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 97, inclusive, resubmitted.

Sugar Imports

David Stanton

Question:

98 Deputy David Stanton asked the Taoiseach the quantity and value of sugar imported in 2009; the countries from which the sugar was imported; the amount and value imported from each country respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38570/10]

The information requested by Deputy Stanton is presented in the following table. The table shows the total quantity of cane or beet sugar and chemically pure sucrose imports by country for the year January-December 2009. The total value of sugar imported in 2009 was €99.9 million and the quantity was 169,130 tonnes.

Imports

Country

Jan-Dec 2009

€ 000

Tonnes

Australia

6

6

Austria

1

1

Belgium

782

1,111

Brazil

1

1

Canada

0

0

China

30

26

Czech Republic

3

3

Denmark

2

1

France

8,723

16,253

Germany

9,908

14,380

Ghana

10

2

Great Britain

72,648

128,038

Hong Kong

8

8

Hungary

3

1

India

3

3

Indonesia

1

1

Ireland

608

728

Italy

851

196

Japan

776

206

Kenya

0

0

Lithuania

7

10

Luxembourg

4,853

7,629

Malawi

43

33

Malaysia

0

0

Mauritius

20

14

Netherlands

119

41

New Zealand

0

0

Nigeria

0

0

Northern Ireland

63

80

Pakistan

5

1

Philippines

1

2

Poland

22

24

Spain

34

29

Switzerland

113

72

Thailand

17

11

Turkey

28

13

United Arab Emirates

84

163

United States

87

43

Grand Total

99,860

169,130

Public Service Staff

Róisín Shortall

Question:

99 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Taoiseach the number of public servants who left under the incentivised early retirement scheme with details of grades; the number of public servants who left for other reasons with details of grades; the number of new staff recruited with details of grades; the number of promotions with details of grades; the net savings arising from the staff leaving over and above those recruited and promoted and to provide a breakdown of each of these figures for years 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010 [38483/10]

The information requested by the Deputy in relation to Civil Service grades in my Department is set out in the following tables. The tables are based on head count and not whole time equivalents. The actual number of staff in my Department (WTE) has reduced by 26 since January, 2008 to date. The estimated net saving in 2010 accruing from the total reduction in staff levels in my Department since 2008 is approximately €1,543,651.

2008

Grade

Incentivised Retirement 2008

Other Departures 2008

Promotions 2008

New Recruits 2008

Assistant Secretary

1

0

1

Assistant Principal

3

0

1

Higher Executive Officer

3

0

0

Administrative Officer

0

0

1

Executive Officer

2

1

0

Staff Officer

2

3

0

Clerical Officer

5

0

7

Services Officer

1

0

1

Totals

Nil

17

4

11

2009

Grade

Incentivised Retirement 2009

Other Departures 2009

Promotions 2009

New Recruits 2009

Principal officer

0

2

Assistant Principal

1

6

Higher Executive Officer

0

3

Administrative Officer

0

3

Executive Officer

0

2

Staff Officer

0

2

Clerical Officer

0

4

Services Officer

0

1

Cleaner

0

1

Totals

1

24

Nil

Nil

2010

Grade

Incentivised Retirement 2010

Other Departures 2010

Promotions 2010

New Recruits 2010

Assistant Secretary

0

1

0

0

Principal officer

1

0

1

0

Assistant Principal

0

3

1

1

Higher Executive Officer

1

0

0

0

Administrative Officer

0

2

0

2

Executive Officer

0

3

0

0

Staff Officer

0

0

0

1

Clerical Officer

0

3

0

1

Temporary Clerical Officer

0

0

0

2

Services Officer

1

1

0

2

Totals

3

13

2

9

Cabinet Committees

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

100 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Taoiseach the date on which the Cabinet committee on strategic directions for the future of local government was set up and the number of times the committee has met since that date [38435/10]

The Cabinet Committee on Strategic Directions for the Future of Local Government was set up on 13 January 2010 and has met some 16 times since.

Departmental Agencies

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

101 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Taoiseach the number of board members sitting on the boards of each State agency under his Department’s control; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39240/10]

The composition of the National Economic and Social Development Office, as set out in the National Economic and Social Development Act 2006, consists of the chairpersons and deputy chairperson of the National Economic and Social Council (NESC), National Economic and Social Forum (NESF) and National Centre for Partnership and Performance (NCPP).

Following the dissolution of the NESF and NCPP, the Board is now comprised of the chairperson and deputy chairperson of the Council only. As a result of the statutory provisions in the NESDO Act, the composition of the Board can only be changed by means of primary legislation.

In light of this and in order to ensure appropriate Governance is maintained, three members of the newly constituted NESC will be invited to attend Board meetings in an observer capacity.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

102 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Taoiseach the annual budget of each State agency under his Department’s control in each of the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39255/10]

The annual estimate provision for each of the State Agencies under the aegis of my Department for the years 2006, 2007, 2008 2009 and 2010 are detailed in the following table:

Agency

2006 (in ’000)

2007 (in ’000)

2008 (in ’000)

2009 (in ’000)

2010 (in ’000)

Central Statistics Office

84,761

54,900

51,130

53,640

57,832

NESDO

5,039

6,053

6,500

5,059

3,332

FÁS Training Programmes

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

103 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of face to face interviews carried out by FÁS in 2009 and to date in 2010; the number of applicants interviewed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38504/10]

The information requested by the Deputy is being researched. I will reply to him substantively in the matter as soon as possible.

Residential Institutions Redress Scheme

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

104 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the amount of money spent by the Residential Institutions Redress Board on advertising in the UK between 2002 and 2005; the number and type of publications in which these advertisements were placed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38561/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the total amount expended by the Residential Institutions Redress Board on advertising in the UK between 2002 and 2005 was €519,120.

Between 2002 and 2005, in addition to the placing of advertisements in Sunday newspapers, daily newspapers and publications aimed specifically at the Irish community, 7,500 leaflets and 7,500 pamphlets were distributed to the network of Irish societies. The Board also held 12 information days throughout England.

In addition to advertising the actual Redress Scheme, the Board also placed advertisements in selected newspapers in the UK highlighting the two Ministerial Orders made in 2004 and 2005 which had the effect of extending the scheme to include additional institutions. Similar advertisements were placed in selected UK publications advising potential applicants of the closing date for receipt of applications.

A total of 68 entries were made in the following newspapers: 3 Sunday Publications which provided national coverage; 9 Local Newspapers; and 5 Irish interest publications.

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

105 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of persons residing in the UK who were estimated to be eligible for compensation under the Residential Institutions Redress Board; the number of persons living in the UK that received compensation under the scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38563/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that there is no mechanism by which my Department can accurately estimate the number of persons resident in the UK who may have been eligible to apply for compensation under the Redress Scheme. My Department does not have access to any information which would provide details of the current whereabouts of persons who may have been resident in a scheduled institution.

However, from statistics provided by the Redress Board, I can tell you that 4,576 UK based former residents have received compensation under the Redress Scheme up to the end of September 2010.

Higher Education Grants

John Deasy

Question:

106 Deputy John Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if her attention has been drawn to the fact that social welfare recipients who change from one long-term social welfare payment to another long-term social welfare payment are being prevented from obtaining a third level grant top up due to a technicality in the system, whereby a combination of time on long-term social welfare payments is unacceptable for grant purposes; if she will examine the case of a person (details supplied) in County Waterford who had to transfer from lone parent allowance to jobseeker’s allowance due to the age of their dependent and has been refused the top up allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38615/10]

To qualify for the Special Rate of maintenance grant, an applicant must qualify for the ordinary maintenance grant in respect of the 2010/11 academic year. In addition, total reckonable income must not exceed a specified amount, which is €22,703 in the 2009 tax year. Finally, on the operative date, 31st December 2009 for the 2010/11 academic year, the reckonable income must include one of the eligible long-term social welfare payments prescribed under the scheme.

Where a person goes directly from one eligible social welfare payment to another, without a break in payment, the continuous period spent on both eligible payments is taken into consideration when assessing eligibility for the Special Rate of grant.

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.

Community Employment Schemes

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

107 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if any community employment scheme participants have been refused an extension for a further year on the basis that they are in receipt of a disability benefit [38623/10]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

108 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will confirm if any community employment scheme participants in receipt of either disability or one parent payments have requested and been refused an extension; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38729/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 107 and 108 together.

The length of time a person can remain on Community Employment (CE) is dictated by a number of factors, in line with the guidelines for CE:

What age the person is

How long they have been in receipt of a qualifying Department of Social Protection (DSP) payment

Previous participation on CE since 3rd April 2000

Whether they are considered job-ready at the end of each year's CE participation

Budgetary limitations/place availability limitations.

The maximum participation limits for CE are three years for those under 55 years of age, and six years for those of 55 to 65 years of age.

Persons in receipt of a qualifying disability-related DSP payment are eligible for one additional year on top of these two limits, i.e., four years for those under 55 and seven years for those of 55 to 65.

Persons in receipt of a qualifying DSP payment for 12 months (on entry to CE) may participate on CE for one year before having to leave CE and re-qualify, subject to the age-related maximum participation caps above. In exceptional circumstances, a percentage of participants may be retained for an additional subsequent year, subject to budget limits and personal training needs.

Persons in receipt of a qualifying DSP payment for three years or more (on entry to CE) may be eligible for up to three years on CE, subject to annual renewal, based on job-readiness assessment and personal training requirements. There is no entitlement to remain for the 3 years if the person is considered job-ready when assessed by the CE supervisor at the end of each annual contract.

FÁS has indicated that CE participants receiving Illness Benefit (previously known as Disability Benefit) and One Parent Family payment have requested and been refused an extension. However, FÁS does not gather statistics on the numbers of CE participants refused extensions, regardless of eligibility category or reason for refusal. The receipt of Illness Benefit or One Parent Family Payment has no bearing on the granting or otherwise of a further year on CE.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

109 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the changes envisaged for community employment schemes, particularly the role of community employment supervisors; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39104/10]

There are no proposals currently under consideration in regard to making changes to the national operation of Community Employment Scheme.

Within the current very difficult budgetary constraints, the number of places on CE have been increased to 23,300 in 2010. In delivering these places, FÁS will continue to operate flexibly in the management of this allocation in order to maximise progression to the labour market, while at the same time facilitating the support of community services.

Employment Support Services

Michael Noonan

Question:

110 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the procedures she has put in place to enable persons who feel entitled to moneys from the European Global Fund, for workers redundant from Dell and associated companies, to enable them to access the fund; to discuss their eligibility for certain payment; and to appeal decisions if they are adverse; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39441/10]

A dedicated EGF coordination unit has been established by FÁS to coordinate all services being provided to, or sought by, those redundant workers eligible for EGF support in the case in question.

Eligible supports include occupational guidance, training, upskilling, educational opportunities and enterprise supports supplied, as appropriate, by both public and private service providers.

The EGF coordination unit is charged with ensuring the effective and efficient management of EGF measures at local level. That function includes appropriately addressing and resolving problems encountered.

Each implementing body is understood to operate an EGF related appeals mechanism. For example, in the case of FÁS there is a written appeals system pertaining to all FÁS provided or supported EGF programmes with appeals being adjudicated on at Regional Director, or Assistant Director General levels, as appropriate.

Policy issues may be referred for advice, as appropriate, to the Department as the national EGF management authority. In addition, an EGF Steering Committee has been established, which includes representatives of the redundant workers, in order to provide advice and feedback on the implementation of EGF funded supports at local level.

School Staffing

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

111 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will ensure that a school (details supplied) in County Louth will be allocated a third mainstream teaching post; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39545/10]

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

168 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the request for the appointment of a third mainstream teacher in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Louth [39265/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 111 and 168 together.

The key factor for determining the level of staffing resources provided at individual school level for this school year is the pupil enrolment at 30 September 2009. The staffing schedule for the 2010/11 school year was published by my Department in March, 2010. The additional posts in the renewed Programme for Government enabled some improvement to be made to the staffing schedule. It is open to any Board of Management to submit an appeal under certain criteria to an independent Appeal Board. Details of the criteria for appeal are contained in the staffing schedule, Circular 0021/2010 which is available on my Department's website.

I understand that the school referred to by the Deputies submitted an appeal to the Primary Staffing Appeal Board which was considered by the Board at its meeting on 19 October 2010. The Board decided that a departure from the staffing schedule was not warranted in this case and the school has been notified in this regard. The Appeal Board operates independently of the Department and its decision is final.

Employment Support Services

David Stanton

Question:

112 Deputy David Stanton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the location of centres operating the job fit scheme; the number of participants in each of these schemes; the funding made available in 2010 to operate the scheme; the way in which the scheme provides work experience; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38447/10]

The Labour Market Activation Fund is designed to assist in the creation of innovative training and education provision by private, not-for-profit and public sector providers. It is targeted at specific priority groups among the unemployed, namely the low skilled, and those formerly employed in declining sectors — construction, retail and manufacturing sectors — with particular emphasis on the under 35s and the long-term unemployed. Following an open tender competition in which 370 tenders were received, offers of funding were initially made to 26 organisations across the private, not-for-profit and public sectors to support specific training and education programmes for the priority groups.

An additional allocation of €12 million has been made available to the Fund, raising it to €32 million in all. This has enabled the Department of Education and Skills to offer funding to 33 additional projects. This will bring to almost 60 the number of projects throughout the country being supported by the Fund.

The job fit programme is being delivered in the following locations in Dublin at Blanchardstown, Smithfield and Tallaght and in Athlone, Castlebar, Cork, Dundalk, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick and Waterford. There are currently 694 participants on the various courses being provided and it should be noted that this figure exceeds the anticipated intake for October 2010.

Further courses will commence throughout the reminder of 2010 and in early 2011 and it is anticipated that a total of 1,500 participants will avail of the programme. A total sum of €7.03m funding has been allocated to the running of these programmes from start to their finish in 2011.

To ensure that programmes being funded are meaningful and will offer a qualification to individuals, programmes financed under the Labour Market Activation Fund are accredited.

Work experience is provided by local employers for periods of up to 4 full weeks, delivered flexibly according to employer and participants needs. Participants who successfully complete the programmes will receive recognised certification and these programmes will provide an opportunity for unemployed individuals to enhance their career prospects in a meaningful and realistic way and will provide a stepping stone for these people to pursue a career in their chosen profession. Of the start up number 51 participants have recently attained employment and this figure is expected to rise over the coming months.

Departmental Staff

Pat Breen

Question:

113 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of retired teachers working on a temporary contractual basis as of 30 September 2010 in a county (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38453/10]

The information requested by the Deputy is not readily available on a county basis.

The managerial authorities of primary schools as at the 30th September had submitted claims for the payment of 302 retired teachers for work undertaken in a substitute capacity since the commencement of the current school year. These claims represent approximately 8% of the teachers engaged in substitute work for whom the managerial authorities have submitted claims.

In the case of Secondary Community and Comprehensive schools the managerial authorities had submitted claims for the payment of 74 retired teachers as at the 30th September for work undertaken in a substitute capacity since the commencement of the school year. This represents about 1.75% of the teachers engaged in substitute work for whom the managerial authorities have to-date submitted claims for payment.

The appointment of teachers to fill teaching posts is a matter for the individual school managerial authorities.

My Department is arranging for an information note to issue to schools this week regarding the recruitment of temporary and substitute teachers.

I will arrange for a copy of the note to be forwarded to the Deputy.

Special Educational Needs

Brian Hayes

Question:

114 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if circular 33 of 1979 has been replaced or updated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38456/10]

The circular referred to by the Deputy provided the basis for additional posts in respect of remedial education in Post Primary schools in the 1979/80 school year. The criteria used for the allocation of teachers to schools for the current school year are published on my Department's website. As the Deputy will be aware, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), for allocating resource teachers and special needs assistants to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support.

All schools have the names and contact details of their local SENO. Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie.

Redundancy Payments

Seán Power

Question:

115 Deputy Seán Power asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills when a redundancy payment will issue to a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38489/10]

I can confirm that an application for redundancy has been received by my Department from the Special Needs Assistant referred to by the Deputy. Applications for redundancy are being received on an ongoing basis and are processed in date order of receipt. The application in question will be dealt with as soon as possible.

Schools Building Projects

Arthur Morgan

Question:

116 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the plans her Department has to proceed with the construction of a permanent school building (details supplied) in County Meath; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38497/10]

My Department is currently in negotiations regarding the acquisition of a suitable site for the school in question.

The progression of a project for the school from site acquisition and initial design stage through to construction phase will be considered in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. However, in light of current competing demands on the Department's capital budget, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of a project for the school at this time.

Higher Education Grants

Mary Upton

Question:

117 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will support the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38502/10]

My Department has facilitated the running of the course referred to by the Deputy in a PLC centre for the last number of years. It is accredited by Dundee University as the equivalent of a Level 8 award on the National Framework of Qualifications (Honours Bachelor Degree/Higher Diploma). My Department funds four maintenance grant schemes, three at third level, the Higher Education Grants (HEG) Scheme, the Vocational Education Committees' (VEC) Scholarships Scheme, the Third Level Maintenance Grants Scheme for Trainees (TLT) and one for students attending Post Leaving Certificate Courses (PLC). The HEG Scheme is administered by the Local Authorities on behalf of my Department, the other three maintenance grant schemes are administered on a similar basis by the VECs. The PLC Scheme prescribes the terms and conditions of funding in respect of students attending approved courses in approved PLC Centres.

Under the terms of the PLC scheme, grant assistance is awarded to students who meet prescribed conditions of funding including those which relate to previous academic attainment. Students attending the course to which the Deputy refers must hold the HND in Animation or relevant and equivalent qualification. As students entering the above course already hold the equivalent of a Level 6 qualification, they are not eligible for grants under the maintenance scheme for students attending Post Leaving Certificate Courses.

I understand from the VEC concerned that prospective students are informed of the absence of grant support for the degree courses before they apply for places.

Departmental Agencies

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

118 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will provide an outline of each service provided by FÁS which falls within the remit of her Department; the projected expenditure of FÁS in 2010 for each area; the number of persons employed by FÁS in the delivery of these services, the number of persons assisted in each area in 2009 and to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38505/10]

The information requested by the Deputy is being researched. I will reply to him substantively in the matter as soon as possible.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

119 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of persons employed by the National Centre for Technology in Education; where personnel are based; the budget allocated to the NCTE; the way it will be used in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38507/10]

As the Deputy may be aware, the ICT in Schools Programme addresses four broad areas, namely:

the provision of essential ICT infrastructure and networking within schools;

the provision of access to broadband connectivity to schools;

continuous professional development in ICT for teachers;

integrating ICT within the curriculum and providing curriculum relevant digital content and software.

As the Department's lead Agency for implementation of the Programme, the NCTE addresses each of these four areas in its work. It provides advice and support to schools in connection with some €43m in ICT Grants distributed since November 2009, and manages the engagement of schools with national procurement Frameworks. It funds the provision of a schools broadband service desk, which deals with any issues schools may have with their broadband service. Under its Teaching Skills Initiative, it offers a range of ICT related training programmes, providing more than 10,000 places annually (latest full-year figures indicate some 12,000 places were provided in 2009). The NCTE also funds the procurement of online digital reference content for schools and the operation of Scoilnet, the national portal for digital content in Irish Education. Scoilnet provides a central resource to teachers, pupils and parents, offering access to a growing repository of advice and information. The NCTE is currently running a programme of nationwide ICT in-service seminars for Post-Primary principals. Seminars for primary principals were also held.

In addition, the NCTE works with other organisations in the delivery of innovative pilot programmes (including the current deployment of 100Mbps broadband connections across a sample of 78 post-primary schools). The NCTE carries out its functions above with a staffing complement of 18 whole-time-equivalents, all based in Dublin City University in Dublin 9, and a budgetary allocation of €5.4m for the current year which includes the salary costs for all NCTE staff.

Preschool Services

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

120 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of children that have benefited each year from the early start programme since its introduction; the amount it costs annually; the type of supports provided to children participating in this scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38508/10]

The Early Start Pre-School Programme was established in 1994/95 in 40 primary schools in designated areas of urban disadvantage in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Galway, Drogheda and Dundalk. Each pre-school class caters for a total of 30 children — 15 in the morning and 15 in the afternoon. The 55 classes now in place can cater for a total of 1,650 children. Each pre-school class has a teacher and a child care worker.

The programme is a one-year intervention scheme to meet the needs of 3 and 4 year olds who are at risk of not reaching their potential within the school system. The project involves an educational programme to enhance overall development, help prevent school failure and offset the effects of social disadvantage. Parental involvement is one of the core elements of the programme in recognition of the parent/guardian as the prime educator of the child and to encourage the parent/guardian to become involved in their child's education.

The enrolments and costs in providing the Early Start programme are set out below. The teachers involved in Early Start units are assigned by the individual school and my Department does not collect individual data on the teachers employed in the Early Start programme. Specific salary costs can't therefore be provided. The salary costs have been estimated based on the numbers employed, with reference to the salary scales prevailing each year. The estimated cost of the programme including salary costs is was €6.1m for the 2009/2010 school year.

Early Start Pre-School Approx Cost from 1994 to 2010

School Year

Enrolment

No. of Schools

No. of Teaching Posts & CCW’s

Cost of Early Start (excluding Teachers)

Cost of Early Start Teachers (Approx figures used)

Approx Total Cost

1994/1995

369

8

13

191,267

409,500.00

600,767.00

1995/1996

1,593

40

56

1,013,565.88

1,812,830.32

2,826,396.20

1996/1997

1,566

40

56

1,121,913.90

1,848,000.00

2,969,913.90

1997/1998

1,558

40

56

1,169,074.51

1,904,000.00

3,073,074.51

1998/1999

1,538

40

55

1,230,493.60

1,925,000.00

3,155,493.60

1999/2000

1,613

40

56

1,279,300.60

2,044,000.00

3,323,300.60

2000/2001

1,619

40

56

1,793,370.29

2,240,000.00

4,033,370.29

2001/2002

1,492

40

56

1,801,727.61

2,296,000.00

4,097,727.61

2002/2003

1,529

40

56

1,881,083.28

2,520,000.00

4,401,083.28

2003/2004

1,565

40

56

1,978,780.28

2,744,000.00

4,722,780.28

2004/2005

1,603

40

56

1,734,783.48

2,912,000.00

4,646,783.48

2005/2006

1,603

40

56

2,226,922.90

3,080,000.00

5,306,922.90

2006/2007

1,598

40

56

2,320,296.31

3,248,000.00

5,568,296.31

2007/2008

1,583

40

56

2,462,086.05

3,600,000.00

6,062,086.05

2008/2009

1,572

40

56

2,520,043.18

3,472,000.00

5,992,043.18

2009/2010

1,535

40

56

2,473,718.57

3,584,000.00

6,057,718.57

Redundancy Payments

John O'Mahony

Question:

121 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the reason a person (details supplied) in County Mayo has not been informed by the Department of the reason their redundancy payment has been reduced; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38514/10]

The person the Deputy refers to was consulted by my Department in relation to the reduction of the redundancy payment. The consultation was by telephone. I will arrange for a written explanation to issue to the person in question.

Schools Building Projects

Liz McManus

Question:

122 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a school (details supplied) in County Carlow; if this school will be included in the 2011 capital programme; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the conditions of the school has continued to deteriorate and that the planned extension and renovation for 2011 is essential; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38523/10]

My Department has recently received the Stage 2b (detailed design) submission for the project to which the Deputy refers. My officials are currently reviewing this documentation and will revert to the Board of Management when this review is complete.

The further progression of this project will be considered in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme for 2011 and subsequent years. However, it is not possible to give a more indicative timeframe for the progression of the project to tender and construction at this time.

Higher Education Grants

James Bannon

Question:

123 Deputy James Bannon asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will consider an increase in the higher education grant in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Longford; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38532/10]

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.

James Bannon

Question:

124 Deputy James Bannon asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application for grant assistance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Longford; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38533/10]

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.

James Bannon

Question:

125 Deputy James Bannon asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application for a third level grant in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Longford; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38537/10]

The decision on eligibility for a student grant is a matter, in the first instance, for the relevant assessing authority, i.e. the applicant's local authority or VEC. An applicant may appeal the decision to the relevant local authority or VEC.

Where the assessing authority decides to reject the appeal, the applicant may appeal this decision to my Department by submitting an appeal form outlining clearly the specific grounds for the appeal. No appeal has been received by my Department to date from the candidate referred to by the Deputy.

Schools Building Projects

Brian Hayes

Question:

126 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills when a school (details supplied) in Dublin 7 will have a permanent location and facilities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38559/10]

Officials from my Department are in on-going discussions with Naomh Fionnbarra GAA regarding a design solution for the School referred to by the Deputy. The GAA club have confirmed that they are agreeable, in principle, to surrendering their interest in the relevant land holding subject to technical issues being agreed. Once this acquisition is concluded, the proposed building project will be considered in the context of the capital budget available to my Department for school buildings generally.

Higher Education Grants

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

127 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills her plans to put in place a scheme to allow students at private third-level colleges to avail of student grants; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38560/10]

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

141 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the reason third level maintenance grants are not available to persons attending a college (details supplied) in Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38712/10]

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

157 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will respond to a request from students in private third level colleges for their inclusion in access to the higher education grants scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39110/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 127, 141 and 157 together.

The statutory framework for the Higher Education Grants Scheme, as set out in the Local Authorities (Higher Education Grants) Acts, 1969 to 1992, provides for means-tested higher education grants to assist students to attend full-time third level education in approved institutions. The institutions approved under the scheme are, generally speaking, publicly-funded third level colleges offering full-time courses at undergraduate and post-graduate level. Each year, the Higher Education Grants Scheme specifies a list of institutions approved for the purposes of the scheme.

My Department provides very significant funding to publicly-funded third level institutions in the State. This funding is used to provide a very broad range of courses to meet both economic and societal needs. Private commercial colleges, in general, operate on a "for profit" basis and the State has no say in directing their operations. I have no plans to extend the scope of the student grant schemes to private colleges operated on a "for profit" basis at this time. My Department has received correspondence from the group referred to by the Deputy and a reply will issue shortly.

Schools Building Projects

Joe Costello

Question:

128 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills when she will provide the new permanent school building for a school (details supplied) inDublin 7 [38567/10]

Officials from my Department are in ongoing discussions with Naomh Fionnbarra GAA regarding a design solution for the School referred to by the Deputy. The GAA club have confirmed that they are agreeable, in principle, to surrendering their interest in the relevant land holding subject to technical issues being agreed. Once this acquisition is concluded, the proposed building project will be considered in the context of the capital budget available to my Department for school buildings generally.

School Evaluations

Chris Andrews

Question:

129 Deputy Chris Andrews asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills when a centre (details supplied) in Dublin 2 will receive the result of their whole school evaluation, which was carried out more than 10 months ago [38575/10]

I am pleased to advise that the evaluation of the Centre referred to by the Deputy has been finalised. The evaluation was carried out within my Department as part of a review of projects funded under the Fund for the Development of Targeted Educational Responses to Certain Children at Risk. While the evaluation was not a Whole School Evaluation it was modelled on those applied to centres for education such as Youthreach.

This finalised report will issue shortly to the Centre.

Schools Building Projects

Chris Andrews

Question:

130 Deputy Chris Andrews asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will confirm that funding for the proposed extension of a school (details supplied) in Dublin 6 will include funding for ancillary space, stairs, toilets and a lift [38578/10]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the school to which he refers was approved an all-in devolved grant in April 2010 to construct four mainstream classrooms, one to replace a prefab and the other three to provide additional classroom accommodation.

A condition of devolved funding is that the school authority must manage the project within the grant level approved. Any costs associated with additional works completed outside the level of grant aid approved must be borne by the school authority. A letter clarifying this recently issued to the school authority.

Kieran O'Donnell

Question:

131 Deputy Kieran O’Donnell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding funding for a new site and new school buildings (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38591/10]

A suitable site has been identified which is in the ownership of Limerick County Council. My officials are in contact with the Council in relation to an agreed means of ownership/interest in the site. Once this acquisition is concluded, the proposed building project will be considered in the context of the capital budget available to my Department for school buildings generally.

Higher Education Grants

Arthur Morgan

Question:

132 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will amend the eligibility criteria for student grant support to ensure that families and parents solely reliant on payments under the non-means-tested illness benefit are entitled to the full support including the top-up payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38592/10]

The report of the Action Group on Access to Third Level Education made detailed recommendations concerning the introduction of special rates of maintenance grants for disadvantaged students.

The target group of "those most in need" was defined in terms of the dependants of people receiving long-term welfare payments, where the necessary conditions are fulfilled.

To qualify for the Special Rate of maintenance grant, an applicant must qualify for the ordinary maintenance grant in respect of the 2010/11 academic year. In addition, total reckonable income must not exceed a specified amount, which is €22,703 in the 2009 tax year. Finally, on the operative date, 31st December 2009 for the 2010/11 academic year, the reckonable income must include one of the eligible long-term social welfare payments prescribed under the scheme.

Illness Benefit is considered to be a short-term payment and, therefore, it is not included as an eligible payment for the purposes of the special rates of maintenance grant.

Schools Refurbishment

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

133 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills when emergency works will be sanctioned for and commenced on a school (details supplied) in County Wexford which has made an application under the emergency works scheme 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38608/10]

An application for funding under Emergency Works was submitted by the school in question. However, following an assessment of the application and in light of the nature and scale of the works involved it is not possible to provide funding at this time. It is open to the school authority to submit an application for these works under the next round of the Summer Works Scheme.

Higher Education Grants

Liz McManus

Question:

134 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if her attention has been drawn to the delays being experienced by third level students in the processing of their applications for higher education grants; if her further attention has been drawn to the staff shortages in councils and vocational education committees that are contributing to these delays; her plans to resolve the issue [38612/10]

The process of paying third level or further education grants is a matter for the relevant local authority or VEC. I am aware that the timing of payment varies between the 66 awarding bodies depending on a number of variables including the volume of applications received, staffing resources and whether or not properly completed application forms have been received.

This year's student grant schemes include a number of significant administrative and service improvements aimed at addressing the issue of delays which include an initial roll-out of a new on-line grant application system. The new system, introduced in both Irish and English, is already now operating in 11 grant awarding authorities. Building on this initial phase for the current academic year, the ultimate aim will be to make it available to all applicants nationally.

The on-line system is part of a package of administrative and service improvements brought to the student grant schemes this year. Key among the other changes are a complete overhaul of the grant application form, streamlined administrative processes, advance payments to awarding authorities and publication of the grant schemes some two months earlier than last year.

Regarding the staffing position in Vocational Education Committees (VECs) and local authorities, the Deputy will be aware of the Government decision to implement a recruitment and promotion moratorium in the public sector, including in these bodies. Work prioritisation across different functions, and how available staff are deployed to execute those functions, are matters for the management of each VEC and local authority concerned.

