Written Answers.

The following are questions tabled by Members for written response and the ministerial replies as received on the day from the Departments [unrevised].
Questions Nos. 1 to 10, inclusive, answered orally.

Health Service Funding

Joe McHugh

Question:

11 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the deficit in Health Service Executive west; the action being taken to address this deficit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41960/10]

Michael Noonan

Question:

16 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the scale of the budget deficit in health in the four Health Service Executive areas; the action being taken to address the deficit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41965/10]

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

28 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Health and Children the estimated deficit in the Health Service Executive west; if progress has been made in collecting outstanding debts from health insurers to HSE west; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41878/10]

I propose to take Question Nos. 11, 16 and 28 together.

The Revised Estimates for 2010 allocated €14.6 billion for the HSE. Government expenditure for 2010 was determined in the context of very challenging economic circumstances. At the end of September the HSE is reporting a deficit of €102m in the hospital sector along with a €27m deficit in community services. This is an improvement on the end August figures. The results for the individual regions at the end of September are being provided in tabular form to the House. These are interim figures which are still subject to validation. The HSE is also forecasting lower than expected expenditure in areas such as demand led schemes, H1N1 vaccination costs and some national programmes.

The actions being taken by the HSE in all regions are focused on

protecting front-line services and in particular emergency services;

maintaining the quality and safety of services; and

delivering to service plan targets.

The principal measures being employed involve:

reducing pay and non-pay costs;

controlling absenteeism;

redeployment of corporate/support staff to frontline roles;

implementing measures to ensure that hospital care is delivered as efficiently as possible;

improved bed utilisation and discharge planning; and

procurement initiatives.

The HSE is driving efficiency in the acute hospital system by increasing the proportion of surgery undertaken on a day basis, increasing the admission of inpatients on their day of surgery and reducing length of hospital stay consistent with patients' clinical needs. Overall, activity in the acute hospitals is ahead of the Service Plan targets and measures have to be taken to bring elective activity back to target levels where this is necessary to address the projected deficit.

Measures are underway to expedite the collection of private patient income and targets have been set for hospitals in this regard. The receipt of this income will contribute to tackling the projected deficit. The HSE has put the following specific measures in place to increase the cash collection to the end of 2010:

Set specific targets for each acute hospital for increased submission of private insurance claims for the final 3 months of 2010. Weekly monitoring of progress to year end in this regard is being undertaken.

Following up private insurance claims which have been submitted but not yet settled. Any outstanding queries in relation to such claims are being addressed as a matter of urgency.

Prioritise backlogs of outstanding claims that are awaiting submission.

Specifically in the HSE Western Region, the latest indications are that it has reduced its projected end year deficit from €130 million at the end of March to €40m at the end of September. In order to address the remaining excess, the HSE West needs to achieve further reductions of €10-€12 million a month for the rest of the year.

Notwithstanding the difficult financial environment, the Government is determined to do everything possible to protect patient services, to respond to priority demographic and other needs and to support ongoing reform of the public health services within the resources available for health. To achieve this, staff at all levels will have to work together to deliver services in a more flexible way. Without that co-operation and flexibility, services to patients cannot be protected. It is not just for HSE management to protect services: there is a responsibility on everyone involved to deliver services within budget in new ways that will better serve patient needs in accordance with international practice.

Hospital Accommodation

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

12 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the procedures now being put in place to cater for unforeseen demand for hospital beds, accident and emergency or other hospital based facilities or services that might arise throughout the winter months with a view to eliminating waiting lists; if any particular strategy is likely to be employed in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41897/10]

The HSE continues to focus on a system wide approach to improving access to hospital.

Each day, approximately 30% of the people who visit an Emergency Department will require an admission into hospital. However, it is equally important to note that the majority of patients do not require admission to the hospital as a result of their visit. Of this group, 94% are seen, treated and discharged within 6 hours. This means that the vast majority of Emergency Department attendees are processed and discharged within a reasonable time.

As regards waiting lists for elective care the median wait time for a procedure is now 2.6 months, compared to 3.5 months in 2007. For 19 of the 20 most common adult surgical operations, patients are treated within two to five months. Children also receive treatment for the ten most common surgical procedures within two to five months. There has been a fall in the number of people waiting for surgical procedures from 7.4 per 1,000 population in 2002 to 3.7 per 1,000 in 2009. Improving access to hospital services requires a wider healthcare approach. In recognition of this the HSE has undertaken a number of initiatives.

These initiatives include the Winter Initiative Programme, the Code of Practice for Integrated Discharge Planning and actions to reduce the number of delayed discharges, including the introduction of the "Fair Deal".

Other innovations undertaken by the HSE include the development of Emergency Care Networks and regionally governed services such as Acute Medical and Surgical Assessment Units, Rapid Access Clinics and Minor Injury Units.

Another important initiative has been the establishment of Community Intervention Teams (CITs) which provide follow-up care for medical patients in their own home, allowing the patient to return home from hospital at the earliest opportunity.

I have asked the HSE to ensure that patients attending Emergency Departments are seen as quickly as possible, and the HSE is committed to bringing this about.

Hospital Staff

Simon Coveney

Question:

13 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason St. Vincent’s Hospital has more radiologists than Tallaght hospital, in view of the fact that Tallaght hospital conducts twice the amount of X-rays; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41928/10]

It is important to use caution when comparing staffing levels of hospitals. Different criteria must also be considered in making any such comparisons, including the catchment area served, the population and number of patients attending and the availability of other radiological services to patients locally.

There are currently 5.54 adult consultant radiologists and 2 paediatric consultant radiologists at Tallaght Hospital. An additional 2 locum consultant radiologists were appointed to the hospital in January 2010 to assist in dealing with the backlog of X-rays. The backlog has been cleared and currently there are 0.54 locums in post at the hospital. However, on 7 September 2010 the HSE issued formal approval to Tallaght Hospital to appoint two new consultant radiologists. This is in line with the recommendations of the Hayes Report. Interviews are expected to take place next month and the two successful candidates will take up duty as soon as possible in 2011.

The Hayes Report recommended that consultant radiologist staffing levels should be reviewed to ensure they are appropriate to the work load in each radiology department. The HSE is committed to carrying out a review of consultant radiologist staffing levels in hospitals and to strengthening workforce planning across all radiology departments. The review will be informed by the results of a survey of consultant radiologist staffing which is currently being undertaken by the Faculty of Radiology. The aim is to complete this study by the end of the year.

The HSE is committed to implementing the recommendations of the Hayes report as soon as possible. I am confident that adopting this approach will help ensure the provision of a timely and quality radiology service in Tallaght Hospital.

Health Service Expenditure

Michael Noonan

Question:

14 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Minister for Health and Children the way the capital budget for health has been reduced under the revised capital programme 2010 to 2016; the planned projects that will be delivered within the next six years; the planned project that will not now be delivered within the next six years; if she will publish a full list of capital projects and the revised timeframes for delivery; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41966/10]

The Public Capital Programme 2010-2016 announced by Government in July provides a total of €2,891 million over the period 2010 -2016 for the Health Group of Votes. This represents an increase of approximately €35m on the previous capital envelope for the period to 2013. It also confirms that the annual capital funding allocation of €400m for health will continue to 2016.

The Health Service Executive's current capital plan covers the five year period 2010-2014. The HSE has published on its website details of the projects which it intends to deliver within this plan. The HSE will submit its updated capital programme for the next rolling five year period, 2011-2015, to me before the end of this year.

The Executive, in conjunction with my Department, is also exploring alternative means of financing improved health infrastructure. Options include leasing arrangements and the reinvestment of the sale proceeds of asset disposals.

With regard to my Department's Vote, capital funding will continue to be provided for health research through the Health Research Board. This funding will include support for the joint delivery with the Wellcome Trust and others of clinical research facilities at St. James's Hospital and Galway University Hospital. Capital funding will also be provided to support the requirements of directly funded agencies under the aegis of my Department.

In relation to the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, there has been considerable investment in childcare places in recent years primarily through the capital grant aiding of construction and refurbishment of childcare facilities. This investment has greatly improved the availability and quality of childcare options. Capital funding will continue to be provided to meet existing capital commitments including those under the Young People's Facilities and Services Fund.

Vaccination Programme

James Bannon

Question:

15 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children with regard to the roll-out of HPV cervical cancer vaccination programme for first year girls in secondary school as at May 2010, the total number of girls eligible for vaccination within this group; the total number of girls who received the first dose of the vaccine; the total number of girls who received the second dose of the vaccine; the total number of girls who received the third dose of the vaccine; if she will provide details on overall uptake of the vaccine; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41911/10]

The HPV vaccination programme commenced in twenty one secondary schools in May 2010. The vaccination schedule requires that three doses of the vaccine be provided at intervals over a period of six months. From this initial phase 1,581 first year girls were eligible for the free vaccination of which 1,299 received the vaccine. This gives an uptake rate of 82% for the first dose. In July, of those 1,299 girls due a second dose of the vaccine 1,036 received it or 80%. Those girls who were unable to receive their second dose of vaccine in July were offered this when the schools programme continued in September. The third dose is being given this month, as per the vaccination schedule to those girls who received the second dose.

The second and main phase of the HPV vaccination programme has been underway in 575 schools since September. HPV vaccine has been offered to approximately 58,000 girls, covering those in second year and those who entered first year this year. All 32 local health areas have completed the first dose of HPV vaccinations in all 575 secondary schools. Preliminary figures show that 46,783 girls have received HPV vaccine since September. This provides an uptake rate of over 80%.

The HSE is also making arrangements to offer appointments for those girls who were unable to be vaccinated at the initial school visit due to being absent, unwell or did not have the consent form completed, to attend clinics in local HSE health centres.

The programme will continue annually with vaccine being offered to all girls in first year in secondary school each year.

Question No. 16 answered with Question No. 11.

Health Service Expenditure

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

17 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the extent of savings which she recently claimed needed to be made in the health budget. [41899/10]

The level of funding available for the health budget and the extent of the savings required in the health sector is being considered as part of the Estimates and budgetary process for 2011 which is currently underway. Deliberations by the Government on the expenditure allocations for next year are likely to continue up until Budget time and it would not be appropriate for me to comment further at this stage pending the outcome of those deliberations. The very difficult financial position facing the Exchequer will obviously require very careful management across all areas of expenditure.

Health Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

18 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children in view of her assertion that she is no longer obliged to account to Dáil Éireann for the day to day running affairs and costs of the Health Service Executive and having particular regard to the high dependency of the population on the services provided throughout the health sector, her views on whether the HSE as a structure is capable of delivering a quality health service and if she will therefore take responsibility back and put in place structures that are transparent, accountable and workable; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41898/10]

The Health Act 2004 provided for the establishment of the Health Service Executive with its own Vote and Accounting Officer with effect from 1 January 2005. The HSE is providing thousands of services to young and old, in hospitals, health facilities and in communities across the country. These services range from public health nurses treating older people in the community to caring for children with challenging behaviour; from educating people how to live healthier lives, to performing highly-complex surgery; from planning for major emergencies, to controlling the spread of infectious diseases. The establishment of the HSE represented the beginning of the largest programme of change ever undertaken in the Irish public service. Prior to this our health care services were delivered through a range of different independent agencies. It was a complex structure that made it difficult to provide nationally consistent health services. The decision of the Government to replace all these agencies with the HSE signalled the start of a new era in Irish health care. Responsibility for day to day operational issues is a matter for the HSE, as provided for in the Health Act 2004. This was also the situation in the case of the former health boards.

Health Service Expenditure

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

19 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if an evaluation of the use of taxis by the Health Service Executive has been undertaken; if she has taken a role in addressing this issue in order to ensure value for money; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41888/10]

The HSE uses taxis where it deems this appropriate to help clients, sometimes with accompanying staff, to access health and personal social services. This enables HSE ambulance vehicles and their staff to be used for emergency or other front-line duties. It is also more cost effective than purchasing and operating a fleet of HSE owned vehicles.

My Department has asked the HSE to develop a new set of rules in relation to non-emergency patient transport, in order to ensure a consistent national approach to this issue. In addition the HSE has developed a strategy for the procurement of taxi services which is already being used in the former Eastern Region, with significant financial and quality benefits. The Executive reports that it achieved a reduction of 7% last year in overall patient transport costs in 2009 and that further cost reductions are being achieved this year.

Quality of service and patient safety are very important considerations affecting the HSE's use of contracted transport services, such as taxi services.

Health Service Staff

Terence Flanagan

Question:

20 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children the total cost of absenteeism to the Health Service Executive; the way the health service absenteeism compares to private sector absenteeism; the estimated rates for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41944/10]

I am advised that overall absenteeism levels in the public health service have reduced from 5.76% in 2008 to 5.03% in 2009 and to 4.76% for the year to August.

The HSE has set absenteeism as a key results area (KRA) and effective attendance management is central to cost containment planning and people management throughout the sector. The HSE actively manages absenteeism on a local basis and has comprehensively monitored this indicator on a national basis since 2008. It is clear that these steps are delivering positive results. The HSE has set a national target of a 3.5% rate as the benchmark for all hospitals/agencies and functions across the health sector and staff categories. Latest data shows that many hospitals, local health offices and voluntary agencies are currently achieving this target or making progress towards it. High level data by year, by staff category and trends therein since 2008 are as follows:

Absenteeism through illness is a normal incidence of working life and an analysis of this data indicates that a substantial majority (in the order of 85%) is certified by medical practitioners. There is a comprehensive set of management tools and robust engagement on absenteeism with staff, with the objective of ensuring the necessary supports and interventions are available to reduce the impact of non-attendance to the delivery of services and to assist staff return to work in a timely and effective manner in both the interests of staff and services.

While it is not possible to accurately estimate the total cost of absenteeism to an organisation, the HSE estimates that the payroll costs of absenteeism is approaching €300 million, or almost €60 million for each 1% of absenteeism.

Neither my Department nor the HSE collates data in relation to absenteeism in the private sector.

Brian Hayes

Question:

21 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children the total spend on overtime in 2009; the estimated spend on overtime in 2010; if she plans to make savings in this area in 2011; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41945/10]

Overtime expenditure for the public health service in 2009 was approximately €310 million. Overtime expenditure in September 2010 (latest data) is approximately €23 million and cumulative year to date is approximately €211 million compared to €234 million to September 2009. If overtime to end year was maintained at September levels, total expenditure for 2010 would be approximately €279 million. The level of funding available for the health budget is being considered as part of the Estimates and budgetary process for 2011 which is currently underway. Deliberations by the Government on the expenditure allocations for next year are likely to continue up until Budget time and it would not be appropriate for me to comment further at this stage pending the outcome of those deliberations. However, the very difficult financial position facing the Exchequer will obviously require very careful management across all areas of expenditure and I believe there will have to be a particular focus on areas of non-core pay spending such as overtime.

In relation to my Department, due to careful management of overtime budgets during 2009 and 2010, a saving of approximately €200,000 will be made over the original allocations. The table sets out this information:

Allocation

Outturn

Saving

2009

300,000

203,000 (actual expenditure)

97,000

2010

300,000

200,000 (estimated expenditure)

100,000

Under the Public Service Agreement my Department has committed to examining existing shift patterns and overtime costs during 2011 with a view to providing future services at the best possible value to the taxpayer.

James Reilly

Question:

22 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the spend on agency staff in hospitals for each of the following years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and the estimated total spend during 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41975/10]

The information requested by the Deputy is currently being collated and will be forwarded as soon as it is available.

Mental Health Services

Sean Sherlock

Question:

23 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the initiatives in place to tackle depression and isolation amongst members of the farming community; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40655/10]

The Department of Health and Children, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the HSE, the Farm Animal Welfare Advisory Council, the National Service Users Executive and the Irish College of General Practitioners have developed a strategy for an interagency response to deal with human health/welfare issues among the farming community. Three pilot sites were identified — Counties Sligo, Mayo and Offaly — and links were fostered between the District Veterinary Offices, the HSE Local Health Managers and in Offaly, the Offaly Local Development Company. As a result of this work, a model of good practice has been agreed which will be used at regional level where the need arises to support farmers experiencing social or health related issues.

The HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP) supports a number of programmes and initiatives relating to suicide prevention within the farming and rural communities including the National Farm TV Mental Health Awareness Campaign, the Rural and Farm Stress Helpline and the Veterinary Assistance Programme. The ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) and SafeTalk training programmes have also been provided to key groups working and living in rural communities.

NOSP is taking the lead in relation to a wider programme of work with key stakeholders to address the issue of mental health and suicide within the farming sector. The aim of the programme is to identify mechanisms through which existing resources, programmes or new initiatives can be interlinked and intensified, and the first stakeholder meeting will be held in December 2010.

Health Service Staff

Noel Coonan

Question:

24 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of submissions of interest made to the Health Service Executive in relation to the voluntary redundancy programme to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41926/10]

Emmet Stagg

Question:

60 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the role she plays in ensuring that the scheme for redundancy and early retirement that she has announced does not leave gaps in crucial personnel to implement health policy decisions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41884/10]

Leo Varadkar

Question:

63 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason for the delay in implementing the Health Service Executive redundancy programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41984/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 24, 60 and 63 together.

On 1 November 2010 I announced that the Government has decided to approve a voluntary early retirement scheme and a voluntary redundancy scheme for certain categories of staff in the public health service.

The purpose of the schemes is to achieve a permanent reduction in the numbers employed in the public health sector from 2011 onwards and to facilitate health service reform. The Government has decided that funding of up to €400m will be made available in 2010 to fund the up-front costs of both schemes.

This is not the first initiative aimed at reducing numbers. The number of management and administrative staff, for example, has already fallen by over 1,000 since its peak in September 2007. The Incentivised Early Retirement Scheme, introduced by Government in May 2009, was also available to these grades although the uptake was affected by industrial action which resulted in the suspension of the scheme between June 2009 and February 2010.

The VER and VR schemes are open to management and administrative staff and general support staff but priority will be given to management and administrative grades. The exact grades covered by the two schemes are set out in detail in the relevant Circular (Circular 7/2010). There is general acceptance of the need to reduce the numbers of management and administrative staff in the health service. For that reason, all applications from management and administrative staff to avail of the schemes will be approved. Approval for applications from support staff will depend on the numbers of management and administrative staff who apply and the overall cap on costs not being breached. I am happy to say that there has been a very high level of interest in the new schemes. As of Wednesday 10 November there had been over 8,550 expressions of interest. However it is not possible to predict, as yet, to what extent the current level of inquiries will translate into actual applications ahead of the closing date of 19 November. The HSE already has a process in place to track and monitor applications around the country and across services which will allow it to identify areas where service gaps may emerge and to address them. The HSE and health service employers will be looking to the provisions of the Croke Park agreement to ensure they continue to deliver services with reduced numbers and I understand that an engagement with the relevant trade unions has already begun.

While the implementation of the schemes will challenge the health service over the coming months, I believe that it will lead to a more efficient health service in the long term.

Hospital Staff

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

25 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Health and Children when the two extra consultant radiologists for Tallaght hospital will be put in place; the way the total number of WTE consultant radiologists at the hospital compares to international best practice; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41930/10]

Since 2005 there has been a 34% national increase in the numbers of consultant radiologists, from 183 to 245. Ireland now has a ratio of 1 consultant radiologist per 17,959 population, which is similar to the UK at 1 per 18,040 per population.

There are currently 5.54 adult consultant radiologists and 2 paediatric consultant radiologists at Tallaght Hospital. An additional 2 locum consultant radiologists were appointed to the hospital in January 2010 to assist in dealing with the backlog of X-rays. The backlog has been cleared and currently there are 0.54 locums in post at the hospital. However, on 7 September 2010 the HSE issued formal approval to Tallaght Hospital to appoint two new consultant radiologists. This is in line with the recommendations of the Hayes Report. Interviews are expected to take place next month and the two successful candidates will take up duty as soon as possible in 2011.

The Hayes Report recommended that consultant radiologist staffing levels should be reviewed to ensure they are appropriate to the work load in each radiology department. The HSE is committed to carrying out a review of consultant radiologist staffing levels in hospitals and to strengthening workforce planning across all radiology departments. The review will be informed by the results of a survey of consultant radiologist staffing which is currently being undertaken by the Faculty of Radiology. The aim is to complete this study by the end of the year.

The HSE is committed to implementing the recommendations of the Hayes report as soon as possible. I am confident that adopting this approach will help ensure the provision of a timely and quality radiology service in Tallaght Hospital.

Hospitals Building Programme

Olwyn Enright

Question:

26 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the estimated cost of the new paediatric hospital; the funding to be provided by the State; the outstanding balance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41939/10]

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

46 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will review the proposed site for the national paediatric hospital and the funding for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41969/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 26 and 46 together.

The new National Paediatric Hospital is a priority for the Government. The capital spending on it will be protected over the full lifetime of the project. The total estimated cost of the development, including the Ambulatory and Urgent Care Centre at Tallaght, is €650 million. This is €100m less than a previous estimate because of the fall in building prices.

