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].

Employment Support Services

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

1 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the plans in place for the management and administration of a fund (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39507/10]

On 22nd September 2010 the European Commission announced its approval of an application from Ireland for European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) co-financing assistance in support of redundant workers at the S R Technics aircraft maintenance facility at Dublin Airport.

The EGF application is for a total of Euros 11.46m of which the EU contribution sought is Euros 7.45m. The application remains to be approved by the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament.

Former S R Technics workers may currently avail of a wide range of supports for which EGF co-financing assistance has been sought including occupational guidance, training, educational opportunities and enterprise supports.

An information event was held at the ALSAA complex in Dublin Airport on 20th October 2010 for redundant S R Technics workers to inform them of the supports being provided with anticipated EGF support. A large range of service providers were present and it is estimated that several hundred redundant workers attended the event.

The Department is currently seeking to complete a public procurement process to establish a national coordinator for EGF implementation, including for the S R Technics application.

In the interim all State agencies and relevant educational bodies involved in service provision to redundant S R Technics workers are cooperating to ensure appropriate supports are being provided.

Work Placement Programme

Michael Ring

Question:

2 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the costs associated with the work placement programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39535/10]

Under the operation of the Work Placement Programme, the costs associated with the programme relate to the fact that participants may be entitled to maintain their social welfare entitlements subject to the rules and regulations of the Department of Social Protection, while they participate on the programme.

In advance of applying for a place on the programme all potential participants are informed that participation on the programme is voluntary and unpaid.

Employment Support Services

Pat Breen

Question:

3 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if funding from the EU Globalisation Fund will be made available to assist workers who are losing their jobs at companies (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39596/10]

Strict eligibility criteria must be satisfied under the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund Regulation in order for a Member State to make a sustainable application for EGF assistance in respect of redundancies occurring in a particular enterprise or sector. These criteria include meeting defined minimum redundancy numbers within certain reference periods.

In this context the EGF Regulation stipulates that in eligibility terms there must have been at least 500 redundancies, over a period of four months, in respect of a single enterprise, its suppliers or downstream producers, or at least 500 redundancies, over a period of nine months, in a NACE 2 (economic activity) sector.

The number of total redundancies in respect of both the companies in question do not fulfil these core criteria and as such do not facilitate the making of an EGF application in either case.

My Department continues to monitor redundancy figures for all sectors nationally with a view to making further sustainable EGF applications as and where appropriate.

Higher Education Grants

John Deasy

Question:

4 Deputy John Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if the income of a person who has transferred from one long-term social welfare payment, for example, lone parent allowance to another long-term payment of jobseeker’s allowance and has been in receipt of both for a continuous period as required for the third level special top up grant can be refused a top up grant as a result of the transfer of payment; the guidelines, if any, the Department has issued to the awarding authority of the grant; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39473/10]

Grant Awarding authorities have been advised that 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. In addition, on the operative date, which is 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 clearly outlining the grounds for the appeal.

School Patronage

Mary Wallace

Question:

5 Deputy Mary Wallace asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the reason a school (details supplied) in County Meath was initially denied recognition because the vocational education committee was named as its patron, yet the newly-opened primary school in Navan is under the patronage of the same VEC and has been granted full recognition; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39488/10]

As the Deputy may be aware the Commission on School Accommodation is currently reviewing the procedures for the establishment of new primary schools. The Commission is due to report to me shortly at which stage I will have to consider policy matters and necessary arrangements and revised procedures that will need to be put in place. While the review is ongoing it is not intended to establish any new primary schools except in cases where new schools are warranted because of increased demographics. This means that new schools will not be established for reasons unrelated to demographic growth.

Based on demographic information, a decision was taken to open a new school in Navan for September 2010. Prior to September 2010 there were two Community National Schools in Dublin operating as part of the pilot phase of the new Community National School model. In announcing roll out of this pilot model to Balbriggan, Navan and Naas my predecessor, Minister O'Keeffe, stated that he was mindful of his stated policy intention to expand the pilot community national school model in 2010. In order to fully evaluate the model in different settings, the Minister was committed as a policy aim, to extending the community national school pilot to a number of new locations in 2010. The addition of a limited number of further schools to the pilot will enhance the potential for identifying possible practical issues and trying out new solutions and will enable informed decisions to be made on the further roll out of this new model of patronage in other locations in the future. It will allow for evaluation of the model in different locations before making informed decisions about expanding it further.

When the initial application to establish Gaelscoil Ráth Tó was submitted to the Department the position was that VECs did not have the legal right to act as patron in the primary sector. The Community National Schools that have been established to date have been established under the interim patronage of the Minister for Education and Skills while legislation is being prepared to confirm VEC patronage.

The Education (Amendment) Bill 2010 was published on 28 September 2010 and was brought before the Dáil on 13 October. It is expected that the Bill will be brought to Committee Stage in the near future, where further discussions on the provisions contained in the Bill will take place.

This Bill provides for the involvement for the first time of Vocational Education Committees in the provision of primary education as well as for a number of other education-related matters.

The Bill provides for a VEC to establish or maintain a primary school, either on its own initiative, with the consent of the Minister, or on the direction of the Minister. A VEC may also on its own initiative seek the consent of the Minister to become patron or joint patron of an existing primary school, or become patron or joint patron of an existing primary school on the direction of the Minister.

Residential Institutions Redress Scheme

Tom Kitt

Question:

6 Deputy Tom Kitt asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of the 895 rejected applications to the Residential Institutions Redress Board that were refused because the institution in which the applicant was resident was not listed on Schedule A of the governing legislation; if this information is available; if she will provide a break-down of the annual figures and the number of applications that were rejected each year for this same reason [39505/10]

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

12 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills further to parliamentary Question No. 141 of 19 October 2010, the number of persons who were refused redress by the Residential Institution Redress Board each year for the past seven years because they were not residents of institutions listed under Schedule A of the governing legislation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39555/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 6 and 12 together.

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.”

Community Employment Schemes

John Cregan

Question:

7 Deputy John Cregan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of former employees of a company (details supplied) who have been placed on community employment schemes in County Limerick [39522/10]

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.

School Enrolments

Finian McGrath

Question:

8 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will support the case of a person (details supplied) [39530/10]

The question of enrolment in individual schools is the responsibility of the managerial authority of those schools. My Department's main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking places. This may result, however, in some pupils not obtaining a place in the school of their first choice.

It is the responsibility of the managerial authorities of schools to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the Education Act 1998. In this regard a Board of Management may find it necessary to restrict enrolment to children from a particular area or a particular age group or, occasionally, on the basis of some other criterion. This selection process and the enrolment policy on which it is based must be non-discriminatory and must be applied fairly in respect of all applicants.

Under section 15(2)(d) of the Education Act 1998, each school is legally obliged to disclose its enrolment policy and to ensure that as regards that policy that principles of equality and the rights of parents to send their children to a school of the parents’ choice are respected.

Section 29 of the Education Act 1998, provides parents with an appeal process where a Board of Management of a school or a person acting on behalf of the Board refuses enrolment to a student. Where a school refuses to enrol a pupil, the school is obliged to inform parents of their right under Section 29 of the Education Act 1998 to appeal that decision to either the relevant Vocational Educational Committee or to the Secretary General of my Department.

The National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) is the statutory agency which can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child. The NEWB advises parents to apply to more than one school in order to assist in securing a school placement. The Board can be contacted at National Educational Welfare Board, National Headquarters, 16-22 Green Street, Dublin 7 or by telephone at 01-8738700.

Special Educational Needs

Charlie O'Connor

Question:

9 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding her dealings in respect of staffing issues at a school (details supplied) in Dublin 24; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39531/10]

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

11 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will direct the National Council for Special Education to provide adequate special needs assistance support for five pupils in a school (details supplied) in Dublin 24, in light of the assessment carried out by the National Education Psychological Service in Easter 2010; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that 26 new pupils have enrolled in the school this year and that they may require further supports; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39550/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 9 and 11 together.

The Deputies will be aware that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is an independent agency with responsibility for determining the appropriate staffing levels in relation to the support of pupils with special educational needs in all mainstream and special schools. The NCSE operates within my Department's policy in allocating this support.

I understand that the NCSE is presently liaising with the school in question to monitor supports in place for pupils currently enrolled in the school as well as evaluating further applications for support. The NCSE has advised my Department that it hopes to conclude this process shortly.

I have arranged for the details supplied to be forwarded to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply.

Departmental Funding

Mary Upton

Question:

10 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if funding will be allocated to Colleges of Further Education (details supplied) as they were not included in the €20.75 million funding programme announced by the Minister on 15 October 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39549/10]

As the Deputy is 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.

In this context, it would not have been appropriate to include the Colleges of Further Education to which the Deputy refers in the post-primary ICT Infrastructure Grants scheme, in so far as they did not have enrolments from junior to senior cycles. As the Deputy may be aware, funding is however allocated in respect of these Colleges in relation to relevant further education provisions. For example, staff are allocated to deliver post-leaving certificate (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.

Question No. 11 answered with Question 9.
Question No. 12 answered with Question No. 6.

School Transport

Christy O'Sullivan

Question:

13 Deputy Christy O’Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she would consider revising the school transport guidelines to allow for the use of a bigger bus when there are students who qualify for a concessionary ticket and are willing to pay for a yearly ticket on a particular route (details supplied) [39572/10]

Under the terms of my Department's Primary School Transport Scheme, pupils who reside 3.2 kilometres or more from, and are attending, their nearest suitable national school as determined by my Department, are eligible for free school transport.

Bus Éireann, which operates the school transport schemes on behalf of my Department, has advised that the specific school transport service referred to by the Deputy is operating to capacity catering for 12 eligible pupils and 3 concessionary fare paying pupils.

The Deputy will be aware that pupils in the concessionary fare paying category may only avail of transport if spare capacity exists on the service in question. In general, school transport routes are not extended or altered to cater for such pupils. As all eligible pupils are availing of a service within the guidelines of the primary school transport scheme there is no scope for amending the existing arrangements.

Special Educational Needs

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

14 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the reason a person (details supplied) has been denied the recommended resources to progress their education; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39590/10]

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

I have arranged for the details supplied to be forwarded to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply.

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

FÁS Training Programmes

John Deasy

Question:

15 Deputy John Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of persons in County Waterford receiving an offer of training from FÁS each month in 2009 and to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39598/10]

The following table details the number of people in County Waterford who have received an offer of training from FÁS since 2009.

When you compare the total 2009 figures to the figures relating to January to October 2010 there has been an increase of over 20% of the number of offers for training made to people in County Waterford.

Please note that the information detailed below is for Waterford City and County combined.

Clients Who Received offer to start training in Waterford City and County

Year

Month

Number

2009

Jan

96

Feb

291

Mar

100

Apr

225

May

165

Jun

156

Jul

152

Aug

185

Sep

592

Oct

333

Nov

326

Dec

98

Total

2,719

2010

Jan

206

Feb

376

Mar

355

Apr

357

May

359

Jun

295

Jul

195

Aug

244

Sep

648

Oct

283

Total

3,318

Grand Total 2009/2010

6,037

John Deasy

Question:

16 Deputy John Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of persons in County Waterford who have received job placements by FÁS each month in 2009 and to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39599/10]

The following table details the number of people in County Waterford who have received job placements by FÁS since 2009.

Please note that the information detailed below is for Waterford City and County combined.

Job Placements Waterford City and County

Year

Month

Number

2009

Jan

52

Feb

45

Mar

32

Apr

47

May

44

Jun

49

Jul

58

Aug

49

Sep

196

Oct

156

Nov

96

Dec

36

Total

860

2010

Jan

30

Feb

54

Mar

67

Apr

56

May

70

Jun

95

Jul

67

Aug

46

Sep

117

Oct

50

Total

652

Grand Total 2009/2010

1,512

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

17 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of complaints made by participants in FÁS training programmes by county in the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and in 2010 in tabular form; the number of complaints that have been resolved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39618/10]

Complaints made to FÁS are normally resolved locally. Complaints that are not resolved locally are referred to the FÁS Client Services Coordinator at FÁS Headquarters. If they are not resolved at this stage they are referred to the Clients Services Commissioner.

The following table lists the number of complaints received by the FÁS Client Services Coordinator from 2007 to 2010 (year-to-date) inclusive, the number that are resolved and the number referred on to the Client Services Commissioner or other body.

I am advised that collating the detailed information required by the Deputy is a huge task, would take a considerable amount of time to complete and would involve a disproportionate amount of resources when set against FÁS's main day-to-day remit.

Year

Number of complaints received by the Client Services Coordinator

Number resolved

Number of Complaints referred to the Client Services Commissioner

Number referred to the Equality Tribunal

2007

129

123

3

3

2008

161

159

2

2009

190

184 (estimated*)

6

2010 (year-to- date)

160

tbc**

0

*The 2009 FÁS Client Services Coordinator Report is yet to be finalised.

**The 2010 FÁS Client Services Coordinator Report has yet to be compiled.

Computerisation Programme

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

18 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the amount of the €22 million worth of grants promised to primary schools for laptops and digital projectors announced in December 2009 have been awarded to primary schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39619/10]

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that this fund has been fully disbursed. I can confirm that a total of €22,294,055.01 was distributed under this scheme, directly to primary schools, in 2009.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

19 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the progress made on the smart schools, smart economy plan announced in November 2009; the amount of the €150 million that has been spent; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39620/10]

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;

continuous professional development in ICT for teachers;

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

the provision of access to broadband connectivity to schools.

The ‘Smart Schools = Smart Economy' Report to which the Deputy refers builds on the 2008 Strategy Group report, and contains relevant recommendations in the context of how best to realise the potential of ICT use in schools. A Steering Group was established to oversee and advise on the implementation of the recommendations and this group has established four sub-groups to assist it in making recommendations to me on how best to implement the report. The sub-groups are made up of representatives from education and from industry and I am confident that this partnership will lead to innovative proposals. Expenditure under the ICT in Schools Programme for 2009 amounted to some €35.2m, including €22.3m in ICT Infrastructure Grants (capital investment) to primary schools. I have just issued a further €20.75m in post-primary ICT Infrastructure Grants, and intend to issue a further tranche of capital grants to the primary sector shortly. In line with recommendations in the above-mentioned reports, these capital grant schemes prioritise equipping classrooms with digital projectors, teaching computers and wireless mice and keyboards.

