decision to revise the fees for non-executive chairpersons and members of boards of state bodies.
**Fees reduced from 1 January 2010 in line with the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Act 2009.
***The posts in An Bord Pleanála are full time and the Board is the decision maker in relation to a broad range of statutory functions.
****Per diem fees are paid for attending individual appeal hearings.
*****Total fees to all Board Members.

Planning Issues

Phil Hogan

Question:

202 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the conditions placed on multi-unit developments for the provision of recycling facilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35583/10]

Section 34(4)(k) of the Planning and Development Act, 2000 provides that a planning authority may attach conditions to a planning permission requiring the provision of facilities for the collection or storage of recyclable materials for the purposes of the proposed development. It is a matter for the relevant planning authority, and An Bord Pleanála in the event of an appeal, to decide what conditions it is appropriate, in the interests of the proper planning and sustainable development of the area, to attach to a particular planning permission.

My Department issued Sustainable Urban Housing — Design Standards for New Apartments to planning authorities in September 2007. On the matter of recycling, the Guidelines recommend that:

the communal storage area should be sufficient to satisfy the 3-bin system for the collection of mixed dry recyclables, organic waste and residual waste,

Consideration should be given to the provision of separate collection facilities for other recyclables such as glass and plastics.

My Department's Guidelines on Quality Housing for Sustainable Communities (2007) also recommend that in the layout of apartment schemes, consideration should be given to providing for communal storage/refuse collection points, including separate storage for recyclable materials as required by the local authority for the area. The Guidelines state that such areas should be located and designed so as not to detract from the visual quality of the development while not compromising the need to ensure convenience and accessibility as well as safety and security for residents and management/ maintenance personnel using the facilities. The guidelines are available on my Department's website at www.environ.ie .

Contaminated Sites

Phil Hogan

Question:

203 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has received a finalised list of contaminated sites promised by the Environmental Protection Agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35584/10]

While there is no single national inventory of contaminated sites, which would include old landfills, abandoned mine sites and former industrial activities such as steel or gas works, the Environmental Protection Agency, in its 4th State of the Environment Report entitled Ireland‘s Environment 2008, estimated the number of commercial sites where there is a potential for soil/and or groundwater contamination to be somewhere between 1,980 and 2,300. The EPA has published an inventory and risk classification of historic mine sites jointly with the Geological Survey of Ireland; copies can be downloaded from the Agency's website at www.epa.ie

A ministerial policy direction was issued on 3 May 2005 in regard to compliance by local authorities with the requirements of section 22 of the Waste Management Act 1996 to prepare an inventory and risk assessment of all non-licensed closed landfills where disposal or recovery activities have taken place. In addition, under the Waste Management (Certification of Historic Unlicensed Waste Disposal and Recovery Activity) Regulations 2008, local authorities are obliged to identify and register by 30 June 2009 all closed unlicensed landfills which were operated by them during the period 15 July 1977 to 27 March 1997, when EU relevant requirements were given full effect in Ireland through the waste licensing system now operated by the EPA.

My Department understands from the EPA that all local authorities have complied with this registration requirement. A total of 315 sites have been identified as coming within the remit of these Regulations and 278 or 88% have been risk assessed. Of these, 57 sites are classified High Risk, 93 Medium Risk and 128 Low Risk. When other sites, such as illegal sites, private sites and pre-1977 sites are taken into account, the overall number of sites involved is 498. Details of the sites involved may be obtained from the individual local authority registers.

Official Engagements

Joe Carey

Question:

204 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will meet a deputation from an organisation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35650/10]

The report of the Limerick Local Government Committee, published in September 2010, contains the Committee's recommendations in relation to the current structures of local government in Limerick. I intend to act in relation to Limerick, and will bring proposals to Government for discussion, with a view to early implementation of the Government's decisions. There has already been a wide level of consultation, in the context of the Limerick Local Government Committee's work, and I am aware of the position of the organisation in question, as expressed in its submission to the Committee. However, I am generally open to meeting deputations, availability permitting, where this is warranted. If a request for a meeting is made by the organisation in question to my office it will be given due consideration.

Telecommunications Services

Paul Kehoe

Question:

205 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources with regard to the European economic recovery plan and funding for broadband initiatives, the position regarding the scheme and the procedures that should be followed by rural communities interested in availing of the funding to have their local exchange broadband enabled; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35539/10]

The European Commission has set aside a portion of the European Economic Recovery Programme (EERP) funding for rural broadband initiatives. Using this funding, which will be augmented by an Exchequer contribution, I intend to formally launch a Rural Broadband Scheme before the end of this year. This scheme will aim to provide a basic broadband service to individual un-served rural premises outside of the National Broadband Scheme areas. A key part of the scheme will be to confirm that the premises in question cannot obtain a broadband service. In a fully liberalised market it is essential to intervene only where the market is unable to provide a service and the Department will be consulting fully with the existing service providers in this respect. The scheme will be available for applications on an individual basis. Information in relation to acceptance of applications and the process of qualification under the scheme will be made available when the scheme is launched.