Of the total cost, €400m is committed by the Exchequer and is reflected in the HSE's capital plan this year. This will be increased to a figure of €450 million in the HSE's capital plan for 2011. €25 million has already been spent on the planning, design and support of the project since 2007. The balance will be met from philanthropic initiatives, estimated at €110 million, and from commercial and other sources of some €90 million. The commercial and other sources include a car park, commercial units, research funding, private clinics, universities and medical schools. One of the functions of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board is to pursue philanthropic sources of funding. It is working intensively on this issue.

The Development Board is making good progress in planning and developing the new hospital at the Mater site. It has formally asked An Bórd Pleanála for the project to be considered under the Strategic Infrastructure legislation, and had an initial meeting with An Bórd Pleanála on 5 November 2010. Subject to planning permission being granted, construction of the new hospital is scheduled to commence in the fourth quarter of 2011 with completion of construction scheduled for the end of 2014.

Richard Bruton

Question:

27 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children if construction on the proposed new hospital for Kenmare, County Kerry will begin in 2010; if this project has been included in the capital programme for 2010; the planned opening date for this hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41920/10]

The Health Service Executive's capital plan currently covers the five year period 2010-2014. The Executive has published on its website details of the projects, including Kenmare, which it intends to deliver within this plan.

The HSE is in receipt of the design/build tenders for the Kenmare Community Nursing Unit. The tenders have been evaluated and the preferred bidder has been appointed. A letter of intent to award the design/build contract for the facility has been issued to Glenbeigh Construction Ltd. It is anticipated that the planning permission will be lodged before year end and that construction will commence early in 2011. It is estimated that construction will take about 12 months.

Question No. 28 answered with Question No. 11.

Medical Aids and Appliances

John O'Mahony

Question:

29 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of children and adults waiting to have a hearing aid fitted; the average waiting time to have a hearing aid fitted; the cost of hearing aids provided through the Health Service Executive; the mark-up on same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41972/10]

There are 1,305 adults and 69 children waiting for hearing aids following assessment. The average waiting time for adults is currently 3 to 4 months and the average waiting time for children is approximately 6 weeks.

Hearing aids that are provided through HSE services to medical card holders are purchased via a central contract. The contracted cost of a hearing aid can range from €71 to €399 and the total cost of hearing aids in 2009 was just over €1.4m for adults and €0.3m for children. This does not include the cost of repairs, remakes, earmoulds or accessories which amounted to almost €0.2m. There is no charge levied on patients for hearing aids.

In June 2009, the HSE commissioned a National Review of Audiology Services. A key focus of this review is better integration of the various services provided by the HSE and external agencies involved in the provision of audiology services. The Review has examined the services currently being provided to children and adults nationwide to inform a national plan for the service. The Review Group expects to complete its report by year end.

Hospital Services

John Deasy

Question:

30 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide the date on which the Health Service Executive audit to establish if any other hospitals have experienced a backlog in X-ray reporting will be published; the number of X-rays that have been reviewed as part of this national audit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41933/10]

I have met with the HSE and have been briefed on ongoing work in relation to its national survey of X-Rays. The HSE has advised me that it intends to publish their findings when concluded and this is expected in the next few weeks. Approximately seven and a half million X-rays have been reviewed to date as part of the audit.

Vaccination Trials

Charles Flanagan

Question:

31 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children the action she will take and the action she has taken to date in respect of vaccine trials on children in State care during the 1960s and 1970s; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41893/10]

Vaccine trials carried out in children's homes were the subject of media reports and questions to Ministers during the 1990s. In view of this, the then Chief Medical Officer was asked to carry out a review of the information available in the Department on the issue. The "Report on 3 Clinical Trials involving babies and children in institutional settings 1960/61, 1970 and 1973" (the Kiely Report) was laid before the Dáil on 9th November 2000 by the Minister for Health and Children, Mr. Mícheál Martin T.D.

The Government decided that there should be further investigation of the matter and that the Commission to enquire into Child Abuse would be the most appropriate forum in which the investigation could be carried out. In these circumstances, the Commission was given additional functions under the Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse Act 2000 (Additional Functions) Order, 2001 (S.I. No. 280 of 2001) to inquire into—

(a) the 3 vaccine trials referred to in the Report of the Chief Medical Officer entitled "Report on Three Clinical Trials Involving Babies and Children in Institutional Settings 1960/1961, 1970 and 1973", and

(b) any other vaccine trial found by the Commission to have taken place in an institution between 1940 and 1987 based on an allegation by a person who was a child in that institution that he or she was the subject of such a vaccine trial.

The Vaccine Trials element of the Commission began its work by collecting information from a range of sources, including homes, pharmaceutical companies and the Department. A considerable amount of data was gathered.

The Commission commenced its investigation with the first trial which took place in 1960/61. In 2003, in the course of a judgment on an issue about compelling a witness to attend, the Supreme Court commented on the issue of the vires of the SI but did not rule as it was not put to the Court. (The implication of the comment was to the effect that the SI was ultra vires) The Chief Justice stated that "there is no indication in the report of the Chief Medical Officer which is recited as having led to the invocation by the Government of its powers under this provision, of any abuse of children within the meaning of the Act". This opened up the possibility of further challenges being taken. A subsequent Judicial review on the vires of the SI resulted in the High Court decision that the SI was ultra vires.

Having carefully considered both the Court judgments and the High Court decision I decided that no further investigation would be carried out. It is considered that it was very likely that any further investigation would experience similar difficulties to those encountered by the Commission.

Hospital Accommodation

Seymour Crawford

Question:

32 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on the situation which is now prevalent in both Cavan and Drogheda hospitals where patients, some of them a great age, have to wait on trolleys for days and some have to be brought home at night only to find themselves rejoining the end of the queue the next morning at a time when wards are lying empty in Monaghan, Dundalk and Navan hospitals; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42032/10]

I understand from the HSE that admitted patients awaiting allocation of an inpatient bed in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda (Drogheda) and Cavan General Hospital are not discharged home while they await a transfer to a bed. The discharge of a patient from hospital is a clinical decision which is made by a consultant or his or her medical team. The clinical condition and the age of patients is always taken into consideration by the hospital's bed management team in the allocation of available beds.

The most recent weekly report for ED activity shows that for the week ending 5th November, at 2pm each day, no patient was waiting in excess of 24 hours for admission following the decision to admit them at Drogheda, while Cavan reported an average of less than one on the same basis.

The HSE has identified a range of initiatives to maximise capacity and bed utilisation of the overall bed complement in both Drogheda and Cavan. Improving access to inpatient beds will help to minimise the length of time patients remain in the Emergency Department (ED).

In Drogheda measures are being taken to enhance the discharge and bed allocation processes and access to the recently established Medical Assessment Unit (MAU). The provision of additional bed capacity through ongoing capital projects such as the development of the permanent MAU facility and the provision of additional CCU and ICU beds as well as an increase in the provision of PCCC supports for ED attendances is planned.

The ED in Cavan has been refurbished resulting in expanded capacity. The Hospital is implementing measures to improve bed utilisation and designation, the management of patients through the ED, access to the MAU and the transfer of patients to Primary and Community Care Services.

Hospitals Building Programme

Enda Kenny

Question:

33 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children if a decision has been made on the location of the new central mental hospital; when this decision will be made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41951/10]

No decision has as yet been made in relation to the location of the new Central Mental Hospital (CMH); however an alternative site has been identified and preliminary discussions have taken place between the HSE and the planning authorities. The development of the new CMH remains a priority for the Government and the HSE has been asked to submit a business case for the project and to explore alternative funding options to deliver the new hospital.

Departmental Reports

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

34 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children when the Hayes report on radiological examinations and GP referrals will be published; when the report of the faculty of radiologists will be published; if the Health Service Executive audit hospitals protocols and practices with regard to radiology has been completed; if its findings will be published; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41880/10]

The Report of the Review of Radiology Reporting and the Management of GP referral letters at Tallaght Hospital was commissioned by the HSE. It was undertaken by Dr Maurice Hayes and launched and published by the HSE on 4th November 2010. A copy of the Report is available on the HSE website.

When the accumulation of the backlog of X-rays in Tallaght hospital became apparent the HSE took steps to ensure that there were no such problems in other hospitals. As part of this process the HSE engaged with the Faculty of Radiology to produce advice and guidance for the system based on risk assessment. The HSE also undertook a national audit of X-rays to identify if and where problems might exist in the wider health system. It is expected that the HSE will report on its findings in a matter of weeks.

The Faculty of Radiology also undertook, on its own initiative, to carry out a national workload and consultant manpower study in radiology departments. It is hoped that this study will be complete by the end of the year. The results of the study will be available to the HSE on completion.

Departmental Staff

Jack Wall

Question:

35 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to reduce the number of staff who work in her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41886/10]

At the end of October 2010, there were 430.70 whole time equivalents (WTE) employed in my Department. In addition, a further 46.65 WTEs were employed across a number of offices including the Adoption Board, the Office of the Ombudsman for Children, the Disability Appeals Office and the Health Repayment Scheme Appeals Office. This level of employment represents an overall decrease of 27% since 2003 and this has been achieved as a result of a number of developments including:

the establishment of the HSE & HIQA and the transfer of certain functions from the Department to these bodies;

the transfer of the General Register Office from the Department to the Department of Social Protection;

the Incentivised Scheme of Early Retirement;

the Incentivised Career Break Scheme; and

the moratorium on the filling of vacancies in the public service.

It should also be noted that my Department took on a number of additional responsibilities and functions during this period. Responsibility for Childcare schemes and youth affairs transferred into my Department and three agencies have been subsumed under the Government's rationalisation of agencies programme.

In line with the Employment Control Framework (ECF) setting out Government policy on numbers employed in the public service, my Department must further reduce its overall staffing complement to 450 by 2012. We will use all appropriate mechanisms such as re-organisation and re-allocation of work, including redeployment where necessary, to meet this target.

Health Insurance

Shane McEntee

Question:

36 Deputy Shane McEntee asked the Minister for Health and Children the total amount of money owed to the Health Service Executive by private health insurers at the end of 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41955/10]

Charges are levied for private patients availing of private and semi-private accommodation in public hospitals. In most, but not all, cases these charges are paid by private health insurance companies on behalf of their members. At the end of 2009 some €92.5 million in such charges was due to the HSE, and a further €82.6 million owed to the voluntary hospitals. Charges due include those billed to patients or their insurance companies where payment was not received by year end and bills which had not issued by year end. In total, €386 million income was collected by HSE and voluntary hospitals during the course of 2009. The average debtor period in HSE hospitals for such charges is 5.7 months, and the corresponding period in voluntary hospitals is 5.2 months. (This refers to the time from discharge to receipt of payment).

I consider that this collection period is unsatisfactory and in 2010 I set the HSE an enhanced income collection target for the year of €75 million. This target was to be achieved through improvements in the collection process and reduction in debtor days. The target for improved collection set for this year and the associated initiatives underway to achieve this include the voluntary hospitals. The industrial relations action by the health services staff in the early part of the year hindered action to achieve this target but a dedicated national project to accelerate income collection across all hospitals is now underway again. The HSE has set hospital level targets for income collection and appropriate budgetary sanctions are applied should the targets not be achieved. The HSE has put in place arrangements to speed up the payment of claims, including the electronic submission of claims and the submission of claims on a more frequent basis. The HSE and private health insurers have also agreed arrangements in a number of hospitals for sign off of claims by another consultant where delays are experienced in getting sign off of claims by the treating consultant. In addition, in order to comprehensively address issues of charging and collection in relation to this area the Department of Health and Children has undertaken a Value for Money and Policy Review of the Economic Cost and Charges Associated with Private and Semi-Private Treatment Services in Public Hospitals. The issue of private patient income collection is addressed as part of this Review. The Review will outline an example of best practice in relation to income collection and make a number of recommendations aimed at improving collection rates and debtors days. The review is currently being finalised and it is anticipated that the Review will be brought to Government shortly.

Mental Health Services

Mary Upton

Question:

37 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children when she expects to commence work on a national dementia strategy; when it is expected that the strategy will be completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41863/10]

Dementia is a most distressing condition both for those suffering from it and their families, and presents a significant and growing challenge to health and social services. Alzheimer's disease represents about 70% of the cases of dementia. People are living longer and as a consequence are more likely to develop some form of dementia. While dementia is not solely related to age, the prevalence is higher in older people and increases with age. It is estimated that about 5% of people over 65 years of age have some form of dementia with this figure rising to 20% for people over 80 years of age. The demographic make–up of Irish society is changing. The population is growing older and the number of people aged over 65 is estimated to almost triple over the next 30 years.

As I have indicated previously, my Department has started the process of developing a policy on dementia that will support the delivery of long-term care services having regard to future demographic trends and the consequential increase in demand for long-term care. This policy will be developed on the basis of the best evidence available from national and international sources. Officials in my Department have engaged with relevant stakeholder groups on the first stage of the process which is to assemble the research and evidence upon which the policy will be developed. I expect this will be received in 2011, at which stage work on the policy will commence formally.

The Health Services Executive (HSE) is currently exploring the potential for changes in care pathways for people with dementia, and will make recommendations for the future provision of dementia care across all health and social services. An audit is underway within the HSE of the current specialist dementia care services available both in residential/hospital and community services and it is hoped to have it completed by the end of this year. This audit will inform future planning and development of services for people with dementia. The educational needs of staff will also be identified to inform any future staff requirements for working in the area of dementia care. This work will also feed into the overall Dementia Policy formulation.

Medicine Pricing

P. J. Sheehan

Question:

38 Deputy P. J. Sheehan asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding her plans to introduce reference pricing; the amount that will be saved from the introduction of reference pricing; her views that some categories of medicines are not suitable for substitution; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41982/10]

Brian O'Shea

Question:

49 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Health and Children when she will introduce legislation on reference pricing for drugs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41870/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 38 and 49 together.

The Government has decided to introduce a system of reference pricing combined with generic substitution of medicines. This will promote price competition and deliver ongoing savings for both the State and for patients.

In June, I launched a report which sets out a proposed model for the operation of generic substitution and reference pricing. I expect to see significant progress on the implementation of this initiative, including the legislative and administrative changes required to give it effect in 2011.

There are some medicines that are unsuitable for substitution. Decisions about the interchangeability of medicines will be evidence-based and take into account best practice elsewhere.

Reference pricing will deliver direct savings by limiting reimbursement to a common reference price for groups of interchangeable medicines. Indirect savings will also occur as a result of increased price competition. The level of savings will depend upon a range of factors. These include the number and type of products included in reference groups, the relative and absolute prices of products within reference groups and the market response for each reference group. I anticipate that reference pricing will initially be targeted at high volume products that have the potential to achieve significant savings. I would also highlight the strategic importance of this initiative as a significant number of drugs are due to come off patent in the coming years.

This is one of a range of measures to increase value for money in this area of expenditure. I am pleased to note that the prices of over 500 generic medicines were reduced with effect from 1 October. Achieving greater value for money in this area of expenditure will ensure that patients can continue to access innovative and affordable medicines.

General Medical Service

Liz McManus

Question:

39 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to review the general practitioner out of hours services; if she is involved in this review; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41874/10]

General Practitioner (GP) out-of-hours co-operatives are an essential part of our primary care services and help to ensure that, to the greatest extent possible, care needs are met in the primary care setting. While there is no obligation on GPs to participate in co-operatives, GPs contracted under the General Medical Services Scheme must make suitable arrangements to enable contact to be made with them (or a locum/deputy) for emergencies outside normal practice hours. Co-operatives provide an ideal facility to enable GPs to discharge this obligation.

There were over 983,000 contacts with GP out-of-hours co-operatives in 2009 and the total cost of funding out-of-hours services was €110 million.

A National Review of GP Out-of-Hours Services was published by the HSE in March 2010. It is the first national review to be undertaken since the commencement of publicly funded GP co-operatives in 1999. It reviewed the 9 GP co-operatives and the 4 extended-hours services that are currently in place.

The Review makes a series of recommendations designed to strengthen and standardise out-of-hours services across the country. Among these recommendations are that:

out-of-hours services be extended to cover parts of the country where there is currently no such provision. Each of the 4 HSE regions will now engage with non-participating GPs with the aim of ensuring full out-of-hours coverage nationally.

the number of call centres be reduced from 7 to 4.

A working group comprising representatives from the HSE, the Irish Medical Organisation and the Irish Association of General Practitioner Co-operatives has been established to advance the implementation of the recommendations.

Hospital Services

James Bannon

Question:

40 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children the total number of stroke units here; the criteria the Health Service Executive use to determine if a stroke service is an acute stroke unit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41914/10]

Richard Bruton

Question:

67 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children the total number of hospitals offering thrombolysis here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41917/10]

James Reilly

Question:

128 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of stroke units here; the criteria the Health Service Executive use to determine if a stroke service is an acute stroke unit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42375/10]

James Reilly

Question:

129 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of hospitals offering thrombolysis here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42376/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 40, 67, 128 and 129 together.

Following the publication of Cardiovascular Health Policy Report in June 2010, the Health Service Executive (HSE) established a Stroke Programme within the Directorate of Quality and Clinical Care. The Clinical Leads for the Programme are Dr. Joe Harbison, St. James's Hospital, Dublin, and Prof. Peter Kelly, Mater Misericordiae Hospital, Dublin.

In July 2010 the HSE completed the Hospital Emergency Stroke Services (HESS) Survey for all 33 acute hospitals admitting patients with a suspected stroke. The number of Stroke Units reported was as follows:

Hospitals reporting Acute Stroke Units — 6;

Hospitals reporting a Combined (Acute and Rehabilitation) Stroke Unit — 9;

Hospitals reporting a Rehabilitation Stroke Unit — 3.

Since then, clinicians have informed the Stroke Programme that one further acute stroke unit has been opened.

Modern definitions of a stroke unit vary, however the HSE's Stroke Programme has adopted key elements common to many of these definitions, including beds in a geographically defined area of the hospital, a designated lead consultant and multidisciplinary team providing coordinated care to patients. Work is now under way to define standards for acute stroke care consistent with international definitions to support continuous improvement in acute stroke care.

In the Hospital Emergency Stroke Services (HESS) Survey hospitals reported provision of thrombolysis for acute stroke cases as follows:

24/7 service: reported by 16 hospitals;

Weekday service: reported by 6 hospitals;

Some thrombolysis carried out: reported by 3 hospitals.

The Stroke Programme is working with HSE Regional and Network management to identify the appropriate level of thrombolysis services to be provided by hospitals within acute stroke networks. Emergency care pathways will then be implemented for patients with suspected acute stroke. A training programme is under way to support clinicians to provide a safe stroke thrombolysis service for patients, with support as required from colleagues at network, regional and national levels.

Hospital Boards

Andrew Doyle

Question:

41 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Health and Children if the Health Service Executive has made its nomination to the board of Tallaght hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41936/10]

The Charter for the Adelaide and Meath Hospital, Dublin, incorporating the National Children's Hospital provides for a Board with 23 members. Six members may be nominated by the Adelaide Hospital Society, six may be nominated by the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, six members may be nominated by the Meath Foundation, three members may be nominated by the National Children's Hospital, one member may be nominated by Trinity College and one member may be nominated by the HSE. The Minister does not nominate persons to the Board, however eight of the nominees are appointed by the Minister.

In 2009, in order to avoid possible conflicts of interest, the HSE took a decision not to nominate its staff to membership of hospital boards. Therefore the HSE will not be nominating a member to the Board of the hospital.

Health Promotion

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

42 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health and Children the supports available from her Department to assist those who are trying to give up smoking, particularly those who are living on low incomes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41866/10]

Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRT) are available to medical card holders since April 2001. Evidence shows that lower socio economic groups have a higher incidence of smoking and spend a higher proportion of disposable income on tobacco. It was considered that this group is in greatest need of assistance in helping them to quit the habit. Accordingly, it was decided, as an exceptional measure, to make NRT available on prescription to medical card holders.

Smoking Cessation Services within the Health Service Executive offer a wide variety of services in different areas. Specialist Smoking Cessation Counsellors are trained to deliver these services on full time, part time and sessional basis nationally. Health Promotion Departments within the HSE also offer an extensive programme of training that includes developing skills for health care practitioners to support people wishing to stop smoking. They also provide support to schools around the issue of smoking and substance misuse, and support to workplaces on developing smoking policies.

The HSE funds the National Smokers Quitline which, in conjunction with the Irish Cancer Society, provides a smoking cessation advice and support service. This provides the public with access to a telephone support service from a trained smoking cessation counsellor. Referral to local smoking cessation services can also be arranged. A quitting booklet is offered and sent out to all callers who request it.

There have been a number of social marketing campaigns on smoking developed in Ireland over the past number of years. In 2009 a radio, billboard and television campaign was launched which targeted parents and guardians encouraging them to think about how their smoking effects and influences their children. This campaign has continued in 2010.

Child Abuse

Tom Hayes

Question:

43 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide details on the internal Health Service Executive disciplinary process that is taking place on foot of failings identified by the report into the Roscommon abuse case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41948/10]

The Report into the Roscommon case was published by the HSE on 27th October 2010. The HSE have already stated that it is committed to learning from this and other reports to ensure that services are strengthened to help protect children to the greatest extent possible.

The HSE has informed me that the report is now with the Regional Director of Operations HSE West. He, as decision maker, will now determine whether or not any individual has a case to answer in terms of accountability or failure. In the event that there are such individuals identified, they will be dealt with in the context of the fair procedures of the disciplinary process for the Health Service. As there are expert matters in this report the RDO will take the appropriate expert advice in forming any such decision.