Schools Building Projects

Simon Coveney

Question:

135 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the progress regarding a school (details supplied) in County Cork; when she expects each stage of the works to take place; if she will provide a timescale for the works and when she expects the project to be completed [38629/10]

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

Special Educational Needs

John Deasy

Question:

136 Deputy John Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of special needs assistants employed in primary, special and post-primary schools in Waterford city in each of the past five years and to date in 2010; the number of special needs pupils benefiting in Waterford city in each of those years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38652/10]

John Deasy

Question:

137 Deputy John Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of special needs assistants employed in primary, special and post-primary schools in County Waterford in each of the past five years and to date in 2010; the number of special needs pupils benefitting in County Waterford in each of those years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38653/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 136 and 137 together.

The information requested by the Deputy on the number of special needs assistants employed in Waterford City and County is not readily available. The number of Special Needs Assistants employed nationally in each of the past five years and on 30th September 2010 is available in the attached document. The details for each of the past five years are the December figures for the year in question. The primary schools information is inclusive of the special schools details.

As the Deputy will be aware, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support.

The Deputy is aware that my Department is very supportive of the SNA scheme. It has been a key factor in both ensuring the successful integration of children with special educational needs into mainstream education and providing support to pupils enrolled in special schools and special classes. The SNA scheme will continue to be supported and the NCSE will continue to support schools, parents, children and teachers and resources will continue to be allocated to schools to meet children's needs in line with my Department's policy.

Number of Special Needs Assistants

Year

Number of Special Needs Assistants in Primary schools

Number of Special Needs Assistants in Post Primary Schools, including VECs.

2005

6,273

1,021

2006

6,974

1,416

2007

8,038

1,786

2008

8,440

2,002

2009

8,392

1,950

30/09/2010

8,141

2,065

Schools Building Projects

Tom Sheahan

Question:

138 Deputy Tom Sheahan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding grant aid to a school (details supplied) towards the provision of two resource rooms and ancillary costs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38664/10]

The school to which the Deputy refers applied to my Department in 2005 for large scale capital funding for an extension and refurbishment. The application was assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for large scale building projects and assigned a band rating of 2.5. Information in respect of the current school building programme along with all assessed applications for major capital works, including the project referred to by the Deputy, is available on the Department's website at www.education.ie. The school authority has recently applied to my Department for additional accommodation for resource teaching. This application is currently under consideration and a decision will issue to the school authority in due course.

Vocational Education Committees

Pat Breen

Question:

139 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the implications of her proposal to amalgamate a committee (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38678/10]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

158 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills when she will bring forward legislation to reduce the number of vocational education committees from 33 to 16; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39114/10]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

159 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she has decided the number of representatives on each vocational education committee once they have been rationalised from 33 to 16; if a net reduction on the number of committee members is envisaged under the reform; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39115/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 139, 158 and 159 together.

At this point the only firm and absolute decisions taken by the Government are to reduce the overall number of VECs from 33 to 16 and the merger of particular counties. My Department has commenced work on the preparation of legislation so that it can be brought forward in 2011. Many of the detailed aspects of the restructuring, including the location of the headquarters of the new VECs, the number of representatives on each VEC and the number of administrative staff which each of the new VEC entities will have, will fall to be considered and worked through by my Department in conjunction with the VECs involved in any one merger before decisions are taken.

Schools Building Projects

Alan Shatter

Question:

140 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills when permission will be granted for a design team to be appointed to the school building project for a school (details supplied) in Dublin 16; the timeline she envisages for the building project through to completion; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38687/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, on 16 February last, details of the major school building projects to enter into architectural planning this year were announced. The project for the school referred to by the Deputy was included in this announcement and work has begun on formulating the project brief. As part of this process, my Department's Professional and Technical Staff will be inspecting the proposed site for the new school during next week. Following the site visit and based on the findings of the site visit, my Department will then be in contact with the school authority regarding the progression of the project into architectural planning. At this early stage in the process, it is not possible to be specific about a timeline for completion of the project.

Question No. 141 answered with Question No. 127.

Pension Provisions

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

142 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will respond to the issues raised in correspondence (details supplied) [38718/10]

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

143 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare [38719/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 142 and 143 together.

There was an initial difficulty in locating records in respect of this individual who worked in the Department in a temporary capacity on a number of occasions during the 1970's due to the way her name was recorded at the time. However, after further clarification and information was provided all verified service has now transferred to her current Superannuation Scheme and correspondence has issued to the individual informing her of same. There is however an outstanding difficulty in locating any record in respect of one of the years that the person wishes to claim pensionable service and officials from my Department will be in contact with the individual in this regard with a view to resolving the situation as soon as possible.

FÁS Training Programmes

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

144 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the details regarding a FÁS programme (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38741/10]

I understand that the Deputy is referring to the "JobFit" programme provided by TGB Learning Ltd and which is being funded by the Labour Market Activation Fund. The Fund is being managed by my Department and FAS has no role in its administration.

The Labour Market Activation Fund is designed to assist in the creation of innovative training and education provision by private, not-for-profit and public sector providers. It is targeted at specific priority groups among the unemployed, namely the low skilled, and those formerly employed in declining sectors — construction, retail and manufacturing sectors — with particular emphasis on the under 35s and the long-term unemployed. Following an open tender competition in which 370 tenders were received, offers of funding were initially made to 26 organisations across the private, not-for-profit and public sectors to support specific training and education programmes for the priority groups.

TBG Learning are a member of the Rehab Group. The Company has been contracted to deliver the JobFit programme in the following locations in Dublin at Blanchardstown, Smithfield and Tallaght and in Athlone, Castlebar, Cork, Dundalk, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick and Waterford. Work experience is provided by local employers for periods of up to 4 full weeks, delivered flexibly according to employer and participants needs. Participants who successfully complete the programmes will receive recognised certification and these programmes will provide an opportunity for unemployed individuals to enhance their career prospects in a meaningful and realistic way and will provide a stepping stone for these people to pursue a career in their chosen profession.

TBG Learning has informed my Department that there are currently 694 participants on the various courses being provided and it should be noted that this figure exceeds the anticipated intake for October 2010. Of the start up number 51 participants have recently attained employment and this figure is expected to rise over the coming months. Further courses will commence throughout the reminder of 2010 and in early 2011 and it is anticipated that a total of 1,500 participants will avail of the programme. A total sum of €7.03m funding has been allocated to the running of these programmes from start to their finish in 2011. Funding is provided to the contracted bodies in 3 tranches.

A progress report on implementation of the project is due from TBG by end October 2010 and this will confirm progress at the various centres. In line with the contractual agreement TBG Learning are formally required to submit a Programme Evaluation Report to the Department of Education and Skills. The Report must show how completion of the programme has enhanced opportunities for its participants, and how the programme has progressed participants to full or part-time employment, or self-employment, or to further training or educational attainment connected with labour market opportunity. The Report must also show how value for money was delivered in the programmes. This final report is not due until completion of the programme. The Contracted Body were also advised to pay particular attention to the relevant ESF Regulations and Circulars and to those items qualifying as eligible expenditure and to expenditure, which is not eligible for a contribution from the ESF.

Departmental officials will be visiting one or more of the locations listed above as part of our monitoring process and further payments will not be made to the contracted body until such time as my Department is satisfied that they have adhered to the terms of the tender and subsequent contract. As part of this exercise, checks on sources of funding will be undertaken, including checks on such issues as duplication of funding.

Education Provision

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

145 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding provision planned in the areas of primary, post-primary and special needs education for patients within the proposed new national children’s hospital of Ireland; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38742/10]

I wish to confirm for the Deputy that education provision is being planned for children within the proposed new National Children's Hospital and my Department is liaising with representatives of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board regarding this provision. Provision is presently made to ensure that a measure of interim education is provided for hospitalised children in a number of hospital based schools. Such schools are supported by lower pupil teacher ratios of 10:1 which are designed to take into account the various needs and ages of the children concerned and their individual curriculum progress. It is planned that similar hospital based schooling will be provided at the new National Children's Hospital.

Departmental Correspondence

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

146 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will respond to issues raised in correspondence (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38745/10]

The position is that the governance and day to day activities of the Institute concerned are matters for which the management authorities and the Governing Body of the Institute are responsible. My Department does not have any function in relation to the day to day operational affairs of the Institution or in relation to decisions about the programmes of study that it provides. It is my understanding that demand from students is a key factor in relation to such decisions and in the absence of a sufficient level of demand it may not be possible to offer a particular programme in any given year. It is also my understanding that each individual year of the programme referred to provides for a distinct level of certification.

Third Level Fees

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

147 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she can ensure that there will be no increase in student service charges at third level in 2011; if the student assistance fund will be applied to part-time students experiencing difficulties continuing their education; if she will commit to streamlining of the grants system for third level students to ensure ease of access for all and if she will commit to no reduction in maintenance grants for third level students [38751/10]

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 the student service charge, the maintenance grant or the student assistant fund at this stage. However, all proposals made in relation to education expenditure will be considered in the context of the Budget.

In line with the Transforming Public Services agenda, it is intended that the student grants administration process will be streamlined to create one consolidated student grant scheme to be administered by a single grant awarding authority. The main objective of this reform of the administrative arrangements is to bring about greater simplicity and efficiency to the system. The new administrative arrangements will be fully customer focused to ensure the efficient and timely delivery of grants to those students who demonstrate an entitlement. The Student Support Bill, due to progress to Committee Stage shortly, will provide an enabling legislative framework for the provision of all student grants, facilitating the creation of the single consolidated grants scheme and underpinning the reform and streamlining of administration procedures for the management of the grant awarding process.

Community Employment Schemes

Richard Bruton

Question:

148 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if he will clarify the conditions under which persons can qualify for participation in community employment schemes and, in particular, any exclusion of persons performing casual work at weekends; and if he will ensure that such restrictions do not exclude persons who are trying their best by taking up casual opportunities that come their way [38823/10]

FÁS has advised that the criteria for participating in the FÁS Community Employment Scheme (CE) are based on age and length of time in receipt of various social welfare payments, and are as follows:

Part-time Integration Option (PTI)

One year version of CE for people aged 25 years and over who are receiving social welfare payments for 12 months or more.

Part-time Job Option (PTJ)

Three year version of CE, (based on annually renewable contracts) for people aged 35 years and over and who are receiving social welfare payments for 3 years or more.

The social welfare payments referred to above are:

Jobseekers Benefit (JB)

Jobseekers Allowance (JA)

One Parent Family Payment (OPFP)

Widows/Widowers Contributory Pension

Widows/Widowers Non-Contributory Pension

Deserted Wife's Benefit (DWB)

Farm Assist (FA)

Time spent in receipt of Carer's Allowance can also count towards the 12-month eligibility period (3 years for PTJ), but caring responsibilities must have ceased and the person must currently be in receipt of either JA, JB or OPFP.

The following are also eligible for participation on CE:

People aged 18 years or over (35 years or over for PTJ) and are currently in receipt of any of Disability Allowance, Blind Pension, Invalidity Pension and Illness Benefit for six months or more

Travellers aged 18 years or over, who are unemployed and in receipt of Jobseekers Benefit, Jobseekers Allowance for any period (12 months for PTJ) or One Parent Family Payment for 1 year or longer. In the case of Travellers under 18 years of age, a minimum of 12 months spent in a Travellers Training Centre is enough for eligibility

All refugees aged 18 years or over, as authenticated by the Department of Justice and Law Reform, in receipt of payments from the Department of Social Protection

Persons aged 18 years or over inhabiting the offshore islands

Ex-offenders aged 18 years or over (35 years or over for PTJ) and referred by the Probation Service. Also, Ex-offenders aged 18 and over (35 years or over for PTJ) and not referred by the Probation Service and in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance or Jobseekers Benefit for a period of one year or more (3 years for PTJ). Time spent as a prisoner is regarded as reckonable when considering the duration unemployed

Persons aged 18 years or over referred by the Drugs Task Force.

Time spent on recognised training or employment programmes (such as a FÁS training course) can also be counted towards eligibility. Eligibility to participate on CE for both PTI and PTJ is linked to those in receipt of an Irish social welfare payment. Those persons not meeting the criteria under these options, or who are signing for credits, or receiving social welfare benefits from a different country, are not eligible to participate on CE.

FÁS has advised that, in assessing eligibility for CE, recipients of JA or JB are allowed a maximum of 30 worked days in the 12 months prior to commencing. CE is an active labour market programme designed to provide eligible long-term unemployed people and other disadvantaged persons with an opportunity to engage in useful work within their communities on a temporary, fixed term basis. CE helps long-term unemployed people to re-enter the active workforce by breaking their experience of unemployment through a return to a work routine and to assist them to enhance/develop both their technical and personal skills.

CE is not designed to cater for short-term unemployed people as they are not as far removed from the open labour market as the main client group for the programme. To facilitate some short-term employment opportunities, breaks off the live register up to 30 days in total (i.e. 30 worked days) are permissible within the 12-month eligibility period, while still maintaining eligibility for CE. The reason for the 30-day live register break rule is to ensure that the programme responds to its primary target group of long-term unemployed clients. Many unemployed people engage in work of a temporary nature. If the programme were open to these individuals, there is a danger that people would leave their employment, albeit of a temporary nature, in order to participate in CE. This would be contrary to the objective of the programme and result in a Labour Market Intervention competing with the open labour market. In circumstances where breaks off the live register exceed 30 days, other interventions may be more appropriate than CE.

School Staffing

Shane McEntee

Question:

149 Deputy Shane McEntee asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if a school (details supplied) in County Meath will still be entitled to another mainstream teacher in 2011 [39018/10]

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.

Schools Building Projects

Shane McEntee

Question:

150 Deputy Shane McEntee asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if two 16-teacher schools (details supplied) in County Meath will be built now that four acres of land have been recently purchased [39019/10]

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

171 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding funding for a school (details supplied) in County Meath; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39405/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 150 and 171 together.

I can confirm to the Deputies that the Patron of the school to which they refer has recently confirmed to my Department that he has acquired additional land adjacent to the school and a neighbouring school to facilitate an expansion of the accommodation provided at both schools. My Department considers that the provision of 16 mainstream classrooms plus appropriate ancillary accommodation in both schools will meet the needs of the area.

Projects for the schools have been assigned a band 1 rating and the progression of all large scale building projects, including these projects, from initial design stage through to construction phase will be considered in the context of the Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. However, in light of current competing demands on the Department's capital budget, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of the projects at this time.

Computerisation Programme

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

151 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the reason post leaving certificate students and colleges were excluded form his announcement last week of funding for IT equipment (details supplied) [39024/10]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

153 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills further to her announcement on 15 October 2010, that 698 post primary schools would receive €21 million in grants for information and communications technology equipment, the reason 34 vocational educational committee schools have been excluded from this funding; the rationale behind this decision; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39053/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 151 and 153 together.

As the Deputies are aware, I recently announced the distribution of €20.75m in post-primary level ICT Infrastructure grants under the ICT in Schools Programme. These capital grants are designed to assist schools in the integration of ICT into teaching and learning in a curricular context from Junior to Senior cycles. At present, there is a particular emphasis on supporting the revised Maths curricula in tandem with the national rollout of Project Maths.

The PLC programme is a self-contained whole-time learning experience designed to provide successful participants with specific vocational skills to enhance their prospects of securing lasting, full-time employment, or progression to other studies. It caters for those who: have completed senior cycle education, and require further vocational education and training to enhance their prospects of employment or progression to other studies; are adults returning to education, who may not have completed the senior cycle, but are deemed by the provider to have the necessary competencies and capacity to undertake the programme.

The aim of the PLC programme is to provide participants with specific vocational skills. It is intended, therefore, that this programme will provide for a more intensive development of technical skills, including new technologies, combining opportunities for work experience, vocational studies and general studies. Providers must demonstrate a labour market justification for the programmes being proposed. Therefore programme content must be relevant to labour market needs and/or progression to further studies.

Staff are allocated to deliver PLC courses on the basis of a pupil teacher ratio (PTR) of 17:1. Enhanced PLC capitation of €185.38 in addition to the standard post-primary non-pay grants is provided, based on the number of approved places or enrolments in the previous academic year, whichever is the lower. The annual grant is intended to help defray overheads on PLC courses including repairs and maintenance. Learners who satisfy the terms of the PLC Maintenance Grant Scheme are eligible to receive maintenance grants. In this context, it would not have been appropriate to include PLC enrolments in the ICT Infrastructure Grants, which focus on second-level curricular contexts from junior to senior cycle.

Higher Education Grants

Michael Creed

Question:

152 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if the Student Support Bill intends to provide financial assistance under the higher education grants scheme to students attending approved private third level education facilities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39040/10]

The Higher Education Grants Scheme operates under the Local Authorities (Higher Education Grants) Acts, 1968 to 1992. Each year, the scheme specifies a list of approved institutions for grants purposes. Private commercial colleges operating on a "for profit" basis are not generally approved for grants purposes.

Section 8 of the Student Support Bill as published makes provision for the Minister, in certain circumstances and taking certain matters into account, to prescribe an educational institution as being an approved institution for grants purposes. However, I have no plans to extend the scope of the student grant schemes to private colleges operated on a "for profit" basis at this time.

Question No. 153 answered with Question No. 151.

John Cregan

Question:

154 Deputy John Cregan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the reason her Department advised Limerick County Council to include a once-off way leave compensation payment when calculating means for the purpose of determining qualification for a higher education grant in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick [39074/10]

I understand that my Department received a general query from Limerick County Council with regard to treatment of way leave compensation for the purpose of calculation of reckonable means under the student grant schemes. The position as outlined in the application form and guidance notes is that disposal of assets and rights should be included in calculating reckonable income for grant purposes.

The Deputy will appreciate, however, that 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.

John Cregan

Question:

155 Deputy John Cregan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the reason a course (details supplied) is not grant aided [39076/10]

The course referred to by the Deputy has not been approved as it has not been demonstrated that it represents academic progression from the qualification required for entry to the course.

Schools Refurbishment

Brendan Howlin

Question:

156 Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she has received an application for funding in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Wexford; if this application can be expedited in the interests of safety and comfort for pupils and staff; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39101/10]

An application for funding under Emergency Works was submitted by the school in question. However, following an assessment of the application and in light of the nature and scale of the works involved it is not possible to provide funding at this time. It is open to the school authority to submit an application for these works under the next round of the Summer Works Scheme.

Question No. 157 answered with Question No. 127.
Questions Nos. 158 and 159 answered with Question No. 139.

Departmental Expenditure

Johnny Brady

Question:

160 Deputy Johnny Brady asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the amount spent by her Department and also by any bodies under her Department’s jurisdiction in each of the last three years on the provision of Internet applications (details supplied); the processes in place to ensure that such funds have been spent on good quality Internet applications, in terms of accessibility, security and data protection [39127/10]

My Department has spent the following amounts in connection with internet applications in the past 3 years:

2007 — €2,267,000;

2008 — €2,294,000;

2009 — €1,412,000 .

These internet applications include my Department's website, the Display Energy Certificate website and the esinet portal, which supports the electronic transfer of data between schools and my Department. Each of the applications supported by esinet and all major enhancements to these applications are subjected to extensive user acceptance testing and are often piloted in a select number of schools before going live. Furthermore, the Department has a contract in place with an independent security company which provides six monthly security health checks on all our internet applications. This company also offers advice on data protection issues for these applications.

With regard to the bodies under the aegis of my Department, the provision of internet applications is an operational matter for each individual body and the information is not collated centrally.

Education Provision

Tom Sheahan

Question:

161 Deputy Tom Sheahan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the provision of an educate together school for the Kenmare area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39133/10]

As I previously indicated to the House, 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. The study indicated that the requirement for additional primary provision in the short to medium term is likely to be greatest in more than 40 identified locations across the country based on significant changes to the demographics of those areas. The Kenmare area was not included in these initial identified areas.

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 school requirements in the area referred to will be considered in this context.

Schools Building Projects

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

162 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the building programme issues relating to a school (details supplied) in Dublin 24; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39151/10]

My Department is aware of the difficulties that have arisen between the school in question, the building contractor and the Consultant Architect that has resulted in delaying the satisfactory conclusion of this project.

The bulk of the funding due for payment under the terms of the contract between the school and the contractor for this project has issued to the school on foot of appropriate certification that certain works have been completed. This is a normal requirement before funding can be provided in relation to school projects. The dismissal of the Consultant Architect by the school authority has created difficulties in relation to final certification of the satisfactory completion of the project and, consequently, payment of the balance of funding due. Officials from my Department have recently written to the School Management Authority requested a meeting and as soon as a reply is received a meeting to discuss the ongoing difficulties will be arranged.

School Transport

Finian McGrath

Question:

163 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if he will support special needs pupils transport requirements (details supplied) [39167/10]

The school transport scheme, which is operated by Bus Éireann on my Department's behalf, facilitates the transportation of over 125,000 children to primary and post-primary schools each day including approximately 8,000 children with special educational needs. Children with special needs are eligible for School Transport if s/he is attending the nearest recognised: mainstream school, special class/ special school or a unit, that is or can be resourced, to meet the child's special educational needs under Department of Education and Science criteria.

Bus Éireann endeavours to ensure that a reasonable level of transport service is provided for each eligible child. The safety of pupils travelling on school transport services is of paramount importance to the Department and Bus Éireann. In some cases the service provided may include an individual taxi and escort where the child's care and safety needs are such that they warrant this level of support. In general, transport for children with special needs is provided from home to school and from school to home. The provision of school transport to and from respite services is not a feature of the scheme, rather it is a service which has evolved over time and transport has been availed of on an incidental basis.

There are complex, individualised transport arrangements required for the children availing of a school transport service to a respite centre. These attendance patterns do not fit into general school transport arrangements and there are potential safety risks which need to be addressed. School bus services do not have the flexibility to provide morning only, evening only, or services on certain days only for certain children and different days for others. While individual arrangements were put in place in some instances in previous years, the level of individual planning and monitoring that this type of service provision would involve is not provided for under the School Transport Scheme and difficulties have arisen with the continuing implementation of existing arrangements.

In light of this, an examination of the current position in respect of transport to and from respite centres has been initiated in conjunction with the HSE with a view to formulating clear policy guidelines on the matter. Aspects to be considered will include the location of respite services identified relative to existing school bus routes, clarity on responsibility for the child transferring between school transport and respite arrangements, the complexity and regularity of individual respite arrangements and cost.

All new applications for transport to respite, including the case referred to by the Deputy, are to be considered in the light of these guidelines.

Legislative Programme

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

164 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills when the Student Support Bill will be completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39170/10]

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

169 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills her plans to introduce a centralised grants agency to replace the present multiple agency system in light of the increased number of applications; the savings projected to result from the creation of a single agency; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39394/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 164 and 169 together.

The Deputy will be aware that, in line with the Transforming Public Services agenda, it is intended that the student grants administration process will be streamlined to create one consolidated student grant scheme to be administered by a single grant awarding authority. The main objective of this reform of the administrative arrangements is to bring about greater simplicity and efficiency to the system. The new administrative arrangements will be fully customer focused to ensure the efficient and timely delivery of grants to those students who demonstrate an entitlement.

The Student Support Bill, due to progress to Committee Stage shortly, will provide an enabling legislative framework for the provision of all student grants, facilitating the creation of the single consolidated grants scheme and underpinning the reform and streamlining of administration procedures for the management of the grant awarding process. This reform programme has the potential to deliver a significant service enhancement benefit to student grant applicants through streamlined processes, greater consistency in dealing with applications, faster processing due to economies of scale and full implementation of the on-line applications system introduced in September 2010. It is anticipated that it will also deliver substantial administrative cost savings beyond the initial transitional phase. The extent of savings in each area will depend on the implementation mechanisms to be agreed following selection of the single grant awarding authority.

Departmental Agencies

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

165 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of board members sitting on the boards of each State agency under her Department’s control; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39233/10]

The details requested by the Deputy are set out in the table below.

Bodies under the aegis of the Department of Education & Skills — Board members as of October 2010

Name of Board

Total Board Members

Total appointed directly by Minister

Total appointed by Minister on nomination of other body

(CICA) Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse

7

7

0

COGG (An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta & Gaelscolaíochta)

21

3

18

EFB (Education Finance Board)

9

4

4

FÁS (Foras Áiseanna Saothair)

10

10

0

FETAC (Further Education and Training Awards Council)

18

5

13

GDA (Grangegorman Development Agency)

15

7

7

HEA (Higher Education Authority)

19

19

0

HETAC (Higher Education and Training Awards Council)

15

5

10

IRCHSS (Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences)

12

10

0

IRCSET (Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology))

15

15

0

Leargas — The Exchange Bureau

9

8

1

NCCA (National Council for Curriculum and Assessment)

25

2

23

NCGE (National Centre for Guidance in Education)

10

2

8

NCSE (National Council for Special Education)

13

at least 6

up to 7

NCTE (National Centre for Technology in Education)

There is no Board for the National Centre for Technology in Education

NEWB (National Educational Welfare Board)

13

1

11

NQAI (National Qualifications Authority of Ireland)

14

3

11

(RIRB) Residential Institutions Redress Board

12

12

0

(RIRC) Residential Institutions Review Committee

5

5

0

SEC (State Examinations Commission)

5

Commissioners are appointed by the Government on the nomination of the Minister

Skillnets Ltd

13

3

0

The Teaching Council

37

3

2

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

166 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the annual budget of each State agency under her Department’s control in each of the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39247/10]

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

Schools Building Projects

Emmet Stagg

Question:

167 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if a successful contractor has been chosen for a school (details supplied) in County Kildare following the evaluation of the tender report [39264/10]

My Department recently received the Tender Report for the school to which the Deputy refers. Further clarification was required on a number of items in the report. This clarification is currently awaited. When this clarification is received and assessed, assuming that no issues arise, it is envisaged that the contract will be awarded and the project will progress to construction.

Question No. 168 answered with Question No. 111.
Question No. 169 answered with Question No. 164.

Departmental Contracts

Joan Burton

Question:

170 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the details of any contractual commitments her Department has to a company (details supplied) in respect of services rendered; to set out a schedule of any payments made to this company, including the exact date of these payments and their amount in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009,and to date in 2010; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that this company has been placed in examinership; if there are any outstanding payments due to this company; if the placing of this company into examinership has any impact on any such outstanding payments; if her further attention has been drawn to the fact that many sub-contractors have provided goods and services to the State through the company and are still awaiting final payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39396/10]

A contract existed between my Department and the company to which the Deputy refers in respect of works at the Navan Education Centre. The value of the contract was €255,023 inclusive of VAT. Payments totalling this amount have issued as follows:

16/9/09 = €118,805;

12/10/09 = €84,711.18;

23/9/10 = €19,107.73;

14/10/10 = €32,399.04.

I am aware that the company has been placed in examinership. As the Deputy will appreciate contractual matters involving sub-contractors and the company/Examiner are for resolution between these parties.

Question No. 171 answered with Question No. 150.

Schools Building Projects

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

172 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application for extension works to a school (details supplied) in County Meath; if she will give details of the amount of funding she intends to provide for the extension; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39406/10]

I can confirm that the school to which the Deputy refers has made an application to my Department for large scale capital funding for an extension. The application has been assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for large scale building projects and assigned a band 2 rating. Information in respect of the current school building programme along with all assessed applications for major capital works, including the project referred to by the Deputy, is available on the Department's website at www.education.ie. The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, from initial design stage through to construction phase will be considered in the context of the Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. However, in light of current competing demands on the Department's capital budget, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of the project at this time.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

173 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding plans to provide a new premises for a school (details supplied) in County Meath; if a site has been decided upon; the level of funding allocated for the new school; the time frame for the school to be completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39407/10]

I can confirm to the Deputy that my Department acquired a site for a post-primary school under the Redress Scheme for the school in question. The technical report in relation to this site deemed the size and location of the site generally suitable for a 700 pupil Post Primary School. The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, from initial design stage through to construction phase will be considered in the context of the Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. However, in light of current competing demands on the capital budget of the Department, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of the project at this time.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

174 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will provide details of the amount of funding that has been allocated nationally, in tabular form, for all works done on primary and secondary schools from 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; for this information to be provided on a county by county basis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39408/10]

The information sought by the Deputy is not readily available. I will forward the information to the Deputy as soon as it is available.

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

175 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the plans for an extension to a secondary school (details supplied) in County Meath; the reason for the delay in the building this extension; the target date for completion of the extension; the levels of funding for the extension; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39409/10]

I can confirm that the school to which the Deputy refers has made an application to my Department for large scale capital funding for an extension. The application has been assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for large scale building projects and assigned a band 1.2 rating. Information in respect of the current school building programme along with all assessed applications for major capital works, including the project referred to by the Deputy, is available on the Department's website at www.education.ie. The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, from initial design stage through to construction phase will be considered in the context of the Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. However, in light of current competing demands on the capital budget of the Department, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of the project at this time.

Physical Education Facilities

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

176 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the status of an application by a school (details supplied) in County Meath for a grant for a recreational hall; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39410/10]

I can confirm to the Deputy that the school to which she refers renewed its application to my Department to proceed with the construction of a GP room and the conversion of the existing GP room to ancillary purposes. My officials raised some queries regarding the proposal with the school authority and are awaiting further information from the school authority in this regard. When this information is received, my Department will consider the application in the context of the available resources and competing demands for capital funding and convey a decision on the matter to the school authority.

Schools Building Projects

Ulick Burke

Question:

177 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills her plans for the provision of a new school (details supplied) as the local board of management has provided a site as the present school is overcrowded, on a restricted site, with health risks for children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39420/10]

The school to which the Deputy refers has applied to my Department for large scale capital funding for an extension and refurbishment. The application has been assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for large scale building projects and assigned a band 2 rating.

Information in respect of the current school building programme along with all assessed applications for major capital works, including the project referred to by the Deputy, is available on the Department's website at www.education.ie.

My Department understands that it is the Board of Management's intention to procure a site for a new school. The progression of all large scale building projects, including a project for this school, from initial design stage through to construction phase will be considered in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. However, in light of current competing demands on the Department's capital budget, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of the project at this time. My officials have conveyed this position to the school authority.

In the meantime, I am pleased to inform the Deputy that my Department has recently approved devolved funding to the school authority to construct two classrooms to meet the school's immediate accommodation needs. My Department understands that it is the school authority's intention to construct two permanent classrooms with this funding on the school's existing site.

FÁS Training Programmes

Mary Upton

Question:

178 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will ensure that an issue (details supplied) is resolved as soon as possible and ensure that participants on the programme are given their full entitlements; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39446/10]

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.

Residential Institutions Redress Scheme

Michael Kennedy

Question:

179 Deputy Michael Kennedy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills in relation to survivors of institutional child abuse whose claims came before the redress board, the number of claims that were refused on a year to year basis in the period 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010, on the basis that the applicant was not a resident in an institution outlined in schedule A of the governing legislation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39447/10]

While my Department is aware of the total number of applicants to the Residential Institutions Redress Board whose applications were unsuccessful, it does not have a breakdown indicating numbers who were unsuccessful on the basis that they had not been resident in a scheduled institution.