Departmental Agencies

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

206 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the remuneration awarded to all board members of all State agencies under his Department’s control in the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35572/10]

I can inform the Deputy that the remuneration awarded to all board members of all State Agencies under the aegis of my Department is reported in each body's published Annual Report. These reports are made available in the library of the Houses of the Oireachtas. With regard to remuneration paid to board members to date in 2010, I will request that the agencies reply directly to the Deputy with the information sought.

Grant Payments

Joe McHugh

Question:

207 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, further to Parliamentary Question No. 1614 of 29 September 2010, if he will explain the reason just 68.82% of Donegal disadvantaged area payments are processed to date; the reason Donegal has the third lowest percentage of processed payments in the country; if he will expedite County Donegal payments in view of the payments’ important seasonal role in the county’s dry-stock industry; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that delayed payments are forcing many farmers into bad credit with banks and with contractors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35471/10]

The current position regarding payments under the 2010 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme is as outlined in the following Table. The Deputy will be aware of the campaign earlier this year designed to encourage farmers to map all ineligible areas on their farms and to submit such maps to my Department for digitising. The rules of the Scheme have always been very clear as to which areas are ineligible and, while, the majority of farmers had been making sufficient allowances for such areas in their claims, they had not submitted the necessary maps to my Department to allow the areas in question be mapped onto my Department's land parcel database. Because of this, we were potentially seriously exposed to significant EU sanctions, as there is a real expectation on the part of EU auditors that such land databases should accurately reflect the position on the ground. The following table, outing the level of payments made to date, reflects the degree to which digitising is required in each county. Every effort is being made and will continue to be made to expedite payments and, to this end, additional resources have been made available, both within my Department and also to the digitising contractor.

County

Applied 2010

Paid 2010

%

Carlow

766

600

78.33

Cavan

4,807

3,981

82.82

Clare

6,076

4,991

82.14

Cork

6,941

5,460

78.66

Donegal

8,529

6,109

71.63

Dublin

135

91

67.41

Galway

12,219

9,373

76.71

Kerry

7,692

5,840

75.92

Kildare

518

392

75.68

Kilkenny

1,784

1,411

79.09

Laois

1,695

1,409

83.13

Leitrim

3,394

2,668

78.61

Limerick

2,933

2,383

81.25

Longford

2,404

1,974

82.11

Louth

816

574

70.34

Mayo

11,395

8,429

73.97

Meath

1,330

1,091

82.03

Monaghan

4,076

3,343

82.02

Offaly

2,423

1,970

81.30

Roscommon

5,836

4,669

80.00

Sligo

4,091

3,313

80.98

Tipperary

4,462

3,616

81.04

Waterford

1,452

1,200

82.64

Westmeath

2,553

2,149

84.18

Wexford

1,516

1,074

70.84

Wicklow

1,770

1,310

74.01

Totals

101,613

79,420

78.16

Michael Creed

Question:

208 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) will be paid their REPS 4 grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35492/10]

The EU Regulations governing REPS 4 and other area-based schemes provide that payments issue in two instalments. The first instalment of 75% may be paid once all administrative checks on all applications, as well as cross-checks against areas declared on Single Payment Scheme applications, have been completed. This process is under way and while my objective is to make all payments as soon as possible, the checks are likely to take several more weeks to complete. The balancing payment of 25% can issue once all on-the-spot inspections for the year have taken place. The programme of inspections is well advanced at this stage.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

209 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the position regarding a farm improvement grant in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35503/10]

My Department has no record of having received an application for grant-aid under the Farm Improvement Scheme from the person concerned.

Departmental Schemes

John Perry

Question:

210 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the legal basis of the lost at sea scheme; on whose authority did the then Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources introduce the lost at sea scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35519/10]

The Lost at Sea Scheme was a limited, time-bounded scheme introduced by the then Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources in the exercise of his Ministerial prerogative to introduce policies to promote the operational areas of his Department.

John Perry

Question:

211 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will provide details on schemes (details supplied), that is, where were they advertised and promulgated; the amount the advertising of each of the schemes cost, either through the Department or Bord Iascaigh Mhara or any other body; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35520/10]

Bord Iascaigh Mhara is the delegated authority for implementation of the Decommissioning Schemes for the fishing fleet. The scheme for the Licensing of Traditional Pot Fishing Boats in the Irish Inshore Fleet was administered by BIM on behalf of the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources. The Salmon Hardship Scheme came under the auspices of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and was administered by BIM. BIM is an independent statutory agency and hence the internal financial management is a matter for the Board exclusively, in which the Minister does not have a role. However, the Department has forwarded the request to BIM for its consideration and for a direct reply to the Deputy.

The Department has recently had a request for the same information in relation to these schemes, including the Lost at Sea Scheme, from a member of the family involved in the Ombudsman's investigation. All aspects of that scheme, including the matter of its advertising and promulgation, have already been exhaustively examined by the Ombudsman, by the Houses of the Oireachtas, and most recently by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. The Committee's final report is awaited and, in the circumstances, the Department has written to the person concerned to advise that it is not prepared to open up a separate correspondence in relation to the matter.