For the future, the Health and Social Care Council is in place and is setting up a Social Work Registration Board, set to commence in early 2011 for the registration of social workers. This will provide a more formal disciplinary process for Social Workers and will include the potential to hold Fitness to Practice investigations where appropriate.

Hospital Staff

Tom Sheahan

Question:

44 Deputy Tom Sheahan asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason the national referral centre for paediatric immunology has no full-time consultant immunologist; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41981/10]

Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin is the largest tertiary paediatric hospital in the State treating the type of complex cases associated with incidents of drug interactions and allergic reactions. The increasing complexity of cases, allied with the expanding spectrum of therapies for diverse diseases, has highlighted the need to strengthen the level of paediatric immunology services available in Ireland.

In order to do this, I am pleased to say that the HSE has provided funding to support two consultant immunology posts structured as follows:

(a) Consultant paediatric immunologist with a special interest in paediatric allergy. The post will be deployed with 24 hours in Our Lady's Children's Hospital, 10 hours in Tallaght Hospital and 3 hours in St. James's Hospital, and

(b) Consultant paediatrician with a special interest in primary immune deficiency. The post will be deployed with 24 hours in Our Lady's Children's Hospital, 10 hours in the Children's University Hospital, Temple Street and 3 hours in St. James's Hospital.

The two new consultant posts will ensure the investigation, clinical assessment, treatment and holistic management of patients with:

Primary immune deficiency (Children born with defective immune systems);

Secondary immune deficiency (patients whose immune systems become impaired because of other conditions or treatments);

Allergies and Anaphylaxis;

Auto-inflammatory disorders such as disorganised immunity or periodic fever syndromes.

The establishment of the two consultant posts, based in Our Lady's Children's Hospital, will support the integrated management of such disorders and thus improved outcomes.

Hospital Services

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

45 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress that has been made in providing direct access to diagnostics for general practitioners; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41867/10]

The Quality and Clinical Care Directorate of the Health Service Executive has established a number of disease specific programmes. These include Asthma, COPD, Heart Failure, Stroke and Diabetes. The approach to these chronic diseases will be to improve quality and access in a cost effective manner. Improving access will involve mandating Primary Care direct access to diagnostics rather than patients having to attend hospital out patient facilities. The diagnostics that are being targeted initially are spirometry (breath tests for diagnosis and management of COPD and Asthma), Ultrasound and Radiology. It is envisaged that most routine treatment of these chronic diseases will take place in Primary Care and the provision of diagnostics is seen as an essential part of this shift in care.

Question No. 46 answered with Question No. 26.

Child Abuse

Billy Timmins

Question:

47 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to establish a new inquiry into allegations of child abuse of intellectually disabled children in two facilities operated by the Brothers of Charity in Galway arising from the serious inadequacies in the original investigation, McCoy report, Western Health Board, 2007 as highlighted by the Hynes report, Department of Health and Children, 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41895/10]

have no plans to establish a new inquiry into the allegations referred to. The matters highlighted in the original investigation by the Western Health Board (the McCoy Report) and in the Hynes Report completed for my Department, were addressed in statements made by officials of my Department and the HSE to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children on 29th June 2010, in the context of the Committee's consideration of the report of the Irish Human Rights Commission into the operation of one of the facilities concerned. In view of the recommendations of the IHRC Report, consider that our priority going forward should be to focus our efforts on ensuring that models of service and care for people with intellectual disabilities are operated with appropriate safeguards and that unsuitable, congregated residential facilities are phased out as quickly as possible in favour of more appropriate community based settings. These issues are being taken into consideration in the preparation of a policy review which is currently underway in my Department in the context of the Value for Money and Policy Review of Disability Services.

Croke Park Agreement

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

48 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress that has been made in implementing measures in the Croke Park deal that deal with issues of cost savings on shared services, procurement, HR management and so on and on reconciling the different financial accounting systems within the Health Service Executive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41876/10]

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

78 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress that has been made implementing the health sectoral agreement of the Croke Park deal; if, in particular, the measures under section 2.9, which were to be implemented with immediate effect have been implemented; when changes under the deal can be expected to yield results; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41865/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 48 and 78 together.

The Public Service Agreement 2010-2014 (the "Croke Park Agreement") provides a framework for public service management and staff to work together to deliver an ongoing reduction in the cost of delivery of public services, while maintaining and improving the quality of services delivered to the public, in return for commitments on pay and security of employment for public servants. The Implementation Body has been established to drive the implementation of the Agreement across all sectors and ensure that early, robust and verifiable reforms are secured, which lead to sustainable and verifiable savings in the cost of public service delivery.

Chapter 2 of the Public Service Agreement sets out the Health Sectoral Agreement and contained within this chapter are eleven measures which are to be implemented with "immediate effect". These cover a wide range of areas, including the centralisation of functional, transactional, support and other services, including through the use of shared services within the public health services, as referred to by Deputy Gilmore.

The Health Sector Action Plan, which was developed by my Department working closely with the HSE, sets out a detailed list of actions which will be required for the implementation of the eleven immediate measures, mentioned above.

Shared services is an area where good progress has been made, with the centralisation of the medical cards and the processing of Fair Deal scheme applications already underway. Similarly, significant work has already been done in developing the National Recruitment Services, National Personnel Administration and National Pensions Management units in the HSE. A Financial Shared Services structure is now also in place and work is entering the next phase where all finance transaction processing staff across the whole Executive will report into this new structure. I am advised that, in respect of the HSE's proposed National Finance and Procurement Solution, the HSE has been developing a plan for a viable and sustainable project for the roll out of such a system. Recently, my Department met with the Department of Finance (CMOD) and the HSE to see how a plan could be activated, taking account of the current resource constraints facing the HSE. It was agreed that the first step is to identify a technology platform upon which the proposed finance and procurement system can be developed, and it is expected that a PIN notice (Prior Indicative Notice) will issue shortly to the market for this purpose. In addition, I also understand that a new operating model is to be put in place in the procurement area of the HSE. The aim behind this new model is to eliminate duplication and to provide greater flexibility in staff roles and to redeploy staff, where necessary.

The Health Sector Implementation Body (HSIB) is responsible for driving the implementation of the Action Plan and will be required to report on progress to the Implementation Body. Local structures are also being put in place at regional level across the HSE to help to drive implementation of the Public Service Agreement at a regional level and report progress to the HSIB.

Question No. 49 answered with Question No. 38.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Tom Sheahan

Question:

50 Deputy Tom Sheahan asked the Minister for Health and Children her views that more than 46,000 patients are on hospital waiting lists across the State; if she will provide a breakdown of the numbers of patients on waiting lists per hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41980/10]

Willie Penrose

Question:

55 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Health and Children if there has been any reduction in the number of persons waiting for hospital treatment since the figure of 46,400 was released in September 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41869/10]

I propose to take Question Nos. 50 and 55 together.

The National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) is responsible for the collation and reporting of national hospital waiting list data. Patients are placed on the national list only after they have been waiting three months, because many people receive their treatment within three months and, in some cases, with little or no waiting. It is not appropriate to classify these patients as "awaiting treatment" in the same way as those who have been waiting for several months. The NTPF's figures for August 2010 indicate that the number of patients waiting for over three months was 20,178. It is not correct, therefore, to conclude that there are over 46,000 patients on waiting lists.

In relation to the Deputies' queries on individual hospital waiting lists and the August comparison to September data, which is due for publication shortly, I have referred the questions to the Executive for direct reply.

Health Services

Liz McManus

Question:

51 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Health and Children when a unique health identifier system will be introduced; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41875/10]

A system of unique health identifiers that allows for the accurate identification of individuals accessing health and personal social services and providers of such services is important in terms of enhancing and promoting patient safety and quality of care. Provision for the establishment of such a system will be included in the proposed Health Information Bill which is currently being drafted. The Bill will also set down an overall governance framework for this area covering matters such as issue and use of as well as access to these unique health identifiers. While the Bill will provide the legislative framework for this system, its actual introduction will be determined in the context of developments across the wider public sector as well as consideration of economic and financial implications. It is anticipated that the Bill will be published early to mid-2011.

Health Forums

Martin Ferris

Question:

52 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Health and Children the future of the regional health forums; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41904/10]

Section 42 of the Health Act 2004 provides for the establishment of not more than four Regional Health Forums, the membership of which is composed of members nominated by city and county councils. The Regulations providing for the establishment of the Regional Health Forums — the Health Act 2004 (Regional Health Forums) Regulations 2005 — were made on 12 December 2005 and provided for the establishment of the Forums on 1 January 2006.

The function of the Regional Health Forums, as set out in the 2004 Act, is to provide local public representatives with an opportunity to make representations to the Health Service Executive on the range and operation of health and personal social services in their area. The establishment of the Forums demonstrated the Government's commitment to ensuring that local public representatives would continue to be heard in relation to the operation and development of health and personal social services in their areas. The Forums complement the role of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children in the ongoing oversight of the health services.

There are no plans at present for any change either to the structure or role of the Forums.

Ambulance Service

David Stanton

Question:

53 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 289 of 8 July 2010 the progress or developments made in the reconfiguration of ambulance services in Fermoy, Midleton and Youghal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41907/10]

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

Departmental Staff

Billy Timmins

Question:

54 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children to outline in tabular form the number of social workers currently employed on a full-time basis in the Health Service Executive and the number that were employed by the HSE in each of the years 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41896/10]

The information requested by the Deputy regarding the number of social workers employed on a full-time basis in the Health Service Executive is set out in the table below:

Numbers (WTE excld. career break) of social workers employed in the HSE only

31/12/2005

31/12/2006

31/12/2007

31/12/2008

Health Service Executive

1,661

1,742

1,814

1,799

Figures include the grade of social worker (non-professionally qualified).

Question No. 55 answered with Question No. 50.

Brian O'Shea

Question:

56 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to modify the way in which the moratorium on replacement of staff in the health services is being implemented in view of the effect it has had on areas such as mental health and nursing staff and the cost of using agency personnel to supplement front-line service delivery; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41871/10]

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

Under the ECF 2010-2012 grades exempted from the moratorium/special provisions include:

Clinical Psychologist, Behavioural Therapist, Counsellor — replacement posts and up to 230 in addition to the Dec 09 outturn;

up to 100 Psychiatric Nurses vacancies where they are required to support the implementation of "A Vision for Change";

up to 70 Public Health Nurse posts to facilitate the appointment of student public health nurses; and

up to 30 posts to facilitate the appointment of successful students from the Nurse Sponsorship Scheme.

The HSE's Health Service Personnel Census indicates that the change in the numbers employed, in the public health service of 1,272 wholetime equivalents, between end 2008 and end 2009 by grade category is as follows:

Numbers (WTE excld career break) employed in the public health service, by grade category

Grade category

31/12/2008

31/12/2009

Change between Dec 08 and Dec 09

% Change between Dec 08 and Dec 09

Medical/Dental

8,109

8,083

-26

-0.32%

Nursing

38,108

37,466

-642

-1.68%

Health & Social Care Professionals

15,980

15,973

-7

-0.04%

Management/Admin

17,967

17,611

-357

-1.98%

General Support Staff*

12,631

11,906

-724

-5.74%

Other Patient & Client Care*

18,230

18,714

484

2.65%

Total

111,025

109,753

-1,272

-1.15%

Notes: (1) Excludes Home Helps. (2) Student nurses are included in the 2008 employment ceiling on the basis of 3.5 students equating to 1 wholetime equivalent. The employment level adjusted for student nurses on the above basis is 111,001 WTEs. (3) Student nurses are included in the 2009 figures on the basis of 2 students equating to 1 wholetime equivalent — the figures above are already adjusted.

*The data for Other Patient and Client Care and General Support Staff may have been affected by reclassification between grade categories.

The census also indicates that between year end 2008 and year end 2009, the number of mental health nurses decreased by 4% but the number of clinical psychologists increased by 3.5%.

Under the Employment Control Framework, agency staff can only be used in exceptional circumstances to provide emergency relief for medical/professional staff providing essential frontline health, welfare and protection services. They may not be used to: (i) substitute for management/administrative staff; (ii) substitute or replace temporary positions which have been terminated or posts which have been suppressed under the framework; or (iii) effectively increase the numbers of staff employed.

As I have already outlined, the target reductions in the Employment Control Framework are necessary to restructure the public service and to reduce public service numbers, and to support the Government's strategy to restore the public finances.

In addition, as the Deputy will be aware, on the 1st November 2010, I announced that the Government had decided to approve a voluntary early retirement scheme and a voluntary redundancy scheme for certain categories of staff in the public health service. The schemes are open to both management/administrative grades and support staff but priority will be given to the management/administrative grades. The purpose of the schemes is to achieve a permanent reduction in the numbers employed in the public health sector from 2011 onwards and to facilitate health service reform.

Hospitals Building Programme

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

57 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the proposed new national children’s hospital. [41903/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

180 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the construction of the new children’s hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42363/10]

I propose to take Question Nos. 57 and 180 together.

The new National Paediatric Hospital is a priority for the Government. The capital spending on it will be protected over the full lifetime of the project. The total estimated cost of the development, including the Ambulatory and Urgent Care Centre at Tallaght, is €650 million. This is €100m less than a previous estimate because of the fall in building prices.

Of the total cost, €400m is committed by the Exchequer and is reflected in the HSE's capital plan this year. This will be increased to a figure of €450 million in the HSE's capital plan for 2011. €25 million has already been spent on the planning, design and support of the project since 2007. The balance will be met from philanthropic initiatives, estimated at €110 million, and from commercial and other sources of some €90 million. The commercial and other sources include car park, commercial units, research funding, private clinics, universities and medical schools. One of the functions of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board is to pursue philanthropic sources of funding. It is working intensively on this issue.

The Development Board is making good progress in planning and developing the new hospital at the Mater site. It has formally asked An Bórd Pleanála for the project to be considered under the Strategic Infrastructure legislation, and had an initial meeting with An Bórd Pleanála on 5 November 2010. Subject to planning permission being granted, construction of the new hospital is scheduled to commence in the fourth quarter of 2011 with completion of construction scheduled for the end of 2014.

Hospital Staff

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

58 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Health and Children the measures being taken to ensure that there are adequate numbers of non-consultant hospital doctors for service needs in January 2011; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41877/10]

Subject to overall parameters set by Government, the Health Service Executive (HSE) has responsibility for determining the composition of its staffing complement. In that regard, it is a matter for the Executive to manage and deploy its human resources to best meet the requirements of its Annual Service Plan for the delivery of health and personal social services to the public.

The moratorium on public sector recruitment is not a factor in the Non Consultant Hospital Doctors (NCHDs) vacancies being experienced in the public health service at present. In addition, the moratorium includes a specific exemption allowing for the replacement of NCHDs by consultants. Other countries are also experiencing difficulties in recruiting NCHDs.

My Department and the HSE agreed revised visa and work permit arrangements with the Departments of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation and Justice, Equality and Law Reform last June which were put into effect in advance of the July 2010 rotation.

In relation to service needs in January 2011, my Department is working with HSE to ensure that an adequate number of NCHDs is maintained in the public health service.

The HSE are currently developing a range of strategies and initiatives for the forthcoming NCHD rotations in 2011 with a view to maximising recruitment and retention. Measures in train include: development of a two year contract of employment for posts that are difficult to fill; 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; measures to progress the appointment of additional Consultants and where reconfiguration is appropriate that it takes place on a planned structured basis.

National Drugs Strategy

Jack Wall

Question:

59 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of methadone and stabilisation centres in each drug task force area; the number of applicants for treatment at each centre; if there is any area where such a treatment centre is not available and if so the number of applicants from such areas attending for treatment at other centres; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39293/10]

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

Question No. 60 answered with Question No. 24.

Departmental Programmes

Joe McHugh

Question:

61 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will consider introducing a national foot screening programme as part of the treatment of diabetic foot disease; the estimated cost of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41959/10]

James Reilly

Question:

130 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will consider introducing a national foot screening programme as part of the treatment of diabetic foot disease; the estimated cost of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42377/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 61 and 130 together.

Earlier this year the Health Service Executive (HSE) established the National Diabetes Programme under its Quality & Clinical Care Directorate. It identified three priority areas for implementation on a national basis. A national diabetes footcare programme is one of these high priority areas. This is consistent with my Department's published policy on diabetes. A Clinician Programme Director for Diabetes has been appointed and he is currently engaging with all stakeholders, including the Diabetic Federation of Ireland, clinicians and podiatrists to establish a multidisciplinary footcare package for diabetic patients. The programme is intended to establish referral pathways with rapid access to specialised care within a multidisciplinary foot care service. The initiative is currently in an advanced planning stage. A full costing of the national footcare programme is not available at this time but funding will be provided within the existing resources available to the HSE.

Pharmacy Services

Catherine Byrne

Question:

62 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason many pharmacies around the country are charging customers over and above the monthly cap of €10 for prescription charges recently introduced for medical card holders; if she will rectify this problem without delay; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41890/10]

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. In 2008 only 2.1% of families with medical cards had 20 or more items prescribed to them per month.

Should a person or family pay more than €10, for example if different pharmacies are used in the same month, 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.

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.

It is in the interests of both the HSE and patients that the instances of medical card holders being charged more than €10 per month for prescription charges are kept to an absolute minimum. As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Question No. 63 answered with Question No. 24.

Hospital Accommodation

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

64 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that patients in the west had their planned chemotherapy cancelled in recent weeks because of a shortage of beds in University College Hospital Galway; if she has given any directives to the Health Service Executive to ensure the full implementation of policy on cancer treatment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41879/10]

The in-patient oncology unit at University Hospital Galway is comprised of 45 in-patient beds. Patients are triaged and assessed weekly and all admissions are based on clinical need in consultation with the treating clinicians. Early last week, the increased demand for beds was such that eleven patients' admissions to these in-patient beds were deferred. These patients have now been facilitated. The majority of chemotherapy is delivered on a day-case basis and day-case chemotherapy patients were not affected.

Medical oncology (chemotherapy) is also available at Letterkenny General, Sligo General, Mayo General and Portiuncula Hospitals to enable patients to have treatment delivered locally. The appointment of an additional consultant medical oncologist at Letterkeny General is being progressed by the National Cancer Control Programme, as is a joint appointment between Galway and Sligo which will further enhance medical oncology at Sligo.

The National Cancer Control Programme was established in 2007 to oversee the implementation of the 2006 National Cancer Control Strategy. Since then, considerable progress has been made in the reorganisation of cancer services in line with the Strategy.

Health Service Staff

Damien English

Question:

65 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Health and Children with regard to the Government’s decision to hire an additional 270 social workers, the number that have been recruited to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41979/10]

The Implementation Plan approved by Government, arising from the findings of the Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse committed to the recruitment of an additional 270 social workers before the end of 2011.

The Government provided an amount of €15m in 2010 to advance the actions in the Implementation Plan, including the recruitment of an additional 200 social work posts in 2010. The recruitment of these additional 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 for September, shows an increase of 93 social work posts in 2010, an increase of 43 over the figure for August. The HSE has advised that there is a time lag between individuals taking up duty and their inclusion in the HSE Employment Census. In this regard the HSE has further advised that contracts have issued in respect of all 200 approved posts. My Department has been assured by the HSE that all 200 additional social workers will be in place by year end.

Hospitals Building Programme

Sean Sherlock

Question:

66 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children if and when the proposed extension to the National Rehabilitation Hospital will go ahead; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41881/10]

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

Question No. 67 answered with Question No. 40.

Health Service Staff

Emmet Stagg

Question:

68 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of primary care teams now in place and actively operating; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41885/10]

At the heart of the Primary Care Strategy is the aim of developing services in the community to give people direct access to integrated multi-disciplinary teams of general practitioners, nurses, home helps, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and other health care professionals. The Strategy is also about the reorientation of existing resources to develop new ways for health and social care professionals to work together for the benefit of people accessing primary care services in their own communities.

The HSE has identified 527 Primary Care Teams (PCTs) for development by 2011. At the end of October 2010, 313 teams were operating (holding clinical team meetings on individual client cases and involving GPs and HSE staff) and providing services for over 2.5 million people. The HSE has indicated that it expects a further 81 teams to be operating by the end of 2010 and plans to have the remaining 133 operating by the end of 2011.

Hospital Services

Leo Varadkar

Question:

69 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans and those of the Health Service Executive to alter services provided at Lifford Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41985/10]

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

Proposed Legislation

Charles Flanagan

Question:

70 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children when legislation will be published to place the Children First guidelines on a statutory footing; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41894/10]

The Ryan Commission Implementation Plan contains a commitment to the drafting of legislation which will provide that all staff working with children employed by the State and in agencies in receipt of funding from the Exchequer will have: a duty to comply with the Children First National Guidelines; a duty to share relevant information in the best interests of the child and a duty to cooperate with other relevant services in the best interests of the child. The Government is committed to the preparation of this legislation and my Office is developing legislative proposals in this regard which I will bring to Government for approval.

