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.
Questions Nos. 9 to 44, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 45 to 52, inclusive, answered orally.

Carbon Levy

Róisín Shortall

Question:

53 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources when the carbon revenue levy imposed on generators commenced; if the receipts have been sent in by the companies concerned; the person who will benefit from this levy; when will the levy be paid to the customer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37783/10]

The Electricity Regulation (Amendment) (Carbon Revenue Levy) Act 2010 was enacted by the Oireachtas and signed into law by the President last June.

The Act provides for the introduction of a Carbon Revenue Levy which will recover a substantial portion of the windfall gains of electricity generators. These gains arise from the inclusion of carbon among the revenues that electricity generators currently receive in the all-island Single Electricity Market (SEM). The levy will remain in place until the end of 2012.

As stipulated in the Act, the first three month levy period began on 1st July and ended on 30th September. The Act requires all electricity generators to submit details of their carbon emissions over the first levy period to the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) by close of business on 14th October. I can inform the House that all relevant electricity generators have complied with this provision.

In accordance with the Act the CER will now issue notices to electricity generators by close of business on 21st October, informing them of the average price of carbon over this levy period and the amount of the carbon revenue levy payable by each generator. Each electricity generator must then pay the amount specified within 15 working days of receipt of the notice given by the CER.

The CER will distribute the funds received from electricity generators to Large Energy Users (LEUs) in accordance with the Direction given to the CER by me in August of this year and as stated in their information note, CER/10/155, published on September 1st.

There are two elements to these rebates. A fixed element is applied as a credit to each LEU's contracted electricity capacity each month. A variable element, also known as the kWh element, is calculated and applied based on customer consumption.

Both credits will benefit all Large Energy Users connected at Distribution Group Seven and above and all Transmission connected customers, irrespective of supplier.

The rebates will apply from 1st October 2010 to 30th September 2011. It is anticipated that in the region of €80 million will be distributed to large energy users over this period.

Telecommunications Services

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

54 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if charges are being imposed by the National Roads Authority for access to ducts on motorways and national roads and the scale of such charges. [37894/10]

Section 21 of the Communications Regulation (Premium Rate Services and Electronic Communications Infrastructure) Act 2010 provides that the National Roads Authority (NRA) is the relevant authority for applications from telecommunications service providers to install telecoms equipment under national roads including motorways. The local authorities remain the relevant authority for applications relating to road openings for telecoms purposes on regional and local roads.

Under the 2010 Act the NRA are allowed charge for administration work they incur as a road authority, including road re-instatement costs that take place after road works carried out by telecommunication service providers. Local authorities are allowed charge similar costs in relation to regional and local roads. These charges existed prior to the 2010 Act but were applied only by Local Authorities. The 2010 Act extends this power to the NRA in the case of motorways and national roads.

In addition, the Act provides that the NRA may make a scheme to charge for the use of its ducts on national roads. This power to charge was necessary to avoid market distortion and possible State Aid complaints. All other infrastructure owners, be they in the public or private sector, also charge for access to their infrastructure.

This scheme is subject to the approval of the Minister for Transport, following consultation with the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and the Minister for Finance.

Earlier this year the NRA engaged in a public consultation on a draft scheme setting out the Authority's proposed policy regarding the use of underground national road capacity by network operators. My understanding is that the response to this consultation was quite positive and that the respondents did not raise any major issues with the draft proposals contained in the NRA's document.

The Act obliges the NRA to act in an open and transparent manner in setting charges for access to ducts on the national road network.

Recently, the Authority has submitted a paper to the Department of Transport on approaches to be adopted in developing a draft charging scheme. In line with the statutory obligations a copy of this proposed charging scheme was sent on to my Department and to the Department of Finance earlier this week for our consideration prior to Department of Transport giving its formal approval for the proposal.

All three Departments will quickly complete their respective consideration of the proposals so as to expedite the necessary formal approval for the Authority's proposed scheme.

In the various Departments' deliberation on this matter the overriding objective is to ensure a charging regime that will be competitive and will provide both cost-effective solutions and alternative competition to potential customers for broadband backhaul.

Copyright Law

Joe McHugh

Question:

55 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he intends to legislate on foot of the EMI Records (Ireland) Limited and others versus UPC Communications Ireland Limited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37885/10]

The matter to which the Deputy is referring is the judgment delivered by the High Court on 11 October 2010 in a case taken by a number of record companies against an Internet service provider seeking an injunction, pursuant to the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000, to prevent the illegal downloading of copyrighted material over the Internet.

While responsibility for the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000 falls to my colleague the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, my Department has an important role to play in this matter given our role in setting and implementing the EU regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services.

One of the provisions of the revised EU regulatory framework which was adopted last year concerns restrictions on access to and use of services and applications through electronic communications networks, including Internet access.

Under this provision Member States may only impose restrictions on such access subject to adequate procedural safeguards in conformity with the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and with general principles of Community law, including effective judicial protection and due process.

In adopting this provision, the Council and Parliament have sought to strike a balance between the rights and freedoms of persons to access material and information on the Internet and rights of copyright holders to protection from illegal downloading of their material.

The judgment of the High Court raises a number of important issues which require careful consideration. Illegal file sharing is unacceptable and must be tackled effectively. Of course, any measures introduced on foot of the judgment will have to take account of the requirements of the revised Framework Directive. Other countries are considering how best to legislate for this matter including Belgium, whose national court has referred a case to the European Court of Justice seeking clarification. My officials will work closely with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation as well as the Attorney General's Office as appropriate, to identify the options available for addressing the issues raised in the judgment while fully complying with European law requirements.

I have also recently met with representatives of the music industry and I am pleased that they will be participating in Ireland's Digital Future Forum which will be addressing these issues in a consultative manner.

Broadcasting Services

Paul Kehoe

Question:

56 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if his Department will fund the public information campaign on the switch over to digital terrestrial television; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37875/10]

Leo Varadkar

Question:

58 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources when he intends to sign an order to terminate analogue television transmission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37866/10]

Liz McManus

Question:

63 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the way he intends to proceed with digital terrestrial television here in view of the recent negotiations for the commercial DTT contracts; the way he will ensure that commercial DTT will proceed here by the 2012 deadline; the steps he is taking to ensure a public information campaign on this issue; the way it will be funded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37773/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 56, 58 and 63 together.

As the Deputy is aware, the BAI's commercial digital terrestrial television (DTT) process did not lead to the licensing of a commercial DTT operator. This result was disappointing and it is now expected that a commercial DTT operator will not materialise until sometime after analogue switch off in 2012. Further consideration of the potential for a commercial DTT service and of the most appropriate mechanisms for delivering this will not now be undertaken until after analogue switch off.

In the meantime, the clear responsibility of my Department, in conjunction with the RTÉ, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI), ComReg and other stakeholders, is to progress the digital switch-over process so that it meets the 2012 timeline for analogue switch off.

Accordingly, I imposed, by order, a requirement on RTÉ to make its public service DTT multiplex available to 90% of the population from 31 October 2010.

This service will be provided by RTÉ as a trial service in advance of the full national launch in 2011. I believe that this RTÉ trial service is essential as it provides time for the DTT service to fully develop whilst also providing for TV viewers to adopt the new service at the earliest opportunity.

I have also developed a steering group, chaired by my Department and comprising members from RTÉ, BAI, ComReg and other stakeholders, in order to progress the digital switch-over process. An important element of the work of this group will be ensuring that information and advice on digital switch-over is available to TV viewers in a timely and cost-effective manner. I can confirm that the issue of funding for the information campaign for Analogue Switch-off is being considered in this context.

In accordance with Government policy, it is my intention to provide for the closure of Ireland's analogue television network by the end of 2012.

The process for providing for the closure of the analogue television network is covered by Part 8 of the Broadcasting Act 2009 and section 13 of the Communications Regulation Act 2002.

Section 139 of the Broadcasting Act 2009 deals with the issue of determining how long it would be appropriate for television broadcasting services to continue to be provided by analogue means. In coming to this determination, I am required to keep under review a range of issues, including the availability by digital means of RTÉ, TV3, and TG4.

I am also required to consider the ownership or possession in the State of equipment capable of receiving those digital services, as well as the likely future extent of availability, ownership or possession.

For the purposes of triggering the actual analogue switch off, section 13 of the Communications Regulation Act 2002 requires that I must issue a policy direction regarding the date or dates with effect from which ComReg shall revoke the RTÉ, TG4 and TV3 analogue TV licences.

It is my intention that this will be done once I have fully satisfied myself that the range of issues mentioned earlier have been addressed.

Joe Costello

Question:

57 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on the status of RTE’s public service statement; when he will publish the public service statement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37790/10]

P. J. Sheehan

Question:

59 Deputy P. J. Sheehan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he has received an RTE public service statement; if he is satisfied with same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37855/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 57 and 59 together.

Section 101(1) of the Broadcasting Act, 2009 provides that RTÉ, following a public consultation, shall prepare not later than 12 July 2010 (12 months after the passing of the Act) a five-year public service statement setting out the principles to be observed and activities to be undertaken by it in order to fulfil its public service objectives.

RTÉ submitted its public service statement to me on 12 July 2010, in line with the requirements of the Act.

Section 101(3) of the Broadcasting Act, 2009 requires me to consult with the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) prior to my granting of consent to the public service statement. This consultation process has been initiated and I expect to receive the BAI's considered response shortly.

As soon as I have received this submission from the BAI, I will be in a position to finalise my review of RTÉ's public service statement. I will then proceed to considering the granting of consent or otherwise prior to laying the document before the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Question No. 58 answered with Question No. 56.
Question No. 59 answered with Question No. 57.

Ministerial Engagements

Emmet Stagg

Question:

60 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the number of times he has attended the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Climate Change for each year since its inception; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37779/10]

I have attended all the meetings of the Cabinet Committee on Climate Change and Energy Security to date. No meetings have been held to date in 2010. Meetings were held on 23 January, 5 March, 28 May, 2 July, 10 September and 5 November 2008; on 29 April and 7 October 2009. I also attended the Cabinet Committee on Environment, Energy and Climate Change twice, on 12 September and 14 November 2007. Scheduling of the Cabinet Committee for Climate Change and Energy Security is a matter for the Department of the Taoiseach.

Electricity and Gas Disconnections

Joan Burton

Question:

61 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on the numbers of gas and electricity disconnections that have taken place to date in 2010; his further views on a zero disconnection policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37804/10]

I am deeply concerned at the number of electricity and gas disconnections that have taken place in 2010.

All options to improve the situation need to be explored and I welcome the fact that the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) has agreed to review regulatory policy on disconnections. This review will specifically look at how the costs of disconnection are allocated across business and the domestic customer.

While the review is ongoing, the CER has instructed ESB Networks to roll out sufficient pre-payment meters to electricity customers at risk of disconnection.

In the gas market a supplier may request that a pre-payment meter is installed for free for customers experiencing genuine financial hardship. The cost of these pre-payment meters is currently recovered through gas network charges, which are applied across all customers. Given current circumstances, the CER has relaxed the definition of "financial hardship" to enable additional meters to be allocated free of charge to customers.

All energy suppliers have put in place Codes of Practice setting out the steps to be taken before initiating a disconnection. These include working with the customer to put in place a payment plan and liaising with third parties who may be acting on the customer's behalf. These include the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) and the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul.

Suppliers are also required to give a customer 7 days notice in writing, informing the customer of disconnection/reconnection charges and providing contact details to make payment arrangements.

There are other strong protections in place for particularly vulnerable customers. For example, suppliers are prohibited from disconnecting elderly customers in the winter months or those dependent on medical devices that use electricity.

There are also significant programmes to support those in energy poverty, including the electricity and gas allowances that are available under the Household Benefits package.

The key message for people who are in genuine difficulty with their energy bills is to make immediate contact with their supplier. Suppliers will work with customers to agree a payment plan before the unpaid bills begin to accumulate and therefore well before it gets to the point of disconnection.

Broadcasting Services

Alan Shatter

Question:

62 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the action he will take against an authority who are contravening the Broadcasting Act 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37842/10]

The provisions in relation to the submission of the Authority's three-year estimates and expenditure proposals and their publication are set out in Section 37 of the Broadcasting Act 2009.

In relation to the estimates for the period 2011-2013, which were due to be submitted by the Authority no later than 30 September, I can confirm that these estimates have not yet been received in my Department. Furthermore, following recent queries raised by my Department with the Authority, it has been clarified to me that the 3 year estimates will now not be available until the end of October.

This delay results from a decision of the Authority that the Budget for the period 2011-2013, which will be the BAI's first three-year budget, needs to be framed in the context of the Statement of Strategy for the same period. The Authority is of the view that the content of the Statement of Strategy provides the framework for the objectives and work-plan of the organisation and the budget supports the activities to be undertaken to achieve these objectives.

As the Deputy may be aware, the Authority is currently engaged in a comprehensive process in regard to the development of its Statement of Strategy and this has involved wide-scale consultation with industry and other key players. I am informed by the Authority that, on the basis that a draft Strategy is finalised over the coming weeks, it expects that the 3-year Budget will be agreed and submitted to me before the end of October.

While this goes beyond the timeline provided for in the legislation, I have been assured by the Authority of its continued commitment to comply with the will of the Oireachtas as expressed in the legislation.

In this instance, while the Authority regrets the delay, its view is that the approach being taken is the most appropriate to best serve the needs of the broadcasting industry. It will provide greater certainty regarding the Authority's future work and expenditure plans and, through this, the clarity needed by industry on the level of levy that it will be required to pay over the coming 3-year period.

In relation to publication, the legislation requires that, subject to my consent and the consent of the Minister for Finance, the Authority shall publish its 3-year estimates or a summary of them on a website maintained by the Authority.

I am very much aware that both public and commercial broadcasters will be keen to view the Authority's expenditure proposals as early as possible and it is my intention to facilitate this as much as practicable.

Question No. 63 answered with Question No. 56.

Telecommunications Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

64 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the extent, if any, to which he proposes to encourage or facilitate the upgrading of the telecommunications sector here to the best European and international standards; the extent, if any, to which the efficacy and efficiency of broadband, fixed line, wire, wireless and satellite available here is comparable to that in each EU member state; the reason for the difference; the effect if known of such deficiency on economic performance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37664/10]

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

74 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources further to his announcement at a recent conference that he is to establish a next generation network task force, the way in which this is distinct from the broadband task force announced in July 2009 next generation report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37784/10]

Emmet Stagg

Question:

77 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the specific measures he has taken to ensure next generation broadband is advanced here; the timelines involved for such measures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37797/10]

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

90 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the nature of any talks between his Department and Eircom in relation to investment in a fibre-optic network; if he will outline the role of ComReg in these talks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37792/10]

Sean Sherlock

Question:

100 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the progress made regarding setting up a task force to ensure the smart economies broadband demands are met; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37796/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 64, 74, 77, 90 and 100 together.

Government policy on the development of the electronic communications market, including next generation broadband services, is set out in "Next Generation Broadband — Gateway to a Knowledge Ireland", which I published in June 2009.

The policy paper was developed in accordance with various key principles, which are crucial to the development of the market including:

competition, at platform and service levels, which drives innovation and investment;

investment certainty for service providers considering investing in network infrastructure;

investment intervention by Government to bridge any digital divide in cases of market failure and to meet the State's own communication needs, and

appropriate regulation.

This policy has facilitated significant progress in rolling out broadband services, including increased speeds, over recent years. For example, at the end of June 2010 Ireland had in the region of 1.48 million broadband subscriptions. The year-on-year growth in subscriptions over the preceding 12 month period was over 16.5%. Internationally, Ireland ranks 11th of the EU 27 for per-capita broadband penetration of both fixed and mobile, 4th for mobile only penetration, and 14th for fixed broadband penetration.

Of the homes with broadband connections, 77.8% of them and 85.8% of SMEs are using broadband speeds between 2mbps and 10mbps. UPC is providing speeds up to 30 Mbs and is rolling out speeds up to 100 Mbs. Eircom and the Vodafone/BT alliance are both rolling out speeds of up to 24 Mbs using vDSL technology. In the wireless market, Imagine have launched WiMAX, a broadband product with speeds of up to 8mbps available. In addition Eircom has recently launched an Ethernet product offering speeds up to and exceeding 1Gbs to wholesale customers and to large broadband users.

The National Broadband Scheme (NBS) is a broadband service supported by my Department. The NBS has resulted in broadband services being available throughout Ireland. The EU Commission recently introduced a target to have universal broadband access available across the EU by 2013. The NBS has gone most of the way towards Ireland meeting this target and providing services in areas unserved by the liberalised market.

Even after the full roll-out of the NBS there will be a small number of isolated premises that will have persistent difficulty in obtaining a broadband service. This is primarily due to technical and locational reasons (e.g. suitability of telephone line, distance from an enabled exchange, no line of sight for wireless services).

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 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.

The report "Building Ireland's Smart Economy" identifies Ireland's educated population, with 85% of 20-24 year olds having completed post-primary education, as one of the strengths of the Irish economy and commits to "the pursuit of the objective of equipping second level schools with 100mbps broadband connectivity".

78 schools were chosen to take part in a pilot project, sponsored by my own Department and the Department of Education and Skills. All 78 have received their enhanced bandwidth and have migrated on to the HEAnet network. This innovative project presents a very real opportunity to demonstrate the benefits and positive impacts of high speed bandwidth and appropriate ICT equipment on the teaching and learning environment within these schools. I am committed to rolling out this project to all second level schools by 2012.

The improvements in broadband services over recent years have been achieved by a combination of competitive pressures in the open market and proportionate State intervention to bridge any digital divide in instances of market failure. My Department continues to liaise with industry participants and with ComReg on an ongoing basis in discussions which encompass all matters relating to current and future broadband infrastructure development to ensure universal progress. These ongoing bilateral engagements with industry players on broadband development, include discussions with eircom as the incumbent telecommunications provider.

The June 2009 policy paper also proposed the establishment of a Next Generation Broadband Taskforce comprising industry, Government and ComReg, aimed at ensuring that the development of Next Generation Networks in Ireland will meet the demands of Ireland's Smart Economy. I was awaiting various developments prior to establishing the Task force including:

(i) greater clarity from the EU Commission on the regulation of next generation access;

(ii) revised guidelines from the EU Commission on State Aid for broadband;

(iii) an outline Radio Spectrum Policy Programme from the EU Commission; and

(iv) completion of the roll-out of the NBS.

All of these developments have come to pass and I signalled earlier this month that I now propose to establish the Taskforce. The first meeting of the Taskforce will be held shortly.

Broadcasting Services

Brian Hayes

Question:

65 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will enhance the powers of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland to allow them to force an agreement between RTE NL and commercial multiplex providers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37868/10]

The Broadcasting Act 2009 made provision for the development of a commercial digital terrestrial television (DTT) service in Ireland. In this regard, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) was given the role of providing for commercial DTT service providers. In particular, Section 131 of the legislation provides the BAI with the function and associated powers to arrange for the establishment of commercial DTT multiplexes.

As the Deputy is aware, the competition initiated by the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) in 2008 failed to produce a national commercial DTT service provider and this failure has been largely attributed to the economic downturn and the consequential impact that this had on the business cases of the applicants.

The failure of the commercial DTT process was disappointing and it is now not expected that a commercial DTT operator will materialise until sometime after analogue switch off in 2012. As a result, consideration of the potential in this regard and of the most appropriate mechanisms for delivering this will be undertaken closer to that time. I will consult with the BAI as to what action, legislation or otherwise, may be necessary in this regard.

In the meantime, the clear responsibility of my Department, in conjunction with the BAI, ComReg and other stakeholders, is to ensure the successful delivery of the "free-to-air" DTT service to the viewing public. I have directed that this be done to facilitate switch-off of the analogue system by the end of 2012 and the consequential digital dividend that will arise.

Energy Efficiency

Joe Costello

Question:

66 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the date on which the National Energy Efficiency Retrofit Programme will be launched in view of the difficulties that there has been with expenditure in 2009 (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37776/10]

My Department recently concluded a consultation process on the National Retrofit Programme, setting out a proposed framework and details of how it will operate over the next three years. The programme will be launched in 2011 and will entail the transition of the existing energy efficiency and renewable energy programmes over the course of the year. Whilst expenditure on these schemes to end-September 2010 is behind profile, it still amounts to some €55.263 million. I am advised by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) that they expect the end of year outturn to be close to the 2010 allocation.

The Home Energy Saving Scheme (HES) commenced in late March 2009 and provides grant assistance to homeowners for energy efficiency measures. Applicants are given six months in which to undertake the work. Not all projects were completed by year end, leading to less than anticipated expenditure in 2009. To date in 2010, 33,302 homes have been approved for energy efficiency upgrades.

The WHS provides energy efficiency upgrades to low-income houses. The scheme is delivered through a combination of community based organisations and private contractors, who were retained for programme delivery for the first time in 2009. Budget 2010 provided a substantial increase in funding which will allow for 22,500 homes to be delivered this year. I am advised by the SEAI that they expect to exceed this target.

The Greener Homes Scheme (GHS), which has been in operation since 2006, currently provides capital support for the installation by householders of renewable energy heating technologies including wood-pellet and chip stoves and boilers, gasification boilers, solar panels and geothermal heat pumps. To date, over 25,000 installations have been completed under the scheme.

In advance of the introduction of the new national retrofit programme, the HES, Warmer Homes Scheme (WHS), and GHS will continue to operate.

Telecommunications Services

Shane McEntee

Question:

67 Deputy Shane McEntee asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if it is still his intention to ask ComReg to take on the role of one-stop-shop for State owned telecommunications infrastructure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37880/10]

Sean Sherlock

Question:

98 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the position regarding the implementation of a one stop shop for broadband; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37795/10]

I propose to take Question Nos. 67 and 98 together.

The objective of the one-stop-shop commitment in the Next Generation Broadband policy paper "Gateway to a Knowledge Ireland", is to facilitate telecoms network operators in gaining access to ducting that exists along publicly-owned energy, transport and other infrastructure so as to facilitate access to backhaul networks in a cost effective manner.

Government policy is aimed at leveraging such State-owned infrastructure to help deliver high-speed broadband and improved telecommunications services throughout the country. The policy also strongly supports this being done on an open-access basis and I do not favour exclusive deals whereby one service provider secures exclusive access to a particular State-owned network.

In general terms I am satisfied that there are no current impediments to accessing the majority of state-owned telecommunications infrastructure. Both ESB Telecoms and Aurora Telecom, which is a division of Bord Gáis Networks, have developed highly successful commercial ventures in this area. Indeed the recent announcement of Aurora's investment in ultra-high speed fibre-optic network linking Dublin to the West of Ireland is very positive evidence of the critical role this type of infrastructure can play in the delivery of high-speed networks. Apart from its general infrastructure in the area of backhaul service, ESB's infrastructure is also playing a vital role in the successful delivery of the 100mbps pilot project to secondary schools.

Access to Irish Rail's network is also available through its long-standing commercial arrangement with BT and I have also enacted legislation earlier this year designating the National Roads Authority as the single point of contact for accessing State-owned infrastructure on national roads and motorways. Open access is also available to ducting running along tow paths on some of our canal network.

However, I am mindful that we should continue to ensure that all infrastructure of this kind is fully optimised for broadband purposes and I have earlier this week written to all State Agencies, including Local Authorities, that are in possession of such infrastructure to invite them to meet with me in the coming weeks to discuss how we can work together to ensure that no unnecessary impediments are put in place regarding access issues and, where possible, to open up infrastructure that heretofore has not been utilised for telecommunications purposes.

I will also utilise this meeting to explore further the introduction of a one-stop-shop embracing a simple point of contact in relation to access to all State infrastructure for broadband use. As pointed out above there is already an elaborate network of state owned assets which is open to service providers for broadband purposes. Apart from the quality of service thus provided this is also ensuring competition with the incumbent, eircom. In this way the objectives of the one-stop-shop as set in the 2009 Broadband Policy paper are being delivered. I am, however, anxious to ensure that this is being done in an optimal way and my impending discussions as referred to above will explore the need for a more formal structure in this regard.

Electricity Generation

Seymour Crawford

Question:

68 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his plans to improve the structures to encourage farmers and others to utilise small wind generation units or digesters at pig farms in order to minimise the problems with pig slurry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37666/10]

Mary Upton

Question:

84 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will confirm the date on which the REFIT price recently announced for miscanthus will be implemented; if he will confirm that the 9.5 cent price is the full tariff to be paid to suppliers and farmers or if it includes the capital costs of the power stations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37777/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 68 and 84 together.

In May 2010, I announced a set of new Renewable Energy Feed In Tariffs (REFITs) for electricity generated from biomass, ranging from 8.5 cent per kilowatt hour to 15 cent per kilowatt hour depending on the technology deployed. These tariffs include support for electricity generated from biomass co fired with peat in the three peat fired power stations, along with supports for electricity produced from Anerobic Digestion units. Anaerobic Digestion offers opportunities for farmers to use animal wastes like pig slurry to generate electricity, while also reducing the environmental impact of that waste through alternative use.

In all cases, the REFIT tariff announced refers to the price to be paid for the electricity exported to the grid, rather than the price for inputs into that process. This is the way in which existing REFITS have operated since 2006, and the manner in which other similar schemes across the EU also operate. It will be for generators to manage their businesses so as to ensure that they source sufficient volumes from the market. However it should be noted that the two separate prices available for biomass material being combusted, 8.5c kw/h for general biomass and 9.5c kw/h for energy crops (including Miscanthus) reflects the higher costs associated with growing energy crops, and is also designed to incentivise the potential for Irish farmers to exploit the opportunity which energy crops represent.

State Aid Clearance from the European Commission is required before the new biomass tariffs can be implemented. My Department is currently finalising the State Aid submission with Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland for transmission to the Commission this week.

Energy Prices

Kieran O'Donnell

Question:

69 Deputy Kieran O’Donnell asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on energy prices here as commented on by Government agencies such as the National Competitiveness Council, Forfás and the chief executive officer of the Industrial Development Authority; the measures he is taking to make them more competitive in the short to medium term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37812/10]

The Government recognises that the cost of energy in Ireland is a competitiveness issue facing the enterprise sector during this difficult period for the economy. The provision of secure, sustainable and competitive energy supplies is critical for the economy.

Ireland's higher energy costs over recent years, by comparison with EU average prices, have been primarily due to significant dependence on volatile imported fossil fuels, particularly gas, as well as a requirement for very significant investment in energy infrastructure, following two decades of under-investment in the networks. The under-investment in networks and power generation posed real risks to security of energy supply which had become a major concern for both indigenous and Foreign Direct Investment Companies.

Recognising the concerns of indigenous business and the inward investment community, particularly in view of the difficult economic conditions, the Government has put in place a number of measures to mitigate the cost of energy for business.

All electricity users benefitted in 2009 from rebates totalling €567m. In July 2009 the Government agreed that these rebates would continue for large energy users at the same level until October 2010 and would then be phased out over the following two-year period.