My Department has contacted the Board in relation to the Deputy's question and I understand that the records are not maintained in such a format as to allow this information to be readily accessed. I further understand that the retrieval and examination of such records would be a costly and labour intensive exercise for the Board. However, I would like to draw the Deputy's attention to the Newsletters which appear on the Board's website — www.rirb.ie — and which provide regular updates in relation to the application and award process. The July 2010 edition of the Newsletter states that "by and large applications have been refused as, on the face of the documentation, the application was outside the Board's terms of reference as laid down in the 2002 Act. In other words, the applications did not relate to residential institutions as defined in the Act."

Special Educational Needs

Denis Naughten

Question:

180 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of whole time equivalent special needs assistants presently employed in the primary and post primary school system respectively; the corresponding figure for the last school year; the steps she will take to protect this service from budget cuts; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39448/10]

The Deputy will be aware that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support.

I can confirm for the Deputy that there were 8,403 whole-time equivalent (wte) SNAs employed in Primary schools in September 2009 and 8,141 in September 2010. At post primary level there were 1,911 wte SNAs employed in September 2009 and 2,065 in September 2010.

I do not intend to comment on budgetary issues but I can confirm for the Deputy that my Department is very supportive of the SNA scheme. It has been a key factor in both ensuring the successful integration of children with special educational needs into mainstream education and providing support to pupils enrolled in special schools and special classes.

Higher Education Grants

Denis Naughten

Question:

181 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the qualifying criteria for the higher education grant top up; if exceptional costs such as mortgage repayments can be taken into consideration; if she will review the conditions of the scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39449/10]

To qualify for the special rate of student grant, an applicant must qualify for the ordinary student grant in respect of the 2010/11 academic year. In addition, total reckonable income must not exceed a specified amount, which is €22,703 in the 2009 tax year. Finally, on the operative date, 31st December 2009 for the 2010/11 academic year, the reckonable income must include one of the eligible long-term social welfare payments prescribed under the scheme. There are no plans at present to extend the current arrangements. Any such extension could only be considered in the light of available resources and other competing demands within the education sector.

Flood Relief

Joe Carey

Question:

182 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Finance the progress made on introducing an early warning system for adverse weather conditions in view of the devastation caused during the winter of 2009 and early 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38681/10]

The issue of a national flood warning system was raised with me by a number of public representatives during the severe flood event of November 2009. At that time I gave an undertaking that the OPW would examine the issue and bring forward recommendations. The issue was re-iterated in the Fourth Report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Environment Heritage and Local Government — The Management of Severe Weather Events in Ireland and related matters was published in July 2010.

Prior to the publication of the report of the Joint Committee in July, OPW had, already, commissioned a feasibility study on the provision of a national flood forecasting and flood warning system. The purpose of this study is to examine the potential benefits and assess the options for delivery of such a service. The study will also examine the procedures and infrastructure required for a flood forecasting and flood warning service including the resourcing installation, maintenance and operation of any possible system or systems. It is expected that the study will be completed in early 2011. An extensive consultation with the primary stakeholders has already been carried out as a central part of the overall feasibility study.

In parallel with the national study, existing catchment-based flood forecasting systems are being piloted at Mallow and Clonmel and a further assessment is being carried out on the Lee catchment. The extensive experience and knowledge gained from the practical operation of these local systems will be an invaluable guide to the present study of national requirements. Clearly the feasibility of any system or systems which the report may propose will be predicated on the ability to resource not only the commissioning of any such system, but critically, its ongoing implementation and operation.

Croke Park Agreement

John McGuinness

Question:

183 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Finance the action taken by him from the date of acceptance of the Croke Park Agreement to establish cost saving measures; if all aspects of the deal are now being complied with; the changes made in his Department relative to the agreement; if staff numbers have been affected; if staff have been transferred from his Department or recruited from other Departments; the savings achieved because of the agreement. [39005/10]

John McGuinness

Question:

200 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide the make up of the implementation body relative to the Croke Park Agreement; the list of nominating bodies and their nominees; if he has nominees on the body; if the private sector is represented on the body; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39006/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 183 and 200 together.

The Implementation Body provided for under the Croke Park Agreement comprises the independent chair, Mr. P.J. Fitzpatrick, whose appointment was agreed by the parties, and nominees representing both public service management and the Public Service Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. The nominees to the Implementation Body from the Public Service Management side are Ciaran Connolly and Brendan Duffy from the Public Service Management Division of the Department of Finance, and Philip Kelly of the Department of the Taoiseach. The nominees from the Public Service Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions are Mr. Seamus Cody, Ms. Sheila Nunan, Ms. Patricia King and Mr. Tom Geraghty. The Agreement is between Public Service Management as employer and the Public Service Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and does not provide for any external representation from the private sector on the Implementation Body.

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. At its most recent meeting on 18 October, I understand that while noting that the proposals made may need to be revised in the light of, and to support, decisions taken by the Government in the overall budgetary process, the Implementation Body considered that the implementation plans submitted in respect of the Health Sector and the Local Government sector set out a clear and substantive list of identifiable actions for delivery. The Body requested additional information to be submitted in respect of the Education sector implementation plan. I understand the plans for the Health sector and the Local Government sector are being published on the websites of Department of Health and Children and Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government respectively.

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 Pensions Reserve Fund

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

184 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the full extent of the national pension reserve fund at this time in each of the past five years to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39196/10]

The National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF) was established on 2 April 2001 under the National Pensions Reserve Fund Act 2000 with the objective of meeting as much as possible of the cost to the Exchequer of social welfare pensions and public service pensions to be paid from the year 2025 until at least 2055. According to the National Pensions Reserve Fund Commission, which is responsible for the management and investment of the Fund and which publishes a report on the performance of the NPRF at the end of each quarter on the Commission's website www.nprf.ie , the value of the Fund at the end of September from 2005 to 2009 was as follows:

2005 €14.5 billion;

2006 €17.6 billion;

2007 €21.3 billion;

2008 €18.7 billion;

2009 €20.9 billion.

The latest published figure for the value of the NPRF in 2010 is to the end of June, when the value of the Fund was €24.1 billion. The quarterly report on the Fund for the third quarter is expected to be published shortly.

Under the National Pensions Reserve Fund Act 2000, the Exchequer is required to contribute a sum equivalent to 1% of GNP to the NPRF each year. In 2009, in addition to a statutory contribution of €1.6 billion, the Minister for Finance made an additional contribution of some €1.4 billion towards the cost of the NPRF's investments of €3.5 billion each in Bank of Ireland and Allied Irish Banks plc, made at his direction as part of their recapitalisation. In addition, €1 billion in assets of university and non-commercial semi-state pension funds was transferred to the NPRF in 2009 and a further €1.1 billion in 2010. Legislation provides for the offsetting of these additional amounts against the statutory contribution in 2010 and following years.

Tax Code

John O'Donoghue

Question:

185 Deputy John O’Donoghue asked the Minister for Finance the number of taxpayers earning in excess of €100,000 per annum; the average of those in excess of that amount; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38472/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the number of income earners earning in excess of €100,000, estimated by reference to 2011 incomes, is estimated at 111,500. This represents approximately 5% of all income earners. The total gross income of income earners earning in excess of €100,000 is estimated at €20 billion. Some 63% of this group earn below €150,000 per annum. These figures are estimates from the Revenue tax-forecasting model using actual data for the year 2008 adjusted as necessary for income and employment trends for the year 2011. They are therefore provisional and likely to be revised. It should be noted that a married couple who has elected or has been deemed to have elected for joint assessment is counted as one tax unit.

John O'Donoghue

Question:

186 Deputy John O’Donoghue asked the Minister for Finance the amount the tax rate for those earning over €100,000 would have to be increased by for the Exchequer to save at least €3 billion without cutting social welfare, reducing child benefit, or introducing a property tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38474/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the estimated full year yield to the Exchequer, estimated by reference to 2011 incomes, of a 1% point increase in the top rate of income tax for those with income over €100,000 would be of the order of €69 million. Consequently, the top rate of income tax would need to increase to 84% for tax units with income in excess of €100,000 to yield in the region of €3 billion in a full year. This estimate is based on confining the increased tax rate to the segment of income that is in excess of €100,000.

These figures are estimates from the Revenue tax-forecasting model using actual data for the year 2008 adjusted as necessary for income and employment trends for the year 2011. They are therefore provisional and likely to be revised.

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

Richard Bruton

Question:

187 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the estimated cost of the concession provided by section 76 of the Finance Act of 1982 which provides for VAT relief in respect of the purchase of certain services; the reason this relief was introduced and if those reasons continue to justify the provisions of the section [38524/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that section 76 of the Finance Act 1982 inserted a new subsection (4A) in section 5 of the Value-Added Tax Act 1972. The measure dealt with the VAT treatment of the supply of services by barristers. When a barrister supplies a service he or she is not legally entitled to receive a fee in respect of that supply, even though appropriate steps may be taken at the time to secure payment. Accordingly, for VAT purposes, no part of the fee charged to the client may be regarded as consideration, which the barrister "becomes entitled to receive" in accordance with section 10(1) of the Value-Added Tax Act 1972, and no liability to tax arises by virtue only of the supply of the service.

Thus, section 5(4A) of the Value-Added Tax Act 1972 provides that a barrister's service is deemed to take place for VAT purposes when the consideration for the service is paid to him or her. Accordingly, a barrister will have no liability to VAT until he or she has both supplied a service and has been paid in respect of that supply. Also, the obligation to issue an invoice for the supply under section 17(1) of that Act does not arise until those two conditions have been fulfilled. In effect, the barrister operates VAT on a cash receipts basis. There is no cost, as such, to this measure, as the barrister must account for VAT when he or she has been paid in respect of a supply.

Jack Wall

Question:

188 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare can apply for a tax free allowance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38551/10]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a tax credit certificate will issue to the person concerned shortly.

National Asset Management Agency

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

189 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance to provide a list of the companies whose loans have transferred to the National Asset Management Agency [38580/10]

I am advised by NAMA that, for two reasons, the names of any companies whose loans have transferred to NAMA may not be disclosed. The first reason is that companies and individuals whose loans have transferred to NAMA are entitled to have this information kept confidential. This is normal practice with regard to creditors and, as NAMA is stepping into the shoes of the bank from which the borrowings have transferred, it owes a duty to the borrower just as the bank did. Furthermore, Section 202 of the National Asset Management Agency Act 2009 specifically states that an officer of NAMA shall not disclose information that he or she knows or ought reasonably to have known is confidential information. Contravention of Section 202 constitutes a criminal offence. The second reason is that the Agency has a commercial remit and, if it is to maximise the return it makes for the taxpayer, it must be able to make agreements, transfers, sales, and so on without having its hands tied by a requirement to disclose commercially sensitive information publicly.

NAMA has reporting and accountability obligations which are set out in the legislation and these include the requirement to submit quarterly reports and an annual statement to the Minister for Finance, for laying before the Houses of the Oireachtas. The quarterly report contains information on the loans NAMA has acquired by sector, by geographical location, by status, etc. I currently am considering the second quarterly report, for the period to 30 June 2010, and I expect to lay it before each House shortly.

Tax Code

Finian McGrath

Question:

190 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the amount of tax revenue that could be generated if those earning in excess of €100,000 were to be taxed at a rate of 48% [38583/10]

It is assumed that the threshold for the proposed new tax band mentioned by the Deputy would not alter the existing standard rate band structure applying to single and widowed persons, to lone parents and married couples. I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the estimated full year yield to the Exchequer, estimated by reference to 2011 incomes, of the introduction of a new 48% rate would be of the order of €410 million. Given the current band structures, major issues would need to be resolved as to how in practice such a new rate could be integrated into the current system and how this would affect the relative position of different types of income earners.

This figure is an estimate from the Revenue tax-forecasting model using actual data for the year 2008, adjusted as necessary for income and employment trends for the year 2011. It is therefore provisional and likely to be revised.

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

191 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Finance the cost of the artist’s tax exemption scheme since it was capped in 2007 [38603/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the latest relevant available information relates to the income tax year 2007. In that year, an estimated 2,650 claimants availed of the artists' exemption scheme at an estimated cost to the Exchequer of €27 million. It should be noted that this figure takes account of the restriction of reliefs measure as applied to the exemption of certain earnings of writers, composers and artists which took effect for the first time in 2007. The impact of the measure in that year was to reduce the value of the income tax relief by €4 million.

The restriction was originally provided for in section 17 of Finance Act 2006 and was significantly tightened in Section 23 of Finance Act 2010. Individuals are now subject to the restriction where they have adjusted income of €125,000 and claim specified tax reliefs of €80,000 or more. Those subject to the full restriction will pay an effective income tax rate of 30% in addition to PRSI and levies.

Financial Services Regulation

Sean Sherlock

Question:

192 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the country’s largest licensed home collection moneylender has acquired an additional 13,000 customers in the past year; his plans to introduce a system of regulation for debt collection agencies [38637/10]

In my role as Minister for Finance I have responsibility for the development of the legal framework governing the regulation of financial institutions in Ireland. The day to day responsibility for the supervision of these financial institutions is a matter for the Central Bank which is independent in the exercise of its regulatory functions. The Central Bank issues licences to moneylenders on a yearly basis. The Central Bank has produced aConsumer Protection Code for Licensed Moneylenders . Under this Code, moneylenders are required to prominently indicate the high-cost nature of the loan on all loan documentation where the APR is 23% or higher. The disclosure must take the following form:

Warning: This is a high-cost loan.

Moneylenders must also provide consumers, who demonstrate difficulty in meeting their repayments, with information on debt counselling services such as the Money Advice and Budgeting Service which provides free independent advice and guidance.

Other provisions of the Code cover a range of areas including:

Unsolicited contact and unsolicited credit facilities,

Handling complaints,

Arrears and guarantees, and

Debt collection.

TheNon-Fatal Offences against the Person Act 1997 provides some protection to consumers against inappropriate methods of collecting repayments. Under section 11 of that Act, it is an offence to demand payment of a debt in a way designed to alarm, distress or humiliate. Statutory responsibility in relation to the provisions of that Act rests with my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Law Reform.

The Deputy may wish to note that, in the case of financial institutions which use debt collection firms, the Central Bank has imposed requirements, under itsConsumer Protection Code, that offer protection to consumers. This Code obliges the regulated financial institutions that it covers to ensure that any outsourced collection activity complies with the requirements of the Code. This means that outsourced activity should uphold principles in the Code such as the requirement for institutions to:

not exert undue pressure or undue influence on a customer,

act honestly, fairly and professionally and with due skill and diligence in the best interests of its customers, and

prohibit personal visits to or oral communications with consumers except in specified circumstances.

The Deputy may also wish to note that the National Consumer Agency provides extensive information on its website and through its helpline to help consumers avoid getting into debt difficulties. The Agency also provides information for those at risk of not being able to meet loan repayments.

Public Procurement Policy

Joan Burton

Question:

193 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the difficulties that may be caused for the small and medium enterprise sector as a result of the appointment by the national procurement service of a single supplier of office products; if his further attention has been drawn to the fact that this could cause significant lay-offs in the indigenous SME sector; the strategies he has in place to ensure that with more centralised and globalised purchasing of supplies and equipment that local suppliers here are not disadvantaged; the proportion of public procurement in each of the past five years which was derived from sources outside the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38656/10]

The National Procurement Service (NPS) is currently engaged in a tender process for the procurement of Stationery and Office Supplies. This process is now at evaluation stage as the closing date for receipt of tenders was Tuesday 26 October 2010. No award has yet been made to any party.

The NPS is anxious to support SMEs and to this end included the following text in the Request for tender (RFT) of the Stationery and Office Supplies tender. It was felt that this strategy would enable SMEs participate in the process. "NPS policy seeks to encourage participation by Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in this Competition. SMEs that believe the scope of this Competition is beyond their technical or business capacity are encouraged to explore the possibilities of forming relationships with other SMEs or with larger enterprises. Through such relationships they can participate and contribute to the successful implementation of any contracts, agreements or arrangements that result from this Competition and therefore increase their social and economic benefits. Larger enterprises are also encouraged to consider the practical ways that SMEs can be included in their proposals to maximise the social and economic benefits of the contracts that result from this tendering exercise

The division of this tender into three distinct lots has also increased the possibilities for SMEs to tender individually, or form consortia that can enter competitive bids to win this State contract.

Utilising this approach has significantly increased the opportunities for Irish SMEs to compete in this tender process.

It should be noted however, that aggregating demand for a contract of this size, for low risk low value goods can yield substantial cost and administrative savings for the Exchequer as well as minimising legal exposure to the State, particularly in light of the recently transposed Remedies Directive.

Although the NPS views aggregation of requirements across the public sector as a significant contributor to delivering better value, the aggregation of demand is not suitable for all markets and categories. Before undertaking any major procurement project or entering a new procurement category, the NPS will make use of the optimum strategy for the particular market, and, where it is deemed appropriate and practical, the NPS will use framework agreements, or divide requirements into lots, when tendering for goods and services.

The NPS is fully cognisant of the difficulties SMEs are undergoing and as part of its strategy of training has provided procurement seminars to this sector. Furthermore, the NPS works closely with Enterprise Ireland to ensure that the maximum number of opportunities are made available to SMEs in all tender processes.

The number of non-domestic suppliers winning public procurement contracts in Ireland has been the subject of recent controversy.

The EU Commission released a statistic, suggesting that 17% of the number of contracts awarded in 2008 went to suppliers outside the jurisdiction. However, this statistic is based on incomplete data relating only to above threshold procurements, where contract notices were published, and the nationality of the winning tenderer disclosed.

When one compares the value (as opposed to the number) of contracts going to non-Irish companies in 2008, the figure actually amounts to less than 5% of the overall public spend on procurement. It should also be noted that the figures quoted by the EU Commission do not distinguish between companies in the UK and those based in Northern Ireland, so of the contracts going "abroad", many of the contracts may have stayed on the island of Ireland. The European Commission agrees that an alternative interpretation of their figures is that "about 95% of all procurement by value was from domestic suppliers".

Due to the incomplete nature of these statistics, it would be unwise to draw any conclusions from them, but from the information available, it would appear that the figure of 5% by value going to overseas companies has been broadly consistent over the years since 2005.

Fiscal Policy

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

194 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance the percentage loss of consumer spending power resulting from tax and price index changes since the budget of October 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38675/10]

Taking into account the various indirect tax changes, the consumer price index fell by 5.9 per cent between October 2008 and September of this year, thus supporting consumer spending power. Over this period there have been some increases in direct taxes, notably with the introduction of the income levy. However, it is not possible to say what the precise impact has been as this would require an assessment of various income deciles etc. What is clear is that overall price levels have fallen and thus supporting living standards economy wide.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

195 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance in respect of Anglo Irish Bank, the value of bonds, both senior and subordinated, that matured and were redeemed at full face value in the period between September 2008 and September 2010; the number and the negotiated price paid for bonds, of any variety, which were redeemed prior to maturity in the period between September 2008 and September 2010; if there is any reason this information should be withheld from the public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38676/10]

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the tables following:

1. Value of bonds that matured and were redeemed at full face value in the period between September 2008 and September 2010:

Type

Value

Senior Bonds

14.6 bn

Subordinated Bonds

Nil

2. Subordinated Debt Bought Back Prior to Maturity (30/09/2008-30/09/2010)

Nominal Repurchased

% of par value

Dated Subordinated Debt

€750m Floating Rate Subordinated Notes 2014

388,295,000

55%

Total

388,295,000

Undated Subordinated Debt

Stg £200m Step-up Callable Perpetual Capital Securities

205,355,421

27%

Stg £250m Tier One Non-Innovative Capital Securities

249,686,277

27%

€600m Perpetual Preferred Securities

403,247,000

27%

Stg £300m Step-Up Perpetual Subordinated Notes

295,892,665

37%

€600m Fixed / Floating Perpetual Preferred Securities

525,741,000

27%

Stg £350m Fixed/Floating Rate perpetual Preferred Securities

390,760,765

27%

2,070,683,128

Total

2,458,978,128

3. Senior Bonds: Bought Back Prior to Maturity (30/09/2008-30/09/2010)

Notional Amount Issued

Final Maturity

Nominal Repurchased

% of par value

1,250,000,000

25/01/2012

73,000,000

94%

3,685,000,000

09/09/2010

75,000,000

99.87%

1,000,000,000

11/02/2011

29,683,121

93.5%

177,683,121

Notes:

The exchange rates used are as of the final day of the month of the "buy-back" for the corresponding bond.

All the bonds repurchased are accounted for in the bank's published financial reports.

Motor Industry

Joe McHugh

Question:

196 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Finance the number of cars that were re-registered here in 2009 and to date in 2010; the number of cars on waiting lists for re-registration; to provide this information on a test centre-by-test centre basis in tabular format; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38677/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that 45,055 used vehicles were registered in the State in 2009. In so far as 2010 is concerned, up to 30 September 2010, a total of 30,115 used vehicles had been registered 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 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. Moreover, the NCTS are at an advanced stage in the configuration of two additional centres for registration purposes, one in Carrick on Shannon and one in Donegal Town, in order to address current delays in the northwest of the country. It is now expected that these two centres will commence operation in the week commencing 22 November. 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.

Figures provided by the National Car Testing Service (NCTS) to the Commissioners show that 4 centres have people waiting to receive a pre-registration examination appointment. These, together with the number of applicants, are shown in tabular format below.

Centre

Number

Letterkenny

225

Dundalk

5

Monaghan

2

Sligo

26

Additionally, at lunchtime on Friday 23 October, the waiting time for appointments for the pre-registration examination of vehicles in each of the National Car Test centres were as follows:

Centre

Next Available Appointment (Days)

Arklow

6

Carlow

5

Northpoint 2

11

Dundalk

17

Ennis

6

Enniscorthy

4

Galway

4

Kilkenny

4

Letterkenny

17

Limerick

6

Monaghan

13

Kells

10

Nenagh

5

Naas

12

Skibbereen

4

Sligo

17

Tralee

6

Tullamore

9

Waterford

9

Westport

12

Blarney

12

Greenhills

9

Budget Submissions

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

197 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Finance if he has received a pre-budget submission from the Irish Farmers Association; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38713/10]

I have received a pre-Budget submission from the Irish Farmers Association. Its contents will be considered in the context of the forthcoming Budget and Finance Bill. As Deputies are aware it would not be appropriate for me to comment in advance of the Budget on possible Budget decisions.

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

198 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Finance if he will examine the proposals contained in a document (details supplied) regarding the upcoming budget [38720/10]

I have received a pre-Budget submission from the practice mentioned in the details suplied. Its contents will be considered in the context of the forthcoming Budget and Finance Bill. As Deputies are aware it would not be appropriate for me to comment in advance of the Budget on possible Budget decisions.

Local Authority Rates

Joe Carey

Question:

199 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Finance if funding will be made available to the Valuation Office to enable them to carry out a full revision of rateable valuations of properties in County Clare similar to that carried out in South Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38740/10]

The Valuation Act, 2001 which came into effect on 2nd May, 2002, provides for the revaluation of all commercial and industrial property in the State. The Commissioner of Valuation has sole responsibility for all valuation matters under the Act, which includes the implementation of the revaluation programme. This is a major project in nature and scale, all the more so given that such a nationwide exercise has not been undertaken since the mid-1800s. The programme began in November 2005 in the South Dublin County Council area and has since been rolled out to the areas covered by Fingal and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Councils. It is intended to roll out the programme to further local authority areas, including County Clare, as soon as possible. The necessary process of consultation, as provided for under the Act, is under way in Dublin City and in the local authorities of Waterford, i.e. Waterford City and County Council and Dungarvan Town Council. Preliminary work is also underway on the revaluation of Limerick City.

The purpose of revaluation is to bring more equity, fairness and transparency into the local authority rating system and following completion of the initial national revaluation programme, I am satisfied that there will be a much closer and uniform relationship between rental values of property and their commercial rates liability and that this relationship will thereafter be maintained by means of the recurring revaluations provided for in the Act.

The funding for the revaluation project in general is being provided in the normal way through the Valuation Office Vote allocation. At this stage, it is not envisaged that additional resources will be required to undertake the project which is an integral part of the Valuation Office work programme.

Question No. 200 answered with Question No. 183.

Budget Submissions

Joe Behan

Question:

201 Deputy Joe Behan asked the Minister for Finance if he or officials of his Department have met with representatives of the tobacco industry to discuss Budget 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39020/10]

It is normal practice for officials of my Department to meet with various interest groups, especially in the run-up to the annual Budget. In that context, officials of my Department met with representatives of the tobacco industry in September 2010.

Departmental Properties

Róisín Shortall

Question:

202 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the progress on drafting a lease for the transfer of a property in Dublin (details supplied) to the Department of Education and Skills and the timescale for the completion of same [39045/10]

The Commissioners of Public Works are currently negotiating the transfer of the property in question with the Department of Education and Skills.

On completion of these negotiations, the legal formalities will be finalised.

Insurance Industry

Michael Creed

Question:

203 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to cases whereby insurance companies are refusing to provide cover to property owners who made claims on their policies in the aftermath of last year’s flooding; the measures he will take to ensure that these property owners receive insurance cover from insurance providers operating here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39046/10]

The decision about whether to renew cover in any insurance situation is a commercial matter for insurance companies, which is considered on a case by case basis, as this allows the insurance company to properly assess the risk they are accepting. Neither I nor the Central Bank has any influence over this matter. While I am aware of instances where insurance companies have refused to cover some property owners who made claims on their policies in the aftermath of last year's flooding, the Irish Insurance Federation has informed my Department that the insurance industry is very reluctant to discontinue flood cover for existing policyholders, and would generally only do so where there have been repeated flooding claims.

The Deputy should note that a central element of the Government's response to this issue is flood prevention measures. In this regard the Government allocated 50m euro for flood risk management activities for 2010, which is administered by the Office of Public Works. This increased allocation allows for delivery of a range of Capital Works schemes throughout the country. A concerted effort to roll out schemes, taking account of the seriousness of the underlying flooding problem in the different localities, is currently under way.

Ministerial Salaries

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

204 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Finance the salary costs in respect of each Government Minister and Minister of State since 2004 broken down by Department, by year and by person, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39049/10]

Details of the periods of appointment and annual salary rates payable to Ministers and Ministers of State appointed to the Department of Finance since 2004 are set out below for information of the Deputy.

Annual Salary Rates

Minister

Minister of State

Office Holder

TD Salary

Total

Office Holder

TD Salary

Total

01/01/2004

95,890

80,457

176,347

41,844

80,457

122,301

01/07/2004

97,808

82,066

179,874

42,681

82,066

124,747

01/12/2004

99,764

83,707

183,471

43,535

83,707

127,242

01/06/2005

101,260

87,247

188,507

44,188

87,247

131,435

01/07/2005

105,057

87,247

192,304

45,845

87,247

133,092

01/12/2005

106,633

88,556

195,189

46,533

88,556

135,089

01/01/2006

110,488

88,556

199,044

48,215

88,556

136,771

01/06/2006

113,250

90,770

204,020

49,420

90,770

140,190

01/12/2006

116,648

93,493

210,141

50,903

93,493

144,396

01/06/2007

118,981

95,363

214,344

51,921

95,363

147,284

01/03/2008

121,956

97,747

219,703

53,219

97,747

150,966

01/09/2008

125,005

100,191

225,196

54,549

100,191

154,740

01/01/2010

98,745

92,672

191,417

46,594

92,672

139,266

Appointees

Minister

Minister of State

Period

Appointee

Period

Appointee

26 June 1997 to 29 Sept 2004

Mr Charlie McCreevy TD

19 June 2002 to 12 June 2007

Mr Tom Parlon TD

29 Sept 2004 to 06 May 2008

Mr Brian Cowen TD

13 June 2007 to 13 May 2008

Mr Noel Ahern TD

07 May 2008 to date

Mr Brian Lenihan TD

14 May 2008 to date

Dr Martin Mansergh TD

23 March 2010 to date

Mr Dara Calleary TD

Similar salary rates are payable to Ministers and Ministers of State across all Departments of State. Details of those appointed and their periods of appointment is a matter for the relevant Department in each case.

Pension Provisions

Richard Bruton

Question:

205 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if he will confirm the salary on the basis of which pension rights and gratuity will be calculated for persons who retire during the course of 2011 [39072/10]

On 18 June last, I signed the Public Service Pension Rights Order 2010 (S.I. 302/2010) which extends by a year the period within which the superannuation benefits of retiring public servants will be unaffected by the pay adjustments set out in the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No.2) Act 2009. The period now runs to 31 December 2011.

Departmental Expenditure

Johnny Brady

Question:

206 Deputy Johnny Brady asked the Minister for Finance the amount spent by his Department and also by any bodies under his Department’s jurisdiction in each of the last three years on the provision of Internet applications (details supplied); the processes in place to ensure that such funds have been spent on good quality internet applications, in terms of accessibility, security and data protection [39126/10]

The information requested by the Deputy is contained in the following tables:

Department of Finance

Year

Amount spent on Internet applications

Supply details of the processes in place to ensure that such funds have been spent on good quality internet applications, in terms of accessibility, security and data protection.

2008

€2,528.90 (spent on updating some graphic design elements of www.gov.ie)

N/A

Office of the Revenue Commissioners

The Revenue Commissioners continues to be at the leading edge of eGovernment initiatives both across the breadth of the public service in Ireland and worldwide from a tax administration perspective. This has been recognised externally by the fact that the Revenue On-Line Service (ROS) has won numerous awards, including a Central eGovernment Award and an Inspired IT Award. Improvements in PAYE service delivery won a Taoiseach's Public Excellence Award and an Innovating Government Award for Services to Business.

Since 2005 Revenue has treated the development of internet applications as an integral element of all business projects. Since that time many initiatives have been implemented that have internet application components.

Year

Amount spent on Internet applications

Supply details of the processes in place to ensure that such funds have been spent on good quality internet applications, in terms of accessibility, security and data protection.

2008 2009 2010

€3.081 Million €3.121 Million €1.088 Million

Revenue employs strong governance, including the operation of a Programme Management Office, which enables effective and accountable management of projects throughout their lifecycle. All Revenue projects use the Revenue Delivery Method, based on international standards, as a comprehensive guideline for delivery of high-value ICT solutions.

Revenue is committed to providing websites that are accessible to the widest possible audience, regardless of technology or ability. Its existing generation of websites strive to achieve “Triple-A” accessibility as per the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0. The ROS website has recently undergone a full audit by recognised accessibility experts and Revenue are fully committed to implementing the resulting recommendations as part of its development programme.

Revenue’s next generation developments are in line with WCAG 2.0 standards where appropriate. To validate conformance against the WCAG 2.0 Level AA checkpoints, some services have recently undergone audits by recognised accessibility experts. In addition, the National Council for the Blind of Ireland has carried out detailed user trials. The recommendations of these audits and user trials have been implemented resulting in further accessibility improvements..