Hospital Services

Arthur Morgan

Question:

71 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has had discussions with the Health Service Executive in relation to the future of Navan, Dundalk and Monaghan hospitals; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41901/10]

The transformation programme for the North East region is designed to build a health system that is in line with the model of care emerging internationally.

The implementation of this programme is continuing and Navan, Dundalk and Monaghan Hospitals continue to play an important and expanding role in the provision of health services in the North East region, with a particular focus on diagnostic and day services. I am pleased to outline the services that exist in each of these three hospitals.

A minor injuries unit and additional ambulance services have been put in place in Dundalk to support this plan. Gynaecology, medical and surgical day services, stroke rehabilitation, radiology and step down services remain in the hospital. In addition, an elderly day assessment service has transferred to Dundalk. Project teams have also been established to progress with development of plans for both the orthopaedic rehabilitation and medical palliative inpatient beds in the hospital.

Acting on the advice of the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland the HSE ceased all acute and emergency surgery at Our Lady's Hospital, Navan on 1 September 2010. The transfer of this surgery was always a long-term objective of the North East Transformation Plan. Minor elective surgery (i.e. requiring local anaesthetic only) and endoscopy services are situated in Our Lady's Hospital, Navan. It is still also the regional centre for elective orthopaedic surgery.

Services at Monaghan Hospital include surgical and medical day services, rehabilitation and step-down services, a Minor Injury Unit and X-ray Diagnostics. Orthopaedics, Diagnostic urology, Obstetric and Gynaecological outpatient clinics also take place in the hospital.

A Cross Border Ear, Nose and Throat Service, which is based in Monaghan hospital and consists of out patient clinics and day procedures, was enhanced in April 2010 to include a second consultant who is performing sinus day surgery. Furthermore a CT scanner is now operational in the hospital. It will also facilitate patients being referred from out patient clinics from Cavan and Monaghan Hospital sites and will enable local access for patients from Co. Monaghan.

The development of the above services demonstrates the Government's commitment to the future of Monaghan, Dundalk and Navan Hospitals. Patient safety is central to the delivery of health services. People must have confidence in the care they receive and have the best possible outcomes. All decisions regarding the operation of health services will be taken with patient safety as the priority.

Youth Services

David Stanton

Question:

72 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 276 of 8 July 2010, the number of special projects for youth currently funded by her Department; the amount of the €19.5 million allocation which has been spent to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41908/10]

The Children and Youth Services Development Unit (CYSDU) of my Office supports the delivery of a range of youth work programmes and services for all young people including those from disadvantaged communities through grants in aid, which are part-funded by the National Lottery. The Special Projects for Youth Scheme (SPY) is one such initiative supported, and funding of €19.5million has been allocated to this Scheme in 2010 through resources made available under Subhead G of Vote 41, which is part funded by the National Lottery.

There are currently one hundred and eighty one (181) projects in receipt of funding under this scheme. Some €17.8 million has been spent to date and the CYSDU is currently in the process of making final payments to the remaining Organisations/VECs/Projects. The balance of €1.7 million will be expended in 2010. Special Projects for Youth — under this Scheme, grant-in-aid is made available to organisations and groups for specific projects which seek to address the needs of young people who are disadvantaged due to a combination of factors e.g., social isolation, substance misuse, homelessness, early school leaving and unemployment. Projects facilitate the personal and social development of participants thus enabling them to realise their potential. This aim underpins all programmes and activities of the Scheme. In addition, they present opportunities for young people to undertake actions corresponding to their own aspirations and to assume responsibilities within their local communities.

Services are delivered by a combination of local youth organisations and local community groups. In general, these youth work initiatives entail consultation with the local community, the involvement of members of the local community in the management structure of the project, and liaison with other voluntary and statutory agencies operating in the youth service sphere.

Departmental Schemes

P. J. Sheehan

Question:

73 Deputy P. J. Sheehan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of applications received under the fair deal scheme to date; the number of applications that have been processed to date; the average time it takes to process an application; the total number of applications refused support through the fair deal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41983/10]

The HSE has received almost 16,500 applications for the Nursing Homes Support Scheme to date. Of these, over 12,250 have been approved and applications continue to be processed on a daily basis. Approximately 200 applications have been refused on the basis that the applicant was deemed not to require long-term residential care or that the applicant's contribution to care exceeded the cost of care.

The average length of time to process an application varies depending on whether the application is for State support only, or for State support and the Nursing Home Loan. It also depends on the complexity of the case. The HSE has indicated that a significant volume of applications are submitted without the necessary supporting documentation. This can create delays which are outside of the HSE's control. However, once fully complete and in order, applications are processed within approximately 1-2 weeks. Following approval of an application, the HSE immediately arranges for payment of financial support on the applicant's behalf to their chosen nursing home.

Mental Health Services

Róisín Shortall

Question:

74 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children if the commitment that no child or adolescent will be placed in an adult mental health bed by end of 2011 is on track and if it will be realised; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41882/10]

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

Parliamentary Questions

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

75 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ensure that information requested in a parliamentary question to her is furnished in a reasonable time; the length of time she considers reasonable and if she accepts that there are, in many instances, long delays in furnishing replies to questions which she regularly refers to the Health Service Executive for direct reply; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42030/10]

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

In 2007 the Executive worked to a timeframe of responding to referred questions within 20 working days and this target was met for 65% of referred questions. From January 2008, this timeframe was reduced to 15 working days and 73% of referred questions were answered within this period. In 2009, 62% of questions referred to the Executive were answered within the 15 day timeframe. However, between January and July of this year, the number of questions answered within the 15 day timeframe dropped to 43%. This was due to a period of industrial action which commenced on a limited basis within the Health Service Executive on the 4th January 2010 and which escalated in effect from 1st March through to June 15th. However, from September to October this year the percentage answered on time increased to 54% and this upward trend is expected to continue.

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

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

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

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

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

Given the volume of information sought in these type of questions, the Deputy will appreciate that it may not be possible to provide responses to such questions within the 15 day timeframe. However, my officials are working closely with the HSE to try to improve the service to members of the Oireachtas generally, and at recent meetings with the new CEO of the HSE, Mr. Cathal Magee, I have stressed the importance of providing responses to Parliamentary Questions that are both prompt and of a high quality. Mr. Magee is very aware of my concerns in this regard and is committed to improving the handling of parliamentary affairs within the HSE.

Vaccination Programme

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

76 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children if there is a final figure for the cost of the H1N1 flu vaccination programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41887/10]

The overall costs of the Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 vaccination programme including the purchase of vaccines, associated clinical consumables, capital costs in increasing intensive care capacity and other related expenditure have been estimated at €52.6m. This does not include salary or other overhead costs which were met from within existing resources.

National Maternity Hospital

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

77 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to move the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street, to the site of St. Vincent’s Hospital; the amount of moneys spent on plans for the move; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41905/10]

The KPMG report on maternity services in the Greater Dublin Area recommended that maternity and related services should transfer from the three existing maternity hospitals in Dublin to locations on adult acute hospital sites. It recommended that services at the National Maternity Hospital (NMH) at Holles Street should move to the St. Vincent's University Hospital campus at Elm Park. It also recommended that the Coombe should transfer to Tallaght Hospital and that the Rotunda services should be established on the Mater Hospital site. This report has been adopted by the HSE, and steps are being taken towards implementation of the recommendations made.

The NMH and St. Vincent's have commenced work to develop the proposal further. An initial business case has been prepared, and consideration has been given to options for the location of a new maternity hospital facility on the St. Vincent's campus. Further work is now in progress, including the preparation of a full business case and the identification of potential sources of capital funding. The Government is in favour of transferring the Dublin maternity hospitals to adult hospital sites as recommended by KPMG. The means by which this could be achieved is being pursued by the HSE.

Question No. 78 answered with Question No. 48.

Nursing Homes Support Scheme

Róisín Shortall

Question:

79 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children if adequate funds have been set aside to fund the fair deal scheme for 2010; if she will ensure that adequate provision is made for 2011; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41883/10]

A dedicated subhead was established for the purposes of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme (subhead B12 in Vote 40 refers). This is managed centrally within the HSE and funding is allocated to qualifying individuals on a "first come, first served" basis.

An additional €97 million was provided for the Nursing Homes Support Scheme in Budget 2010. The additional funding brings the total budget for long-term residential care in 2010 to €979 million. This is effectively the budget for the Nursing Homes Support Scheme albeit that transitional arrangements must also be facilitated from within the subhead, i.e. people in contract beds or people who choose to remain on subvention. The HSE is currently on target to meet all demand for financial support towards nursing home care from within this budget in 2010. The overall budget for the scheme in 2011 will be determined by Government following discussions between the Minister for Health and Children and the Minister for Finance as part of the estimates process. Deliberations by Government on the expenditure allocations for 2011 are likely to continue up until Budget time.

Hospitals Building Programme

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

80 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans for the future of Bandon Community Hospital and if she will confirm that the extension to the hospital will progress without further delay [42029/10]

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

Hospital Services

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

81 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children if the national clinical leads are all now in place, including the lead for mental health; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41873/10]

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

Departmental Expenditure

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

82 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ensure that the budget for medical research is protected in view of the quality research that is undertaken and the added value contributed by medical charities to the State contribution; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41872/10]

I am a strong supporter of health research and believe it makes significant contributions not only to the achievement of health research goals but to broader social and economic ones. This has been acknowledged in the Renewed Programme for Government and in the Action Plan for Health Research. That Plan recognises the significant level of investment made by medical research charities in this country.

In recent years funding has been made available from the allocation to the Health Research Board towards the joint funding scheme operated in conjunction with medical charities. However, the allocation to health agencies in 2011, including the Health Research Board, will be determined after the Budgetary process is concluded. I am not in a position to provide details of any funding which might be available for medical research or to medical charities engaged in research at this stage of the process.

Care of the Elderly

Catherine Byrne

Question:

83 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on the way home help services are run in our communities; her plans to extend these services to cater for elderly persons to enable them to live independently in their homes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41889/10]

The Home Help Service is one of our core community services enabling vulnerable people to remain at home. The Service is a critical support to older people in particular, facilitating prompt discharge from Acute Hospitals or preventing inappropriate admissions to such hospitals or long stay residential care. Significant progress has been made in developing this service since 2006, as set out in the following table, with a noticeable impact in terms of numbers of people benefiting, as well as providing support to the acute hospital sector. The HSE is committed to achieving the targets for 2010 set out in its Service Plan.

Activity

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

Hours provided

10.8m

11.78m

11.96m

11.97m

11.98m (Target)

No. of clients benefiting at 31st Dec each year

49,578

54,736

55,366

53,791

54,500 (Target)

Funding €

185.4m

206.4m

211m

211m

211m

The capacity of the HSE to provide approved levels of Home Help services continues to be reviewed in the context of overall resources available to the Executive. It is incumbent on each Local Health Manager to ensure that Home Help services are delivered within allocated budgets. This requires a stringent on-going review of the application of the resources.

Service Improvement

The Home Help Service has emerged over the years from what was essentially a "friendly neighbour" service within the old health board structure and, as it is a discretionary service, different approaches emerged in different areas. The service is becoming more professional and demanding as increased numbers of clients with significant and complex needs are maintained at home. In 2010-2011, work is underway to roll out improvements to ensure that applicants are treated in a similar way regardless of where they live in the country.Given the large numbers benefitting, it is critical that the National Guidelines for the Home Help Service, now being finalised by the HSE are available to assist staff in managing the service in an equitable way. The Guidelines which will be implemented nationally over 2011 will incorporate flexibility to allow professional staff allocating the service to take full account of the particular care needs, abilities and dependencies of the individual client. In this way, a client in Mayo or in Wexford can expect to be able to apply, and be assessed, for the service in a similar way and, subject to resource limits, have appropriate services allocated to support their individual requirements.

Home Care Packages

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

The following table sets out the considerable investment in HCPs since 2006. The HSE is committed to achieving the targets for the HCP Scheme as set out in its Service Plan 2010.

Activity

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

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

5,283

8,035

8,990

8,959

9,613 (Target)

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

7,003

11,565

11,987

12,003

13,200 (Target)

Funding €

55m

110m

120m

120m

130m

Deliberations by the Government on the expenditure allocations for next year are likely to continue up until Budget time, and it would not be appropriate for me to comment further at this stage, pending the outcome of those deliberations. The very difficult financial position facing the Exchequer will obviously require very careful management across all areas of expenditure. Notwithstanding this difficult financial environment, the Government is determined to do everything possible to protect the services referred to by the Deputy, to respond to priority demographic and other needs, and to support ongoing reform of the public heath services within the resources available for health.

Hospitals Building Programme

Alan Shatter

Question:

84 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the co-location policy; her views that the Voluntary Health Insurance, VHI, will not cover its customers in co-located private hospitals; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41978/10]

I recently met with the preferred bidders for the co-location hospital projects at Beaumont, Cork and Limerick (Beacon Medical Group) and St. James's Hospital (Synchrony) to receive an update from them on the progress they have made so far.

I also met recently with the Chair and Chief Executive of the Voluntary Health Insurance Board on a number of matters. During the discussion I raised with them the VHI's decision not to cover customers in co-located hospitals, and asked them to review their position on the matter having regard to the benefits that co-location will bring to patients. I emphasised that I have no role in the commercial decisions of private health insurers, and that all insurers are free to choose the service providers who they believe will best meet the needs of their customers. The VHI agreed to consider the matter further and to revert to me. The co-location programme is a complex public procurement process and the HSE will continue to work with the preferred bidders to provide whatever assistance it can to help them advance the projects.

Homeless Persons

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

85 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of registered homeless persons under 18 years of age; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37440/10]

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

Redundancy Payments

Phil Hogan

Question:

86 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills when applications will be processed in respect of the European globalisation fund for redundant workers of Waterford Crystal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42133/10]

Since the announcement of redundancies at Waterford Crystal in January 2009, the relevant State agencies and educational institutions have been implementing measures in support of those redundant Waterford Crystal workers and workers in ancillary enterprises. The relevant Irish application seeking co-financing assistance from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was approved by the EU budgetary authority on 14 July 2010.

With the assistance of EGF co-financing, occupational guidance, training, entrepreneurship and education measures have been delivered to over 480 EGF-eligible clients to date. In July 2010, an EGF Coordination Unit was established in Waterford City to coordinate the delivery of services to all EGF-eligible clients. Applications for appropriate EGF supports continue to be invited and processed for all EGF-eligible clients.

Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme

Joe Costello

Question:

87 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will review the decision to refuse a vocational training opportunities scheme place in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42208/10]

My Department has requested information on the matter raised by the Deputy and will respond directly to the Deputy when this information is to hand.

Residential Institutions Redress Scheme

Michael Creed

Question:

88 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the cost of the redress board to compensate victims of institutional abuse; the amount awarded in compensation to victims and the amount spent in legal costs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42094/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the cost of the Redress Scheme from inception to date is €1.038 billion. Of this €832 million was paid in awards. The total third party legal costs associated with these awards and including the costs for those applicants who took High Court actions is €157 million.

Schools Building Projects

Alan Shatter

Question:

89 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the remaining sanction required to facilitate the construction of a new school (details supplied) to go to tender; when it is expected a decision will be made to sanction commencement of the tendering process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42100/10]

The project for the school referred to by the Deputy is currently at an advanced stage of architectural planning. A stage 2B submission has recently been received by my Department and is currently being considered. When the stage submission has been considered my Department will revert to the school with instructions regarding next steps in the progression to tender and construction.

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

90 Deputy Darragh O’Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the progress regarding the construction of a new school building for an organisation (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42128/10]

The project to which the Deputy refers is at an advanced stage of the tender process. Subject to no issues arising, it is anticipated that the project will progress to construction in the near future.

Special Educational Needs

Phil Hogan

Question:

91 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if additional resource hours can be allocated to a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42134/10]

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

Gaeltacht Scholarships

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

92 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a person (details supplied) who was offered a Gaeltacht scholarship from her Department but shortly afterwards the scholarship was withdrawn; if she will explain the reason for the withdrawal of this scholarship; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42154/10]

My Department offers Gaeltacht Scholarships on a competitive basis to the top 15 students from Gaeltacht areas who, amongst other things, have attended an all-Irish second level school, sat their Leaving Certificate through Irish and reached a certain minimum standard in the Leaving Certificate examination. A student must also take at least 5 of their subjects in the leaving Certificate through Irish and this must be confirmed in his/her application for the scholarship.

Unfortunately, due to a computer error in the selection process for these Scholarships this year, the student to which the Deputy refers was offered a Scholarship in error. On becoming aware of the situation, the scholarship awards were re-checked and it transpired that the student had, in fact, only taken three subjects through Irish. This means that his application under the Scheme was invalid. My Department had no option but to withdraw the Scholarship offer on this basis. It was explained to the student, and I am sure that the Deputy will understand this, that in the interest of fairness to the student to whom the scholarship should otherwise have been awarded, the Department must abide strictly by the rules as outlined in the scholarship scheme. The award was subsequently made to that student.

Schools Building Projects

Róisín Shortall

Question:

93 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills when approval will be given to a school (details supplied) to proceed with its new school project in view of the fact that its current accommodation is totally inadequate, it has been in this temporary accommodation for 16 years, it has a site ready, and in light of the considerable unspent capital moneys in her Department. [42168/10]

I can confirm that the school to which the Deputy refers has applied to my Department for large scale capital funding for a new school building. In accordance with the published criteria for large scale building projects, the project for this school has been assigned a Band 2 rating. Information in respect of the current school building programme along with all assessed applications formajor capital works, including this project, is available on the Department's website at www.education.ie.

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

Telecommunications Services

Joe McHugh

Question:

94 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the methodology used to select schools for the high speed broadband for post-primary schools; if she will identify the relevant criteria; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42174/10]

The schools were selected by a working group made up of representatives from: the Department of Education and Skills; the Department of Communications Energy and Natural Resources; the National centre for Technology in Education; and HEAnet. A two stage selection process was used for the selection of schools:

Stage 1: Examined all schools against sub criteria that were independent of the schools.

Stage 2: Examined schools qualified from stage 1 against sub criteria that were school dependent.

STAGE 1

4 sub criteria were identified under Stage 1 of the selection process as set out below:

Geographical Location;

Technical Mix;

Social Inclusion and

Adequate mix of schools

Geographical Location:

The working group sought to ensure that an appropriate percentage of schools invited to participate in the project was achieved between both Dublin and provincial locations. It was also felt that an urban/rural mix could be achieved by ensuring that an adequate number of places were available to the provincial locations. Additionally, it was felt that all counties should be represented in the pilot project. Whilst geographical location was used as the starting point in deciding the selection of schools for progress to stage 2, the working group examined each location with the other criteria in mind. Accordingly, in order to achieve excellent VFM with regard to both backhaul and infrastructure investment, the working group decided to locate a significant number of the provincial locations in places where HEAnet has a major point of presence (PoP) and a contractual agreement to access the PoP.

The working group decided that the following regions should be included for participation in the pilot project:

Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Athlone, Galway, Letterkenny, Waterford, Dundalk, Tipperary.

The remaining places were reserved for locations outside these areas that satisfied specific requirements of the pilot project.

Technology Mix:

The working group wanted to ensure that all technologies that can deliver a 100Mbit/s connection would be tested during the demonstration project. It was decided that areas within a 30km radius of HEAnet PoPs would satisfy this requirement. Accordingly, all schools located within this radius for each of the eight PoPs were identified.

In the Dublin area, it is anticipated that a variety of access technologies could connect the selected schools. As such, the working group were of the opinion that the telecommunications market in Dublin was sufficiently developed to allow a mix of bandwidth technologies to be proposed without the need for further intervention by the working group.

The working group decided that the schools in Dublin should, where possible, include five schools from each of the local authorities.

Social Inclusion:

The working group wanted to ensure that specific communities could be included in the project from a social inclusion perspective. This criterion ensures that island, rural and DEIS schools were included in the project.

Adequate Mix of Schools:

While prioritising schools with a significant student population under the criteria set out above, the working group endeavoured to ensure that an adequate mix of schools was also chosen to be invited to participate in the demonstration project. Consequently, a number of schools were selected with reference to the following selection criteria:

Schools with large cohort of students with special educational needs;

Post Leaving Certificate Schools;

Gaelscoileanna/Gaeltacht Schools;

ICT Adoption;

Gender mix;

Rural/urban mix;

Schools type;

Size of school.

STAGE 2

Stage 2 of the selection process sought to ensure that the schools shortlisted from Stage 1 had the commitment, infrastructure and support to realize the potential of 100Mbit/s bandwidth. Shortlisted schools were invited to apply for inclusion in the project outlining how participation in the project supports their Whole School Evaluation/e-learning plan, and what is required of them in being involved in the project. The working group felt a range of schools with differing levels of ICT usage and infrastructure would be desirable in the project. However, the majority of schools qualifying will demonstrate an existing potential to use 100Mbit/s internet access for learning and teaching purposes. Schools had to agree to the project commitments to qualify for the project. 3 sub criteria were identified under stage 2 of the selection process as set out below:

Current structures and Infrastructure;

Usage of internet for learning and teaching, including any projects; and

Commitment to the project requirements over the next 2 years.