The Carbon Revenue Levy commenced on July 1st 2010, after the enactment of the Electricity Regulation (Carbon Revenue Levy) Act by the Oireachtas. The Levy is directed at electricity generators in relation to a significant portion of the carbon windfall gains that they are currently receiving. Receipts from the Carbon Revenue Levy will fund the continuation of the large energy user rebate from Oct 1st 2010. The Levy will remain in place until the end of 2012.

For small to medium business users, the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) reduced regulated ESB prices twice in 2009, by an average of 10% from May 1st and a further 5.5% from October 1st 2009.

Business customers can also avail of the competitive benefits of value and choice by shopping around for alternative suppliers. Competition in the business electricity market has developed to such an extent that the CER has recently ended price regulation for ESB in this market segment. As a result, ESB are free to compete against the independent electricity suppliers for these customers.

The CER is also close to completion of its 5-year review of electricity network expenditure. This review proposes measures to ensure that ESB and EirGrid make greater efficiencies in operational and capital expenditure, thus minimising costs for consumers.

Taken together, these measures, along with falling natural gas prices on the global market, have already had a significant impact on Ireland's international energy competitiveness over the last two years. This is acknowledged by the Agencies referred to by the Deputy as well as industry itself. The latest comparative statistics available from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) show that in general, Irish electricity prices in 2009 fell at a faster rate than in the rest of the EU, moving Ireland significantly closer to the EU average. Prices for the majority of business consumption bands are within 6% of the EU average. While EU comparison figures are not yet available for the first half of 2010, the SEAI data shows further significant reductions in Irish electricity prices in this period. Prices for the large business categories have reduced on a cumulative basis by some 34%-44% in the 18 months to June 2010.

All customers are paying a higher Public Service Obligation (PSO) Levy since October 1st 2010. The PSO Levy is necessary to support the continued contribution of peat-generated electricity to security of supply and to deliver on the Government's 40% renewable electricity target, which also reflects Ireland's legally binding EU renewables target. In the longer term, delivering on the renewables targets will reduce Ireland's exposure to high and volatile external fossil fuel prices. Even in the short term, PSO supported wind generation can help reduce wholesale electricity prices at times of high wind by displacing higher cost fossil fuel generators.

The Government also remains firmly committed to increasing competition as the best means of exerting downward pressure on electricity prices. Significant progress has been made to date, most notably with the all-island Single Electricity Market now in its 3rd year of successful operation, the sale of ESB generation capacity, the entry of new players into both the generation and supply markets and new generation capacity coming on-stream in the Irish market.

Planning Issues

Paul Connaughton

Question:

70 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the explanation Eirgrid have given him for the failure of the planning application for the Meath-Tyrone 400KV power lines; if he will meet the costs of the objectors to the project which were incurred in connection with the oral hearing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37832/10]

EirGrid applied for planning consent for the Meath Tyrone 400kV Interconnection Development Project in December 2009, under the Planning and Development Act 2000 as inserted by the Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act 2006.

An Bord Pleanála convened an oral hearing on the matter on the 10th of May 2010. On Wednesday 23rd June, it was drawn to EirGrid's and the inspector's attention that there was an error in the newspaper public notice and site notice relating to pylon height ranges for a section of the project. It is the case that full details of the correct heights of pylon heights in question were fully and accurately described in the Environmental Impact Statement and in the accompanying planning drawings, which were submitted to An Bord Pleanála.

EirGrid has undertaken a review of the circumstances which led to the error in the public notice. I have been furnished with a copy of this review, which also is publicly available on EirGrid's website: www.eirgrid.com. It is clearly a matter of concern and disappointment to see that this key strategic infrastructure project will now be delayed as a result of the error referred to above.

Whilst I appreciate the concerns of individuals and groups who have inputted to the planning process relating to the Meath-Tyrone 400kV Interconnection Project, the operation of the planning system is a matter for the relevant planning authorities. I have no function in relation to the issue of costs.

Semi-State Bodies

Enda Kenny

Question:

71 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he has any plans to carry out a review of pay levels of senior staff members in the State owned companies under his aegis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37876/10]

Staff, including chief executive officers, of commercial State Sponsored Bodies do not come within the provisions of the legislation provided for in the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009. With the exception of chief executives, the Minister for Finance or I do not control the pay of staff of these bodies. However, the Minister for Finance has brought proposals to Government to review the arrangements governing the pay of chief executives. The Government has agreed that such a review should be undertaken. The Minister for Finance will shortly announce further information on the nature of the review and the group to undertake it.

Unlike the position in the commercial State Sponsored Bodies, staff of non-commercial State Sponsored Bodies, including the chief executive officers, come within the legislation referred to above and are subject to both the pension related deduction and the reductions in pay.

Broadcasting Services

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

72 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on the submission he received from the National Newspapers of Ireland regarding unfair competition by RTE; his further views on the NNI’s concerns regarding unfair competition in relation to RTE’s online services in particular; if he is satisfied that his Department and the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland are monitoring the situation sufficiently; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37789/10]

As I outlined to the House in a written reply on the 29th September I have received a detailed written submission from National Newspapers of Ireland (NNI) on a number of matters of concern to them. I met with representatives of NNI on the 13th of October when they gave me a comprehensive briefing on the issues facing their industry.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Broadcasting Act 2009 sets out, inter alia, the principal objects and associated powers and obligations of the public service broadcasting corporations, RTÉ and TG4. On the specific issue raised by the Deputy, one of the principal objects of RTÉ under Section 114(1)(b) of the Broadcasting Act 2009 is to establish and maintain a website in connection with its services and the allocation of public funding, vis-à-vis the licence fee, in pursuing this public service object is fully in line with the provisions of the legislation. Section 108(1) of the Broadcasting Act 2009 clearly envisages that the commercial activities undertaken by RTÉ in the exploitation of its commercial opportunities, for example on-line, shall be used to subsidise its public service mandate.

The Act also imposes extensive reporting requirements on the two corporations in regard to the pursuit of their objects and compliance with relevant obligations. These reporting requirements are supplemented by ex-ante and ex-post Ministerial and regulatory oversight mechanisms that are being used, when and as appropriate.

With regard to the wider issues raised I intend to organise a digital forum, in the near future, that will examine how Ireland can best embrace the advent of the digital era. As a major initial step, I will convene before the end of the year a one day gathering of key stakeholders. This event would set the agenda for the priority issues requiring further consideration in the ever changing digital media environment, including, inter-alia, new media platforms and their effect on traditional media outlets. I welcome NNI's agreement to input into this initiative and look forward to engaging further with NNI in this context in the near future.

Telecommunications Services

John O'Mahony

Question:

73 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the need to introduce a new utility law to standardise procedures and fees for way leaves and road opening licences across all local authorities in order to reduce the cost of civil works for telecommunications companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37824/10]

The Communications Regulation (Premium Rate Services and Electronic Communications Infrastructure) Act 2010 provides for the National Roads Authority (NRA) to allow the use of its ducts on national roads, including motorways, for telecoms purposes. It also appoints the NRA as the authority responsible for processing road opening licences by network owners to install equipment in national roads. This represents a streamlining of the process where previously the local authority was the authority for national roads.

Local authorities remain the relevant authority for local and regional roads, in relation to issuing consents to install telecoms infrastructure and equipment in roads.

I am aware of challenges being encountered by network owners as they seek to comply with local authority requirements under the planning code on infrastructure roll out. My officials are engaging on this issue with officials in the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government and the local authorities to build awareness of the importance of facilitating broadband network roll out.

Question No. 74 answered with Question No. 64.

Proposed Legislation

Jack Wall

Question:

75 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources when the heads of a Bill for geothermal energy will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37780/10]

In July 2010, the Government gave its approval for the submission of the draft general scheme for the Geothermal Energy Development Bill to the Office of the Attorney General for detailed drafting. It was also decided to publish both the general scheme together with the Regulatory Impact Assessment. Both these documents were subsequently made available on the Department's website.

The drafting process is currently under way and publication is expected in Quarter 1 2011.

Telecommunications Services

Denis Naughten

Question:

76 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the steps he is taking to provide broadband coverage to areas not serviced by the national broadband service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37669/10]

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 provide a basic broadband service to individual un-served rural premises outside of the National Broadband Scheme areas.

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.

Question No. 77 answered with Question No. 64.

Energy Efficiency

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

78 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on claims that €130 million from the €250 million revenue gained from the carbon levy has been allocated to earmarked schemes; if he will outline the energy efficiency measures that will benefit from the carbon tax; the percentage of revenue gained from the carbon tax that will be spent on energy efficiency measures in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37778/10]

Budget 2010 allocated €40 million for Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland's energy efficiency programmes in the domestic business and public sectors, with an additional €50 million, from carbon tax revenues, for the creation of the National Retrofit Programme. Under the 2010 Social Housing Retrofitting Programme, the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government was allocated €40 million to support local authorities across the country in improving their stock of vacant social houses and occupied apartment complexes.

The utilisation of revenue from taxation receipts, including the carbon tax, is a matter for the Minister for Finance.

Electricity Generation

Denis Naughten

Question:

79 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the steps he is taking to support research and investment in the storage of electrical energy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37668/10]

The Government's policy objective is to ensure that energy is consistently available with minimal risk of supply disruption and as competitively priced as possible to meet the needs of businesses and domestic consumers. EirGrid, as the national transmission system operator, is responsible for developing and upgrading the transmission system in order to meet ongoing and future electricity needs, and as part of that responsibility, EirGrid continuously assesses the type and mix of technologies required to meet Ireland's energy needs.

Electricity storage contributes to grid stability, emissions reductions and system security by providing reserve capacity and ancillary services. The extent of its contribution depends on the reliability, storage size, flexibility and grid integration of individual technologies.

EirGrid has reported on various storage technologies in the most recent Generation Adequacy Report covering the period 2010-2016, which in particular, examines the role of large pumped hydro storage stations of the order of 1GW and 100GWh in combination with high renewables. In addition, EirGrid recently commissioned Pöyry engineering consultants, to report on future low carbon generation options, including storage, for the All-Island market. Both reports are available on EirGrid's website at www.eirgrid.com .

Fisheries Protection

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

80 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will provide an update on whether the annual accounts for 2008 of the Central Fisheries Board have been published and laid before Dáil Éireann; if not, the reason for the delay; the timeframe for publication; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37787/10]

The financial statements of the Central Fisheries Board for 2008 have been signed off by the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General, approved by Government and arrangements are in train for these to be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. The financial statements will then be published on the website of Inland Fisheries Ireland.

Telecommunications Services

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

81 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the progress of the Government’s working group set up to ensure new buildings will have open-access fibre connections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37798/10]

The provision of high speed broadband connectivity as a critical element in the development of a competitive Smart Economy and inclusive Knowledge Society is a policy priority. My Department's policy in this area is set out in the paper "Next Generation Broadband — Gateway to a Knowledge Ireland", 2009. One of the actions in this Paper was the requirement for new premises to have open access fibre connections installed, where practicable.

A working group has been set up comprising officials from the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) and my own Department to examine a range of practical issues that needs to be addressed to progress this action.

As part of this process, officials from my Department have drafted technical recommendations and have held a pre-consultation with relevant stakeholders. A full consultation with the construction industry and relevant stakeholders will take place in November with a view to finalising a set of actions over the coming months.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

82 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the steps he will take to ensure that minimum contractual speeds within the national broadband scheme are achieved; if he is satisfied that minimum contractual speeds are being achieved at present; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37794/10]

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

99 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will provide an update on the national broadband scheme; the cost of the scheme to date and the overall expected cost; when the project is set for completion; the maximum and minimum speeds expected for this scheme; the way he is monitoring the speeds that are being achieved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37799/10]

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

104 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he is confident that persons receiving broadband through the national broadband scheme are experiencing minimum speeds; the way the minimum speeds are monitored; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37788/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 82, 99 and 104 together.

My Department entered into a contract with "3", a Hutchison Whampoa company, for the delivery of the National Broadband Scheme (NBS) in late December 2008. Since then, 3 has progressed its network rollout and NBS broadband services are now available in all of the 1,028 designated Electoral Divisions (ED) to be covered under the Scheme. The NBS contract remains in place until August 2014.

The total current and capital cost of the full rollout of the NBS has been estimated by "3" at some €223m, of which a maximum of €79.8m will be contributed by the Government and the EU.

The contribution by the Government and the EU to date under the Scheme amounts to some €58m.

Under the contract, the NBS mobile wireless broadband service was upgraded to higher specifications (speeds, contention and data caps) in July 2010, without any increase in the monthly recurring charge. Currently, NBS subscribers can experience speeds ranging from a minimum download speed of 1.6Mbps to a maximum download speed of 6.8Mbps, a minimum upload speed of 1.2Mbps to a maximum upload speed of 4Mbps, with a maximum contention ratio of 22:1. The data cap has increased to 25GB.

The satellite product, deployed in a very limited number of cases, has contracted minimum speeds of 1Mbps download and 128kbps upload, with a maximum contention ratio of 48:1 and with a data cap of 11GB.

Following a further contract upgrade in October 2012, NBS subscribers will experience minimum download speeds of 2.3Mbps and maximum download speed of 10.4Mbps, minimum upload speeds of 1.4Mbps and maximum upload speed of 4.8Mbps, with a maximum contention ratio of 18:1. The data cap will increase to 40GB.

Similarly, following contracted upgrades to the satellite product in July 2012 and again in February 2014, minimum download speeds of 1.6Mbps and 2Mbps respectively, together with a minimum upload speed of 256Kbps and a maximum contention ratio of 48:1, will apply, with the data cap remaining at 11GB.

My Department has put in place robust monitoring arrangements to ensure that the NBS network delivers the minimum specified service or better to all users. Performance delivery data, which is submitted to my Department on a monthly basis or as required, is critically analysed by independent technical consultants, Analysys Mason Ltd.

The monitoring arrangements provide information on a wide range of key indicators including the broadband excess availability in each cell of the network, the number of customers resident in that cell and actual contention and latency values. Utilisation thresholds are set for each element of the network and upgrades of the network and its capacity are automatically triggered at contractually agreed levels of traffic to ensure that the quality of the broadband service is maintained.

In addition, a sample selection of customers is monitored for quality on a monthly basis. Download and upload speeds are sampled at a number of locations monthly to ensure that minimum speeds are met or exceeded.

The NBS contract guarantees service levels and imposes a service credit regime on "3" with significant financial consequences in the event that minimum specification service levels are not met. The contract also provides for independent monitoring and audit at any stage during the contract with a view to verifying that the services are being provided in accordance with the contract.

I can confirm that 3's I-HSPA network which is used to deliver the NBS is designed and dimensioned to ensure that the network delivers the minimum contracted service, or better to all NBS users. Performance monitoring reports, including customer experience data, confirms this to be the case.

Based on the analysis of monitoring reports for I-HSPA and satellite, I can confirm that the average user has been able to receive download and upload speeds in excess of the minimum requirements. This level of service delivery is supported by the sampling of customer experience and the speed sampling.

On the basis of the information provided to my Department, I am satisfied that the specified service levels required under the NBS contract are being met.

Electronic Vehicles

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

83 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the progress on the rollout of electronic vehicles; if the infrastructure for electric vehicles will also support plug in hybrid vehicles; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37791/10]

The Government has set a target of 10% of all vehicles to be powered by electricity by 2020, which equates to around 225,000 vehicles. Ireland aims to be at the forefront of electric vehicle technology developments and my Department is working with relevant Departments and Agencies to ensure that the necessary structures and initiatives are in place to meet this target.

Last April I signed an Agreement with the Renault Nissan Alliance and ESB which underpins Ireland as one of the European leaders in electric transport. The Agreement, building on the Memorandum of Understanding last year, includes the development of a nationwide electric car charging infrastructure, the continued sharing of technical and market data between the parties and the early supply of electric cars into the Irish market by Renault and Nissan from next year.

Progress has also been made in discussions with other major motor manufacturers to make early production vehicles available to the Irish market and I expect that other agreements will be developed in the foreseeable future.

The Electric Vehicle (EV) grant scheme, which is due to commence in January 2011, will provide for grants of up to €5,000 for full battery electric vehicles and up to €2,500 for plug in hybrid electric vehicles. This scheme, which is subject to the approval of the Minister for Finance, will provide grants for up to 6,000 vehicles over a two year period and will be administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland. The scheme is being finalised with the Department of Finance.

In February 2011, Nissan will begin to supply its all-electric, LEAF hatchback to the car market in Ireland. A number of other car manufacturers have indicated that they will also be launching electric vehicles into the market later in 2011 and in 2012.

The ESB will roll out 1,500 charge points on a nationwide basis by December 2011. These charge points will support both battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). The rollout has already begun with 12 on street charge points, 15 domestic charge points and 13 industrial chargers already installed. The roll out of these charge points will accelerate towards year end, in anticipation of the first production EVs from major manufacturers coming to market in early 2011. It is anticipated that approximately 200 public charge points will be in place by year end. ESB also plans to install up to 30 fast charge points across Ireland by the end of 2011, with nine expected to be set up by the end of this year.

Question No. 84 answered with Question No. 68.

Broadcasting Services

Willie Penrose

Question:

85 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will provide an update regarding free to air rugby; when the consultants report will be completed; the full cost of that report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37807/10]

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

101 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the position regarding the report of the independent consultant to advise on the submissions received in relation to free to air broadcasting; and the cost of said consultancy and when decisions are likely to be made on the issue. [37670/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 85 and 101 together.

The Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMS) provides that Member States of the European Union may designate sporting and cultural events of major importance to society as free-to-air. The Broadcasting Act 2009, having transposed the AVMS Directive, sets down the statutory process for designating events free-to-air.

On 30th April last I set out proposals for a limited extension of the sporting events which are designated free-to-air and invited submissions on those proposals. I also decided that the final decision on this matter will be informed by an independent analysis of the financial and other impacts of listing each event. Indecon International Consultants have been commissioned to do this report and are currently finalising the report for me in this matter. I expect that this report will be delivered to me before the end of the month. The value of the contract is €73,387.

After consideration of the Indecon report and other submissions received I will revert to Government with definitive proposals. Subsequent to Government consideration of the matter I am required under the AVMS Directive to inform the EU Commission of any changes to the events to be designated. The Commission has a period of three months to verify that the list is compatible with Community Law, to notify other Member States and to seek the opinion of the Committee established pursuant to the Directive. Any designation will only be effective after the Commission has published the list in the Official Journal.

Electricity Generation

David Stanton

Question:

86 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 73 and 87 of 27 April 2010 the further progress made in improving participation in the micro-generation programme being operated by the Electricity Supply Board; the total number of customers who have signed up to date; the numbers signed up under each category; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37892/10]

There are currently 302 customers operating in the ESB Microgeneration scheme with a total connected capacity of 1709.17kW.

The categories of technology operating under the scheme are as follows:

Wind Turbine installations = 261.

PV installations = 39.

Hydro Turbines installations = 2.

Wind Turbine installations comprise approximately 93.5% of total microgeneration connected capacity.

PV installations comprise approximately 6% of total microgeneration connected capacity.

Hydro Turbine installations comprise approximately 0.5% of total microgeneration connected capacity.

A total of some 307,048kWh was exported by ESB microgeneration customers between 30th September 2009 and 14th September 2010.

The breakdown by technology type is:

A total of 267,760kWh were exported by Wind Turbine installations.

A total of 38,340kWh were exported by PV installations.

A total of 948kWh were exported by Hydro Turbine installations.

ESB Customer Supply is currently processing an additional 15 microgeneration customer applications.

Telecommunications Services

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

87 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he has instigated an independent study of broadband speeds available to customers here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37793/10]

The regulation of telecommunications operators, including regulatory issues surrounding the quality of broadband services provided to customers, is the responsibility of the independent Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg). In March 2008, the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland, guided by ComReg and the National Consumer Agency, issued an Advice Note to Broadband Providers, which has had a positive impact in aligning speeds advertised with speeds experienced.

My Department, in collaboration with ComReg, has been considering how best to generate additional statistical analysis of broadband speeds experienced by end users over the competing platforms in Ireland. In the course of developing the various measurement and related requirements to be inserted in a proposed invitation to tender document, a number of issues have arisen and these issues are currently under consideration by ComReg. I have sought resolution of the issues as soon as possible, with a view to proceeding with an appropriate initiative.

While I look forward to gathering additional statistical information to inform the policy making process, it should be noted that surveys undertaken by ComReg during 2010 indicate high levels of satisfaction with residential and broadband speeds. Additionally, less than 2.4% of consumer complaints to ComReg in the year to July 2010 related to broadband speeds.

Postal Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

88 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the extent to which he has anticipated, planned or prepared for the implementation of the EU postal directive; if an assessment has taken place to ensure the continuation of a high quality early postal delivery and office service in all areas throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37667/10]

The issues for Ireland arising from the implementation of the third Postal Services Directive by the 31st of December, 2010 have been widely and comprehensively consulted upon, and as with all legislative proposals, a regulatory impact analysis was conducted. In preparation for liberalisation the Department held an open and comprehensive public consultation in 2008, and an Options Paper examining the options and making recommendations was published in 2009. I hosted a forum in November 2009, which was attended by postal service providers, the wider business community, the postal regulator, staff representation groups, and users' interests groups, and in the main, there was broad support for the recommendations outlined in the Options Paper.

The postal market is already partially opened. Parcel post is fully competitive, and all mail in excess of 50 grams is currently open to all competitors. Legislation to transpose the Directive, and give effect to this final step in the gradual and controlled opening of this market to competition and ensuring the continuing provision of a universal service, is currently being drafted in conjunction with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel. I hope to publish this legislation shortly with a view to having it enacted before the end of the year.

The Government's core policy goal for the postal sector is to ensure that Irish customers, both business and residential, enjoy competitively priced, high quality postal services.

Telecommunications Services

Seymour Crawford

Question:

89 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his plans to ensure that broadband will be available in rural areas given that the scheme rolled out has totally failed to provide the necessary coverage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37665/10]

The provision of broadband services is in the first instance a matter for private sector service providers operating in Ireland's fully liberalised telecommunications market. Broadband services are provided by private service providers over various platforms including DSL (i.e. over telephone lines), fixed wireless, mobile, cable, fibre and satellite. Details of broadband services available in each county can be found on ComReg's website at www.callcosts.ie .

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

In December 2008, my Department entered into a contract with "3", a Hutchison Whampoa company, for the delivery of the NBS. The company is required to provide services, using a mix of technologies, to all fixed residences and businesses that are located within the NBS Coverage Area and which seek a service.

Under the NBS contract, all Electoral Divisions (EDs) in the NBS Coverage Area are required to have broadband connectivity by the end of this month. I am happy to report that 3 is in line to meet that obligation.

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

The European Commission has set aside a portion of the European Economic Recovery Programme (EERP) funding for rural broadband initiatives. 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 NBS areas.

Information in relation to acceptance of applications and the process of qualification under the scheme will be made available in due course when the scheme is launched.

Question No. 90 answered with Question No. 64.

Postal Services

Liz McManus

Question:

91 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the contact he has had with the Data Protection Commissioner regarding the introduction of a unique identifier postcode system; the safeguards that he will specify in relation to a unique identifier postcode model; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37774/10]

Ireland is the only country in the EU and OECD which does not have a national postcode system.

In the context of the National Postcode Project, this Department has established ongoing communications with the Data Protection Commissioner. These communications address the implementation, dissemination and commercialisation of postcodes in order to ensure that all pertinent Data Protection Legislation is adhered to. Details of these measures will be made available during the procurement process.

Energy Prices

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

92 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will direct the Commission for Energy Regulation to reconsider its requirement of rebranding for ESB and Bord Gáis and review the reconnection and disconnection fees for those struggling to pay utility bills; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37802/10]

As part of the electricity deregulation process, the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) commissioned market research, which indicates that there is confusion among electricity consumers as to the separate identities and roles of ESB as owner and operator of the electricity network and ESB as an electricity supplier.

This is of concern because ESB Networks must provide, and be perceived to provide, the same level and quality of service to all customers irrespective of their electricity supplier.

It is vital for consumers to have full confidence that they can switch supplier without any impact on the quality of their network service. Therefore, as part of the deregulation process and the delivery of real competition, ESB is required by the CER to rebrand its electricity supply business.

ESB would also, in any case, be required to engage in some form of rebranding as part of the implementation of EU Internal Energy Market Third Directive. Member States are obliged under the Directive to ensure that there is absolute clarity for consumers as to the separate identities and functions of the energy network operator and a related energy supply company within a single utility. For this reason, rebranding needs to be addressed for both ESB and, in due course, BGE.

ESB has advised that rebranding will have an estimated cost of between €6 and €8 million. The CER has also confirmed that there is no plan to include the costs of rebranding in ESB's regulated revenues in the period 2010 to 2012.

ESB has made it clear that the company will introduce its new brand in a practical and cost effective way without causing inconvenience, expense or confusion to customers.

Once full electricity market deregulation has been introduced, expenditure on advertising and marketing, and whether these costs are met from electricity revenues, will be a commercial decision for all competing suppliers including ESB and BGE. The deregulated market will maintain constant pressure on all costs incurred by suppliers, who will be competing vigorously on price offerings to customers.

Turning to the gas market, there is no specific proposal or timescale or firm costings as yet for rebranding. However, with the successful development of competition in the retail gas market, the CER intends to publish for consultation, in the coming weeks, a roadmap for gas market deregulation. The question of rebranding is likely to be addressed in that context.

In the context of delivering full competition in the gas market and delivering on EU requirements, all concerned are committed to ensuring any rebranding of BGE is done in a fully cost effective and transparent way.

Like all Members of this House, I am deeply concerned at the number of electricity and gas disconnections that have taken place in 2010. The key message for people who are in genuine difficulty with their energy bills is to make immediate contact with their supplier. Suppliers will work with customers to agree a payment plan before the unpaid bills begin to accumulate and therefore well before it gets to the point of disconnection.

I believe that all options to address this issue need to be considered and I am gratified that the CER has agreed to review policy on disconnections. This review will specifically look at how the costs of disconnection are allocated across the industry and to the customer. I welcome this review and look forward to its publication.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

93 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the timeframe for the energy affordability strategy; if it will require legislation; the way he intends to address the problem of fuel poverty here; the number of homes that were part of the warmer homes schemes for 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37782/10]

Olwyn Enright

Question:

107 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his plans to develop a national fuel poverty strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27926/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 93 and 107 together.

My Department is working closely with the Departments of Social Protection and Environment, Heritage and Local Government, in consultation with the inter-Departmental Steering Group to finalise the affordable energy strategy. I expect the Strategy to be submitted to me shortly with a view to bringing it to Government in the coming weeks.

The affordable energy strategy will be the framework for building upon the many measures already in place to protect households at risk from the effects of energy poverty, which include the thermal efficiency-based measures such as the Warmer Homes Scheme (WHS), which provides significant energy efficiency improvements in low-income homes.

It is not envisaged that additional legislation will be required at this stage. The necessity for legislation to underpin aspects of the strategy in the future will be kept under review.

The number of homes that were upgraded under the WHS in 2008 were 5,343, 16,240 in 2009 and 15,764 to date in 2010.