Schools have been provided with a range of advice and supports through the National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE), and have been given access to national purchasing Frameworks to assist them in getting best value for money in their procurement. In addition to the provision of ICT hardware there are significant developments on all aspects of the ICT in Schools Programme. A range of ICT-related training programmes are offered to teachers under the NCTE's Teaching Skills Initiative, under which some 12,000 training places were provided in 2009. A national programme of e-learning seminars for school leaders were provided to Primary Principals and seminars for Post Primary Principals will commence shortly. Scoilnet, the national portal for digital content in Irish Education provides a central resource to teachers, pupils and parents, offering access to a growing repository of advice and information.

In relation to Broadband for schools, since the commencement of the rollout of phase II in 2009 there has already been over a 50% increase in aggregate bandwidth usage. This is due to improved bandwidth speeds being made available to schools and the substantial reduction in the number of schools which are connected via satellite. My Department is furthermore working with the Department of Communications Energy and Natural Resources in a pilot project to roll out 100 megabits broadband connectivity to 78 post primary schools. All 78 schools are now connected. The availability of 100 megabits will enable students to learn and collaborate online and will provide potential for new forms of collaboration between schools.

My Department will continue to implement the ambitious ICT in Schools Programme which will ensure that our schools are making the best use of ICT in teaching and learning.

George Mitchell Scholarship Fund

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

20 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the amount of money the Government has contributed to the George Mitchell Scholarship Fund in the years 2009 and 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39621/10]

Pursuant to the terms of the George Mitchell Scholarship Fund Acts 1998 and 2010, in 2010 my Department paid € 1,493,507 into the George Mitchell Scholarship Fund that is managed by the US-Ireland Alliance. This funding is part of the Irish Government's additional endowment in respect of the George Mitchell Scholarship Programme under the George Mitchell Scholarship Fund (Amendment) Act 2010 and it matches funding raised by the Alliance from sources other than public funding in Ireland and Northern Ireland. This is the only payment made by my Department into this Fund since the payment of an initial endowment of £2 million was made by the Irish Government in 1999. The purpose of this Programme is to enable highly qualified students from the United States to attend third level institutions in Ireland and Northern Ireland for post-graduate studies.

The scholarship is named after Senator George J Mitchell in honour of his pivotal contribution to the Northern Ireland peace process. Since its inception in the year 2000, the scholarship programme has attracted 126 top level US students from different social and cultural backgrounds and traditions representing a wide range of universities across the United States. During their time here, students have undertaken study and research in areas such as "Peace and Conflict Studies", "International Law and Human Rights", "Ethic and Racial Studies" and numerous other courses which demonstrate the unique nature of the George Mitchell Scholarship programme in promoting peace and mutual understanding amongst people living in areas under conflict. This is a further tribute to the inspirational nature of Senator Mitchell's work to help to deliver peace in Northern Ireland and around the world.

The recently enacted George Mitchell Scholarship Fund Act 2010 demonstrates in a very practical way the Irish Government's continued commitment towards this prestigious Scholarship programme and indeed to strengthening the close economic and cultural ties between the United States and the island of Ireland. The Government's decision to increase our endowment to the programme is a clear illustration of our ongoing commitment to strengthening and enhancing the relationship between the US and Ireland.

The young Mitchell Scholars who study here will be advocates and agents for the strong US-Ireland relationship among the next generation. We hope that their period of study on this island will create an enduring legacy of goodwill towards Ireland and will be of significant benefit to Ireland in the future.

Schools Building Projects

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

21 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the progress made on implementing the €614 million school building plan announced in 2009; the amount of the €614 million drawn down; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39622/10]

The total allocation for the primary and post-primary capital subheads in 2009 amounted to €613.819m. Expenditure on these subheads in 2009 amounted to €525.972m with a further €12.554m expended on the Schools ICT Programme. €72m of the unspent balance was carried forward to the primary capital programme 2010 and was fully expended during the period April to July this year. A further €7m of the underspend (some of which originated on subheads other than primary and post-primary capital) was assigned to the 2010 Schools ICT Programme.

Customs Service

Joe McHugh

Question:

22 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Finance the numbers and frequencies of road checks by Customs and Revenue since January 2010 on a county basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39480/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the approximate number of road checkpoints carried out by Revenue Enforcement Officers during the period January to September 2010, some of which are estimated, is set out in the table below.

Revenue Enforcement Officers carry out road checkpoints both on a routine and a targeted basis, focusing primarily on mineral oil and Vehicle Registration Tax compliance. Revenue also participates in multi-agency checkpoints together with An Garda Siochána, Department of Social Protection, the Road Safety Authority and local authorities. The frequency, scale and duration of the checkpoints varies according to the risk and the nature of the operations, and increases significantly during the course of intensive regional and national blitz type operations.

Region

County

No. of checkpoints

Border Midlands West

Louth

219

Monaghan

127

Donegal

138

Galway

120

Sligo

16

Leitrim

16

Longford

49

Roscommon

14

Mayo

47

Offaly

14

Cavan

72

Westmeath

16

Total

848

Dublin

Dublin

80

Total

80

East South East

Waterford

8

Wexford

6

Carlow

10

Kilkenny

5

Meath

8

Wicklow

8

Tipperary

9

Laois

6

Kildare

8

Total

68

South West

Cork

75

Kerry

55

Clare

80

Limerick

135

Total

345

Fiscal Policy

Finian McGrath

Question:

23 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will ensure that all persons with a disability are not cut in the four year budget plan [39486/10]

The development of policy, the provision of services for people with disability and expenditure on those services in each sector are primarily a matter in the first instance for the responsible Minister to consider in the light of the provisions of the Disability Act 2005. These require that due regard is had to needs of disability services in the context of available resources and other service requirements.

The Government remains fully committed to achieving our deficit reduction target of 3% of GDP by the end of 2014 as agreed. This will involve an adjustment of € 15 billion over the period. It is important that we have a credible path to show how we propose to meet this commitment. Accordingly, the four-year budgetary plan, to be published in the first half of November, will set out the measures required to restore order to the public finances and bring our deficit to 3% of GDP by the end of 2014. The Government must, therefore, look at options for expenditure savings and value for money efficiencies in all sectors. In arriving at its decisions on measures to restore order to the public services it will seek, as far as possible, to protect the most vulnerable in society, including people with disabilities.

Flood Relief

Paul Connaughton

Question:

24 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Finance the next step in the process of implementing the plans drawn up to drain the Dunkellin river; if he will provide a list of the steps this project will have to go through before drainage can commence on the river; the exact cost of this scheme and if the money is ring fenced for same; when the scheme will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39487/10]

The Office of Public Works has agreed to fund a programme of flood alleviation works for the Dunkellin River from Craughwell to Kilcolgon and for the Aggard Stream and its tributaries up to Cregaclare. A Steering Group, consisting of personnel from the Office of Public Works (OPW) and Galway County Council (GCC) has been established to advance the scheme and the next Steering Group Meeting is scheduled for Friday, 29 October 2010.

It has been agreed that GCC will act as the contracting authority with overall responsibility for the Flood Relief Scheme and that OPW personnel will complete the construction works, acting as agents of the Local Authority. It has also been agreed that as part of this process GCC, in consultation with the OPW, would procure the Engineering & Environmental Consultants needed to complete the scheme design and to attain the necessary statutory permissions for the scheme.

While OPW has made provision in its budget estimates for the Dunkellin Scheme, it is too early to determine the costs of the works, as the detailed design of the preferred option has yet to be completed. The scheme also has potential impacts on the Rahasane Turlough cSAC, and there are a number of environmental considerations that may need to be addressed through mitigation measures, which can only be determined on completion of the Appropriate Assessment in accordance with the Article 6(3) of the Habitats Directive and an Environmental Impact Statement.

Galway County Council are currently working on the procurement procedures necessary to appoint consultants, to carry out this work, and it is envisaged that the consultants will be appointed early in 2011. The OPW have made provision in their works programme to commence civil works on the Dunkellin Flood Relief Scheme in the Summer of 2011. However, this is contingent on all environmental considerations and issues being resolved in consultation with the National Parks and Wildlife Services Division of the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government. It is also a prerequisite of the scheme that GCC secure the appropriate statutory permissions to allow the scheme to advance to construction.

Tax Collection

Jack Wall

Question:

25 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare is due a tax rebate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39524/10]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that additional information has been requested from the person concerned regarding their income for 2009. On receipt of this information a review will be carried out and any refund due will issue.

Departmental Contracts

Alan Shatter

Question:

26 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Finance the date the contract concluded with a company (details supplied) arranging for flights out of this State of persons being deported; the date of termination of the contract; the sums annually to date paid to the company in respect of the current contract and any earlier contract relating to the deportation of persons; if the contract was entered into pursuant to a publically advertised tendering process; the date when tender advertisements were published and if he will detail the number of tenders received in respect of the current contract [39544/10]

The tender for the procurement of commercial air travel referred to in the Deputy's question was concluded in 2008 in accordance with EU procurement rules. The request for tenders was published on the eTender website on 6 May 2008. A total of seven tenders were received. The current contract was awarded from 6 August 2008 on the basis that it would initially operate for one year but could be extended annually with the agreement of both parties for a further period of three years, that is to say, four years in total. The contract was extended for a third year from 6 August 2010 and can be extended for a further final year until 5 August 2012.

The Minister for Justice and Law Reform is responsible for the deportation of people pursuant to the Immigration Act, 1999 as amended.

It is understood from the Department of Justice and Law Reform that the cost of deportations are, as requested by the Deputy, as follows:

Cost of Deportations

Year

2007

542,623

2008

240,173

2009

196,326

2010 [up until 30.9.2010]

225,195

EU Funding

Michael Creed

Question:

27 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Finance if consideration is being given at a Council of Finance Ministers Meeting to sanctions for non-compliance with the Stability and Growth Pact; the EU-wide efforts being considered to achieve greater economic convergence across the EU including improved global competitiveness; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39567/10]

I assume the Deputy is referring to the work carried out by the Van Rompuy Task Force. In March 2010, in the light of the global economic and financial crisis and the deterioration in public finances across the EU, the European Council mandated a Task Force under President Van Rompuy and comprising representatives of the Member States, the European Commission and the ECB to develop proposals for improved budgetary discipline and an improved crisis resolution framework. I represented Ireland on the Taskforce.

In parallel to the Task Force, the European Commission issued Communications on economic policy co-ordination in May and June 2010 and published related legislative proposals at end September. These proposals were taken into account in the work of the Task Force.

Task Force discussions have now concluded and a report has been submitted for consideration by Heads of State and Government at the European Council meeting today and tomorrow. In relation to the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP), the Task Force recommendations aim to strengthen the Pact, to enlarge the spectrum of sanctions under the Pact and to apply them earlier and on a more automatic basis. The proposals include certain financial sanctions which would apply to euro area Member States in the case of serious and persistent non-compliance with EU budgetary obligations.

The Report also proposes the introduction alongside the SGP of a new surveillance framework to identify and correct harmful macroeconomic imbalances which if left uncorrected could jeopardise the proper functioning of economic and monetary union. An annual assessment of the risk of macroeconomic imbalances and vulnerabilities would be undertaken, using an alert mechanism based on a limited number of indicators. Euro area Member States could ultimately face sanctions in the event of repeated non-compliance.

In the context of the work of the Task Force and of the above mentioned European Commission proposals, Member States have agreed to the introduction with effect from January 2011 of a "European Semester", a reinforced cycle for co-ordination of Member States economic policies. This is designed to integrate various aspects of existing budgetary and macroeconomic surveillance procedures namely the annual submission of Stability and Convergence Programmes and of National Reform Programmes, the latter in the context of the EU 2020 strategy for Jobs and Growth. While respecting national responsibilities on fiscal and economic policies, the new timetable aims to allow for a simultaneous assessment of both budgetary measures and structural reforms fostering growth and employment so that the EU and euro area dimensions are better taken account of when countries prepare budgets and economic reform programmes.

I consider that the Task Force recommendations are a major step forward in economic governance at EU level and are to be welcomed. The next steps in the process are for the European Council to consider the Task Force recommendations and, if approved, to set in train the necessary work to implement the recommendations, many of which will require EU secondary legislation

Pension Provisions

Róisín Shortall

Question:

28 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the savings to the Exchequer if the reckonable salary upon which maximum pension contributions are based were reduced to €10,000, €20,000, €30,000 and so on at intervals of €10,000 up to €100,000 and based on both employee and employer pension contributions in the case of a defined contribution plan and the value of the increase in the member’s benefit in the case of a defined benefit plan [39634/10]

Under current arrangements, an annual earnings cap of €150,000 acts, in conjunction with age-related percentage limits of annual earnings, to put a ceiling on the annual amount of tax relief an individual taxpayer can obtain on employee or personal pension contributions to pension savings. I assume that the Deputy is suggesting that the existing annual earnings cap be reduced to the levels set out in her question.

The full year yields to the Exchequer arising from reducing the earnings cap as suggested are set out in the following table. The figures are provisional and subject to revision.

Proposed Earnings Cap

Estimated Exchequer Yield

€m

10,000

330

20,000

277

30,000

248

40,000

227

50,000

216

60,000

190

70,000

165

80,000

150

90,000

108

100,000

85

A breakdown of the figures by reference to income levels is available only in respect of the tax relief for contributions to Retirement Annuity Contracts (RACs) and Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs) to the extent that these contributions are included in the personal tax returns of taxpayers.

With regard to occupational pensions, (that is, schemes set up by the employer), the figures in respect of employee contributions are available only in aggregate form. Information on such contributions is not captured in such a way as to make it possible to associate contributions with individual income levels. For that reason, there is a high degree of estimation involved in costing the changes proposed and the estimated yields to the Exchequer are extremely tentative.

Employer contributions to occupational pension schemes are not taken into account for the purpose of the annual earnings cap and age-related limits. Furthermore, such contributions are also only available in aggregate form and it would not be possible to associate them with individual taxpayers. Employer contributions are not, therefore, included in the estimates detailed above.