Current Structures and Infrastructure:

The working group wanted to ensure that all schools qualified from Stage 1 would be examined with regard to their ability to utilise the proposed connection as quickly as possible. It was proposed to focus on the schools individual e-learning team and plan, current ICT infrastructure (specifically devices) and teachers ICT proficiency.

Usage of internet for learning and teaching, including any projects:

The working group wanted to ensure that the schools invited to participate in the project had a digital agenda with regard to ICT within the learning and teaching environment. From a project feasibility point of view, all schools identified as suitable for participation in the pilot were subject to examination with regard to cost effectiveness and the ability to deliver the required infrastructure within budgetary constraints.

Grant Payments

Michael McGrath

Question:

95 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the entitlement of Irish persons to apply for a maintenance grant under the higher education grant scheme for study in the United Kingdom; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42183/10]

The statutory framework for the maintenance grants scheme, as set out in the Local Authorities (Higher Education Grants) Acts 1968 to 1992, provides for means-tested higher education grants in order to assist students to attend full-time third level education. The student grant schemes include provision for grants to eligible students pursuing certain full-time undergraduate courses of at least two years duration in other EU Member States. In addition, Section 473A, Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 provides for tax relief, at the standard rate of tax, for tuition fees paid in respect of approved full-time and part-time courses in both private and publicly-funded third level colleges and universities. Further details and conditions in relation to this tax relief are available from the Revenue Commissioners. To establish eligibility for a grant, a student should apply to the grant awarding authority in the area where he/she resides.

School Transport

Pat Breen

Question:

96 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if a person (details supplied) in County Clare will be facilitated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42189/10]

Bus Éireann which operates the school transport scheme on behalf of my Department, is responsible for matters such as the planning of bus routes, the timetabling of services and the designation of pick up and set down points in such a way as to ensure that, as far as possible, pupils have a reasonable level of service consistent with school transport policy while at the same time, ensuring that school transport vehicles are fully utilised in an efficient and cost effective manner.

As a rule primary school transport routes are planned so that, as far as possible, no eligible child will have more than 2.4 kilometres to travel to a pick-up point. Parents/guardians have a responsibility to ensure that their children are brought safely to and collected safely from designated pick up and set down points. Bus Éireann has advised that the family referred to by the Deputy in the details supplied live within 0.7 kilometres from a pick up point on the route of a service to the school in question. As the family has a level of service within guidelines, it is not proposed to alter the current arrangements.

Home Tuition Grant

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

97 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will issue a decision on a home tuition grant in respect of a person (details supplied); when this grant will be paid; if there are any impediments to proceeding with this grant; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42198/10]

The application referred to by the Deputy is currently being considered by my Department and a decision will issue to the family in question shortly.

Schools Building Projects

Emmet Stagg

Question:

98 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will appoint a design team for the extension to a school (details supplied) in County Kildare [42213/10]

The project to which the Deputy refers was announced earlier this year for appointment of a design team. My Department has recently forwarded a Schedule of Accommodation to the school and will shortly be in contact with the school regarding the process for the Appointment of Design Team.

Special Educational Needs

Richard Bruton

Question:

99 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will outline the results of her audit of the special needs assistants programme; the decisions made to date in respect of the service since the audit was completed; her views on the development of this service over the coming four years of budgetary consolidation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42229/10]

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) through its network of Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) has carried out a review of Special Needs Assistant (SNA) allocations. The NCSE has published its report on the Review of Special Needs Assistant (SNA) Allocation to Schools April 2009- March 2010 on its website www.ncse.ie.

The NCSE has since carried out a number of further reviews of SNA allocation of schools, bringing the total number of schools reviewed as at September 2010 to 3,056. Of this number, 2,363 were primary schools, 588 post-primary schools and 105 were special schools. To date, 9,829 SNA posts have been reviewed and 9,395 SNA posts remain in the schools concerned. 434 SNA posts have been withdrawn from schools — in these cases, either the students for whom the posts were originally allocated had left the school or the students' care needs had diminished over time.

Of 2,363 primary schools reviewed 1,261 schools had no change in their SNA level, 704 had a decrease in SNA level, and 398 schools had an increase in their SNA level. Of 588 primary schools reviewed 304 schools had no change in their SNA level, 158 had a decrease in SNA level, and 126 schools had an increase in their SNA level. Of 105 special schools reviewed 54 schools had no change in their SNA level, 29 had a decrease in SNA level, and 22 schools had an increase in their SNA level. The full updated report will be published by the NCSE shortly on its website www.ncse.ie. A small number of schools remain to be reviewed and the NCSE has indicated that these will be reviewed shortly.

There are currently in excess of 10,000 SNAs in schools compared with just 300 in 1997. I wish to emphasise that the criteria governing the allocation of SNA posts has not changed, and that SNA posts continue to be retained, and new posts sanctioned, where the care needs of pupils meet the criteria for the scheme. I can confirm for the Deputy that I am very supportive of the SNA scheme. It has been a key factor in both ensuring the successful integration of children with special educational needs into mainstream education and providing support to pupils enrolled in special schools and special classes.

However, the Deputy will appreciate that the preparation of the Budget is carried out on a strictly confidential basis and as a result it would not be appropriate for me to comment specifically on this matter in advance of the formal announcements involved. The Government has made it clear that difficult decisions will be necessary across the broad spectrum of public expenditure in order to secure the significant level of savings required. This will obviously impact on sectors of public expenditure, including the education sector. The Government will, however, seek to ensure that the necessary savings are achieved in a fair and equitable way.

Third Level Fees

Joe McHugh

Question:

100 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills in the context of the ongoing public debate regarding third level registration fees, if she will acknowledge the huge accommodation costs imposed on rural families with children studying at third level, for example, a family from the north west with three students at university in Dublin and Galway face accommodation costs of up to €15,000 per annum whereas families who live in the university or college towns and cities do not incur such costs; if her review of third level funding will take these factors into account; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42243/10]

I acknowledge that the cost of attending higher education is an important factor for a great number of students and their families. However the Deputy will appreciate that some 43% of all undergraduate students received financial support under my Department's student grant schemes in the 2009/2010 academic year and this number is likely to rise further this year. Under the student grant schemes, students are eligible for grants at either what is known as an adjacent or a non-adjacent rate.

The adjacent rate of grant, which ranges from €330 to €2,545 depending on individual circumstances, is payable where a student's normal residence is 24 Kilometres or less from the college which he/she is attending. The non-adjacent rate of grant, which ranges from €810 to €6,355 again, depending on individual circumstances, is payable in all other cases. Students in need of extra help due to particular financial circumstances may apply to the Access Officer in their institution for support from the Student Assistance Fund.

The Government is committed to ensuring that opportunities to engage in higher education continue to be made available to potential learners and that access to higher education will continue to be determined by a student's ability and not their financial circumstances. A key challenge for the development of the sector will be in enabling it to meet future demand on a sustainable funding basis, without compromising on quality. A widening of the funding base for the sector, to reduce the relatively high level of dependence on the Exchequer, is one of the issues to be considered in that context.

Departmental Expenditure

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

101 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the amount of money owed to private firms by her Department [42267/10]

I refer the Deputy to the attached most recent quarterly return made by my Department in accordance with a Government Decision of May 2009, regarding prompt payment of invoices by Government Departments. These quarterly returns are also posted on the website of my Department. At any given point in time there will be a small number of invoices in respect of which clarification or further documentation is sought from the supplier by the Department before an invoice can be authorised for payment. These are regarded as disputed invoices. My Department seeks to ensure that prompt payment is made to all suppliers while at the same time satisfying the requirement, under the Public Financial Procedures, that invoices are correctly certified as being in order for payment. In the period mid-July 2010 to mid-October 2010 just under €500 was paid in Prompt Payment Interest Penalties to a total of 17 suppliers who were paid outside of the required 30 days payment period.

School Staffing

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

102 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of retired teachers working in schools here; if these retirees have received any training before or during their return to work; the amount spent on any such training in each of the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42277/10]

In September 2010 there were nineteen retired post primary teachers employed on a part-time contractual basis in the voluntary secondary and community /comprehensive sectors. During that month claims were submitted for the payment of 74 retired teachers for work undertaken in a substitute capacity. This represented about 1.75% of the teachers engaged in substitute work for whom the managerial authorities submitted claims for payment.

There were fifty five retired primary teachers employed on a part-time contractual basis in the primary sector during September. During that month claims were submitted for the payment of 302 retired teachers for work undertaken in a substitute capacity. These claims represented approximately 8% of the teachers engaged in substitute work for whom the managerial authorities submitted claims for payment. Generally the professional development support services under the remit of my Department notify school principals of events that may be relevant to different cohorts of teachers, e.g on a subject/programme basis, and it is up to the principal to identify which teachers should attend. My Department does not maintain data on the employment classification of teachers who avail of such training.

Departmental Reports

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

103 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of external reports and reviews commissioned by her Department in 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; if she will name each report and review; if she will outline the spending on external reports and reviews in each of those years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42282/10]

The information sought will be compiled and forwarded to the Deputy.

Departmental Expenditure

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

104 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the amount spent by her Department on security for schools in the years 2009 and to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42292/10]

Decision on the need or cost of security for schools is a matter for each individual Board of Management. The information requested by the Deputy is not readily available, and given that there are over 4,000 first and second level schools, would involve an inordinate amount of administrative time to compile.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

105 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the total capital spending allocated to her Department in 2010; the total allocated moneys spent; the allocated capital spending within her Department in 2010 for each project in tabular form; the amount allocated to each project; the amount spent to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42297/10]

The total capital allocation for the Department of Education and Skills in 2010 is just over €785m including a €79m carryover from 2009. Actual capital expenditure at the end of October amounted to €449.295m. Details of the capital allocation and expenditure to end October 2010 in respect of each sector are as follows:

Sectors

Allocation

Expenditure

€m

€m

Administrative Budget

3.100

0.849

Educational Disadvantage

3.000

1.146

ICT (Schools)

50.000

20.543

National Qualifications Framework

1.000

0.650

F.01 Primary

378.800

211.257

F.02 Post-Primary

200.000

147.313

F.03 Third Level

126.890

59.871

F.04 Other Third Level

0.165

0.000

PPPs

17.773

4.809

FÁS

4.500

2.857

Total

785.228

449.295

Expenditure will be significant during the final two months of the year. For example, the ICT (Schools) which had expenditure of €20.543m at the end of October have spent a further €24m in the first week of November and this trend will manifest itself across the sectors until the end of the year.

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

106 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the amount spent by her Department on public relations and advertising in the years 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42310/10]

My Department incurs expenditure on public advertisements in connection with a wide range of educational programmes and schemes including, staff appointments in the education sector; invitations to attend local hearings; invitations to forward submissions on education-related schemes/projects; invitations to tender for school building projects.

In accordance with a Government decision in July 2008 my Department took steps to reduce expenditure on advertising. Expenditure in 2007 was €816,000 and was reduced to €340,000 in 2008. With ongoing efforts to reduce advertising costs to a minimum the total amount spent by my Department on advertising in 2009 and to date in 2010 is as follows:

2009 — €172,322;

2010 — € 117, 729 (to date).

Expenditure was not incurred on public relations promotions/activities during the period in question.

Education Welfare Service

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

107 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if provision can or will be made to provide a computer to assist the education of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42366/10]

My Department provides for a scheme of grants towards the purchase of equipment for the use of students in second-level schools who have been diagnosed as having serious physical and/or communicative disabilities which make ordinary communication through speech and/or writing impossible for them. The purpose of the grant-aid is to provide such students with equipment of direct educational benefit to them. Examples of such equipment include computers, word processors, tape recorders, software, etc.

The scheme is driven by applications from schools on behalf of individual students, as and when specific needs present. Following the establishment of the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), all applications for assistive technology are submitted by school management to the Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO) with assigned responsibility for the school. The SENO examines applications and makes a recommendation to my Department. The information requested by the Deputy in relation to a specific pupil is not readily identifiable. However, if the Deputy could provide further details in relation to the pupil concerned, I will ensure the information is forwarded to the Deputy as soon as it is available.

Budgetary Measures

Terence Flanagan

Question:

108 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance if he will support a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42169/10]

This question relates to potential Budgetary measures. As Deputies are aware it would not be appropriate for me to comment in advance of the Budget on possible Budget decisions.

Flood Relief

Denis Naughten

Question:

109 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance the progress on flood mitigation works (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42150/10]

The Office of Public Works under the Minor Flood Mitigation Works Scheme approved €270,000 in June this year for Roscommon County Council to undertake works at the location concerned. These works involved the construction of a weir and overflow channel together with the undertaking of channel maintenance. The commencement and progression of the works is a matter for the County Council and funding may be drawn down as the works progress.

Cúrsaí Gaeilge

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

110 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh den Aire Airgeadais céard é an scéal is déanaí faoi Ghaeleagras; an mó cúrsa Gaeilge de chuid Ghaeleagrais atá curtha ar ceal; ós rud é gurb é Gaeleagras a chuir an córas aitheantais ar fáil do státseirbhísigh inniúla sa Ghaeilge a bhí ag iarraidh an incrimint bhreise a úsáid agus iad ag lorg ardú céime sa státseirbhís, cé chuirfidh an córas ar fáil anois; cathain a bheidh Gaeleagras ag déanamh a chuid oibre ina iomláine arís, nó an mbeidh iarratais ar thairiscintí á lorg ag an Roinn Airgeadais go príobháideach le ranganna Gaeilge a chur ar fáil mar a rinne Gaeleagras; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [42175/10]

Toisc go ndeachaigh Oifigeach lán aimseartha amháin amach ar scor le déanaí, maraon le líon áirithe Oifigeach páirt aimseartha, ba ghá líon de na Cúrsaí Gaeilge a bhí fógartha, a chur ar ceal. 69mac léinn a bhi thíos leis. Tá iniúchadh á dhéanamh ag mo Roinnse i láthair na huaire ar staid foirne Ghaeleagrais i bhfianaise na scor seo. D'fhonn teacht leis na srianta maidir le folúntais a líonadh, cuirfear san áireamh san iniúchadh, na féidearthachtaí a bhaineann le hath-imlonnú ó ionaid eile sa státseirbhís. Braithfidh athsceidealú na gCúrsaí atá curtha ar athló ar thoradh an phróisis seo. Tá na Trialacha Inniúlachta, do státseirbhísigh ag leanúint ar aghaidh: cuirfear seisear déag is trí fichid (76) faoi scrudú ar 24 Samhain 2010.

Personal Debt

Thomas Byrne

Question:

111 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Finance when he expects the expert group on mortgage arrears and personal debt to finalise their deliberations and produce a final report [42178/10]

The Mortgage Expert Group submitted its Interim Report to me in early July. The Government accepted all of the recommendations. I understand that good progress has been made in regard to the implementation of the recommendations. Since July, the Expert Group has been working on its Final Report. They have been considering a number of very complex and sensitive issues which has necessitated extensive consultation with various stakeholders. I understand that the Group's will finalize their Report in the coming days and I expect receive it very shortly.

Thomas Byrne

Question:

112 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Finance when he expects the Financial Regulator to publish his amended revised code of conduct on mortgage arrears [42179/10]

The Deputy will be aware that the Expert Group on Mortgage and Arrears and Personal Debt (Expert Group) submitted its Interim Report to me in July. The Government accepted all of the recommendations. I understand that good progress has been made in regard to the implementation of the recommendations. To give effect to the recommendations of the Expert Group, the Financial Regulator undertook a consultation process on the proposed amendments to the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears. I understand from the Financial Regulator that the consultation process has been completed and final preparations for publication of the new Code are in hand.

Fiscal Policy

Michael McGrath

Question:

113 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance his plans to amend the terms of the incentivised scheme for early retirement for civil servants to bring it into line with the recently announced scheme in Health Service Executive on the issue of the payment of retirement lump sums [42180/10]

The Incentivised Scheme of Early Retirement closed in 2009 and, consequently, there are no plans to amend its terms.

Tax Collection

Michael McGrath

Question:

114 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will support the case of a person (details supplied). [42184/10]

I have been informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the details supplied are insufficient to enable them to identify the basis of the transaction described. To pursue the matter further, the person in question should contact Miriam McSweeney, Revenue House, Cork. Telephone Number 021 6027440, and should send Ms McSweeney any documentation received from the insurance company concerned.

Consultancy Contracts

Brian Hayes

Question:

115 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Finance if, notwithstanding the fact that economic experts commissioned by the Government are subject to the provisions of the Official Secrets Act, he can provide assurance that these experts do not also advise private sector interests who are subject to cuts in public expenditure on the way to mitigate their impact; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42190/10]

As previously indicated to the Deputy in my reply to PQ 40173/10, under their terms of their employment, staff with economic expertise are subject to the provisions of the Official Secrets Act, 1963 as amended by the Freedom of Information Acts, 1997 and 2003. In addition, they are required not to disclose to third parties any confidential information especially information with commercial potential either during or subsequent to the period of employment or engage in other work which would result in a conflict of interest. Were any breaches of these provisions to come to my attention or that of my Department, they would be pursued appropriately.

Decentralisation Programme

Denis Naughten

Question:

116 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 132 of 23 June 2009, the updated figures for the number of public servants decentralised to date in each project concerned; when the final transfer will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42232/10]

A total of 3,407 staff have decentralised to 37 locations since the commencement of the programme.

Table 1 gives details of 31 projects in respect of which permanent accommodation has been procured or provided. A total of 2,232 staff have moved to take up positions at those locations.

Table 2 gives details of a further 3 sites where the contractual arrangements for the provision of permanent accommodation are already in place or are under active consideration. A total of 457 staff have already moved to advance offices in respect of these projects.

Table 3 gives details of 57 projects in 41 locations where contractual commitments for the provision of permanent accommodation have not yet been entered into. Advance parties totalling 718 staff are in place in temporary accommodation in respect of 16 of these projects. As already announced, decisions on the timing of implementation of the balance of these projects are deferred pending a review in 2011 in light of budgetary developments. The current economic environment and policies affecting overall public service numbers will impact on the timeframe for the completion of each project and the transfer of further staff to these locations.

Table 1: Decentralisation Projects where property is already completed

Location

Organisation

Total posts to be decentralised

Staff moved to decentralising location to 10 November 2010

Athlone

Education & Skills

88

88

Ballina

Road Safety Authority

62

62

Buncrana

Social Protection

102

100

Carrick-on-Shannon (Phase I)

Social Protection

159

159

Clonakilty

Agriculture Fisheries & Food

86

85

Clonakilty

BIM

90

20

Clonakilty

Sea Fisheries Protection Authority

47

47

Cork

HIQA

100

47

Gaoth Dobhair

Foras Na Gaeilge

5

5

Killarney

Tourism Culture & Sport

103

79

Kilrush

Office of the Revenue Commissioners

57

57

Limerick

Foreign Affairs

134

134

Listowel

Office of the Revenue Commissioners

52

52

Longford

Irish Prison Service

133

133

Loughrea

Road Safety Authority

40

40

Loughrea

Transport

10

10

Naas

IAASA

13

12

Na Forbacha

Community Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs

13

12

Navan

Coroners Service

4

4

Navan

Garda Civilian HR Division

38

38

Navan

National Property Services Regulatory Authority

9

9

Navan

Office of the Director of Probation Service

15

15

Navan

Office of the Revenue Commissioners

100

100

Newbridge

Defence

201

162

Newbridge

Defence Forces

43

55

Newcastlewest

Office of the Revenue Commissioners

52

52

Sligo

Social Protection

88

72

Tipperary Town

Private Security Agency

32

32

Trim

Office of Public Works

334

240

Tullamore

Finance

130

122

Wexford

Environment Heritage & Local Government

270

189

Total

2,610

2,232

Table 2: Priority Decentralisation Projects Approved by Government to Proceed

Location

Organisation

Total posts to be decentralised

Staff moved to decentralising location at 10 November 2010

Property Update

Portlaoise (HQ location)

Community Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs

595

317

Following the decision in December 2009 not to proceed with the PPP Midlands Bundle the Portlaoise project is to proceed on a traditional procurement basis.