Alternative Energy Projects

Brian O'Shea

Question:

94 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on concerns expressed by the Irish Farmers’ Association regarding the biofuel obligation scheme; if his attention has been drawn to fears that this new scheme will seriously damage indigenous biofuel production here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37801/10]

I am aware of the views expressed by the Irish Farmers Association, having met a delegation recently to discuss their concerns. The Biofuel Obligation Scheme, which came into effect on 1st July of this year, establishes a clear, stable and long term framework for the delivery of the national 2020 target for renewable energy in transport. The obligation delivers the best balance available in providing a stimulus to underpin the ongoing development of an indigenous biofuels industry, while keeping the cost to the consumer to an absolute minimum

The legislative basis for the scheme is provided for in the Energy (Biofuels Obligation and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2010. The legislation is designed to ensure that Irish consumers have access to appropriately priced, sustainable and reliable sources of biofuel over the coming years, and provides a guaranteed market that will require in excess of 220 million litres of biofuel in 2011. Domestic producers can access this market by a number of means, including by selling biofuel directly to obligated parties, or, more likely in the case of Pure Plant Oil, by selling into local markets and by selling certificates earned to Obligated Parties. This trading mechanism allows the scheme to provide a stable market, protecting consumers from structural rigidities in the fuel supply market, which could result in episodic periods of high fuel prices, while also ensuring delivery of targets.

The level of obligation set for 2011, at 4%, represents a virtual doubling of size of the existing biofuel market in Ireland. I am satisfied on the evidence available to me that the obligation will underpin the development of a sustainable indigenous biofuel industry in Ireland.

Electricity Generation

David Stanton

Question:

95 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 73 and 87 of 27 April 2010, the contact between his Department and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland regarding the development of technical and safety standards for micro-sale equipment and training standards for installers of microgeneration technologies; the progress to date with such standards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37893/10]

My Department liaises regularly with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) on developments in technical and safety standards for micro generation. The development of standards for micro-generation equipment is largely coordinated by the relevant international bodies such as the IEC [International Electro technical Commission] and CENELEC [Comité Européen de Normalisation Electrotechnique (European Committee for Electro technical Standardisation)]. The development of training standards is within the remit of FETAC (Further Education and Training Awards Council). FETAC and City & Guilds are the qualification awarding bodies for renewable energy installers. The enforcement of such standards is the responsibility of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation and the National Standards Authority of Ireland.

SEAI is active in promoting awareness of standards and ensuring they are adhered to in its own support schemes for renewable technologies. The SEAI has also supported FETAC by convening standards development groups to develop training standards for micro-generation installers.

Ireland's National Renewable Energy Action Plan, published in July and available on the Departments website, sets out in detail the current situation in relation to training of installers and certification of microgeneration equipment.

Under the current small-and micro-scale generation programme, SEAI has been working to enhance the provision of accredited microgeneration training courses in Ireland. In order to meet the need for training for micro-generator installers in the short to medium term, SEAI will build on the work carried out by itself and Action Renewables of Northern Ireland under the Renewable Energy Installers Academy to provide appropriate courses to fully meet the training needs of installers. Manufacturer's training for specific products is also an important component of installer training.

An ultimate objective is the development of a competency requirement within the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) for all installers in this field. SEAI has been working to this end in collaboration with FETAC, FAS, the Commission for Energy Regulation, the ETCI, Industry Groups and training providers through a Standards Development Group in accordance with FETAC's "Formation and Organisation of Standards Development Groups".

The introduction of a robust framework for the development of a sustainable microgeneration sector is an important component of building domestic and small scale enterprise participation in achieving Ireland's renewable energy targets. It is essential, in order to ensure safety and reliability and to develop confidence among domestic and small scale participants that installers are trained to proper standards and are adequately certified to carry out work.

Telecommunications Services

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

96 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if the development of 4G in Ireland is dependent on the digital dividend which would arise through the successful roll out of digital terrestrial television; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37785/10]

The development of fourth generation (4G) electronic communications services that use the radio spectrum is not dependant on the Digital Dividend that arises from the switching-off of analogue television broadcasting services. 4G services will be provided using multiple aggregated bands of the radio spectrum. The Digital Dividend will, however, release additional spectrum, some of which will be made available for innovative 4G services.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

97 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on the discrepancy between the emergence of Google street view which allows any phone or Internet user to view any individual property when the postcode system proposed by him will not allow for the pinpointing of individual properties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37806/10]

Ireland is the only country in the EU and OECD which does not have a national postcode system.

There is no correlation between Google street view and the National Postcode Project as they have fundamentally different applications. Google street view is a private sector proposition and I have no role in relation to its design and development.

The most recent set of discussions related to the implementation of postcodes in Ireland have been ongoing since 2003 and led to the appointment of the National Postcode Project Board (NPPB), who recommended in 2006 that Ireland should implement a postcode system.

Having evaluated a variety of options with regards to the technical specification of any National Postcode System (NPS), the NPPB also recommended that the optimum technical solution to be adopted in support of the realisation of these benefits was the "Postal Sector Model". This uses an "ABC 123" structure to reference in the first instance the relevant Post Town, and secondly the "Block Face" (a grouping of approximately 40 to 50 dwellings).

In October 2009, I announced my intention to implement such a postcode system with a target implementation date of December 2011. This NPS will be based on the baseline design recommendation of the NPPB with the added capability of being further refined into a location-based code. It will be developed, implemented and maintained by a supplier procured by my Department which will fulfil the role of the Postcode Management Licence Holder (PMLH).

Question No. 98 answered with Question No. 67.
Question No. 99 answered with Question No. 82.
Question No. 100 answered with Question No. 64.
Question No. 101 answered with Question No. 85.

Jack Wall

Question:

102 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a mobile communications company (details supplied) has imposed electronic billing on its customers with additional charges for posted bills; the steps he will take to ensure the customer is protected; if he has spoken to the regulator on this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37781/10]

The regulation of telecommunications operators, including regulatory issues surrounding bill collection and billing by operators, is the responsibility of the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) in accordance with its functions under the Communications Regulation Act 2002, as amended.

I understand that ComReg advised O2 that it has serious reservations about the decision by O2 to switch consumers to this new online billing service. Discussions between ComReg and O2 are continuing. I understand from ComReg that O2 customers are entitled to receive a paper bill as standard and that they may do so by simply contacting O2 on 1909 to request this service.

Electricity Transmission Network

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

103 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on the deadline to deal with the unbundling of the electricity transmission system assets; the way he intends to proceed with this legislation; if he will outline the options for the State on this issue and his preferred option; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37803/10]

Directive 2009/72/EC, which provides, inter alia, for the unbundling of transmission systems, entered into force in 2009. Member States are obliged to transpose the Directive into national law by 3 March 2011. My Department is working to deliver transposition of the Directive by the deadline.

The Directive requires Member States to ensure from 3 March 2012 that the ownership and operation of the electricity transmission system is separated from any undertaking engaged in generation or supply. As alternatives to full ownership unbundling, the Directive allows Member States to opt for establishment of an independent system operator or an independent transmission operator subject to detailed rules. The Directive also provides for a derogation whereby if a Member State considers that there are current arrangements in place which guarantee a more effective independence of the transmission systems operator than the independent transmission operator regime, a case may be made to the European Commission for verification and approval.

The Government's policy in relation to the ownership of the electricity transmission network is to transfer the assets to EirGrid the transmission system operator as stated in the Energy Policy White Paper 2007 and reaffirmed in the Programme for Government.

The Independent analysis currently underway in relation to the electricity transmission assets, includes an assessment of the costs, benefits and regulatory impact of the legal options for unbundling under the Directive set in the context of overall EU energy policy developments and the All Island single electricity market. The analysis which is being carried out by Frontier Economics Limited will be finalised shortly and will inform decisions on the substance of the required legislation required to transpose the Directive.

Question No. 104 answered with Question No. 82.

State Agencies

Mary Upton

Question:

105 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on the Forfás report on State owned enterprises; his further views regarding semi-State major utilities; if he will ensure that these assets will not be sold off; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37775/10]

I welcome the publication of the Forfás report which highlights among other things the importance of the role played by State owned enterprises in the provision of critical national infrastructure, and as a significant sector in terms of employment. The report is a very useful input into the work of the Review Group on State Assets and Liabilities and to Government thinking generally about the role and contribution of State owned Enterprises.

My Department has responsibility for a range of commercial semi-State bodies. It is my view that these organisations play an important role in the Irish economy, by providing essential infrastructure and services to Irish enterprises and consumers. They also contribute significant dividends to the Exchequer and provide secure employment. The major utility companies in the energy sector (ESB, BGE, Bord na Móna and EirGrid) are key contributors to the achievement of Government energy policy objectives through long term investment commitments in renewable energy, by ensuring security of supply through investment in the networks as well as generation and supply and in maintaining the competitiveness of the Irish economy.

As the Deputy is aware, the Review Group on State Assets and Liabilities is expected to report to Government before the end of the year. I look forward to considering the report of the Group including against the background, as stated above, of the positive contribution, which the commercial State companies make to the economy and the implementation of policy.

Grant Payments

Joan Burton

Question:

106 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will provide figures for the numbers on waiting lists for the home energy saving scheme and the warmer homes scheme; if he will provide numbers for homes in both schemes in 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37805/10]

The Home Energy Saving scheme (HES) and Warmer Homes Scheme (WHS) are both administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) on behalf on my Department.

The WHS was established to address poor thermal efficiency performance in low-income housing. The scheme is delivered at no cost to homeowners through a combination of community based organisations (CBOs) alongside a panel of private contractors. The SEAI and the CBOs identify and address vulnerable homes, in partnership with local networks of community support and poverty organisations, which include public health nurses, MABS and the Society of St. Vincent De Paul. Each CBO is responsible for managing applications in their operational areas and the SEAI is not directly involved in the application process in these areas.

The waiting time for the WHS varies, and is generally between 3 and 6 months. The SEAI, with the combined use of CBOs and contractors is actively working towards reducing waiting time for the scheme, making it as accessible as possible to those in most need and providing a consistent delivery of the scheme nationwide.

5,343 homes were upgraded under the Scheme in 2008, 16,240 homes were upgraded in 2009, and 15,764 homes have been upgraded to date in 2010.

The HES scheme provides grant assistance to homeowners for energy efficiency measures. Homeowners can apply online and receive same day grant approval, once key eligibility criteria are met. All payments are made by Electronic Funds Transfer and all notifications are by email (for online applicants) with the exception of Declarations of Work, which require the signatures of both homeowner and contractor to draw down approved funds.

There is a parallel postal system for homeowners applying under HES without access to the online system. The commitment that the SEAI gives is that postal applications will be processed within 21 days. I am advised by the SEAI that in practice the typical turnaround for such applications is one week. The average turnaround time for all requests for payment is four to five weeks.

18,155 homeowners received grants under HES since its inception in 2009, while to date in 2010 a further 34,342 homeowners have received grants from the SEAI.

The SEAI continuously reviews the operations of all its grant schemes with a view to ensuring optimum efficiency and effectiveness and any opportunities to reduce the grant payment times are pursued in full.

Question No. 107 answered with Question No. 93.

Department Staff

John O'Mahony

Question:

108 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Taoiseach the number of persons employed on temporary contract and cost to his Department and any agency under his Department for same in tabular form for 2008 and 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38136/10]

The National Economic and Social Development Office (NESDO) is the only agency under the aegis of my Department. The information requested by the Deputy in relation to my Department and NESDO is set out in the table beneath:

Organisation

2008

2009

Department of the Taoiseach

Number of temporary contract staff employed

40*

25

Cost

€2,343,281

€2,048,655

NESDO

Number of temporary contract staff employed

10

6

Cost

€434,655

€271,433

*This number includes:

(i) Special Advisers/political appointees for both the outgoing and incoming Taoisigh and Government Chief Whips,

(ii) seven interns and

(iii) two temporary Clerical Officers recruited to provide cover under the Term Time Scheme.

Commemorative Events

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

109 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach the commemorative events he intends to sponsor this year [38170/10]

My Department was involved as usual in the annual commemoration of the Easter Rising at the GPO on 4 April, 2010 and at the National Day of Commemoration at the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham on 11 July, 2010.

In addition, my Department has an allocation of €100,000 under the Commemoration Initiatives Fund within its 2010 Vote, to support individuals or groups in organising the commemoration of individuals or events of historic importance. An amount of €90,885 has been committed from this allocation to date. The projects assisted from the Fund in 2010 cover a wide range of commemorative initiatives and are listed in the schedule.

Ireland marked the bicentenary of the independence of Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay and Chile and the significant role that Irish born or Irish descendents such as Admiral William Brown played in their transition to independence.

The Government was represented in Argentina by Minister of State Dick Roche. Additionally, the LÉ Niamh made the first circumnavigation of South America and the first transit through the Panama Canal in a representative mission.

During the voyage, the LÉ Niamh visited Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Mexico and the United States. In addition to participating fully in bicentenary celebrations, the ship hosted a number of activities in conjunction with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Enterprise Ireland, designed to strengthen links with the region, and to encourage trade and marketing opportunities. In excess of 12,000 people visited the ship, including Ambassadors, Politicians, business leaders and senior Army and Naval officers.

Schedule accompanying PQ Reference 38170/10

Commemoration Initiatives Fund 2010: Projects / bodies allocated grant funding of:

1. €1,135 towards the restoration of the grave of John Moyney VC,

2. €2,000 to the Northern Ireland Building Communities Trust towards the publication of a book on the Famine, covering the Act of Union,

3. €2,000 to O'Brien Press towards the publication of a book on the experiences of Irish soldiers during World War 1,

4. €1,500 to UCC towards research work into the history of Ulster,

5. €1,000 to the Suffolk Historical Society for the 150th anniversary of the consecration of its local Church of Ireland,

6. €5,000 to the National Folklore Collection towards a publication to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Irish Folklore Collection in 2011,

7. €23,000 to the Somme Association for a commemoration event held earlier this year in Gallipoli in recognition of the Irish men who fought and died there in World War 1,

8. €35,000 to the Institute for British-Irish Studies (IBIS) conference on "A Decade of Centenaries, Commemorating Shared History" — held in June 2010,

9. €3,000 to UCD to publish the proceedings of a joint conference held last year in St. Deniols Library for the bicentenary of the birth of William Gladstone,

10. €3,000 to the Campile Memorial Society towards a memorial garden and monument in memory of Irish victims killed there in 1940,

11. €2,000 to Marino College for a memorial garden and information wall in memory of those who died in the North Strand bombings in 1941,

12. €10,000 towards the Thomas Davis project in Mallow for the commemoration of the bicentenary of his birth in 2014,

13. €1,550 towards the Kennedy Memorial lecture series in Queen's University Belfast and

14. €700 to the Killure World War 1 Committee towards the erection of a memorial in Killure, Co. Galway.

Community Employment Schemes

Mattie McGrath

Question:

110 Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills her plans regarding access to community employment schemes of persons in receipt of one-parent family allowance or disability allowance payment; the conditions that will apply both financially and regarding length of time available to partake on a community employment scheme for persons in receipt of the one-parent family allowance or disability allowance [37980/10]

Mattie McGrath

Question:

111 Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills her plans regarding access to community employment schemes of persons in receipt of one-parent family allowance or disability allowance payment; the conditions that will apply both financially and regarding length of time available to partake on a community employment scheme for persons in receipt of the one-parent family allowance or disability allowance [37981/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 110 and 111 together.

Persons aged 25 years or over and who are currently in receipt of One Parent Family Payment for 12 months or more continue to be eligible to participate in the Community Employment Programme. Persons aged 18 years or over who are currently in receipt of Illness Benefit for 6 months or more are also eligible for participation in the programme and subject to approval from the Department of Social Protection to engage in employment of a rehabilitative nature. I have no plans under consideration at present to change the current eligibility requirements for entry to the programme.

Persons can remain on a CE scheme for longer than the standard three years if they are aged 55 years or over, subject to meeting the eligibility criteria and the availability of places. In addition persons in receipt of the following disability linked Social Welfare payments may be eligible for an additional 1 year's participation:

Disability Allowance;

Blind Pension;

Invalidity Pension;

Illness Benefit for 6 months or more.

All lone parents and persons with disabilities participating on CE retain all or part of their Social Welfare payment simultaneously to their CE payment, the minimum weekly payment currently being €216.

Skills Development

Mary Upton

Question:

112 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills his plans to introduce a comprehensive graduate internship programme as advocated by the Union of Students in Ireland; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38183/10]

Both my colleague, Tánaiste Mary Coughlan and I have recently met with the Union of Students in Ireland and discussed a number of issues including their proposal for a Graduate Internship Programme.

The Union of Students in Ireland's proposal is very similar in some aspects to the Work Placement Programme, which was introduced by the Government in 2009. The WPP is operated by the Department of Education and Skills, through FÁS and provides up to 9 months work experience to unemployed individuals, including graduates. The WPP is open to all sectors of the economy, including the private and public sectors, as well as the community and voluntary sectors.

Participants on the programme may retain their existing social welfare entitlements for the duration of their placements, subject to the rules of the Department of Social Protection. Although, should a provider decide to provide a financial incentive to a participant, this could have implications for that individual's social welfare entitlements and it may be an issue for the Department of Social Protection.

A provider of a placement under the WPP can avail of the PRSI Exemption Scheme if they employ a person who has completed 3 months on the WPP. This will give employers an 8%-10% saving on employment costs for each new job created.

At the start of October 2010, 2,022 individuals had commenced their placements under the WPP. Of these 996 individuals have commenced on the graduate stream and 1,026 individuals have commenced on the non-graduate stream.

The Government through the Cabinet Committee on Economic Renewal are currently considering proposals to assist the unemployed, including graduates in advance of Budget 2011. The proposal from the Unions of Students in Ireland for a Graduate Internship Programme will be considered in that context.

Mary Upton

Question:

113 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills her plans to introduce a national third level skills initiative as proposed by the Union of Students in Ireland to cover essential skills for graduates to improve their employment prospects; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38184/10]

A high quality higher education system that is well regarded and trusted both nationally and internationally is essential for Ireland's economic and social wellbeing and it is important that graduates emerge from the system with the appropriate breadth and depth of knowledge and range of skills that will allow them to flourish in the workplace. There are a range of specific courses and modules in entrepreneurship available across the higher education sector and institutions also offer courses and short programmes that support potential entrepreneurs in bringing business ideas through to successful trading. In addition, the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF), has provided significant support to promote teaching and learning of entrepreneurial culture in higher education institutions as well as a range of projects to support greater engagement by institutions with enterprise and to be more responsive to their needs for example by encouraging work-based learning as well as the incorporation of generic competencies into the undergraduate curriculum and in the development of guidelines for work placements in undergraduate programmes.

As the Deputy may be aware, a new national strategy for higher education has been under development by a high level group chaired by Dr. Colin Hunt. In developing its report the Group engaged in a wide process of consultation, which included discussion forums with both students and representatives of the enterprise sector. Issues around the quality of teaching and learning and graduate skills as well as the responsiveness of the higher education sector to broader economic and social needs featured significantly as part of this process. The Group has now completed its work and I will be consulting with my Government colleagues in relation to the Group's report in the coming weeks.

Higher Education Grants

James Bannon

Question:

114 Deputy James Bannon asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills when person (details supplied) in County Longford will be awarded a third level grant; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37922/10]

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.

FÁS Training Programmes

Terence Flanagan

Question:

115 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills to deal with a matter (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37948/10]

The Minister does not have a role in the administration of individual cases. The administration of individual cases is a day-to-day matter for FÁS as part of its responsibility under the Labour Services Act 1987.

Psychological Service

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

116 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the case of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37957/10]

As the Deputy will be aware all primary and post-primary schools have access to psychological assessments either directly through the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) or through the Scheme for Commissioning Psychological Assessments (SCPA). Schools that do not currently have NEPS psychologists assigned to them may avail of the SCPA, whereby the school can have an assessment carried out by a member of the panel of private psychologists approved and paid for by NEPS.

In common with many other psychological services and best international practice, NEPS encourages a staged assessment process, whereby each school takes responsibility for initial assessment, educational planning and remedial intervention, in consultation with their assigned NEPS psychologist. Only if there is a failure to make reasonable progress in spite of the school's best efforts, will a child be referred for individual psychological assessment. This system allows the psychologists to give early attention to urgent cases and also to help many more children indirectly than could be seen individually. It also ensures that children are not referred unnecessarily for psychological intervention.

I have made enquiries with my Department's National Educational Psychological Service in relation to the pupil referred to in the Deputy's question and can confirm that no approach has been made by school authorities in relation to the current assessment or review of the child. The NEPS service is available to provide any relevant assistance requested by school authorities in this instance and I would suggest that the child's parents raise the matter with the school principal.

Health Services

Ulick Burke

Question:

117 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills her plans for the transfer of speech and language personnel from her Department and their respective children to the Health Service Executive; the numbers involved and the number of children currently receiving support in this area in her Department in view of her proposal in the current Education (Amendment) Bill 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37962/10]

Speech and language support therapy is provided by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to school children who have been assessed as having communication difficulties. The Education (Amendment) Bill 2010 provides for an amendment to the Education Act 1998 to clarify the position in relation to the delivery of speech therapy and other health and personal services to students of school-going age. The amendment acknowledges the role of the HSE in the delivery of health and personal social services under the Health Act 2004. It will not involve a transfer of speech and language personnel from my Department, as such services are presently provided for by the HSE. The legislative amendment is designed to clarify and reflect this position.

The proposed provisions will not impact on the availability of speech therapy services for children with special educational needs through the HSE. The Department of Education and Skills commitment to support the co-ordinated delivery of services to families of children with special educational needs is not diminished and the Department will continue to work with service providing partners in the health and disability sectors.

Additional funding of €7.2 million for disability was provided to the HSE in Budget 2009 for the provision of 90 additional therapy posts. These posts are targeted to support children with disabilities of school-going age and include speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and psychologists. Recruitment for these posts is ongoing.

The HSE will continue to work with funded specialist providers and in co-operation with the education sector to address the health related needs of children with special educational needs in the context of the resources available.

Departmental Funding

Noel Coonan

Question:

118 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the amount of the €578 million allocated in this years schools capital budget that has been spent up until the end of September 2010; if she anticipates all the money allocated will be spent; if not, will unspent money be returned to the Department of Finance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37964/10]

The amount of money expended on capital works to Primary and Post-Primary schools at the end of September was €299.45m. It is anticipated that the full capital allocation will be spent before the end of the year.

Schools Refurbishment

Mary Wallace

Question:

119 Deputy Mary Wallace asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the list of works that can be applied for under the summer work scheme; if funding will be available under this scheme to provide for Shomera type dressing rooms to facilitate football, basketball and other teams for matches on health and safety grounds, where it is not possible to use the interior changing facilities in a post-primary school where the existing facilities are fully utilised with various P.E. classes; if it is possible for any aspect of the project to be funded under the scheme and if not if there is any other funding mechanism to cover this; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37977/10]

The Summer Works Scheme (SWS) covers projects in school buildings such as gas, electrical and mechanical works, roof replacements and repairs, window replacement, toilet upgrades, structural improvements and access works that, ideally, can be delivered during the summer months.

Projects that involve a new build with the exception of toilet facilities are considered outside the scope of the SWS.

It is open to a school authority to submit an application for capital funding for grant aid to provide additional accommodation in schools which require it. Any application received for the provision of additional dressing room facilities will be considered in the context of the capital budget available to my Department for school buildings generally and the published criteria for prioritising school building projects.

Teaching Qualifications

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

120 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the reasoning behind circular 58/2010 which requires the three-year period required to complete probation for primary school teachers to commence from the date of registration rather than from the date of employment; the reason the satisfaction of this condition is being made more onerous at a time when there are many teachers unable to find employment; the reason the Department is involving itself in the need to deal with applications for exemption from the three-year time frame on a case by case basis when there is no clear benefit from the rule change; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37978/10]

As the Deputy is aware, under Section 7 of the Teaching Council Act 2001, it is a function of the Teaching Council to establish procedures and criteria for the probation of teachers, including periods of probation. While this aspect of the Teaching Council Act has not yet been commenced, the Department has been working with the Council to facilitate a smooth transition of responsibilities with regard to probation and I have indicated my intention to commence the relevant section of the Act in 2012. During the transition period, a number of changes have been introduced to the probationary process for all newly qualified teachers who are registering with the Council for the first time, with a view to being employed in primary schools in the 2010/2011 school year. Teachers who were employed in posts recognised for probationary purposes prior to September 1 2010, and whose period of probation has not expired by that date, have until 31 August 2015 to satisfy the probationary requirement.

The registration of teachers in Ireland is the responsibility of the Teaching Council which is empowered, under legislation, to set down the conditions for admission to the register. The three year time frame within which the probationary requirement must now be met by teachers registering for the first time is considered to be a reasonable time period for a teacher to complete the probationary process. This timeframe brings the probationary requirement into line with the timeframe allowed under the terms of EU Directive 2005/36/EC for making good qualifications shortfalls which may arise in the case of teachers who qualified out of State. As the probationary period can only commence when qualifications shortfalls have been met, the maximum period now allowed for teachers who qualified out of State to become fully registered is six years.

There are two requirements for the satisfactory completion of probation: the professional competence requirement and the service requirement. With regard to the service requirement, the stipulated period has been reduced. Whereas in the past, a teacher was required to give service of 178 days, in the case of unbroken service, and 300 paid days in the case of broken service, the requirement is now 170 days. With regard to the period during which a teacher was required to be employed in a post recognised for probationary purposes in order to have his/her work assessed, this has now been reduced from two period of sixty days to two periods of fifty days. It is advisable that teachers continue to avail of any teaching opportunities that become available, including those of short duration, so that they can accumulate the number of days required to complete their service requirement for probation.

Applications for exemption from the three-year timeframe will not arise until 2013. By that time, all matters to do with the probation of teachers will have become the responsibility of the Teaching Council, which operates within the terms of the Teaching Council Act 2001. The Department, therefore, has no role to play in considering applications for exemption.

I wish to inform the Deputy that my Department is monitoring the implementation of Circular 58/2010 on an ongoing basis.

Departmental Staff

Richard Bruton

Question:

121 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of staff in her Department primarily employed in one of a number of areas (details supplied) in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38067/10]

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the accompanying table.

While identifying the numbers of staff employed in Inspections, IT, HR and Legal Services is relatively straightforward there are staff across a number of sections who spend a percentage of their time on processing of benefits/entitlements/grants. In addition, while there is one person in Corporate Services Division with responsibility for developing the Department's corporate procurement plan and policy, the Department does not have a dedicated centralised procurement section and accordingly, responsibility for procurement rests with the relevant section procuring the goods or services. Therefore in respect of these areas I am providing the Deputy with the best estimate of the staff resource associated with these tasks. Staff associated with certain functions of the Department of Education and Skills.