The estimated yield is based on assuming that tax relief which would be affected by the changes mentioned in the question is currently allowed at the top income tax rate of 41% and at the maximum age-related percentage limit of earnings. The figures provided could therefore be regarded as the maximum Exchequer yields in respect of affected taxpayers.

Flood Relief

Billy Timmins

Question:

29 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39637/10]

The tributary of the Derry River referred to by the Deputy does not form part of an Arterial Drainage Scheme which the Office of Public Works has a statutory duty to maintain, and the OPW is not aware that any other state body has a maintenance responsibility in relation to it. Responsibility for maintenance would therefore rest with the owners of property adjoining the river.

The property owner in question may wish to contact Wicklow County Council to request that the Council undertake flood mitigation measures to address the flood problem at this location.

If Wicklow County Council decides to undertake flood alleviation measures, it would be open to the Council to apply for funding under the OPW Minor Flood Works scheme.

Health Services

Pat Breen

Question:

30 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39461/10]

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

Hospital Waiting Lists

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

31 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Leitrim will be admitted for surgery and if the matter can be expedited [39469/10]

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

Health Services

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

32 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding bereavement and counselling services currently available for road collision victims and their families in County Donegal; her plans to extend these services through the Health Service Executive or any other agency; the supports that are available to bereavement and counselling groups in County Donegal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39483/10]

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

Hospital Procedures

Denis Naughten

Question:

33 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Roscommon will be called for a procedure; the reason for the delay in same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39485/10]

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

Eating Disorders

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

34 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding funding for treatment of a person with an eating disorder; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39491/10]

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

Health Service Staff

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

35 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of whole-time equivalent social workers employed by the Health Service Executive on 1 May 2009; the number of whole-time equivalent social workers employed by the HSE on 1 October 2010; the number of new employees employed as whole-time equivalent social workers by the HSE between 1 May 2009 and 1 October 2010; the number of whole-time equivalent social workers assigned to child protection and child care services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39508/10]

The Government's Implementation Plan for the findings of the Ryan Report on the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse committed to the recruitment of an additional 270 social workers before the end of 2011 to enable the HSE to fulfil its statutory obligations that every child in care should have a care plan and an allocated social worker.

The Government provided an amount of €15m in 2010 to advance the actions in the Ryan Report Implementation Plan, including the recruitment of an additional 200 social work posts in 2010. The recruitment of an additional 200 social workers was provided for in the HSE Service Plan 2010. The filling of social work vacancies and the recruitment of additional social workers was exempted from the current public sector recruitment moratorium.

The latest available information from the HSE's Employment Census, in respect of August 2010, shows an increase of 93 social work posts to date in 2010. I would point out that there is a time lag between individuals taking up duty and their inclusion in the HSE Employment Census. The HSE has assured me that the targeted increase in social work employment for 2010 will be met. In this regard the HSE has advised that contracts have issued in respect of 199 posts under the Ryan Report Implementation Plan, while a further 4 posts have been accepted by candidates whose clearances are being processed.

In relation to the specific enquiries, these have been referred to the HSE for direct response to the Deputy.

Medical Research

Joe McHugh

Question:

36 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on incorporating a clinical trial site for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy sufferers at St. James’s Hospital’s new medical research centre; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39509/10]

As I outlined to the Deputy in my reply to a parliamentary question on 29th September 2010, there are a number of barriers and obstacles which exist in relation to the proposals for research into Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and the inclusion of Irish boys in international clinical trials, the most significant issue being the identification of a clinical lead in Ireland.

The Department is now awaiting a written proposal in relation to the development of a clinical site in Ireland and/or linking with European trials in the assessment and treatment of neuromuscular diseases.

Prescription Charges

James Reilly

Question:

37 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the arrangements that are in place to administer the new prescription charge; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39512/10]

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 online version of the form is available on www.medicalcard.ie or www.hse.ie.

In some cases family members may not have the same medical card number, e.g. where more than one doctor is used by the family. It is important for all of the family members to be grouped together so that any prescription charge paid by them goes towards reaching the maximum total monthly charge payable. Patients can check online that all members of their family are grouped together or contact the HSE directly at 1800-252-919. If necessary, patients can set their family up as a family group on www.medicalcard.ie and print off a certificate (family certificate) to give to their pharmacists. Patients can also contact their Local Health Office or call 1890-252-919 to provide their family details and a certificate will be posted out.

Medical Cards

John McGuinness

Question:

38 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if an application for a medical card will be expedited in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny [39523/10]

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

Health Service Staff

Dan Neville

Question:

39 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide details on the number of psychologists in the country; the locations of these psychologists; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39534/10]

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

Health Services

Terence Flanagan

Question:

40 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will deal with the following matter (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39539/10]

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

Medical Cards

P. J. Sheehan

Question:

41 Deputy P. J. Sheehan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will receive a decision on their appeal against a refusal to renew a medical card; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39548/10]

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

Hospital Staff

James Reilly

Question:

42 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the number of posts that have been advertised at Beaumont Hospital for non-consultant hospital doctors; if she will provide an overall figure; if she can confirm that all these jobs have been advertised; if she can further confirm the number of appointments that have been made to date; if she will provide figures for 2009 and the number that would have been appointed at this stage last year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39553/10]

I am aware that at present there are difficulties in recruiting certain Non-Consultant Hospital Doctors (NCHDs). Typically, posts at Beaumont unfilled by schemes are advertised nationally and internationally by the hospital as required. In 2009 19 posts remained vacant after appointments were made through the schemes and all were advertised and filled. In 2010 23 posts were advertised and filled. The present position for 2011 is that of 26 such vacancies 10 are currently filled. The remaining 16 unfilled posts have been advertised nationally and internationally.

The Health Service Executive is currently developing a range of strategies and initiatives for the forthcoming NCHD rotations in January and July 2011 with a view to maximising recruitment. Measures in train include restructuring training rotations to ensure they're appropriately aligned with service requirements; development of a centralised recruitment process for service posts; introducing a single contact point for HSE agencies to obtain locum/temporary medical staff and also measures to progress the appointment of additional Consultants. It is important to note that the moratorium on public sector recruitment is not a factor in these NCHD vacancies.

Tobacco Consumption

Phil Hogan

Question:

43 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will release all documents containing the results of any research carried out by the Office of Tobacco Control to ascertain cigarette smoking prevalence or cigarette smoking trends in respect of the period of 31 of December 2008 to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39560/10]

Information on smoking prevalence and smoking trends compiled by the Office of Tobacco Control is published on-line athttp://www.otc.ie/research.asp.

Tobacco Control

Phil Hogan

Question:

44 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Health and Children the changes that are being proposed to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in Uruguay between the 15 and 20 November 2010; if she expects to be introducing any new Irish legislation as a result of FCTC changes; if she will highlight the specific and direct changes that the proposed changes for the FCTC as they stand would have for the Irish tobacco regulatory framework; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39563/10]

No changes are proposed to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC). The Conference of the Parties (COP) which is the governing body of the WHO FCTC and is comprised of all parties to the Conventions will meet in Uruguay in November. A protocol to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products and guidelines for the implementation of Articles 9,10,12 and 14 of the Convention will be among the issues being considered by the COP. Full details of the matters for consideration by the COP is available athttp://apps.who.int/gb/fctc/E/E_cop4.htm.

Departmental Staff

Róisín Shortall

Question:

45 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide details of all staff in her Department with a breakdown by function and grade. [39569/10]

The Department is organised on a divisional basis (comprising a number of units), each headed by a member of the Management Advisory Committee (MAC). Details of the Department's Units and of the staff assigned to them are outlined in the following table. At the end of September 2010, there were 429.70 whole-time equivalents employed across the Minister's Offices, the Secretary General's Office and 38 Units in the Core Department. In addition there were 47.65 whole-time equivalents employed across a number of other offices which are outlined in a separate table. A summary organisation chart of my Department will be forwarded to the Deputy.

Section

MAC Member

Principal Officer

Assistant Principal Officer

Higher Executive Officer

Assistant Officer

Executive Officer

Staff Officer

Clerical Officer

Service Officers

Ministerial Staff

Prof

Total

Minister’s Private Office

3.00

1.00

3.00

3.00

10.00

Minister’s Constituency Office

1.00

1.00

2.00

Minister of StateAndrews

2.00

1.00

2.80

3.00

8.80

Minister of StateBrady

2.00

3.00

4.00

9.00

Minister of State Moloney

1.80

2.00

4.00

7.80

Secretary General’s Office & MAC Support

1.00

1.00

1.00

4.00

7.00

Acute Hospitals I

1.00

1.00

2.00

1.40

2.00

0.80

8.20

Acute Hospitals II

1.00

2.00

0.80

1.00

2.00

1.00

7.80

Blood Policy & Cancer Policy

1.00

1.60

2.00

0.50

1.60

6.70

Chief Medical Officer’s Office

1.00

2.00

3.60

6.60

Health Protection & Promotion Policy

1.00

3.00

3.802

0.80

0.73

2.60

11.932

Patient Safety & Quality

2.00

1.00

3.00

Social Inclusion

1.00

2.60

2.50

1.00

7.10

Private Health Insurance

1.00

1.00

3.40

1.00

0.80

2.10

1.80

11.10

Capital, EU/International & Research Policy

1.00

3.00

2.00

1.00

7.00

Finance I

1.00

1.00

3.00

3.50

1.00

7.00

5.80

1.00

23.30

ICT (Internal & External)

1.00

1.00

3.50

2.00

1.00

8.50

Information Unit

1.00

1.00

2.00

3.00

7.00

Performance Evaluation

1.00

1.80

1.40

1.00

5.20

Research Unit

1.00

0.60

1.00

3.00

5.60

Medical Indemnity

1.00

1.00

0.00

1.00

3.00

National HR & Workforce Planning I

1.00

1.00

3.00

1.00

1.00

1.00

8.00

National HR & Workforce Planning II

0.80

3.80

3.40

1.60

0.50

1.60

11.70

National HR & Workforce Planning III

1.00

3.60

2.40

1.00

3.30

1.50

1.00

13.80

Citizen Participation Unit

0.60

2.00

2.60

Disability

1.00

1.00

4.00

3.00

1.00

2.00

1.60

13.60

Litigation &Long Stay Charges Unit

1.00

3.00

3.50

0.80

1.50

9.80

Mental Health

1.00

2.00

1.60

2.00

1.00

7.60

Services for Older People

1.00

1.00

3.40

3.00

1.00

1.00

0.00

3.232

13.632

Strategy for Older People

0.50

1.00

3.80

1.00

6.30

Section

MAC Member

Principal Officer

Assistant Principal Officer

Higher Executive Officer

Assistant Officer

Executive Officer

Staff Officer

Clerical Officer

Service Officers

Ministerial Staff

Prof

Total

Childcare Directorate

1.00

1.00

1.80

4.50

1.00

6.80

1.30

6.90

24.30

Children’s Legilsation Unit

1.00

2.00

3.00

Children & Youth Services Development Unit

1.00

4.60

3.60

1.00

3.50

6.00

1.00

20.70

Child Welfare & Protection Policy Unit

2.00

3.80

2.40

2.00

1.00

1.00

1.00

13.20

Parliamentary Affairs &Communications

1.00

1.00

3.00

4.00

4.60

1.00

14.60

Corporate Legislation Unit

1.00

3.00

1.00

0.40

5.40

Human Resources & Corporate Development

1.00

4.30

6.00

7.40

0.5

12.80

10.00

42.00

Internal Audit

1.00

1.00

1.00

3.00

Legal Section

2.00

2.732

4.732

Controlled Drugs & Pharmacy Unit

1.80

1.00

1.80

4.60

Eligibility Unit

1.00

2.00

3.00

Food Safety, Medicines &Tobacco Control

1.00

3.50

4.80

3.30

0.80

4.10

1.00

18.50

Primary Care

1.00

1.00

3.00

5.00

1.00

2.00

1.00

2.00

16.00

Other

2.00

1.00

3.00

Other Offices

Office

Principal Officer

Assistant Principal Officer

Higher Executive Officer

Assistant Officer

Executive Officer

Staff Officer

Clerical Officer

Service Officers

Prof

Total

Adoption Board

1.00

2.00

3.80

4.10

1.80

6.80

0.80

8.35

28.65

Office of the Disability Appeals Officer

1.00

1.00

1.00

1.00

4.00

Health Repayment Scheme Appeals Office

1.00

1.00

2.00

2.00

6.00

Office of the Ombudsman for Children

2.00

2.00

4.00

1.00

9.00

Note
MAC Member (Management Advisory Committee) i.e. Grades of Secretary General, Deputy Secretary, Assistant Secretary, Director, Chief Medical Officer.
Ministerial Staff (Personal Appointees) i.e. grades of Special Advisor, Personal Assistant, Personal Secretary and Civilian Driver.
Prof. (Professional Grades) including inter alia, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professional Accountant, Chief Pharmacist, Statisticians, Chief Nursing Advisor, Social Workers, Disability Appeals Officer, Health Repayment Scheme Appeals Officer, Legal Advisors, Assesor of Youth Affairs, Youth Health Promotion Officer, Chief Environmental Health Officer.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Deirdre Clune

Question:

46 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Health and Children the current waiting times for hip replacements in the Cork area; the current waiting times to see a consultant before being sent for a hip replacement; the waiting time between first being seen by a consultant to having a hip replacement carried out; the number of persons currently on the waiting lists for a hip replacement and to see a consultant before a hip replacement. [39583/10]

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

National Treatment Purchase Fund

Deirdre Clune

Question:

47 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Health and Children the length of time a person will be on a waiting list before they can apply for the National Treatment Purchase Fund; if this waiting time includes the period of time when they are waiting to be seen by a consultant; her plans to reduce this waiting time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39584/10]

Subject to the resources available to it, the National Treatment Purchase Fund may arrange treatment or diagnostic procedures, as appropriate, for patients who have been on a hospital's surgical, endoscopy or MRI waiting list for more than three months. It is open to a person on such a list or anyone acting on their behalf to contact the Fund directly in relation to their case. The Funds works with hospitals to ensure that, as a general rule, the focus is on facilitating those patents who have been waiting longest.