Grant Payments

Willie Penrose

Question:

212 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason a person who is in receipt of the disadvantaged areas scheme, has had their area of land reduced from 32.49 hectares, which was the base level for 2009 to 22.13 hectares in 2010, notwithstanding that there has been no change in their circumstances or acreage or farm activity, and if same can now be restored to their proper level of 32.49 hectares; the appropriate payment paid thereon; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35563/10]

An application under the 2010 Single Payment Scheme/Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was received from the person named on 6 May 2010. Payments under the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme commenced on 22 September, with an advance payment of 75% issuing in respect of those parcels cleared for payment at that stage. The application of the person named is now fully processed and further payment will issue shortly. The 25% balancing payments under the Scheme are scheduled to commence issuing as and from 20 October 2010.

Departmental Agencies

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

213 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the remuneration awarded to all board members of all State agencies under his Department’s control in the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35571/10]

The information the Deputy requested is laid out in the table below. Following government decision it should be noted that all fees have been reduced by 10% across the board and that payment of fees for membership of the sub-boards of Bord Bia have ceased.

Body

2007

2008

2009

2010 to date

Aquaculture Licensing Appeals Board (ALAB)

41,786

42,373

47,328

23,332

Bord Bia

201,416

183,375

161,817

69,077

Bord Iascaigh Mhara

37,285

55,846

56,156

32,700

Bord na gCon

103,333

104,500

103,334

65,460

Coillte Teoranta

132,000

108,000

113,000

Annual fees due in December 2010

Horse Racing Ireland1

168,000

168,000

156,000

72,000

Irish National Stud

59,000

59,000

61,325

6,559

Marine Institute

75,175

78,770

69,797

31,910

National Council for Forest Research and Development (COFORD)2

7,000

7,000

National Milk Agency3

10,500

10,500

9,800

8,978

Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA)4

Teagasc

147,599

148,089

125,003

Annual fees due in December 2010

Veterinary Council of Ireland5

1 The Chair of Horse Racing Ireland has waived his fee.

2COFORD were subsumed in the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and are no longer considered a separate State Body.

3Only the Part-time Chairperson receives any remuneration.

4The SPFA have 3 Authority members who are full time executives and are paid at standard public service pay rate.

Grant Payments

Dinny McGinley

Question:

214 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the position regarding an application for single payment grant in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Donegal and when payment will issue [35593/10]

An application under the 2010 Single Payment Scheme was received from the person named on 13 May 2010. Following initial processing over-claims were disclosed in the case of two of the land parcels declared by the applicant. My Department has written to the person named to clarify the matter. As soon as my Department receives clarification, the application will be further processed. Having successfully sought an advance payment of the 2010 Single Payment, these payments are scheduled to commence issuing as and from 18 October, with the balancing payments scheduled to commence on 1 December 2010.

Bobby Aylward

Question:

215 Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when the 25% payment under the disadvantaged area scheme will be granted to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and when the remainder is likely to be granted [35652/10]

An application under the 2010 Single Payment Scheme/Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was received from the person named on 27 April 2010. The applicant also submitted maps with his application, which required re-digitisation. The re-digitisation of the applicant's land parcels has now been completed and his Disadvantaged Area Scheme application is currently being processed for payment.

Bobby Aylward

Question:

216 Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when REP scheme payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny [35655/10]

The EU Regulations governing REPS 4 and other area-based schemes provide that payments issue in two instalments. The first instalment of 75% may be paid once all administrative checks on all applications, as well as cross-checks against areas declared on Single Payment Scheme applications, have been completed. This process is under way and while my objective is to make all payments as soon as possible, the checks are likely to take several more weeks to complete. The balancing payment of 25% can issue once all on-the-spot inspections for the year have taken place. The programme of inspections is well advanced at this stage.

Afforestation Programme

Bobby Aylward

Question:

217 Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when financial approval will issue to a person (details supplied) for forestry planting [35657/10]

The person in question is in receipt of a technical approval in respect of his application for afforestation grant aid. Financial approvals are not issuing at present pending completion of the Estimates process which is currently ongoing.

Business Regulation

Joe McHugh

Question:

218 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation if he will update Dáil Éireann on the Government’s commitment to reduce red tape by 25% by 2012; to report on the summer workshops that focused on reductions of red tape arising from company law, employment law and health and safety law; to outline any relevant material reductions in red tape; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35501/10]

International benchmarking statistics reveal that Ireland imposes a relatively low burden of regulation on business. The Forfás Annual Competitiveness Report 2010 states that Ireland's regulatory environment is one of the least restrictive in the OECD in relation to product market regulation, the time taken to comply with tax payments is one of the lowest in the OECD across all categories and Ireland's employment framework is less rigid than the OECD average.