Revenue’s public facing applications are formally certified to ISO 27001 security standards. In 2009 Revenue was the subject of an audit by the Data Protection Commissioner. The audit found that Revenue was in compliance with all data protection obligations.

Costs given cover Revenue's public facing website (www.revenue.ie ) and its associated transactional services such as ROS and PAYE Anytime. It does not include those back-office services that are also part of the overall business solution. Costs of internal intranet services were of the order of €480,000 in total over the three years.

NDP Information Office

Year

Amount spent on Internet applications

Supply details of the processes in place to ensure that such funds have been spent on good quality internet applications, in terms of accessibility, security and data protection.

2008 2009 2010

€8,136.50 €2,600 €375.10

Amount supplied to Fusio Ltd for the hosting & maintenance of the NDP website. The contract was awarded on the basis of the website being accessible, fully secure and data protected, and on the understanding that Fusio would be available to provide back-up technical support.

Office of the Ombudsman

Year

Amount spent on Internet applications

Supply details of the processes in place to ensure that such funds have been spent on good quality internet applications, in terms of accessibility, security and data protection.

2007 2008 2009

€9,500 €39,000€36,000

The Office’s websites are audited every two years for accessibility and usability and an IT Security audit was recently conducted. The contract for website technical assistance is currently under review.

Public Service Appointments

Year

Amount spent on Internet applications

Supply details of the processes in place to ensure that such funds have been spent on good quality internet applications, in terms of accessibility, security and data protection.

200720082009

€136,460€28,340€36,450

The Public Appointments Service (PAS) has developed the www.publicjobs.ie website to provide information on public service career opportunities, to provide information to potential candidates on the public service recruitment process and to handle online applications. The platform is widely used by the Civil Service, Local Authorities, Health Service and Education Sectors. We retained the services of the National Disability Association throughout these developments to provide quality assurance on accessibility of the site for people with disabilities. The security and integrity of the online services are regularly verified by external security experts. PAS complies with the Data Protection Code of Practice.

Valuation Office

Year

Amount spent on Internet applications

Supply details of the processes in place to ensure that such funds have been spent on good quality internet applications, in terms of accessibility, security and data protection.

200720082009

€22,760€48,339€25,846

All Website developments are in line with e-Government Requirements. Our Web developers were initially recruited by Tender process. There are annual performance reviews in place to ensure value for money and required results. Our website is hosted by Eircom on their secure data centre in City West. Our website complies with WCAG accessibility guidelines.

National Treasury Management Agency

Year

Amount spent on Internet applications

Supply details of the processes in place to ensure that such funds have been spent on good quality internet applications, in terms of accessibility, security and data protection.

200820092010

€24,097€6,405€5,303

All of the Agency’s web sites are designed and built to meet the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Open Standards for accessibility. In addition, in line with recognised industry approaches, the web sites are designed to assist sensory impaired users through the use of the following: An assistive accessibility technology (BrowseAloud) to aid users with literacy and visual impairments in the use of the web sites and a disability simulator tool (aDesigner) which assists web designers to ensure that their web pages are accessible and usable by the visually impaired.

Special EU Programmes Body

Year

Amount spent on Internet applications

Supply details of the processes in place to ensure that such funds have been spent on good quality internet applications, in terms of accessibility, security and data protection.

200720082009

Nil€162,837€48,974

In respect of the 2007 Systems Database the contract for the provision of the Systems 2007 database was awarded following a comprehensive procurement exercise which was conducted by Department of Finance and Personnel Northern Ireland. Stipulations contained within the Terms of Reference ensured that the database would comply with all relevant and future standards, policies and directives in the areas of Quality; Information Governance (which includes data protection); and Systems Security. Ongoing monitoring of database is completed by DFP. In line with Public Expenditure Requirements, the SEUPB adhered to a robust procurement process for the award of this contract. The process comprised an open tender competition to ensure quality and value for money was achieved. Tender submissions were scored against a range of criteria including: Application Security and Effectiveness of the Proposed Solution. A number of mandatory stipulations within the Terms of Reference required that providers demonstrate adequate security levels and audit trails to protect the integrity of website and associated server. A range of additional security measures were also identified. It also required that providers comply with international standards and best practice in terms of accessibility. Standards adhered to include: WAI-AA and National Disability Authority of IrelandGuidelines. The SEUPB adheres to an Accessibility Statement which demonstrates the body’s commitment to ensuring the accessibility of information sources.Accessibility and Security is monitored on an ongoing basis by the SEUPB IT and Communications teams.

In relation to Special EU Programmes Body the Expenditure on the Internet applications is attributable to both the Department of Finance and The Department of Finance and Personnel Northern Ireland.

I have been informed by the Office of Public Works that it is currently collating the data requested by the Deputy and as soon as this process is completed they will forward the data directly to the Deputy.

Johnny Brady

Question:

207 Deputy Johnny Brady asked the Minister for Finance if his Department or any bodies under its jurisdiction provide or oversee the provision of financial support to businesses, charities or other public service organisations that are directly or indirectly used to assist those organisations with their marketing promotion or service delivery on the Internet; if so the processes in place to ensure that such funds are used to provide good quality Internet applications in terms of accessibility, security and data protection [39129/10]

My Department does not directly provide or oversee the provision of financial support to businesses, charities or other public service organisations that are directly or indirectly used to assist those organisations with their marketing promotion or service delivery on the internet. I have been informed by the Special Eu Programmes Body that there are opportunities for businesses, charities or other public service organisations to avail of funding for the purpose of assisting with marketing promotion or service delivery on the internet under the PEACE III and INTERREG IVA Programmes.

Whilst funding is not ‘ring fenced' or allocated specifically for this purpose, there are opportunities for projects to receive grant funding for internet related activities should they satisfy the defined selection criteria of the relevant Programme. Calls will be made for funding applications throughout the Programming period (2007-2013) as required and in line with normal public expenditure requirements, all applications are subject to a robust and defined assessment process.

It is the responsibility of the lead project partner to implement the project and therefore ensure that any accessibility, security and data protection requirements are met. That said, the SEUPB can and does issue guidance to project partners relating to procurement and tendering to ensure that quality and value for money is achieved. The SEUPB can also, where particular concerns arise, include specific conditions within the Project's Letter of Offer. The SEUPB or relevant implementing body will then monitor the implementation of the project against the conditions and outputs outlined within the Letter of Offer on a quarterly basis.

In addition to funding provided directly for the purposes of internet related activity, all project receiving PEACE III and INTERREG IVA funding must satisfy a number of communication and publicity requirements in line with European Regulation.

Relating to internet activity, projects are obliged to create a dedicated webpage for the project. It is the responsibility of the lead project partner to ensure that provisions for security and data protection are taken into account. However, the SEUPB, in its role as Managing Authority for the PEACE III and INTERREG IVA Programmes, does organise a number of communications and publicity workshops throughout the year which focus on issues such as internet development, dissemination of information, security, and management. As outlined above, projects will also be obliged to comply with a Procurement and Tendering Guidance Note in the purchasing of internet or related services.

Company Takeovers

Tom Sheahan

Question:

208 Deputy Tom Sheahan asked the Minister for Finance if he will give permission for the takeover of a company (details supplied) by another to guarantee its sustainability; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39134/10]

The operation of the Biofuel MOTR scheme is in the first instance, a matter for the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. However, my Department has consulted with the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources in relation to the details supplied and on the issues raised therein. Following those consultations, a letter issued from the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources on 20 September, setting out the position.

Tax Code

Mary Upton

Question:

209 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Finance his plans to capture tax from on-line and other forms of betting where tax is not now payable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39138/10]

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

National Monuments

Mary Wallace

Question:

210 Deputy Mary Wallace asked the Minister for Finance his plans to provide additional facilities at the Interpretive Centre at the Hill of Tara, County Meath; if play facilities for children will be included; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39144/10]

Basic interpretative facilities are provided on the Hill of Tara. Given the funding situation, there are no further plans, at present, for additional facilities at this site.

Mary Wallace

Question:

211 Deputy Mary Wallace asked the Minister for Finance his plans to provide additional facilities at the Battle of the Boyne site at Oldbridge, County Meath; if play facilities for children will be included; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39145/10]

Improvements are being made on an on-going basis as resources permit. Further progress has been made this year on the restoration of the Walled Gardens and associated structures.

A children's playground would be a desirable additional amenity and plans have been advanced. It is hoped to apply to the Local Authority for the necessary planning permission in the near future.

Denis Naughten

Question:

212 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 118 of 6 July 2010 the progress on the provision of signage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39157/10]

Tender documents are being prepared for the design and fabrication of interpretation panels for the National Monuments at Rathcroghan. The signs will be erected next year.

Credit Availability

Niall Collins

Question:

213 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance the progress made to date by banks (details supplied) in lending the €3 billion each per annum by industry sector and by geographical region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39161/10]

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.

Niall Collins

Question:

214 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance the number of loan or credit refusals investigated by the Credit Review Office to date, the result of these reviews; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39162/10]

In his appearance before the Joint Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Innovation on 21 September, Mr Trethowan informed the Committee that "Approximately 20 applications have been sent to the office for review, of which we have dealt with about ten, of which five have been upheld." These figures have not significantly changed since then. The quarterly report of the CRO will be published in due course.

Niall Collins

Question:

215 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance if he will formally instruct the banks to inform their customers when initially applying for a loan or credit facility that the Credit Review Office exists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39163/10]

The banks covered by the Credit Review Office (CRO) inform customers who have a loan application turned down, rather than everyone who applies, about the availability of the CRO to review their application. As such, I do not at present see a need to inform all customers on a formal basis about the presence of the CRO. Anyone to whom it applies is already being informed and there is also considerable literature placed in the public areas in these institutions which outlines the role of the CRO and steps required to avail of the services of the office. The banks covered by the Credit Review Office (CRO) inform customers who have a loan application turned down, rather than everyone who applies, about the availability of the CRO to review their application. As such, I do not at present see a need to inform all customers on a formal basis about the presence of the CRO. Anyone to whom it applies to is already being informed and there is also considerable literature placed in the public areas in these institutions which outlines the role of the CRO and steps required to avail of the services of the office.

Tax Code

Róisín Shortall

Question:

216 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the amount raised to date in 2010 through the carbon levy with a breakdown by each fuel type [39168/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that for the period January to September 2010 the amount received from the carbon levy is €161.6 million. The breakdown by each fuel type between Carbon and the estimated VAT is as follows:

2010

Carbon

Estimated VAT

Total (Jan to Sep)

€m

€m

€m

Auto Diesel

72.1

1.5

73.6

Petrol

48.4

10.2

58.6

MGO

14.8

2.0

16.8

Kerosene

3.6

0.5

4.1

Fuel Oil

0.4

0.4

LPG

1.3

0.2

1.4

Natural Gas

6.0

0.8

6.8

Total

146.5

15.1

161.6

Róisín Shortall

Question:

217 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the accumulative number of employers availing of revenue job assist in the past 5 years; the number who joined the scheme in each of the years; the accumulative number of employees covered in each of the years and the number who joined the scheme in each of the years; the cost to the Exchequer, with a breakdown by employer costs and employee costs in each of the years and if an employer availing of the employer’s PRSI tax incentive scheme can also avail of the benefits under this scheme in respect of the same employee. [39228/10]

Unfortunately, it was not possible to collate the information required for this answer in the time allowed. I will provide the Deputy with the answer in writing as soon as the information has been collated.

Departmental Agencies

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

218 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance the number of board members sitting on the boards of each State agency under his Department’s control; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39236/10]

The number of sitting board members on bodies under the aegis of my Department are set out in the following table.

Bodies under the aegis of the Department of Finance

Body Name

Number sitting on the Board

Adjudicator for Civil Service Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme, Teachers Conciliation & Arbitration Scheme, Gardaí Conciliation & Arbitration Scheme and Defence Forces Conciliation & Arbitration Scheme.

6

Anglo Irish Bank

61

An Post National Lottery Company

7

Central Bank Commission

9-12

Civil Service Disciplinary Appeals Board

3

Credit Union Advisory Committee

7

Decentralisation Implementation Group

6

Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal

52

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

1

European Investment Bank

3

Financial Services Ombudsman Council

7

Independent Mediation Officer for the Civil Service Grievance Procedure

1

Irish Nationwide Building Society

See note 3

International Monetary Fund

1

Irish Financial Services Appeals Tribunal

7

National Development Finance Agency (NDFA)

8

National Pensions Reserve Fund Commission

7

National Treasury Management Agency Advisory Committee

7

National Asset Management Agency

9

Outside Appointments Board

5

Public Appointments Service Board

9

Sealúchais Árachais Teoranta

2

State Claims Agency Policy Committee

7

Valuation Tribunal

20

1. There is no set number of board members for Anglo Irish Bank

2. There is no set number of members for the Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal.

3. There is no set number of board members appointed to the Board of Irish Nationwide Building Society.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

219 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance the annual budget of each State agency under his Department’s control in each of the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39250/10]

The annual budgets for the civil service agencies which come under the aegis of my Department are published in the book of estimates each year. The annual budgets for the other State Agencies which come under the aegis of my Department are set out below.

National Treasury Management Agency

The following figures include the budgeted costs in respect of the National Asset Management Agency for which the National Treasury Management Agency will be reimbursed by the National Asset Management Agency

Year

Budget for year

€m

2006

30

2007

34

2008

38

2009

43

2010

60

Special EU Programmes Body

The following information has been supplied by the Special EU Programmes Body in relation to budgets for 2006-2010. The information supplied is based on budget allocations as outlined within the respective Annual Special EU Programmes Body Business Plans as agreed by the North South Ministerial Council.

Table 1 below outlines the financial resources in respect of administration and operating costs which are provided via an agreed budget with Sponsor Departments. It should be noted that these budgets are apportioned in various combinations between the Department of Finance and the Department of Finance and Personnel.

Table 1: Special EU Programmes Body Annual Budgets 2006-2010

Year

Administration / Operating Costs Budget for Year€’000

Apportionment of Costs

Exchange Rates

2006

3,218

56% North: 44% South

(€1: £0.69)

2007

3,345

56% North: 44% South

(€1: £0.69)

2008

4,064

53% North: 47% South

(€1: €0.67)

2009

3,762

55% North: 45% South

(€1: €0.78)

2010

2,533

53% North: 47% South

(€1: £0.89)

The Special EU Programmes Body is also responsible for the management of a significant amount of Programme funds under the current (2007-2013) and previous (2000-2006) funding periods. The budgets as outlined within the respective Business Plans are outlined in Table 2 below. Annual budgets associated with these Programme funds are based on the value of the Euro funds required for the Central Payments Unit to make payment requests to projects to cover European N+2 expenditure targets as set down within the Operational Programmes. These figures also take into account any advance payments required by projects.

Please note that the figures outlined within Table 2 reflect European Regional Development Fund and match contributions for Ireland and Northern Ireland. Funding for Tripartite projects under the INTERREG IVA Programme would also contain an element of Scottish Match funding.

Table 2: Total Annual Programme Expenditure of the Special EU Programmes Body

Year

Programmes Budgets €’000

Exchange Rates

2006

294,6891

(€1: £0.69)

2007

111,5972

(€1: £0.69)

2008

21,4743

(€1: €0.67)

2009

52,1594

(€1: €0.78)

2010

67,6595

(€1: £0.89

Note: Business Plans 2006 and 2007 did not outline agreed Programme Costs in the same format as Business Plans 2008, 2009 and 2010. Figures for 2006 and 2007 are therefore based on Annual N+2 Expenditure Targets outlined for these years within the Business Plans for these years.

1 Figures presented are based on Annual N+2 Expenditure Targets for 2006 for the PEACE II and INTERREG IIIA Programme, as outlined within Business Plan 2006.

2 Figures presented are based on Annual N+2 Expenditure Targets for 2007 for the PEACE II and INTERREG IIIA Programme, as outlined within Business Plan 2007.

3 Figures outlined are based on Programme Costs outlined within Business Plan 2008 for INTERREG IVA and PEACE III Programmes.

4 Figures outlined are based on Programme Costs outlined within Business Plan 2009 for INTERREG IVA and PEACE III Programmes.

5 Figures outlined are based on Programme Costs outlined within Business Plan 2010 for INTERREG IVA and PEACE III.

Cvil Service Arbitration Body

Details in respect of the Civil Service Arbitration Board (including the Adjudicator)

Civil Service Disciplinary Code Appeal Board and Independent Mediator for the Civil Service are as follows:

Year

Budget for year

2006

70,000

2007

70,000

2008

70,000

2009

70,000

2010

70,000

The Central Bank of Ireland and Financial Regulator

The Central Bank of Ireland has supplied the following information in relation to the Financial Regulator and the Central Bank of Ireland for the period 2006 to 2010.

Financial Regulator

Year

Budget for year**

€m

2006

48.6

2007

51.5

2008

55.7

2009

63.5

2010

78.07

CBFSAI

Year

Budget for year

€m

2006

108.1

2007

115.7

2008

135.8

2009

125.4

2010

**Funded on a 50/50 basis with 50% industry levy funding and 50% Central Bank subvention.

Year

Body

Total Net Income

Expenses

Profit for year

€m

€m

€m

2006

CBFSAI

209.7

108.1

101.1

2007

CBFSAI

334.5

115.7

228.0

2008

CBFSAI

484.0

35.8

364.2

2009

CBFSAI

1,053,528.0

125.4

933.8

2010

Central Bank

n/a

Financial Services Appeals Tribunal

Year

Budget for year

2006

n/a

2007

452,630

2008

488,230

2009

419,166

2010

529,602

Financial Services Ombudsmans Council

Year

Budget for year

2006

n/a

2007

452,630

2008

488,230

2009

419,166

2010

529,602

The Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal

The Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal is hosted by the National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH), Rochestown Avenue, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin on behalf of the Department of Finance and the cost of the Board has been recouped to the NRH since 2005 from the Department of Finance Vote.

Year

Budget

2006

279,653

2007

285,539

2008

320,323

2009

371,467

2010 (est)

350,000

EU Funding

Michael Creed

Question:

220 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Finance the discussions if any that have taken place at the Council of Finance Ministers regarding the establishment of an EU equivalent of the International Monetary Fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39307/10]

I assume the Deputy is referring to the proposal for the establishment of a permanent crisis resolution framework in the EU. The report on the Van Rompuy Task Force, which is being submitted to the European Council of the 28th-29th October, concluded that this proposal requires further work. The Task Force also notes that as it may imply a need for Treaty changes, depending on its specific features, it is an issue for the European Council in the first instance. The recent Franco-German declaration of 18th October 2010, which proposes an amendment to the Treaties for this purpose, will feed into deliberations on this matter.

Illicit Trade in Tobacco

James Reilly

Question:

221 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Finance the estimated amount of revenue lost in 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010 due to tobacco smuggling; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39310/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners, who are responsible for the collection of tobacco products tax, and for tackling the illicit trade in cigarettes and tobacco products, that there is no internationally recognised method for precisely determining the amount of tax lost as a result of the illicit trade in cigarettes. On the basis of a 2009 survey carried out independently on behalf of Revenue and the Office of Tobacco Control, Revenue estimates that approximately 20% of cigarettes consumed in the State had not been taxed in this jurisdiction. It is important to emphasise that this estimate includes both illicit cigarettes and legal cross-border purchases brought into the State for personal consumption. Revenue would further tentatively estimate that this figure of 20% comprises 14% illicit product and 6% legal cross-border purchases. Based on an estimate of 14%, the loss of excise duty to the exchequer from illicit cigarette consumption during 2009 would be in the region of €200m.

Figures for 2007 and 2008 are unlikely to have been significantly different. Figures for 2010 to date are not available at this time but a new survey is scheduled for later this year and the results are expected to be available in 2011.

The strategy of the Revenue Commissioners for tackling this illicit trade is multi-faceted. It includes ongoing analysis of the nature and extent of the problem, developing and sharing intelligence on a national, EU and international basis, ongoing review of operational policies, development of analytics and deployment of detection technologies, optimum deployment of resources at point of importation and internally to intercept the contraband product and to prosecute those involved.

Interception at the point of importation is achieved through a combination of risk analysis, profiling, intelligence, and the screening of cargo, vehicles, baggage and postal packages. Revenue enforcement officers also target this illicit trade at the post-importation level by carrying out intelligence-based operations and random checks at retail outlets, markets and private and commercial premises. Revenue and An Garda Síochána also carry out regular multi-agency operations, particularly in relation to large maritime importations and in checks at inland markets.

In terms of detection equipment resources, a second mobile X-ray container scanner, to augment the one first deployed in 2006, was commissioned by Revenue in January 2010 and is now fully operational. Container scanning is one of a number of detection technology applications used to detect contraband. However, its deployment must take into account the principle of free movement of goods within the Community as well as the objective of minimal disruption to legitimate trade.

Revenue also uses a tobacco detection dog in addition to the smaller baggage/parcel scanners, which are deployed at all major ports, airports and postal depots. Two new X-ray scanners were also purchased within the last 12 months for use in postal depots.

Revenue's approach in relation to the detection of tobacco-related offences is under continuous review. For example, in July of this year Revenue launched a nationwide tobacco operation, which concentrated additional Revenue resources at ports, airports and at various retail points for the purpose of identifying illicit tobacco products. This resulted in 561 seizures totalling 13.7m cigarettes and 195 kgs tobacco in the course of the two-week period of the operation. Further such intensive operations are planned, to supplement the normal ongoing level of detection and enforcement activities.

The Revenue Commissioners have also established a high level internal group, chaired at Commissioner level, to examine the risks related to tobacco excise, and to monitor and optimise performance in relation to detection of counterfeit and contraband tobacco products. This group has promoted a number of initiatives aimed at counteracting the illicit trade in tobacco. These include improved profiling of passengers and freight to identify tobacco smugglers, the recent establishment of a tobacco hotline, co-ordinating national blitz-style operations, evaluation and acquisition of scanning and other detection technologies and learning from best practice internationally.

The multi-faceted approach that Revenue has adopted has resulted in the seizure of 161m cigarettes and more than 2,700 kgs of tobacco to date in 2010.

Banking Sector Regulation

Brian Hayes

Question:

222 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Finance if information was available to the Department of Finance during the summer of 2008 regarding the share support scheme which had been put in place by Anglo Irish management during that period [39318/10]

The Deputy will be aware that the matters referred to in his question are currently being investigated by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement and other authorities. It would not therefore be appropriate for me in my role as Minister for Finance to make any comment on this matter at this stage in order to avoid any risk of prejudicing ongoing investigations.

Tax Reliefs

Michael Creed

Question:

223 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Finance the cost to the Exchequer of tax breaks for provision of private pensions in 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; the cost to the Exchequer of these tax breaks for individuals in 2009 who invested between €1,000 and €5,000 in their pension; between €5,001 and €10,000 in their pension; between €10,001 and €20,000 in their pension; and between €20,001 and €50,000 in their pension; between €50,001 and €500,000 in their pension and between €500,001 and greater in their pension in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39393/10]

The following table provides a breakdown of the estimated cost of tax and PRSI reliefs relating to private pension contributions for 2007, the latest year for which the most up-to-date data is available. Figures have been rounded where appropriate. I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that while corresponding updates of the cost figures are not yet available for the tax year 2008 the necessary work to enable this to be done is ongoing.

There is not sufficient data yet available to the Revenue Commissioners in relation to pension contributions in 2009 which would allow for full cost figures to be provided. No data is available for 2010.

Estimate of the cost of tax and PRSI reliefs on private pension contributions 2007.

Estimated costs

Numbers*

€ million

Employees’ Contributions to approved Superannuation Schemes

590

708,100

Employers’ Contributions to approved Superannuation Schemes

150

385,100**

Estimated cost of exemption of employers’ contributions from employee BIK

540

385,100

Retirement Annuity Contracts (RACs)

410 (revised)

123,900

Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs)

60 (revised)

56,400

Estimated cost of PRSI and Health Levy relief on employee and employer contributions

240

Not available

*Numbers as included in P35 returns from employers to Revenue for 2007. Figures are as verified to date but may be understated and subject to revision.

**Numbers of employees for whom employers are contributing to occupational pension funds as included in P35 returns to Revenue for 2007. Figures are as verified to date but may be understated and subject to revision.

I am also informed by the Revenue Commissioners that it is not possible to provide disaggregated figures in regard to the take-up of the tax relief for all pension contributions across different contribution ranges because the relevant data in regard to contributions is not captured in such a way as to make this possible.

The latest relevant information available in this area is in respect of income tax relief allowed for contributions to Retirement Annuity Contracts (RACs) and Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs) for the income tax year 2007, as returned for that year by individuals in personal income tax returns. This information is set out in the following tables which provide the number of cases as well as amount of deduction and reduction in tax for tax relief for RACs and PRSAs for the various contribution ranges.

A married couple who has elected or has deemed to have elected for joint assessment is counted as one tax unit.

The lower aggregate figures for cost and numbers in respect of RACs and PRSAs in the tables below (compared to the slightly higher figures in the preceding table for 2007) are taken directly from filed income tax returns which represent about 90% of all income tax returns expected for 2007. The higher figures in the initial table have, in accordance with normal practice, been grossed-up.

It is not possible to provide corresponding figures in regard to the take-up of the tax relief for pension contributions by employers and employees to occupational pension schemes because the returns are aggregated at employer level and do not provide a precise basis for measuring the distribution of pension tax relief across different income or contribution cohorts.

INCOME TAX 2007

Retirement Annuity — by range of Retirement Annuity.

Range of Retirement Annuity

Totals

From

To

Number of cases

Amount of deduction

Reduction in tax

1,000

12,755

8,554,012

2,195,262

1,000

5,000

53,094

131,626,207

36,812,190

5,000

10,000

15,032

107,944,901

35,881,712

10,000

20,000

10,293

146,830,170

55,912,616

20,000

50,000

7,445

232,066,475

94,172,399

50,000

200,000

4,275

309,226,910

126,673,365

Over

200,000

2

413,825

169,668

Totals

102,896

936,662,501

351,817,214

INCOME TAX 2007

Personal Retirement Savings Accounts- by range of Personal Retirement Savings.

Range of Retirement Annuity

Totals

From

To

Number of cases

Amount of deduction

Reduction in tax

1,000

2,459

1,510,278

393,857

1,000

5,000

9,532

23,442,529

6,929,653

5,000

10,000

2,494

17,775,441

6,060,539

10,000

20,000

1,360

19,144,322

7,200,268

20,000

50,000

656

19,765,530

7,917,019

50,000

200,000

147

10,442,738

4,255,776

Over

200,000

2

456,358

187,106

Totals

16,650

92,537,198

32,944,216

Banking Sector

Joan Burton

Question:

224 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the amount of senior and subordinated bonds outstanding in Anglo Irish Bank as at 29 September 2008; the amount of senior and subordinated bonds outstanding in Anglo Irish Bank as at 30 September 2008 which were covered by the Government guarantee; the amount of senior and subordinated bonds in Anglo Irish Bank which matured between 30 September 2008 and 29 September 2010 and since 29 September 2010; the amount of senior and subordinated bonds in Anglo Irish Bank bought back by the bank, and the capital gain registered as a result between 30 September 2008 and 29 September 2010 and since 29 September 2010; the amount of senior and subordinated bonds currently outstanding in Anglo Irish Bank covered by the eligible liabilities guarantee and outside the scope of the eligible liabilities guarantee; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39395/10]

The information required by the Deputy is set out in the tables following:

1. The amount of Senior and Subordinated Bonds outstanding as at 29 September 2008:

Debt

Amount

Senior Bonds:

10,770,669,707

UK Covered Bonds:

1,512,660,000

Subordinated Debt:

4,791,653,500

2. The amount of Senior and Subordinated Bonds outstanding as at 30 September 2008 which were covered by the government guarantee:

Debt

Amount

Senior Bonds:

10,763,531,707

UK Covered Bonds:

1,512,660,000

Subordinated Debt:

2,108,760,000

3. The amount of Senior and Subordinated Bonds which matured between 30 September 2008 and 29 September 2010:

Debt

Amount

€bn

Senior Unsecured Debt:

14.6

Subordinated Debt:

0.0

4. The amount of Senior and Subordinated Bonds that have matured since 29 September 2010:

Debt

Amount

€m

Senior Unsecured Debt:

91

Subordinated Debt:

0

5. The amount of Senior and Subordinated Bonds bought-back by the Bank and the associated capital gain(s) for the period of 30 September 2008-29 September 2010:

Debt

Amount

Gain

Senior Unsecured Debt

177.6 m

6 m

Subordinated Debt

2.45 bn

1,752 m

6. The amount of Senior and Subordinated Bonds that have been bought-back by the Bank and the associated capital gain(s) for the period commencing 29 September 2010:

There has been no buy back of either senior or subordinated bonds in this period.

7. The amount of Senior and Subordinated Bonds currently outstanding in the Bank that are covered by the ELG scheme:

Debt

Amount

€bn

Senior Unsecured Debt:

2.68

Subordinated Debt:

0.00

8. The amount of Senior and Subordinated Bonds currently outstanding in the Bank that are not covered by the ELG scheme:

Debt

Amount

€bn

Senior Unsecured Debt:

4.00

Subordinated Debt:

2.36

Notes:

Subordinated Debt can not be guaranteed under the ELG Scheme.

The bank has recently launched a liability management exercise in relation to its subordinated debt.

Unless stated otherwise, exchange rates as of 21 October 2011 have been used in order to provide a corresponding euro equivalent.

Site Aquisitions

Róisín Shortall

Question:

225 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the reason, in October 2006, consent was conveyed to the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government for borrowing by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority up to the statutory limit of €127 million under section 30 of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority Act 1997, to purchase one site (details supplied) in the absence of financial scrutiny of the request. [39398/10]

Under Section 30 of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority Act 1997, the Dublin Docklands Development Authority is entitled to borrow up to a limit of 127 million euro, with the approval of the Minister for the Environment Heritage and Local Government and the consent of the Minister for Finance. In October 2006 the Dublin Docklands Development Authority applied to and was given approval by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, to borrow up to that limit for the purpose of acquiring the Irish Glass Bottle Site in the Dublin docklands area. The consent of the Minister for Finance was given on the basis that the Authority had the then projected capacity to service the debt incurred without recourse to the Exchequer.

Flood Relief

Ulick Burke

Question:

226 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Finance the reasons for the delay in carrying out works at Ballinasloe, County Galway to alleviate the danger of flooding for residents, especially in the Derrymullen and Ashfield areas, which were prioritised in February 2010 and has not yet started; the funds already spent in Ballinasloe flood alleviation to date by the local council; and if he will state when works will be completed [39418/10]

In June of this year, the Office of Public Works agreed to fund works under the Minor Flood Works scheme for mitigation works in Ballinasloe. The allocations include €360,200 for works in the Derrymullen and Ashfield areas. The scheduling and progressing of these projects is a matter for Galway County Council.