The HSE's National Service Plan 2010 commits the Executive to the development of more efficient processes where hospital inpatient activity is concerned, including increasing the proportion of treatment provided on a day basis, higher rates of day-of-surgery admission and reduction of overall average length of stay. The Plan also identifies a number of measures being taken to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of outpatient services and to increase the proportion of new attendees within the overall numbers attending. These include better management of appointments and more appropriate discharge of patients back to primary care services, where indicated. The Plan also includes a performance target for non-attendance by patients of not more than 10%, for both new and return attendees.

Deirdre Clune

Question:

48 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will review the case of a person (details supplied) currently waiting for a procedure; when they will see a consultant; when they can apply for the National Treatment Purchase Fund; when the procedure will be carried out; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39585/10]

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

Olwyn Enright

Question:

49 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly will receive treatment under the National Treatment Purchase Fund; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39606/10]

The NTPF has indicated that this patient will be contacted shortly in relation to an offer of treatment.

Road Safety

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

50 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport if the tender contract for the new intoxilyser machines to implement mandatory testing at the scene of a serious collision has been awarded; the cost and terms of the intoxilyser contract and the number of new machines included in the contract; when the new programme of intoxilyser machines will be fully operational; the number of intoxilyser machines currently in use by An Garda Síochána; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39484/10]

The Medical Bureau for Road Safety (MBRS) is well advanced in procuring the new Evidential Breath Testing (EBT) equipment for detecting and measuring the levels of blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The new instruments will be necessary to measure the lower BAC levels provided for in the Road Traffic Act 2010. Once the preferred equipment has been selected, a significant amount of testing will be required by the MBRS before the instruments can be put to use. A detailed training programme for An Garda Síochána in the use of the instruments will also be undertaken. It is estimated that the testing and training programme will be complete and instruments distributed to Garda Stations by September 2011.

It is intended to increase the number of EBT instruments from the current 64 to 86 instruments to meet the enforcement requirements of An Garda Síochána.

The capital costs of the instruments will be finalised when the supplier of the instruments has been awarded the contract.

Illicit Trade in Tobacco

Phil Hogan

Question:

51 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he has received information from the Garda Síochána confirming media reports that statistically, the largest importers of illegal cigarettes are dissident republicans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39561/10]

The fight against tobacco smuggling involves close co-operation between An Garda Síochána and the Customs Service, which has primary responsibility in this area.

I am advised by the Garda authorities that there is involvement by so-called dissidents in the smuggling of tobacco products. This is a matter which has been confirmed by the Independent Monitoring Commission in various reports. Of its nature, the degree of involvement cannot be stated with absolute certainty.

However, I can assure the House that all the agencies involved are committed to counteracting the illicit trade in cigarettes, regardless of whether those who lie behind this activity are so-called dissidents or organised crime gangs.

Visa Applications

Mary Upton

Question:

52 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the recent report from the European Tour Operators Association which highlighted that 31% of Chinese tourists and 12% of Indian tourists booking trips to Ireland in 2010 are cancelling their holidays due to the slow processing of visa applications; his views on whether this loss of business is unacceptable when our tourism industry is suffering so much and has the potential to cost us dearly in the future if not addressed immediately; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39612/10]

Mary Upton

Question:

66 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform in view of figures from the European Tour Operators Association which state that 31% of Chinese tourists and 12% of Indian tourists booking trips to Ireland in 2010 are cancelling their holidays due to the slow processing of visa application, his plans to introduce a faster and reformed visa processing system to ensure we can capitalise on the growing tourism numbers from these markets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39613/10]

Mary Upton

Question:

67 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform in view of our common travel area with the United Kingdom, the contact his Department has had with his United Kingdom counterparts regarding introducing a reformed and faster tourist visa processing system for visitors from emerging markets such as China and India; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39614/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 52, 66 and 67 together.

While promotion of tourism in Ireland is primarily a matter for the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism and associated agencies, I am aware of the recent report from the European Tour Operators Association referred to by the Deputy.

As with all visas in all countries worldwide, the central concern is to strike an appropriate balance between protecting the country's vital national interests by maintaining an effective immigration regime, while at the same time not placing unnecessary or unreasonable obstacles in the way of those who intend travelling for legitimate purposes and who are likely to abide by the terms of their visa. Each visa application is decided on its individual merits and I believe that, in most cases, my Department achieves this balance. Visa approval rates for the countries mentioned by the Deputy bear this out. Approval rates for visa applications of all types processed through the Irish overseas Visa Offices in India and China in 2009 were:

New Delhi (serving India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal) — 90%

Beijing (serving China, Cambodia, Mongolia) — 86%.

I am satisfied that processing times in those offices also compare favourably internationally. This is borne out by the Report to which the Deputy herself refers. That shows that, in the case of India, Ireland had a lower cancellation rate than either the Schengen States or the United Kingdom on the basis of perceived delays in processing. In the case of China, Ireland had a similar cancellation rate to the United Kingdom and only a marginally higher rate than the Schengen area.

The relevant figures are:

Schengen

United Kingdom

Ireland

India

21%

26%

12%

China

26%

30%

31%

Overall, the figure for cancellations from all countries reflects very favourably on Ireland with only 15% of clients reporting cancellations as against 21% for the Schengen area and 24% for the United Kingdom. This demonstrates that Ireland is not at a disadvantage to its main competitors due to any issue with perceived delays in visa processing.

Currently, straightforward ‘visit' visa applications are being decided upon within 10 working days by the Visa Office, Beijing. The decision time frame is even shorter where applications are lodged via a Chinese government approved tourist agent, such applications being decided upon within 1-3 working days. A decision time frame of 1-5 working days applies to ‘visit' visa applications considered by the Visa Office, New Delhi.

My Department continually examines ways in which the visa process can facilitate the promotion of tourism in the State, including in cooperation with the United Kingdom with whom we have a common travel area, in conformity with the needs of an effective immigration regime.

Closed Circuit Television Systems

Alan Shatter

Question:

53 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if the Garda closed circuit television system has been updated to digital nationwide; the areas which have been updated and which have yet to be updated; the timescale in which the work will be completed nationwide; the number of CCTV cameras which have to date been digitalised; the cost to date and the final total estimate cost of the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39462/10]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that Garda CCTV systems have been deployed at the locations set out in the Table below. The systems use analogue cameras and a mixture of fibre optic & radio technologies to transfer the images to monitoring stations. The systems installed after 2007 have digital storage. While the systems installed before 2007 previously used VHS tapes their recorders were replaced during 2009/10 with digital equipment at a cost of €230,000.

City/Town

Cameras

Status

Clondalkin

13

Operational 2007

Ballyfermot

18

Operational 2007

Tullamore

14

Operational 2007

Drogheda

13

Operational 2009

Tallaght

35

Operational 2009

Mullingar

16

Operational 2009

Drogheda

13

Operational 2009

Waterford

33

Operational 2009

Portlaoise

15

Operational 2009

Kilkenny

15

Operational 2009

Ennis

17

Operational 2009

Castlebar

19

Operational 2009

Sligo

26

Operational 2009

Kinsale

12

Operational 2009

Dungarvan

8

Operational 2009

Finglas

9

Operational 2009

Athlone

26

Operational 2010

Clonmel

12

Operational 2009

Carlow

14

Operational 2009

Dublin (North Central/ O’Connell St.) Store St.

44

Operational 1998

Dublin (South Central /Templebar) Pearse St.

33

Operational 1995

Tralee

24

Operational 1998

Cork City

31

Operational 2002

Bray

14

Operational 2004

Dundalk

10

Operational 2004

Dun Laoghaire

8

Operational 2004

Galway

18

Operational 2004

Limerick

27

Operational 2004

Sex Offenders

Alan Shatter

Question:

54 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the costs of the proposed electronic tagging of sex offenders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39464/10]

As the Deputy is aware, Part 10 of the Criminal Justice Act, 2006 provides for the introduction of electronic monitoring in this jurisdiction and I have made the relevant order commencing the provisions in the context of a restriction of movement condition applying to the granting of temporary release.

I am glad to tell the Deputy and the House that the Irish Prison Service is currently testing the use of Global Positioning System (GPS) Electronic Monitoring on a small number of prisoners who are being carefully selected having regard to a range of criteria including the nature of the offence, public safety and overall conduct in prison and will be given temporary release. The test phase began in August 2010 and is due to run until Christmas at which time it will be evaluated to assess its viability on cost and other considerations as a tool in the management of offenders.

As the Deputy will be aware I published my Discussion Document on the Management of convicted sex offenders in January, 2009 which, inter alia, put forward the possibility of using GPS electronic monitoring technology to monitor higher risk convicted sex offenders for the first 6 months following the completion of their prison sentences and their release back to the community. In the consultative process following the publication of this significant document the majority view expressed was that electronic monitoring of sex offenders would be of very limited value although the view was also expressed that it could be of value in a limited number of particular cases as part of a broader plan for the management of this particular cohort in the community. As I indicated in the summary report and response to the Discussion Document published on my Department's website on 11th October, 2010 I intend to explore further the possibility of making legislative provision for the use of Electronic Monitoring in specific circumstances. This consideration has now begun.

Crime Levels

Alan Shatter

Question:

55 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of persons here who died in the period 1 January 2010 to 30 September 2010 as a consequence of being shot, being stabbed and of other violent action and to further detail the number of deaths he believes to be directly associated with the actions of feuding drug gangs and the number of prosecutions to date which have been initiated as a consequence of such deaths [39465/10]

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

While An Garda Síochána have made significant progress in the investigation of a number of killings, the reality is that there can be considerable difficulties in obtaining evidence in shootings which are the result of gangland activities from associates of a victim of a gangland killing, or indeed from gangland figures even when they themselves are the victims of violence. It has also to be accepted that there is often no connection or personal association between the victim and the perpetrator, which makes it very difficult for An Garda Síochána in their investigation of such a murder. Witnesses may also be subject to high levels of intimidation not to come forward, and it is to assist such witnesses that the Witness Protection Programme is in place.

It was in that overall context that I introduced greatly strengthened legislation in the area of organised crime which is being fully utilised by An Garda Síochána, including the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009, the Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Act 2009, the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and the Criminal Procedure Act 2010. In addition, there are very severe penalties for firearms offices in place under the Criminal Justice Act 2006. Legislation on the use of knives and similar weapons is also extremely robust and heavy penalties are in place.

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

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

I am informed by the Garda authorities that during the period 1 January to 25 October, 2010, the most recent date for which figures are available, 42 murders involving firearms, knives or other instruments or physical violence were recorded. Of these, the Garda authorities have designated 15 as being gang related. A total of 42 proceedings, for a range of offences, have been initiated arising from a number of the 42 killings.

Prison Seizures

Alan Shatter

Question:

56 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of mobile phone seizures in each prison here in the nine-month period from 1 January 2010 to 30 September 2010 and the action being taken to prevent the furnishing of mobile phones to prisoners [39466/10]

Section 36 of the Prisons Act, 2007, which was brought into operation on 1 May, 2007, makes it an offence for prisoners to have unauthorised possession of or use of mobile telecommunication devices. Under the Act it is also an offence to supply such a device to a prisoner. The penalties for such an offence, on summary conviction, include a fine not exceeding €5,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or both, and on conviction on indictment, to a fine not exceeding €10,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years or both. It is Irish Prison Service policy to report and hand over seizures of mobile phones to the Gardaí.

Other preventative measures include cell and area searches for contraband such as mobile phones which take place in all prisons on a daily basis. These include random, targeted and intelligence led searches. These searches have been particularly effective and local intelligence indicates that the availability of mobile phones has decreased across the prison system.

Figures for the number of mobile phone seizures at each prison, including seizures at point of entry, from 1 January 2010 up to and including 3 October 2010 are set out in the table below.

Prison/Place of Detention

Mobile phone seizures for 2010 (up to and including 3 October 2010)

Arbour Hill

1

Castlerea

27

Cloverhill

11

Cork

10

Dóchas Centre

3

Limerick

93

Loughan House

141

Midlands

42

Mountjoy

664

Portlaoise

10

Shelton Abbey

78

St. Patrick’s Institution

85

Training Unit

159

Wheatfield

63

Total

1,387

Sentencing Policy

Alan Shatter

Question:

57 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of prisoners presently serving sentences of one year or less in each of our prisons; the weekly cost of such sentences to the taxpayer and the estimated comparative cost to the taxpayer if each such prisoner had been sentenced to a maximum period of community service [39467/10]

In the vast majority of offences, the Oireachtas has provided the courts with a number of options for disposal of such cases including fines, the Probation of Offenders Act, community service orders and imprisonment. It is a matter for the sentencing judge to decide what is the appropriate sanction in individual cases depending on the circumstances of the offender and the particular facts of the case. I am of the view that there is scope for greater use of community service orders in relatively minor cases and have prepared legislative proposals that will require courts to consider imposing a community service order in any case where they had envisaged imposing a prison sentence of 6 months or less. I expect to bring these proposals to Government for approval for drafting in the next few weeks.

The number of prisoners on 27 October 2010 serving a sentence of less than 12 months in each prison are set out in the table below.

Prison/Place of Detention

Less than 12 Months

Arbour Hill

1

Castlerea

44

Cloverhill

17

Cork

64

Dóchas Centre

31

Limerick

71

Loughan House

39

Midlands

34

Mountjoy

84

Portlaoise

16

Shelton Abbey

2

St. Patrick’s Institution

63

Training Unit

1

Wheatfield

109

Total

576

Based on the average cost of an available staffed prison space for 2009 (€77,222), the weekly cost of providing a staffed prison space was €1,485.

The Probation Service recently carried out a pilot study of two urban Community Service teams. Based on 2008 figures, this pilot study showed that the average cost of a community service order for 2008 was €2,500. The average number of hours for the community service orders is approximately 150 hours. The maximum number of hours allowed for by the Criminal Justice (Community Service) Act, 1983 is 240.

It should be in borne in mind that most of the costs associated with both imprisonment and community service orders are fixed costs.