Function

Number of Staff

Whole Time Equivalent

Entitlement Processing

63

48.15

Inspections

132

131.40

IT

50

48.46

Human Resources

26

24.70

Procurement

1

1.00

Legal Services

3

3.00

School Staffing

Brian O'Shea

Question:

122 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the action she will take regarding a matter (details supplied) [38122/10]

The key factor for determining the level of staffing resources provided at individual school level is the staffing schedule for the relevant school year and pupil enrolments on the previous 30 September. The staffing schedule for the 2011-2012 school year will be published on my Department's website in early 2011.

The staffing schedule also includes an appeals mechanism for schools who are dissatisfied with their staffing allocation and the appeals criteria are outlined in the staffing schedule (Primary Circular 0021/2010) for the current school year.

The final staffing position for all schools for the 2011-2012 school year will ultimately not be known until the Autumn of 2011. At that stage the allocation process will be fully completed for mainstream classroom teachers and any appeals to the Staffing Appeals Board will have been considered.

Departmental Staff

John O'Mahony

Question:

123 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of persons employed on temporary contract and cost to her Department and any agencies under her Department for same in tabular form for 2008 and 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38129/10]

My Department recruits all new permanent staff through the Commission for Public Appointments Service (PAS), by Inter-Departmental competitions or transfers between other Government Departments.

In instances were the Department advertisesand recruits temporary clerical staff directly it does not utilise the services of recruitment agencies. Any direct temporary recruitment competitions are conducted in accordance with the PAS Code of Practice for External Recruitment for Appointments to Positions in the Civil Service.

Issues in relation to the appointment of staff through recuitment agencies for bodies under the aegis of my Department are a matter for each agency and the information is not collated centrally.

School Curriculum

Arthur Morgan

Question:

124 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the reason she did not issue the new syllabus for leaving certificate applied Gaeilge and leaving certificate foundation Gaeilge before this school year started; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that this delay left teachers without a current syllabus to teach, without materials and without the facility to compose teaching and learning plans; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38142/10]

The syllabuses were issued as soon as was feasible following receipt of print ready versions. They were issued in September to all schools, and the inconvenience caused by the delay is regretted.

The revised syllabuses build heavily on the existing programmes which will be examined for the last time in 2011. The updated syllabuses make fuller reference to the potential of the print and broadcast media and of information and communications technology (ICT) generally both as authentic materials and as resources that are routine in student's lives. They also provide for an increase in the marks available for oral assessment to 40%, an arrangement which was notified to all schools in 2007 through Circular 042/2007.

School Staffing

Arthur Morgan

Question:

125 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of posts of responsibility that have not been filled in second level schools as a result of the moratorium; the number of posts of responsibility that were filled in second level schools as a result of circular 0042/2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38143/10]

When the moratorium was introduced the Government exempted Principal and Deputy Principal posts in all primary and post-primary schools and these continue to be replaced in the normal manner. The impact of the moratorium is therefore limited to the Assistant Principal and Special Duties allowances payable to teachers on promotion. Vacancies at Assistant Principal and Special Duties level arise due to retirements in these specific grades and typically also from the knock on effect of filling Principal and Deputy Principal posts. What the school loses is the capacity to make a promotion by awarding the extra pay allowance to another teacher. The position whereby just over 50% of all teachers have promotion allowances is simply not sustainable.

Retirements at post primary level since the introduction of the moratorium in March 2009 were approximately 157 Principals, 128 Deputy Principals, 1144 Assistant Principals and 290 teachers with special duties posts of responsibility. This is based on Department held data with a pro-rata adjustment to include VEC schools.

The alleviation arrangements set out in the published Department Circular 42/2010 provides some delegated sanction for post-primary schools to fill Assistant Principal vacancies if they fall below certain minimum thresholds. At this stage, the Department has been notified in respect of the filling of 39 Assistant Principal posts. Applications for alleviation in respect of 44 Programme Co-ordinator posts and 12 Director of Adult Education posts have resulted in 25 of these posts being filled.

Special Educational Needs

Finian McGrath

Question:

126 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will support a matter (details supplied). [38152/10]

The Deputy will be aware that the 2007 Programme for Government committed to the long-term funding for the centres in the ABA pilot scheme subject to agreement with my Department on standards that will enable them to be supported as primary schools for children with autism.

Agreement on transitional arrangements for the pilot centres was reached following a long process of discussions and engagement with the representative body of the pilot centres. Each of the centres has now applied for special school status. I am pleased to advise you that I have been able to respond positively to applications and all, but one, of the centres have now been granted recognition as special schools for children with autism. The application from the remaining centre is currently being processed.

The Department is committed to ensuring that all children with autism can have access to an education appropriate to their needs preferably in school settings through the primary and post primary school network. This facilitates access to individualised education programmes, fully qualified professional teachers who may draw from a range of autism-specific interventions, including ABA, special needs assistants, and the appropriate school curriculum.

Managers have been appointed by the Patrons to manage the transitional process from centre to special school which has facilitated the commencement of the Principal Teacher recruitment campaign. As part of the transition process, my Department is arranging for training in a range of autism-specific interventions for the new Principals and Teachers once they have been appointed. In addition, training is being provided for the Managers and the new Boards of Management. It is my intention to continue to support the transitional process.

School Accommodation

Shane McEntee

Question:

127 Deputy Shane McEntee asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a school (details supplied) in County Meath. [38159/10]

Forward Planning Section of my Department has carried out a study of the country to identify the areas where, due to demographic changes, there may be a requirement for significant additional accommodation in future years. Following this detailed analysis it appeared prudent to plan for the establishment of new schools to commence operation in September 2010 to meet increasing demand in certain identified areas. There was detailed consultation during 2009 with all patrons in relation to the areas under consideration.

There was a specific application for the establishment of a new gaelscoil in the area referred to by the Deputy. However, after detailed analysis of the increase in pupil numbers for September this year and of the capacity in existing schools it was not necessary to establish a new school to cater for the demographic increase. My Department was satisfied that the existing schools could cater for the projected increase in demographics in September 2010.

This situation in relation to the requirement for the additional school provision in the area will be reviewed for September 2011 in light of needs and consultation with the patron bodies.

Residential Institutions Redress Scheme

Joe Costello

Question:

128 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 281 of 29 September 2010 if she will now include Bethany House in the residential institutions redress scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38175/10]

The Government considered a range of demands for the Residential Institutions Redress Scheme to be extended, including that to include Bethany House, and decided not to extend the scheme.

Bethany House was certified as a place of detention for offending female, non-Catholic children and young persons, under 17 years of age, by the Minister for Justice in 1945, under section 108 of the Children Act 1908. As outlined in my earlier reply, the Department of Justice and Law Reform has advised that it has not received any allegations of abuse from any female committed to Bethany House pursuant to the Children Act 1908 and that it would be happy to deal with any such cases on an individual basis. No male children or young persons were committed to Bethany House through the Criminal Justice system.

School Accommodation

Mary Upton

Question:

129 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the progress that has been made regarding the proposal for a multi-denominational school, in response to the campaign by an organisation (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38180/10]

A review of the procedures for the establishment of new primary schools is currently being carried out under the Commission on School Accommodation. In the interim it is not proposed to recognise any new primary schools, except in areas where the increases in pupil numbers cannot be catered for in existing schools and which require the provision of new schools. The Commission is due to report to me shortly at which time I will have to consider the policy matters and necessary arrangements and revised procedures that will need to be put in place.

The Forward Planning Section of my Department has carried out a study of the country to identify the areas where, due to demographic changes, there may be a requirement for significant additional school provision at both primary and post-primary levels over the coming years. This study has been conducted using data from the Central Statistics Office, the General Register Office and the Department of Social Protection and with reference to recent schools' enrolment data.

The most recent projections used by my Department would see the projected enrolments at primary level increase from the current total enrolment of circa 505,600 pupils to an expected enrolment circa 563,300 pupils by the year 2016. It is within this context that the Forward Planning Section of my Department will continue to analyse demographic trends to determine the level of additional provision which will be required into the future. Overall requirements in the area referred to by the Deputy will be considered in this context.

The progression of all large scale building projects arising from Forward Planning Section's analysis will be considered in the context of my Department's School Building and Modernisation Programme.

Teaching Qualifications

Mary Upton

Question:

130 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills in view of the scale of the unemployment crisis among teaching graduates and their inability to gain relevant work experience, the reason she is proposing to continue allowing unqualified teachers to work in schools (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38186/10]

It is the policy of my Department that only qualified personnel should be employed by schools. Unqualified personnel should not be appointed except in exceptional circumstances and then only when all avenues for recruiting qualified personnel have been exhausted and only for quite limited time periods.

This policy is reflected in Circular 40/2010 which my Department issued earlier this year. Under its terms, schools are directed to ensure that teachers proposed for appointment to publicly paid teaching posts are registered with the Teaching Council and have qualifications appropriate to the sector and suitable to the post for which they are proposed. Where an employer can satisfactorily demonstrate that every reasonable effort has been made to recruit an appropriately qualified and registered teacher, an unqualified and/or unregistered person may be recruited pending the recruitment of an appropriately qualified and registered teacher and this provision must be inserted in the employment contract. The employer must repeat the process to recruit an appropriately qualified and registered teacher within the period of any such contract and in any event within the school year.

The amendment to section 30 of the Teaching Council Act, which is contained in the recently published Education (Amendment) Bill, provides for the regulation of exceptional and limited situations in which unregistered people will be permitted to be paid from public moneys.

Budget Submissions

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

131 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she has considered the pre-budget submission of the Union of Students in Ireland which was presented to Oireachtas Members last week; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38189/10]

The Deputy will appreciate that the preparation of the Estimates is carried out on a strictly confidential basis and it would not be appropriate for me to comment on specific issues or proposals including that from the Union of Students in Ireland at this stage. However, all proposals made in relation to education expenditure will be considered in the context of the Budget.

Tax Collection

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

132 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance if he will investigate the delay in issuing a document to a person (details supplied) in County Cork [37955/10]

I have been informed by the Revenue Commissioners that no contact has been made by the taxpayer with Revenue in relation to this issue. To pursue the matter the person in question should contact Pearse Penney, Revenue House, Cork. Telephone Number 021-6027266.

Disabled Drivers

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

133 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance if he will explain the delays in registering vehicles under the disabled drivers and disabled passengers scheme since the scheme has come under the administrative control of the National Car Testing Service; if he will intervene directly to restore appropriate processing times; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37960/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that under the revised registration procedures (operated by the National Car Testing Service (NCTS) since 1 September 2010), the Revenue Commissioners continue to manage and administer the scheme of relief from vehicle registration tax (VRT) for Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers. In this regard, where Revenue approves an application for relief under the scheme, a letter confirming the appropriate relief from VRT is issued to the applicant, which must then be presented at an NCTS centre in order that the relevant vehicle may be registered. The Deputy may wish to note that the content and format of this notification were updated as part of the revised registration process. Unfortunately, this led to some difficulties as, in a limited number of cases, the applicant had possession of the old style notification letter produced prior to 1 September 2010, and this was rejected at the time of registration at NCTS centres, thus leading to delays in the registration of some vehicles. Revenue has since identified the customers who were issued with an old style letter of approval in order to issue them with the updated notification and so eliminate this cause of delay in registration.

Since the introduction of VRT on 1 January 1993, there has been a requirement that all new vehicles modified for use under the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers relief provisions must be examined before the relief is granted and the vehicle is registered under the scheme. Under the revised arrangements, this pre-registration examination is now carried out by the NCTS rather than Revenue, and at present delays are being experienced in booking pre-registration examinations in some NCT Centres. With the exception of one centre, these delays are a matter of days and the Deputy may wish to note that under the new arrangements, a person importing a vehicle has up to 30 days to complete the process. In the past, the law required a vehicle to be registered within 24 hours and in practice Revenue allowed 7 days.

The introduction of the revised registration procedures has presented a considerable challenge for all stakeholders involved in the process. Revenue, in consultation with the major stakeholders, including the NCTS, the Society of the Irish Motor Industry and individual motor dealers bringing vehicles into the State, have identified the major challenges, and are now putting procedures and processes in place to address these challenges. Significant progress has been made to date and, with the implementation of these procedures and processes, Revenue is confident that an efficient user-friendly service will again be available to all persons requiring vehicle registration, notwithstanding the fact that the vehicle will in all cases, as required by law, have to be presented for examination.

Vehicle Testing Centres

Arthur Morgan

Question:

134 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that there are only 22 centres in the country, within the National Car Test centre framework, allowed to re-register vehicles and a large area of the country is not serviced by any local centres; if his further attention has been drawn to the fact that as of 1 September 2010 there is a requirement for all vehicles to be presented at these centres for registration purposes thereby changing changes the situation in which tractor owners who wished to re-register their tractors were only required to present their documents at the centre; his views on the fact that in view of the scarcity of these designated centres in rural areas, persons will be forced to bring their tractors long distances for re-registration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37927/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that under the revised registration procedures (operated by the National Car Testing Service (NCTS) since 1 September 2010) a total of 22 NCT Centres were initially configured for registration purposes to replace the 22 Revenue Vehicle Registration Offices (VROs) that previously performed the registration function. These NCT Centres are, for the most part, close to the locations where the VROs were sited and are set up in facilities custom built for the examination of vehicles, with ample parking for the convenience of customers, especially those with larger vehicles such as tractors. In general, tractors pose an increased risk to other road users because, among other things, a 16-year old may be licensed to carry a heavy load on, for example, a 10-year old tractor that has never been examined by a State agency, whereas if the same load were carried in a heavy goods vehicle, that vehicle could be legally driven only by an individual with a heavy goods licence, in a vehicle equipped with a tachograph and other safety features, that would be subject to an annual roadworthiness test. Accordingly, the Deputy will appreciate that any measure relating to the pre-registration checking of tractors that reduces the overall risk to other road users is a worthwhile initiative.

I am sure the Deputy will agree that it is essential for road traffic management and road safety that all vehicles are registered and have a registration number so that the owner can be identified. In this context, the Revenue Commissioners have confirmed that tractors must, in the normal course of events, be presented at an NCT Centre for a pre-registration inspection (as is the requirement for all vehicle types). For the majority of tractors being imported into the country, this should not pose serious difficulty as a pre-registration examination can be booked in advance and the vehicle transported to the relevant centre, at the appointed time, as it is being transported or driven into the State, thus eliminating extra unnecessary journeys on the public road.

However, it appears that there are a number of tractors already in the State that, for whatever reason, were not registered by their owners in accordance with the legislation in place before 1 September 2010. It is recognised that the new legislation may place a particular burden on the owners of those vehicles to fulfil their registration obligations. Additionally, there may be a number of people who, because they were not aware of the impending change, despite the extensive advertising campaign run by the Revenue Commissioners, may not be in a position to register their tractor immediately after import.

For these reasons, on 15 September last, the Revenue Commissioners, as an interim measure until the end of 2010, waived the requirement for a tractor to be presented for examination. However, a pre-registration appointment must still be booked and the relevant documentation relating to the tractor and the registered owner must be presented for examination at an NCT Centre. This waiver will cease in 2011 and from then on tractors, like all other mechanically propelled vehicles, will be obliged to undergo a pre-registration inspection before they are registered for use in the State.

The requirement to have all used vehicles presented for pre-registration examination has presented some new challenges for both Revenue and the competent person appointed to carry out these functions, namely, the NCTS. In consultation with other stakeholders, e.g. the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI), the Farm Tractor & Machinery Trade Association Ltd. (FTMTA), Revenue and the NCTS are facing these challenges and have implemented some revised procedures to speed up the registration process. For example, the NCTS have recently put procedures in place to provide additional capacity in their centres, including extending the opening times in some centres and the configuration of two additional centres for registration purposes in order to address current delays. Revenue are also examining the possibility of providing electronic facilities for the registration of used vehicles that have been subjected to a pre-registration examination.

Finally, Revenue is confident that with the implementation of these and other similar initiatives, an efficient user-friendly service will be available to all persons requiring vehicle registration, notwithstanding the fact that the vehicle will, in all cases as provided for in legislation, have to be presented for examination prior to registration.

National Asset Management Agency

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

135 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance if he will outline the National Asset Management Agency’s ongoing efforts in pursing developers who owe money to the agency; when the agency will begin foreclosing on bankrupt developers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37929/10]

The first tranche of loans owed by the largest property developers transferred to the National Asset Management Agency in May 2010 and a second tranche was transferred in July and August. I am advised by NAMA that following the transfer of an individual's loans to NAMA, each borrower is requested to complete a realistic and concise business plan. The viability of the business plan of each major borrower is assessed by NAMA. Where viability cannot be demonstrated or where a borrower is not co-operating with the process NAMA will take enforcement action against the borrower concerned.

The NAMA Board has stated clearly in its recent Business Plan that it will enforce personal guarantees to the greatest extent feasible, that it will secure all unencumbered assets and that it will pursue any assets transferred to third parties. Where NAMA does engage in any type of enforcement, it will have to go through the courts in the normal way and information on such cases will be in the public domain. I am informed that NAMA has already commenced proceedings in the Commercial Court and that further actions can be expected. NAMA has also authorised participating institutions to initiate enforcement proceedings against a number of other debtors whose loans have not yet transferred to the Agency.

Tax Code

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

136 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance the benefits to the economy of the business expansion scheme and the cost to the Exchequer annually since its inception. [37930/10]

The Business Expansion Scheme was introduced in 1984, to incentivise private investment in long-term equity capital in companies.

The scheme assists in the creation and retention of jobs in certain small and medium-sized companies located in Ireland, through the provision of capital investment, which companies would otherwise find difficult to raise.

The scheme was reviewed in 2006 and subsequently extended until 2013. The reasons for this extension included the clear market failure in providing equity capital for small firms in their start up and early development phases, the evidence of how vital the scheme has been in the past for such firms and continuing needs in this regard, as well as the potential return to the economy from indigenous Irish companies.

The estimated cost of the Business Expansion Scheme since it was created, for all tax years up to and including 2009, the latest year for which figures are available, is set out in the following table:

Business Expansion Scheme

Year

Cost to Exchequer

€m

1984/85

0.6

1985/86

3.0

1986/87

4.7

1987/88

6.9

1988/89

17.3

1989/90

53.2

1990/91

39.5

1991/92

39.9

1992/93

13.3

1993/94

15.4

1994/95

31.9

1995/96

47.2

1996/97

52.2

1997/98

57.3

1998/99

31.5

1999/00

30.2

2000/01

16.7

2001 (short tax year)

15.1

2002

20.2

2003

16.6

2004

21.1

2005

16.0

2006

21.4

2007

17.5

2008

55.7

2009

25.6

Total

670.1

Tax Yield

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

137 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance the benefits to the economy of the seed capital scheme and the cost to the Exchequer annually since its inception. [37931/10]

The Seed Capital Scheme was introduced in 1993 to incentivise PAYE workers to consider starting up their own businesses.

The scheme assists in the creation of jobs through the refund of tax previously paid by the entrepreneur concerned. The scheme can be utilised in tandem with the associated Business Expansion Scheme to facilitate the further raising of capital, from other investors, for the business concerned.

The estimated cost of the Seed Capital Scheme since it was created for all tax years up to and including 2009, the latest year for which figures are available, is set out in the following table:

Seed Capital Scheme

Year

Cost to Exchequer

€m

1993/94

0.2

1994/95

0.9

1995/96

0.8

1996/97

2.1

1997/98

1.4

1998/99

2.0

1999/00

1.1

2000/01

1.0

2001 (short tax year)

1.2

2002

1.4

2003

2.3

2004

2.6

2005

1.3

2006

1.2

2007

2.3

2008

1.7

2009 (provisional)

2.9

Tax Code

Thomas Byrne

Question:

138 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Finance if he has given consideration to a scheme whereby family members could provide loans to other family members for small business purposes on a full commercial basis but which would attract some type of tax relief to the benefit of the lending family member. [37966/10]

The scheme mentioned by the Deputy has not been considered. However, in my view, it would not be appropriate to offer a tax incentive to lenders where loans are provided to family members on a commercial basis. The interest repayable on such loans should act as a sufficient incentive in itself.

The Business Expansion scheme is already available to encourage investments in certain small and medium-sized businesses. Family members can provide investments under this scheme provided they are not considered "connected" for the purposes of the scheme.

Budget Submissions

James Bannon

Question:

139 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Finance the reason an unelected person is permitted to examine documentation relating to the budget deficit when elected opposition politicians are not permitted to do so; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38005/10]

There are many documents related to the budget deficit that are not confidential. My Department has not provided any confidential documentation in relation to the budget deficit to the person referred to in the Deputy's question. As is well known, I have always consulted widely, and confidentially, on matters related to my brief which helps ensure that I have as broad a perspective as possible.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Finance spokespersons from the Main Opposition political parties met with officials from my Department on Monday last, 18th October, to receive a confidential briefing on the macroeconomic and fiscal context in which the four-year budgetary plan, to be published in the first half of November, is being prepared.

National Asset Management Agency

Michael McGrath

Question:

140 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the overall amount of money currently managed by the National Treasury Management Agency through the various State savings products; if he will provide a breakdown of the overall amount by the type of product savings bonds, savings certificates, national solidarity bond and so on; the way the money is managed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38033/10]

The Government's State Savings products consist of the National Solidarity Bond, Savings Certificates, Savings Bonds, Prize Bonds, Instalment Savings and Deposit Accounts (POSB).

The total amount invested in the State Savings products on Monday, 18 October 2010 was €12.029 billion, made up of €265 million in the National Solidarity Bond, €3.808 billion in Savings Certificates, €3.972 billion in Savings Bonds, €469 million in Instalment Savings, €1.29 billion in Prize Bonds, and €2.225 billion in deposit accounts (POSB).

The State Savings schemes, which are managed by the National Treasury Management Agency, are used to fund the Exchequer and form part of the National Debt.

Departmental Agencies

Michael McGrath

Question:

141 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the review of the remuneration packages of the chief executives of semi-State companies. [38034/10]

I brought proposals to Government regarding the establishment of a Review Group to examine and advise the Government on the extent to which the current arrangements governing the remuneration of chief executives of commercial State-sponsored bodies remains appropriate having regard to changes in economic circumstances, the commercial environment in which the companies operate and labour market conditions.

The Government has agreed that such a review should be undertaken and I will shortly announce further information on the composition of the Review Group.

Public Service Pay

Michael McGrath

Question:

142 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the implementation of the Croke Park deal on pay and reform in the public service and, in particular, to provide details of the progress made to date on securing efficiencies and savings across the public service. [38035/10]

The Public Service Agreement 2010-2014, or Croke Park Agreement, provided for the establishment of an Implementation Body to oversee progress on the implementation of the agreed transformation measures across the Public Service. Mr. P.J. Fitzpatrick, was appointed in July as independent chairman of the Implementation Body with 3 nominees each from Public Service Management and the Public Services Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions respectively.

The Implementation Body in its regular meetings has concentrated on establishing the sectoral implementation bodies provided for under the Agreement and on reviewing the sectoral Action Plans which have been submitted by each Government Department. These plans inform the Implementation Body on the significant changes proposed by public service management to achieve the reforms, efficiencies and savings needed in each sector.

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

The Agreement provides a sustainable framework to manage the provision and delivery of our essential public services in a period of unprecedented pressure on public resources. In this regard, the Exchequer Pay Bill is estimated to reduce by 8% in 2010 over 2009 while the number of public servants has reduced by almost 11,000 since March 09, resulting in significant savings in the public service paybill.

National Asset Management Agency

Michael McGrath

Question:

143 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of the anticipated timing of reports from National Asset Management Agency being laid before the Oireachtas. [38036/10]

Section 53 of the National Asset Management Agency Act 2009 requires NAMA to submit an annual statement to the Minister for Finance 3 months before the commencement of the year to which it relates, with the exception of the financial year 2010 which had to be submitted before 1 July 2010.

Section 55 of the Act requires NAMA to make a quarterly report to the Minister for Finance within 3 months of the end of the quarter to which the report refers.

The annual statement for the financial year 2010 and the first quarterly report for the period ending 31 March 2010 were submitted to me within the required timeframe and I laid them before each House of the Oireachtas, as required by the Act.

The annual statement for the financial year 2011 and the second quarterly report for the period ending 30 June 2010 were submitted to me within the required timeframe and I expect to lay them before each House of the Oireachtas shortly.

Financial Institutions Support Scheme

Michael McGrath

Question:

144 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the way he is ensuring that Allied Irish Bank and Bank of Ireland meet the lending commitments to the small and medium enterprise sector under the bank recapitalisation scheme. [38037/10]

The Deputy will be aware that my Department and Mr. Trethowan of the Credit Review Office receive monthly progress reports from the two banks which allow us to monitor their lending to viable businesses in all sectors of the economy and in every area of the country. This information is commercially sensitive. The banks have 12 months to reach their targets and the overall results of their activities will be published in due course.

In addition to the monitoring, the Credit Review Office reviews decisions of banks to refuse credit on application from the customer to ensure that the banks are not refusing to lend to viable businesses.

Mr. Trethowan's first quarterly report was of course published and I intend publishing his next report when it is received.

Flood Relief

Michael McGrath

Question:

145 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the finalisation of the draft Lee catchment flood risk assessment and management study; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38038/10]

At the beginning of February, 2010, I launched the draft River Lee catchment flood risk assessment and management study, (CFRAM) as the primary pilot project for the national CFRAM programme. This commenced a period of public consultation which extended to 30 April, 2010. At present, the recommendations set out in the draft are being re-assessed in the light of the feedbacks and submissions received during the consultation period. It is expected that the finalised version of the Catchment Flood Risk Management Plan will be completed and published in early 2011.

The Plan will set out clearly a proposed phasing framework for the Lee catchment. In this context, consultants are being commissioned to examine and develop the technical aspects of the Plan in detail, and undertake the design of the structural flood-defence components of a flood risk management scheme for Cork City. The first stage of the procurement for this work commenced in September, and consultants are scheduled to be appointed early in 2011.

At this early stage, OPW anticipates that non-structural options, are likely to be the first to be taken forward, followed by structural options over a longer timescale. All structural options will have a lead-in time for full scheme development and detailed design. However, if interim works are identified during the design process these can be progressed in partnership with the Local Authorities.

In addition, a number of priority actions are being undertaken, including detailed topographical and structural surveys of the existing defences within, and upstream of, Cork City in order to identify requirements for additional defences. OPW have agreed also to put Cork City Council in funds to carry out urgent repairs to the quay walls.

Departmental Staff

John O'Mahony

Question:

146 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Finance the number of persons employed on temporary contract and cost to his Department and any agencies under his Department for same in tabular form for 2008 and 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38132/10]

In relation to my Department, the details of persons employed on fixed term or fixed purpose temporary contracts are as follows:

Year

No. of persons on temporary contract

Annual cost

2008

5

343,261

2009

8

688,655

Some people were employed on contracts for a duration exceeding one year and are therefore included for both years. While some people may have been recruited during the year, the annual cost given relates to a full year cost.