The work to reduce red tape in Ireland is being progressed on two fronts. The High Level Group on Business Regulation works to fast-track simplifications to specific red tape issues identified by business. The Group has processed thirty specific red tape issues brought to its attention by business and continues to drive progress on a further thirty-eight items. To date total annual business savings of over €20m have been achieved by the Group. In addition, an Inter-Departmental Group of officials from all Departments, having regulation affecting business, coordinates the measurement and 25% reduction of administrative burdens in a systematic manner, based on the internationally recognised Standard Cost Model.

To progress the implementation of the Government's target to reduce the burden of red tape on business by 25% by 2012, earlier this year my colleague, Minister for State, Billy Kelleher launched two workshops in the area of Company Law and Employment Law to hear directly from business their ideas to reduce the administrative burden. These workshops, which were held in May and June, were attended by representatives from business, the professions and local enterprise boards. The issues raised included matters relating to returns to the Companies Registration Office, keeping of accounts, the Organisation of Working Time Act and various aspects of the written statement of Terms of Employment.

In line with the overall approach to administrative burden reduction adopted by Government, the aim of the workshops was to identify the best ideas for streamlining the paperwork and information flow that arises from regulation, but without undermining any of the protections afforded by the legislation. The suggestions made at these workshops are being considered in the context of developing simplification plans for administrative burden reduction in these areas. The simplification plans will be considered by the High Level Group on Business Regulation later this year. It is intended to hold a workshop focusing on Health and Safety Legislation in the coming weeks.

Departmental Agencies

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

219 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the remuneration awarded to all board members of all State agencies under his Department’s control in the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35574/10]

The annual remuneration awarded to all board members of State agencies under the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation is set out in the tables below. The amount awarded to board members is in line with guidelines issued by the Department of Finance.

Enterprise Ireland

2007

2008

2009

2010

Chairperson

24,000

24,000

21,600

21,600

Member

14,000

14,000

12,600

12,600

FÁS

2007

2008

2009

2010*

Chairperson

24,000

24,000

21,600

21,600

Member

14,000

14,000

12,600

12,600

*From May 2010, the responsibility for FÁS transferred to the Department of Education and Skills.

Forfás

2007

2008

2009

2010

Chairperson

24,000

24,000

21,600

21,600

Member

14,000

14,000

12,600

12,600

The Health and Safety Authority

2007

2008

2009

2010

Chairperson

14,000

14,000

12,600

12,600

Member

9,000

9,000

8,100

8,100

IDA Ireland

2007

2008

2009

2010

Chairperson

24,000

24,000

21,600

21,600

Member

14,000

14,000

12,600

12,600

Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority

2007

2008

2009

2010

Chairperson

14,000

14,000

12,600

12,600

Member

9,000

9,000

8,100

8,100

The National Consumer Agency

2007

2008

2009

2010

Chairperson

24,000

24,000

21,600

21,600

Member

14,000

14,000

12,600

12,600

The National Standards Authority of Ireland

2007

2008

2009

2010

Chairperson

14,000

14,000

12,600

12,600

Member

9,000

9,000

8,100

8,100

The Personal Injuries Assessment Board

2007

2008

2009

2010

Chairperson

24,000

24,000

21,600

21,600

Member

14,000

14,000

12,600

12,600

Science Foundation Ireland

2007

2008

2009

2010

Chairperson

24,000

24,000

21,600

21,600

Member

14,000

14,000

12,600

12,600

Shannon Free Airport Development Co Ltd.

2007

2008

2009

2010

Chairperson

24,000

24,000

21,600

21,600

Member

14,000

14,000

12,600

12,600

National Minimum Wage

Richard Bruton

Question:

220 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the minimum wages that apply in younger age categories and in training positions and the number of persons working at those rates [35594/10]

The minimum rates of pay which are applicable to workers under the age of 18 and to workers in training positions are set out in the following table. Estimates from the Earnings, Hours and Employment Costs Survey, as undertaken by the Central Statistics Office, indicate that there were approximately 47,000 employees paid at or below the national minimum wage of €8.65 per hour as of the first quarter of 2010. This represented 3.1% of all employees. The available data does not distinguish between those on the adult minimum wage and those on sub-minimum rates, i.e. under 18s and trainees.

Employee

Minimum Hourly Rate of Pay

Under age 18

€6.06 per working hour

In a course of training or studyover age 18, undertaken in normal working hours

1st one third period

€6.49 per working hour

2nd one third period

€6.92 per working hour

3rd one third period

€7.79 per working hour

NB Each one third period must be at least one month and no longer than twelve months.

Richard Bruton

Question:

221 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the number of persons working at the adult minimum wage; the number of employers who have claimed inability to pay; and if he has accessed the practicality of the design of the inability to pay provisions for employers in difficulty [35595/10]

Estimates from the Earnings, Hours and Employment Costs Survey, as undertaken by the Central Statistics Office, indicate that there were approximately 47,000 employees paid at or below the national minimum wage of €8.65 per hour as of the first quarter of 2010. This represented 3.1% of all employees. The available data does not distinguish between those on the adult minimum wage and those on sub-minimum rates, i.e. under 18's and trainees.