Drugs in Prisons

Alan Shatter

Question:

58 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of drug seizures in each of our prisons from 1 January 2010 to 30 September 2010 [39468/10]

The Irish Prison Service has introduced a range of measures in all closed prisons to prevent the flow of and assist in the capture of contraband such as illicit drugs. These include:

the introduction of enhanced security screening for all persons (visitors and staff) entering our prisons;

The establishment of a drug detection dog service within the Irish Prison Service involving approximately 30 handling teams;

The establishment of Operational Support Units dedicated to and developing expertise in searching and gathering intelligence on illicit material being hidden inside our prisons; they will be available in addition to the normal prison staff and can target specific security problem areas;

The introduction of Body Orifice Security Scanner (BOSS) chairs for the searching of prisoners on entering/leaving the prison; and

The erecting of netting over exercise yards in closed prisons to counteract drugs being thrown over perimeter walls.

Other preventative measures include cell and area searches for contraband such as drugs which take place in all prisons on a daily basis. These include random, targeted and intelligence led searches. These security measures have had considerable success to date and I am determined to support Prison management to take all reasonable measures to ensure that we continue to stem the flow of illicit substances into our prisons.

I wish to inform the Deputy that the number of drug seizures at each prison, including seizures at point of entry, from 1 January 2010 up to and including 3 October 2010 are set out in the table below.

Prison/Place of Detention

Number of Drug Seizures in 2010 (up to 03/10/2010)

Arbour Hill Prison

0

Castlerea Prison

59

Cloverhill Prison

63

Cork Prison

37

Dóchas Centre

14

Limerick Prison

134

Loughan House

43

Midlands Prison

63

Mountjoy Prison

569

Portlaoise Prison

27

Shelton Abbey

23

St. Patrick’s Institution

180

Training Unit

41

Wheatfield Prison

72

Total

1,325

Garda Equipment

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

59 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform his views on whether every Garda car should be equipped with an intoxilyser machine; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39484/10]

The Medical Bureau of Road Safety, which is under the aegis of the Department of Transport, has statutory responsibility for the testing, approval and supply of roadside breath screening devices to An Garda Síochána.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that Garda management is satisfied that there are sufficient roadside breath-screening devices available to meet current operational needs. Such devices are available to members of An Garda Síochána in all Garda Divisions and are carried in Garda vehicles as appropriate. The availability of such devices is kept under constant review in conjunction with the Medical Bureau of Road Safety.

Garda Deployment

Jack Wall

Question:

60 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of community gardaí in the Kildare division; where each member is stationed; if new members are to be appointed to the division; the period and to which station the appointments will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39558/10]

I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that the total number of Community Gardaí in the Kildare Division, on the latest date for which figures are readily available, was 17, with 4 stationed in Naas, 10 stationed in Kildare and 3 stationed in Leixlip.

Responsibility for the allocation of resources, including community Gardaí, 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 Kildare Division with a view to ensuring that an effective Garda service is maintained.

Visa Applications

Finian McGrath

Question:

61 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will support a matter (details supplied) [39559/10]

As the Deputy may be aware I recently published a ‘New Immigration Regime for Full Time non-EEA Students' which contains more than 20 recommendations designed to reform the student immigration regime. These recommendations include the introduction of maximum periods of residence in the State on foot of a student permission. A number of the recommendations, including the maximum periods of residence in the State as a student will now come into effect from 1 January 2011.

Special transitional arrangements have been set for those students already in the State who will be affected by the changes. In addition clear guidelines regarding the operation of the new regime will shortly be published on the website of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service. These guidelines will be of benefit to students currently in Ireland as well as to students who wish to travel to Ireland in the future for the purpose of pursuing a course of study.

However, having regard to the specific case put forward by the Deputy, it is not clear from the information provided as to the current immigration status of the person concerned. In particular the Immigration Service would need to know whether the person is an EEA or non-EEA national, an adult or school going child and whether they are an immigrant in their own right or residing in Ireland as a dependant of another person.

If the Deputy could furnish such information via the INIS Oireachtas Mail service, a prompt reply will issue.

Child Abduction

Deirdre Clune

Question:

62 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if his Department is working closely with Justice Departments in other EU countries to combat child abduction; if Ireland will be part of any EU initiative on child abduction and the promotion of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39582/10]

Ireland is a party to the Hague Convention, a Council of Europe Convention and an EU Regulation on the civil aspects of international child abduction by a parent in defiance of the rights of the other parent. Among the functions of the Central Authority that operates in my Department for the purposes of the Conventions and the Regulation is that of cooperating with the Central Authorities of other member states to secure the prompt return of children and to exchange information relating to the whereabouts of a child and the identity of the person with whom the child is presumed to be.

Operation of the Conventions and the Regulation as between member states is reviewed centrally at regular intervals and the State, through my Department, is represented at those meetings. The latest initiative at EU level was a Seminar organised by the Belgian Presidency on 14th October to promote the concept of mediation where possible as an alternative to court proceedings to secure the return of a child.

The Deputy may also wish to note that, at my request, the Garda Síochána Inspectorate has assessed the need to establish a dedicated Missing Persons' Unit within an Garda Síochána. One of its main recommendations is that an emergency alert system for missing children, similar to the Amber Alert System in place in other countries, should be established.

I gave the go ahead for the implementation of this recommendation. An Garda Síochána is committed to its implementation, and they are currently exploring options to achieve the most appropriate structure to give effect to the recommendation, taking account of progress at international level in the development of alert systems for missing children.

Legislative Programme

Alan Shatter

Question:

63 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform when the Fines Act 2010 will be commenced. [39586/10]

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.

Data Protection

Noel Ahern

Question:

64 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will clarify the situation for the development of a mapping system by a company (details supplied); if there are guidelines agreed between the company and the Department; if copy of same can be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39588/10]

I wish to inform the Deputy that the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner has worked closely with Google to ensure that privacy concerns were addressed in advance of the launch date of their Street View technology.

In order to inform members of the public about the proposed mapping process, details of the movements of the company's camera cars were issued publicly and were available on a dedicated website. This was the first time such advance notification was provided anywhere in the world. While inevitably some images of people were captured as the camera-cars were driven on Irish streets, the company undertook to blur the faces of such people and also the number plates of any cars that may have been in the vicinity. This helped to eliminate most privacy concerns.

The Deputy might wish to note that anyone who considers that an image contains objectionable content raising concerns around privacy, inappropriate content or other matters has access to an easy to use facility, provided by Google, which will allow a person to request the removal of the image in question. Each image contains a link on the bottom left of the image window that allows a user to click through to a designated form in which the user can describe the problem under a range of headings and submit it for resolution. If the problem is not addressed in a prompt fashion, members of the public can then contact the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner with their concerns and that Office will ensure that the issue is resolved.

While the deployment of this leading edge technology has raised some concerns the many positive aspects of the technology should also be noted. For example, it is being used to showcase the beauty of Ireland to a global audience of potential visitors and to facilitate street level directions and views of useful facilities. Features of the technology are already being used by various Irish companies and agencies who have partnered with Google and it is likely that this trend will develop further over time. As one of the most open economies in the world the many benefits of such a technology for Ireland should not be underestimated in a world where individuals and companies increasingly use IT to access information prior to visiting destinations or making other important decisions.

Road Traffic Offences

Billy Timmins

Question:

65 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39611/10]

Billy Timmins

Question:

68 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding a fixed charge offence under the Road Traffic Act, if paid within 28 days of the notice the charge is €80 and for the subsequent 28 days it is €120; the number of fixed charge offence fines that were paid in 2009 and to date in 2010; the number that incurred late payment increase; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39627/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 65 and 68 together.

The issuing of fixed charge notices for relevant offences is a matter for An Garda Síochána.

Payment of a fixed charge is a discretionary option for the recipient of a fixed charge notice. The relevant road traffic legislation provides that, during the initial period of 28 days from the date of the notice, payment is accepted at the fixed charge. During the subsequent period of 28 days, payment is accepted at the fixed charge plus 50%. If no payment is made, the recipient is liable for prosecution for the offence alleged. The matter then proceeds to be dealt with by the courts.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the person referred to by the Deputy was detected exceeding the speed limit on 19 May, 2010. A fixed charge penalty notice was issued to the person on 27 May, 2010, and delivery was effected as provided for in legislation. The person entered into correspondence with the Garda Fixed Charge Processing Office and was advised to raise the matter with An Post. Payment was received in respect of the notice on 15 July, 2010.

I have requested the Garda authorities to provide the information on the payment of fixed charges requested by the Deputy. I will communicate further with the Deputy when the information is to hand.

Questions Nos. 66 and 67 answered with Question No. 52.
Question No. 68 answered with Question No. 65.

Passport Applications

Joe Costello

Question:

69 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the way Irish persons living abroad can have their passports renewed without having to present at a Garda station; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39514/10]

Whereas passport applicants resident in Ireland must have their passport witnessed by a member of An Garda Síochána, the procedure for passport applicants resident outside of the State differs.

Passport applicants resident outside of the State must have the certificate of identity section of the application form completed by a member of one of the listed professions detailed on the form. Acceptable witnesses, who are not related to the applicant, include Police Officer, Member of the Clergy, Medical Doctor, Lawyer, Bank Manager/Assistant Manager, Elected Public Representative, Notary Public/Commissioner for Oaths, Peace Commissioner, School Principal/Vice Principal and Accountant. The range of persons, who are acceptable for witnessing purposes, was drawn up on the basis of their community engagement and their capacity to be more likely to be in a position to positively confirm the identity of the applicant.

The witness is required to confirm that they are satisfied as to the identity of the applicant, to sign and stamp the application form and to sign the back of one of the photographs supplied.

The completed application form should be sent to the relevant Irish Embassy/Consulate, or in the case of Northern Ireland applications,through the local post office.

Jack Wall

Question:

70 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position regarding a passport application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Laois; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39562/10]

The Passports Act, 2008 requires that before issuing a passport to a person, the Minister for Foreign Affairs shall be satisfied that that 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 pre-requisite 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.

As the Passport Service does not have sufficient information in relation to this individual application, I have asked that they make contact directly with the Deputy to discuss the specifics of this case.

International Agreements

Michael Creed

Question:

71 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the strategic objectives of Irish foreign policy in the context of the emerging economies of the east including Singapore, China and India; the way this policy is compatible with our EU membership and close relations with the US; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39566/10]

Ireland's strategic foreign policy objectives include the development of close bilateral relations with Singapore, China and India and other high growth andemerging economies in Asia, across a wide spectrum of political, business, educational, media, cultural, social and other ties. The Asia Strategy, launched in 1999, created a cohesive framework for the development of these relationships with a number of partners in the Asia Pacific region. Singapore, China and India were all identified as priority countries under the Strategy which set out a series of challenging targets and objectives with a view to raising awareness of Ireland, increasing our political, trade and investment ties and enhancing business contacts.

During the first five years of the Strategy, there was a transformation of our relationship with countries in the region with a marked increase in high level political contacts and greater levels of trade. These developments helped durable political and business relationships to grow with all the countries concerned. The second phase of the Asia Strategy, from 2005 to 2009, aimed at deepening this coherent policy of engagement on political, social, cultural, economic and commercial levels.

The Strategy helped to intensify our relations with the region and it has been very successful in raising awareness of Ireland in Asia, developing strong and meaningful relations and increasing our trade. Building upon these achievements, the Government launched a new strategy, ‘Trading and Investing in a Smart Economy,' on 28 September. This is focused on increasing our exports to, and investment from, emerging high-growth markets as well as our key existing trading partners. Under the Strategy China, India and Singapore remain designated priority markets. A new Foreign Trade Council will oversee the implementation of the Strategy and my Department and its network of Embassies will play a key role in delivering its detailed targets.

Ireland's pursuits of its bilateral interests in Asia or other parts of the world are intrinsically compatible with Membership of the EU, which itself has extensive relations with countries of the Asia Pacific region. Ireland shapes, and contributes to, the development of these EU partnerships. EU membership is of fundamental importance to Ireland's national interests and shapes the context in which Irish foreign policy operates. Our experience of EU membership is a hugely positive one. Indeed, membership has allowed small countries like Ireland to extend our reach and has brought us into contact with countries and regions of the world that would not otherwise have been the case.

The Irish-U.S. relationship is also of enormous importance and benefit to Ireland. Our two countries enjoy close political, economic and cultural relations. Successive U.S. Presidents and their Administrations, and Ireland's many friends on Capitol Hill from both sides of the aisle, have made an enormous contribution to bringing peace and economic growth to this island. The Government attaches the highest importance to strengthening and developing this unique relationship. In March 2008 the Taoiseach commissioned a Strategic Review of the U.S. — Ireland relationship which would look at ways to re-energise and renew the relationship in order to reflect its changing nature. The Review entitled "Ireland and America: Challenges and Opportunities in a New Context" was published by the Taoiseach in March 2009 and the recommendations of the Review are currently being implemented.

In the context of the Government's drive for renewed and sustainable growth all of the relationships I have outlined are compatible with each other and indeed their further development across the broad range of our national interests is essential to our economic recovery. My Department and its Embassy network will continue to develop all of these relationships as part of a strategic approach to our foreign policy.

Human Rights Issues

Michael Creed

Question:

72 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs further to Parliamentary Question No. 205 of 20 October 2010, if he will provide full details of the contact of the Irish authorities in Thailand and Kuala Lumpur with a person (details supplied); if the honorary consul approached the Thai authorities with the person when the most recent contact with the person took place; if he has appointed an official to liaise with the Thai authorities and the person, in view of the suspected abduction of an eight year old Irish citizen since June 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39628/10]

Michael Creed

Question:

73 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs further to Parliamentary Question No 205 of 20 October 2010, if he will outline the procedure to be followed when an Irish citizen is abducted in a foreign territory; the level of support his Department offers families of the abducted; the communication that is customary between foreign authorities and the Department of Foreign Affairs in this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39629/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 72 and 73 together.