The OPW would not necessarily be aware of the total spent by Galway County Council on flood alleviation in Ballinasloe. The Council has recently applied to draw down €95,850 of the allocations under the Minor Works scheme for works in the Town, in addition to €9,000 for a flood study.

Within the past week, the Council has applied for additional funding for the works in the Derrymullen/Ashfield areas in light of changes to the specification to provide the necessary level of protection to the town. The Office of Public Works has agreed to increase the funding to €900,000.

Ulick Burke

Question:

227 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Finance when will the final report on the south Galway drainage be launched; if he will outline the main proposals of this report as there is great concern that floods may return without any alleviation works being carried out; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39419/10]

In July of this year the Office of Public Works commissioned consultants to undertake a review of the recommendations of the 1998 South Galway Flood Study report with the aim of developing proposals for specific flood alleviation measures that can be implemented subject to obtaining statutory consents and stakeholder agreement.

It is expected that the consultant's review of the Study's recommendations will be completed by the end of the year. In the interim, where viable mitigation measures are identified by the consultants, OPW will look to take them forward, in conjunction with Galway County Council, under the framework of the Minor Flood Works scheme.

Ulick Burke

Question:

228 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Finance the cost to his Department of works carried out in the village of Abbey, Loghrea, County Galway to alleviate the danger of flooding in the village; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39424/10]

The works referred to by the Deputy involved installation of a by-pass culvert under the public road and the backyard of a property in Abbey to alleviate flooding in the village. The works are almost complete and the cost to date is €86,700.

Ulick Burke

Question:

229 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Finance the reasons, at a time when flood alleviation is of primary concern throughout the country, the OPW have deposited several hundred tons of rock into the bed of river (details supplied) at the request of Inland Fisheries Ireland, at a section of the river where flooding has reportedly occurred on the main road at this point; if he will accept that as he has the lead role in flood alleviation that he has agreed to this obstacle to be put in the river course by OPW machinery; if he will provide the costings incurred in these works to his Department and to Inland Fisheries Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39425/10]

In carrying out its role as lead agency for flood risk management, the Office of Public Works co-operates with other state bodies, particularly environmental stakeholders such as Inland Fisheries. The works referred to by the Deputy were carried out as part of a programme being undertaken by the OPW in conjunction with Inland Fisheries that aims to incorporate environmental river enhancement measures in OPW's drainage maintenance activities where this is feasible and does not conflict with effective flood risk management. OPW is satisfied that the enhancement works referred to, which were carried out by the Office's staff at a total cost of €8,757, do not contribute to flood risk in the area.

Taxi Sector

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

230 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance the steps he has taken to address the issues which are delaying the introduction of the nine year rule for wheelchair accessible taxis; and when will he make a decision regarding the submission on the nine year rule and the possibility that without such a subsidy that the percentage of wheelchair accessible taxis in the fleet could in fact substantially reduce from the 6% presently in operation [39431/10]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

231 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance to discuss with the Minister for Transport the introduction in the forthcoming budget of a zero cost or gain to exchequer proposal whereby vehicles bought for use in the taxi industry are exempted from VRT, with a claw back facility which would prevent vehicles being sold within nine years without paying a reducing percentage of the due VRT, thus helping the many taxi drivers who will over the next few years need to buy replacement vehicles due to the nine year rule, but who will buy a second-hand car due to the financial hardship of most taxi drivers, thus not delivering the upgrading of the fleet which that nine year rule had intended; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39437/10]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

232 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance if he has received a submission in relation to VRT and taxis from the Commission for Taxi Regulation or the Minister for Transport; when and the reasons it was rejected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39438/10]

I propose to take Question Nos. 230 to 232, inclusive, together.

I have not received any recent submission in relation to VRT and taxis from the Commission for Taxi Regulation or the Minister for Transport. However, my Department did receive correspondence in relation to wheelchair accessible taxis in November, 2009, and it is this correspondence to which I assume the Deputy refers. I have no plans to reduce or eliminate VRT on taxis, including wheelchair accessible taxis.

In relation to wheelchair accessible taxis the Taxi Regulator, through its parent Department, has been advised that if it considers that some form of State assistance is required to facilitate taxi drivers purchasing wheel chair accessible taxis, it may wish to put forward for consideration an expenditure based scheme, financed from within its existing financial allocation and operated by that Department or possibly the Taxi Regulator.

Departmental Funding

Mary Upton

Question:

233 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children when funding will be released for an association (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38512/10]

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

Health Services

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

234 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Health and Children the average processing time for domiciliary care allowance in each of the years 2006, 2007 and 2008; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39216/10]

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

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

235 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Health and Children the average processing time for back to school clothing and footwear allowance in each of the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39220/10]

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

Hospital Waiting Lists

David Stanton

Question:

236 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of persons waiting for outpatients treatment in the ear, nose and throat department in the South Infirmary Victoria Hospital, County Cork; the longest waiting time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38449/10]

David Stanton

Question:

250 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of persons waiting for outpatient appointments at the cardiac unit at the Mercy University Hospital Cork; the longest time a person has been waiting; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38566/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 236 and 250 together. The management of hospital services generally, including out-patient waiting lists, is a matter for the Health Service Executive and the individual hospitals concerned. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular issues raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the issues investigated and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Health Services

John O'Mahony

Question:

237 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of appeals that are being processed for each Health Service Executive region by county; the length of time each appeal is taking to be processed in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38450/10]

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

Medical Cards

Michael McGrath

Question:

238 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a medical card renewal application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork [38457/10]

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

Jack Wall

Question:

239 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 746 of 29 September 2010 the reason persons (details supplied) have not received any information regarding their medical card application; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38464/10]

Jack Wall

Question:

240 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a medical card application in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38465/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 239 and 240 together.

My Department has again requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Health Service Executive to arrange for a reply to issue to the Deputy on this matter.

Health Services

Denis Naughten

Question:

241 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to reinstate services (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38475/10]

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

Joe Carey

Question:

242 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Health and Children the supports available to an Irish citizen currently living abroad (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38476/10]

The Health Act 1970 (as amended) governs eligibility for health services in Ireland. Eligibility for health services is primarily based on residency and means. A person is regarded as "ordinarily resident" in Ireland is he/she satisfies the HSE that it is his/her intention to remain in Ireland for a minimum period of one year.

In general, Irish nationals and non-nationals who have been resident outside Ireland, are not eligible for public health services under the Health Acts. However, under EU Regulations, a person who is attached to the social security system of another EU Member State may be entitled to public health services . In addition, where an Irish national is working abroad on a short-term contract, but does not intend to take up residence outside Ireland, or has been resident abroad for a period of up to three years but the HSE is satisfied that he/she has not established an entitlement to health services in any other country, such persons may be regarded as ordinarily resident in Ireland on return.

Hospital Services

Richard Bruton

Question:

243 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children if she is satisfied with the availability of therapy services in Dún Laoghaire for persons who have suffered major trauma and need rehabilitation; if some beds have been closed in this sector despite the long waiting lists; if the Health Service Executive has any initiatives in mind to try to protect this important front-line service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38484/10]

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

Health Services

Richard Bruton

Question:

244 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has sought a report on the availability of home-care packages particularly in hospitals on Dublin’s northside where there is a scarcity of step down facilities; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that many persons need 24 hour nursing care after they are discharged are being left without any financial support towards this cost; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38485/10]

The Minister for Health and Children receives Performance Reports each month which outline, amongst other things, progress on activity levels against targets set out in the National Service Plan. This includes Home Care Packages. The Minister has not sought an additional report on home care packages outside of this agreed mechanism.

Government policy is to support older people to live in dignity and independence in their own homes and communities for as long as possible. This is delivered through a range of community services such as Home Help, Home Care Packages (HCPs), Meals-on-Wheels, and Day / Respite care. Such supports have the added objective of reducing inappropriate admissions by older people to Acute Hospital or Long-Term Residential Care.

The importance attached to these services is highlighted by the fact that over €200 million additional funding has been provided in recent years for these services. The HSE has responsibility for the delivery of Home Care services, in line with its National Service Plan 2010. The Plan commits the Executive to proving 11.98 million Home Help hours nationally this year, to over 54,000 people. Home Care Packages will be delivered to around 9,600 people at any one time, or to some 13,000 clients over the course of the year. In the region of 21,300 Day / Respite care places will also be utilised this year by the Executive as part of its overall Home Support programme. In addition, arising out of an independent Evaluation of Home Care Packages published by the Department in December 2009, the HSE are this year progressing a number of initiatives to effect improvements generally in the area of Home Care Services.

In relation to Dublin's Northside, the HSE has advised that the procedures for applications for Home Care Packages have not changed. The service can be accessed through the local area office. The service provides assistance with care needs including essential personal care and other home support tasks.

Applications for packages in respect of in-patients in Acute Hospitals should be initiated prior to a patient's discharge from hospital. This can be facilitated by designated staff based in the hospital system. The provision of 24 hour care is not normally provided within the Home Care Package scheme. Where long-term 24 hour care is required, an application for the Nursing Home Support Scheme is advised. Home Care Packages continue to be approved in this area, in line with available funding. A prioritisation process is in place to determine how available funding is best allocated.

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

245 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Health and Children if she proposes to meet persons (details supplied). [38522/10]

I spoke briefly with one of the individuals referred to by the Deputy at an event I attended recently. I asked the individual to write to my Office giving details of the matter concerning them. The individual subsequently wrote to me and my Office has responded.

John Deasy

Question:

246 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Health and Children the primary care unit projects that are under way; the location of same and the status of each project; the projected budget for these projects and the staff in each case that have been recruited; the future primary care projects that are being considered; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38538/10]

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

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

247 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason persons (details supplied) in County Meath were refused community living services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38554/10]

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

Pat Breen

Question:

248 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Clare will be facilitated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38558/10]

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

Hospital Waiting Lists

Pat Breen

Question:

249 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of patients on the public waiting list as of 30 September 2010; and the length of time they have been on the waiting list for a service (details supplied) [38562/10]

As the matter raised by the Deputy relates to the delivery of health services, I have asked the Health Service Executive to reply directly to the Deputy.

Question No. 250 answered with Question No. 236.

Preschool Services

David Stanton

Question:

251 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children if schools participating in the early childhood care and education scheme will be exempt from the payment of local authority rates; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38568/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, I have responsibility for the implementation of the new free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme, which was introduced in January 2010.

Whether a child care service is liable for commercial rates under the Valuation Act 2001, is a matter for the Valuation Office under the remit of the Minister for Finance. In July of last year the Valuation Office clarified that certain services participating in the ECCE scheme will be considered exempt from commercial rates. The exemption applies to services which are solely and exclusively used for the provision of educational services which are available to the general public, and where the expenses incurred in providing these services are defrayed wholly or mainly by the State. With the exception of community not for profit child care services which may, on a case by case basis be exempted from commercial rates, child care services which do not meet the conditions of the exemption continue to be liable to commercialrates.

Sean Fleming

Question:

252 Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Health and Children when the official working group to look at the services and supports for the allocation of resources for preschool children with special needs will report; if this report will be published; if resources will be provided to implement any recommendations in the report that will have a financial implication; when children with special needs at preschool level can expect a proper service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38572/10]

As the Deputy is aware, a cross sectoral working group was established by the Office for Disability and Mental Health earlier this year to develop and agree a framework for the inclusion of young children with disabilities in mainstream pre-school settings. I am advised that the Group's Report will be completed in November. It will then be circulated to the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, the Health Service Executive and the Department of Education and Skills for further consideration in the light of available resources and competing priorities for 2011 and subsequent years.

Legislative Programme

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

253 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children when she will publish the criminal justice (female genital mutilation) Bill; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38579/10]

The text of the new Criminal Justice (Female Genital Mutilation) Bill is being finalised and Government approval will be sought shortly for the text of the Bill and its publication.

Services for People with Disabilities

Finian McGrath

Question:

254 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason children diagnosed with a mild needs assessment have had their service withdrawn (details supplied). [38582/10]

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

Health Services

Finian McGrath

Question:

255 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on a matter (details supplied). [38586/10]

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

Medical Cards

Finian McGrath

Question:

256 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on a matter (details supplied). [38587/10]

My Department has again requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Health Service Executive to arrange for a reply to issue to the Deputy on this matter.

Nursing Education

Finian McGrath

Question:

257 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will clarify a matter (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38588/10]

I am informed by An Bord Altranais that it is not the case that an applicant for registration who is required to successfully complete a period of adaptation and assessment as a prerequisite to registration cannot apply for adaptation until he/she has secured a permanent job contract. Each applicant who is required to undertake adaptation is provided by An Bord Altranais with a list of approved sites for adaptation placements. The number of placements is limited, especially at the current time and all applicants are informed of this. Some hospitals only offer placements to those who have offers of employment, while others offer placements to individuals who have no contract or offer of employment.

Health Services

Seán Barrett

Question:

258 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has any plans to introduce a national screening programme for diabetic foot disease; and if she is aware of the 40% to 70% cost savings potential of such a programme costing €1.56 million annually [38593/10]

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

Thomas Byrne

Question:

259 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Meath should expect to receive an appointment to see a consultant psychiatrist. [38594/10]

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

Hospital Staff

Pat Breen

Question:

260 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 150 of 22 September 2009 in respect of the number of agency staff employed by the Health Service Executive, if she will provide a breakdown of the figure for Ennis General Hospital of €736,117; the number of agency staff employed and the role they fulfil that is nursing, junior doctor or consultancy grade. [38607/10]

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

Prescription Charges

Catherine Byrne

Question:

261 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will outline the details of the new 50 cent prescription charge scheme; if pharmacies can charge more than the €10 monthly limit for an individual or family; the way in which this money can be claimed back; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that this process is particularly onerous for older persons. [38609/10]

Since 1st October 2010, medical card holders are required to pay a 50c charge for medicines and other prescription items supplied to them by community pharmacists. The charges are subject to a cap of €10 per month for each person or family.

Should a person or family pay more than €10, the HSE will issue refunds automatically on a quarterly basis based on the information received from the dispensing pharmacy. However, if a person considers that they have not received the refund due to them there is a refund claim form available through the HSE and an on-line version of the form is available onwww.medicalcard.ie or www.hse.ie.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Denis Naughten

Question:

262 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Galway will be called for a procedure; the reason for the delay; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38616/10]

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

Foster Care

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

263 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of foster carers and relative carers; and the number that have not received a home visit by social workers in the past six months. [38620/10]

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

Social Welfare Benefits

Sean Sherlock

Question:

264 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide a breakdown per region of the amount paid out to date in rent allowance by the Health Service Executive for the years 2009 and to date in 2010. [38645/10]

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

Alcohol Abuse

Richard Bruton

Question:

265 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on the low price of alcoholic drinks available, often with big supermarket chains using these products as loss leaders; if she considers such pricing policies are damaging in terms of preventing the abuse of alcohol; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38649/10]

The low price of alcoholic drinks in the supermarket and off-trade sector is an ongoing matter of concern. The available research evidence shows that lower prices for alcoholic drinks results in more alcohol being sold and consumed with a resultant increase in alcohol-related harm in society.

The issue of the pricing of alcoholic drinks was considered by Government Alcohol Advisory Group in 2008. The resultant Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008 provided a legislative basis that would allow irresponsible price-based promotions of alcohol to be tackled.

In March, 2009 the Government agreed to include alcohol in a National Substance Misuse Strategy (NSMS) that would be coordinated jointly by the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs and my Department. A Steering Group has been established to develop proposals on the alcohol element of the NSMS. The NSMS Steering Group is examining a wide range of issues in relation to alcohol policy such as pricing, availability, treatment, prevention and marketing. The NSMS Steering Group is due to report on its findings by the end of the year. I look forward to receiving the Report from the Steering Group and in particular considering the recommendations around the price at which alcoholic drinks are sold.

Health Service Staff

Terence Flanagan

Question:

266 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38657/10]

As the recruitment of social worker posts is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Health Services

Jack Wall

Question:

267 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the application for a home help or the home care package in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38669/10]

Jack Wall

Question:

268 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for home help in respect of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38670/10]

Jack Wall

Question:

269 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children if the home care package is still accepting applications; the procedures a person (details supplied) should adhere to in seeking such a payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38671/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 267 to 269, inclusive, together.

As these are service matters they have been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Jack Wall

Question:

270 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children if his attention has been drawn to the need for facilities to deal with problems affecting senior citizens in the Kildare and west Wicklow areas; his plans or the Health Service Executive’s plans to address the issue (details supplied). [38672/10]

Jack Wall

Question:

271 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients in long-term care registered under the control of the Health Service Executive and resident in HSE facilities; the geographical areas of such facilities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38673/10]

Jack Wall

Question:

272 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of beds in the Kildare and West Wicklow area designated for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients; if this number is adequate to meet the need for such or if there is a waiting list for same; his plans or those of the Health Service Executive to address the issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38674/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 270 to 272, inclusive, together.

As these are service matters they have been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Mental Health Services

John McGuinness

Question:

273 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children the supports being made available to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; if a plan for their care in the community is in place; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38716/10]

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

Cross-Border Health Services

James Reilly

Question:

274 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide details on the feasibility study on North-South co-operation on health matters; when this study was initiated; when it will be completed; the persons involved in the study; if it will published; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38732/10]

James Reilly

Question:

275 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide details on the areas covered by the co-operation and working together study on cross-Border co-operation in relation to health care; when this study will be completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38733/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 274 and 275 together.

In 2007, both Health Departments agreed to undertake a Feasibility Study on the potential for future cooperation. A Project Board representative of the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (NI), the Department of Health and Children, the Health Service Executive, and Cooperation And Working Together (CAWT) was established to oversee the Study. The Study examined the potential for joint co-operation in health across an extensive range of health and social care services and makes a number of recommendations for future cooperation. The Study was conducted jointly and it was agreed would constitute a report to the two Ministers. Any action arising, including a decision to formally publish the Report, requires the agreement of both parties.

The Study was completed in 2009 and was presented to Ministers in April that year. While I have indicated my approval for the Study's recommendations, in a discussion with the Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety in Northern Ireland in June this year, he informed me that he was not satisfied to endorse the Study.

However, it would be wrong to assume that the non publication of this Study implies that there is no cooperation on health matters. Cross Border working on health has existed for many years and both Departments continue to collaborate on a wide range of health and social care issues. Currently, some of these issues include Radiotherapy Services, Paediatric Congenital Cardiac Services, Emergency Planning, Child Protection, Health Promotion, Cancer Research and Suicide Prevention.

Both Health Ministers meet regularly under the auspices of the North South Ministerial Council and continually review the existing arrangements for cooperation and explore other areas for collaboration where mutual benefit for both populations is demonstrated.

Health Services

James Reilly

Question:

276 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide figures for the number of persons in each county categorised by ages 0 to 30, 31 to 65, 65 years and over who were diagnosed in a medical setting with retinopathy here since 2004; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38734/10]

James Reilly

Question:

277 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide figures for the number of persons in each county categorised by ages 0 to 30, 31 to 65, 65 years and over who were diagnosed in a medical setting with diabetic retinopathy here since 2004; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38735/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 276 and 277 together.

As these are service matters, they have been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Services for People with Disabilities

James Reilly

Question:

278 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide figures for the numbers of persons in each county and categorised by ages nought to 30, 31 to 65, 65 years and over who were registered as blind here since 2004; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38736/10]

James Reilly

Question:

279 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide figures for the numbers of persons in each county and categorised by ages nought to 30, 31 to 65, 65 years and over who have been diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy and were registered as blind here since 2004; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38737/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 278 and 279 together.

There is no State system for the registration of people with a visual impairment. However, the National Council for the Blind of Ireland operates a system of registration for people with a visual impairment. If one is registered with the National Council for the Blind of Ireland, this registration is usually accepted as satisfying the blindness criteria for State schemes such as Blind Pension, Domiciliary Care Allowance and Blind Welfare Allowance. The National Council for the Blind of Ireland provides a range of services to over 15,500 people with a wide range of visual impairments, including those who are blind as a result of diabetic retinopathy.

The Deputy will be aware that diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes. Good diabetes control reduces the risk of diabetic retinopathy. Retinopathy screening is a priority for the Health Service Executive's National Diabetes Programme.

My Department has asked the National Council for the Blind of Ireland for the information sought. My Department will forward the information to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Preschool Services

Enda Kenny

Question:

280 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children the original basis for the age limits of the early childhood care and education scheme; her plans to rectify the situation facing parents where their child’s date of birth does not correspond with the current age-range eligibility; if her attention has been drawn to the level of inconvenience the situation is creating for parents attempting to enroll their children in September 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38738/10]

Enda Kenny

Question:

281 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of applications received by her Department from County Mayo since the early childhood care and education scheme was introduced; of these applications, the numbers that were approved and rejected by her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38739/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 280 and 281 together.

I have responsibility for implementing the free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme. The objective of the ECCE scheme is to make early learning in a formal setting available to children in the year before they commence primary school. Services participating in the pre-school year are expected to provide appropriate age related activities and programmes to children within the age cohort of 3 years and 2 months and 4 years and 7 months in September of the relevant year.

The age limits, which span almost 17 months, take account of a number of factors, including the variation in school admission policies and the fact that the majority of children commence primary school between the ages of 4 years 6 months and 5 years 6 months. While exceptions to the upper age limit are made where children are developmentally delayed and would benefit from participating in the pre-school year at a later age, the scheme does not provide for exceptions to the lower age limit and I am not considering any change to this position.

More than 53,000 children availed of the free pre-school provision in the period January to August 2010 and approximately 63,000 children are currently enrolled from September 2010. The latest figure represents 94% of all children eligible for the scheme this year and is an extraordinarily high level of participation after such a short period of time.

Parents can apply to avail of the scheme for their children by enrolling them in a participating service, generally at the start of the pre-school year in which the children qualify, including children who have been approved for late entry to the scheme. The service will ask the parents of children who have been enrolled, to provide the Personal Public Service Number (PPSN) of the children and to sign and return a declaration form which is then returned to my Office for verification of the details provided.

In September 2010, the parents of almost 1,800 children in Mayo applied to enter the ECCE scheme and, in the vast majority of cases, the details provided have been verified as being valid. In a small number of cases the details provided were not validated. This may be because an incorrect PPSN was furnished to the service in which case the parent or service provider should contact my Office with the correct details. Such cases are being processed as they are received.

Family Support Services

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

282 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will consider correspondence (details supplied); if she will direct the Health Service Executive to provide essential supports to this family; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38989/10]

Officials in my Department have been in contact with the Department of Social Protection who have indicated that the payment of child benefit has been amended to reflect the current position. I understand that contact has been made with the relevant officials in the HSE regarding the issuing of a medical card. Furthermore, this issue has been referred to the HSE for their attention and direct reply to Deputy Ó Fearghaíl.

Medicinal Products

James Reilly

Question:

283 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the legal status of electronic cigarettes on sale in shops and pharmacies here; the way this compares with other European Union member states; if she has asked the Irish Medicines Board to investigate these products; if they are regarded as being a medicinal product or a device by her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39010/10]

The EU Commission, in its Orientation Note on Electronic Cigarettes (May 2008), stated that where such products are presented for use in or assist in smoking cessation, they are regarded as medicinal products. In this regard they are similar to other nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) and therefore require marketing authorisation before being placed on the market in Ireland. In common with other such NRT products they may be supplied only through pharmacies.

The EU Commission has recently commenced a public consultation with respect to the possible revision of the Tobacco Products Directive 2001/37/EC. One of the issues being considered is to extend the scope of the directive to cover electronic nicotine delivery systems where such products are presented as alternatives to cigarettes.

My Department will be engaging with the Irish Medicines Board, Health Service Executive, Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland and other relevant bodies, and will contribute to ongoing EU deliberations on the matter.

Departmental Investigations

James Reilly

Question:

284 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will publish those parts of an independent review report with respect to a person (details supplied) that will not obstruct criminal proceedings; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39011/10]

James Reilly

Question:

285 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason the review into a case (details supplied), which was supposed to be completed between ten and 12 weeks, took almost one year to complete; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39012/10]

James Reilly

Question:

286 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the review into a case (details supplied); when she envisages this review will be published in full; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39013/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 284 to 286, inclusive, together.

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.

I would like to clarify that Judge Smyth began his work on the review in January last and that it was always expected that it would take a number of months, to around the middle of the year, to complete. The review is now complete and I recently received the Judge's report.

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. It is also not possible to comment on any publication date.

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

Tobacco Products

Joe Behan

Question:

287 Deputy Joe Behan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she or officials of her Department have met with representatives of the tobacco industry to discuss budget 2011 or legislation affecting supply and sale of tobacco products; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39021/10]

My Officials last met with representatives of the tobacco industry in July 2008 to discuss the introduction of bilingual health warnings on tobacco products placed on the market from 1 October 2008. No further meetings have taken place.

Hospital Services

Martin Ferris

Question:

288 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) will receive an appointment. [39025/10]

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

Mental Health Services

Sean Sherlock

Question:

289 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the average waiting times for child psychology appointments in the Health Service Executive south region; if she will provide a breakdown of the figures in each administrative area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39035/10]

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

Hospital Services

Kieran O'Donnell

Question:

290 Deputy Kieran O’Donnell asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the reconfiguration of health services in the mid-west; if adequate provision has been made in respect of resources and staffing at a hospital (details supplied) to cope with the increased workload resulting from this reconfiguration; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39055/10]

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

Mental Health Services

Dan Neville

Question:

291 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of community-based mental health teams envisaged under A Vision for Change; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39056/10]

Dan Neville

Question:

292 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of community-based mental health teams established to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39057/10]

Dan Neville

Question:

293 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the number and types of vacancies in community-based mental health teams; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39058/10]

Dan Neville

Question:

297 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of multidisciplinary community-based mental health teams that will provide mental health services to children and adolescents under the age of 18, recommended under A Vision for Change; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39062/10]

Dan Neville

Question:

298 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of multidisciplinary community-based mental health teams that provide mental health services to children and adolescents under the age of 18 established to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39063/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 291 to 293, inclusive, 297 and 298 together.

The Report of the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy,‘A Vision for Change’, estimates that three hundred and thirty-two community mental health teams are required to deliver the proposed community-based mental health service. Seventy-eight of these teams relate to child and adolescent community mental health services and twenty-seven are for child and adolescent specialist services. There are currently fifty-five child and adolescent mental health teams in place and a further eight teams are in development. At the end of 2009 there were one hundred and twenty-four adult community mental health teams.

The specific question relating to vacancies in community based mental health teams is a service matter and accordingly, has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Dan Neville

Question:

294 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the number and location of high-support group homes for persons with enduring mental illnesses at the end of 2009; the number of beds for same in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39059/10]

Dan Neville

Question:

295 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the number and location of medium-support group homes; the number of beds in same in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39060/10]

Dan Neville

Question:

296 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the number and location of low-support group homes; the number of beds in same in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39061/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 294 to 296, inclusive, together. As this is a service matter the question has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Questions Nos. 297 and 298 answered with Question No. 291.

Dan Neville

Question:

299 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of children admitted to adult psychiatric units for each of the years 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39064/10]

The following table provides data on the number of children admitted to adult acute psychiatric units and hospitals.

Year

Total number of children admitted to Adult Psychiatric Units

*2005

39 – under 16 year olds

*2006

253 – under 18 year olds

**2007

217 – under 18 year olds

**2008

247 – under18 year olds

**2009

200 – under 18 year olds

Source:

*2005 and 2006 figures from HRB Activities of the Irish Psychiatric Units and Hospitals.

**2007 to 2009 figures from Mental Health Commission Annual Reports.

Suicide Prevention

Dan Neville

Question:

300 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the funding available to the National Office for Suicide Prevention for each for the years 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010 in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39065/10]

The Budget for the National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP) is set by the Health Service Executive. The following table provides details of the annual budget for the NOSP since2005:

Year

Funding

€m

2005

1.5

2006

2.7

2007

4.5

2008

4.5

2009

4.3

2010

3.7

The total annual funding available to support suicide prevention initiatives is in the region of €8 million.

Mental Health Services

Dan Neville

Question:

301 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the funding available to mental health for each of the years 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2008, 2009 and to date 2010 in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39066/10]

The following table provides details of expenditure on mental health services since 2005.

Year

Mental Health Expenditure

€m

2005

775

2006

984

2007

1,000

2008

1,000

2009

1,000

2010

977 (estimated)

Source: Revised Estimates for Public Services.

Medical Cards

Dan Neville

Question:

302 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the average cost of a medical card; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39067/10]

Dan Neville

Question:

303 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide a general breakdown of the costs of a medical card; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39068/10]

I propose to answer Questions Nos. 302 and 303 together.

There are two main cost factors associated with medical cards and GP visit cards, firstly the capitation and other fees paid to General Practitioners (GPs) and, secondly, the cost of drugs supplied to patients.

GPs who hold contracts under the General Medical Services (GMS) Scheme with the Health Service Executive (HSE) are remunerated through a range of fees and payments. There are more than 50 different capitation fees, which vary depending on the age and gender of the patient and the distance he or she lives from the GP's surgery. For example, fees currently range from €76.98 for a male patient under 5 years living 3 miles or less from the GP's surgery to €218.37 for a female aged 65-70 years living more than 10 miles from the surgery. In addition, there are special capitation rates of €280.31 for persons aged 70 and over residing at home and €896.07 for persons aged 70 and over residing in private nursing homes. There is also a range of additional payments; for example, in respect of out-of-hours consultations, temporary residents, special items of services (e.g. suturing), panel size, practice support allowances and locum expenses.

Drugs costs vary significantly depending on the patient's medical condition. GP visit card holders avail of the Drugs Payment Scheme, which now involves a co-payment of the first €120 spent per family in any calendar month, whereas medical card holders only have to pay a prescription charge of 50 cent per item subject to a maximum of €10 per month for each person or family.

My Department has been in contact with the HSE in relation to the average cost of a medical card per annum and the Executive has indicated that, given there were 1,588,494 medical card holders and 112,139 GP visit card holders on the 1st October, 2010, the variety of payment arrangements and the variation in drug costs under the GMS Scheme, a single average annual cost figure in respect of the medical card and GP visit card is not a sufficiently refined measure for policy options and decisions.

The estimated total expenditure in 2009 on the GMS Scheme was approximately €1.85 billion. The HSE Service Plan for 2010 shows the projected cost of the GMS Scheme this year as €2.032 billion. The Service Plan also shows a projected increase in medical card and GP visit card numbers of 144,000 and 16,111 respectively for 2010.