With regard to agencies under the aegis of my Department I am advised as follows:

Revenue Commissioners

Year

Number of Temporary Contracts

Total number of weeks

Annualised full time equivalents

Total Cost

2008

619

9,182

175 approx.

4,529,000

2009

321

3,493

65 approx.

1,920,000

Temporary clerical officers are engaged from time to time to cope with seasonal peaks and to provide cover for absences such as maternity leave and term time.

Year

No. of Temporary Contract

Total Cost

Valuation Office

2008

32

1,215,000.00

2009

26

1,015,120.00

State Laboratory

2008

3

70,620.00

2009

2

14,941.00

PAS

2008

6

40,260.85

2009

0

CPSA

2008

0

2009

0

C&AG

2008

0

2009

0

Appeal Commissioners

2008

0

2009

0

Ombudsman

2008

0

2009

0

Institute of Public Administration

Year

No. of persons on temporary contract

Annual cost

2008

6

€150,000

2009

0

National Treasury Management Agency*

Year

No. of persons on temporary contract

Annual cost

2008

9

159,249

2009

11

227,768

*(Which covers NTMA, State Claims Agency, National Pensions Reserve Fund Commission, National Development Finance Agency and NAMA).

Special EU Programmes Body

Year

No. of persons on temporary contract

Annual cost

Costs attributable to the Department of Finance

2008

24

788,890

93,153

2008

29

788,380

126,758

During 2009 a total of 7 staff resigned from fixed-term posts and were subsequently replaced by new appointments. In addition, a further 2 staff were also appointed into fixed-term posts.

Vehicle Registration

Michael Creed

Question:

147 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Finance if he will review the revised arrangements for the registration of imported farm machinery (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38158/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that under the revised registration procedures (operated by the National Car Testing Service (NCTS) since 1 September 2010) a total of 22 NCT Centres were initially configured for registration purposes to replace the 22 Revenue Vehicle Registration Offices (VROs) that previously performed the registration function. These NCT Centres are, for the most part, close to the locations where the VROs were sited and are set up in facilities custom built for the examination of vehicles, with ample parking for the convenience of customers, especially those with larger vehicles such as tractors.

In general, tractors pose an increased risk to other road users because, among other things, a 16-year old may be licensed to carry a heavy load on, for example, a 10-year old tractor that has never been examined by a State agency, whereas if the same load were carried in a heavy goods vehicle, that vehicle could be legally driven only by an individual with a heavy goods licence, in a vehicle equipped with a tachograph and other safety features, that would be subject to an annual roadworthiness test. Accordingly, the Deputy will appreciate that any measure relating to the pre-registration checking of tractors that reduces the overall risk to other road users is a worthwhile initiative.

I am sure the Deputy will agree that it is essential for road traffic management and road safety that all vehicles are registered and have a registration number so that the owner can be identified. In this context, the Revenue Commissioners have confirmed that tractors must, in the normal course of events, be presented at an NCT Centre for a pre-registration inspection (as is the requirement for all vehicle types). For the majority of tractors being imported into the country, this should not pose serious difficulty as a pre-registration examination can be booked in advance and the vehicle transported to the relevant centre, at the appointed time, as it is being transported or driven into the State, thus eliminating extra unnecessary journeys on the public road.

However, it appears that there are a number of tractors already in the State that, for whatever reason, were not registered by their owners in accordance with the legislation in place before 1 September 2010. It is recognised that the new legislation may place a particular burden on the owners of those vehicles to fulfil their registration obligations. Additionally, there may be a number of people who, because they were not aware of the impending change, despite the extensive advertising campaign run by the Revenue Commissioners, may not be in a position to register their tractor immediately after import.

For these reasons, on 15 September last, the Revenue Commissioners, as an interim measure until the end of 2010, waived the requirement for a tractor to be presented for examination. However, a pre-registration appointment must still be booked and the relevant documentation relating to the tractor and the registered owner must be presented for examination at an NCT Centre. This waiver will cease in 2011 and from then on tractors, like all other mechanically propelled vehicles, will be obliged to undergo a pre-registration inspection before they are registered for use in the State.

The requirement to have all used vehicles presented for pre-registration examination has presented some new challenges for both Revenue and the competent person appointed to carry out these functions, namely, the NCTS. In consultation with other stakeholders, e.g. the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI), the Farm Tractor & Machinery Trade Association Ltd. (FTMTA), Revenue and the NCTS are facing these challenges and have implemented some revised procedures to speed up the registration process. For example, the NCTS have recently put procedures in place to provide additional capacity in their centres, including extending the opening times in some centres and the configuration of two additional centres for registration purposes in order to address current delays. Revenue are also examining the possibility of providing electronic facilities for the registration of used vehicles that have been subjected to a pre-registration examination.

Finally, Revenue is confident that with the implementation of these and other similar initiatives, an efficient user-friendly service will be available to all persons requiring vehicle registration, notwithstanding the fact that the vehicle will, in all cases as provided for in legislation, have to be presented for examination prior to registration.

Tax Code

Mary Upton

Question:

148 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Finance the estimated cost of extending the section 481 tax relief scheme to the computer game industry based on the size of the industry at present and based on a number of growth scenarios of uptake by investors and the amount invested; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38188/10]

The cost of extending to the computer game industry a tax relief similar to the scheme for film relief operating under section 481 would depend on the level of uptake by investors and the amounts invested. I am not therefore in a position to provide such an estimate. I have no plans to extend Section 481 to the video game industry.

Home Help Services

John Deasy

Question:

149 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of vacancies for home care workers in Waterford; when these vacancies will be filled; the way she will ensure that home care services in Waterford are maintained; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37923/10]

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

Health Services

Pat Breen

Question:

150 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) will be facilitated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37925/10]

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

Joan Burton

Question:

151 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Health and Children if and when an application will be approved in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37926/10]

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

Hospital Services

Dinny McGinley

Question:

152 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the regular rheumatology clinic in Letterkenny General Hospital has been cancelled, which necessitates travel by Donegal patients to Manorhamilton hospital or Sligo General Hospital; her plans to restore this service for Donegal patients; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37936/10]

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

Children in Care

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

153 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 200 of 6 October 2010, the number of foster carers and relative carers, respectively, with regard to whom a Health Service Executive assessment of suitability has not been conducted as required by the regulations. [37937/10]

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

Hospital Services

Dinny McGinley

Question:

154 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Donegal will be admitted to hospital. [37938/10]

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

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

155 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a hospital appointment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37939/10]

The scheduling of patients for hospital treatment is a matter for the consultant concerned in each case and is determined on the basis of clinical need. Should the patient's general practitioner consider that the patient's condition warrants an earlier appointment, he/she would be in the best position to take the matter up with the consultant involved. As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Medical Cards

Jack Wall

Question:

156 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. [37943/10]

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

Youth Services

Tom Hayes

Question:

157 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for funding in 2009 by an organisation (details supplied) in County Tipperary. [37944/10]

The Children's and Youth Services Development Unit of my Office received an application on behalf of the Youth Project referred to by the Deputy, to be considered for funding in 2008 under the Special Projects for Youth Scheme. Due to the large number of applications received and the limited funding available it was not possible to provide the funding requested.

In light of budgetary constraints, the emphasis in the 2009 youth affairs budget was on supporting existing youth programmes and services for young people including those with fewer opportunities. Similarly in 2010, the focus is on consolidating and maintaining, insofar as possible, the level of existing programmes and services for young people. In this context, the Children's and Youth Services Development Unit is not in a position to consider any new applications for admission to its Schemes in 2010.

Departmental Funding

Denis Naughten

Question:

158 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide a complete list of the disability organisations in receipt of funding from her Department in tabular form, including the value to each organisation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37946/10]

The funding made available to disability organisations through Vote 39 from the National Lottery in the most recent year, 2009, is set out in the table below. The table details the names of the organisations to whom the grant was paid and the amount of the grant.

National Lottery Funding 2009

Organisation

Amount Paid

Brothers of Charity

3,500

Cashel na Cor Learning Disability Association Ltd.

300

Central Remedial Clinic

8,000

Disabled People of Clare Ltd.

8,000

Introart

19,000

Irish Association of Supported Employment (IASE)

5,000

Irish Progressive Association for Autism Company Ltd.

20,000

Irish Thalidomide Assocation (ITA)

2,000

Irish Wheelchair Association

50,000

North Fingal Rural Transport Company Ltd.

40,000

St. Joseph’s Association For The Mentally Handicapped Portrane

8,000

Our Lady of Good Counsel Special School

30,000

St. Joseph’s Centre for the Visually Impaired

12,000

Myasthenia Gravis Association

10,000

The WOW Group — Winners on Wheels

4,000

L’Arche Ireland

10,000

Irish Dogs for the Disabled

75,000

Co. Wexford Community Workshop (Enniscorthy) Limited

25,000

Total

329,800

The Deputy will be aware that the Health Service Executive funds a wide range of disability organisations through Vote 40. Therefore, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to provide details of the funding provided by the HSE and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Denis Naughten

Question:

159 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide a complete list of the disability organisations in receipt of funding from the Health Service Executive in tabular form, including the value to each organisation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37947/10]

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

Health Services

Emmet Stagg

Question:

160 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children if a public health nurse will be available at Leixlip health centre to carry out developmental checkups on newborn children, in view of the circumstances outlined (details supplied). [37949/10]

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

Joe Costello

Question:

161 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children the extent of diabetic foot disease in each community here; the annual cost to the Exchequer of treating the disease; her plans to introduce a national foot screening programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37959/10]

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

Ulick Burke

Question:

162 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans for the provision of speech and language services after their transfer from the Department of Education and Skills to her Department; the structure that will be put in place based on the proposals in the Education (Amendment) Bill 2010; the number of speech therapists within her Department dealing with children; the waiting time for access to such services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37961/10]

The Education (Amendment) Bill 2010 provides for an amendment to the Education Act 1998 to clarify the position in relation to the delivery of speech therapy and other health and personal social services to children of school-going age. It acknowledges the role of the HSE in the delivery of these services under the Health Act 2004. It will not involve a transfer of speech and language therapists from the Department of Education and Skills to the Department of Health and Children as such services are provided by the HSE. The legislative amendment is designed to clarify and reflect this position.

Additional funding of €7.2 million for disability was provided to the HSE in Budget 2009 for the provision of 90 additional therapy posts. These posts are targeted to support children with disabilities of school-going age and include speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and psychologists. Recruitment for these posts is ongoing. The issue of waiting times for access to speech and language services is a service matter and, accordingly, has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Departmental Expenditure

Denis Naughten

Question:

163 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children the total budget allocation for disabilities in each of the years 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37965/10]

Expenditure on disabilities for the years 2005 to 2010 as set out in the Revised Estimates Volumes for the relevant years is set out in the table below. The outturn figure has been used in relation to the years 2005 to 2009 and the 2010 amount is that provided for in the REV.

Disability Expenditure

Year

€m

2005

1.143

2006

1.198

2007

1.506

2008

1.549

2009

1.520

2010

1.475

As the Deputy may be aware, the definition of disability as set out in the Disability Act 2005 also includes mental health. The corresponding figures for mental health expenditure are therefore also set out in the table below.

Mental Health Expenditure

Year

€m

2005

0.775

2006

0.984

2007

1.042

2008

1.044

2009

1.007

2010

0.977

Departmental Bodies

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

164 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health and Children the appointments she has made to boards and agencies under the remit of her Department in 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37970/10]

The appointments made were as follows:

2010

Bord Na Radharcmhastóirí/Opticians Board

Name

Date

Amanda Collum

01/01/2010

Abdul Bulbulia

01/01/2010

Conor Murphy

01/01/2010

Kevin Tempany

01/01/2010

Mairead Shields

01/01/2010

Patrick J. Brady

01/01/2010

Triona Culliton

01/01/2010

Peter Davison

01/01/2010

Derville Pitcher

01/01/2010

Ian Tighe

01/01/2010

John Elliot

01/01/2010

Food Safety Authority Of Ireland

Name

Date

Pat O’Mahony

03/02/2010

Eamon Corcoran

03/02/2010

Food Safety Consultative Council

Name

Date

Bernard Murphy

29/04/2010

Health Information and Quality Authority

Name

Date

Samuel J. McConkey

15/05/2010

Damien McLoughlin

15/05/2010

Cillian Twomey

15/05/2010

Grainne Tuke

15/05/2010

Richard Hannaford

15/05/2010

Philip Caffrey

15/05/2010

Health Insurance Authority

Name

Date

Sheelagh Malin

06/05/2010

Health Research Board

Name

Date

Conor Burke

12/06/2010

John McCormack

12/06/2010

Colin Doherty

12/06/2010

Prem Puri

12/06/2010

Marion Rowland

12/06/2010

Health Service Executive

Name

Date

Niamh Brennan

08/02/2010

Dermot Power

08/02/2010

Sylda Langford

08/02/2010

Joe Lavelle

08/02/2010

John Fitzgerald

08/02/2010

Frank Dolphin

15/08/2010

Nuala Hunt

11/10/2010

Hepatitis C and HIV Compensation Tribunal

Name

Date

Diane Duggan

18/02/2010

Irish Blood Transfusion Service

Name

Date

Sean Wyse

07/01/2010

Paolo Rebulla

03/06/2010

Leopardstown Park Hospital Board

Name

Date

Jane Smith

05/09/2010

Eugene Magee

05/09/2010

Diane Duggan

05/09/2010

Christine Long

05/09/2010

Frank Turvey

05/09/2010

Elizabeth Cogan

05/09/2010

National Cancer Screening Service

Name

Date

Grainne Flannelly

01/01/2010

Marie Laffoy

01/01/2010

Edel Moloney

01/01/2010

Jack Murray

01/01/2010

Aílís Ní Ríain

01/01/2010

Ann O‘Doherty

01/01/2010

Martin O’Donoghue

01/01/2010

Donal Ormonde

01/01/2010

Sheelagh Ryan

01/01/2010

Eamonn Ryan

01/01/2010

Frank Sullivan

01/01/2010

Jane Wilde

01/01/2010

National Haemophilia Council

Name

Date

John Bonnar

22/07/2010

Michael Davenport

22/07/2010

Brian O’Mahony

21/07/2010

Eilish Hardiman

22/07/2010

Barry White

22/07/2010

Susan O’Shea

22/07/2010

National Paediatric Hospital Development Board

Name

Date

Brendan Drumm

16/08/2010

John Gallagher

07/10/2010

National Treatment Purchase Fund Board

Name

Date

John Horan

03/06/2010

Tom Murphy

03/06/2010

Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland Council

Name

Date

Leonie Clarke

29/04/2010

Scientific Committee of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI)

Name

Date

Catherine Adley

28/01/2010

Paula Barry Walsh

28/01/2010

Colette Bonner

28/01/2010

Dan Collins

28/01/2010

Martin Cormican

28/01/2010

Albert Flynn

28/01/2010

Colin Hill

28/01/2010

Brian McKenna

28/01/2010

Paul McKeown

28/01/2010

Terry McMahon

28/01/2010

Dan O’Sullivan

28/01/2010

Ray Parle

28/01/2010

Iona Pratt

28/01/2010

Michael P. Ryan

28/01/2010

Michael O’Keeffe

28/01/2010

Social Worker's Registration Board

Name

Date

Fiona Geraghty

05/08/2010

Cormac Quinlan

05/08/2010

Ursula Fernée

05/08/2010

Mary Hargaden

05/08/2010

Suzanne Quin

05/08/2010

Pat Dunne

05/08/2010

Chris Curtin

05/08/2010

Val Collier

05/08/2010

Valentine O’Kelly

05/08/2010

Damien Courtney

05/08/2010

Monica Egan

05/08/2010

Denis Gallagher

05/08/2010

Ned Kelly

05/08/2010

St. James's Hospital Board

Name

Date

Maureen Lynott

01/09/2010

St. Luke's Hospital Board

Name

Date

Arnie Hill

01/07/2010

John Kennedy

01/07/2010

Eugene Murray

01/07/2010

Padraic A White

01/07/2010

Claire McNicholas

03/02/2010

Tony O’Brien

01/07/2010

Gabriel Burke

01/07/2010

Dermot Kelleher

01/07/2010

John McCormack

01/07/2010

Claire McNicholas

01/07/2010

Risteard O’Laoide

01/07/2010

Voluntary Health Insurance Board

Name

Date

Seamus Creedon

22/02/2010

Celine Fitzgerald

22/02/2010

2009

Beaumont Hospital Board

Name

Date

Donal O’Shea

01/01/2009

Maurice Ahern

15/06/2009

Catherine Duffy

15/06/2009

Patrick Mercer

15/06/2009

Gerard Barry

14/06/2009

Mary Horgan

14/06/2009

Patricia McCann

15/06/2009

Jennifer Cullinane

15/06/2009

Raphaela Kane

15/06/2009

Sean O’Brien

15/06/2009

Alan Eustace

15/06/2009

Ursula O’Brien

15/06/2009

Children Acts Advisory Board

Name

Date

Denis O’Sullivan

06/08/2009

Consultative Council on Hepatitis C

Name

Date

John Murphy

09/10/2009

Ian Carter

09/10/2009

Mary Rowe

09/10/2009

Margaret Scarry

09/10/2009

Michele Tait

09/10/2009

Mike Kelly

09/10/2009

Mary Rowe

09/10/2009

Michael Madigan

09/10/2009

Kate Frazer

09/10/2009

Shay Keating

09/10/2009

Anne Duffy

09/10/2009

Noeleen White

09/10/2009

Gary Courtney

09/10/2009

Antoinette Fitzgerald

09/10/2009

Elizabeth Kenny

09/10/2009

Food Safety Authority Of Ireland

Name

Date

John Daniel Collins

26/02/2009

Anne Nolan

28/05/2009

Charles Daly

26/02/2009

Eimear Killian

20/04/2009

Mary Falvey

26/11/2009

Health and Social Care Professionals Council

Name

Date

Fionnuala Cook

17/07/2009

Tom Jordan

17/07/2009

Patricia O’Connor

17/07/2009

Jackie Reed

17/07/2009

Ann Taylor

17/07/2009

Julie Ling

15/10/2009

Stephen McMahon

28/09/2009

Sharon Foley

28/09/2009

Bernie Eustace

28/09/2009

Michael Ronayne

28/09/2009

Health Information and Quality Authority

Name

Date

Grainne Tuke

11/05/2009

Health Service Executive

Name

Date

Dermot Power

05/05/2009

Hepatitis C and HIV Compensation Tribunal

Name

Date

Anthony G. Murphy

10/03/2009

James Devlin B.L.

11/10/2009

Karen Fergus B.L.

11/10/2009

Dara Hayes, B.L

11/10/2009

Rachel Murphy

11/10/2009

Leonie Reynolds B.L.

11/10/2009

Anne Rowland

11/10/2009

Patricia McNamara

09/09/2009

Úna McGurk B.L.

09/09/2009

David Martin

09/09/2009

Anne O’Neill

09/09/2009

Bridget Barry B.L.