Where a child is abducted in a foreign country our overriding concern would be for the welfare of the child. Custody issues would be a matter for a court to decide and my Department has no role as to how a court in a foreign jurisdiction might decide on such issues. If a child is abducted within a foreign country, such as in the case referred to in P.Q. No.205, the Irish Mission (in this case the Honorary Consul) in that country supported by our accredited Embassy, can offer consular assistance to an Irish parent. This assistance usually involves giving general advice to the parent including providing a list of English speaking lawyers, as has been done in this case, and information about the general legal procedures and customs in the country where the child has been taken. We may also be able to help a parent make contact with the relevant local authorities and organizations. However, our Missions cannot conduct searches or provide financial assistance for search operations.

Once a lawyer has been appointed we would expect that the lawyer would maintain contact with the police and court authorities in relation to the return of the child to the parent, or at least making an order as to custody etc. While every case is different, depending on legal systems in the State, our Missions can and do maintain contact with the relevant Government agencies to ensure that the process is working in an appropriate manner and that the child is brought before a court for a decision on appropriate custody arrangements. Our contact with the relevant authorities ensures that they are aware of our continuing interest in the case.

In the case in question, the position is that, as the abduction happened within a country, the Hague Convention on Abducted Children does not apply as the Convention only deals with cases of inter-country abduction.

EU Enlargement

Michael Creed

Question:

74 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on whether EU enlargement to date has been a success; if there are any individual countries where he believes the capacity of the EU to assimilate has been less successful, in view of the scale of the Turkish land mass; his further view on the biggest challenges for the EU regarding the successful completion of Turkeys application for membership; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39636/10]

As a beneficiary of a past enlargement, and on the experience of more recent accessions, Ireland is broadly supportive of enlargement. The prospect of enlargement bolsters economic and political reform processes and helps to promote stability, security and prosperity in Europe. The process includes rigorous conditionality and must take into account the capacity of the EU to integrate new members. Enlargement has to be negotiated and, as in any negotiation, the eventual outcome and timeframe cannot be predicted.

The European Union enjoys a long and close relationship with Turkey. Accession negotiations were opened in 2005 and Ireland continues to make a constructive input to on-going negotiations.

The European Council affirmed in 2006 that the pace of enlargement must take into account the Union's capacity to absorb new members. With a population of 72 million and a landmass of some 300,000 square miles, the absorption of Turkey would represent a significant addition to the EU's population and size.

The EU's absorption capacity will therefore be a factor to be taken into account as the negotiations advance. It is worth noting as an historical fact that the Union, which originally comprised 6 members and a population of approximately 200 million, now numbers 27 and has a population of some 500 million. Adaptation to that expansion has been achieved, both institutionally and economically, and the Union has benefited from it. The pace of assimilation may have varied from case to case but overall it has been a successful process.

These factors shape Ireland's approach to Turkey's candidacy. There are, in addition, potential gains to the single market and to trade through the accession of a country of Turkey's size. The Union's reach and influence in the Middle East and Central Asia could be enhanced through Turkish accession.

However, there are some significant challenges ahead for Turkey in meeting the established criteria in a number of areas. One of these is acceptance of the terms of the Ankara Protocol where progress in the negotiations has been disappointingly slow.

Successive European Councils have highlighted 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. 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. We will do so again before the end of this year. An Intergovernmental Conference with Turkey at Ministerial level was held in June, where enlargement was reviewed.

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, I reiterated to Minister Davutoglu 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:

75 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason an application for mortgage interest supplement was refused in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Meath [39551/10]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that the person concerned has been refused mortgage interest supplement as, in the opinion of the HSE, he was not in a position to meet the repayments under the loan agreement at the time the mortgage agreement commenced. The HSE further advised that a formal decision letter will issue to the person concerned shortly.

Social Welfare Appeals

Mary O'Rourke

Question:

76 Deputy Mary O’Rourke asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will review the case of a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath who has been refused supplementary welfare allowance and child benefit because of the habitual residence clause [39471/10]

The supplementary welfare allowance scheme (SWA) is administered on behalf of the Department by the community welfare division of the Health Service Executive (HSE). Apart from a number of excluded categories, anyone in the State who satisfies a habitual residency condition (HRC) and a means test, has registered for employment, unless they have a physical or mental disability, and can prove unemployment may qualify for a weekly payment of SWA.

However, subject to the provisions of EU law which apply to EEA workers, SWA cannot at any time be viewed as a temporary or interim means of income support available independently of HRC, while an applicant awaits the outcome of either a decision — or an appeal against a decision — on a claim for a social welfare payment from the Department.

The HSE have advised that the person concerned applied for SWA in September 2010 but his application was refused as in the opinion of the HSE, the person concerned was deemed not to be habitually resident based on an assessment of his particular circumstances.

An appeal by the person concerned, against the decision to refuse his claim for SWA has been forwarded to the Appeals Office in the HSE. Every effort is being made to have this appeal determined as quickly as possible.

Departmental Schemes

Róisín Shortall

Question:

77 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social Protection the accumulative number of employees in each of the past five years availing of the part-time job incentive scheme and the number who joined the scheme in each of these years; the cost to the Exchequer in each of the years; the rationale for setting the qualifying criteria for a long-term unemployed person as 15 months unemployed instead of the usual 12 months unemployed; if there is a restriction on the number of participants any one employer may recruit under the scheme; if he will provide any data available to him on the assessment of the effectiveness of the scheme and to provide any data available to him on the average hourly wage or similar data on wage levels typically applying to participants in the scheme. [39519/10]

The part-time job incentive (PTJI) was introduced on a pilot basis in 1986 and extended nationwide in 1988. PTJI is a weekly in-work income supplement which provides an allowance for people who are in receipt of long-term unemployment assistance, of more than 390 days, and employed on a part-time basis for up to 24 hours per week, provided they continue to make efforts to find full-time work. The allowance is not taxable or subject to PRSI. There is no restriction on the number of participants an employer may recruit.

While the scheme remains open it should be noted that take-up of PTJI has generally been low. This is primarily due to the introduction and improvements in alternative, more favourable employment support measures over the years, including family income supplement. Family income supplement provides support where low-income employees with children who work more than 19 hours per week or 38 hours per fortnight receive an in-work income support. Accordingly, there have not been significant numbers of new entrants to the scheme in recent years.

All scheme participants were contacted in 2005 and advised of the existence of alternative supports. As many of these participants are over 55, it was decided to allow existing recipients to remain on the scheme, subject to scheme criteria.

Statistics on PTJI are recorded twice a year — at end of April and end of October.

At the end of April 2010 there were 158 recipients. Data on wage levels for recipients is not available.

The table below shows the expenditure and recipients of the scheme over the last five years.

Year

Recipients

Expenditure

€000

2009

173

1,445

2008

184

1,324

2007

210

1,320

2006

201

1,277

2005

218

1,298

Social Welfare Appeals

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

78 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will expedite an appeal against a decision not to award carer’s allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; if he will grant an early oral hearing; the reason for the delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39573/10]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeal from the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer who proposes to hold an oral hearing in this case. The person concerned will be informed when arrangements have been made.

There was a 46% increase in the number of appeals received by the Social Welfare Appeals Office in 2009 when compared to 2008, which in itself was 27% greater than the numbers received in 2007. There was an increase of a further 44% in the number of appeals received in the first eight months of 2010. These increases have caused delays in the processing of appeals. In order to be fair to all appellants, oral hearings are arranged in strict chronological order.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am assured by the Chief Appeals Officer that she is keeping current processes under continuous review with a view to achieving a more effective throughput of appeals, while ensuring that any progress does not conflict with due process in terms of the rights of appellants and adherence to the requirements of natural justice.

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

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

79 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will expedite an appeal against a decision not to award jobseeker's payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; if he will grant an early oral hearing; the reason for the delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39575/10]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 2 October 2010 together with the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal. The appeal will be referred in due course to an Appeals Officer who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing.

There was a 46% increase in the number of appeals received by the Social Welfare Appeals Office in 2009 when compared to 2008, which in itself was 27% greater than the numbers received in 2007. There was an increase of a further 44% in the number of appeals received in the first eight months of 2010. These increases have caused delays in the processing of appeals. In order to be fair to all appellants, oral hearings are arranged in strict chronological order.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am assured by the Chief Appeals Officer that she is keeping current processes under continuous review with a view to achieving a more effective throughput of appeals, while ensuring that any progress does not conflict with due process in terms of the rights of appellants and adherence to the requirements of natural justice.

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

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

80 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will expedite an appeal against a decision not to award one parent family payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; if he will grant an early oral hearing; the reason for the delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39576/10]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 1 October 2010. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Social Welfare Services on the grounds of appeal be sought. When received, the appeal in question will be referred to an Appeals Officer for consideration. As part of this consideration, the Appeals Officer will decide if an oral hearing is appropriate in this case.

There was a 46% increase in the number of appeals received by the Social Welfare Appeals Office in 2009 when compared to 2008, which in itself was 27% greater than the numbers received in 2007. There was an increase of a further 44% in the number of appeals received in the first eight months of 2010. These increases have caused delays in the processing of appeals.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am assured by the Chief Appeals Officer that she is keeping current processes under continuous review with a view to achieving a more effective throughput of appeals, while ensuring that any progress does not conflict with due process in terms of the rights of appellants and adherence to the requirements of natural justice.

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

Social Welfare Benefits

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

81 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason an application for mortgage interest supplement and supplementary welfare allowance was refused in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; if this decision can be appealed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39578/10]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that payment of mortgage interest supplement in this case has not been refused, the payment is currently suspended on the basis that the person concerned has not yet provided the Executive with the information it requested. The HSE will make a decision on this person's entitlement to mortgage interest supplement when the information requested has been provided.

The HSE has further advised that the person concerned has not made an application for a basic weekly supplementary welfare allowance payment. If the person concerned wishes to make an application for a basic supplementary welfare allowance he should contact the community welfare officer at this local health centre.

Departmental Schemes

Róisín Shortall

Question:

82 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social Protection the cost of the technical assistance and training scheme in each of the past five years with a breakdown by categories of expenditure; the number of beneficiaries covered in each of these years and will he provide any information he has on any reviews of the effectiveness of the scheme [39601/10]

The technical assistance and training scheme allows the Department of Social Protection to provide support to back to work enterprise allowance recipients who are engaging in self employment projects to enhance their chances of success to become independent of the social welfare system. This is a discretionary scheme and there is not an entitlement to the technical assistance and training scheme as of right. The fund can also be used to provide support to other social welfare customers who may require assistance in accessing the labour market or who are trying to establish an enterprise and need training or other supports.

The maximum amount of TAT available to an individual is €1,000 per annum. The customer must make a minimum contribution of 25% towards the total cost of equipment and where feasible towards the cost of other services.

The following table shows the annual expenditure on the scheme and number of beneficiaries from 2006 to end of September 2010 (ncl.)

Year

Amount

Number of Beneficiaries

2006

2,197,661

4,243

2007

3,016,797

5,276

2008

3,025,351

4,875

2009

3,521,245

6,716

2010

3,835,250 (to end of Sept)

8,854

Local Government Review

Michael McGrath

Question:

83 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans to implement the recommendation of the report of the independent local government efficiency review group to reduce payroll costs in local Government, including the reduction in the number of county and city managers by 30%, directors of service by at least 20%, senior and middle managers by 15% and staff working in corporate services, planning and roads; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39460/10]

The findings and recommendations in the Report of the independent Local Government Efficiency Review Group, published in mid July, are being considered by me and by Government in the appropriate policy and financial contexts.

As recommended in the Report, I propose to establish an implementation group with an independent chairperson to oversee implementation of relevant recommendations.

Legislative Programme

Jack Wall

Question:

84 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans regarding the content of a submission (details supplied); if the concerns raised can be addressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39492/10]

As indicated in the reply to Question Nos. 11 and 92 on 19 October 2010, a dedicated Cabinet Committee has been engaged in finalising the policy decisions for inclusion in the White Paper on Local Government, including future policy in relation to town government. I intend to publish the White Paper as soon as possible following completion of the Government's deliberations.

Dog Breeding Establishments

Máire Hoctor

Question:

85 Deputy Máire Hoctor asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when he will meet with the hunting and field sport organisations to consult with them regarding the regulations on the Dog Breeding Establishments Act (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39527/10]

The Dog Breeding Establishments Act was signed by the President on 21 July, 2010 following its passage through the Oireachtas. It is intended that the Act will commence in early 2011.

Prior to the commencement of the Act and in line with provisions contained therein (Section 15(4)), my Department intends to publish for public consultation draft guidelines in relation to the operation of dog breeding establishments and the compliance by operators of dog breeding establishments with the Act. My Department will shortly be writing to the relevant hunting and field sports organisations, Hunting Association of Ireland (HAI), Federation of Associations for Hunting and Conservation of the European Union (FACE) and Irish Hunting Clubs Association (IHCA), as well as other interested parties, in connection with this consultation.

Waste Management

Phil Hogan

Question:

86 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the tonnage of refuse derived fuel incinerated annually at a location (details supplied) in County Meath; his views on their plans to incinerate liquid recovered fuels derived from waste solvents from the pharmaceutical industry; if the range of sources of liquid recovered fuels requires their naming under the European waste catalogue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39592/10]

Phil Hogan

Question:

87 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on the use of refuse derived fuel at a location (details supplied) in County Meath and their plans to incinerate liquid recovered fuels; if the burning of both materials requires a waste incineration directive licence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39593/10]

Phil Hogan

Question:

88 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on the use of refuse derived fuel at a location (details supplied) in County Meath and the sites compatibility with the Minister’s draft statement of waste policy on mass burn incineration; if the company will be required to pay a levy on incineration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39594/10]

I propose to take Question Nos. 86 to 88, inclusive, together.

On 15 July 2010 I published a Draft Statement of Waste Policy for public consultation. This set out the various elements being considered as part of the development of a new national waste management policy for the coming decade and beyond by developing a resource-based and sustainable waste policy for Ireland.

The Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) process recovers all the high calorific materials from municipal solid waste through waste treatment systems, such as Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT), and then converts it into a fuel capable of replacing coal or other fossil fuels, including in cement kilns. It is one example of a process which can contribute to a resource management approach to waste and also create jobs, improve competitiveness, and enhance prosperity.