Hospital Services

James Reilly

Question:

304 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of stroke units here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39069/10]

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

Health Service Staff

James Reilly

Question:

305 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if stroke care will be removed from the moratorium on recruitment in view of the publication of the cardiovascular strategy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39070/10]

The Government has made clear that a critical part of its strategy to restore the public finances is to achieve sustainability in the cost of delivering public services relative to State revenues. To help achieve this goal, it will be necessary to restructure and reorganise the public service and to reduce public service numbers over the coming years. This requires that the moratorium on recruitment and promotion in the health service will continue to apply until the numbers have fallen to the level set out in the Employment Control Framework for the health sector. The Framework for 2010-2012 gives effect to the Government decision on employment policy in the public sector and provides that there will be a net reduction in employment to 2012. This includes a target reduction in numbers in 2010 to achieve the overall reduction of 6,000 from March 2009 to the end 2012 and consequential pay roll savings. Based on numbers reductions already achieved in 2009, the net target reduction to end 2012 is 4,560 WTE (or 1,520 per annum). While there is provision in the HSE's Employment Control Framework for some exemptions and exceptions these are limited because of the need to achieve the required payroll savings.

Cardiovascular Services

James Reilly

Question:

306 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the person leading the implementation of the cardiovascular strategy; if funding has been ring-fenced for its implementation; if implementation plans have been drawn up and published; the main targets which have been prioritised for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39071/10]

The Director of Clinical Care in the Health Service Executive (HSE) has lead responsibility in the HSE for implementation of the Cardiovascular Policy. The HSE has established 3 programmes to implement the different elements of the Cardiovascular Policy, covering acute coronary syndrome, heart failure and stroke. Lead clinicians have been appointed with specific responsibility for each of these programmes and they are developing policy implementation plans to be submitted to the Director of Clinical Care. The lead clinicians are Professor Peter Kelly and Dr Joe Harbinson (Stroke and Stroke Rehabilitation), Professor Ken McDonald (Heart Failure) and Dr Kieran Daly (Acute Coronary Syndrome).

The implementation of these plans and the organisation of the necessary resources are service delivery matters and have, therefore, been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Budget Submissions

Brian O'Shea

Question:

307 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will consider priorities for budget 2011 from an association (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39078/10]

The priorities for Budget 2011 are being considered as part of the estimates and budgetary process for 2011. As the Deputy will appreciate, detailed deliberation on all aspects of expenditure in the health service is underway as part of the consideration of the very challenging financial circumstances which face the Government this year. As such, it would not be appropriate to comment further on particular elements of the Budget at this time.

Medical Cards

Jack Wall

Question:

308 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. [39093/10]

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

Health Service Properties

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

309 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the total bill for rented properties in the Health Service Executive; the breakdown of this figure according to sectors and regions; the rental commitments entered into in relation to primary care centres to developers and general practitioners or GP groups; the efforts being made to reduce the cost of rented properties; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39105/10]

Management of the Health Service Executive property portfolio is a service matter. Therefore your question has been referred to the Executive for direct reply.

Hospitals Building Programme

Finian McGrath

Question:

310 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children when the construction firm will start work on the new cystic fibrosis unit at St. Vincent’s Hospital following the signing of the contact. [39113/10]

The St. Vincent's University Hospital and the HSE are working to ensure the earliest possible delivery of the new ward block. The contract for construction of the new facility was signed on the 14 October 2010. The site has been handed over to the contractor. An architect has been appointed, the contractor and design team are on site and construction work has commenced. The site had previously been cleared in readiness for construction to begin. It is expected that construction of the building will take 18 months. Completion is expected as early as possible in 2012.

Hospital Services

Emmet Stagg

Question:

311 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of Alzheimer and dementia patients in long-term care registered under the control of the Health Service Executive and resident in HSE facilities throughout the State; the location of such facilities and the numbers on the waiting list at present for each such facility. [39121/10]

Emmet Stagg

Question:

312 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of public long-term care beds within the Kildare and west Wicklow area especially designated for dementia and Alzheimer patients; if this number is adequate to meet the need for such beds or is there a waiting list for same; the numbers on the waiting list; her plans to address the issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39122/10]

Emmet Stagg

Question:

313 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the urgent need for facilities to deal with problems effecting senior citizens in the Kildare and west Wicklow areas; her plans to address the issue (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39123/10]

I propose to answer Questions Nos. 311 to 313, inclusive, together.

As these are service matters they have been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

314 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the plans in place to provide an early arthritis clinic at Naas General Hospital. [39124/10]

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

Jack Wall

Question:

315 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Kildare receive an appointment date for Tullamore Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39135/10]

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

Hospital Accommodation

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

316 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will investigate claims made in the past week of serious overcrowding at Tallaght Hospital, Dublin 24; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39149/10]

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

General Practitioner Services

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

317 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress made in respect of the need to develop an out of hours general practitioner service attached to Tallaght Hospital, Dublin 24; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39150/10]

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

Hospital Services

Michael McGrath

Question:

318 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the Health Service Executive’s plans for the future of St. Mary’s Orthopaedic Hospital, Cork city. [39152/10]

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

Departmental Programmes

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

319 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children if there was a scheme administered by the Department of Health up to 2008 which allowed survivors of institutional abuse to travel to Ireland for a holiday; the success of this scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39158/10]

During 2004 and 2005, the Department of Health and Children (DOHC) provided funding for a support network and accommodation service (Avoca House) administered by SOCA UK (Survivors of Child Abuse UK), a voluntary organisation and registered charity in Ireland. This service offered a safe and comfortable environment for survivors of institutional abuse visiting Ireland to attend to matters related to the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, the Residential Institutions Redress Board or for those visiting the Barnardos family tracing service. Avoca House also offered accommodation for survivors who wished to revisit the Industrial School in which they had been detained within the Dublin Region. The premises was not for holiday use.

Responsibility for this service transferred to the Health Service Executive following its establishment.

Health Services

Jack Wall

Question:

320 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an appeal against the decision to refuse an application on medical grounds in respect of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39165/10]

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

Medical Cards

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

321 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 Limerick. [39175/10]

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

Health Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

322 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the entitlements available to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39176/10]

As the Deputy's question is referring to entitlements in an individual case, it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Departmental Agencies

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

323 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of board members sitting on the boards of each State agency under her Department’s control. [39237/10]

The maximum number of members on Boards to which I make appointments are set out below. In the case of some Boards other Ministers and Bodies have responsibility for making nominations and appointments.

Board/Agency

Number of Members

Advisory Committee for Human Medicines (IMB)

12

Advisory Committee for Veterinary Medicines (IMB)

12

An Bord Altranais

29

An Bord Uchtala

9

Beaumont Hospital Board

15

Board of the Adelaide and Meath Hospitals

23

Bord na Radharc Mhastoiri

11

Childrens Act Advisory Board

12

Comhairle na Nimheanna

18

Consultative Council on Hepatitis C

16

Crisis Pregnancy Agency

9

Dental Council

19

Drug Treatment Center Board

10

Dublin Dental Hospital Board

14

Food Safety Authority of Ireland

10

Food Safety Consultative Council

24

Health and Social Care Professionals Council

25

Health Information and Quality Authority

12

Health Insurance Authority

5

Health Research Board

16

Health Service Executive

12

Hepatitis C and HIV Compensation Tribunal

15

Irish Blood Transfusion Service

12

Irish Medicines Board

9

Leopardstown Park Hospital Board

9

Medical Council

25

Mental Health Commission

13

National Cancer Registry Board

10

National Haemophilia Council

11

National Paediatric Hospital Development Board

13

National Social Work Qualifications Board

17

National Treatment Purchase Fund Board

9

National Council for the Professional Development of Nursing/Midwifery

20

Office of Tobacco Control

12

Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland Council

21

Poisons Council

18

Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council

17

Scientific Committee of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland

15

Social Workers Registration Board

13

St James’s Hospital Board

15

Voluntary Health Insurance Board

12

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

324 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Health and Children the annual budget of each State agency under her Department’s control in each of the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39252/10]

The Agencies funded by my Department in each of the years 2006-2010 are set out in the following table. The Deputy will also be aware that the Health Service Executive is accountable to me as Minister for Health & Children. The net amount voted by the Oireachtas in respect of Vote 40 — Health Service Executive is as follows:

2006 — €10,031,090

2007 — €11,453,895

2008 — €12,667,159

2009 — €11,890,719

In 2010 the Net Estimate of the HSE is €10,528,581.

Agencies directly funded by Department of Health and Children

Agency

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

National Council on Ageing***

0

430,000

904,000

1,510,000

1,440,000

National Social Work Qualification Board

538,000

569,000

578,000

573,000

557,000

Irish Medicines Board

3,650,000

4,601,922

4,993,000

4,924,000

4,025,000

Post Graduate Medical and Dental Board*

0

0

10,362,000

9,795,000

8,744,000

Board for the Employment of the Blind (Blindcraft)****

0

17,000

10,000

4,717,000

1,100,000

Crisis Pregnancy Agency*****

0

8,178,000

8,706,000

8,574,000

8,140,000

Food Safety Authority Ireland

17,427,000

18,032,000

18,505,000

18,712,000

17,430,000

Institute of Public Health

1,542,000

1,517,000

1,576,000

1,562,000

1,505,000

Health Information & Quality Authority

14,757,000

11,100,000

14,800,000

6,389,000

1,386,000

Irish Health Safety Accreditation Board**

0

0

0

843,000

2,464,000

Mental Health Commission

18,190,000

17,950,000

16,600,000

17,380,000

6,250,000

National Cancer Screening Service*

11,000

57,300,000

42,452,000

30,419,000

13,693,000

National Council Professional Development of Nursing & Midwifery

4,162,000

4,285,000

4,473,000

4,200,000

4,350,000

Office of Tobacco Control

1,726,000

1,620,000

1,819,000

2,495,554

2,315,000

Pre Hospital Emergency Care Council

3,161,000

3,281,000

3,438,000

3,414,850

2,812,000

Childrens’Acts Advisory Board******

1,000,000

2,199,000

2,314,000

2,232,000

1,715,000

Women’s Health Council***

0

500,000

658,000

654,000

631,000

National Treatment Purchase Fund

90,092,000

90,350,000

104,641,000

91,744,000

78,644,000

Food Safety Promotion Board

6,665,000

5,623,000

7,000,000

6,475,000

6,580,000

Health Research Board

34,157,000

35,241,000

36,885,000

36,085,000

30,353,000

Ombudsman for Children

2,223,000

2,310,000

2,409,000

2,080,992

1,266,268

Office of the Disability Appeals Officer

501,000

557,000

0

0

1,720,000

National Cancer Registry Board

2,975,000

2,477,000

3,037,000

2,165,000

0

Health & Social Care Professionals Council

962,000

595,000

315,000

0

2006-2009 are Outturn figures.

2010 figures as per Revised Estimates Volume.

*Transferred to HSE from 1/4/10.

**Subsumed into HIQA in 2007.

***Subsumed into DoHC in 2009.

****Wound Up in 2007.

*****Transferred to HSE from 01/1/10.

******Due to be abolished in 2010.

Health Services

Michael Ring

Question:

325 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be called for treatment. [39316/10]

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

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

326 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide details of the budget for the refurbishment of the new care centre for persons with disabilities at Duleek County Meath; the process for the tendering of the management of the facility; if the facility has the contingency for outdoor activity facilities; the provisions for natural lighting in the building; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39401/10]

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

Hospital Services

Ulick Burke

Question:

327 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Health and Children to indicate when the three vacant consultants positions at a hospital (details supplied) will be filled; if the funding for these positions will be provided; if she will confirm the filling of these positions at the hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39412/10]

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

Health Service Staff

Ulick Burke

Question:

328 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of home help hours and positions provided by the Health Service Executive in Galway city and county for each of the years 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; the number of home care packages processed and delivered to applicants by HSE West in Galway city and county for the same years; the number of patients receiving long stay care in HSE nursing homes for the same period; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39413/10]

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

Hospital Accommodation

Ulick Burke

Question:

329 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of beds assigned for cancer care at University College Hospital Galway prior to its designation as a centre of excellence for cancer care and the number for each year since that designation to the present; if she will state the original proposal of the transfer of beds and services from the other centres in counties Mayo, Sligo and other areas to Galway; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39414/10]

The matters raised by the Deputy relate to the provision of healthcare services and accordingly, I have asked the Health Service Executive (HSE) to respond directly to the Deputy.

Hospitals Building Programme

Ulick Burke

Question:

330 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Health and Children when the new hospital facilities at St. Brendan’s Hospital, Loughrea, County Galway will be opened; the proposed staff numbers for each grade to be employed in the new facility compared to the number currently employed in the existing facility; the number of long stay beds in the new facility as against the bed numbers for each of the years 2004, 2005, 2006, 207, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; the outline of the new facilities to be provided as extra in the new facility; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39415/10]

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

Medical Cards

Ulick Burke

Question:

331 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of persons in Galway city and county possessing medical cards for each of the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; if she will provide the breakdown of these between full medical card, GP visit cards and the over 70s medical cards; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39416/10]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has the operational and funding responsibility for the medical card benefit. It collates medical card data by county, age and gender. Therefore, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to address this matter and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Emmet Stagg

Question:

332 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No 205 of 20 January 2010 if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the waiting list to see a consultant rheumatologist in a hospital (details supplied) is growing because additional weekly referrals exceed the existing capacity; the reason the staffing levels of one rheumatologist and four support staff to cover the population of Kildare is so low compared with staffing levels at other hospitals with similar population. [39442/10]

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

Health Service Staff

Denis Naughten

Question:

333 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason staff in the Roscommon mental health services do not receive payment for short time acting up positions of responsibility in line with other services in the Health Service Executive west; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39450/10]

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

Public Transport

Seán Barrett

Question:

334 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Transport if his attention has been drawn to the fact that Dublin Bus has been forced to reduce its services as a result of a lack of adequate funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38479/10]

While the allocation of Exchequer subvention to the CIÉ operating companies is a matter for the National Transport Authority I understand that Dublin Bus have been allocated €75.790 million in 2010 towards the cost of public service obligation services. The decision by Dublin Bus as part of its cost recovery plan, to re-organise its network to reflect changes in demand, based on 120 fewer buses is consistent with the conclusions in the Deloitte Report. The Deloitte report concluded that the Dublin Bus fleet is adequate to meet current demand, and that fleet expansion was not an immediate issue. Instead the Deloitte report concluded that the focus should be on optimising the existing network and extracting full value from the existing sized fleet.

The objective of the redesign of the Dublin Bus network is to provide current and future bus customers with a service that will be modern, accessible, integrated, easy to understand, punctual and frequent. The redesigned network will be supported by complementary measures such as Integrated Ticketing and Real Time Passenger Information. These measures reflect the commitment of the company to deliver better services at better value to the customer and taxpayer.

Taxi Regulations

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

335 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport the number of times he and his Department are briefed by the Commission on Taxi Regulation; the way he invigilates the actions and performance of the office of the taxi regulator in terms of carrying out the Government's overall policy for the taxi sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38553/10]

Under section 29 of the Taxi Regulation Act 2003, the Commission is required to submit its Annual Report and Accounts. The Commission also publishes a Strategy Statement under Section 28 of the Act and is obliged to adhere to the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies. Earlier in the year the Commission produced its Strategy Statement 2010-2014 and its Action Plan for 2010-201. In September the Commission produced its mid-year report in line with the Code of Practice for the Governance of State bodies.

Taking account of its statutory independence under the Taxi Regulation Act 2003 and its reporting requirements as mentioned, my officials have regular contact with the Commission for Taxi Regulation on corporate governance issues and general policy relating to the taxi sector.

Departmental Agencies

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

336 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Transport the number of board members sitting on the boards of each State agency under his Department’s control; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39242/10]

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the following table. The Commission for Taxi Regulation and the Railway Safety Commission do not have Boards.

Board Members

State Body

Members

National Roads Authority

11

Medical Bureau of Road Safety

5

Road Safety Authority

9

Córas Iompair Éireann

11

Bus Átha Cliath

8

Bus Éireann

6

Iarnród Éireann

8

National Transport Authority

10

Railway Procurement Agency

5

Railway Safety Advisory Council

12

Advisory Council to the Commission for Taxi Regulation

18

Dublin Airport Authority

13

Shannon Airport Authority

9

Cork Airport Authority

9

Irish Aviation Authority

7

Marine Casualty Investigation Board

5

Port of Cork Company

10

Drogheda Port Company

8

Dublin Port Company

8

Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company

11

Shannon Foynes Port Company

12

Port of Waterford Company

8

Galway Harbour Company

8

New Ross Port Company

8

Dundalk Port Company

9

Wicklow Port Company

9

Arklow Harbour Commissioners

10

Baltimore & Skibbereen Harbour

9

Bantry Bay Harbour

11

Kinsale Harbour Commissioners

9

Tralee & Fenit Commissioners

11

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

337 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Transport the annual budget of each State agency under his Department’s control in each of the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39257/10]

The Exchequer funding has been allocated under Vote 32 to the following agencies under the remit of my Department since 2006:

State Body

Vote 32 Funding 2010 €000

Vote 32 Funding 2009 €000

Vote 32 Funding 2008 €000

Vote 32 Funding 2007 €000

Vote 32 Funding 2006 €000

CIE Group

496,129

726,808

911,036

776,269

574,124

Railway Safety Commission

400

2,014

2,078

2,090

2,272

Railway Procurement Agency

29,748

10,598

10,958

11,000

39,953

National Roads Authority

1,636,324

1,470,009

1,679,461

1,782,874

1,650,644

Dublin Transportation Office/NTA

353,512

38,472

59,017

41,593

28,730

Road Safety Authority

28,746

32,835

39,704

31,124

*

Medical Bureau of Road Safety

4,557

4,363

4,448

5,911

9,333

Marine Casualty Investigation Board

250

200

250

300

300

*Road Safety Authority established on 13 September 2006.

Rural Transport Services

Catherine Byrne

Question:

338 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Transport if he is committed to a better rural transport system here; if he has implemented the suggestions put forward in the 2006 public consultation document entitled Progressing Rural Transport in Ireland — A Discussion Paper; his priorities for advancing rural transport under Transport 21; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39263/10]

The mainstreamed Rural Transport Programme (RTP) was launched in February 2007 in line with the principal recommendation of the Fitzpatrick Associates report ‘Progressing Rural Public Transport in Ireland' which was circulated by my Department as a discussion document in August 2006. There are commitments to the RTP in the National Development Plan, Towards 2016 and the Department's Sectoral Plan under the Disability Act 2005. The development of rural transport is also a key objective in the Government's sustainable travel and transport plan Smarter Travel — A Sustainable Transport Future. The renewed Government Programme contains a commitment to explore the provision of a full-scale transport system in rural areas using the network expertise of Bus Éireann and the resources of the school and health transport systems and pilot projects have been undertaken in the North East and in the North West in that regard. The pilots are currently being assessed and together with a recently completed exercise to map all transport services in County Louth and a cross-border pilot rural community transport project under the auspices of the British/Irish Council, will feed into the process for developing rural transport policy into the future.

Disabled Drivers

Michael McGrath

Question:

339 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Transport the eligibility criteria for a disabled person’s parking card; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39317/10]

The current position regarding eligibility for the Disabled Persons Parking Permit is set out in the Regulation 43 (1) of the Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking) Regulations 1997 (S.I. No. 182 of 1997). This provides that a Disabled Person Parking Permit may be granted to "a person suffering from a disability that prevents that person from walking or causes undue hardship to the person in walking". Any person, driver or passenger, meeting the eligibility criteria may be granted a permit. Last July I published a Review of the Disabled Parking Scheme which was conducted by my Department and prepared in co-operation with the issuing authorities, the Irish Wheelchair Association and the Disabled Drivers Association of Ireland. I have accepted the recommendations of this Review, one of which is that criteria for eligibility for the Scheme should be refocused from type of disability to actual level of mobility impairment. I believe that this will lead to a fairer distribution of Disabled Persons Parking Permits to those whom the Scheme was originally designed to benefit. Work is under way in my Department to give effect to the recommendations of the Review.

Rail Network

Ulick Burke

Question:

340 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Transport the position regarding progress following his decision to proceed with the extension of the restoration of the rail line from Athenry to Tuam; the proposed expenditure involved in these works in 2010 and 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39417/10]

The first phase of the Western Rail Corridor was opened on 29th March 2010. My Department has received an application for funding from Iarnród Éireann for the detailed design and tender preparation stage for Phase 2, Athenry to Tuam which is currently being reviewed. This stage will involve a detailed estimate of costs for the construction of Phase 2. The exact timeframe for when the project will move to construction will be influenced by the outcome of the design and tender stage and available resources.

Taxi Regulations

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

341 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Transport when he received the Commission for Taxi Regulation's submission seeking permission to subsidise the taxi industry to encourage greater accessibility in the taxi fleet and if he has received any updates on that position paper from the commission. [39430/10]

As part of its statutory remit the National Transport Authority (NTA) is responsible for improved access to the transport system and in particular for public passenger transport access for persons with disabilities. In addition, the functions of the CTR will be absorbed into the NTA by the end of the year. I referred the CTR's proposals to the NTA in March 2010 for its consideration and decision. It will be a matter for the NTA to decide on the future approach to incentives for wheelchair accessible taxis in the light of available funding and other priorities as regards supporting enhanced accessibility on bus, rail and taxi services.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

342 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Transport if he has considered changing legislation to allow the taxi regulator the power to use some of its surplus cash to buy back taxi plates from drivers leaving the industry due to financial hardship; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39432/10]

As the Deputy is aware the Commission for Taxi Regulation (CTR) is responsible, under the Taxi Regulation Act, 2003, for the regulation of the small public service vehicles (SPSV) sector. The Act does not provide the CTR with the power to purchase back taxi licences. I do not propose amending legislation to enable the CTR to have such powers in the future. I understand that all new taxi licences issued by the Commission from 8th June 2010 are non-transferable licences.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

343 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Transport if he has had any communications from the Commission for Taxi Regulation, or Data Protection Commissioner in relation to the personal data, including home address and so on, which members of the public can access on request from the taxi regulator; the content of such communication; if he has considered changing the regime to make it similar to the Private Security Services Authority where personal details are only available to the Revenue Commissioners, An Garda Síochána and the authority to protect against threats, attacks or otherwise an invasion of the private life; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39434/10]

I have received correspondence from the Data Protection Commissioner and the Commissioner for Taxi Regulation (CTR) in relation to information contained in certificates released on request under Section 38(6) of the Taxi Regulation Act 2003. Upon payment of a fee, Section 38(6) requires the CTR to issue a certificate relating to information relating to a licence granted, including the name and address of the person who holds the licence.

Both the Data Protection Commissioner and the Taxi Regulator have referred to concerns raised by taxi licence holders and their representatives regarding the provision of personal information, particularly their personal addresses.

With a view to addressing the issues raised in the correspondence, a review of the legislation and administrative arrangements is under way to ensure appropriate safeguards are in place.

Auctioneers and House Agents

David Stanton

Question:

344 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the way in which members of the public can ascertain if a person operating as an auctioneer has an auctioneer’s licence; if such information is readily available to the public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38446/10]

I wish to inform the Deputy that the licensing of Auctioneers and House Agents is currently a matter for the Revenue Commissioners under the Auctioneers and House Agents Acts 1947 to 1973.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Property Services (Regulation) Bill 2009, which will establish the Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA), is currently awaiting Second Stage debate in this House. Once the new legislation is enacted responsibility for the licensing of Property Services Providers (i.e. Auctioneers/Estate Agents, Letting Agents and Management Agents) will become the responsibility of the PSRA. This legislation also provides for the establishment by the PSRA of a register of persons who are licensed under the Bill to provide property services. The register will be available for inspection free of charge by members of the public at the Authority's office and on its internet website.

Citizenship Applications

Phil Hogan

Question:

345 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 361 of 12 October 2010, the reason an application for naturalisation has not been processed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38454/10]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question 361 on 12 October, 2010. The position remains as stated.

Legislative Programme

Sean Sherlock

Question:

346 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform when he will initiate the commencement order on the Fines Act; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38455/10]

The Fines Act 2010 will be commenced on a phased basis and I expect that the capacity to pay provisions in section 14 will be among the first features of the legislation to be commenced from early January, 2011. Section 14 places an obligation on the court to take account of the defendant's financial circumstances before a fine is imposed.

While I would like to be in a position to commence all parts of this important legislation from an early date, it is not possible to fully commence the Act until the necessary arrangements have been put in place by the Courts Service to fully facilitate its operation. I have requested the Courts Service to prioritise the work necessary in order to progress the request for tender and contract negotiations for the appointment of a receiver. The tender procedure is subject to EU tender rules, including timelines. Appointment of a receiver will facilitate commencement of section 19 of the Act, which makes imprisonment a last resort on default of payment of a fine. It is only when the receiver has failed to recover the fine (or its value in seized goods) and a community service order has not been complied with, or is not suitable in the circumstances of a particular case, that imprisonment will arise. Significant enhancements to the Courts Service ICT system are necessary to facilitate payment of fines by instalment, which is provided for in section 15. These provisions and the remaining sections of the Act will be commenced as soon as possible.

Asylum Support Services

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

347 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the procedures in place to assist asylum seekers awaiting a decision on their status and do not have a current valid refugee card and so experience difficulties obtaining benefits. [38486/10]

The Deputy may be aware that Ireland operates a system of Direct Provision of services and supports for asylum seekers. At the time of their applications, asylum seekers are offered accommodation in a reception centre in Dublin for a period of approximately ten to fourteen days. During this period they are given access to health (including health screening), legal and welfare services. Asylum seekers are then relocated to an accommodation centre outside the Dublin area.

Accommodation in reception and accommodation centres is provided on a full board basis which includes the provision of a room / family room (as appropriate) and three meals per day. All accommodation for asylum seekers is required to comply and operate in accordance with the statutory requirements of local authorities and State agencies in relation to bedroom capacity, food hygiene, water supply and so on.

Asylum seekers are paid a weekly supplementary welfare payment. The current rates are €19.10 per week for an adult and €9.60 per week for a child. In addition, asylum seekers can access exceptional needs payments, clothing and footwear allowances and similar supports. Asylum seekers can remain in the accommodation provided to them while their application for asylum is being considered. They are precluded by law from receiving rent supplements towards the cost of accommodation in the private rented sector. Additionally, they are not allowed to access the labour market while their applications for asylum are being determined.

I would draw the Deputy's attention to Section 3 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended), where it is made clear that it is only when an individual has been declared to be a refugee do they become entitled to the same social welfare benefits as those to which Irish citizens are entitled.

Garda Telecommunications

Charles Flanagan

Question:

348 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the total cost of upgrading the phone system used by the Garda Síochána from analogue to digital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38498/10]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the total cost of upgrading the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) and Rural PABX networks over the past five years amounted to €9.238m. The Garda authorities have further advised that the additional functionality provided by the upgraded systems will help to achieve savings through the elimination of costs associated with internal calls, a reduction in the cost of handling mobile telephone calls and a reduction in the number of direct lines required within stations.

Liquor Licensing Laws

Niall Collins

Question:

349 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the procedure for a person operating a post office and shop to obtain a licence to sell wine for consumption off the premises; where and the way one should apply; if the legislation in this matter has recently changed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38510/10]

Revised provisions governing the grant of a new wine retailer's off-licence are set out in sections 6 to 8 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008.

Citizenship Applications

Michael Noonan

Question:

350 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform when an application for a certificate for naturalisation will be completed in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38600/10]

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

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

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

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

Jack Wall

Question:

351 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding a Garda clearance form in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38619/10]

I am informed by the Garda Authorities that a vetting application in respect of the person referred to has been received by the Garda Central Vetting Unit. The application is being processed at present and a response will issue in due course.

Citizenship Applications

Ulick Burke

Question:

352 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the reason for the delay in processing an application in respect of a person (details supplied). [38654/10]

A valid application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in April 2008.

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

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

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

Garda Recruitment

Liz McManus

Question:

353 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding the recruitment drive for An Garda Síochána; when this recruitment drive was to commence; the status of this recruitment drive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38683/10]

The general moratorium on recruitment and appointments in the Public Service continues to apply to An Garda Síochána. The purpose of initiating a Garda recruitment campaign at this time is to begin a process of establishing a panel of approved candidates who will be available to meet future Garda recruitment needs in line with Government policy. This forward planning is necessary given the lead time involved both in establishing such a panel and in training recruits to the point of attestation. The Garda recruitment process is managed by the Public Appointments Service on behalf of the Commissioner and I have no function in that matter.

Garda Investigations

Niall Collins

Question:

354 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if it is legal or illegal for An Garda Síochána to confirm to media and journalist queries that a person has been arrested and is being held for questioning; the legislation and procedures that exist to protect a person’s presumption of innocence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38685/10]

An Garda Síochána, through the Garda Press and Public Relations Office provides information to media in relation to matters under investigation and other issues relating to the work of the organisation. Appeals for assistance/information from the public are also communicated through the media.

In serious cases, when arrests are made, the Garda Press and Public Relations Office informs the media of the fact that an arrest has been made, the age and gender of the arrested person, where he/she was arrested, for what offence and the relevant power of detention.

I am advised that the Garda Press and Public Relations Office does not identify any person who has been arrested, and that confirmation is not provided in response to any media queries as to whether any named individual has been arrested.

Fraud Offences

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

355 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform his plans to address the activities of individuals and groups who organise and promote the door to door collection of used clothing; his views regarding alleged criminal activity associated with the used clothing collection operations; his further views regarding the fact that the used clothing collected is not being used for charity purposes as is usually stated in the promotional material; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38708/10]

Section 6 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud) Offences Act 2001 provides for the offence of making gain or causing loss by deception.

Any complaints received by An Garda Síochána regarding activities such as those referred to by the Deputy are the subject of investigation and possible criminal proceedings, where the evidence disclosed so warrants.

The role of An Garda Síochána is to investigate alleged offences, to gather whatever evidence may be available and to submit a report to the Director of Public Prosecutions. The question of whether or not a particular person should be prosecuted and for what criminal offence is the responsibility of the DPP. The Director, who is independent in the performance of his functions, makes his decision on the basis of the Garda findings viewed against the background of common and/or statute law.

Any person who may have information in relation to the matters referred to by the Deputy should contact An Garda Síochána.

Citizenship Applications

Paul Kehoe

Question:

356 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the rights and entitlements of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38749/10]

The Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended, provides that the Minister for Justice and Law Reform may, in his absolute discretion, grant an application for a certificate of naturalisation provided certain statutory conditions are fulfilled. In the case of a non-national applicant who is the spouse of an Irish citizen those conditions are that the applicant must:

be of full age;

be of good character;

be married to the Irish citizen for at least 3 years;

be in a marriage recognised under the laws of the State as subsisting;

be living together as husband and wife with the Irish spouse;

have had a period of one year's continuous residency in the island of Ireland immediately before the date of the application and, during the four years immediately preceding that period, have had a total residence in the island of Ireland amounting to two years;

have made, either before a Judge of the District Court in open court or in such a manner as the Minister, for special reasons allows, a declaration in the prescribed manner, of fidelity to the nation and loyalty to the State.

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

It is open to the person in question to lodge an application for a certificate of naturalisation if and when she is in a position to meet the statutory requirements. Application forms and information on the statutory requirements in relation to an application for a certificate of naturalisation are available on the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Services website at www.inis.gov.ie.