I understand that no inability to pay claim by an employer has been submitted to the Labour Court under Section 41 of the National Minimum Wage Act 2000 to date. The inability to pay mechanism under the National Minimum Wage Act was designed to ensure a balance between a mechanism to provide relief to employers in difficulty on the one hand and ensuring that the minimum wage itself is not eroded on the other hand. While I am open to views on the practicality of the mechanism, my priority at present is to seek to introduce an inability to pay mechanism in EROs and REAs, as these are in sectors with generally higher rates than the national minimum wage.

Immigration Issues

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

222 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will meet persons (details supplied) to discuss their case [35543/10]

A request for a meeting was received. As the matters raised in this case relate to immigration, the person in question was advised that the matter was more appropriate to the Minister for Justice and Law Reform.

UN Conventions

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

223 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs when will Ireland ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities [35558/10]

It is the Government's intention to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as quickly as possible, taking into account the need to ensure that all necessary legislative and administrative requirements under the Convention are being met. Work on what is involved by way of implementation of the various provisions in the Convention, which are extensive, continues in the relevant Departments.

Departmental Agencies

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

224 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs the remuneration awarded to all board members of all State agencies under his Department’s control in the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35573/10]

The information sought by the Deputy is set out in the table below. The Deputy may wish to note that Waterways Ireland, the Equality Tribunal and the Office of An Coimisinéir Teanga do not have boards and have been excluded from the table on that basis.

Agency

Total remuneration awarded to all board members in each year specified below

2007

2008

2009

2010 to date

Commissioner of Charitable Donations and Bequests

Nil

Nil

Nil

Nil

Dormant Accounts Board

72,083

79,498

71,375

Nil

Western Development Commission

81,667

86,451

81,667

37,407

Údarás na Gaeltachta

290,000

290,000

270,673

185,962

An Foras Teanga, comprising:

Ulster-Scots Agency

35,995

72,337

61,053

49,380

Foras na Gaeilge

104,604

144,569

136,211

90,449

Family Support Agency

73,500

65,827

48,455

29,177

Equality Authority

10,500

95,000

103,683

Nil

National Disability Authority

87,500

80,500

73,029

31,421

Irish Human Rights Commission

460,119

474,640

426,996

312,016

1This figure includes the salary of the President of the Commission, which is a full-time position.

Community Development

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

225 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will provide a breakdown of the local development social inclusion programme resources both financial and in terms of persons employed for 2009 and January to June 2010 for each partnership or local development company; if he will provide a breakdown of community development programme resources excluding national organisations (details supplied) both financial and persons employed for 2009 and January to June 2010; the way the resources are determined and the way these resources link to the populations in each catchment area and the levels of disadvantage in each community. [35598/10]

The Deputy will be aware that the Local and Community Development Programme (LCDP) replaced the Local Development Social Inclusion and Community Development Programmes from the beginning of 2010. Funding allocations to partnerships/local development companies under the LDCP are made by Pobal, which manages the programme on behalf of my Department. Allocations are based on a number of factors, including the size/population of the catchment areas of the companies, the proposed annual programme of activity of each company, the deprivation index for the catchment areas and the available funding for the year. In addition, the indicative allocations for 2010 took account of concentrated levels of urban disadvantage in the catchment areas of urban partnership companies.

Details in respect of funding provided to partnerships/local development companies for 2009 and from January to June 2010 are set out in Tables 1-2 below. Details are being collated in respect of the number of persons employed in such companies and will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.

With regard to community development projects (CDPs), my Department typically provided funding to meet the salary costs of up to 2 full-time equivalent staff and certain overheads costs associated with the running of the projects. In 2009, funding of the order of €19.8m was provided to some 180 CDPs and groups, in which approximately 350 core staff (full-time equivalents) were employed. In 2010, some 160 CDPs and groups are being funded under the LCDP. Expenditure for January-June 2010 was approximately €11.8m, while the estimated annualised cost is of the order of €19m. The number of core staff (full-time equivalents) employed by these groups in 2010 is approximately 290.

Details in respect of CDP funding for 2010 to date are set out in Table 3 below:

Table 1: Allocations to partnerships/local development companies 2009

Name of company

*€

Avondhu/Blackwater Partnership Limited

527,154

Ballyfermot Partnership Limited

933,730

Ballyhoura Community Partnership

670,342

Ballymun Partnership Limited

980,233

Blanchardstown Area Partnership

924,488

Bray Partnership

976,428

Breffni Integrated Development Limited

857,072

Canal Communities Partnership

870,047

Carlow County Development Partnership Limited

664,640

Cill Dara Ar Aghaidh Teo

1,180,181

Clare Local Development Company

945,489

CLPN Area Partnership

1,238,450

Comhair Chathair Chorcaí

1,256,857

Comhar na nOileán Teo

40,000

County Kilkenny Leader Partnership Ltd.