Under the Waste Management Acts, the landfill levy currently applies only to waste deposited at landfill. I have, however, published draft sections of a Bill — the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill — for public consultation. This Bill provides for the application of a volumetric levy to other waste facilities and any exclusions from such levies will be set out in Regulations made on foot of this proposed legislation. The facility referred to in the question operates under an Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) licence; decisions on IPPC licences are the responsibility of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The monitoring and enforcement of conditions attaching to IPPC licences are also a matter for the EPA. Under the Environmental Protection Agency Acts 1992 to 2007 , I am precluded from exercising any power or control in relation to the performance by the EPA of its licensing functions in specific cases.

Phil Hogan

Question:

89 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of incinerators in operation here including those at the pharmaceutical plants; the municipal waste plants and the cement plants and to relate these figures to the hierarchy specified under Article 4 of the Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39595/10]

My Department has no function in determining the number or location of any industrial or waste management facilities nationally.

The EPA is the national repository for waste management statistics and the most recent available information in respect of waste infrastructure can be found in the 2008 National Waste Report available on the EPA's website at www.epa.ie/downloads/pubs/waste/stats/.

Strategic Infrastructure Development

Phil Hogan

Question:

90 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he is satisfied with the effectiveness of the strategic infrastructure development strategy pursued by An Bord Pleanála and the level at which SID is set (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39600/10]

Phil Hogan

Question:

92 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the average number of weeks An Bord Pleanála takes to notify the applicant and planning authority on the decision on whether a strategic infrastructure development application can be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39615/10]

I propose to take Question Nos. 90 and 92 together.

In general, I am precluded, under section 30 of the Planning and Development Acts from exercising any power or control in relation to any individual planning application or appeal with which a planning authority or An Bord Pleanála is or may be concerned.

The strategic consent process under the Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act 2006, which became operational from 31 January 2007, is designed to provide a streamlined, single stage consent process based on rigorous assessment of projects, including their environmental impacts. All applications for strategic infrastructure are now assessed by the Strategic Infrastructure Division within An Bord Pleanála acting as a "one-stop shop" in respect of development consent for all major infrastructure, including major transport related projects such as airports and related ancillary works.

The pre-application consultation process between the prospective applicant and An Bord Pleanála is mandatory under the Act, and is designed to ensure that the subsequent application for consent is of a high standard, and that issues relating to proper planning and sustainable development and the effects on the environment are adequately addressed from the outset. There is no set time-limit for these consultations, each case is unique and applicants will engage in the process at different levels of preparedness. Some applicants will use the initial pre-application discussions to help inform their own thinking in relation to project development.

Following on from the pre-application consultation process, the Board formally determines whether the project is to be dealt with under the strategic infrastructure process. The Board has a statutory objective to make a decision on the formal application within 18 weeks beginning on the last day for making submissions or observations by the public. The information sought regarding the average number of weeks the Board takes to notify the applicant if a project is strategic is not held in my Department. However, I understand that details on pre-application submissions, applications and decisions on proposals under the Strategic Infrastructure Act are available on the website of An Bord Pleanála at www.pleanala.ie .

Rental Accommodation Scheme

Joe Carey

Question:

91 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans to reform the qualifying criteria for the rental accommodation scheme in order to address its inflexibility; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39603/10]

The Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) is designed to cater for the accommodation needs of persons in receipt of rent supplement who have a long-term housing need. It is a collaborative project between my Department, local authorities, the Department of Social Protection and the Health Service Executive.

In general a household must be in receipt of rent supplement for 18 months or more in order to qualify for RAS but housing authorities do, on occasion, accept households on to RAS where they have been less than 18 months on rent supplement. This occurs where there are exceptional circumstances and where a long term housing need can be demonstrated. In addition while in most housing authority areas there remains a significant cohort of households in receipt of rent supplement for longer than 18 months, there are a small number of authorities who have accommodated most of the 18 month cohort at this stage, and are now in consultation with the local Community Welfare Service to identify other rent supplement households that have a long term housing need and are suitable for transfer to the scheme.

It is considered, particularly in the current economic climate where rising unemployment is resulting in an increase in the numbers on rent supplement, that the 18 month threshold remains an appropriate juncture at which to review a household's ongoing need for housing. As the economy recovers, it is likely that many of these households will return to employment. In that context, the type of support provided through rent supplement, i.e. short term income support, is more appropriate to the needs of these households rather then pre-determining that the households have a long term housing need. Should some households find themselves with a long term housing need, they will be provided for under the normal 18 month rule.

Question No. 92 answered with Question No. 90.

Departmental Bodies

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

93 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the expenses claimed by each member of the Building Regulations Advisory Board in the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39623/10]

The following Table lists the expenses paid to members of the Building Regulations Advisory Body (BRAB) in respect of the years in question. All expenses are paid in accordance with Department of Finance guidelines on travel and subsistence.

BRAB member

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010 to date

Jack Callanan

0.00

0.00

736.48

610.69

4,187.68

Johnny McGettigan

0.00

946.38

4,917.22

1,552.62

0.00

Total

0.00

946.38

5,653.70

2,163.31

4,187.68

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

94 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the expenses claimed by each member of the Designated Area Appeals Advisory Board in the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39624/10]

The following Table lists the expenses paid to members and substitute members of the Designated Areas Appeals Advisory Board in respect of the years in question. All expenses are paid in accordance with Department of Finance guidelines on travel and subsistence.

Board Member

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010 to date

Sean Duignan

8,573.31

9,722.98

13,147.63

2,377.47

1,420.42

Ciana Campbell

1,299.07

John O’Connor

6,897.73

10,407.89

11,159.12

2,039.84

2,892.52

Ralph Sheppard

6,934.55

7,287.51

7,919.06

1,947.51

1,710.45

Martin Gavin

6,865.84

9,047.48

6,732.91

2,592.65

Mike Trewby

348.53

Chris Gavican

6,453.01

7,652.03

9,770.42

2,067.95

Patrick Crushell

899.09

104.21

636.16

Tom O’Dwyer

774.92

2,303.64

Sarah Malone

527.48

1,002.56

Barry Sullivan

379.41

527.31

Anja Murray

931.85

Padraig Joyce

936.47

Mary Toomey

489.58

Sean Malone

1,275.32

Des Crofton

375.87

111.72

Karin Dubsky

119.77

Local Authority Housing

Martin Ferris

Question:

95 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the reason the interest rate for local authority mortgage holders has been increased by 0.5% and if he will ensure that this decision is reversed in view of recent data showing that local authority mortgage holders are six times more likely than bank mortgage holders to be in arrears. [39630/10]

Martin Ferris

Question:

96 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the way he expects local authority mortgage holders to be able to pay the 0.5% mortgage interest rate increase in view of the fact that one in three are already in arrears; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39631/10]

Martin Ferris

Question:

97 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if the level of existing arrears is taken into consideration when a decision is made to increase the mortgage interest rate for local authority mortgage holders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39632/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 95 to 97, inclusive, together.

Interest rates charged to local authority borrowers are determined by the Board of the Housing Finance Agency (HFA). In determining these rates, the Board of the Agency gives careful consideration to the fluctuating relationship between the rates at which it can borrow and its lending rates. The HFA is required to operate on a break-even basis and continues to provide extremely good value to local authority customers. However, the unavoidable increases in the Agency's borrowing costs require the rate charged to local authority borrowers to increase by 0.5% as of 1 November 2010.

I am acutely conscious of the fact that a considerable number of local authority borrowers are already facing difficulties in meeting their mortgage payments. However, local authority borrowers have benefited from very significant easing of mortgage costs in recent months. The effective rate for local authority borrowers from 1 June 2009 has been 2.25% — a cumulative rate decrease since October 2008 of 3%. This has resulted in a differential of over 1% between the rate charged to local authority borrowers and the average variable rate available from private lending institutions. Even allowing for the increase of 0.5%, that differential will be around 0.6%.

Where any borrower, either from a local authority or from a private financial institution, is facing difficulties in meeting mortgage repayments, they should engage proactively and constructively with the lender to seek to achieve an agreed solution. The services of the Money Advice and Budgetary Service are also available to such borrowers and support is available through the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme.

In addition, I issued comprehensive guidance earlier this year based on the Regulators Code of Practice, to ensure that cases of local authority mortgage arrears are handled in a manner that is sympathetic to the needs of the particular household, while also protecting the position of the local authority concerned.

Alternative Energy Projects

Jack Wall

Question:

98 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the position regarding the national retrofit programme; the programme of works included under same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39463/10]

My Department has recently concluded a public consultation process which sets out the framework for the development of the new retrofit programme. The objective of the programme, which remains subject to funding decisions in light of wider budgetary considerations, is to deliver energy efficiency upgrades to one million domestic and non-domestic buildings. This will not only contribute significantly to the national energy efficiency target of 20% across the economy by 2020, but also stimulate investment in the energy efficiency market, creating employment in the energy and construction sectors.

Proposals were put forward in the consultation process for the focus of the programme to be electricity, building fabric, and heating and ventilation in the domestic, business and public sectors. Transport will be included as a fourth component in the business and public sectors subject to available funding, support will also be made available to encourage innovative solutions and industrial process change.

It is anticipated, subject to funding decisions in light of wider budgetary considerations, that the eligible measures currently available in the Home Energy Saving (HES) scheme and the Greener Homes Scheme (GHS), which include roof insulation, wall insulation, high efficiency boilers renewable heating systems and heating control upgrades, will be maintained and integrated into the retrofit programme.

Offshore Exploration

Michael Creed

Question:

99 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources further to Parliamentary Question No. 238 of 20 October 2010, if he will clarify the 40% return to the State as referred to in the reply; if this refers to the gross value of the mineral gas and petroleum deposit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39633/10]

The 40% return to the State referred to in my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 238 of 20th October 2010 refers to taxable profits. Ireland followed the lead of other countries such as the UK and Norway and moved away from a royalty based payments system to a tax based system in 1987. Under a tax based system the return to the State is linked directly to the profitability of the oil or gas field. Under a royalty system payments are linked to the volume of production and take no account of differences in development cost or actual profitability.

Grant Payments

John O'Mahony

Question:

100 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the number of persons in County Mayo who have been approved for REP scheme 4 and are waiting to receive their payments; when this payment will issue in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39455/10]

There are 2,897 payment applications from Co. Mayo in respect of the 2010 REPS4 scheme year.

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

John O'Mahony

Question:

101 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the number of persons in County Roscommon who have been approved for REP scheme 4 and are waiting to receive their payments; when this payment will issue in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39456/10]

There are 1,468 payment applications from Co. Roscommon in respect of the 2010 REPS4 scheme year.

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

John O'Mahony

Question:

102 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the number of persons in County Sligo who have been approved for REP scheme 4 and are waiting to receive their payments; when this payment will issue in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39457/10]

There are 954 payment applications from Co. Sligo in respect of the 2010 REPS4 scheme year. The EU Regulations governing REPS 4 and other area-based schemes provide that payments issue in two instalments. The first instalment of 75% may be paid once all administrative checks on all applications, as well as cross-checks against areas declared on Single Payment Scheme applications, have been completed. This process is under way and while my objective is to make all payments as soon as possible, the checks are likely to take several more weeks to complete. The balancing payment of 25% can issue once all on-the-spot inspections for the year have taken place. The programme of inspections is well advanced at this stage.

John O'Mahony

Question:

103 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the number of persons in County Galway who have been approved for REP scheme 4 and are waiting to receive their payments; when this payment will issue in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39458/10]

There are 2,926 payment applications from Co. Galway in respect of the 2010 REPS 4 scheme year. The EU Regulations governing REPS 4 and other area-based schemes provide that payments issue in two instalments. The first instalment of 75% may be paid once all administrative checks on all applications, as well as cross-checks against areas declared on Single Payment Scheme applications, have been completed. This process is under way and while my objective is to make all payments as soon as possible, the checks are likely to take several more weeks to complete. The balancing payment of 25% can issue once all on-the-spot inspections for the year have taken place. The programme of inspections is well advanced at this stage.

Pat Breen

Question:

104 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Clare will receive payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39481/10]

An application under the 2010 Single Payment Scheme/Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was received from the person named on 5 May 2010. While the advance payments under both Schemes have issued to the person, these have been based on those parcels cleared for payment at that stage. A number of parcels listed on the application required digitisation; immediately this process is complete, provided no errors are identified, the application will be further processed with a view to the payments due issuing shortly thereafter.

Sean Sherlock

Question:

105 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when payment will issue on an application for grant aid for organic farming under the REP scheme in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39513/10]

The Organic Farming Scheme application submitted by the above-named is currently being processed and a payment will issue shortly.

Ulick Burke

Question:

106 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Galway will receive their single farm payment and area aid grants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39533/10]

An application under the 2010 Single Payment Scheme/Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was received from the person named on 7 May 2010. Payments under the Single Payment Scheme commenced on 18 October, with an advance payment of 50% issuing in respect of those parcels cleared for payment at that stage. A number of parcels listed on the application required digitisation, immediately this process is complete, provided no errors are identified, payment due in respect of the Single Payment Scheme will issue to the person named.

Paul Kehoe

Question:

107 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason the full 50% single farm payment was not made to a person (details supplied); when they can expect to receive the outstanding payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39537/10]

An application under the 2010 Single Payment Scheme was received from the person named on 7 May 2010. Advance payments of 50% commenced issuing on 18 October in respect of those parcels cleared for payment at that stage. A number of parcels listed on the application required digitisation; immediately this process is complete, provided no errors are identified, the application will be further processed, with a view to the further payment due issuing shortly thereafter.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

108 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason a single farm payment has been reduced in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39540/10]

The person named submitted an application for consolidation of his entitlements under the 2010 Single payment scheme. The provisions governing the consolidation of entitlements provide that an applicant must declare a number of eligible hectares at least equalling 50% of the number of entitlements granted to him/her in 2005. In 2005 the number of entitlements granted to the person named was 44.04 standard entitlements.