Roscommon

Property Registration Authority

230

77

The PRA is expected to move to the building early in the New Year,

Tipperary Town

Justice and Law Reform

186

63

Construction Work due to start early December 2010

Total

1,011

457

Table 3: Decentralisation Projects Deferred, Pending a Review in 2011*

Location

Organisation

Staff moved to decentralising location to 10 November 2010

Moves Deferred

Arklow

NSAI

124

Athlone

Higher Education Authority

64

Athy (advance party in place)

Office of Revenue Commissioners

73

180

Ballinasloe

National Roads Authority

110

Birr (advance party in place)

FÁS

20

378

Carlow (advance party in place)

Enterprise Trade and Innovation

103

257

Carrickmacross

Social Protection

85

Carrick on Shannon

Central Fisheries Board

54

Carrick on Shannon (Phase II)

Social Protection

90

Cavan (advance party in place) — HQ

Communications Energy & Natural Resources

57

244

Cavan/Portlaoise/Galway

HIQA

80

Charlestown (advance party in Tubbercurry)

Community Equality & Gealtacht Affairs

100

64

Claremorris (Phase I)

Office of Public Works

31

104

Claremorris (Phase II)

Office of Public Works

38

Clifden (advance party in place)

Pobal

25

17

Currage

Defence Forces

413

Donegal

Socail Protection

258

Drogheda

Transport

37

Drogheda

Citizens Information Board

49

Drogheda

Local Government Computer Service Board

101

Drogheda

Railway Safety Commission

16

Drogheda

Social Protection

499

Dundalk (advance party in place)

Sustainable Energy Ireland

11

23

Dungarvan

OSI

206

Edenderry

FETAC

44

Edenderry

HETAC

34

Edenderry

NQAI

18

Enniscorthy

Bord Bia

76

Fermoy

Agriculture Fisheries & Food

100

Gaoth Dobhair

Foras na Gaeilge

25

Kanturk

Office of Public Works

88

Kildare

Office of the Revenue Commissioners

380

Kildare

Finance — CMOD

30

Kilkenny

Environment Heritage & Local Government

62

Kilkenny

Arts Council

49

Killarney

Irish Sports Council

31

Macroom

Agriculture Fisheries & Food

100

Mallow

Fáilte Ireland

163

Mitchelstown

CIÉ Group

200

Monaghan

Combat Poverty Agency

25

Mullingar

Education & Skills

7

290

Naas

Health Service Executive

300

New Ross

Environment Heritage & Local Government

125

Portarlington (advance party)

Data Protection Commissioner

23

0

Portarlington (advance party in Portlaoise)

Equality Tribunal (civil service)

8

34

Portarlington (advance party in Portlaoise)

NCCA (civil service)

12

25

Portarlington

NEWB

14

Roscrea (advance party in place)

Equality Authority (civil service)

16

25

Roscrea

Garda Ombudsman Commission

23

Shannon (advance party in place)

Enterprise Ireland**

66

226

Shannon

Irish Aviation Authority

102

Thomastown (advance party in Kilkenny)

Health & Safety Authority

33

83

Thurles (advance party in place)

Garda Headquarters CGVU & FCPS

133

133

Waterford

Environment Heritage & Local Government

225

Wexford

National Building Agency

63

Youghal

Public Appointments Service

100

Youghal

Valuation Office

100

Total

718

6,784

*This Review will take account of the impact of the Rationalisation of State Agencies.

**Including 40 existing Shannon Development and EI posts located in Shannon as part of a parallel process.

Banking Sector Regulation

Joe McHugh

Question:

117 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Finance if he will acknowledge that banks asset books contain huge private mortgages portfolios; that defaulted mortgages will leave banks in possession of assets worth less that their paper value; if budget 2011 will introduce mechanisms that encourage banks to negotiate with private mortgage holders on partial write-offs and credit negotiations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42244/10]

The mortgage portfolios which form part of a bank's asset book depend on the institution's level of activity in mortgage lending. Some financial institutions engaged in greater mortgage lending than others and would therefore contain larger mortgage portfolios. Although the number of mortgages in arrears has risen, the number of repossessions remains low.

The Deputy will appreciate that I will not comment on the contents of Budget 2011. However, I can say that as part of the Government's commitments to Protecting the Family Home and Helping Those in Debt under the Renewed Programme for Government, I established the Expert Group on Mortgage Arrears and Personal Debt last February to give effect to those commitments.

The Mortgage Expert Group submitted its Interim Report to me in early July. In general the recommendations of the Expert Group's Interim Report are intended to improve communication between householders in arrears and their lenders; provide for a more consistent assessment process by lenders of borrowers in difficulty and introduce an industry-wide Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process (MARP) including a range of forbearance measures. The recommendations have been accepted in full by the Government and implementation is under way.

I expect to receive a further Report from the Group very shortly.

Finally, I can assure you that it remains the Government's objective that home owners who are in difficulty should be assisted to retain their homes.

Financial Services Regulation

Finian McGrath

Question:

118 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the amount in Irish credit unions and if this finance could be used more constructively in our economy. [42259/10]

Based on information at 30 June 2010, the total assets of the credit union sector in Ireland is €14.5 billion. The Deputy is aware credit unions are independent financial institutions with full responsibility and control over their own funds. It is open to credit unions to invest surplus funds as they see fit provided that such loans or investments are made in accordance with the provisions of the Credit Union Act 1997. As Minister for Finance I do not have a role in making recommendations to credit unions on where they might invest their funds.

Section 55 of the Credit Union Act 1997 sets out details of the functions of the board of directors of a credit union. This includes the making of decisions on applications for loans and decisions in respect of the investment of funds of the credit union. There are also obligations on boards on the general control, direction and management of the affairs, funds and records of their credit unions. In this context, the Registrar of Credit Unions requires credit unions to manage their business in a prudent manner and to comply with all regulatory requirements, guidance notes and circulars which he issues.

The Deputy will also be aware that the conditions for registration as a credit union include having as one of the objects of the credit union the education of its members in their economic, social and cultural well-being as members of the community and the improvement of the well being and spirit of the members' community. Section 44 of the Credit Union Act 1997 provides that a credit union, subject to the accompanying provisions in legislation, may establish a special fund to be used by the credit union for social, cultural or charitable purposes, including community development.

Tax Code

Finian McGrath

Question:

119 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will support a matter (details supplied). [42260/10]

In my 2010 Budget Statement I said that I accepted the Commission on Taxation's recommendation that retirement lump sums below €200,000 should not be taxed. I further indicated that the tax treatment of retirement lump sums above €200,000 would be considered in the Government's National Pensions Framework. This position is reflected on page 41 of the Framework document published in March 2010 which states that "arrangements for the tax treatment of lump sums greater than €200,000 would be considered and developed during the implementation of this framework"

As indicated in the National Pensions Framework, there are a number of fundamental issues which have yet to be considered in this process, including, among other things, the appropriate rate of tax (standard, higher or other) that should apply to lump sum payments in excess of €200,000.

Departmental Expenditure

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

120 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance the amount of money owed to private firms by his Department. [42270/10]

My Department abides by the relevant legislation and Government policies regarding prompt payment for goods and services supplied by private sector organisations. Supplies that are in order and that have been invoiced in accordance with agreed arrangements are paid on average with a delay of only 8 days, which is comfortably within the Government policy objective of payment within 15 days and the usual period of credit allowed by suppliers. In that sense, therefore, no amount of money is owed to private firms.

Consultancy Contracts

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

121 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance the number of external reports and reviews commissioned by his Department in 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; if he will name each report and review; if he will outline the spending on external reports and reviews in each of those years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42285/10]

In the period in question there were eighteen external reports or reviews commissioned by my Department.Details of the reports and reviews are contained in the following tables:

Year 2008

Title of external report or review commissioned

Cost

Review of the National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF)

Nil

Value for Money and Policy Review of the Construction Procurement Reform Initiative.

4,114

Study on the Economic and Budgetary Impact of the Introduction of a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base in the European Union.

194,000

Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Sector Report No. 43.

190,561

Job evaluation of senior posts in the public sector for the Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Sector.

114.000

Provision of Publicity Services for NDP/CSF to support delivery of NDP Communications Strategy particularly at local level

39,000

Development of NDP 2007-2013 Identity Guidelines as agreed under the Government- approved Communications Strategy for the National Development Plan 2007-2013.

13,000

Work in relation to the Department of Finance Capacity Review carried out by the Institute of Public Administration.

51,000

Year 2009

Title of external report or review commissioned

Cost

Parallel Benchmarking Pensions Review — Independent study of pension provisions for public service craft workers relative to pensions arrangements in equivalent private sector companies in Ireland.

32,805

Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes.

42,312

Covered Institutions Remuneration Oversight Committee (CIROC). Established to oversee all remuneration plans of senior executives of the covered institutions.

47,178

Legal Due Diligence of Anglo Irish Bank carried out by Arthur Cox Solicitors Pre-nationalisation due diligence report.

135,000

Legal Due Diligence of EBS. A high level Legal issues Report on EBS carried out by Arthur Cox Solicitors

230,000

Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Sector Report No. 44.

268,959

Legal Due Diligence of Irish Nationwide Building Society. A High level Legal issues Report on Irish Nationwide Building Society Carried out by Arthur Cox

725,000

Review of Bank Submissions to the EU. Review the restructuring plans prepared by AIB, BOI and Anglo Irish Bank for the EU Commission.

60,500

Commission on Taxation Report 2009.

737,848

To date 2010

Title of external report or review commissioned

Cost

‘The Irish banking crisis: regulatory and financial stability policy 2003-2008,’ by the Governor of the Central Bank

Nil

Mortgage Arrears and Personal Debt Expert Group. Interim report produced on 5th July 2010.

Nil

Review group on State Assets and Liabilities.

4,000 (to date)

‘A preliminary report on the sources of Ireland’s banking crisis’, by Klaus Regling and Max Watson.

124,399

Independent Review of the Department of Finance.

200,000 (estimated)

Arthur Cox are the legal advisors to the Department in respect of the banking sector. This has included the production of reports in addition to the ongoing day to day provision of legal advice and it is not possible to specify exact amounts attributable solely to external reports produced by the firm.

Overall expenditure with the firm 1 Jan-30 Sep 2010 is: €3,907,306

Departmental Expenditure

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

122 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance the total capital spending allocated to his Department in 2010; the total allocated moneys spent; the allocated capital spending within his Department in 2010 for each project in tabular form; the amount allocated to each project; the amount spent to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42300/10]

The total capital budget allocated to my Department for 2010 together with spend to date is set out in the following tabular format:

Programme

Allocation

Spend to date

Centre for Management and Organisation Development — Government Networks Infrastructure, Cloud Computing Infrastructure Research and e-Government Infrastructure.

650,000

74,000

Peace Programme/Northern Ireland INTERREG — capital expenditure requirements (e.g. essential equipment, IT equipment) for the projects assisted under the EU programmes.

220,000

154,000

Special EU Programmes Body — the renewal of IT and other office equipment

35,000

10,000

905,000

238,000

Consultancy Contracts

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

123 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance the amount spent by his Department on public relations and advertising in the years 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42313/10]

The following table sets out the total spend by my Department on public relations and advertising in the years 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010.

Year

Total Spend

2008

140,567

2009

76,776

2010

40,290

Tax Collection

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

124 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance if a refund of tax will be awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42367/10]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that according to their records the person concerned ceased employment on 23rd July 2010. In order to claim an unemployment repayment the person concerned should complete a form P50 i.e. First Claim for Tax Repayment during unemployment, which is available on the Revenue website www.revenue.ie . When completed this document together with his P45 which he received from his former employer should be submitted to the Revenue Commissioners, East & South East Region, PAYE Mail Centre, P.O. Box 1, Rosslare Harbour, Co Wexford for processing. Any refund due will then issue to the person.

Legislative Programme

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

125 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children when the wording for the proposed amendment of the Constitution regarding children will be finalised; when the referendum will be held; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42113/10]

I presented a copy of the third and final report of the Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children to Cabinet in early March. The Cabinet decided that, in view of the complex nature of the issues involved, all Ministers and Government Departments, as well as the Attorney General, should consider the report, and examine the implications of the proposed wording for their individual areas of responsibility.

A range of unintended policy and resource implications were identified, including concerns that the concept of continuity of care might lead to children being left in inappropriate care situations. There were also concerns about implications for immigration policy, as someone due to be deported could claim it is in their child's interests that they remain in the country, and about the way in which the voice of the child provisions could lead to unwieldy and inappropriate arrangements; for example, where a child is being suspended from school it could result in legal representation being on both sides.

In view of these difficulties, I was granted Government approval to develop a revised wording for an amendment, in co-operation with the Office of the Attorney General. The new wording, which takes into account the proposals put forward by the Committee, is being drafted by the Attorney General's Office, with policy support provided by my Office. It is hoped that a recommendation will be brought to Cabinet very soon.

The matter is receiving full attention. Meetings have taken place between myself, the Tánaiste, the Attorney General, and the Minister for Justice and Law Reform, with a view to moving a proposal forward, and officials from my Office have met staff from the Attorney General's Office this week for discussions on the proposed wording.

Health Service Staff

Joan Burton

Question:

126 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Health and Children if all of the promised extra social workers have been appointed; if not, when they will be; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42114/10]

The Implementation Plan approved by Government, arising from the findings of the Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse committed to the recruitment of an additional 270 social workers before the end of 2011.

The Government provided an amount of €15m in 2010 to advance the actions in the Implementation Plan, including the recruitment of an additional 200 social work posts in 2010. The recruitment of these additional 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 for September, shows an increase of 93 social work posts in 2010, an increase of 43 over the figure for August. The HSE has advised that there is a time lag between individuals taking up duty and their inclusion in the HSE Employment Census. In this regard the HSE has further advised that contracts have issued in respect of all 200 approved posts. My Department has been assured by the HSE that all 200 additional social workers will be in place by year end.

Medicinal Products

Joan Burton

Question:

127 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Health and Children her view on the guidelines on the sale of medicines containing codeine which were issued by the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland; if her Department or the Health Service Executive have any role in ensuring that patients rights are protected in the implementation of the guidelines; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42115/10]

The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI), the regulatory body for pharmacy in Ireland, issued new guidance to pharmacists on the safe supply of non-prescription products containing codeine on the 1st of August 2010. All pharmacists and retail pharmacy businesses are required to comply with this guidance.

Codeine is a controlled drug listed in the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961. If inappropriately used it can be associated with dependence or reduced effect over time. According to the National Drug Treatment Reporting System, maintained by the Health Research Board, the numbers entering treatment for codeine as a problem drug have increased considerably, from 40 in 1998 to 180 in 2009. This is an indicator that the use of codeine can cause dependence. In addition, between 1998 and 2007, codeine, either alone or in conjunction with another drug, was implicated in the cause of 90 fatal poisonings. These data are based on data from the National Drug-Related Deaths Index.

Under the Medicinal Products (Prescription and Control of Supply) Regulations 2003, as amended, codeine-containing medicinal products are ordinarily subject to prescription control. However, at specified lower strengths, codeine-containing products may be supplied without a prescription "by or under the personal supervision of a pharmacist". The PSI guidance is intended to assist pharmacists in carrying out their legal and professional responsibility by engaging with patients to ensure that the product is the most suitable product for the patient in the circumstances.

The guidance requires pharmacists to engage personally with patients and to exercise their professional judgement in consultation with the patient when deciding if a codeine-containing medicinal product is the most appropriate treatment or whether another product would be more suitable for the patient.

Under the statutory Code of Conduct for Pharmacists, pharmacists are required to act at all times to maintain and improve the health, well-being and safety of patients, and also to comply with all relevant laws, regulations, and rules. It is a pharmacist's duty to act at all times in the best interest of the patient. Breaches of the Code of Conduct for Pharmacists may result in a fitness to practice complaint against a pharmacist or pharmacy.

I welcome the steps being taken by the PSI to increase patient safety and awareness with regard to the use of codeine products and the increase in the interaction between the pharmacy profession and the public.

Questions Nos. 128 and 129 answered with Question No. 40.
Question No. 130 answered with Question No. 61.

Nursing Home Repayment Scheme

Michael Creed

Question:

131 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health and Children if she considers it fair and reasonable that a person (details supplied) who has been refunded for illegal deductions arising from their accommodation in a long-stay institution under the health repayment scheme has no access to the funds refunded and neither does the person’s family whilst sole access to the account is controlled by the institution that made the illegal deduction initially; if, in view of the fact that the individual involved resides with the individual’s family each weekend, she will reflect on the appropriate management of this account and all other accounts in similar circumstances; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42095/10]

Under the Health (Repayment Scheme) Act 2006, a relevant person or a connected person as defined in the Act was entitled to apply for a repayment under the scheme.

A relevant person is a person who was charged and paid recoverable health charges.

A connected person includes the following:

(a) a person who has been nominated in writing by the relevant person,

(b) the Registrar of Wards of Court if the relevant person is a ward of court,

(c) a person with an enduring power of attorney in respect of the relevant person,

(d) a next friend appointed by a court,

(e) the HSE if none of the aforementioned is applicable to the relevant person, and the relevant person is unable to make an application due to a physical or mental disability or ill-health,

(f) a living spouse or living child of the relevant person who has paid recoverable health charges on behalf of the relevant person.

In regard to patients in the care of the HSE who were deemed by a medical practitioner not to have sufficient mental capacity to understand the scheme and for whom there was no other connected person as defined in the legislation, the HSE made application to the Scheme Administrator for a repayment on their behalf. As provided for in the legislation, all such payments made in respect of HSE applications were lodged to the patient's own private property account. The legislation also provides that an application may be made to a judge of the Circuit Court for the repayment to be made otherwise than to the patient's private property account.

Where monies have been lodged to a patient's private property account, the HSE ensures that this money is used only for the benefit of the patient. All funds held in a patient's private property account are the property of that patient and are retained for the exclusive use of the patient. In the case of the individual concerned there is an agreed process in place between the care centre and the HSE to transfer funds when required for the patients' comforts. The HSE is always happy to involve interested family members in the management of each patient's finances, so as to ensure that the patient's available funds are used to best effect in providing benefit to the patient concerned.

Child Care Services

Mary Upton

Question:

132 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children if, and in what form, section 7 of the Child Care Act 1991 is still law; the way, and in what form, the role of the child care advisory committees was transferred to the Health Service Executive; the current role, activities, publications, reports and detailed membership of these committees or this committee; the way they are currently discharging their functions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42102/10]

I can confirm that Section 7 of the Child Care Act, 1991, as amended by the Health Act, 2004, is still in force. Section 7 relates to the establishment by the Health Service Executive (HSE) of ‘Child Care Advisory Committees' and as such, the matter has been referred to the Executive for direct reply.

Mary Upton

Question:

133 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children if, and in what form, section 8 of the Child Care Act 1991 is still law; the way and in the manner the Health Service Executive is discharging its responsibilities under section 8(3) and section 8(4) of the Act, listing the parties noticed; when she herself last received such a report and for what year; the way these functions are now being discharged; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42103/10]

The legal definition of the purpose and function of the Section 8 Report is set out in the Child Care Act, 1991.

The Report for 2008 is the latest Section 8 Report submitted. I laid that Report before the Houses of the Oireachtas in October 2009.

Having regard to the recommendations of the Commission to Inquire into Child

Abuse, officials from my Office met with the HSE earlier this year to discuss how the Section 8 Report could be enhanced and how the information now becoming available can be used in HSE performance reports submitted to the Department. I want future Section 8 Reports to demonstrate the Health Service Executive's ability to evaluate its own services, so the report has to contain not only data and descriptive information, but also good analysis of this. The report should be of use to the HSE itself in evaluating its year's work and identifying what has been achieved, what is working well and what is problematic or insufficient. I also want some indication in the report of how resources have been used by the HSE and to what effect; what the staffing situation is; and as much emphasis on Family Support as on Child Protection and Child Care.

A template for the drafting of future Section 8 Reports has now been agreed with the HSE and I expect to be provided with the 2009 Section 8 Report by the end of this year. It has also been agreed that future reports will be produced in a timely fashion.

Health Service Staff

Seymour Crawford

Question:

134 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress that has been made regarding the implementation of the Croke Park agreement and if changes will be made to it to allow for essential redundancies which need to take place at the higher administration levels within the Health Service Executive; her views that without such redundancies the front line services provided by the HSE will suffer in an unacceptable way if the potential €1 billion cuts in the health service area is to be reached; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41569/10]

The Public Service Agreement 2010-2014 (the "Croke Park Agreement") provides a framework for public service management and staff to work together to deliver an ongoing reduction in the cost of delivery of public services, while maintaining and improving the quality of services delivered to the public, in return for commitments on pay and security of employment for public servants. The Implementation Body has been established to drive the implementation of the Agreement across all sectors and ensure that early, robust and verifiable reforms are secured, which lead to sustainable and verifiable savings in the cost of public service delivery.

The Health Sector Action Plan, which was developed by my Department working closely with the HSE, recognises that the Public Service Agreement enables the Health Sector to protect services to patients/users, in as far as is possible, within the context of whatever expenditure decisions are made by Government for 2011 and subsequent years. The Plan also takes account of the fact that the implementation of reform is a dynamic process, and one which will allow identification of changes which may be required in the way services are delivered and the associated changes in work practices, on an ongoing basis.

The Health Sector Implementation Body (HSIB) is responsible for driving the implementation of the Action Plan and will be required to report on progress to the Implementation Body. Local structures are also being put in place at regional level across the HSE to help to drive implementation of the Public Service Agreement at a regional level and report progress to the HSIB.

On 1 November 2010, I announced that the Government has decided to approve a voluntary early retirement (VER) scheme and a voluntary redundancy scheme (VRS) for certain categories of staff in the public health service. The purpose of the schemes is to achieve a permanent reduction in the numbers employed in the public health sector from 2011 onwards and to facilitate health service reform. As the Public Service Agreement commits all parties to the reduction of public servants and provides for Government to offer voluntary mechanisms to exit the Public Service, there is no need to amend the Agreement, as the Deputy has suggested.

The VER and VRS schemes are open to employees management and administrative staff and general support staff but priority will be given to management and administrative grades. The exact grades covered by the two schemes are set out in detail in the relevant Circular (Circular 7/2010). There is general acceptance of the need to reduce the numbers of management and administrative staff in the health service. For that reason, all applications from management and administrative staff to avail of the schemes will be approved. Approval for applications from support staff will depend on the numbers of management and administrative staff who apply and the overall cap on costs not being breached.