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

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

357 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will consider correspondence (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38990/10]

The Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1956, as amended, provides that the Minister may, in his absolute discretion, grant an application for a certificate of naturalisation provided certain statutory conditions are fulfilled. The conditions are that the applicant must:

be of full age;

be of good character;

have had a period of one year's continuous residency in the State immediately before the date of application and, during the eight years immediately preceding that period, have had a total residence in the State amounting to four years;

have made, either before a Judge of the District Court in open court or in such a manner as the Minister for special reasons allows, a declaration in the prescribed manner, of fidelity to the nation and loyalty to the State

In the context of naturalisation, certain periods of residence in the State are excluded. These include:

periods of residence in respect of which an applicant does not have permission to remain in the State;

periods granted for the purposes of study;

periods granted for the purposes of seeking recognition as a refugee within the meaning of the Refugee Act, 1996.

The Minister may, in his absolute discretion, waive the statutory conditions where the application is of Irish descent or Irish associations. Irish associations is defined as meaning related by blood, affinity or adoption to a person who is an Irish citizen. However, this provision is not applicable in this case.

It is open to the person concerned to lodge an application for a certificate of naturalisation with the Citizenship Division of my Department if and when they are in a position to meet the statutory requirements.

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

Proposed Legislation

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

358 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform when the Spent Convictions Bill is expected to be brought to completion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39031/10]

The Spent Convictions Bill 2007 completed Second Stage in this House on 18 December 2008. Work is under way on the preparation of Committee Stage amendments. My colleague, Mr. Barry Andrews, TD, Minister for Children, expects to be in a position to publish the amendments early in the next term and he hopes that Committee Stage can take place shortly thereafter.

Residency Permits

Joe Behan

Question:

359 Deputy Joe Behan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if arrangements for renewal of Garda National Immigration Bureau Registration cards could be re-examined (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39034/10]

I have been informed by the Garda National Immigration Bureau that non-nationals who present at the registration office located at the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) premises at Burgh Quay, Dublin, 2 for the purpose of complying with their requirement to be placed on a register of non-nationals, provided for at section 9 of the Immigration Act 2004, are each issued with a numbered ticket which indicates their position within the queue of people presenting on that day. The numbered ticket is issued to each non-national by a senior member of staff who ensures that the persons concerned are in possession of all necessary documentation and establishes any other issue which might impact on the registration of the non-nationals.

In the event that any person presenting for the purpose of being entered on the register of non-nationals, maintained pursuant to the provisions of the Immigration Act, 2004, indicates that he/she has any particular difficulty with regard to complying with the registration process, it will be considered at the time of being issued with a numbered ticket.

When each non-national is issued with such ticket, he or she is advised of the approximate time at which his or her application will be processed, thus eliminating the need for the non-national to remain at the GNIB premises for protracted periods of time. In the event that a non-national would indicate that he or she has a medical condition or, as in the circumstances subject of this Question is at an advanced stage of pregnancy, his or her application to be entered on the register of non-nationals will be prioritised.

Garda Vetting Services

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

360 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if there is a rule whereby persons from other EU countries (details supplied) have to wait for two years before they get Garda clearance for jobs that require such vetting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39108/10]

The Garda Central Vetting Unit issues vetting certificates to a registered organisation in respect of any individual whom it proposes to employ or engage in a position having substantial, unsupervised access to children and/or vulnerable adults. There are no special waiting periods for persons from other EU countries for vetting purposes. A Garda vetting certificate is issued to a registered organisation in response to a written request made with the permission of the person who is the subject of that request .

Gaming Regulation

Mary Upton

Question:

361 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the progress that has been made in relation to legislation on gambling; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39139/10]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 21 and 50 for answer on 7 October, 2010 in which I set out the necessary process involved in this matter before any legislative change can be addressed. The position has not changed since that date.

In essence, the position is that I initiated a major review of gambling in May of last year. The objective of the wide-ranging review is to provide Government with options for a new and comprehensive legal and organisational framework governing the gambling architecture in the State. It is a matter of record that successive Governments have shied away from attempting any significant reform of our gambling laws since our existing gaming and lotteries legislation was enacted over 50 years ago. Notwithstanding the foregoing, however, I am resolved to make our gambling laws relevant to the 21st century. In light of this commitment, I make no apology for taking the time to make sure this is done effectively. We must first achieve a policy in relation to a new gambling architecture that is capable of winning broad spectrum agreement. It is when this goal is achieved that we will be in a position to address the matter of legislative change, with some degree of confidence.

Any such new policy aimed at modernising our gambling code must take account of the issues raised by new technologies, particularly the Internet. In addition, policy must also be premised on the three important considerations which are the hallmark of most well-regulated gambling codes. These are:

that young people and the vulnerable are protected

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

that gambling is kept free of crime.

Following the settling of that policy, arrangements will be made in the normal course to address the necessary legislative change.

As the first comprehensive review of our gambling law, effectively since the enactment of the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956 draws to a close, it is reasonable to expect that any new legislation that may arise, will be both complex and comprehensive.

Garda Strength

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

362 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if sufficient resources will be made available to An Garda Síochána in Tallaght, Dublin 24 to allow for an effective response to crime in an area (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39148/10]

I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that the personnel strength of Tallaght Garda Station, on the latest date for which figures are readily available, was 204. Tallaght Garda Station forms part of the DMR South Division and on that date the personnel strength of the DMR South Division was 639. There are 10 Juvenile Liaison Officers and 55 Community Gardaí attached to the DMR South Garda Division.

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

Prison Building Programme

Denis Naughten

Question:

363 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 321 of 15 June 2010, the additional planting and maintenance costs to date in 2010; the plans for further expenditure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39153/10]

During the period January to September 2010, expenditure of €10,900 was incurred in relation to the planting and maintenance of the boundary planting scheme at Thornton Hall, Kilsallaghan, County Dublin.

As indicated previously, when granting development consent for the Thornton Hall prison project, the Oireachtas decided to increase the planted zone at certain points along the perimeter of the site in order to mitigate the visual and aural impact of the development. This additional planting will be undertaken at the appropriate time.

Proposed Legislation

Denis Naughten

Question:

364 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform further to parliamentary Question No. 380 of 7 July 2009, the progress made to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39156/10]

The Legal Costs Bill and the Family Law Bill, referred to in the Government Legislation Programme for the Autumn Session, remain as Bills in respect of which the details continue to be developed in my Department.

Residency Permits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

365 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will confirm that a work permit for eight years entitles a person (details supplied) in County Kildare leave to remain in the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39177/10]

The position in relation to the status of Long Term Residency is that, at the date of application, a person applying for such status must have been legally resident in the State for over five years (60 months) on the basis of work permit, work authorisation or working visa conditions. Such applications are made to the Long Term Residency Section of my Department and where such an application is approved, permission to remain for a further five-year period is granted. Persons granted this status are exempt from employment permit requirements.

In addition to the requirement to have completed five years (60 months) of legal residency in the State, on work permit conditions, an applicant for Long Term Residency must have the corresponding Stamp 1 or Stamp 4 endorsements on their Passport during such periods.

In calculating the period of legal residency, my Department only takes into consideration time spent in the State legally on work permit conditions. Periods of time where a person has not had the requisite stamps on their Passport are not counted.

In addition to the basic requirements referred to above, some other conditions must be met. One of these conditions is that an applicant must be of good character. Against this background, each application is forwarded to the Garda National Immigration Bureau for a character check before a decision is made. Applicants who do not satisfy these conditions will not be considered for a grant of Long Term Residency.

In relation to the case of the person concerned, I am advised that an application for Long Term Residency was received from him on 7 March 2008. Following the consideration of this application, a decision was made to refuse the application and this refusal decision was conveyed in writing to the relevant party by letter dated 9 September 2009. The reasons for refusal were set out in that letter.

Arising from the refusal of that application, and given that the person concerned had no other valid basis to remain in the State, the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 18 May 2010, of the proposal to make a Deportation Order in respect of him, in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended). He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why a Deportation Order should not be made against him.

Representations have been submitted on behalf of the person concerned and these representations will be fully considered under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. When this overall consideration has been completed, the case is submitted to me for decision. Once a decision has been made, this decision and the consequences of the decision will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

366 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39178/10]

I refer the Deputy to my detailed Reply to his recent Parliamentary Question No. 1052 of Wednesday, 29th September, 2010, in this matter. The position in the State of the person concerned is as set out in that Reply.

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

367 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding an application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39179/10]

I refer the Deputy to my Reply to his recent Parliamentary Question No. 1054 of Wednesday, 29th September, 2010, in this matter. The position in the State of the person concerned is as set out in that Reply.

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

Asylum Applications

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

368 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if leave to remain here on compassionate and health grounds will be granted in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39180/10]

I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that the person referred to by the Deputy has no application pending for residency. The person concerned is the subject of a Deportation Order, signed on 23 September 2009, following a comprehensive and thorough examination of her asylum claim and her application for subsidiary protection, and a detailed examination of the representations she submitted for consideration under Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended).

The effect of the Deportation Order is that the person concerned must leave the State and remain thereafter out of the State. The enforcement of the Deportation Order is an operational matter for the Garda National Immigration Bureau.

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

369 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding an application for leave to remain in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39181/10]

Arising from the refusal of her asylum application, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 17th July, 2007, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of her. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why a Deportation Order should not be made against her. In addition, she was notified of her entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006.

The person concerned initiated Judicial Review Proceedings in the High Court, challenging the decision of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal in her case. On the 3rd April, 2009, the High Court refused the Judicial Review Leave Application with the consequence that the earlier decisions of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal and the Minister stood.

Subsequently, an application was made on behalf of the person concerned, seeking to have her re-admitted to the asylum process in accordance with the provisions of Section 17(7) of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended). Following consideration of this application, a decision was taken to refuse the application and this decision was notified by letter dated 26th June, 2009.

The position in the State of the person concerned will now be decided by reference to the provisions of Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. All representations submitted will be considered before the file is passed to me for decision. Once a decision has been made, this decision and the consequences of the decision will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

370 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding an asylum application in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Longford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39182/10]

The person concerned applied for asylum in this State on 19th August, 2008. His asylum claim was investigated by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, both of whom concluded that the person concerned did not meet the criteria for recognition as a refugee.

Arising from the refusal of his asylum application, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 25 May 2010, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why a Deportation Order should not be made against him. In addition, he was notified of his entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006.

The person concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person concerned will be notified in writing of the outcome.

In the event that the application for Subsidiary Protection is refused, the position in the State of the person concerned will then be decided by reference to the provisions of Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. All representations submitted will be considered before the file is passed to me for decision. Once a decision has been made, this decision and the consequences of the decision will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

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

Residency Permits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

371 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding an application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39183/10]

I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that the person referred to by the Deputy, made a Family Reunification application in August 2009. The application was forwarded to the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner as required under Section 18 of the Refugee Act 1996. The investigation was completed in February 2010 and a report was forwarded to INIS. The application is currently under consideration by INIS. INIS are currently waiting for an inter-departmental report, upon receipt of same INIS will contact the applicant.

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

372 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding an application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Laois; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39184/10]

I refer the Deputy to my detailed Reply to his earlier Parliamentary Question No. 148 of Thursday, 27 May, 2010, in this matter.

The position in the State of the person concerned will now be decided by reference to the provisions of Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. All representations submitted will be considered before the file is passed to me for decision. Once a decision has been made, this decision and the consequences of the decision will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

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

Crime Levels

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

373 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the fact that, further to Parliamentary Question No. 141 of 7 October 2010, the relevant section of the Garda Síochána has publicly commented on the fact that numerous burglaries were due to unprotected or inadequate intruder systems and that victims only became aware of this after a burglary; that Parliamentary Question No. 141 requested information which is already in the hands of the Gardaí; that the use of such systems is seen as a bonus for burglary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39185/10]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that alarm systems of an adequate standard are an effective deterrent against burglars. However, alarms are not a replacement for good physical security, but work best when used in tandem with physical security measures, such as door and window locks of an appropriate standard.

All members of An Garda Síochána promote crime prevention and reduction. There are also dedicated Crime Prevention Officers (CPOs) within each Garda Division, who encourage, promote and advise both private citizens and the business community on crime prevention. A list of CPOs and crime prevention advice are available on the Garda websitewww.garda.ie.

Criminal Assets Bureau

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

374 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of houses and apartments that have been repossessed in Galway city and county and around the country by the Criminal Assets Bureau in the past few years; the number that were sold, and the price and the location of these houses or apartments. [39209/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the Criminal Assets Bureau, while authorised by statute to own property, does not in fact own any property. Properties which are the subject of orders under the Proceeds of Crime Act 1996 are generally held by a Court appointed receiver. Once a final order is made, the property becomes vested in the Minister for Finance.

While the Bureau regularly targets certain properties under both the proceeds of crime and taxation legislation, there are statutory limitations on the disclosure of such information in the course of Court proceedings. It is therefore the policy of the Bureau not to disclose information on specific properties until investigations have been completed and the Courts have made a final determination. It is therefore difficult for the Bureau to be specific in relation to the numbers that were sold and the price and location of these houses or apartments.

There are a significant number of properties around the country which are the subject of Section 7 receivership orders, some with a power of sale, and some without. However the majority of these are still subject to a final order from the Court. One particular property in County Galway has been the subject of an order pursuant to Sections 3 and 7 of the Proceeds of Crime Act within the past few years. The receiver is in the process of inviting bids in the hope of effecting a sale of the property, final approval of which is subject to High Court approval. As the matter has the potential to be subject to further Court proceedings, it is not appropriate for the Bureau to provide further details on this case at present.

An Garda Síochána and the Criminal Assets Bureau are prohibited by legislation in disclosing details of ongoing investigations or legal proceedings prior to conclusion. The Criminal Assets Bureau is required, by statute, to prepare an Annual Report which is submitted to the Minister for Justice and Law Reform. The report for 2009, which was published this week, details in general terms the number of receivership orders granted and the funds collected by the Bureau.

Prison Committals

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

375 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of prisoners who served sentences of less than 12 months in each of the years 2005 to 2009 and to date in 2010; the average monthly cost to the State of keeping a person in prison in each of those years; the number of persons who have served less than 12 months and were found to have committed a crime after their release in each of the years from 2005 to 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39211/10]

I can advise the Deputy that figures for the number of persons committed to custody serving less than 12 month sentences during each of the past 5 years and the average monthly cost of keeping an offender in custody in those years, are set out in the table below. Figures in relation to 2010 are unavailable at this stage.

Year

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

Number of Persons committed serving less than 12 months

3,944

4,607

4,952

6,424

9,216

Monthly Average cost of keeping an offender

€7,575

€7,641

€8,141

€7,726

€6,435

It is not possible to provide figures to the Deputy in relation to those who were found to have committed a crime after their release as this would require the manual examination of records going back over the time period in question. Such an examination would require a disproportionate and inordinate amount of staff time and effort and could not be justified in current circumstances where there are other significant demands on resources.

However, the Deputy may wish to note that the Irish Prison Service facilitated a major study of prisoner re-offending by the UCD Institute of Criminology, published in 2008. That study found that 27.4% of released prisoners were serving a new prison sentence within one year. This rose to 39.2% after two years, 45.1% after three years, and 49.2% after four years. The fact that over 50% of prisoners do not re-offend within four years of release compares well internationally.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

376 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the percentage of persons engaged in work, training and educational activities in prisons here by prison in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39224/10]

The most recent full year statistics available are for 2009. Over the course of 2009, an average of 39% of the prison population are reported as having attended education classes. This figure is based on weekly returns from the education units in each prison and excludes normal school holidays, when a reduced service is available. Additionally, in the same period, an average of 20% of the prison population are recorded as having attended workshop sessions each day. This understates workshop participation somewhat since the prisoners attending morning and afternoon sessions may vary.

Participation rates in different institutions also vary with factors such as facilities, availability of alternative activities, population turnover and segregation having an impact on the numbers involved. The pattern of attendance for each prison is presented in the following table. Prisoners may participate in both education and work and training so there is a degree of overlap in the figures given.

Institution

Average % of prison population per work and training session

Average % of prison population attending education

Arbour Hill

53

57

Castlerea

19

38

Cloverhill

5

19

Cork

21

43

Dóchas

33

55

Limerick

12

46

Loughan House

11

65

Midlands

17

46

Mountjoy

17

19

Portlaoise

7

54

Shelton Abbey

50

63

St Patrick’s Institution

21

44

Training Unit

55

38

Wheatfield

27

38

Prisoner Releases

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

377 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of persons on full temporary release from prisons here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39225/10]

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

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

I can advise the Deputy that on 26 October, 2010 there were 563 persons on reviewable temporary release from prison. Of this, 107 persons were on full temporary release. A condition for prisoners on reviewable temporary release is that they return to the prison on a set day. Their case is then reconsidered with regard to them being granted a further period of temporary release. Prisoners on full temporary release are not required to return to the prison but, obviously, must abide by the conditions of their temporary release until the expiration of their sentence.

Departmental Agencies

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

378 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of board members sitting on the boards of each State agency under his Department’s control; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39238/10]

I wish to inform the Deputy that the number of board members sitting on the board of each statutory State Agency under my Department's control is set out below:

Name of Board of State Agency

Number of members

Courts Service Board

17

Legal Aid Board

13

Private Security Authority

11

Property Registration Authority

11

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

379 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the annual budget of each State agency under his Department’s control in each of the years from 2006 to 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39253/10]

I wish to inform the Deputy that the information requested for the years 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 is available in the Revised Estimates Volume for each of the years concerned. Copies of these documents are available on the Department of Finance's website (www.finance.gov.ie) and in the Oireachtas Library. I also wish to refer the Deputy to the Revised Estimates Volume for 2010 which contains full year Estimates information for the bodies concerned. Copies of this document are available on the Department of Finance’s website (www.finance.gov.ie) and in the Oireachtas Library.

Crime Levels

Paul Connaughton

Question:

380 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform his plans for curtailing the activities of drug addicts who consistently rob supermarkets and other such premises; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that jailing such people in the majority of cases does not seem to work; his views on whether such people can be rehabilitated on community projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39259/10]

As the Deputy is aware, the Government's National Drug Strategy 2009-2016 tackles the complex problem of drug misuse in an integrated way under the five pillar headings of Drugs Supply Reduction, Education and Prevention, Treatment, Rehabilitation and Research. Underpinning this strategy is the collaborative approach in place between statutory services and the community and voluntary sectors. A key feature of this strategy is to provide drug treatment for people in the criminal justice system who require such care.

The Probation Service of the Department of Justice and Law Reform is the lead agency in the assessment and management of offenders in our communities. This Service provides funding to approximately 50 voluntary bodies to add value to the core work of the Service and to assist with the management of offenders in the community. Community based organisations in receipt of funding provide a range of services to offenders including training and education, offender management programmes, residential accommodation, and drug and alcohol abuse treatment programmes.

In keeping with the principles in the National Drug Strategy, the Probation Service is committed to playing its part in the development and implementation of a comprehensive and integrated drug treatment implementation programme. The principal provider of services and funder of medical and non-medical addiction services for both illicit drug and alcohol use is the Health Service Executive through its Social Inclusion Services.

The Deputy will also be aware that in May, 2010 I published a Review of the Drug Treatment Court. This Review provided evidence that the option of the Drug Treatment Court can have encouraging outcomes. The findings suggested that participants who engage with the Programme have reduced rates of recidivism and improved health, education and social skills. Based on this Review and the implementation of a series of recommendations aimed at making the Programme more effective, I approved the continued operation of the Drug Treatment Court for a further two years.

More generally, the Deputy might wish to be aware that I intend to bring forward proposals to Government in the next few weeks to draft legislation to encourage greater use of community service orders in lieu of custodial sentences for minor offences. I should also add that the second Discussion Document of the White Paper on Crime series, ‘Criminal Sanctions', which was published in February 2010 included an examination of the use of non-custodial sanctions generally, such as Community Service. Submissions on this Document were invited from the Public and, in August 2010, my Department published reports of both the submissions received and a consultation seminar held in Dublin Castle in May 2010. The opinions received will be reflected in the development of future policy.

An Garda Síochána continue to monitor the situation with a view to putting in place crime prevention and reduction schemes as appropriate. My Department and its agencies will continue to invest significant efforts and resources into addressing the problems associated with drug misuse and will continue to do so under our National Drugs Strategy.

Departmental Correspondence

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

381 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will respond to correspondence (details supplied). [39321/10]

I have absolutely no knowledge of the matter referred to by the Deputy.

Anti-Social Behaviour

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

382 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to complaints of anti-social behaviour in an area (details supplied) in County Meath; the steps he will take to address the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39403/10]

I have requested a report from the Garda authorities in relation to the matter referred to by the Deputy. I will contact the Deputy again when the report is to hand.

Overseas Development Aid

Ulick Burke

Question:

383 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his plans to continue his support by adhering to the stated promise to spend 0.7% of national income on overseas aid by 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39428/10]

Ireland is committed to the UN target to provide 0.7% of Gross National Product (GNP) to Official Development Assistance (ODA) by 2015. The Minister for Foreign Affairs confirmed the commitment at the recent United Nations Summit in September. The EU has committed to collectively attain the UN target by 2015, and has set an interim target of 0.51% for Ireland and other Member States in 2010. This year the Government is providing a total of €671 million for ODA. On current projections, this will amount to at least 0.52% of GNP, thereby exceeding the EU interim target. Last year, Ireland was the seventh most generous aid donor in the world in per capita terms. We are ahead of most other EU Member States in our progress towards the achievement of the international ODA target by 2015.

The economic crisis of the past two years has required very difficult decisions across all areas of public expenditure, including the allocations for ODA. The sole motivation and objective of these decisions has been the need to restore stability to the public finances, in order to create the conditions for a resumption of economic growth. Stable public finances and sustained growth in our own economy are the indispensable bases for the resumption of sustainable growth in the aid programme.

The Deputy will be fully aware of the extent of the challenge facing the Government in framing the Budget for 2011. The decision in relation to ODA, as with all budget expenditure decisions, will be taken in the light of our commitment to restoring growth to the Irish economy.

The Government's aid programme is the Irish people's aid programme. We can be justifiably proud that it continues to receive strong international recognition for its quality and effectiveness and for its particular sharp focus on the poorest countries and communities in sub-Saharan Africa. I am committed to maintaining the high quality of our aid programme, and its focus on the fight against global poverty and hunger.

Passport Applications

Billy Timmins

Question:

384 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position regarding a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38477/10]

The Passports Act 2008 requires that before issuing a passport to a person, the Minister for Foreign Affairs shall be satisfied that the person is an Irish citizen and that in the case of children full parental or guardian consent is provided. Documentary proof in respect of identity and entitlement to citizenship are required for all passport applications. These requirements are outlined in the passport application form notes that accompany each application form. Details are also available on the Department's website. Birth certificates are among the standard documents that are required for applications that involve children and persons, aged 18 and over the age, who are first–time applicants. These certificates are critical to the passport process in the following ways:

(i) Each certificate confirms and verifies the applicant's personal details such as his/her date and place of birth which appear on that person's passport.

(ii) They help to demonstrate the person's entitlement to Irish citizenship which is a prerequisite for passport issue; and

(iii) Details of parents are stated on these certificates. This is important to the Passport Service in ensuring that the full parental consent to the issue of a passport to a minor is provided.

For the reasons above, birth certificates are and remain a basis requirement for passport applications.

In terms of this case, I can confirm that no passport application has been registered with the Passport Service for the child. It therefore remains open to the child's mother to formally apply for a passport on her behalf. However, it should be noted that a long form birth certificate will be required. Any difficulties that may be encountered by the child's mother in registering her child's birth in Ireland is a matter that she will have to pursue directly with the General Registrar's Office. Their address and contact details as follows:

Office of the Registrar General

Civil Registration Service

Government Offices

Convent Road

Roscommon

LoCall: 1.890.200311 Website:www.groireland.ie

From the details supplied, it should be noted that the child's entitlement to Irish citizenship is governed by the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 2004 ("the 2004 Act"). Section 6A of the 2004 Act provides that persons born in the State on or after 1 January, 2005, where neither parent is an Irish or a British citizen or otherwise entitled to reside in the State or Northern Ireland without restriction, may claim citizenship by birth in the State (and thereby establish eligibility for a passport) only where the parent has been lawfully resident in the State for 3 of the 4 years preceding their birth.

At the time of the birth of the person concerned, her mother was a Polish national. Section 6B(2) of the 2004 Act makes particular provision for parents from EU Member States whereby such nationals may make a declaration in a prescribed form concerning their residence in the island of Ireland within the 4 years preceding the child's birth. This declaration is supported by the submission of the parent's EU passport and by documentary evidence of that parent's residence in Ireland. That non-Irish citizen parent will then be regarded as having resided in the island of Ireland for the declared periods for the purposes of s6A, unless the contrary is proved. This declaration and the supporting documentation in relation to the mother's residence will be required in any future passport application that is made for this child on this basis.

Foreign Conflicts

Pat Breen

Question:

385 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the effects, if any, of the partial lifting of the blockade by Israel on human rights in Gaza. [38611/10]

The blockade of Gaza remains in force, in the sense that Israel continues to require that it be able to control and security screen goods entering the strip, and for this reason it continues to prevent any direct shipments by sea to Gaza. However, a number of measures have been taken to relax the conditions for goods entering Gaza by the land crossings from Israel. The previous highly restricted and opaque list of goods which were allowed into Gaza has been replaced by a more transparent ‘negative list' of goods which are not allowed in, principally materials recognised internationally as dual use goods. For the wide range of food and consumer goods, the previous restrictions have therefore been removed.

The overall volume of goods allowed into Gaza has been progressively increased, and now stands at about 50% higher than before the summer. This is a very welcome increase, but still only amounts to about one third of the volume of goods which were entering Gaza in the period before the blockade.

There has been a modest improvement in the availability of food and consumer goods. However, much of the recent increase has been goods which have simply displaced the more expensive goods previously brought in through the tunnel economy, which is now greatly reduced. Continued expansion of the volume of imports will be needed if there is to be significant improvement in the living conditions for ordinary Gazans.

Because goods entering Gaza remain subject to rigorous security checks, there are infrastructural bottlenecks which limit how quickly this volume can be increased. Israel has indicated steps it is taking to increase the capacity of the crossing points. This is clearly work in progress, which I shall be following closely. Additional capacity should be made available as soon as possible, to arrive quickly at a point where all of Gaza's needs can be routinely met.

There remain two serious areas of concern. First, while steel, cement and other construction materials are allowed into Gaza in greater quantities than before — but in a very closely controlled procedure, on the grounds that such materials could also be used for military purposes by Hamas or others — considerably greater flows are needed to repair the damage to infrastructure, housing and businesses. Greater effort should be made to facilitate UNRWA in its effort to build sufficient schools in which it teaches tolerance and respect for human rights. In the absence of such schools, parents have no option but to send their children to Hamas schools, built with smuggled materials, which teach a very different curriculum.

Secondly, there has been no provision yet for a resumption of exports from Gaza, or for the ordinary movement of persons. Without these, economic life cannot resume, and Gazans will remain in a state of permanent dependency and unemployment, the conditions in which militancy flourishes.

While I recognise the improvements that have taken place in Gaza, I want to see more done — and more quickly. All restrictions save those directly necessitated by security should be removed.

It is important to recognise that there are many human rights concerns in relation to Gaza apart from the blockade. Under the control of Hamas in the last three years, there has been growing concern about the increasing number and secrecy of executions, including of political opponents, of restrictions on freedom of expression, the media, and NGOs, and actions to restrict the freedom of women. None of these areas have shown any recent improvement; indeed, they seem to be worsening.

It is also appropriate to recall that militant groups in Gaza continue to aim missiles and mortars deliberately at civilian areas in Israel, although thankfully the volume is now significantly reduced. I reiterate my condemnation of such indiscriminate attacks and of those who perpetrate them. In addition, the Israeli soldier, Sgt Shalit, who was abducted while on duty in Israel, remains in captivity in Gaza, without being allowed visits even by the Red Cross. I again urge those holding Sgt. Shalit to release him.

Passport Applications

Mary Upton

Question:

386 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if a passport will issue to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38659/10]

The Passports Act 2008 requires that before issuing a passport to a person, the Minister for Foreign Affairs shall be satisfied that the person is an Irish citizen. Proofs of identity and entitlement to citizenship are required in respect of all passport applications. As the person in question was born in 2010, her entitlement to Irish citizenship is governed by the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 2004 (the 2004 Act). Those persons, who were born in the State after 1 January 2005, where neither parent is an Irish or British citizen or otherwise entitled to reside without restriction in the State or in Northern Ireland, may claim citizenship by birth in the State (and thereby establish eligibility for a passport) only where a parent has a period of reckonable residency in the State for 3 years of the 4 years preceding their birth.

In the case of applications for passports arising from the terms of the 2004 Act, it is the practice of the Passport Office to seek evidence of lawful residence in the State by one or both parents. The general types of evidence considered are immigration stamps in passports and Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) cards and registration books. In cases where a parent is a refugee, the evidence required is the travel document for declared refugees, which is issued by the Department of Justice and Law Reform, a GNIB card and the letter from the Department of Justice and Law Reform which declares the parent to be a refugee.

A passport application was submitted for this child on 07 September, 2010. The evidence submitted showed that the child's father did not have the required amount of reckonable residence in the four years prior to his children's birth in accordance with guidelines provided to the Passport Service by the Department of Justice and Law Reform, which is responsible for citizenship and immigration matters. Accordingly, the passport application could not be approved The guidelines direct that periods of residency in the State, prior to obtaining a declaration as a refugee in accordance with the Refugee Act, 1996, are not reckonable for the purposes of the 2004 Act. The evidence provided by the applicant's father to the Passport Service shows that while he was resident in State from May 2007, he was not declared a refugee until 26 October 2007. Accordingly he does not have the necessary period of reckonable residency prior to the birth of the applicant.

The guideline with regard to residence, that arises prior to the date on which a person is declared a refugee, is currently being reviewed by the Department of Justice and Law Reform in consultation with the Passport Service. If, on foot of this review, the guideline changes, the Passport Service will of course re-examine the passport application and contact the applicant's parents accordingly.

EU Enlargement

Finian McGrath

Question:

387 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position on Serbia’s application to the EU; and his position on bringing those responsible for the 8,000 civilian massacred at Srebrenica to justice. [38660/10]

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

391 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the steps he is taking on behalf of the Irish nation to ensure that persons (details supplied) are brought to the Hague tribunal and that this takes place before Serbia is allowed to proceed further on the path to European Union accession. [38752/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 387 and 391 together.

Serbia submitted its application for EU membership in December 2009.At the General Affairs Council in Luxembourg on 25 October, Ministers unanimously decided to refer the application to the European Commission for its opinion.This is essentially a technical step and usually happens quickly following the submission of an application.The period for the formulation of that opinion has no specific timeframe, although the Commission's research on Serbia's application is likely to take several months and a report is not expected until the second half of 2011.