09/09/2009

Deirdre Hegarty

09/09/2009

Irish Blood Transfusion Service

Name

Date

Cees Van Der Poel

15/06/2009

Marie Keane

22/06/2009

David Keenan

09/10/2009

Ann Horan

18/12/2009

David Lowe

10/12/2009

Katharine Bulbulia

27/10/2009

Paul Browne

09/09/2009

Sinead Ní Mhaille

09/09/2009

Leopardstown Park Hospital Board

Name

Date

Eugene Magee

13/03/2009

Dermot Magan

13/03/2009

Diane Duggan

13/03/2009

National Cancer Registry Board

Name

Date

Elizabeth Keane

01/01/2009

David Fennelly

01/01/2009

Gordon Watson

01/01/2009

Tom Crotty

01/01/2009

Patricia Fitzpatrick

01/01/2009

Joseph Moran

01/01/2009

Ivan Perry

01/01/2009

Anna Gavin

01/01/2009

Mary Hynes

01/01/2009

Tony Holohan

01/01/2009

Patricia Fitzpatrick

06/08/2009

Anna Gavin

06/08/2009

Tony O’Brien

06/08/2009

Donal Hollywood

06/08/2009

Deirdre Murray

06/08/2009

John Devlin

06/08/2009

John McCormack

06/08/2009

National Council On Ageing And Older People

Name

Date

Matthew Collins

09/01/2009

National Haemophilia Council

Name

Date

Ann Grogan

09/01/2009

Matthew Collins

09/01/2009

Beatrice Nolan

20/01/2009

Fionnuala Duffy

09/09/2009

National Paediatric Hospital Development Board

Name

Date

Pat Doherty

26/11/2009

Lorcan Birthistle

26/11/2009

Edna Roche

24/08/2009

National Social Work Qualifications Board

Name

Date

Mary Hargaden

17/05/2009

Margaret Groake

17/05/2009

Anne Coffey

17/05/2009

Alaister Christie

17/05/2009

Mary Allen

17/05/2009

Máirtín O’Fataigh

17/05/2009

Monica Egan

17/05/2009

Marie Therese Mulholland

17/05/2009

Helen Hanlon

17/05/2009

Anthony Cotter

17/05/2009

Mary O’Connell

17/05/2009

Patricia Ann Walsh

17/05/2009

Anna Gibney

17/05/2009

Chris Curtin

17/05/2009

Vicki Somers

17/05/2009

John Lamont

17/05/2009

Nat. Co. For Prof. Dev. Of Nursing/Midwifery

Name

Date

Valerie Small

30/11/2009

Maura Nash

30/11/2009

Brendan Byrne

30/11/2009

Antoinette Doocey

30/11/2009

Aveen Murray

30/11/2009

Paddy Hume

30/11/2009

Jacqueline Burke

30/11/2009

Mary Brosnan

30/11/2009

Anne Carrigy

30/11/2009

Marie Keane

30/11/2009

Siobhan O’Halloran

30/11/2009

Laraine Joyce

30/11/2009

Tony Morris

30/11/2009

Sheila O’Malley

30/11/2009

M. Pearl Treacy

30/11/2009

Bernie Quillinan

30/11/2009

Maureen Kington

30/11/2009

Gary Brown

30/11/2009

Aílís Ní Ríain

30/11/2009

Marie Tighe

30/11/2009

Office of Tobacco Control

Name

Date

Eimear Killian

08/04/2009

Paddy Donnelly

20/04/2009

Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland Council

Name

Date

Paul Fahey, MPSI

05/05/2009

Rita Purcell

20/05/2009

Michelle Ni Longáin

05/05/2009

Noirin O’Sullivan

05/05/2009

Ita Kelleher

05/05/2009

Deirdre Larkin

05/05/2009

Kate Mulvenna

05/03/2009

Margaret Ann Doherty

22/05/2009

John Collins

22/05/2009

Eoghan Hanly

22/05/2009

Georgina Ann Frankish

22/05/2009

Aidan Horan

22/05/2009

Stephen Boyle

21/05/2009

Sean Hurley

26/05/2009

John Hillery

06/02/2009

St. James's Hospital Board

Name

Date

Carmel Naughton

01/06/2009

Kitty O’Neill

11/09/2009

Charles Normand

13/02/2009

Patrick O’Reilly

17/11/2009

Paul McAuliffe

14/09/2009

Julia Carmichael

14/09/2009

St. Luke's Hospital Board

Name

Date

Gabriel Burke

24/12/2009

Dermot Kelleher

24/12/2009

John McCormack

24/12/2009

Risteard O’Laoide

24/12/2009

Voluntary Health Insurance Board

Name

Date

Christopher Cooney

24/02/2009

Women's Health Council

Name

Date

Cecily Kelleher

19/01/2009

Inez Bailey

19/01/2009

Rita Bergin

19/01/2009

Patricia Fitzpatrick

19/01/2009

Catherine Murphy

19/01/2009

Kathleen Lynch

19/01/2009

Marie Hainsworth

19/01/2009

Aílís Ní Ríain

19/01/2009

Lorraine Dorgan

19/01/2009

Alice O’Flynn

19/01/2009

Jackie Benbow

19/01/2009

Philip Watt

19/01/2009

Michael Geary

19/01/2009

Siobhan Jennings

19/01/2009

Patricia Lee

19/01/2009

2008

An Board Altranais

Name

Date

Sheila Sugrue

22/01/2008

Ann Sheehan

22/07/2008

An Board Uchtala

Name

Date

Geoffrey Shannon

10/02/2008

Orlaith Traynor

10/02/2008

Margaret Dromey

10/02/2008

Assumpta Hogan

10/02/2008

Siobhán Keogh

10/02/2008

Terry Lynam Loane

10/02/2008

Valerie O’Brien

10/02/2008

Fachtna Whittle

10/02/2008

Beaumont Hospital Board

Name

Date

Liam Grogan

01/01/2008

Gerry McElvaney

01/01/2008

Detta Fanning

20/02/2008

Raphaela Kane

04/12/2008

Board Of The Adelaide And Meath Hospitals

Name

Date

Gordon Linney

01/08/2008

Lyndon Mac Cann

01/08/2008

Alan Gillis

01/08/2008

Joan Bruton

01/08/2008

Trevor Matthews

01/08/2008

Ian Graham

01/08/2008

Fergus O’Ferrall

01/08/2008

Kevin Conlon

01/08/2008

Joe Barry

01/08/2008

John Barragry

01/08/2008

Gerry Hurley

01/08/2008

Colm O’Morain

01/08/2008

Mairead Shields

01/08/2008

Estelle Feldman

01/08/2008

David Pierpoint

01/08/2008

Roisin Boland

01/08/2008

Stephen Lane

01/08/2008

Cyril Kelly

01/08/2008

David Coughlan

01/08/2008

Gillian Rufli

01/08/2008

David Moore

01/08/2008

Dermot Kelleher

01/08/2008

Comhairle na Nimheanna

Name

Date

Anne Bruzzi

13/07/2008

Tom McGuinn

13/07/2008

Joesph Tracey

13/07/2008

Yvonne O’Meara

13/07/2008

John Feely

13/07/2008

Noeleen Harvey

13/07/2008

Leonie Clarke

13/07/2008

Brendan Hayes

13/07/2008

Catriona O’Driscoll

13/07/2008

Julie O‘Neill

13/07/2008

Bernard McCartan

13/07/2008

Ingrid Hook

13/07/2008

Gerry Leckey

13/07/2008

Patrick M. Brangan

13/07/2008

Gabriel Beechinor

13/07/2008

Dan O’Sullivan

13/07/2008

Rory Kiely

13/07/2008

Paddy Hever

13/07/2008

Crisis Pregnancy Agency

Name

Date

Jimmy Duggan

29/05/2008

Drug Treatment Center Board

Name

Date

Denis McCarthy

15/04/2008

Daniel McGing

15/04/2008

Ciaran Taaffe

15/04/2008

John O’Connor

15/04/2008

Siobhán Rooney

15/04/2008

Liam O’Brien

15/04/2008

Ide Delargy

15/04/2008

Frank Fagan

15/04/2008

Joe Barry

15/04/2008

Alice O’Flynn

15/04/2008

Siobhán Rooney

15/05/2008

Food Safety Authority Of Ireland

Name

Date

Tom Collins

08/12/2008

Health and Social Care Professionals Council

Name

Date

Mary O’Donnell

17/01/2008

Pat Quinlan

05/06/2008

Health Service Executive

Name

Date

P.J. Fitzpatrick

19/02/2008

Eugene McCague

19/02/2008

Anne Scott

19/02/2008

Pat Farrell

19/02/2008

Joe Mooney

19/02/2008

Willie O’Reilly

24/07/2008

Hepatitis C and HIV Compensation Tribunal

Name

Date

Mark O’Connell

01/08/2008

Irish Blood Transfusion Service

Name

Date

Mark Moran

01/10/2008

Medical Council

Name

Date

Diarmuid O’Donoghue

03/07/2008

Frank McManus

03/07/2008

Richard Brennan

03/07/2008

Kieran Murphy

03/07/2008

John Peter J. Monaghan

03/07/2008

Anthony A. Cunningham

03/07/2008

Anna Teresa Clarke

03/07/2008

Eamann Breatnach

03/07/2008

Pauline Kane

03/07/2008

Gerard Patrick Bury

03/07/2008

Brendan Broderick

03/07/2008

Mary Culliton

03/07/2008

Ann Carrigy

03/07/2008

John O’Mullane

03/07/2008

Jon Billings

03/07/2008

Daniel O’Hare

03/07/2008

Marie Murray

03/07/2008

Deirdre Madden

03/07/2008

Katharine Bulbulia

03/07/2008

Margaret Murphy

03/07/2008

Regina Connolly

03/07/2008

Damien McLoughlin

03/07/2008

William Powderly

03/07/2008

Paul Finucane

03/07/2008

James A. Slevin

03/07/2008

National Cancer Registry Board

Name

Date

Anna Gavin

01/01/2008

Elizabeth Keane

01/01/2008

Tom Crotty

01/01/2008

Patricia Fitzpatrick

01/01/2008

Joseph Moran

01/01/2008

Ivan Perry

01/01/2008

Tony Holohan

01/01/2008

Mary Hynes

01/01/2008

David Fennelly

01/01/2008

Gordon Watson

01/01/2008

National Cancer Screening Service

Name

Date

Ann O‘Doherty

02/07/2008

National Council On Ageing And Older People

Name

Date

John Brady

01/10/2008

Noel Byrne

01/10/2008

Oliver R. Clery

01/10/2008

Davida de la Harpe

20/01/2008

John Grant

01/10/2008

Ruth Loane

01/10/2008

Sylvia Meehan

01/10/2008

Paddy O’Brien

01/10/2008

Paul O’Donoghue

01/10/2008

Bernard Thompson

01/10/2008

National Haemophilia Council

Name

Date

Angela Fitzgerald

23/05/2008

Dympna Butler

20/05/2008

National Paediatric Hospital Development Board

Name

Date

David Coghlan

19/12/2008

Nat. Co. For Prof. Dev. Of Nursing/Midwifery

Name

Date

Sheila O’Malley

21/04/2008

Office of Tobacco Control

Name

Date

Stephanie Kelly

26/03/2008

Pat Doorley

26/03/2008

Dennis Drought

26/03/2008

Norma Cronin

26/03/2008

Shane P.A. Allwright

26/03/2008

Farrel Corcoran

26/03/2008

Nessa Childers

26/03/2008

Mary Cunningham

26/03/2008

Owen Nulty

26/03/2008

Annette Fitzgerald

26/03/2008

Rosaleen O’Grady

26/03/2008

Ken O’Byrne

26/03/2008

Poisons Council

Name

Date

Tom McGuinn

13/07/2008

Joesph Tracey

13/07/2008

Yvonne O’Meara

13/07/2008

John Feely

13/07/2008

Noeleen Harvey

13/07/2008

Leonie Clarke

13/07/2008

Brendan Hayes

13/07/2008

Catriona O’Driscoll

13/07/2008

Julie O’Neill

13/07/2008

Bernard McCartan

13/07/2008

Anne Bruzzi

13/07/2008

Ingrid Hook

13/07/2008

Gerry Leckey

13/07/2008

Patrick M. Brangan

13/07/2008

Gabriel Beechinor

13/07/2008

Dan O’Sullivan

13/07/2008

Rory Kiely

13/07/2008

Paddy Hever

13/07/2008

Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council

Name

Date

Frank O’Malley

30/06/2008

Michael Garry

30/06/2008

Macartan Hughes

30/06/2008

Michael Dineen

30/06/2008

Tom Tinnelly

30/06/2008

Gerry Touhy

30/06/2008

Patricia Fitzpatrick

30/06/2008

Karen Healy

30/06/2008

Frank McClintock

30/06/2008

Barry O‘Brien

30/06/2008

Conor Egleston

30/06/2008

Cathal O‘Donnell

30/06/2008

Zelie Gaffney

30/06/2008

Valerie Small

30/06/2008

Michael Brennan

30/06/2008

Tom Mooney

30/06/2008

Mary McClelland

30/06/2008

Scientific Committee of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. (FSAI)

Name

Date

Dan O’Sullivan

19/02/2008

Colette Bonner

28/04/2008

Ray Parle

28/07/2008

Terry McMahon

11/09/2008

St. James's Hospital Board

Name

Date

Thomas Mitchell

01/05/2008

Margaret MacGuinness

28/07/2008

Jack Kelly

28/07/2008

Jeanne Moriarty

28/07/2008

Louise Barnes

28/07/2008

Voluntary Health Insurance Board

Name

Date

Bernard Collins

24/09/2008

Declan Moran

01/05/2008

Jimmy Tolan

01/05/2008

2007

Advisory Committee For Veterinary Medicines (IMB)

Name

Date

Raymond Muldoon

28/02/2007

An Board Altranais

Name

Date

Declan Sugrue

04/10/2007

Robert Burns

04/10/2007

Peter McKenna

04/10/2007

Richard Dooley

04/10/2007

Tim Kennelly

04/10/2007

Tony Morris

04/10/2007

Eimear McAuliffe

04/10/2007

Aine McHugh

04/10/2007

Cathriona Molloy

04/10/2007

Breda O’Hanrahan

04/10/2007

Jacinta Mulherre

04/10/2007

Jacqueline Burke

04/10/2007

Mary Godfrey

04/10/2007

Gerard Maguire

04/10/2007

Orla O Reilly

04/10/2007

Louise Gallagher

04/10/2007

Ann Carrigy

04/10/2007

Virginia Pye

04/10/2007

John McCardle

04/10/2007

Maire Gilligan

04/10/2007

Pauline Treanor

04/10/2007

Catheryn M. Lee

04/10/2007

Siobhan Quirke

04/10/2007

John Murray

04/10/2007

Mary Kenneally

04/10/2007

Maureen Kington

04/10/2007

Aine Enright

04/10/2007

Deirdre Duffy

04/10/2007

Dublin Dental Hospital Board

Name

Date

Emer Daly

31/05/2007

Colm O’Morain

31/05/2007

Noel Claffey

31/05/2007

Grace Dempsey

31/05/2007

Terry Wade

31/05/2007

Ann Murphy

31/05/2007

Alex Creavin

31/05/2007

Edward Cotter

31/05/2007

Marielle Blake

31/05/2007

Deirdre Sadlier

31/05/2007

Colette Morrissey

31/05/2007

John Hogan

31/05/2007

Noel Pocock

31/05/2007

Gabriel Burke

31/05/2007

Food Safety Authority Of Ireland

Name

Date

Patrick O’Mahony

03/02/2007

Eamonn Ryan

14/03/2007

Health and Social Care Professionals Council

Name

Date

Tony Darmody

21/03/2007

Denis A Cusack

21/03/2007

Michael O’Halloran

21/03/2007

Kevin F Jones

21/03/2007

Joan Freeman

21/03/2007

Bernie McNally

21/03/2007

Margaret Doyle

21/03/2007

Jacqui O’Crowley

21/03/2007

Patricia Godwin

21/03/2007

Michael Fleming

21/03/2007

Mark McEntee

21/03/2007

Monica Egan

21/03/2007

Elva Gannon

21/03/2007

James Browne

21/03/2007

Vincent McCabe

21/03/2007

Caroline Casey

21/03/2007

Joan Johnson

21/03/2007

Tom Jordan

21/03/2007

John O’Mullane

21/03/2007

Elizabeth Ann McKay

21/03/2007

Nanno Fitzsimons

21/03/2007

Jill Long

21/03/2007

David Power

21/03/2007

Una O’Shiel

21/03/2007

Finbarr Flood

21/03/2007

Caroline Casey

21/03/2007

Margaret Hayes

01/11/2007

Health Information and Quality Authority

Name

Date

Pat McGrath

15/05/2007

Michael Barry

15/05/2007

Dan Byrne

15/05/2007

Ian Callanan

15/05/2007

Brian Meade

15/05/2007

David O’Hora

15/05/2007

Dolores Quinn

15/05/2007

Geraldine McCarthy

15/05/2007

Angela Kerins

15/05/2007

Sheila O’Connor

15/05/2007

Bryan Barry

15/05/2007

Dermot Power

15/05/2007

Health Research Board

Name

Date

Reg Shaw

12/06/2007

Michael Kerin

12/06/2007

Brian Sweeney

12/06/2007

Ena Prosser

12/06/2007

Brian Kearney

12/06/2007

Frances Ruane

12/06/2007

Conor Burke

12/06/2007

Catherine Godson

12/06/2007

Michael Griffith

12/06/2007

Tony Holohan

12/06/2007

Irish Blood Transfusion Service

Name

Date

Sean Wyse

07/01/2007

Mary Cahill

01/11/2007

Jane O’Brien

01/11/2007

Mental Health Commission

Name

Date

Brendan Byrne

05/04/2007

Emile Daly

05/04/2007

Marie Devine

05/04/2007

Brendan Doody

05/04/2007

Padraig Heverin

05/04/2007

Martina Kelly

05/04/2007

Mary Keys

05/04/2007

Eamonn Moloney

05/04/2007

John Redican

05/04/2007

Martin Rogan

05/04/2007

John Saunders

05/04/2007

Vicki Somers

05/04/2007

Edmond O’Dea

05/04/2007

National Cancer Screening Service

Name

Date

Sheelagh Ryan

01/01/2007

Grainne Flannelly

01/01/2007

Niall O’Higgins

01/01/2007

Aílís Ní Ríain

01/01/2007

Edel Moloney

01/01/2007

Marie Laffoy

31/01/2007

Jack Murray

31/01/2007

Martin O’Donoghue

31/01/2007

Donal Ormonde

31/01/2007

Eamonn Ryan

31/01/2007

Frank Sullivan

31/01/2007

Jane Wilde

31/01/2007

National Council On Ageing And Older People

Name

Date

Dearbháil Nic Giolla Mhichíl

29/03/2007

Pat Healy

20/06/2007

National Haemophilia Council

Name

Date

Oonagh Gilligan

22/07/2007

Jude Smith

10/12/2007

National Paediatric Hospital Development Board

Name

Date

Philip Lynch

07/06/2007

John O’Brien

07/06/2007

Brian Gilroy

07/06/2007

Owen Hensey

07/06/2007

Kathryn Raleigh

07/06/2007

Linda Dillon

07/06/2007

Vera Wegner

07/06/2007

Michael Flaherty

07/06/2007

Harry Crosbie

07/06/2007

Norah Casey

07/06/2007

Alan Finan

07/06/2007

Emma Curtis

27/08/2007

National Social Work Qualifications Board

Name

Date

Helen Hanlon

17/05/2007

Anthony Cotter

17/05/2007

Chris Curtin

17/05/2007

Patricia Ann Walsh

17/05/2007

Mary Allen

17/05/2007

Máirtín O’Fataigh

17/05/2007

Alaister Christie

17/05/2007

Anna Gibney

17/05/2007

Monica Egan

17/05/2007

Marie Mulholland

17/05/2007

Vicki Somers

17/05/2007

Mary O’Connell

17/05/2007

John Lamont

17/05/2007

National Treatment Purchase Fund Board

Name

Date

John O’Dwyer

01/05/2007

John Horan

15/05/2007

John Stephens

09/11/2007

Seán McCarthy

09/11/2007

Mary Brazil

09/11/2007

Victor Boyhan

09/11/2007

Dermot Mullane

09/11/2007

Rita Hayes

09/11/2007

Tony O’Sullivan

09/11/2007

Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland Council

Name

Date

William Boles, FPSI

22/05/2007

Cormac Deasy

22/05/2007

Noeleen Harvey

22/05/2007

Brendan Hayes

22/05/2007

Bernard Leddy

22/05/2007

Darragh O’Loughlin

22/05/2007

Ronan Quirke

22/05/2007

Peter Weedle

22/05/2007

John Feely

22/05/2007

Paul Gallagher

22/05/2007

June Nunn

22/05/2007

Cathriona Hallihan

22/05/2007

Phil O’Neill

22/05/2007

Colm Fagan

22/05/2007

Richard Durkin

22/05/2007

Postgraduate Medical And Dental Board

Name

Date

Anthony Cunningham

20/09/2007

Scientific Committee of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. (FSAI)

Name

Date

Iona Pratt

30/01/2007

St. Luke's Hospital Board

Name

Date

Dermot Kelleher

08/05/2007

Gabriel Burke

08/05/2007

Tom Keane

24/12/2007

John McCormack

24/12/2007

Claire McNicholas

24/12/2007

Eugene Murray

24/12/2007

Risteard O’Laoide

24/12/2007

Arnie Hill

24/12/2007

John Kennedy

24/12/2007

Gabriel Burke

24/12/2007

Dermot Kelleher

24/12/2007

Padraic A White

24/12/2007

Voluntary Health Insurance Board

Name

Date

David Went

11/03/2007

Health Services

James Reilly

Question:

165 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will examine a request for transport in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 13; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37975/10]

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

Public Relations Contracts

Sean Sherlock

Question:

166 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the total annual spend for the years 2007, 2008 and 2009 on public relations, communications and media training in the Health Service Executive south region; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38008/10]

This is a service delivery matter and it has therefore been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Medical Cards

Paul Kehoe

Question:

167 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a medical card application in respect of a person (details supplied). [38012/10]

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

Health Services

Finian McGrath

Question:

168 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (details supplied). [38015/10]

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

Departmental Investigations

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

169 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will facilitate the publication of a redacted version of the review into allegations of abuse by a person (details supplied), which would black out any elements that might prejudice any pending legal actions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38025/10]

I appointed the former High Court Judge, Mr. TC Smyth SC, to examine whether a further investigation into the case of Michael Shine, former Consultant at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda would be of benefit.

In line with the advice of both Judge Smyth and the Attorney General I regret that, in order to avoid any danger of prejudicing legal cases, it is not possible to publish the Judge's report or a redacted version of his report at this time.

However, I have said that I promise to examine whether it may be possible to publish a summary of the report as soon as possible.

Medical Cards

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

170 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if all of the €230 million, which was set aside to deal with the needs of the extra number of persons who qualify for a medical card this year, will be spent; the amount of it that has been spent to date; the amount used to address the dental needs of medical card patients; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38026/10]

The gross current Voted allocation to the Health Service Executive is €14.139 billion. The HSE is required under the Health Act, 2004 to deliver the total quantum of health and personal services set out in the approved National Service Plan within this allocation.

A sum of €230m was included in the National Service Plan for 2010 to meet costs associated with the full year cost of the growth in medical cards during 2009 and the expected growth in the number of people qualifying for medical cards and GP visit cards in 2010.

The net increase in medical cards in 2009 was 126,440 while the number of GP visit cards increased by 12,779. The HSE Plan for 2010 projected that the number of people qualifying for medical cards and GP visit cards would increase by 144,000 and 16,111 by the end of 2010. As of 1st September 2010, there has been a net increase of 100,053 medical cards and 11,972 GP visit cards in the year to date. It is anticipated that the total net increase by year end will be in the region of 142,885 medical cards and 17,530 GP visit cards.

While the HSE has introduced measures to contain Dental Treatment Services Scheme (DTSS) expenditure at the 2008 level of approximately €63 million, it is projected that expenditure on the DTSS will reach €79 million by the end of the year.

The €230m referred to above is included in Subhead B6 of the HSE Vote which includes funding for all community schemes, including the medical card services scheme. Although voted expenditure to end-September on this subhead is below profile the latest financial projections show that overall the HSE would have a significant expenditure overrun in the absence of taking appropriate corrective action and that there will be very substantial shortfall in health contribution receipts. It is essential that the HSE, in consultation with my Department and the Department of Finance, manages the delivery of its Service Plan and associated expenditure in order to live within its overall allocation for this year.

Hospitals Building Programme

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

171 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of money ring-fenced for the development of a national children’s hospital; if the money to fit-out the hospital is included in the overall capital budget; the amount of the shortfall; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38027/10]

The total estimated cost for the development of the new national paediatric hospital is €650 million. €400m is committed by the Exchequer and €50 million committed by the HSE. The balance will be met from commercial and other sources (e.g. carpark, commercial units, research funding, private clinics, Universities and Medical Schools) and from philanthropic initiatives. It is a function of the Development Board to pursue philanthropic sources of funding and it is working on this issue.

The Deputy's questions regarding the actual breakdown of costs have been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Hospital Services

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

172 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if the extra costs to hospitals associated with the cold spell at the start of 2010 had to be paid for under the overall yearly allocation or if extra funding was provided for overtime and extra staff costs; if she will provide breakdown by hospital of such costs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38028/10]

In approving the HSE National Service Plan 2010 earlier this year, I highlighted to the Executive the need to deliver, at a minimum, the levels of service set out in the Plan as well as operating within the limits of its allocation of €14.140bn, as set out in the Revised Estimates Volume. These requirements include operating within budget during times of critical pressure.

With regard to the Deputy's request for a breakdown by hospital of any extra costs associated with the cold spell, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Division of the Executive to provide any such information as may exist and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Health Services

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

173 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children when the post of chief executive officer of a hospital (details supplied) will be advertised; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38029/10]

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

Hospital Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

174 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will undergo a surgical procedure; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38060/10]

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

Medical Cards

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

175 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a 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. [38061/10]

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:

176 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a medical card review will be undertaken in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38062/10]

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

Departmental Staff

Richard Bruton

Question:

177 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of staff in her Department primarily employed in one of a number of areas (details supplied) in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38066/10]

The number of staff in my Department primarily employed in the areas specified are set out below:

Area

WTE

Note

Entitlement Processing

14.00

These staff are primarily involved in the processing and maintenance of files related to entitlements under the Early Childhood Care & Education (ECCE) Scheme and the Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) Scheme.

Inspections

0.00

There are no staff at the Department directly employed in carrying out inspections. This type of activity is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive and Health Information & Quality Authority. The Department sets policy, makes regulations and approves standards to assist and inform the inspection process.

ICT

8.50

The ICT Unit’s primary role is to provide a range of IT services to the Department, the Adoption Board, the Office of the Disability Appeals Officer and the Office of the Ombudsman for Children. In addition the unit has a role in the development of ICT policy for the Health Service Executive and other agencies under the remit of the Department.

HR (Internal)

12.90

This unit deals with managing the Department’s internal human resource function i.e. staff employed directly in the Department.

National HR & Manpower Planning

39.60

This Division of the Department deals with HR policy in the public health service including: workforce planning; monitoring numbers; pension policy; rationalisation of health agencies, medical indemnity and providing advice and support on industrial relations matters to agencies under the remit of the Department.

Procurement

0.00

The Department has one Procurement Officer who provides policy advice to Units across the Department. Line units carry out procurements as and when the need arises, subject to procurement rules and procedures. Both the Procurement Officer and staff in other Units combine procurement with a range of other duties.

Legal Services

4.73

This unit provides legal advice to the Minister and the Department.

Health Services

Noel Ahern

Question:

178 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Health and Children the service levels available to applicants for over 70 years medical card; if there is a maximum period for processing and if compensation for medical expenses during the delay period can be made in respect of persons (details supplied). [38073/10]

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

Medical Cards

Jack Wall

Question:

179 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the refusal of an application for a full medical card on medical grounds in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38124/10]

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

Health Services

Finian McGrath

Question:

180 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [38150/10]

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

Billy Timmins

Question:

181 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a matter (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38155/10]

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

Mental Health Services

Joan Burton

Question:

182 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that under recent procedural changes, introduced on the grounds of economy, persons availing of the psychiatric service are required to present prescriptions for medication, provided by that service, to their local general practitioner prior to presentation to a pharmacist in contrast to the previous practice of presenting those prescriptions directly to the pharmacist; the amount of savings to the Exchequer that will accrue from the arbitrary duplication of services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38164/10]

The HSE has recently brought the arrangements for the supply of medicines to medical card holders attending mental health outpatient clinics in the area of the former Eastern Regional Health Authority into line with those operating in the rest of the country.

In line with clinical best practice it is considered worthwhile that patients have contact with their GP, establishing a valuable link between primary and secondary care services that might otherwise be less frequent. As GPs receive an annual capitation fee per GMS patient there are no extra costs incurred.

Children in Care

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

183 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on correspondence (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38169/10]

Aftercare is recognised as a key element to achieving positive outcomes for young people leaving care, aiming to assist young people in care in bridging the transition from care to independent adult life in the community.

Aftercare is provided for under Section 45 of the Child Care Act, 1991, which states:

"45.—(1) (a) Where a child leaves the care of a health board, the board may, in accordance with subsection (2), assist him for so long as the board is satisfied as to his need for assistance and, subject to paragraph (b), he has not attained the age of 21 years.

(b) Where a health board is assisting a person in accordance with subsection (2)(b), and that person attains the age of 21 years, the board may continue to provide such assistance until the completion of the course of education in which he is engaged.

Consideration has been given to the legal position with regard to the provisions of aftercare services, having regard to the existing legislative provisions of the Child Care Act 1991. In relation to calls from agencies to place Aftercare on a statutory footing, i.e. to amend Section 45 of the Child Care Act, 1991 from a "may" to a "shall", the legal advice is that the Act creates a statutory power, and the HSE, as recipient of this power, must put itself in a position where it can exercise the power should the need arise. There is therefore no need to amend the Act as has been suggested.

In order to ensure that there was no doubt about the matter and to emphasise the importance of aftercare services, in accordance with Section 45(4) of the Child Care Act, I wrote to the HSE in June clarifying the issue and directing the HSE to formulate and implement aftercare policies.

In accordance with the findings of the Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, 2009 the Government prepared an Implementation Plan in July 2009 and funding of €1.0m was set aside by the HSE in its 2010 Service Plan, for the development of aftercare services in 2010 . The HSE are in the process of recruiting ten additional Aftercare workers effective from 1st November, 2010 and have provided funding to the Irish Association of Young People in Care (IAYPIC) to develop a national advocacy and support service for young people in care, leaving care and aftercare.

My Office has developed proposals to ensure the implementation of Recommendation No. 16 of the Implementation Plan and a National Aftercare Policy is currently being developed to be made widely available to the relevant care staff, service providers and will be made available on the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs website.

Road Traffic Offences

Tom Hayes

Question:

184 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Transport the changes in the future relating to the impairment test for drug drivers; the way this test is currently implemented and his plans to improve this system. [38021/10]

Tom Hayes

Question:

186 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Transport his plans to tackle the issue of drug driving; the measures he will take to reduce this road safety hazard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38020/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 184 and 186 together.

It is illegal under the current legislation to drive under the influence of drugs in Ireland. Enforcement of the law on driving under the influence of drugs is a matter for An Garda Síochána. When a member of the Garda suspects that a motorist is driving under the influence of any intoxicant, the Garda may arrest the driver under Section 49 of the Road Traffic Act 1961 (as amended by the 2004 Road Traffic Act).

However, identifying the presence of drugs is more complex than for alcohol. Roadside drug testing would be key to tackling this issue but there is no feasible basis as yet in Ireland or in Europe for the introduction of a preliminary roadside test for drugs, as testing devices are still in the prototype stages.

The Medical Bureau of Road Safety is keeping abreast of developments and will advise me when a suitable roadside-testing device becomes available.

In the interim and in line with the commitment in the current Road Safety Strategy 2007-2012, Section 11 of the Road Traffic Act 2010, when commenced, will provide for the preliminary impairment testing of drivers by members of the Garda Síochána. This provision will assist the Garda in forming an opinion as to whether a driver is under the influence of an intoxicant to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of the vehicle.

Public Transport

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

185 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport the number of buses in the Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus fleets in 2008, 2009 and 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37969/10]

This is an operational matter for Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus and the information requested by the Deputy is available from the companies directly.

Question No. 186 answered with Question No. 184.

Departmental Staff

Richard Bruton

Question:

187 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Transport the number of staff in his Department primarily employed in one of a number of areas (details supplied) in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38069/10]

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the following table. Number of Staff employed by area:

Name of area

Entitlement Processing

Inspections

IT

HR

Procurement

Legal Services

Number of staff

0

39.6

32

16.23

6

2

Staff employed on inspections covers aviation security, marine survey, ship and port safety and security inspections. Staff in the IT area includes essential IT technical support for the Driver and Vehicle Computer Services Division in Shannon.

My Department is active on the Working Group for the Human Resources Shared Services Committee (HRSSC) and is working towards the timeframe set out for the implementation of HR Shared Services in the Civil Service, which will ultimately reduce the number working in the HR area in my Department.

John O'Mahony

Question:

188 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Transport the number of persons employed on temporary contract and cost to his Department and any agencies under his Department for same in tabular form for 2008 and 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38137/10]

Details as requested by the Deputy for 2008 and 2009 are contained in the following table.

Temporary Contracts and costs

Department/Agency

2008 FTE Number

2008 Cost

2009 FTE Number

2009 Cost

Department of Transport

33

198,530

8.0

59,683

Railway Safety Commission (RSC)

1

25,000

1.0

25,000

Medical Bureau of Road Safety(MBRS)

1

15,000

0.0

0

Road Safety Authority (RSA)

47

593,952

17.0

306,782

National Roads Authority (NRA)

12

1,109,801

9.5

1,078,579

Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR)

4

0

7.0

0

Commission for Taxi Regulation (CTR)

11.5

0

15.5

0

National Transport Authority (NTA)

8

252,774

8.0

374,369

With the exception of two of the Department's agencies the trend has been to reduce reliance on temporary contracts over the period in question. The full time equivalent (FTE) staff number is based on a full year with some staff commencing and ending employment throughout 2008 and 2009. The cost of temporary contract staff are industry funded in two of the agencies with no net impact to the exchequer.

Road Traffic Accidents

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

189 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Transport his views on correspondence (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38167/10]

It is an unfortunate fact that younger drivers are disproportionately represented in traffic accidents, in this jurisdiction and others. Actions 72, 73 and 74 of the Road Safety Strategy 2007–2012 relate to the introduction of a Graduated Driver Licensing System (GDLS), and the Strategy outlines a range of measures to be considered in relation to the GDLS. The aim of a GDLS is to improve driver learning and reduce accidents involving learner drivers. Following a lengthy consultation process, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) produced a series of proposals which I have approved in principle, and these were published by the RSA in early September of this year. Work is now underway on the implementation of these proposals.