I am happy to report that there is a high level of interest in the schemes. However it is not possible to predict, as yet, to what extent the current level of enquiries will translate into actual applications ahead of the closing date of 19 November.

Health service employers will be looking to the provisions of the Croke Park agreement to ensure they continue to deliver services with reduced numbers and I understand that an engagement with the relevant trade unions has already begun. While the implementation of the schemes will challenge the health service over the coming months, I believe that it will lead to a more efficient health service in the long term.

Medical Cards

Seymour Crawford

Question:

135 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan can expect to have their medical card reinstated; the reason they received no correspondence to say that it was being stopped; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42117/10]

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

Hospital Services

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

136 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children when the new kidney dialysis unit in Mayo General Hospital will be ready to accommodate patients who are travelling a five-hour round trip three times per week to receive dialysis in University College Hospital Galway. [42120/10]

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

Health Service Staff

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

137 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of staff in St. Luke’s Hospital, Rathgar, Dublin 6, who have been offered and or accepted a voluntary redundancy package; if she will provide a breakdown by grade or category; the deadline for acceptance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42122/10]

On 1 November 2010 I announced that the Government has decided to approve a voluntary early retirement scheme and a voluntary redundancy scheme for certain categories of staff in the public health service. Eligible staff in St. Luke's Hospital are included in these schemes.

The purpose of the schemes is to achieve a permanent reduction in the numbers employed in the public health sector from 2011 onwards and to facilitate health service reform. The Government has decided that funding of up to €400 million will be made available in 2010 to fund the up-front costs of both schemes.

The VER and VR schemes are open to management and administrative staff and general support staff but priority will be given to management and administrative grades. The exact grades covered by the two schemes are set out in detail in the relevant Circular (Circular 7/2010).

Employees in the eligible groups have up to 19 November 2010 to submit completed application forms under the relevant scheme. All applicants whose application is approved must confirm their acceptance of the offer by the 30 November 2010 and their decision is irrevocable from that date. The absolute deadline for departure from the health service under either scheme is 30 December 2010.

Hospital Services

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

138 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Health and Children the specific services that will have moved to the new cancer unit in St. James’s Hospital from St. Luke’s Hospital, Rathgar by 31 December 2010; if St. Luke’s Hospital will not accept new patients from 1 January 2011; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42123/10]

The matter raised by Deputy Quinn relates to service delivery and, accordingly, I have asked the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy.

Departmental Properties

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

139 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Health and Children if her Department has entered into any formal or informal negotiations concerning the sale of buildings at St. Luke’s Hospital, Rathgar; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42124/10]

It is important to note that under the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2010, ownership of the land and buildings of St Luke's Hospital, Rathgar, was transferred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) and not to the Minister. My Department has not entered into any negotiations, formal or informal, regarding the sale of the hospital.

As I stated during the Oireachtas debate on the legislation, it was never my intention that the St Luke's site would be sold. Accordingly, the Act provides in Section 6(5) that the HSE shall use the St Luke's property for the purposes of the delivery of health and personal social services and in Section 6(6) that the HSE may not dispose of the property without the consent of the Minister.

Medical Cards

Thomas Byrne

Question:

140 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Meath. [42126/10]

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

Michael McGrath

Question:

141 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an over 70 years medical card application by persons (details supplied) in County Cork. [42140/10]

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

Frank Feighan

Question:

142 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Health and Children the average waiting times for medical card applicants in counties Roscommon and Leitrim and the way they compare with the national average. [42160/10]

Frank Feighan

Question:

143 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Health and Children if measures aimed at reducing waiting times for medical cards, outlined in her letter to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children in August, have had a beneficial effect on medical card waiting times. [42161/10]

Frank Feighan

Question:

144 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Health and Children if one of the measures aimed at reducing waiting times for medical cards, namely that staff in local health offices will have more time and resources to meet pressing front line needs, has been implemented. [42162/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 142 to 144, inclusive, together.

The Health Service Executive (HSE), with my full support, decided to centralise the processing of all medical cards and GP visit card applications and renewals to its Primary Care Reimbursement Service (PCRS) in Dublin.

In January 2009, the PCRS took over the processing of all medical card applications for persons aged 70 or over. In September 2009, the processing of all applications from two Local Health Offices in Dublin transferred to the PCRS.

Completed applications received in the central office are being processed in 15 working days. I understand that a backlog of medical card applications has accrued in some Local Health Offices and I have asked the HSE to address this issue as a matter of urgency.

In June 2010, the HSE introduced a new website, www.medicalcard.ie, which enables people anywhere in the country to apply for a medical card through a simple and efficient on-line application process. On-line assessments are immediate and for applicants who supply all evidence/documentation and are eligible on income grounds, medical card delivery is guaranteed within 15 days of receipt of the completed application pack. The HSE has also made provision for emergency applications to be dealt with immediately. The PCRS is receiving approximately 3,000 applications each week via this new channel, with more than 50% of these being made outside normal office hours.

Significant progress has been made in this national project in providing an improved service to the public at less cost to the State. Up to 8th October 2010, the PCRS has received 211,801 medical card applications and reviews and issued 171,237 medical cards.

The next phase of the project will move the processing of all new applications to the Central Office following a consultative process with staff representatives in line with the recent agreement on pay and reform in the public service.

As the centralisation process continues, more initiatives will be introduced and the current initiatives will be further enhanced as the HSE receives feedback and continues to engage closely with advocacy groups, staff, public representatives and primary care contractors.

When the centralisation process is finalised (estimated completion date is 31st March 2011), staff in the Local Health Offices will continue to have access to the national system and will be available to help clients with enquiries about their application or review and will also be able to deal with queries of a general nature about the medical card scheme. Completion of the centralisation process will result in some Local Health Office staff being available for redeployment to the central office or key front-line services (e.g. Primary Care Teams).

As information regarding average waiting times for medical card applications in Local Health Offices is not returned to my Department as a matter of routine, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to address this matter and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Hospital Services

Frank Feighan

Question:

145 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Health and Children if the €1 million cut in Roscommon County Hospital’s budget for 2011 from €19.8 million to €18.8 million combined with plans for a €70 million new ward for University Hospital Galway and increased capacity for elective surgery at Merlin Park Hospital is evidence that the downgrading at Roscommon hospital has begun. [42163/10]

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

Health Service Staff

Jack Wall

Question:

146 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide a breakdown of the number of employees employed by the Health Service Executive in the Kildare and west Wicklow areas indicating their status in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42177/10]

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

Health Services

Pat Breen

Question:

147 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Clare will be facilitated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42186/10]

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

Pat Breen

Question:

148 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 244 of the 19 October 2010 when an application will be processed in respect of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42187/10]

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

Medical Cards

Ned O'Keeffe

Question:

149 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to a situation which is arising with medical card holders attending accident and emergency (details supplied). [42200/10]

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

Assisted Human Reproduction

Noel Ahern

Question:

150 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide an update on proposed legislation regarding protection of human embryos; if heads of this legislation have been released; if a target date for publishing of this legislation can be outlined; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42202/10]

My Department is currently developing policy proposals to regulate the area of Assisted Human Reproduction (AHR) with the intention of finalising them early next year; these proposals will form the basis of legislation in the area of AHR.

Medical Cards

Noel Ahern

Question:

151 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will examine the situation regarding delays to medical card appeal cases in the Health Service Executive; the length of time an appeal process should take; if she will seek a report on the case of persons (details supplied) in Dublin 9; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42205/10]

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

Pharmacy Regulations

Róisín Shortall

Question:

152 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children the requirements of the new regulations covering pharmacists in respect of the provision of a separate consulting area within an existing pharmacy; the implications of this requirement for security and staffing within a pharmacy and the grounds on which a pharmacist may obtain an exemption from this requirement. [42230/10]

Retail pharmacy business owners and superintendent pharmacists are required to conduct their retail pharmacy business in compliance with the Pharmacy Act 2007 and the Regulation of Retail Pharmacy Businesses Regulations 2008 (S.I. No. 488 of 2008).

The Regulations, which I made in November 2008, require that all retail pharmacy businesses provide a separate, designated, conveniently located area for patient consultation within the pharmacy premises. A transition period of two years from November 2008 until November 2010 was provided for pharmacies already in operation to make arrangements for a private consultation area in their premises. There is no exemption to the requirement to provide a separate consulting area within a pharmacy.

The purpose of private consultation areas is to facilitate private and confidential conversation between patient and pharmacist regarding the patient's medication and other health matters. It is essential that patients are afforded the privacy they require in order to engage with their pharmacist regarding their medicines. In addition, patients should be encouraged to avail of private consultation areas to obtain the information and advice from the pharmacist regarding their medicines and other health matters.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI), the regulatory body for pharmacy in Ireland, issued new guidance to pharmacists on patient consultation areas to facilitate compliance with the Regulations. The PSI's guidance sets out the criteria to be adhered to by pharmacists, with a view to ensuring the provision of a designated patient consultation area which is appropriate, accessible, safe and allows for private discussions between pharmacist and patient. The security and safety of the patient and the pharmacist is paramount and is addressed in the PSI guidance.

Health Service Staff

John Perry

Question:

153 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason care assistants, home help and support staff within the Health Service Executive do not qualify for the new HSE voluntary redundancy package despite the fact that a number of them would avail of it; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42234/10]

On 1 November 2010 I announced that the Government has decided to approve a voluntary early retirement scheme and a voluntary redundancy scheme for certain categories of staff in the public health service.

The purpose of the schemes is to achieve a permanent reduction in the numbers employed in the public health sector from 2011 onwards and to facilitate health service reform. The Government has decided that funding of up to €400 million will be made available in 2010 to fund the up-front costs of both schemes.

The VER and VR schemes are open to management and administrative staff and general support staff (e.g. porters, drivers, chefs) but priority will be given to management and administrative grades. The exact grades covered by the two schemes are set out in detail in the relevant Circular (Circular 7/2010). The schemes are not targeted at those providing front-line services, therefore they are not open to the grades referred to in the Deputy's question.

Departmental Expenditure

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

154 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of money owed to private firms by her Department [42272/10]

Under the Prompt Payment Act my Department pays invoices for goods and services as soon as possible. Approximately 98% of invoices are paid within 30 days of their receipt. Delays normally arise only where the amount payable is not clear or where questions arise about the delivery of the service on goods in question. The Deputy will appreciate that the number of invoices awaiting payment to private firms will vary from day to day.

Departmental Reports

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

155 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of external reports and reviews commissioned by her Department in 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; if she will name each report and review; if she will outline the spending on external reports and reviews in each of those years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42287/10]

A total of 61 reports and reviews were commissioned by my Department during the years in question. The remainder of the information requested by the Deputy is set out below.

Reports commissioned in 2008

Name of Report

Cost

National Children’s Advisory Council (NCAC) — End of Term Report 2005-2008

Nil

Report of the Independent Pharmacy Pricing Body

41,497

Strategic Plan for the St. Ultan’s Children’s Project

14,702

Study of certain Accounting Issues within the Health Service Executive

54,450

A Directory of Health Research Undertaken on Children (0-17 years)

60,148

National Men’s Health Policy 2008-2013

20,604

Evaluation Report on a programme of inclusion for marginalised young people, established by the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs.

15,727

Phase III of a Qualitative Longitudinal Study of Homeless Youth in Dublin

22,000

Report of the Commission established to provide an independent assessment of how a 35 hour week can be achieved for nurses

397,540

Research on young carers in the Irish population

108,476

Review of Protecting our Future: Working Group on Elder Abuse 2002

66,460

Review of circumstances surrounding the elapse of time in bringing to completion the Western Health Board inquiry into allegations of abuse in the Brothers of Charity Services, Galway.

21,015

2008 — National Strategy for Service User Involvement in the Irish Health Service 2008-2013

3,670

Evaluation of the Comhairle na nÓg Development Fund 2008-2009

39,982

Third Annual Report of the Independent Monitoring Group on ‘A Vision for Change’ — the Report of the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy

16,154

Reports commissioned in 2009

Name of Report

Cost

Value for Money and Policy Review of Disability Services

30,940

Report of the Expert Group on Resource Allocation and Financing in the Health Sector

71,657

Evaluation of the use of resources in the national population-based cancer screening programme and associated services

Nil

Health in Ireland — Key Trends 2009

5,647

Dáil na nÓg Delegate Report 2009

16,080

Action Plan for Health Research 2009-2013

6,623

National Policy and Strategy for the Provision of Neuro-Rehabilitation Services 2010-2015.

7,040 (estimated)

A Quantitative Tool for Workforce Planning in Healthcare: Example Simulations

Nil

An Integrated Workforce Planning Strategy for the Health Services 2009-2012

Nil

A Review of Practice Development in Nursing and Midwifery in the Republic of Ireland and the Development of a Strategic Framework

30,000

Teenage Mental Health: What helps and what hurts? Report on the Outcome of Consultations with Teenagers on Mental Health

18,933

Value for Money and Policy Review of the Economic Cost and Charges associated with Private and Semi-Private Treatment Services in Public Hospitals

2,000

IHR External Assessment Group Report: International Health Regulations, 2009

Nil

Research Study on National Strategies for Older People

21,780

National Cardiovascular Policy Group

44,484

Working Group to develop a National Substance Misuse Strategy

Nil

Report of the Implementation Group on Alcohol Misuse

Nil

Tackling Chronic Disease — A Policy Framework for the Management of Chronic Diseases

3,600

Compensation for Thalidomide Survivors.

Nil

Evaluation of the Comhairle na nÓg Development Fund 2009-2010.

Costs to date: 15,125

Consultation process with children living in the Care of the state as recommended in the Ryan Report .

Costs to date: 87,460

Evaluation of the Dáil na nÓg Council

6,210

Report of the Health Insurance Authority to the Minister on Risk Equalisation .

Nil

Reports commissioned in 2010

Name of Report

Cost

Drogheda Review — independent review in relation to Mr. Michael Shine

Estimated: 146,000

Independent Child Death Review Group

Estimated: 150,000

Evaluation of the Suboxone Feasibility Study

17,500

Compensation for Thalidomide Survivors

Nil

Value for Money and Policy Review (VFMPR) of Disability Services

30,940

Report of the Working Group on the Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Mainstream Pre-School Settings

Nil

Working Group on Sport Sponsorship by the Alcohol Industry

Nil

Tobacco Policy Review Group

Not completed — cost not yet available

Health in Ireland — Key Trends in 2010

Estimated: 4,177

Fourth Annual Report of the Independent Monitoring Group on ‘A Vision for Change’ — the Report of the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy

18,896

Strategic Framework for Role Expansion of Nurses and Midwives: Promoting Quality Care

Not completed — cost not yet available

National Data and Research Strategy on Children’s Lives

Nil

Ethics in Children’s Research

Nil

Dáil na nÓg Council research into Social Personal and Health Education and Relationships and Sexuality Education Provision, ‘Lifeskills Matter: Not just Points’

17,052

Audit of Children and Young People’s Participation

31,107

Proposed Model for Reference Pricing and Generic Substitution

Nil

Value for Money and Policy Review of the Economic Cost and Charges Associated with Private and Semi-Private Treatment Services in Public Hospitals

2,000

Review of VHI Claims Cost Control

220,902

Consultation Report to Minister on Risk Equalisation

Nil

Consultation Report to Minister on Minimum Benefits

Nil

Towards a Restraint Free Environment

Not completed — cost not yet available

Interim evaluation of the Youth in Action Programme 2007-2013

49,092

Health Technology Assessment — Prion Filtration

Not completed — cost not yet available

Capital Expenditure

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

156 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Health and Children the total capital spending allocated to her Department in 2010; the total allocated moneys spent; the allocated capital spending within her Department in 2010 for each project in tabular form; the amount allocated to each project; the amount spent to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42301/10]

The 2010 capital allocation for my Department is €47.05m comprising (a) €15.45m allocated to the Department of Health and Children; and (b) €31.6m allocated to the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs.

(a) Department of Health and Children

€0.45m is provided in respect of the administration of my Department's internal ICT infrastructure and office equipment. As at the end of October, expenditure amounted to €0.15m. The €15m is allocated in capital grants to agencies under the aegis of my Department. To date expenditure amounts to €6.066m Details are as follows:

Department of Health and Children — Agency

2010 Allocation

Expenditure to date

€m

€m

Health Research Board

12.971

5.853

National Cancer Screening Service

0.213

0.213

Health Information and Quality Authority

0.500

0.000

National Treatment Purchase Fund Board

0.150

0.000

Health and Social Care Professional Council

0.260

0.000

National Cancer Registry Ireland

0.050

0.000

Office of the Ombudsman for Children

0.030

0.000

Contingency

0.826

0.000

Total

15.000

6.066

(b) Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs

€30m is allocated this year for the National Childcare Investment Programme and expenditure to date amounts to €17.5m. Pobal, a company established to assist Government departments to implement grant programmes administers this capital funding. Of the €1.6m provided in respect of the Young People's Facilities and Services Fund (YPFSF), expenditure to end October 2010 amounts to €0.656m. Details of these projects are as follows.

Office of the Minister for Children- Projects

2010 Allocation

Expenditure to date

€m

€m

Finglas South Scout Den

0.220

0.220

Neilstown Boxing Club, Clondalkin

0.225

0.225

O’Devaney Gardens Youth Facility, Dublin 8

0.400

0.000

The Gateway Project, Athlone

0.200

0.101

The Apple Tree Foundation, Dundalk

0.080

0.070

Arklow Youth Centre

0.035

0.035

Coolcotts Community Youth Project, Wexford Town

0.030

0.000

Francis Street Youth Café, Wexford Town

0.005

0.005

Contingency

0.405

0.000

Total

1.600

0.656

Departmental Expenditure

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

157 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount spent by her Department on public relations and advertising in the years 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42315/10]

The information requested by the Deputy is currently being collated within my Department and will be forwarded as soon as it is available.

Seirbhís Taistil

Arthur Morgan

Question:

158 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Arthur Morgan den Aire Sláinte agus Leanaí an bhfuil sé beartaithe costas iompair a ghearradh orthu siúd a úsáideann seirbhís bus Ionad Lae Ghaoth Dobhair agus má tá cén costas a bheidh á ghearradh ar gach paisinéir. [42321/10]

Toisc go mbaineann an cheist seo le seirbhísí, cuireadh ar aghaidh í go dtí Feidhmeannacht na Seirbhíse Sláinte chun freagra díreach a sholáthar.

Patient Redress Scheme

Mary Wallace

Question:

159 Deputy Mary Wallace asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason that some 35 women were not included under the terms of the Lourdes hospital redress scheme; her plans to acknowledge their pain and suffering and the steps she will take to provide compensation to each of the women concerned or their survivors; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42323/10]

Mary Wallace

Question:

160 Deputy Mary Wallace asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will establish a supplementary redress scheme for those women who, by virtue of their date of birth, were excluded from access to the Lourdes hospital redress scheme and whose cases are well established, medically verifiable and acknowledged by patient focus; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42324/10]

Mary Wallace

Question:

161 Deputy Mary Wallace asked the Minister for Health and Children when she last met with the victims of Michael Neary and or their representatives; if the issue of the excluded women under the terms of the Lourdes hospital redress scheme was discussed; if she made any specific commitments to those present; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42325/10]

Mary Wallace

Question:

162 Deputy Mary Wallace asked the Minister for Health and Children the measures she is contemplating to fairly and justly meet the case and needs of those women whose suffering at the hands of the former obstetrician/gynaecologist Michael Neary has yet to be officially recognised and appropriately responded to; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42326/10]

Mary Wallace

Question:

163 Deputy Mary Wallace asked the Minister for Health and Children the advice she has received that led her to decide that women who had reached their fortieth birthday and who were victims of Michael Neary in the Lourdes hospital in Drogheda were not to be included under the terms of the redress scheme [42327/10]

Mary Wallace

Question:

164 Deputy Mary Wallace asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will meet again with a representative group of those women who have not been included with other victims of Michael Neary in accessing the State established Lourdes hospital redress scheme and if she will meet with them in advance of Christmas [42328/10]

Johnny Brady

Question:

183 Deputy Johnny Brady asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will recognise the needs of the 35 women that were not addressed under the terms of the Lourdes hospital redress scheme by putting in place a supplementary Lourdes hospital redress scheme for their needs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42378/10]

Johnny Brady

Question:

184 Deputy Johnny Brady asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on the pain and trauma of those 35 women, who based on their date of birth, were not included in the Lourdes hospital redress scheme and the measures she will put in place to recognise their pain and trauma [42379/10]

Johnny Brady

Question:

185 Deputy Johnny Brady asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will meet, within the next five weeks, with the representatives of those women who suffered at the hands of Michael Neary in the Lourdes hospital and who have not been included in the redress scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42380/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 159 to 164, inclusive, and 183 to 185, inclusive, together.

The Lourdes Hospital Redress Scheme was established following an Inquiry into peripartum hysterectomy at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda chaired by Judge Maureen Harding Clark S.C.

Judge Clark was requested by the Government to advise on an appropriate scheme of redress arising from the findings of the Report. Having received Judge Clark's advice, the Government approved the establishment of a non-statutory ex gratia scheme of redress in 2007, and appointed Judge Clark as its chairperson.