The Council reaffirmed that the future of the Western Balkans lies in the European Union and reiterated that each country's progress towards the Union depends on its individual efforts to comply with the Copenhagen criteria and the conditionality of the Stabilisation and Association Process.The Council also reiterated that a constructive approach towards regional cooperation is essential and called for progress in the process of EU-facilitated dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.

The Council recalled that, in line with the political criteria of Copenhagen, full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) is an essential condition for membership of the EU and that Serbia's full cooperation with the ICTY is already required by the EU-Serbia Stabilisation and Association Agreement (Articles 2 and 4).The Council furthermore called upon Serbia to implement recommendations presented by the ICTY Office of the Prosecutor to the United Nations Security Council in June 2010 concerning Serbia's support in ongoing trials and appeals and Serbia's assistance in the key matter of the arrest of the two remaining fugitives, Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic. In addition, the Council underlined that, at each stage of Serbia's path towards EU accession, further steps will be taken only when the Council unanimously decides that full co-operation with the ICTY exists or continues to exist.Negotiations on a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) began in 2005. The negotiation and signing process for the EU-Serbia SAA was delayed on a number of occasions until the EU was satisfied with Belgrade's level of cooperation with the Tribunal.Ministers decided at the June Foreign Affairs Council to submit the EU-Serbia SAA to national parliaments for ratification following positive assessments by the ICTY Chief Prosecutor regarding Serbia's ongoing cooperation with the Tribunal.

I share the widespread revulsion at the appalling massacres at Srebrenica and elsewhere during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and I too want to see the perpetrators brought to justice as soon as possible.Regrettably, as we know from experience elsewhere, including in this country, justice can sometimes take time to deliver.

Serbia must do all in its power to ensure that Mladic and Hadzic are immediately handed over to the ICTY. However, I believe that we, for our part, should acknowledge the substantial progress Serbia has made in the ten years since public outrage led to the end of the Milo?evic regime.Serbia today is a different place from the Serbia of Milo?evic because of the courageous decisions of governments in Belgrade since then.Over the past year, in particular, we have seen a number of positive developments which demonstrate that Serbia's Government has moved away from the destructive politics of past decades.

These positive developments include:the declaration by the Belgrade Parliament last March condemning the Srebrenica massacre; the appointment by Bosnia and Herzegovina in March of an Ambassador in Belgrade for the first time in three years; the handing over of the wartime notebooks of Ratko Mladic to the ICTY in May; the joint visit by the Serbian and Croatian Presidents to Bosnia for the Srebrenica commemoration this July; the indictment in September of nine former paramilitaries by the country's war crimes prosecutor over the killing of ethnic Albanians during the Kosovo conflict; and the joint EU-Serbia UN General Assembly resolution on Kosovo this September.

I met with Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic in New York last month.He emphasised the importance Serbia attaches to EU integration and underlined Belgrade's commitment to working with the ICTY. In response to my questioning, he assured me that his government is determined to secure the arrest of the two remaining indictees.

I believe that the most likely means of achieving the arrest of Mladic and Hadzic lies in a combination of encouragement and pressure designed to empower the progressive elements in Serbia and that it is important that we send a signal to the people of Serbia that we recognise the positive direction their country has taken in the past decade. I welcome, therefore, the unanimous decision by Ministers to request an opinion on Serbia's membership application from the Commission. We should continue to assist and encourage Serbia in its reform programme, as it rebuilds its relations with its neighbours and moves towards the EU.At the same time, as with the Stabilisation and Association Agreement process, the EU will insist at each stage in the process that Serbia cooperates fully with the ICTY.

Overseas Development Aid

Jack Wall

Question:

388 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views regarding a submission (details supplied); the actions he will take to address the concerns raised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38667/10]

Billy Timmins

Question:

390 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views regarding the increased involvement of China in providing aid to Africa; if this policy is in conflict with aid as supplied by Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38715/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 388 and 390 together.

The submission referred to by Deputy Wall concerns two newspaper articles regarding, respectively, the role of China in Africa and the UN report on what happened in the DRC between 1993 and 2003, in particular the role of other countries, including Rwanda.

I am aware of the contrast often made between what has been perceived as the commercial focus of China's policy in Africa and the primary focus of Ireland and the EU on issues such as poverty reduction, human rights and good governance. However, I believe that this contrast can be overstated. There are signs that China is increasingly aware of the importance of peace and stability in Africa and, as such, these are areas of shared interest with Ireland and the EU. China also has a large contribution to make in Africa by the sharing of experience on the reduction of poverty, including in some key areas for Africa such as raising agricultural productivity.

At the EU-China Summit held in Nanjing last November both sides welcomed trilateral dialogue between the EU, China and Africa, and agreed to explore appropriate areas for cooperation. They reaffirmed their commitment to supporting the full and timely achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and to supporting Africa's sustainable development and early economic recovery from the global financial crisis. At the most recent summit, held in Brussels earlier this month, both sides reaffirmed their active commitment to peace and sustainable development of the world.

I am also of the view that the commitment of African countries to human rights, gender equality, good governance and the fight against corruption is not only the product of pressure related to assistance from donors. African countries are participants in a wide range of international instruments which guarantee such freedoms and are, as is Ireland, accountable under the terms of these international agreements.

On 1 October the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights published a report which documented the most serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed within the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo between March 1993 and June 2003. I fully support the statement by High Representative Ashton in which she welcomed the report as an additional contribution in the global fight against impunity for human rights violations, and expressed the EU's determination to support the prevention of crimes violating human rights and humanitarian law, and the need to hold accountable the perpetrators of such crimes.

As regards the provision of Overseas Development Aid to Africa, Ireland's assistance has a strong focus on poverty reduction and hunger. We work closely with our partner governments in Africa, and other donors, to ensure that international aid has the most effective impact in reducing poverty, alleviating hunger and in the providing basic services such as health and education. We welcome the provision of development aid to Africa by new donors, such as China, who share our commitment to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

Ireland will continue to work with our partners in Africa, and other international donors to ensure that Overseas Development Assistance is directed to those areas most in need and is used in the most effective way in the fight against hunger and poverty. For our part, we are determined to deliver on our commitment that Ireland's Aid Programme will benefit the poorest and most vulnerable in Africa.

Billy Timmins

Question:

389 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the implications an UN report (details supplied) will have on the allocation of Irish aid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38714/10]

The OHCHR (the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) Report of theMapping Exercise documenting the most serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in the Democratic Republic of the Congo during the period of 1993 to 2003 is an important contribution to the global efforts to address impunity for human rights violations. The Report identifies countries “that could be held responsible for serious violations of human rights committed by their national armies during the period in question”, including Rwanda.

In HR Ashton's statement on behalf of the EU after the publication of the Report, which Ireland fully supports, she reiterated the determination of the EU to support the prevention of crimes violating human rights and humanitarian law, and strongly supports the need to hold accountable the perpetrators of such crimes.

Rwanda has made considerable progress in seeking to overcome the human and economic legacy of the terrible genocide visited upon the country in 1994. While Irish Aid does not provide budget support to the Government of Rwanda, assistance is provided directly to the Rwandan people through a number of NGO, civil society and missionary partners which carry out enormously important work in helping to rebuild Rwanda in the aftermath of the genocide there. In 2010, Irish Aid expects to provide approximately €2 million to the Rwandan people through our partners.

Our main NGO partners include Concern, Trocaire and Christian Aid as well as Misean Cara, which supports missionaries working on the ground in Rwanda. This funding is used to support Basic Education, Primary Health Care, Water Sanitation and Community Rural Development in Rwanda.

Question No. 390 answered with Question No. 388.
Question No. 391 answered with Question No. 387.

State Visits

Dan Neville

Question:

392 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will provide names of persons involved in the committee arranging the visit of Queen Elizabeth to Ireland in 2011. [39038/10]

The Deputy will be aware that the Taoiseach has indicated already that it is right and timely that the transformation of relations between Britain and Ireland should be reflected in a State visit to Ireland by Queen Elizabeth. Reconciliation between Ireland and Great Britain has been hugely advanced over recent decades, most importantly through the working together of successive Irish and British governments on the peace process, and the Government is of the view that relations between our own two countries should be marked by the normal courtesies between neighbouring states. I am sure that the vast majority of Irish people would welcome a State visit by Queen Elizabeth in the present day spirit of mutual respect between our nations and friendship between the peoples of these islands. All relevant Government Departments and agencies would co-operate as required to put in place the necessary arrangements for any such visit.

Official Engagements

Leo Varadkar

Question:

393 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will provide details of all meetings facilitated by the embassy in London between Ministers and other parties during the course of July and August 2010; if he will further provide the cost of each such meetings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39116/10]

The Embassy in London facilitated meetings for three Ministers during the period in question. The Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney, T.D., visited London from 1 to 2 July 2010. She was invited to make a speech at the Embassy to some 120 representatives of the Irish International Business Network in support of the Embassy's work in promoting the Irish economy. Following the speech, the Ambassador hosted a networking reception, the total cost of which was £1,450.

The Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport, Ms Mary Hanafin, T.D., visited London from 2 to 4 July 2010 with the objective of boosting Irish tourism in the UK, our most important overseas market. The Minister's programme included briefings with Tourism Ireland and Embassy officials and a series of interviews with correspondents from the Irish and British media. The Ambassador hosted a working lunch at the Embassy for senior representatives of the Business Tourism industry in Britain in preparation for opening of The Convention Centre Dublin. The total cost of the lunch, which was attended by some 40 people, was £2,030.34. The Ambassador also hosted a reception at the Embassy for 140 guests to launch the digitisation of the 1901 and 1911 Census. The total cost of the reception was £1,837.95.

The Minister for Transport, Noel Dempsey, T.D., visited London from 19 to 20 July 2010 on Government business. The Embassy hosted a business breakfast, the cost of which was £135. The costs referred to in the second and fourth paragraphs were met by the Embassy from funds allocated to it for such purposes and the costs in respect of the third paragraph will be recouped from Tourism Ireland.

Departmental Agencies

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

394 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the annual budget of each State agency under his Department’s control in each of the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39251/10]

There are no state agencies operating under the remit of my Department.

International Agreements

Leo Varadkar

Question:

395 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs further to Parliamentary Question No. 378 of the 12 October 2010, if he will list all treaties into which the State has entered, which have not been laid before the Dáil; the date on which each treaty was signed and ratified by the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39260/10]

As I indicated in my reply to Parliamentary Question 378 of 12 October 2010 I am confident that the vast majority of international agreements which entered into force since 1937 have now been laid before the Dáil but it is possible that a small number of further agreements will be identified and any such agreements will be laid before the Dáil in due course. All historical agreements identified by my Department to date have been laid before the Dáil. I also indicated that the Department now seeks to lay all international agreements before the end of the calendar year following the year in which they enter into force for the State. Thus, in 2011 my Department will arrange for the laying before the Dáil of the international agreements which enter into force for the State in 2010. A provisional list of agreements to be laid before the Dáil in 2011 is set out below, although it cannot be precluded that further agreements will be added to the list by the end of the year. A multilateral agreement may, under its own terms, enter into force internationally when the number of states required by it for that purpose has ratified it. Where Ireland ratifies the agreement subsequently there is then a later date of entry into force.

Title of Agreement

Date of Signature

Date of Ratification/ Accession/ Notification

Date of Entry into Force for Ireland

Date of Entry into Force Internationally

Partnership and Cooperation Agreement establishing a partnership between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Tajikistan, of the other part

11/10/2004

11/06/2007

01/01/2010

01/01/2010

Trade Amendment to the Energy Charter Treaty

n/a

13/07/2001

21/01/2010

21/01/2010

Instrument as contemplated by Article 3(2) of the Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance between the United States of America and the European Union signed on 25 June 2003, as to the application of the Treaty between the Government of Ireland and the Government of the United States of America on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters

14/07/2005

28/10/2009

01/02/2010

01/02/2010

Instrument as contemplated by Article 3(2) of the Agreement on Extradition between the United States of America and the European Union signed 25 June 2003 as to the Application of the Treaty on Extradition between Ireland and the United States of America

14/07/2005

28/10/2009

01/02/2010

01/02/2010

Amendment to the Convention on the Control and Marking of Articles of Precious Metals

n/a

25/07/2005

27/02/2010

27/02/2010

World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Copyright Treaty

19/12/1997

14/12/2009

14/03/2010

06/03/2002

World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Performances and Phonograms Treaty

19/12/1997

14/12/2009

14/03/2010

20/05/2002

Agreement between Ireland, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Kingdom of Spain, the Italian Republic, the Portuguese Republic, the French Republic and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland establishing a Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre — Narcotics

30/09/2007

21/07/2008

02/04/2010

02/04/2010

Protocol No. 14 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, amending the Control System of the Convention

13/05/2004

10/11/2004

01/06/2010

01/06/2010

Agreement between the Government of Ireland and the Government of the United States of America on the privileges of US employees assigned to Preclearance duties in Ireland pursuant to the Agreement between the Government of Ireland and the Government of the United States of America on Air Transport Preclearance

17/11/2008

06/07/2010

06/07/2010

06/07/2010

Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime

13/12/2000

17/06/2010

17/07/2010

25/12/2003

Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, supplementing the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime

13/12/2000

17/06/2010

17/07/2010

28/01/2004

Convention on Cluster Munitions

03/12/2008

03/12/2008

01/08/2010

01/08/2010

Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings

13/04/2007

13/07/2010

01/11/2010

01/02/2008

Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption

19/06/1996

28/07/2010

01/11/2010

01/05/1995

Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants

22/05/2001

05/08/2010

03/11/2010

17/05/2004

EU Strategy

Michael Creed

Question:

396 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will outline the implementation strategy of the specific proposals contained in the EU 2020 policy document; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39308/10]

I welcome the new Europe 2020 Strategy which was adopted by the European Council on 17 June and the Government fully supports the core elements. I believe that the Strategy will provide an essential framework for action by the EU and Member States to achieve higher levels of sustainable jobs and growth as economic recovery is secured. As the Deputy will be aware, the European Council has agreed five headline targets in the areas of: employment; research and development, including innovation; climate change and energy; education; and social inclusion, in particular poverty. Following the identification of these EU level targets attention now shifts to the substantial body of work which must be undertaken, both at national and EU level, to ensure that this Strategy is implemented.

The June European Council also endorsed the first of the Commission's Flagship Initiatives, a "Digital Agenda for Europe". It focuses on the 21st century technologies and on-line services that will enable Europe to boost job creation, promote economic prosperity and improve the daily lives of EU citizens and businesses in a variety of ways. The overall aim of is to deliver sustainable economic and social benefits from a digital single market based on fast and ultra fast internet and interoperable applications. Successful delivery of the Digital Agenda will spur innovation, economic growth and improvements in daily life for both citizens and businesses.

In September, the Commission launched "Youth on the Move", a Flagship Initiative aimed at helping young people to gain knowledge, skills and experience. It is aimed at making education and training more relevant to young people's needs and encouraging more of them to take advantage of EU grants to study or train in another country. This will increase young people's employability and access to the labour market.

Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, earlier this month, launched the "Innovation Union" Flagship Initiative. The Innovation Union initiative is intended to remove obstacles to innovation by mobilising greater venture capital and unifying Europe's fragmented research system. It also aims to refocus R&D and innovation policy on the pressing challenges facing society, such as climate change, energy and resource efficiency and demographic change.

The presentation of the remaining four Flagship Initiatives will take place before the end of this year. These Flagship programmes are intended to support implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy through activities at Union level.

In support of the EU-wide targets, Member States are now to set national targets using appropriate indicators which take into account national circumstances and priorities. This approach allows each Member State to reflect national policy priorities and/or to build on national targets, if these are already in place. Each Member State will consider how their national targets will contribute to the achievement of the EU level targets in dialogue with the Commission.

Work on the identification of Ireland's national targets under each of the five EU headline targets is well underway. Officials from the European Commission visited Ireland on 27-28 September to discuss national targets and potential bottlenecks. A follow-up meeting in Brussels between Irish and Commission officials took place on 5 October. Following these most constructive bilateral exchanges, work is progressing well on the finalisation of relevant national targets.

These national targets will serve as an important element in the preparation of an initial draft of Ireland's National Reform Programme, which is to be prepared by mid-November 2010. It is currently anticipated that final agreement on our National Reform Programme will be reached in April 2011. It is expected that the European Council will take stock of progress under this Strategy at its meeting in December.

EU Enlargement

Michael Creed

Question:

397 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the progress being made by Turkey in meeting the Copenhagen requirements for EU membership; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39309/10]

The process involved in Turkey's negotiations on EU Membership is based on rigorous conditionality, including with regard to the Copenhagen Criteria which cover political and economic dimensions as well as the ability to take on the Union's acquis. Progress has been made in some areas; in others it has been slow. Turkey still has substantial work ahead in meeting all the established criteria and conditions for membership.

Successive European Councils have recognised Turkey's efforts towards reform, and commitment to the EU negotiation process. Last December's General Affairs Council, in a statement later endorsed by the European Council, acknowledged Turkey's positive steps in the areas of the judiciary, civil-military relations and cultural rights. While much has been achieved in Turkey in these areas, the challenge is now for Turkey to maintain and accelerate the progress on reforms. Last December's Council stated further that it was encouraged by Turkey's democratic progress, including with regard to the Kurdish issue. At the same time, Council said that further efforts to ensure that Turkey fully meets the Copenhagen criteria are required in a number of areas, including human rights and civic freedoms.

Turkey's continued non-compliance with its obligations under the Ankara Protocol by continuing to refuse to open its ports and airports to vessels and aircraft from the Republic of Cyprus continues to be an issue. The Council decided in 2006 that eight chapters of the accession framework could not be opened and no further chapters would be provisionally closed until Turkey fulfils its commitments in this regard. These measures remain in place. The matter is kept under review by EU Ministers in the Council, most recently at their meeting last December, and it is expected to be part of the discussions on enlargement at this December's Council. At the bilateral level I have met twice with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, in March and more recently in September. Minister Davutoglu outlined the progress Turkey has made on reforms in a number of areas as it has sought to bring Turkey more in line with the EUacquis . He explained how the accession negotiations provide a strong incentive for Turkey to pursue reforms, strengthen democracy and human rights and further modernise the country.

In the course of both meetings with Minister Davutoglu this year, I reiterated to the Minister Ireland's support for the Turkish candidacy. At the same time, I noted the Council's deep regret at Turkey's continued non-compliance with its obligations under the Ankara Protocol and I highlighted the need for Turkey to make progress towards normalisation of its relations with the Republic of Cyprus.

Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator, Mr. Egemen Bagis, plans to visit Dublin in November and we look forward to discussing further the progress Turkey has made in reforms following passage of the recent referendum on constitutional reform, and the challenges which still lie ahead.

Social Welfare Benefits

Thomas Byrne

Question:

398 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Social Protection if he outline the reasons for the refusal to award rent allowance in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Meath. [38595/10]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that no application for rent supplement was made in this case.

The person concerned should contact the Community Welfare Officer dealing with their supplementary welfare allowance claim if they wish to apply for rent supplement.

Money Advice and Budgeting Service

Sean Sherlock

Question:

399 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will provide a regional breakdown of the numbers awaiting a consultation with the Money Advice and Budgeting Service; the average waiting period for those wishing to meet with an adviser; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38638/10]

The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) assists people who are over-indebted and need help and advice in coping with debt problems.

The Citizens Information Board (CIB), who has responsibility for MABS, compiles information on the waiting times and numbers in each MABS region on a quarterly basis and posts it to the www.mabs.ie website. A table of the most recently published information, as at 30 September 2010, is set out below for your information.

Based on the latest information available, the average waiting time from first point of contact to first appointment with a money adviser is 4.9 weeks. This is the average nationally and there are fluctuations between offices.

During the waiting period, clients are assessed and those in need of immediate assistance are given a priority appointment, others are provided with assisted self-help to ensure that they have taken steps to assess their situation and if appropriate they are supported to take holding action with their creditors.

I am satisfied that MABS provides a high quality personal service to assist people in overcoming their indebtedness and managing their finances.

Client Waiting Times & Numbers at 30th September 2010

Region

Contact Phone Number

Average Waiting time Weeks

No. awaiting first appointment

Arklow & District

0402 91200

5.00

45

Athlone

090 6476616

3.00

14

Ballymun

01 8620059

2.50

24

Blanchardstown

01 8206324

8.50

100

Bray

01 2760411

2.00

28

Carlow

059 9140977

2.10

40

Cavan

049 4362900

3.80

25

Charleville

063 81603

3.50

10

Clare /Shannon Office

065 6841991 /061 360422

5.00

38

Clondalkin

01 4575782

8.00

80

Cork

021 4552080

5.80

85

Cork North

022 43879

4.00

41

Cork West

023 8855155

3.50

21

Donegal North / Inishowen

074 9129909 / 074 9321856

5.00

24

Donegal South

074 9724462

3.00

7

Drogheda

041 9842810

3.50

50

Dublin 10 + 20 (Comac) Ballyfermot/Cherry Orchard

01 6235443/01 6233900

3.50

25

Dublin 12 Area

01 4560731

8.00

29

Dublin North City

01 8794006

3.70

26

Dublin North East

01 8674892

6.00

46

Dublin South East

01 6706555

5.50

39

Dun Laoghaire

01 2302002

3.00

25

Dun na nGall Iarthar

074 9560747

5.05

10

Dundalk/Oriel

042 9327823

4.90

47

Dundrum/Rathfarnham

01 2990360

7.00

45

Fingal

01 8901102

5.30

48

Finglas

01 8642148

8.00

68

Galway North

093 24421

15.00

52

Company

Contact Phone Number

Average Waiting time Weeks

No. awaiting first appointment

Galway South (Galway City/Loughrea)

091 569349/ 091 841869

2.50

38

Kerry

066 7129750

3.00

44

Kildare (Kilcock/Kildare)

01 628 4466 / 045 435558

18.40

125

Kilkenny

056 7761777

2.10

17

Laois

057 8661727

8.50

72

Leitrim

071 9644994

4.50

35

Liffey South West

01 4731878

4.50

73

Limerick

061 310620

0.80

112

Longford

043 3347705

0.85

16

Mayo North

096 72902

7.60

19

Mayo South

094 9028888

13.50

58

Meath

046 9072836

0.60

0

Monaghan

042 9749189

2.00

17

Mullingar

044 9340871

2.60

19

Offaly

057 9323211

6.00

40

Roscommon

0906 627811

2.50

9

Sligo

071 91 41022

8.60

58

Tallaght

01-4203274

7.00

95

Tipperary North (Nenagh/Thurles)

067 41033/0504 23510

6.20

39

Tipperary South (Clonmel/Tipperary Town)

052 6129313/062 33410

3.50

81

Waterford

051 857929

1.00

0

Waterford West

058 44922

0.20

8

Wexford

053 9121504

1.00

82

Clár Seirbhísí Pobail

Dinny McGinley

Question:

400 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Dinny McGinley den Aire Coimirce Sóisialaí an bhfuil iarratas faighte ag a Roinn ó eagras (sonraí tugtha) ar dheontas faoi scéim CSP agus an bhfuil cinneadh déanta an deontas a cheadú [38761/10]

Formheasadh an eagraíocht dá dtagraíonn an Teachta le haghaidh maoiniú ón gClár Seirbhísí Pobail i mí na Bealtaine 2010. Éagfaidh an conradh ag deireadh mhí na Nollag 2010 ar aon dul le gach conradh eile faoin gClár sin. Tá tograí á mbreithniú agam i láthair na huaire chun síneadh a chur le conarthaí na n-eagraíochtaí sin a sholáthraíonn seirbhísí faoin gClár Seirbhísí Pobail. Tá an eagraíocht i gceist san áireamh sa phróiseas sin. Tairgfear conradh trí bliana don eagraíocht sin ó Eanáir 2011, faoi réir maoiniú leordhóthanach a bheith curtha ar fáil. Tá súil agam go mbeidh ar mo chumas toradh an phróisis seo a chur in iúl don eagraíocht sna seachtainí romhainn.

Social Welfare Benefits

Sean Sherlock

Question:

401 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will provide a breakdown nationally per Health Service Executive administrative area of the number of non-Irish national people claiming rent allowance; their county of origin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39033/10]

The purpose of rent supplement is to provide short-term income support to assist with reasonable accommodation costs of eligible people living in private rented accommodation who are unable to provide for their accommodation costs from their own resources and who do not have accommodation available to them from another source.

The Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) scheme, which includes rent supplement, is administered on behalf of the Department of Social Protection by the Community Welfare Services division of the Health Service Executive.

With effect from May 2004 supplementary welfare allowance is subject to a statutory Habitual Residence Condition (HRC). All applicants regardless of nationality are required to be habitually resident in the state in order to qualify for rent supplement.

An EEA national who is engaged in genuine and effective employment in Ireland is regarded as a worker under EC law and is treated as habitually resident for the purpose of a rent supplement claim. In addition, the European Court of Justice has ruled that SWA, which includes rent supplement, is a social benefit under Article 7 of EC Regulation 1612/68. Nationals of other EEA countries who come and work in Ireland may be treated in the same way as Irish workers in determining entitlement to rent supplement and this EU law takes precedence over HRC. EEA nationals who are in Ireland but have not been employed here are subject to HRC review.

A number of different factors are taken into consideration in deciding whether a person satisfies the HRC, including, in particular, the following:

a. the length and continuity of residence in the State or in any other particular country;

b. the length and purpose of any absence from the State;

c. the nature and pattern of the person's employment;

d. the person's main centre of interest, and

e. the future intentions of the person concerned as they appear from all the circumstances.

The onus is always on applicants to provide sufficient evidence to support their HRC status.

Asylum seekers who arrived in Ireland after May 2004 are not eligible for rent supplement. Asylum seekers who were receiving rent supplement prior to 1st May 2004 continue to receive these payments.

The information the Deputy has requested is set out in the following tabular statement.

Country

HSE East

HSE South

HSE South East

HSE West

HSE North East

HSE Mid West

HSE North West

HSE Midland

Total

Ireland

24,158

7,814

7,037

5,657

4,030

4,584

2,804

2,894

58,978

Poland

3,277

1,499

1,077

881

557

645

337

670

8,943

United Kingdom

1,163

1,001

743

871

353

379

562

219

5,291

Lithuania

1,330

233

205

180

437

109

77

206

2,777

Nigeria

1,675

209

56

109

229

96

34

92

2,500

Latvia

728

131

206

134

213

136

39

109

1,696

Romania

1,336

90

48

28

100

14

21

21

1,658

Slovakia

325

79

93

50

44

63

17

115

786

Congo

416

55

14

21

33

31

3

25

598

Somalia

421

46

39

3

10

44

6

7

576

Czech Republic

150

114

52

42

45

57

8

46

514

Iraq

314

40

14

15

3

23

5

4

418

Hungary

176

75

30

28

17

28

6

10

370

Germany

97

81

30

57

22

35

26

11

359

Ukraine

217

27

24

9

20

19

7

13

336

Sudan

135

50

46

10

1

58

14

3

317

Algeria

258

14

6

14

6

8

8

314

Russia

204

28

17

23

8

17

2

8

307

South Africa

138

42

23

25

30

23

5

21

307

Estonia

138

37

61

16

15

18

5

12

302

Moldova

214

14

10

6

17

5

1

3

270

Northern Ireland

38

8

8

24

31

4

137

6

256

France

122

42

8

30

12

12

9

13

248

Pakistan

121

19

8

32

19

16

7

23

245

Iran

162

15

3

4

3

5

21

4

217

Italy

117

27

14

27

10

7

2

8

212

Portugal

52

38

53

20

12

5

2

27

209

USA

60

47

18

34

14

14

14

4

205

Spain

118

23

6

30

3

15

5

3

203

Angola

144

14

11

5

11

10

1

6

202

Scotland

42

17

8

34

6

10

66

7

190

Cameroon

118

29

9

8

7

13

1

2

187

Ghana

75

22

4

13

10

21

24

3

172

Zimbabwe

81

24

10

15

8

10

4

8

160

Netherlands

56

29

12

10

12

10

15

6

150

Georga

98

35

3

10

1

1

1

149

Albania

108

16

7

2

2

5

1

141

Afghanistan

73

21

4

1

2

22

1

2

126

Kosovo

90

20

6

1

2

4

123

Brazil

42

7

13

39

5

3

5

7

121

China

82

14

3

4

2

9

1

2

117

Bulgaria

85

8

2

4

5

2

2

7

115

Libya

77

9

7

3

3

4

1

104

Bangladesh

34

32

11

12

9

4

102

Croatia

24

27

11

11

6

6

2

6

93

Bosnia

83

1

2

1

87

Philippines

63

8

3

4

1

2

3

1

85

Togo

31

21

10

6

14

1

1

84

Kenya

47

11

7

5

4

3

3

80

Sierra Leone

49

12

3

1

7

4

1

1

78

Egypt

42

2

9

3

3

2

16

77

Belarus

33

6

6

6

5

11

1

68

Ethiopia

46

9

4

1

2

5

1

68

Ivory Coast

37

11

2

4

7

4

3

68

India

33

8

5

4

3

5

4

4

66

Eritrea

39

10

2

1

9

2

1

64

Morocco

27

4

7

1

1

19

3

62

Rwanda

36

6

5

2

2

3

1

1

56

Turkey

27

6

5

4

4

4

1

51

Belgium

32

9

6

1

1

1

50

Guinea

33

6

1

2

1

5

48

Uganda

22

7

2

5

4

4

3

47

Palestine

27

6

3

3

1

5

45

Zambia

19

5

6

3

1

8

2

1

45

Wales

7

15

10

1

2

4

3

42

Canada

14

4

4

5

6

1

3

4

41

Kuwait

34

4

1

1

40

Zaire

36

2

2

40

Kazakhstan

23

3

2

4

2

4

38

Vietnam

36

1

37

Sweden

20

5

5

2

2

1

35

Uzbekistan

20

6

4

2

1

2

35

Malaysia

20

6

2

2

1

1

32

Malta

11

5

2

3

6

3

1

31

Syria

23

2

2

3

1

31

Australia

13

2

1

6

2

2

4

30

Liberia

13

4

1

5

1

5

1

30

Austria

14

5

1

2

5

1

28

Armenia

17

5

1

2

1

1

27

Yugoslavia

21

4

1

1

27

Tunisia

20

2

1

1

1

25

Burundi

12

4

1

1

1

3

1

23

Israel

14

3

2

1

1

1

1

23

Lebanon

15

2

3

2

1

23

Thailand

14

4

3

1

1

23

Chechnya

18

3

1

22

Finland

12

3

1

3

1

1

1

22

Greece

14

4

3

1

22

Cuba

18

1

2

21

Sri Lanka

5

4

1

4

3

1

2

20

Mongolia

18

18

Burma

8

1

5

1

1