The person named declared a total forage area of 18.91 hectares on the 2010 Single Payment application and the application for consolidation of entitlements was deemed unsuccessful as the eligible hectares declared are less than 50% of the entitlements originally granted to him. The person named has recently been notified of this decision and informed of his right to appeal the decision. He has also been notified of the alternative option of ceding a number of his entitlements to the National Reserve, which will allow him to meet the requirements under the 50% rule.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

109 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason a person (details supplied) in County Galway is in receipt of a reduced single farm payment in comparison with their payment last year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39541/10]

An application under the 2010 Single Payment Scheme/Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was received from the person named on 17 May 2010. Payments under the Single Payment Scheme commenced on 18 October, with an advance payment of 50% issuing in respect of those parcels cleared for payment at that stage. A number of parcels listed on the application required digitisation, immediately this process is complete, provided no errors are identified, payment due in respect of the Single Payment Scheme will issue to the person named.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

110 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason an area-based payment and a single farm payment have not been paid in respect of a person(details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39542/10]

An application was received on 5 February 2010 requesting the transfer of 23.51 Single Payment entitlements from the late father of the person named to the person named under the 2010 Single Payment Scheme. As the person named was not the legal owner of a herd-number, she was advised to contact her District Veterinary Office to request the transfer of the herd-number from her late father to herself. As the requested transfer of entitlements was by way of inheritance, the person named was also asked to supply the normal testamentary documentation in support of her claim. Following the transfer of the herd number and receipt of the testamentary documentation, the entitlements were transferred to the person named on 1 October 2010.

An application under the 2010 Single Payment Scheme/Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was received from the person named on 17 May 2010. The Single Payment Scheme/Disadvantaged Areas for the person named has been fully processed and payment will issue shortly.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

111 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason a forestry premium has not been granted in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39543/10]

I understand that an application for Afforestation grant aid is currently being processed. The person in question has recently been written to by the Forest Service of my Department setting out certain remedial works which need to be undertaken before payment can be processed. On notification that the remedial work has been completed processing of the payment can go ahead.

Niall Collins

Question:

112 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Agriculture; Fisheries and Food when a single farm payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39547/10]

An application under the 2010 Single Payment Scheme/Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was received from the person named on 17 May 2010. While the advance payments under both Schemes have issued to the person, these have been based on those parcels cleared for payment at that stage. A number of parcels listed on the application required digitisation; immediately this process is complete, provided no errors are identified, the application will be further processed with a view to the payments due issuing shortly thereafter.

Tom Hayes

Question:

113 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Agriculture; Fisheries and Food when payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary in respect of single farm payment scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39552/10]

An application under the 2010 Single Payment Scheme was received from the person named on 17 May 2010. Advance payments of 50% commenced issuing on 18 October in respect of those parcels cleared for payment at that stage. A number of parcels listed on the application of the person named required digitisation; immediately this process is complete, provided no errors are identified, the application will be further processed, with a view to the further payment due issuing shortly thereafter.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

114 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture; Fisheries and Food the reason a person (details supplied) in County Galway has not been paid their full REP scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39571/10]

My Department wrote to the person named regarding the imposition of a penalty on his REPS 3 payment on 12 October 2010. The person named has submitted an appeal. My officials are examining the appeal and will be in touch with him shortly.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

115 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture; Fisheries and Food the reason a person (details supplied) in County Galway has not received their REP scheme 4 payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39580/10]

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

Legislative Programme

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

116 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Agriculture; Fisheries and Food the position regarding the Animal Health and Welfare Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39581/10]

Preparation of the Animal Health and Welfare Bill, which gives effect to commitments in the Programme for Government and the Renewed Programme for Government on issues relating to animal health and welfare, is ongoing in my Department. The new Bill will consolidate and update a wide range of existing legislation to ensure that the welfare of all animals, including non-farm animals, is properly protected and that the penalties for offenders are increased significantly. The consolidation of legislation into a single statute will provide considerably more convenience to all those who deal with or have an interest in animal health and welfare matters. I propose to submit the proposed heads of this Bill to the Government at an early date.

Grant Payments

Michael Creed

Question:

117 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture; Fisheries and Food the position regarding an outstanding grant under the farm waste management scheme in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39607/10]

The person concerned is an applicant under the Farm Waste Management Scheme. An appeal in connection with the application has been made to the Agriculture Appeals Office. No decision has yet been made in relation to the appeal by that Office.

John Perry

Question:

118 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Agriculture; Fisheries and Food the position regarding overpayments to a person (details supplied) in County Sligo; if the overpayments will be waived; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39609/10]

I have had arrangements made for an official of my Department make direct contact with the person named regarding this matter.

Milk Quota

John Perry

Question:

119 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Agriculture; Fisheries and Food if a person (details supplied) in County Sligo will be allowed to retain their milk quota as due to extenuating circumstances they were unable to keep up their supply of milk; if these circumstances will be taken into account; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39610/10]

Where there are no deliveries made against a milk quota during two consecutive milk quota years (1 April to 31 March) the milk quota reverts to the national reserve with effect from the 1 April in the third year, except in cases where there was an exceptional reason temporarily affecting production capacity. The quota holder concerned was sent a letter on 9 August 2010 giving him the opportunity to provide details of any such exceptional circumstances along with supporting documentation, but no response has been received to date. In order for the Department to consider the retention of this quota, the relevant documentation should be forwarded immediately to Meat and Milk Policy Division, Grattan House, Grattan Business Park, Portlaoise.

Grant Payments

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

120 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Agriculture; Fisheries and Food when payment of single farm payment will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39617/10]

An application under the Single Payment Scheme/Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was received from the person named on the 17 May 2010. This application was selected for and was the subject of a ground eligibility inspection and a full cross compliance inspection. While all of the cases selected for ground eligibility inspection have now been inspected and a high level of payment has been achieved under the schemes, processing of a small number of inspection results is currently underway following which payment will issue. In this case payment under the Single Payment Scheme/Disadvantaged Areas Scheme will issue shortly.

Departmental Agencies

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

121 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Agriculture; Fisheries and Food the total budget of the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority in each of the years 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010; the number of staff designated to the Authority in each of those years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39625/10]

The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) was established on 01 January, 2007 under the aegis of the Department of Communications, Marine and natural Resources and came under the aegis of my Department in late 2007. The following is a table of the total budget allocations made to the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority in the years 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 together with the number of staff designated to the Authority in each of those years.

SFPA

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

Annual Budget

Established Jan 2007

€10.954m (€5.983m DCMNR, €4.971m DAFF)

€13.296m (spend)

€10.853m (spend)

€11.324m (allocation)

Staff Number as at 01 January

N/A

N/A

89

105

100

Departmental Bodies

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

122 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the expenses claimed by each board member of the Aquaculture Licences Appeals Board in the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39626/10]

The Aquaculture Licences Appeals Board is an independent statutory body and hence the internal financial management is a matter for the Board, in which the Minister does not have a role. However, the Department has forwarded the request to the ALAB for its consideration and for a direct reply to the Deputy.

Redundancy Payments

John Perry

Question:

123 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the reason a redundancy application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Sligo has not been processed to date; the current status of the application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39511/10]

My Department administers the Social Insurance Fund (SIF) in relation to redundancy matters on behalf of the Department of Social Protection. There are two types of payment made from the SIF — rebates to those employers who have paid statutory redundancy to eligible employees, and statutory lump sums to employees whose employers are insolvent and/or in receivership/liquidation. I can confirm that my Department received a statutory redundancy lump sum claim on 24 September, 2010 in respect of the above individual. This claim awaits processing.

In respect of lump sum payments paid directly to employees in instances where employers are unable to pay the statutory redundancy entitlements, the current processing time for these claims has improved and claims dating from April 2010 are currently being processed. Of course in some instances, where the necessary supporting documentation for lump sum claims is not provided to my Department, or where queries arise, processing of claims can be further delayed until the required documentation is provided and/or outstanding queries are resolved.

My Department continues to make every effort to reduce processing times. Measures already taken in the Department to alleviate the pressures on the Payments area include:

Almost doubling the number of staff working solely on redundancy payment claims through reassignment to a current level of 52 full time equivalents;

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

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

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

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

The backlog and waiting times remain at unacceptable levels. However, improvements are evident. In 2009, my Department processed 50,664 claims, up 70% on the previous year. Furthermore, the level of new claims processed in the first nine months of 2010 was 58,202 — up over 81% on the corresponding 9-month period in 2009 (32,127) and surpassing the total amount of claims processed for the full year 2009 which came to 50,644. The backlog of claims is decreasing — reducing from its highest level in November 2009 of 43,608 to a current level of 29,776.

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

Employment Support Services

Pat Breen

Question:

124 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the reason a person (details supplied) in County Clare has not been facilitated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39521/10]

Following the transfer of responsibility for FÁS with effect from 1st May 2010 this is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Education and Skills.

Job Protection

Pat Breen

Question:

125 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation his efforts and State agencies under the remit of his Department to sustain jobs in the Shannon Industrial Estate in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39597/10]

Shannon Development is the State agency which has the mandate for the support and establishment of both foreign and Irish owned enterprises in the Shannon Free Zone Industrial Estate, Co Clare. Shannon Development is also responsible for the management and development of the Shannon Free Zone Industrial Estate. This includes the provision of property solutions to accommodate the FDI and indigenous sectors. Shannon Development main sector promotion strategy is focused on promoting the following:

Aerospace,

Financial & International Services e.g. asset financing / leasing / insurance / data processing etc

Medical Technology/Life Sciences,

Logistics,

Digital Media.

I am informed by Shannon Development that in respect of the Shannon Free Zone Industrial Estate there are approximately 100 enterprises established with 75% of those enterprises of foreign parentage. Shannon Development is working intensively with local management to:

Secure the existing employment in companies;

Attracting incremental growth of operations through the effective delivery of State Aid support including Regional State Aids such as Employment & Capital Incentive Schemes, Training & Up-Skilling Programmes and also Research and Development & Innovation which are specifically geared towards generation of new activities and/or enhancement of existing product lines;

Help address some of the immediate challenges facing the Shannon Free Zone Industrial Estate business community during the year. Shannon Development assisted 18 companies at Shannon Free Zone to secure €2.1 million support through the Government Employment Subsidy Scheme (Temporary). As a result these companies have committed to maintaining 1,850 jobs.

It should be noted that the Shannon Free Zone Industrial Estate remains one of the largest business parks in the country providing over 6,000 jobs. My Department and the development agencies under its remit, Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, City and County Enterprise Boards and in particular, Shannon Development, are all committed to the economic and industrial development of Co. Clare, including the Shannon Free Zone, in line with national enterprise policy goals, and the achievement of balanced regional development. To achieve these aims Shannon Development networks with existing client companies and also promotes the Shannon Free Zone Industrial Estate at leading US & European Trade promotions. Shannon Development works closely with national development agencies i.e. IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland, in pursuit of these activities. Shannon Development will continue to do everything in its power to meet and respond effectively to the challenge of sustaining employment in the Shannon Free Zone Industrial Estate.

Questions Nos. 126 to 137, inclusive, postponed.

Defence Forces Personnel

David Stanton

Question:

138 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Defence if he will list by rank and corps the number of personnel in the Permanent Defence Forces who have successfully completed courses that make them eligible for promotion and who are currently awaiting promotion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39474/10]

The number of Permanent Defence Force personnel who have successfully completed career courses which make them qualified for promotion to higher rank is outlined in the following tabular statement.

Number of PDF personnel who have successfully completed career courses which make them qualified for promotion to higher rank

Course

Junior Command & Stafff

Command & Staff

Potential NCO

Standard NCO

LOGS Accountancy

Senior NCO

Qualified for Promotion From/to

Capt to Comdt

Comdt to Lt Col

Pte to Cpl

Cpl to Sgt

Cpl/Sgt to CQMS

Sgt to CS

Army

139

136

225

215

92

145

Naval Service

12

44

51

19

41

Air Corps

5

13

53

33

10

10

Total

144

161

322

299

121

196

It should be stated that while personnel may have successfully completed a career course this in itself does not make them eligible for immediate promotion. For instance, promotion to the rank of Corporal is dependent on existing vacancies and is the prerogative of Formation Commanders. In the case of promotion to all other ranks, promotion is dependent on existing vacancies being filled by promotion competition. Qualified candidates must therefore make themselves available for interview in order to be eligible for consideration for promotion.

Notwithstanding the current Moratorium on Recruitment and Promotions in the Public Service, the Minister for Finance approved an allocation of 50 promotions for the Permanent Defence Force last November. These promotions were approved to address priority operational and command requirements of the Permanent Defence Force. The tabular statement below sets out details of the personnel who, having completed the relevant career courses qualifying them for promotion to higher rank, participated in promotion competitions prior to the Moratorium on Recruitment and Promotion, and who currently remain on panels awaiting promotion.

Awaiting Promotion From

Capt to Comdt

Comdt to Lt Col

Cpl to Sgt

Army

50

2

3

Naval Service

1

Air Corps

4

Total

50

2

8

Defence Forces Property

David Stanton

Question:

139 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Defence the location and annual cost of any properties rented by his Department for use by his Department or by the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39475/10]

I refer the Deputy to Question No. 569 of 27 October, 2010, which details the information sought. There are no properties rented by the Department for use as office space.

David Stanton

Question:

140 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Defence the cost of any security provider on property under the remit of his Department, other than that provided by military personnel in 2009 and to date in 2010; the details of any such properties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39476/10]

My Department does not employ any private security firm to secure barracks occupied by the Defence Forces. However, private firms have, on occasion, been used to secure property that has been vacated by the Military. The cost incurred in 2009 was €23,123.43 and to date in 2010 is €2,399.72.

Departmental Staff

David Stanton

Question:

141 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Defence the number of civilian employees working with the Defence Forces under directly military management; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39477/10]

There are currently a total of 731 civilian employees, comprising a wide variety of grades, reporting directly to military management. The employees, engaged under the provisions of the Defence Act 1954, are based at military locations around the country. The majority of these employees are made up of the craft, general operative and related grades involved mainly in the maintenance of military installations. The remaining civilian employees are mostly involved in clerical and storekeeping duties for the Defence Forces and also include aircraft inspectors and various technical grades. The total number of civilian employees has declined significantly in recent years and it is likely that this trend will continue over the next few years.