731,939

County Wicklow Community Partnership

658,288

Donegal Local Development Company

1,192,687

Dodder Valley Partnership

1,394,560

Dublin Inner City Partnership

1,187,685

Fingal Leader Partnership

429,793

Tolka Area Partnership

1,150,692

Tolka Area Partnership — Provision for Extension Funds

100,000

Forum

160,000

Galway City Partnership

882,045

Galway Rural Development Company

1,201,091

Inishowen Area Based Company

875,632

IRD Duhallow

570,658

KWCD Partnership

1,085,027

Laois Partnership Company

696,218

Leitrim Integrated Development Company Ltd.

873,320

Longford Community Resources Ltd.

847,666

Louth LEADER Partnership

1,880,975

Mayo North East Leader

948,714

Meath Partnership

340,156

Meitheal Forbartha na Gaeltachta Teoranta

1,993,262

Monaghan Integrated Development Company

911,789

North & East Kerry Leader Partnership Teo

1,643,073

North Tipperary Integrated Local Development Body

623,092

Northside Partnership

1,229,648

Offaly Integrated Local Development Company Ltd.

1,019,852

PAUL Partnership Limerick

1,420,069

Rathmines Pembroke Community Partnership

415,943

Roscommon Integrated Local Development Body

874,717

SECAD (East Cork Area Development)

509,901

Sligo Leader Partnership Company

828,852

South Kerry Development Partnership

902,051

South Tipperary Integrated Local Development Body

447,540

South West Mayo Development

188,239

Southside Partnership

1,113,976

Waterford Area Partnership

923,730

Waterford Leader Partnership Ltd.

374,289

West Cork Integrated Development Body

427,629

West Limerick Resources Ltd.

836,260

Westmeath Community Development

1,117,987

Wexford Integrated Local Development Body

2,150,837

Total

49,224,990

*Revised drawdown allocations following April 2009 Supplementary Budget.

Table 2: LCDP funding to partnerships/local development companies Jan-June 2010

Name of company

January to June

Avondhu/Blackwater Partnership Ltd.

184,566

Ballyfermot Partnership

302,207

Ballyhoura Development Ltd.

249,101

Ballymun Partnership

387,094

Blanchardstown Area Partnership

362,417

Bray Partnership

450,387

Breffni Integrated Ltd.

299,041

Canal Communities Partnership

343,850

Carlow County Development Partnership

236,606

Cill Dara Ar Aghaidh Teoranta

370,752

Clare Local Development

348,523

Clondalkin Partnership

525,055

Comhar Chathair Chorcaí Teo

425,232

Comhar na nOileán Teo

11,745

County Kilkenny LEADER Partnership

272,686

County Sligo Leader Partnership

309,662

County Wicklow Community Partnership

271,878

Dodder Valley Partnership Ltd.

514,826

Donegal Local Development Co.

308,144

Dublin Inner City Partnership

122,669

Fingal LEADER Partnership Company

204,081

Finglas/Cabra Partnership

459,254

Forum

120,023

Galway City Partnership

371,903

Galway Rural Development Company

364,763

Inishowen Development Partnership

335,374

IRD Duhallow

196,808

Laois Community & Enterprise D

226,015

Leitrim Integrated Development Co.

313,255

Longford Community Resources Ltd

220,806

Louth Leader Partnership

806,878

Mayo North East Leader Partner

247,747

Meitheal Forbartha na Gaeltachta Teoranta

743,956

Monaghan Integrated Development

330,279

North & East Kerry Leader Partnership

624,170

North Tipperary Leadership Partnership

180,367

Northside Partnership

455,295

Offaly Integrated Local Development Company Ltd.

352,381

PAUL (Limerick) Partnership

596,112

Rathmines Information & Community Services

161,784

Rathmines Pembroke Community Partnership

117,632

Roscommon Integrated Development Company Limited

342,508

South & East Cork Area Development Ltd

153,598

South Kerry Development Partnership

286,078

South Tipperary Development Company

185,957

South West Mayo Development Company

108,433

Southside Partnership

431,907

Waterford Area Partnership

351,807

Waterford Leader Partnership

150,530

West Cork Development Partnership

161,049

West Limerick Rescouces Ltd

288,882

Westmeath Community Development Lim

399,193

Wexford Local Development

667,971

Total

17,253,237

Table 3: LCDP funding for community development projects Jan-June 2010

Community Development Project

January to June

Access 2000 — Waterford Women’s Centre

41,440.67

Access 2000 (Wexford ) Ltd.

40,174.35

Longford Acorn

38,332.57

Action Inishowen

35,933.07

Áit na nDaoine C.D.P.

43,885.47

An Cosán, The Shanty Educ. Project Ltd.