I am satisfied that the proposals made by the RSA will significantly improve driver training and make a real contribution to safety on our roads. I do not propose to include the measures suggested in the correspondence referred to by the Deputy in the GDLS.

Public Transport

Joe Costello

Question:

190 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Transport the public service obligations paid to the Railway Procurement Agency for 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38172/10]

Exchequer subvention for public services obligation services (PSO) was paid to the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) in 2009. Since December 2009 payment of subvention in respect of PSO services is a matter for the National Transport Authority. I understand no subvention has been paid to the RPA in 2010.

Tribunals of Inquiry

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

191 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform his plans to make a public apology on behalf of the State to the survivors and relatives of the 1981 Stardust tragedy in view of the findings of the landmark 2009 Coffey report and the rebuttal of the arson finding of the earlier, now discredited Keane report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37984/10]

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

192 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will meet a delegation of the Stardust Victims and Relatives Committee in the context of the 2009 Coffey report and address all outstanding issues from the 1981 inferno at the Stardust nightclub; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38161/10]

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

197 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the reason the victims of the Stardust fire disaster in 1981 have not had verdicts recorded on their deaths as stipulated under the 1962 Coroners’ Act; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37982/10]

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

203 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform his plans to make a public apology on behalf of the State to the survivors and relatives of the 1981 Stardust tragedy in view of the findings of the 2009 Coffey report of the arson findings of the earlier, now discredited Keane report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38160/10]

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

204 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will meet a delegation of the Stardust Victims and Relatives Committee in the context of the 2009 Coffey report and address all outstanding issues from the 1981 inferno at the Stardust nightclub; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38162/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 191, 192, 197, 203 and 204 together.

As the Deputy will recall, on 3 February 2009 I moved a motion in this House which noted the report of Mr. Paul Coffey SC into the investigation of the Stardust tragedy and acknowledged that the cause of the fire is unknown, that the original finding of arson is a mere hypothetical explanation not demonstrated by any evidence and that none of the persons present on the night of the fire can be held responsible for it. The motion went on to express continuing and deep sympathy with all of the victims and bereaved of the tragedy. I am pleased that the motion had the unanimous support of Dáil Éireann and that a similar motion was subsequently unanimously supported in Seanad Éireann. It was also important that members of the Stardust Victims Committee were able to be present at both significant events. At the time I myself expressed the hope that this very formal and public acknowledgement by the Oireachtas might provide some small amount of resolution or closure to the families.

In moving these motions, and acknowledging that the cause of the fire is unknown, the Government implemented in full Mr. Coffey's primary recommendation, fulfilling the commitment inherent in the decision to establish an independent examination of the Committee's case, in accordance with terms of reference agreed with the Committee. Insofar as his discretionary recommendation concerning outstanding medical and counselling needs is concerned, arrangements have been put in place to provide services to those victims or bereaved who wish to access such services through this channel and a number have chosen to do so.

I can also inform the Deputy that there are ongoing discussions with the Stardust Victims Committee concerning the forthcoming 30th anniversary of the tragedy and related matters and am pleased to note that arrangements have been made for officials to brief local Deputies on how this event might be approached.

Finally, insofar as the coroner's verdicts in these cases is concerned, under the Coroners Act 1962, a Coroner is a statutory officer exercising quasi-judicial functions in relation to which he/she is independent and neither I nor my Department has any role in individual cases or in reviewing the verdict in any particular case.

Residency Permits

Dinny McGinley

Question:

193 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if a stamp 4 residency permit will be granted to a person (details supplied) in County Donegal. [37945/10]

I have been informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service that the administrative scheme mentioned by the Deputy is administered by the Garda National Immigration Bureau. The person referred to should be advised to apply to his local immigration officer who will determine whether the qualifying criteria are met.

Liquor Licensing laws

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

194 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of licensed premises in the Dublin region closed down for serving alcohol to persons aged under 18 years and to intoxicated persons for the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37967/10]

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.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

195 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the persons eligible to apply to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal; the mechanism for applying to the tribunal; the number of applications dealt with at each sitting of the tribunal; the scale of compensatory awards available to the tribunal; the number of times the tribunal has sat in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; the number of awards that were allocated in the same time period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37971/10]

I can inform the Deputy that under the terms of the Scheme of Compensation for Personal Injuries Criminally Inflicted, any person who suffers personal injury where the injury is directly attributable to a crime of violence within the jurisdiction of the Irish State or aboard an Irish ship or aircraft may apply for compensation to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal. A copy of the aforesaid Scheme, or an application pursuant to said Scheme, can be made available on request by the Tribunal, or by printing a copy of the Scheme, or an application form from the Department's website. (Website link:

http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/Criminal_Injuries_Compensation_Scheme).

As the Deputy is aware, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal is an independent body and I have no role in its examination of individual applications. However, in order to be of assistance in the matter, I have had enquiries made with the Tribunal and understand that Article 25 of the Scheme provides that applications are considered in the first instance by an individual Tribunal Member who makes a decision based on the file papers. If an applicant is not satisfied with the decision of the Tribunal Member she/he may lodge an appeal with the Tribunal. At appeal, the Tribunal considers the application de novo by means of an oral hearing before three Tribunal Members, excluding the Member who made the decision under appeal. Also at appeal, an award may be confirmed, increased or reduced, or no award made.

I am informed that the scale of compensation available to an applicant is determined on the basis of the out of pocket expenses incurred by the applicant as a result of his/her injuries. I am also informed that the number of awards paid by the Tribunal during the years concerned are as follows:

Year

Number

2005

26

2006

121

2007

52

2008

122

2009

111

2010 to date

109

Garda Strength

Mary Wallace

Question:

196 Deputy Mary Wallace asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of gardaí assigned to County Meath in 2010; if he will provide the comparative figures for the previous ten years; if the increase in numbers is reflects the increase in population in that period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37979/10]

I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that the personnel strength of each Garda Station in the Meath Garda Division on 31 December 2000 to 2009 and also on the latest date for which figures are readily available, is as set out in the following table:

Station

’00

’01

’02

’03

’04

’05

’06

’07

’08

’09

’10

Ashbourne

38

36

37

37

40

37

49

44

49

48

50

Dunboyne

16

16

15

13

12

14

14

16

14

18

15

Dunshaughlin

11

11

11

11

10

9

9

21

22

27

25

Athboy

5

5

6

6

6

6

6

6

6

6

6

Crossakeel

2

1

1

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

1

Kells

32

33

31

34

31

32

37

45

48

51

50

Oldcastle

4

4

4

4

4

3

4

4

4

3

4

Duleek

4

4

3

4

4

3

3

3

3

2

4

Laytown

7

8

7

7

8

8

10

12

19

26

26

Navan

45

44

47

49

46

45

48

57

75

79

77

Nobber

3

3

3

3

3

3

3

3

3

3

3

Slane

4

4

4

4

4

4

3

4

3

3

4

Ballivor

2

2

2

2

3

2

2

3

3

3

3

Enfield

19

19

16

17

16

13

14

12

11

8

7

Kilmessan

1

1

1

0

0

0

0

1

1

1

1

Longwood

0

0

0

0

0

1

1

1

2

3

2

Summerhill

2

2

2

2

2

2

2

2

2

3

3

Trim

24

25

24

25

25

23

25

30

33

31

34

The detailed allocation of Garda resources, including the allocation of personnel to various Divisions, is a matter for the Garda Commissioner in consultation with senior management. The deployment of Garda personnel throughout the country, together with overall policing arrangements and operational strategy, is continually monitored and reviewed. Such monitoring ensures that optimum use is made of Garda resources, and the best possible Garda service is provided to the public.

Question No. 197 answered with Question No. 191.

Garda Investigations

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

198 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the reason no full criminal investigation has ever taken place into the Stardust fire disaster of 1981; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37983/10]

I can inform the Deputy that An Garda Síochána commenced an investigation into the incident referred to which occurred on 14 February, 1981, resulting in the deaths of forty-eight (48) people, during which over 1,600 statements were taken. Following extensive enquiries during which a large number of persons were interviewed an Investigation File was submitted to the Law Officers and directions were received on 25 August, 1982 directing no criminal prosecution.

In February 2004 further materials were received from the (then) Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and an Investigation Team was appointed by the Commissioner to review this material and the original investigation conducted in 1981. This Review concluded that the additional materials provided did not result in any new evidence coming to light that was not already in the possession of An Garda Síochána and available to the original Investigation Team, which remains the position.

Any new matters coming to the attention of An Garda Síochána will be examined and fully investigated.

Citizenship Applications

Jack Wall

Question:

199 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding the case of a person (details supplied); the actions the person must take; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38041/10]

A valid application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question were received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in June 2007. I decided in my absolute discretion not to grant a certificate of naturalisation and the reasons for refusal was disclosed to the applicant in a letter issued to him on 1 April, 2010.

There is no appeals process under the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act,1956, as amended.

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. However, in doing so he should bear in mind the reasons for refusal of the previous 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.

Garda Vetting Services

Willie Penrose

Question:

200 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will confirm that in the event of the Garda vetting unit issuing the appropriate clearance certificate, that the certificate is adequate for all purposes and organisations, irrespective of the fact that same had been issued to a particular organisation; if directions can be issued to clarify same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38072/10]

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.

Garda vetting certificates are issued to registered organisations in response to a written request and with the permission of the person who is the subject of that request. These applications are made by registered organisations in respect of a particular post or employment. Decisions on the suitability for the recruitment/engagement of the person concerned rest at all times with the recruiting organisation.

Garda vetting certificates are issued solely to the registered organisation's authorised signatory. The certificate is non-transferable and cannot be disclosed to any other organisation outside that which sought the Garda vetting.

Departmental Staff

John O'Mahony

Question:

201 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of persons employed on temporary contract and cost to his Department and any agencies under his Department for same in tabular form for 2008 and 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38134/10]

It has not been possible to collate all the information the Deputy has requested, in the time available. I will revert to the Deputy when the information is to hand.

Garda Vetting Services

Noel Ahern

Question:

202 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the average waiting period for Garda clearance; the measures being taken to speed up the Garda vetting process and reduce the backlog; when an person (details supplied) will receive clearance. [38157/10]

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 processing time for vetting applications fluctuates in line with periods of increased demand. Furthermore, 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 inquiries 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 approximately 12 weeks.

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 kept under review.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that a vetting application was received by the Garda Central Vetting Unit in respect of the person to whom the Deputy refers. A response to the application was returned to the registered organisation involved on 8 October 2010.

Questions Nos. 203 and 204 answered with Question No. 191.

Human Rights Issues

Michael Creed

Question:

205 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will confirm that he has received correspondence from an Irish citizen (details supplied) in Thailand; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37933/10]

My Department became aware of the alleged abduction of the child mentioned by the Deputy, an Irish citizen, on 4 June when his father contacted our Honorary Consul in Phuket to express his concern about his whereabouts. On 5 June, our Honorary Consul accompanied the father to the police in Phuket where he reported his son as having been abducted by his mother. On 9 June, the father appointed a lawyer, with the assistance of our Honorary Consul, who would represent in Thailand. I understand that this matter is now under investigation by the Thai police and,to date, the child has not been located. Our Honorary Consul has no role in the investigation of this alleged abduction and the father has been advised to continue to liaise on the details of the investigation with the Thai police using the services of his lawyer.

My Office has written to the father concerned on two occasions, once in early July and more recently last week emphasising the need for him to stay in close contact with the Thai police on this matter using the services of his lawyer. As the Deputy will appreciate, the operational responsibility for this matter is for the Thai Police Authorities. Our Honorary Consul in Phuket and our Embassy in Kuala Lumpur have been following this case closely and have remained in contact with the father. I can assure you that they will continue to provide all possible consular assistance to the father in relation to this case.

Departmental Staff

John O'Mahony

Question:

206 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of persons employed on temporary contract and cost to his Department and any agencies under his Department for same in tabular form for 2008 and 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38133/10]

The information requested by the Deputy in respect of my Department is set out in the table below. There are no agencies under the aegis of the Department.

Post

Numbers employed in 2008

Salary Scales

Number employed in 2009

Salary Scales

Temporary Clerical Officers

111

Clerical Officer Standard Scale €23,175 – €37,584 per annum

53

Clerical Officer Standard Scale €23,175 – €37,584 per annum

Interns

15

Executive Officer Standard Scale €30,566 – €48,504 per annum

8

Executive Officer Standard Scale €30,566 – €48,504 per annum

Junior Professional Interns Irish Aid

0

20

Executive Officer Standard Scale €30,566 – €48,504 per annum

Press Officer Irish Aid

1

Assistant Principal Higher Scale €72,681 – €90.884 per annum

1

Assistant Principal Higher Scale €72,681 – €90.884 per annum

Field Information Officer Irish Aid

1

Assistant Principal Standard Scale €66,179 – €82,520 per annum

1

Assistant Principal Standard Scale €66,179 – €82,520 per annum

Special Advisers to the Ministers

4

Principal Officer Standard Scale €86,168 – €106,582 per annum (1 officer also receives a 10% attraction allowance)

4

Principal Officer Standard Scale €86,168 – €106,582 per annum (1 officer also receives a 10% attraction allowance)

Other Ministerial Staff

May 08 – December

3

Secretarial Assistant Scale €23,182 – €44,727 plus a 10% Attraction Allowance

3

Secretarial Assistant Scale €23,182 – €44,727 plus a 10% Attraction Allowance

1

Higher Executive Officer Standard Scale €46,558 – €59,097 per annum

1

Higher Executive Officer Standard Scale €46,558 – €59,097 per annum

1

Parliamentary Assistant Scale €41,092 – €52,200 per annum (plus 10% attraction allowance)

1

Parliamentary Assistant Scale €41,092 – €52,200 per annum (plus 10% attraction allowance)

1

Executive Officer Standard Scale €30,566 – €48,504 per annum

1

Executive Officer Standard Scale €30,566 – €48,504 per annum

January 08 – May 08

2

Higher Executive Officer Standard Scale €45,422 – €57,656 per annum

1

Parliamentary Assistant Scale €40,090 – €50,927 per annum (plus 10% attraction allowance)

1

Executive Officer Higher Scale €29,820 – €49,180 per annum

1

Secretarial Assistant Scale €22,616 – €43,636 plus a 10% Attraction Allowance

Temporary Civilian Drivers

May 08 – December 08

4

Temporary Civilian Driver €33,977 per annum

4

Temporary Civilian Driver €33,977 per annum

January 08 – May 084

4

Temporary Civilian Driver €33,135 per annum

Temporary Cleaners

2

Cleaners Standard Scale €20,914 – €23,690 per annum

1

Cleaners Standard Scale €20,914 – €23,690 per annum

In some of the above cases the staff were employed for only a part of the year in question. In the time available it has not been possible to establish the total annual cost in respect of each post.

The above figures exclude persons on temporary contacts in missions abroad.

Overtime, travel and subsistence expenses are paid in accordance with normal civil service regulations.

Overseas Development Aid

Joe Costello

Question:

207 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the main new EU proposals in the Lisbon treaty in relation to humanitarian aid, natural disasters and conflict resolution; the role he envisages for Ireland in these matters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38174/10]

The European Union and its Member States are collectively the largest donor of development assistance in the world. Working together we have an impact and an influence far beyond that of any single Member State.

The Lisbon Treaty has promoted a more sharply focused response to humanitarian crises. For the first time, the EU has a specific legal basis for humanitarian aid, which underlines the principles of international law, impartiality and non-discrimination. The EU and its Member States are also legally obliged by the Treaty to work much more closely together. This has enabled Ireland to generate a stronger international consensus on the priorities we have identified in the fight against hunger and poverty–hunger and nutrition, the poorest countries and communities in Africa, and making aid more effective.

A very early test of the new arrangements under Lisbon was the response to the earthquake in Haiti which took place less than a fortnight after the treaty entered into force. An emergency meeting of Ministers agreed a common EU response which was co-ordinated through the new Lisbon foreign policy structures.

Ireland played its part in this Haiti operation, carrying out two major airlifts of emergency shelter, water and sanitation equipment from our emergency stockpiles.

At the International Conference on the Reconstruction of Haiti, the EU spoke as one through the High Representative Catherine Ashton, who pledged over €1.2 billion for the reconstruction of Haiti. That figure is the combination of all funding from EU Member States and the Commission, including the €13 million pledged by Ireland.

Ireland is actively involved in an EU process aimed at further improving our combined response when a crisis strikes. Like a number of Member States, Ireland has a rapid response corps — a roster of high trained and highly skilled individuals who can be deployed in an emergency.

We are working with the Commission and other Member States to determine how these national initiatives can work more closely together and under an EU umbrella. The priority is to ensure that the combined EU response is quick, coherent and effective.

The Treaty of Lisbon makes specific reference to the need to use its common policies and actions to work towards the prevention of conflict. The values enshrined in the Treaty — the rule of law, the protection and promotion of human rights and support for the principles of the UN Charter — are those that underpin the Union's commitment to the peaceful settlement of disputes. The Treaty gives the Union the tools it needs to speak with a clear voice on the international stage and to engage in more effective conflict prevention and peacekeeping.

Pension Provisions

Billy Timmins

Question:

208 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38018/10]

Under the Pensions Act, defined benefit pension schemes must meet a minimum Funding Standard which requires that schemes maintain sufficient assets to enable them discharge their accrued liabilities in the event of the scheme winding up.

The Government is fully aware of the pressures being faced by all defined benefit schemes due to the recent market downturn. Over the last two years, the Government has introduced a range of measures to assist pension funds. These included the granting of extra time for schemes to submit funding proposals.

Other measures introduced in last year's Social Welfare and Pensions Act allowed for the restructuring of underfunded schemes and for a more equitable distribution of assets in the event of the wind-up of an underfunded defined benefit scheme.

In recognition of the ongoing funding difficulties experienced by defined benefit pension schemes, last week I announced that the new defined benefit model as outlined in the National Pensions Framework would be fast-tracked with a view to its introduction, following legislative change, by July 2011. It is envisaged that the new DB model will consist of a core benefit element which would have to be guaranteed and a non-core element, which would be payable depending on economic conditions and which should be secured in years of good scheme performance.

On the basis of this decision, the Deputy will be aware that the Pensions Regulator announced that the November deadline for receipt of funding proposals has been further extended. The Regulator will announce shortly the new extended timeframe for such proposals.

The proposal for a sovereign annuity mentioned by the Deputy is also being given serious consideration. It must be stressed that the issue is by no means straightforward and the benefits and risks involved for all stakeholders are being fully assessed.

Social Welfare Appeals

Finian McGrath

Question:

209 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will support a matter (details supplied). [37972/10]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that in appeals for Family Income Supplement, where it appears that the reason for the decision may not have been fully understood, the letter of appeal is referred to Family Income Supplement section requesting that the decision be clarified to the appellant. The person is advised that if s/he is still not satisfied following receipt of this clarification that the appeal will be formally registered and processed.

In the case of the person concerned his/her letter of appeal was forwarded to Family Income Supplement section for clarification on 16 July 2010. Section 247 2 (6) of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 provides that where Family Income Supplement and Jobseekers Allowance would be payable to, or in respect of a person, in respect of the same period, only one shall be paid. At the time of application, the person concerned was included as an Adult Dependant on their partner's Jobseekers Allowance claim. If FIS was awarded to the person concerned, the partner's Jobseekers Allowance would be adjusted to the weekly rate of €176.30 giving a weekly rate of Family Income Supplement of €98.00. This would result in a reduction of the total household income. The claim for Family Income Supplement was therefore refused on the basis that it was financially more beneficial for the person concerned to remain as a Qualified Adult on their partner's Jobseekers Allowance Claim.

If the person concerned is still not satisfied with this explanation, they should write to the Appeals Office stating clearly the grounds of the appeal.

Social Welfare Benefits

Finian McGrath

Question:

210 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will support a matter (details supplied). [37973/10]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that according to its records, it has not received an application for mortgage interest supplement from the person concerned.

Social Welfare Appeals

Billy Timmins

Question:

211 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37999/10]

Billy Timmins

Question:

212 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38000/10]

Emmet Stagg

Question:

216 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Social Protection if his attention has been drawn to the fact that appeals requiring an oral hearing in the social welfare appeals office are being delayed with the office dealing only with appeals lodged in August 2009 at present; if he will investigate this matter with a view to sanctioning additional staff to clear the backlog; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38165/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 211, 212 and 216 together.

I am informed by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that the average time to process all appeals is at present 28 weeks. Carers allowance appeals take 29 weeks on average and Disability Allowance appeals take 35 weeks.

There was a 46% increase in the overall number of appeals received by that Office in 2009 when compared to 2008, which in itself was 27% greater than the numbers received in 2007. There was an increase of a further 44% in the number of appeals received in the first eight months of 2010.

While this growth is clearly impacting on processing times, it must also be remembered that they cover all phases of the appeal process including the submission by the Department of its comments on the grounds for the appeal and, in the case of Disability Allowance and in some Carer's Allowance cases, a second assessment must be carried out by the Department's Medical Assessors.

On the return of the Deciding Officer's submission and case papers to the Social Welfare Appeals Office the case is referred to an Appeals Officer who will either make a summary decision based on the documentary evidence or, if s/he considers it necessary, list the case for oral hearing.

Given the logistics involved in organising an oral hearing, a considerable period of time is added to the process. During 2009, 59% of all appeal cases were dealt with by way of oral hearing but, due to some of the initiatives outlined below, this has been reduced to 31% in 2010 to date. In order to be fair to all appellants, the vetting of appeals and the arranging of oral hearings are being dealt with in chronological order.

A number of initiatives have been put in place to enhance the capacity of the office to deal with the current caseload and inflows.

In that regard:

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

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

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

A project to improve the business processes in the office was undertaken which has resulted in a number of improvements being implemented, and

Significant enhancements have been made to the office's IT and phone systems.

In addition, it was decided to use experienced retired staff strictly on a short-term basis to supplement the current resources and the services of eight retired officers have now been secured on a part-time basis and have been operating since July.

I am assured by the Chief Appeals Officer that she is keeping current processes under continuous review with a view to achieving a more effective throughput of appeals, while ensuring that any progress does not conflict with due process in terms of the rights of appellants and adherence to the requirements of natural justice. The need for additional staff is also kept under review but any decision on the assignment of new staff must be taken in the context of the present embargo on recruitment in the public sector.

Departmental Staff

Richard Bruton

Question:

213 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of staff in his Department primarily employed in one of a number of areas (details supplied) in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38071/10]

The table below details the number of posts in the Department at 1st October 2010, that are primarily occupied in the functions concerned.

Primary Function

No. of Posts

Entitlement Processing

2,778*

Inspections

403

IT (including Procurement)

223

HR

80

Legal Services

1

The 2,778 posts are primarily occupied in processing claims made under the various schemes administered by the Department. The main scheme areas are Unemployment Schemes, Illness Schemes, Pensions Schemes and Family Support Schemes.

John O'Mahony

Question:

214 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons employed on temporary contract and cost to his Department and any agencies under his Department for same in tabular form for 2008 and 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38135/10]

Temporary contract clerical staff are recruited by this Department to cover absences of permanent staff on maternity leave, long-term sick leave, other statutory leave and also to provide cover for some staff availing of the shorter working year scheme.

Temporary contracts are offered for a fixed purpose and the term can vary according to the purpose for the contract. The majority of temporary clerical officers are paid at the first point of the relevant pay scale.

Temporary contract staff were recruited by the Pensions Board and Citizens Information Board mainly to cover absences of permanent staff members on maternity leave, long-term sick leave and other special leave. Temporary contracts were issued for a specific purpose and term related to that purpose. Temporary staff were recruited at the same grade as those availing of leave and were placed on the first point of the appropriate scale, on commencement of employment.

Table A: details numbers employed on temporary contract, and the cost to the Department for 2008

Office

Number Employed on Temporary contracts in 2008

Cost to the Department

Department of Social Protection

562

5,478,137

Citizens Information Board

11

200,719

Pensions Board

6

298,311

Office of the Pensions Ombudsman

0

0

The above totals are gross costs. The cost of the recruitment of temporary staff can be offset by the fact that permanent staff on certain statutory leave and those availing of the shorter working year scheme are on unpaid leave.

Table B: details numbers employed on temporary contract, and the cost to the Department for 2009

Office

Number Employed on Temporary contracts in 2009

Cost to the Department

Department of Social Protection

582

5,745,388

Citizens Information Board

6

157,797

Pensions Board

8

369,736

Office of the Pensions Ombudsman

0

0

The above totals are gross costs. The cost of the recruitment of temporary staff can be offset by the fact that permanent staff on certain statutory leave and those availing of the shorter working year scheme are on unpaid leave.

Social Welfare Benefits

Michael Ring

Question:

215 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo who is receiving the back to work enterprise allowance will be paid a grant under the technical assistance and training fund. [38154/10]

The technical assistance and training scheme allows the Department to provide support to back to work enterprise allowance recipients, who are engaging in self employment projects, to enhance their chances of success and become independent of the social welfare system. This is a discretionary scheme and there is not an entitlement to the assistance as of right. Take up of the scheme has been very positive in 2010. The revised budget for 2010 has now been committed.

Question No 216 answered with Question No. 211.

Sports Capital Programme

Michael McGrath

Question:

217 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport her plans regarding the future of the sports capital grant scheme. [38039/10]

Under the Sports Capital Programme, funding is allocated to sporting and to voluntary and community organisations at local, regional and national level throughout the country. Given the current budgetary situation and the high level of outstanding commitments it was considered prudent to pause prior to announcing the next round of the Programme and accordingly no date has been set for the next round of the Programme.

In the interim, the Department has been managing the drawdown of funds allocated under earlier rounds of the programme. The current position is that €48 million has been provided in the Department's vote in the 2010 Estimates to cover payments to be made from the C1 subhead, out of which grants are paid for the provision of sports and recreation facilities.

Around 1,000 payments will be made to projects being undertaken this year across the country. These projects will allow clubs to drain pitches, erect floodlighting, build changing rooms and sports halls and generally increase the opportunities for people to engage in sports at all levels. The Deputy will be aware that since 1998, €730m has bee allocated to 7,400 projects nationwide which has transformed the level of sports facilities throughout the country.

Departmental Staff

Richard Bruton

Question:

218 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the number of staff in her Department primarily employed in one of a number of areas (details supplied) in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38070/10]

The number of staff in my Department primarily employed in the areas referred to by the Deputy are set out in tabular form below:

Area

Number of Staff Primarily Employed

Entitlement Processing

0.0

Inspections

0.0

Information Technology

5.5

Human Resources Unit

5.7

Procurement

0.0

Legal Services

0.0

In respect of Inspections and Procurement, these functions are carried out by officers in various units in my Department in addition to other duties but these would not be their primary function. In general when legal services are required by my Department, such services are obtained from the Office of the Attorney General and/or the Office of the Chief State Solicitor.