72,405.20

An Síol

64,502.81

Athy CDP

33,812.43

Atlantic View CDP Ltd

33,871.33

Ballybane Mervue CDP

43,598.87

Ballybeg Community Devt Project Ltd

45,047.80

Ballymun Men’s Centre Ltd

32,370.47

Ballyphehane/Togher CDP

64,944.56

Bantry & Dist Resource Group

44,769.07

Bawnogue Women’s Development Co Ltd

23,209.23

Bere Island

53,310.53

Blakestown CDP Ltd

46,108.13

Blanchardstown Travellers CDP

39,320.20

Blayney Blades Ltd

37,700.07

Bluebell CDP

34,165.87

Bosnian CDP

39,586.00

Bray Travellers Devt Network

37,965.35

Cabra CDP

26,666.67

CDP Newsletter

81,511.34

Cherry Orchard Equine Centre

37,111.00

Clare Island Community Co-op Ltd

37,159.33

Clare Women’s Network

31,666.67

Claremorris Women’s Group

8,338.67

Clondalkin Travellers Devt Group

35,726.89

Clondakin Women’s Network Ltd.

37,950.62

CAFTA

84,259.34

CAP Ballymun Ltd

10,290.34

Community Connections

37,405.73

Community Devt Network Moyross

40,056.53

Community Dev. Project Navan Ltd.

37,405.73

CLASP

39,762.00

Community Technical Aid

10,676.83

Connemara Community Radio Ltd

79,152.66

Corduff CDP Ltd

37,994.80

Cork Travellers Visibility Group

58,067.66

Corracla Teo Achill

56,412.54

Cosgallen CDP

36,433.77

Cumann na nDaoine — CDP

43,798.99

Darndale — Belcamp Resource Centre

37,388.00

DESSA

97,196.00

Dóchas for Women Ltd

33,576.80

Dolcáin Project (SW Clondalkin)

36,934.58

Dolphin House CDP

13,333.33

Donegal Travellers Project

38,289.33

Donegal Women’s Network

37,111.20

Doras Buí

34,154.27

Drumlin CDP

36,227.60

Dungarvan Community Dev. Project Ltd.

44,445.08

East Clare Community Project Ltd

45,299.22

Edenmore Raheny CDP

7,705.84

Ennis CDP

44,621.80

FAB Community Dev. Project

39,997.63

St Michael’s Family Resource Centre

40,354.67

Farranree CDP

41,234.67

Fermoy Community Development Project

25,329.87

Finglas South CDP

36,633.99

Forum Connemara Rural Project

15,450.00

Galway Traveller Movement Ltd

43,079.89

Greater Blanchardstown Devt Project

72,295.14

Harmony CDP

39,988.67

Independant Mothers Project (IMP)

28,216.31

Inishbofin Development Company Ltd

40,144.58

Comharchumann Inis Toirc Co-op Society

33,462.33

Inner City Renewal Group

9,682.78

Iorras Le Chéile North Mayo

85,052.66

Jobstown Community Dev. Project Ltd.

28,374.00

Kerry Travellers Development Project

63,455.56

Kilbarrack CDP Ltd

35,056.99

Kilmore West CDP

34,039.94

Kiltimagh CDP Ltd

38,289.33

Knockanrawley Resource Centre Ltd.

62,500.00

Larchville & Lisduggan CDP Ltd

38,854.33

Le Chéile Community Devt Ltd

35,638.53

Letterkenny CDP Ltd

40,351.07

Lifford / Clonleigh Resource Centre

37,700.27

Limerick Adult Basic Education

18,850.13

Link Project

9,277.80

Little Bray Family Resource Centre

41,853.33

Lough Allen CDP Ltd

31,220.67

Loughboy Area Resource Centre

45,652.67

Louisburgh CDP

42,923.22

Lourdes Youth & Community Services

61,852.00

MACRO

69,232.00

Mahon CDP

44,474.67

Markiewicz Community Centre

30,926.00

Matt Talbot Community Trust

25,142.45

Mayfield CDP

38,731.00

Men’s Development Project

84,413.26

Mountwood Fitzgerald Community Dev. Ltd.

41,529.33

Na Calaí — South East Galway

40,621.16

National Traveller Women’s Forum

72,455.94

New Ross C.D.P. Ltd

40,410.00

North Clondalkin Community Devt Ltd

14,269.37

North Leitrim Women’s Resource Group

34,460.40

North Wall Women’s Centre

35,500.00

North West Roscommon CDP

36,728.31

Trav/Act Northside Travellers

14,072.74

Open Door Community Dev. Project

35,108.33

Our Lady of Lourdes CDP

40,792.87

Parents Alone Support Services Ltd

39,122.67

Parkside CDP

27,046.67

Partners in Mission

11,045.00

Pavee Point

13,254.00

PIECE Project

3,313.50

Pléaráca Teo

74,899.82

Pobail Le Chéile CDP Teoranta

71,866.13

Priorswood CDP

32,581.65

Project West

38,693.33

Rialto Community Network Ltd

38,878.33

Robert Emmet CDP

61,611.99

Ronanstown Women’s CDP Ltd

41,062.00

Roscommon Women Network

30,248.57

Rowlagh Women’s Group Ltd

37,788.33

Sligo Northside Comm Partnership Ltd

35,638.67

SICCDA

60,827.50

South West Cavan C.D.P.Ltd

38,878.40

South West Donegal CDP

47,125.33

SW Wexford Community Devt Group

53,723.00

Southill CDP Ltd

39,909.27

Southside Comm Devt Assoc Ltd

8,246.93

Southside Travellers Action Group Ltd

35,691.33

Southside Women’s Action Network Ltd.