John O'Mahony

Question:

219 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the number of persons employed on temporary contract and cost to her Department and any agencies under her Department for same in tabular form for 2008 and 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38138/10]

The information requested by the Deputy in respect of my Department including the National Archives is set out hereunder:

Number on temporary contract in 2008

Cost of salaries in 2008

Number on temporary contract in 2009

Cost of salaries in 2009

11

€247,267

5

€215,958

These numbers do not include Ministerial staff appointed in my Department over the period in question.

It is not possible in the time available to compile the data in respect of the numbers of staff on temporary contracts in the agencies under the aegis of my Department. However, this information will be provided to the Deputy shortly.

Tourism Promotion

Mary Upton

Question:

220 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport if her attention has been drawn to the protocol agreement on tourism signed by Italy, France and Spain to jointly promote their cultural heritage to emerging tourism markets; if she will examine a similar initiative with the UK; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38181/10]

I am aware of the document referred to by the Deputy, which I understand is, at this stage, a protocol for an agreement and relates to the possibility of Italy, France and Spain undertaking joint marketing initiatives in some new and developing markets. I understand that the initiative is still at a pilot stage with a Working Group established to look at practical arrangements.

With regard to cooperation on tourism marketing with the United Kingdom, as the Deputy will be aware, Tourism Ireland is the North/South body with responsibility for the overseas promotion of the Island of Ireland as a tourist destination and our cultural heritage is obviously a key component in the overall tourism offering. Tourism Ireland receives funding from my Department and from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in Northern Ireland. In addition to the all-island approach that is central to the mission of Tourism Ireland, I understand there is already considerable cooperation between Tourism Ireland and Visit Britain, the agency responsible for promoting Great Britain overseas as a holiday destination. This cooperation with VisitBritain exploits any joint opportunities in Developing Markets such as China and India when feasible. Some recent examples of the cooperation between the two tourism agencies include the hosting of the annual Asia-Pacific region travel workshop —Destination Britain & Ireland in Dubai earlier this year and a joint China Travel Trade Mission in January. Tourism Ireland also works closely with VisitBritain at the Best of Britain & Ireland show, a major trade and consumer fair which takes place annually. This cooperation reflects the reality that visitors from longhaul markets, such as India and China, are likely to visit Ireland as part of a more extensive journey.

The announcement referred to by the Deputy was made on the margins of events marking European Tourism Day 2010 and takes place against the backdrop of a range of developments at EU level. Ireland is continuing to play an active part in European initiatives in the field of tourism, including our participation in EDEN initiative, which has already recognised destinations such as Clonakilty and district, Carlingford and the Cooley peninsula, Sheep's Head and Loop Head as ranking among the European Destinations of Excellence.

In terms of future cooperation, as the Deputy will be aware, the Lisbon Treaty identifies tourism as a formal area of EU competence and a European Commission Communication entitled "Europe the world's No. 1 tourist destination — a new political framework for tourism in Europe" was published on 30 June 2010. The Communication sets out a number of priorities and actions for the development of tourism within a European context in the coming years including the promotion and development of sustainable tourism within Europe and the consolidation of Europe's image as a collection of sustainable and high-quality destinations. Obviously developments are at a very early stage in terms of concrete measures to achieve these objectives but Ireland will be actively involved in any initiatives arising from the Communication which could benefit Irish tourism.

Abbey Theatre

Mary Upton

Question:

221 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the amount spent to date by the feasibility group charged with producing a report on the feasibility of relocating the Abbey Theatre to the GPO; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38187/10]

The amount expended to date by my Department on the feasibility study on relocating the Abbey Theatre to the GPO complex is €16,694.14.

National Monuments

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

222 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will provide an update in respect of protecting and preserving the historical 1916 site at Moore Street behind the GPO in Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38284/10]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

227 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans to extend the national monument which covers 14 to 17 Moore Street, Dublin to include from number 10 Moore Street to 24 Moore Street to take account of the full historical and heritage importance of those buildings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38030/10]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

228 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the works are being carried out on the national monument site 14 to 17 Moore Street, Dublin, without state supervision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38031/10]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

229 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will confirm that he will not assent to the development of the national monument 14 to 17 Moore Street, Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38032/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 222 and 227 to 229, inclusive together.

In January 2007, my predecessor as Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government placed a Preservation Order on nos. 14 to 17 Moore Street under the National Monuments Acts. The Preservation Order was made on the grounds that the buildings are a monument, the preservation of which is of national importance by reason of its historical importance as the final headquarters of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising. There are no proposals at present to extend the scope of the Preservation Order.

The objective of the Preservation Order is to protect the monument from any danger of being destroyed, injured or removed. Any works affecting the monument require the Minister's prior consent under the National Monuments Acts.

On 17 May 2010, I approved a consent application for works to protect and maintain the fabric of the monument. While such works are not subject to Departmental supervision, site visits by the Department's National Monuments Service in the course of the works, and following completion, indicate that they have been completed to an appropriate standard in accordance with the consent issued.

I am aware that An Bord Pleanála has granted planning permission for development on the site that includes the Moore St monument. This permission does not supersede the Preservation Order already in place and the Minister's consent will still be required for any development works that may affect the buildings covered by the Order. The appropriateness of any proposed works will be carefully examined against the historical background of the buildings if and when such a consent application is submitted.

Local Authority Housing

Róisín Shortall

Question:

223 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the amount provided to each local authority for the retrofitting of council homes; the number of homes retrofitted to date in each area; and the number of outstanding homes awaiting this work. [37924/10]

The enhancement of energy efficiency standards remains a priority within my Department's overall strategy for the improvement of local authority housing. To that end, I have significantly increased the amount of funding available for the national retrofitting programme from €20 million in 2009 to €40 million this year. This is in addition to the €5 million that is being used to support a number of retrofitting demonstration projects.

Details of the funding available this year for each local authority, together with the numbers of units which have been improved by local authorities over the first two quarters of the year, as notified to my Department, are set out in the following table:

Local Authority

2010 Allocations

Number of Vacant Units Improved Jan-June 2010

Number of Occupied Improved Jan-June 2010

Total Number of Units Improved Jan-June 2010

Carlow County Council

125,000

0

0

0

Carlow Town Council

125,000

2

2

4

Total

250,000

2

2

4

Cavan County Council

754,000

0

0

0

Cavan Town Council

300,000

0

0

0

Total

1,054,000

0

0

0

Clare County Council

500,000

3

0

3

Ennis Town Council

275,000

19

45

64

Kilrush Town Council

175,000

4

2

6

Total

950,000

26

47

73

Cork City Council

4,000,000

0

0

0

Cork County Council

1,850,000

28

0

28

Fermoy Town Council

20,000

0

0

0

Mallow Town Council

360,000

0

0

0

Cobh Town Council

100,000

0

0

0

Kinsale Town Council

75,000

0

0

0

Macroom TC

75,000

0

0

0

Midleton Town Council

75,000

0

0

0

Youghal Town Council

30,000

0

0

0

Clonakilty TC

175,000

0

0

0

Skibbereen TC

60,000

0

0

0

Total

2,820,000

28

0

28

Donegal Co Co

661,000

5

0

5

Buncrana Town Council

75,000

4

0

4

Bundoran TC

15,000

0

0

0

Letterkenny TC

150,000

0

0

0

Total

901,000

9

0

9

Dublin City Co

7,000,000

197

0

197

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council

650,000

6

0

6

Fingal Co Co

850,000

44

0

44

South Dublin County Council

850,000

18

0

18

Galway City Co

1,230,000

0

0

0

Galway County Council

850,000

0

0

0

Ballinasloe TC

250,000

7

0

7

Total

1,100,000

7

0

7

Kerry County Council

1,145,000

46

0

46

Killarney Town Council

75,000

0

0

0

Listowel Town Council

125,000

0

0

0

Tralee Town Council

550,000

13

0

13

Total

1,895,000

59

0

59

Kildare County Council

600,000

0

0

0

Athy Town Council

20,000

0

0

0

Naas Town Council

40,000

5

70

75

Total

660,000

5

70

75

Kilkenny Co Co

1,000,000

0

0

0

Kilkenny Borough Co

250,000

0

0

0

Total

1,250,000

0

0

0

Laois Co Co

300,000

5

9

14

Leitrim Co Co

275,000

2

0

2

Limerick City Co

1,035,000

14

0

14

Limerick Co Co

820,000

0

0

0

Longford Co Co

500,000

0

11

11

Longford Town Council

125,000

1

0

1

Total

625,000

1

11

12

Louth County Council

130,000

18

0

18

Drogheda Borough Co

270,000

10

0

10

Dundalk Town Council

165,000

35

134

169

Total

565,000

63

134

197

Mayo County Council

600,000

2

0

2

Ballina Town Council

10,000

0

0

0

Castlebar Town Council

75,000

0

0

0

Westport Town Council

125,000

0

0

0

Total

810,000

2

0

2

Meath Co Co

700,000

0

0

0

Monaghan Co Co

225,000

0

0

0

Carrickmacross TC

25,000

0

0

0

Castleblayney TC

210,000

4

0

4

Clones Town Council

40,000

1

0

1

Monaghan TC

60,000

0

0

0

Total

560,000

5

0

5

Offaly County Council

150,000

0

0

0

Birr Town Council

20,000

0

0

0

Tullamore TC

300,000

0

0

0

Total

470,000

0

0

0

Roscommon County Council

735,000

26

2

28

Sligo County Council

375,000

10

0

10

Sligo Borough Council

415,000

0

0

0

Total

790,000

10

0

10

Tipperary North County Council

275,000

12

0

12

Nenagh Town Council

50,000

0

0

0

Templemore TC

30,000

0

0

0

Thurles Town Council

50,000

0

0

0

Total

405,000

12

0

12

Tipperary South County Council

650,000

0

0

0

Carrick on Suir TC

75,000

0

0

0

Cashel Town Council

50,000

2

0

2

Clonmel Borough Co

50,000

0

0

0

Tipperary Town Council

125,000

0

0

0

Total

950,000

2

0

2

Waterford City Co

700,000

0

0

0

Waterford Co Co

125,000

0

0

0

Dungarvan TC

400,000

0

0

0

Total

525,000

0

0

0

Westmeath Co Co

330,000

27

0

27

Athlone Town Council

100,000

0

0

0

Total

430,000

27

0

27

Wexford Co Co

650,000

0

0

0

Enniscorthy TC

35,000

0

0

0

Newross Town Council

30,000

0

0

0

Wexford Borough Co

75,000

0

0

0

Total

790,000

0

0

0

Wicklow Co Co

500,000

0

0

0

Arklow Town Council

100,000

0

0

0

Bray Town Council

225,000

4

0

4

Wicklow Town Council

75,000

0

2

2

Total

900,000

4

2

6

Overall Total

574

277

851

Details of the number of units, where retrofitting work is required, are not available in my Department.

Arthur Morgan

Question:

224 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will provide a list of Donegal County Council dwellings that are vacant; the location of these properties and the length of time they have been vacant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37928/10]

Arthur Morgan

Question:

232 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will provide a list of council dwellings that are vacant with Louth County Council, Dundalk Town Council and Drogheda Town Council; the location of these properties; the length of time vacant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38140/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 224 and 232 together.

Each local authority is responsible for the effective and efficient management and maintenance of it's social housing stock. The detailed information sought with regard to vacant local authority properties is not available in my Department. Information on the level of vacant local authority dwellings is collected annually as part of the Local Government Management Agency's review of local authority service indicators. Electronic copies of the reports including the most recent report for 2008, are available on www.lgmsb.ie .

Election Management System

James Bannon

Question:

225 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will provide a breakdown of the total costs of the purchase, storing and disposal of the obsolete e-voting machines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38007/10]

Following the Government decision not to proceed with implementation of electronic voting in Ireland, an Interdepartmental Task Force, chaired by my Department, was established to bring the project to an orderly conclusion and to oversee disposal of the equipment and termination of storage arrangements. The Task Force aims to complete its work as soon as possible.

In considering options for disposal of the equipment, the priority is to pursue the most economically advantageous approach, with a view to achieving the maximum recovery of cost possible in the circumstances, consistent with environmental and other obligations.

The total expenditure on the electronic voting project to date, including on storage, is some €54.613 million, the bulk of which has been incurred in purchasing the voting machines and ancillary equipment. These costs are set out in the following table.

Electronic Voting and Counting Project — Expenditure to Date

Expenditure item

Cost (€m)

Voting machines

43.941

Ancillary equipment (Ballot Modules, Programme Reading Units, PCs, trolleys, tables, etc.)

2.330

Awareness and Education campaigns

2.579

Voting Machine development, election software development/training etc.

0.828

Consultancy/testing

0.731

Miscellaneous (staff training, freight)

0.937

Storage

3.267

Total

54.613

Social and Affordable Housing

Pat Breen

Question:

226 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 372 of 25 May 2010, the progress made on a project (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38009/10]

My Department has provided funding of €4.5 million for a remedial works project at the John Paul Estate over the period 2007 to 2010. The pilot phase of the project included construction and refurbishment of a total of 28 units. A further phase of the project involving the retrofitting of ten units will commence in late 2010 or early 2011. My Department is in regular contact with the Council with a view to early progression of the project, and is committed to it under the 2009-2011 Remedial Works Programme.

Questions Nos. 227 to 229, inclusive, answered with Question No. 222.

Departmental Staff

John O'Mahony

Question:

230 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of persons employed on temporary contract and cost to his Department and any agencies under his Department for same in tabular form for 2008 and 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38131/10]

The information requested in respect of temporary contract/agency staff employed by my Department and Non-commercial State Agencies under its aegis is set out in the following table:

DoEHLG

No. of temporary contract staff in 2008

Salary plus EPRSI* cost in 2008

No. of temporary contract staff in 2009

Salary plus EPRSI cost in 2009

Civil servants

109

967,974

18

193,021

State Industrial staff

111**

1,446,468

84**

967,203

Non Commercial State Agencies

162

6,429,488

136

5,836,806

*Employers PRSI.

**Principally seasonal staff employed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Local Authority Charges

John O'Mahony

Question:

231 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the reason local authorities are not issuing invoices to persons for the non-principal primary residence charge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38139/10]

The Government in the Local Government (Charges) Act 2009 broadened the revenue base of local authorities through the introduction of the charge on non-principal private residences. The charge is set at €200 and is being levied and collected by local authorities. With some exemptions, the charge applies to a residential property that is not the sole or main residence of the owner. Income from the charge is used to support the provision of local services.

The Act places the onus on the owner to assess his or her liability in the first instance. There is no obligation on local authorities to issue invoices or demands. Any such obligation would increase the administrative and resource requirements of implementing the charge and would make its collection less cost-effective. As the charge is set at an essentially modest rate of €200 per annum, it is essential that administrative costs be kept to a minimum.

Question No. 232 answered with Question No. 224.

Local Authority Housing

Arthur Morgan

Question:

233 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will provide a list of all properties purchased by Louth County Council, Dundalk Town Council and Drogheda Town Council in each year since 2007; if he will provide information on the price paid for each property; the reason each property was purchased and the person from whom each property was purchased; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38141/10]

Local authorities have, for a number of years now, progressed an ambitious programme of house purchases better to meet local housing need as well as to promote my Department's sustainable communities objectives. These programmes are undertaken and managed by the authorities having regard to their annual housing capital allocation and the unit cost limits for various types of properties, as determined by my Department. The detailed information requested with regard to individual properties is not available in my Department. Information on the numbers and the average cost of the properties purchased by Louth County Council, Drogheda Borough Council and Dundalk Town Council over the period 2007 to 2010 is set out in the table.

2007

2008

2009

2010 (to date)

Local Authority

Number Purchased

Average Price

Number Purchased

Average Price

Number Purchased

Average Price

Number Purchased

Average Price

Louth County Council

25

309,000

19

292,000

34

178,000

10

177,000

Drogheda Borough Council

13

299,000

9

320,000

8

185,000

12

153,000

Dundalk Town Council

13

217,000

0

N/A

5

159,000

1

165,000

Total

51

28

47

23

Turbary Rights

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

234 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to any peat extraction by commercial contractors within the 31 raised bog special areas of conservation where the derogation permitting extraction for domestic use no longer applies; the nature and numbers of these contractors and the extent of any damage caused by their activities since 2007 and during the 2010 cutting season. [38177/10]

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

235 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will confirm that, further to his press release of May 2010 announcing the ending of peat extraction on 31 raised bog SACs but referring to continued application of the derogations on other peatland SCIs, that peat extraction activities for domestic purposes can continue without ministerial intervention under the terms of the derogations in 23 raised bog SACs and all blanket bog SACs. [38178/10]

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

236 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will confirm whether for purposes of entitlement to the derogations permitting extraction in raised bogs SACs, he considers that persons with turbary rights in the peatlands affected can avail of the services of independent contractors to carry out extraction activities through supply and or operation of mechanical equipment. [38179/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 234 to 236, inclusive, together.

Cutting or drainage works of any nature are no longer permitted without my consent on the 31 Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) where the derogation expired last year. My Department is not aware of any turf extraction for commercial purposes on any SAC. Turf extraction for commercial purposes in SACs and Natural Heritage Areas (NHAs) is prohibited.

The extraction of turf for their personal domestic needs by those with turbary rights in the 24 raised bog SACs nominated for designation in 2002 may continue until the end of next year, when the derogation for these sites will elapse. For raised bog NHAs, turf extraction by turbary right owners for their domestic needs may continue until the end of 2013. Such turf extraction may also continue on blanket bog SACs under existing restrictions, which include a prohibition on extraction for commercial purposes, restriction of cutting to existing face banks and the prohibition of the use of certain machines such as the "sausage" machine. Where individuals have a legal right to cut turf in an SAC or NHA, they are free to contract a third party to carry out the cutting of their annual domestic supply for them.

Local Authority Housing

Mary Upton

Question:

237 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the report of a group regarding housing conditions in an area in (details supplied); the steps he will take to address the issues raised in the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38182/10]

I refer to the reply to Questions Nos. 425, 426, 427, 428 and 429 of 1 June 2010. My Department has not yet received a proposal from Dublin City Council regarding the proposed project but understands that the Regeneration Board, established by the City Council, has engaged consultants to work with local residents with a view to developing regeneration solutions that are acceptable to the community and that can be implemented. It is understood that in the last six months there have been ongoing meetings between Dublin City Council and local residents and community groups in the area. These meetings are held under the auspices of the regeneration board and its design sub-group. The meetings with the design sub-group are attended by local residents, community activists and Councillors.

It is a matter for the Council to decide on the type of regeneration proposal that is most appropriate for the area and the means by which the project should be delivered. Furthermore, it is open to the Council to prioritise the project in terms of its Social Housing Investment Programme and submit a proposal in the usual way to my Department for project approval and funding from within the authority's annual Social Housing funding allocation. Finally, my Department continues to work actively with Dublin City Council in connection with its Social Housing Investment Programme and as part of this I support and look forward to the Council's progression of its ambitious regeneration programme.

Offshore Exploration

Michael Creed

Question:

238 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the licensing arrangements that currently exist for oil, gas and mineral exploration; the way these compare with international norms; the tax treatment of companies involved in this activity; the reviews if any underway regarding licensing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38002/10]

Exploration for oil and gas in Ireland, in common with most other jurisdictions, is carried out under licence. Petroleum exploration authorisations are issued by my Department under the Petroleum and Other Minerals Development Act 1960 and the operational framework is set out in the Licensing Terms for Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration, Development & Production 2007. Petroleum exploration investment is encouraged through active promotion of Ireland's petroleum potential and the holding of regular licensing rounds. The next licensing round, which covers all of Ireland's major Atlantic sedimentary basins with proven petroleum systems, will take place in the first half of next year.

A comprehensive review of Ireland's licensing terms was carried out in 2007 following which both the fiscal and non-fiscal licensing terms were revised. The revised terms apply to all exploration licences issued since 1st January 2007 and have been carefully balanced to attract those willing to invest in high-risk exploration while at the same time ensuring the State receives a fair share of profits where a commercial discovery is made. The revised terms provide for a new profit resource rent tax of up to 15% in addition to the 25% corporate tax rate previously applying, ensuring that the return to the State increases to 40% in the case of the most profitable fields.

Minerals exploration in Ireland may only be undertaken under the terms and conditions of a Prospecting Licence issued by my Department. Such licensing arrangements are not unusual in the developed world. Individuals involved in minerals exploration are doing so in the hope of discovering commercially viable deposits. In the event that such deposits are discovered a State Mining Facility lease or licence is required. Financial terms for State Mining Facilities are negotiated on a case by case basis. Mining profits are subject to corporation tax at a rate of 25%.

Electricity Generation

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

239 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the number of wind farms currently contributing to the national grid; the total electricity generated thereby; the number, if any, of such farms seeking access to the national grid and their capacity to produce electricity in the future; when it is expected that approval will be given to all such applicants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38043/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

244 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the extent to which alternative energy now supplies the national electricity grid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38052/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

246 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the full extent of alternative energy now supplied by various alternative energy sources including wind energy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38054/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

248 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the extent to which electricity is now generated from non-fossil fuels; the degree to which EirGrid can now rely on such production; the extent to which importation of coal, gas or oil has been reduced as a consequence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38056/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 239, 244, 246 and 248 together.

At the end of June 2010 there was 1731MW of renewable generation connected to the Irish grid. This included 1459 MW of installed wind capacity from over 100 windfarms; 242MW of hydro power and 30MW of smaller renewable energy generation. In 2009 14.4% of electricity consumption in Ireland is estimated to have come from renewable sources. This corresponding figure in 2004 was 5%. From January 2010 to date, renewable generation has formed approximately 12% of Ireland's overall generation mix. It is anticipated that this will rise to15% by the end of the year. EirGrid provide detail on their website of all of the connected and contracted generators divided into wind farms and other types of generators. There is an additional 1152MW of wind farm generators that have contracted with either EirGrid or ESB Networks. The EirGrid website sets out the target connection dates for these generators.

In addition to the above, there is a further 3900MW of renewable generation due to receive a grid connection offer under Gate 3. This amount of renewable generation is sufficient to achieve Ireland's target of around 40% of electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2020. As the majority of the renewable generation on the power system is wind and this is a variable source of energy, EirGrid can rely on wind generation on average 30% of the time on a yearly basis. The availability of wind generation varies from day-to-day however and at times wind has provided 50% of electricity demand. As more renewable generation sources have connected to the power system, EirGrid has seen a decrease in the amount of fossil fuel based generation used to meet electricity demand. This reduction is proportionate to the amount of renewable generation on the power system.

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland's statistical 2010 update on Renewable Energy in Ireland sets out the proportion of Ireland's renewable energy consumption estimated to be from renewable sources in the period up to end 2009. It is estimated that 14.4% of our consumption in the electricity sector was from renewables; 3.9% of our energy consumption in the heat sector was from renewables and 1.5% of our energy consumption in the transport sector was from renewable sources. Ireland's National Renewable Energy Action Plan published in July and which is available on the Department's website, sets out the plans to achieve Ireland's EU legally binding target of 16% of all energy consumption across the electricity, transport and heating sector from renewable sources by 2020.

Telecommunications Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

240 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the degree to which investment in the telecommunications sector is required to ensure modernisation and upgrading in line with other EU and non-EU competitors; the extent to which provision is made for this now and in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38046/10]

Government policy pertaining to the electronic communications market in Ireland is set out in "Next Generation Broadband — Gateway to a Knowledge Ireland", which I published in June 2009. The policy paper was developed in accordance with various key principles, which are crucial to the development of the market. The policy paper sets out the Government's position that investment in broadband infrastructure is primarily a matter for the private sector, facilitated, where appropriate and possible, by Government.

I understand that the industry has invested around €600m per annum over recent years. ComReg continues to review the level of investment being made by various operators and has a clear role in trying to provide a suitable investment environment especially for next generation networks. This policy has facilitated significant progress in rolling out broadband services, over recent years. This progress, measured in international comparisons, is demonstrated in a recent study of broadband services in 72 countries by the University of Oxford and the University of Oviedo, Spain, which concludes the broadband services currently available in Ireland are capable of meeting the requirements of today's broadband applications and overall, in terms of broadband quality and penetration, Ireland ranks 13th of the 72 countries studied.

Direct State investment is aimed at market failure situations — hence initiatives such as the Metropolitan Area Networks Programme and the National Broadband Scheme (NBS), which is aimed at bringing a broadband service to unserved areas. I am pleased to note that under the NBS, broadband is now available in all Electoral Divisions in the NBS coverage areas. Attention is now being focussed on (i) broadband quality and (ii) isolated cases where broadband is not being delivered due to technical or line of sight reasons.

While I am confident that the level of investment activity in the market will continue, I am keen to facilitate collaborative approaches to investment that would maximise impact without compromising competitive market principles. To that end, the Next Generation Broadband (NGB) Taskforce, which I signalled in my June 2009 policy paper, will be established and meet in the coming weeks. The NGB Taskforce will focus on how possible collaborative approaches to investment coupled with the existing policy environment and regulatory regime, could give rise to higher quality broadband.

Broadcasting Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

241 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he has had any discussions with service providers with a view to increasing the availability of subtitling with particular reference to meeting the needs of those with hearing difficulties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38047/10]

The Audiovisual Media Services Directive requires, inter alia, that Member States shall encourage media service providers under their jurisdiction to ensure that their services are gradually made accessible to people with a hearing disability. These provisions are transposed by the Broadcasting Act 2009 and the European Communities (Audiovisual Media Services) Regulations 2010. Under Section 43 (1)(c)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 2009, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) must prepare and, from time to time, revise rules with respect to the specific steps each broadcaster is required to take to promote the understanding and enjoyment by those who are deaf or have a hearing impairment of programmes transmitted on any broadcast service provided by the broadcaster. In relation to on-demand services The European Communities (Audiovisual Media Services) Regulations 2010 provides for the development of codes of conduct by media service providers, in cooperation with the BAI and other relevant bodies, to address this requirement.

Energy Prices

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

242 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the extent to which energy price costs to the manufacturing or services sectors here compare with the prices applicable throughout Europe; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38049/10]

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) collects and publishes energy statistics to support policy analysis and development in line with national needs and international obligations. The latest available comparative data from Eurostat is published by SEAI in their report "Electricity & Gas Prices in Ireland", published in May 2010. The data contained in this report covers the last six months of 2009. The data categorises businesses according to the level of their electricity consumption rather than the nature of their business.

The methodology used by SEAI and Eurostat reflects the actual cost of gas and electricity to final consumers as it incorporates all the factors in the cost of their use. The methodology is comprehensive and transparent and in each customer category, information is sought from each supplier regarding the volume of sales and the associated revenue. This allows computation of a national sales weighted unit price for electricity and gas for each customer category. The SEAI report shows that electricity prices for small businesses in Ireland are 3% below the Eurozone average. Electricity prices are between 2-4% above the Eurozone average for most other categories of business, but these figures still represent a significant improvement in Ireland's electricity price competitiveness compared to 2008.

SEAI has collected and submitted to Eurostat the electricity price figures for the first six months of 2010 and these national data show that Irish electricity price have continued to fall for all categories of business. In fact, the figures show that electricity prices for busin