37,405.67

SW Kerry Women’s Association

34,754.93

S.P.L.T.U. Ltd.

37,238.39

St Margaret’s Traveller Group

29,260.95

St Fergal’s Resource Centre

35,874.00

St Mary’s CDP Ltd

39,762.00

St Munchin’s CDP Ltd

41,529.20

The Suir Comm. Dev. Project Ltd.

36,345.41

Tallaght Travellers CDP

36,816.67

Templeshannon C.D.P. Ltd.

26,269.33

The Bridge CDP

38,289.33

Cork Social & Health Education Project

83,647.40

Glen CDP

37,258.47

The Rosses

71,277.06

Thurles Action for CDP Ltd

39,320.20

Tipperary Rural Travellers Project Ltd.

40,479.22

Tralee CDP

40,645.60

Tralee Women’s Resource Centre

51,186.76

Tuam Community Devt Resource Centre

25,710.00

Tullamore Travellers Movement

36,646.67

Vista CDP Ltd

51,690.55

Waterford Traveller C.D.P. Ltd.

36,345.33

We The People

39,173.00

West Cork Traveller Centre Assoc

50,944.00

West Limerick CDP Ltd

40,940.13

West Tallaght Resource Centre Ltd.

68,223.38

Westside Comm Devt Resource Centre

35,290.39

Wicklow Travellers Group

35,285.00

Wolfe Tone Women’s Group Ltd.

30,926.00

Women of the North West

28,725.00

Women Together Tallaght Network Ltd.

28,121.33

Women’s Community Project Mullingar

40,467.00

Sherkin Island Development Society Ltd

14,726.66

Community After Schools Project

115,494.66

Ballyfermot Travellers Action Project

36,582.58

Cúl Le Chéile Portarlington CDP

38,111.67

Pobal

4,600,000.00*

Nascadh CDP

50,066.60

Holly House

26,473.53

Crumlin CDP

34,460.10

NW Kildare Community Development Co

33,076.09

Cork City Partnership Ltd — CDP

19,993.80

Ballybrack Community Dev. Project Ltd.

21,024.67

Shanganagh CDP

25,843.67

Limerick Women’s Network

31,000.00

Navan Travellers Workshop Ltd

54,208.55

Dublin Institute of Technology

147,333.34

Cadolemo Ltd

30,282.81

People With Disabilities In Ireland Ltd

25,624.39

Croí Rath Naoi

27,548.46

Co Wicklow Community Partnership — CDP

28,680.67

Offaly Integrated Local Development Co

29,506.60

South Tipperary Development Company Ltd

4,888.00

*From May 2010, payments to projects that are to be aligned with partnerships/local development companies are routed through Pobal. €4.6 million was provided to cover payments to such projects in respect of the period May – August 2010.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

226 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will confirm if a recent statement in a newspaper (details supplied) that moneys would be moved from the Leader Companies to County Enterprise Boards is accurate, if Leader companies were consulted about the proposal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35681/10]

The main objectives of the Rural Development Programme are to improve the quality of life in rural areas and facilitate the diversification of the rural economy, and the individual measures under the Programme, including indicative allocations, are as follows:

Diversification into non-agricultural activities for farm families — €16.66m;

Support for business creation and development — €48.26m;

Encouragement of tourism activities — €45.4m;

Basic services for the economy and rural population — €49.61m;

Village renewal and development — €54.2m;

Conservation and upgrading of the rural heritage — €51.7m;

Training and information on adapted and new skills — €29.45m; and

Implementing co-operation projects — €10.7m.

I am pleased with the progress to date under the RDP, which continues to facilitate access to significant financial resources for rural communities since it started in 2009. This has resulted in the proliferation of innovative and sustainable development projects all over the country, which are providing invaluable support to rural communities in these difficult times, and there is no question of funds being diverted away from the RDP.

The RDP currently has registered project activity of €71 million, with almost €30 million at an advanced stage of development. Expenditure to date amounts to almost €47 million, which includes funding for a diverse range of projects from support for micro-enterprise in rural areas to the build and maintenance of community infrastructure and the provision of training in a variety of disciplines for rural dwellers. I am confident that all of the activity funded under the RDP to date is contributing to the creation of the right conditions for the generation of sustainable, long-term job opportunities in rural areas.

My Department and I will be working closely with Minister Batt O'Keeffe and his Department in the coming months to promote increased co-operation between LAGs and County Enterprise Boards in order to ensure that we maximise the impact of all of the funding available and fully support enterprise and job creation in rural areas.

I can assure the Deputy that my Department will continue to work with rural communities through their LAGs to explore all possible funding opportunities under the RDP.