The Lourdes Hospital Inquiry did not extend to a wider examination of Mr. Neary's general practice or the clinical practice of his colleagues. However, Judge Clark became aware during the course of the inquiry that some patients of Mr. Neary had undergone bilateral oophorectomies — that is, the removal of both ovaries or a single remaining ovary — that may not have been clinically warranted. The inquiry also received medical reports from women who had undergone bilateral oophorectomy with relatively little evidence that the procedures were warranted.

Judge Clark took advice on a selection of oophorectomy cases involving younger women treated by Mr. Neary. She was advised that while it is sometimes necessary to remove both ovaries in the presence of serious disease, the occasion of such a radical procedure is not common. This led her to conclude that unwarranted oophorectomies performed by Mr. Neary on women aged under 40 be included within the scope of the Redress Scheme. The Scheme was advertised on 14th June 2007.

The Lourdes Hospital Redress Board, chaired by Judge Clark has concluded its work and all awards determined have been notified to successful applicants. I have met with representatives of the women referred to by the Deputies on a number of occasions, to discuss issues of concern to them.

I was asked to consider an extension of the scope of the Scheme to include additional former patients of Mr. Neary outside of the terms of the Scheme. I gave due consideration to the request and consulted with Judge Clark in the matter who advised against an extension. Acting on this advice, I decided against an extension of the Scheme and this was publicly communicated in November 2008.

The Government believes that the Lourdes Hospital Redress Scheme addressed the matter in as sensitive and timely a manner as possible. It was always the Government's intention that the women who qualified for the Scheme would receive adequate recompense and I believe that that has been achieved in a fair and reasonable manner.

Medical Cards

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

165 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when an application for a medical card review will be processed in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42348/10]

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

166 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a medical card will be restored to persons (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42349/10]

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

Hospital Accommodation

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

167 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of hospital theatres throughout the country which have never been used or limited to a reduced extent for whatever purpose in each of the past 12 months to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42350/10]

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

Hospital Staff

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

168 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the extent to which she has received submissions from the authorities at Naas hospital, County Kildare regarding the filling of various posts deemed to be fundamental to the provision of the full scale of services there; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42351/10]

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

Hospital Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

169 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the extent to which the various services at Tallaght hospital, Dublin have been provided and put in place; the extent of any such services still pending for whatever reason; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42352/10]

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

Medical Research

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

170 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the extent to which research into the incidents of autism, Aspergers, attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and similar needs has been undertaken here and throughout the European Union; the number of children diagnosed under each heading in each of the past ten years in this country and throughout Europe; the conclusion of any such research; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42353/10]

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

Health Service Staff

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

171 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of nursing posts waiting to be filled at the present time throughout the sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42354/10]

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

Hospital Acquired Infections

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

172 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of incidents of MRSA or clostridium difficile reported in each of the past five years and to date in 2010; the number of incidents relating to public and private institutions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42355/10]

Healthcare Associated Infections (HCAIs) continue to be a challenge for healthcare systems worldwide. Ireland is not unique in this regard and tackling HCAIs here continues to be a priority for the Government and for the Health Service Executive (HSE).

In March 2007, the HSE launched a National Infection Control Action Plan. Over the period of the Plan the HSE aims to reduce HCAIs by 20%, MRSA infection by 30% and antibiotic consumption by 20%. The number of MRSA bloodstream infections across the public and private hospital sector for the past five years are 592 cases in 2005, 592 in 2006, 536 in 2007, 439 in 2008, 355 in 2009 and 176 for the first two quarters of 2010 (provisional per the Health Protection Surveillance Centre as of 01/09/2010). This shows a decrease of 40% between 2005 and 2009. Reported figures for the first two quarters of 2010 when compared to the first two quarters of 2009 (195 cases) show a 10% decrease. Since May 2008, C. difficile is a notifiable disease: all cases have to be reported to the relevant Department of Public Health. Guidelines for the Surveillance, Management and Control of C. difficile-associated disease were published in May 2008. Reported figures from May 2008 to December 2008 show 1624 cases (average of 46 per week), 1914 in 2009 (average of 37 per week) and 1385 from Jan to Oct 2010 (average of 33 per week). Data on alcohol hand gel usage which is an important part of the hygiene effort shows a twofold increase from 2006 to 2009. The Guidelines for antimicrobial Stewardship in Hospitals in Ireland aims to promote the sensible prescribing of antibiotics. Data on antibiotic consumption collected by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) shows a welcome decrease in antibiotic consumption in Hospitals in 2008 for the first time since 2000. Data for 2009 and the first 2 quarters of 2010 see this trend continuing.

In May 2009, I also approved publication of the Health Information and Quality Authority's (HIQA's) National Standards for the Prevention and Control of Healthcare Associated Infections. These Standards include all key areas of importance in the control of HCAIs and the HSE is well advanced in its preparations for HIQA to commence its initial monitoring review under the Standards later this year.

In addition to the above mentioned developments, in December 2008, the HSE published new Environmental Building Guidelines to inform control policy in all new builds and refurbishments. I am satisfied that significant steps are being taken to reduce the rates of Healthcare Associated Infections, including MRSA and C. difficile and to treat them promptly when they occur.

Health Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

173 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the extent to which the health service budget has fluctuated in each of the past ten years and to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42356/10]

The outturn figures for the Health Group of Votes as set out in the Revised Estimates Volume for the years 2001-2009 is set out in the table.

Prior to 2005, all health expenditure was provided for through Vote 39, the Department of Health and Children. Vote 40 in respect of the Health Service Executive was established in 2005, and Vote 41 in respect of the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs was established in 2006. The table shows the provisional outturns for the three Votes combined. Provision of €15,324,452 for the Health Group of Votes has been made in the Revised Estimates Volume 2010 in respect of the current year. In setting the Estimates, the Government took difficult but necessary decisions to secure the economy and stabilise the national finances.

Gross Provisional Outturn (Capital and Current)

Year

€m

2000

5,656.04

2001

7,077.26

2002

8,353.21

2003

9,302.31

2004

10,559.07

2005*

11,872.22

2006**

13,056,729

2007**

14,996,034

2008**

15,542,036

2009**

15,992,850

Source: Provisional outturn published in the Revised Estimates Volume 2001-2010.

*Figure is the total of Votes 39 Department of Health and Children and Vote 40 HSE combined.

**Figure is the total of Votes 30 Department of Health and Children, Vote 40 HSE and Vote 41 OMCYA combined.

Hospital Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

174 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number and location of public hospitals here affected by bed or ward closures for whatever reason; the extent to which she has received submissions from the various authorities regarding same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42357/10]

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

Care of the Elderly

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

175 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of respite care beds currently available here; the extent to which this meets the ongoing needs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42358/10]

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

Cancer Incidence

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

176 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the extent to which she has studied available information in respect of cancer research with particular reference to the various forms of cancer; the extent to which different locations or regions throughout the country register higher or lower levels for whatever reason; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42359/10]

The National Cancer Registry of Ireland is the principal source of information on cancer incidence, treatment and survival for the population of Ireland. In 2009, the Registry published An Atlas of Cancer in Ireland 1994-2003. That report described variations in cancer risk (incidence) at electoral district level in Ireland, with the objectives of investigating geographical variation; examining the relationships between area-based characteristics (such as population density) and cancer risk; and attempting to explain these relationships through the examination of area-based measures of socio-economic status and aspects of lifestyle. The report is available from the Registry and can be viewed on the Registry's website at www.ncri.ie.

Data from the Registry, together with data from sources such as the Hospital Inpatient Enquiry database, was used in deciding the configuration of cancer centres under the National Cancer Control Programme.

Cancer research forms a large part of the research programme in Ireland today. The National Cancer Control Strategy noted that cancer research is an essential component in the development, implementation and evaluation of a national cancer control programme. The Health Research Board (HRB) is the lead agency in Ireland supporting and funding health research and is the main channel of public funding for research at national level. The HRB has invested nearly €50 million in cancer research since 2005. This includes the development of a network of cancer clinical trials in 17 hospitals across Ireland in conjunction with the All-Ireland National Cancer Institute Cancer Consortium. Other sources of health research funding are varied and include voluntary bodies (e.g. Irish Cancer Society) and others.

Hospital Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

177 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the average waiting time for hip operations at the various hospitals engaged in the provision of such services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42360/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

179 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of persons currently on waiting lists for heart operations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42362/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 177 and 179 together.

As this are service matters, they have been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Medical Cards

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

178 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the total number of full medical cards issued and in use in each of the past six years and to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42361/10]

Details of the number of medical cards are provided to my Department each month by the Health Service Executive (HSE). The figures are provided on a net basis, showing the balance after new cards have been issued and other cards, as appropriate, have been deleted from the Executive's database, e.g. following a review of a person's circumstances. The most recent figures provided to my Department by the HSE reflect the position as at 1st October 2010 and show 1,588,494 medical card holders and 112,139 GP visit card holders on that date.

I attach a table showing the end of year national figure for medical card holders for the past six years.

Year

Number of Medical Card Holders

31st December 2004

1,145,083

31st December 2005

1,155,727

31st December 2006

1,221,695

31st December 2007

1,276,178

31st December 2008

1,352,120

31st December 2009

1,478,560

Question No. 179 answered with Question No. 177.
Question No. 180 answered with Question No. 57.

Hospital Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

181 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has given any consideration to a review of her plans for the future of St. Luke’s Hospital, Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42364/10]

Under the National Plan for Radiation Oncology (NPRO), there will be a network of four radiotherapy centres and two satellite radiotherapy centres in Ireland by 2014. This development of radiotherapy services nationally is being achieved on a phased basis. Under Phase 1, new facilities at St. James's Hospital and Beaumont Hospital are almost ready with fit-out to be completed by year-end. Together with St Luke's in Rathgar, these new facilities will form the St Luke's Radiation Oncology Network for Dublin Mid-Leinster and Dublin North-East. Some staff and resources will transfer from St Luke's to the new sites while additional staff, mainly radiation therapists, are also being recruited. To facilitate the operation of the Network, St Luke's was integrated into the HSE on 1 August this year. Under Phase 2, the facilities at St James's, Beaumont, Cork and Galway will be further developed and satellite centres will be developed at Limerick and Waterford. It is intended that services at the existing facility in St Luke's in Dublin will have transferred in full to Beaumont and St James's by the end of 2014. The location of radiotherapy facilities has been chosen based on expert advice and in line with best international practice. It ensures that radiation oncology is integrated with other modalities of cancer care, including surgery and medical oncology. No decisions have yet been taken in relation to the future use of the site and facilities at St. Luke's. However, I am committed to ensuring that these resources are utilised in the best interest of the health services.

Mental Health Services

Charles Flanagan

Question:

182 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason children under 16 years are being admitted to adult psychiatric units contrary to the Mental Health Commission code of practice; the reason such admissions take place disproportionately in Limerick; and the actions she proposes to take to ensure that children with psychiatric needs are appropriately accommodated [42370/10]

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

Questions Nos. 183 to 185, inclusive, answered with Question No. 159.

Search and Rescue Service

Paul Kehoe

Question:

186 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Transport the grants available from his Department for an organisation (details supplied) and the way an organisation can apply for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42144/10]

Grants are available each year to declared Community Rescue Boats of Ireland (CRBI) facilities around the coast and on the inland waterways. In 2010, just under €75,000 was provided to the 11 services currently in place. The grant is provided to cover expenditure such as boathouse repairs and maintenance, boathouse services (electricity, telephone, water, heating, etc), radio and boat equipment, Personal Protection Equipment, and insurance. Guidelines to assist any Community that might be considering establishing an Inshore Rescue Service in their locality are available from the Irish Coast Guard at admin@irishcoastguard.ie.

Public Transport

Michael Ring

Question:

187 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Transport if he will provide details of the winner and runners up in the smarter travel programme; the funding that was in place for this programme and the funding allocated for this scheme to date [42216/10]

No decision has yet been announced regarding the outcome of the Smarter Travel Areas Competition. Future expenditure on this Programme will be determined in the context of the budget for 2011.

Departmental Expenditure

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

188 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Transport the amount of money owed to private firms by his Department [42276/10]

The amount of money owed to private firms by my Department is €588,882.60 at close of business on 8 November 2010. Departmental policy is to pay all invoices within 15 days in accordance with Government Decision No S29296 of 19 May 2006.

Departmental Reports

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

189 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Transport the number of external reports and reviews commissioned by his Department in 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; if he will name each report and review; if he will outline the spending on external reports and reviews in each of those years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42291/10]

The information requested by the Deputy is contained in the table.

Name of external Report/Review

Year To-date-2010

The cost of report/review

Report and advice relating to procuring facility management operator for Terminal Two at Dublin airport

2008

236,925.00

Consultancy relating to the Cork Airport debt

2008

30,250.00

Cost and Efficiency Review of Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann

2008

327,894.13

Contractauditline Audit Report of ERDF assisted projects under the ESIOP

2008

68,450

Review of Motor Insurance Premiums for Young Persons

2008

70,650

Due Diligence Report –Westport Harbour

2008

3,001

Due Diligence Report — River Moy Harbour

2008

3,098

Review of port company accounts

2008

20,750

Bremore Report

2008

18,000

Dublin Port NDP Study

2008

142,976

Dublin Port NDP Study

2009

65,721

Report on Arklow Harbour Rates

2009

2,800

Due Diligence Report- Arklow Harbour

2010

16,697

Implementation of a QMS system that will be a European requirement for national Maritime authorities

2009

64,514

Independent Evaluation STCW convention requirement

2009

4,017

Irish Coast Guard Pollution Prevention, Preparedness and Response Capabilities Study 2008

2009

44,175

Future Helicopter Study Group Report 2009

2009

6,600

Sharepoint Development Strategy Development Review

2009

8,660

Review of the Dublin Bus 41X service from Swords to Dublin City via the Port Tunnel

2009

25,636

Review of bus services on the Dalkey-Blackrock-Dublin Airport corridor

2010

28, 885

Farrelly Report

2009

8,368.48

Risk assessment for Shannon

2008

847.00

Risk assessment for Loughrea

2008

750.00

Updating of Safety Statement

2008

961.95

Risk assessment for IRCG Stores, Ballycoolin

2009

1,931.60

Lone worker risk assessment for IRCG

2010

1,781.50

Risk assessments for IRCG Malin Head and IRCG Valentia Island

2010

3,728.00

Dust risk assessment for Finglas

2010

840.95

Risk assessments for Shannon, Leeson Lane, Finglas, and Cork

2010

8,400.00

Departmental Expenditure

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

190 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Transport the total capital spending allocated to his Department in 2010; the total allocated moneys spent; the allocated capital spending within his Department in 2010 for each project in tabular form; the amount allocated to each project; the amount spent to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42305/10]

My Department's capital allocation for 2010 is €2,081,397,000. To date €1,306,191,287 of the total allocation has been spent.

Allocation and expenditure is broken down between the various subheads as follows:

Allocation for 2010

Expenditure to 9/11/2010

A5 Office Machinery

635,000

254,562

B1 Road Improvement/Maintenance

— National Roads

1,114,000,000

719,680,654

— Regional and Local Roads

300,000,000

197,680,858

B3 Road Safety Agencies

1,000,000

250,000

B4 Vehicle and Driver Licensing Expenses

1,500,000

302,812

B5 Smarter Travel/Carbon Reduction Measures

23,000,000

2,304,206

C2 Public Transport Investment Programme

614,988,000

382,874,734

D2 Regional Airports

3,000,000

324,112

E1 Maritime Safety and Irish Coast Guard

13,000,000

2,424,200

F3 Cross Border Initiatives

10,274,000

95,145

In line with previous expenditure patterns it is expected that significant drawdown will occur in the remaining weeks. Indications from the agencies involved are that all allocations will be fully drawn down by year-end.

Public Relations Contracts

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

191 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Transport the amount spent by his Department on public relations and advertising in the years 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42319/10]

The amount spent by my Department on public relations and advertising in 2008 is €1,655,171.6, in 2009 is €376,775.49 and to-date in 2010 is €82,260.75

Aerfoirt Réigiúnacha

Arthur Morgan

Question:

192 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Arthur Morgan den Aire Iompair cad atá beartaithe ag an Aire Iompair a dhéanamh maidir le conradh Oibleagáide Seirbhíse Poiblí (PSO) don tseirbhís aeir ó Aerfort Réigiúnach Dhún na nGall go Baile Átha Cliath nuair a thagann deireadh leis an gconradh reatha i mí Aibreán 2011 [42322/10]

Beidh críoch á chur leis na Conarthaí Oibleagáide Reatha i gComhair Seirbhíse Poiblí don tseirbhís aeir ó Aerfoirt Réigiúnacha ar 21 Iúil 2011.

Tá an t-Athbhreithniú um luach ar airgead ar chaitheachas ón státchiste ar aerphoirt réigiúnacha, Scéim Oibleagáide i gComhair Seirbhíse Poiblí curtha san áireamh, ar tugadh chun críche le gairid, faoi bhráid an Rialtais i láthair na huaire.

Táthar ag súil, i gcomhthéacs an Athbhreithnithe, le cinnidh a bheith á dhéanamh maidir le caiteachas ar aerphoirt réigiúnacha amach anseo mar chuid de phróiséas na Meastacháin agus na Cáinfháisnéise.

Payment of Fines

Alan Shatter

Question:

193 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 348 of 19 October 2010, if he yet has available to him the required information to provide the promised response; if he will provide the information in response to this question and if he does not have the relevant information to explain the nature of the difficulty that has arisen in this regard. [42098/10]

I have written to the Deputy with the answer to his earlier question.

Garda Investigations

Mary Upton

Question:

194 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 645 of 6 October 2009, if he will instruct the gardaí to provide an answer which has not yet been provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42101/10]

I wrote to the Deputy on the 11th of November 2009 providing the information sought in the earlier Question and I have arranged for a copy of that correspondence to be forwarded to the Deputy.

Garda Vetting

Terence Flanagan

Question:

195 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42119/10]

The Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU) provides employment vetting for a large number of organisations in Ireland registered with the Gardaí for this purpose and which employ persons in a full-time, part-time, voluntary or training capacity to positions where they would have substantial, unsupervised access to children and/or vulnerable adults.

The processing time for vetting applications fluctuates in line with periods of increased demand. Furthermore, additional time may be required to process an individual vetting application in cases where clarification is required as to the details provided or where other enquiries need to be made, for example, when the person in question has lived and worked abroad. There will always be a reasonably significant time period required to process a vetting application.

Registered organisations have been advised to take account of this in their recruitment and selection process. However, the Gardaí make every effort to reduce this to the minimum possible consistent with carrying out the necessary checks.

I am informed by the Garda Authorities that the current average processing time for vetting applications received at the GCVU is approximately 12 weeks.

Visa Applications

Michael McGrath

Question:

196 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding a holiday visa appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) [42132/10]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the visa application referred to has been approved.

Garda Vetting

John O'Mahony

Question:

197 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive their Garda clearance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42152/10]

I am informed by the Garda Authorities that a vetting application in respect of the person referred to was received by the Garda Central Vetting Unit. However, the application was incomplete and has been returned to the registered organisation for completion. Once a completed application is received by the Vetting Unit it will be processed accordingly.

Visa Applications

Pat Breen

Question:

198 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 180 of the 30 June 2010, the position regarding an application in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42188/10]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question 956 on 29 September, 2010. The position remains as stated.

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

Crime Prevention

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

199 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will support any proposal put forward by the national transport authority to establish a dedicated phone number for members of the public to report anti-social and criminal behaviour on all modes of public transport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42197/10]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that any incidents of anti-social or criminal behaviour on public transport can be reported, in case of emergency, by telephone through the 112/999 emergency call system or directly to An Garda Síochána in person at any Garda station. Any such incidents reported will be dealt with appropriately.

Information can also be provided to An Garda Síochána by way of the Garda confidential line, 1800 666 111, which is a monitored freephone line that allows members of the public to contact An Garda Síochána with information of a confidential nature.

An Garda Síochána is supportive of any initiative which would have the effect of preventing, reducing and detecting incidents of criminality, including public disorder and anti-social behaviour, taking place in the community and on public transport.

Liquor Licensing Laws

Noel Ahern

Question:

200 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will clarify the position regarding the practice by supermarkets of selling alcohol at exceptionally low price levels; if below-cost selling is allowed; if there is any policy or inquiries into same; if the relevant price is the invoiced price or if transportation, warehousing, profit and so on are considered to judge the base price; if there are health concerns regarding the level of alcohol now being consumed at home; if a minimum floor price for the sale of alcohol can be set to control consumption and provide fair competition with pubs; if trends in this direction in Scotland are being monitored and if an all-Ireland policy can be implemented [42204/10]

The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment revoked the Restrictive Practices (Groceries) Order 1987 in March 2006, thereby removing price controls on alcohol products.

In March 2009, the Government agreed to include alcohol in the National Substance Misuse Strategy and a Steering Group was subsequently established under the aegis of the Departments of Health and Children and Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs to develop proposals for integrating alcohol misuse into that Strategy. I understand that the Steering Group has been examining a range of issues relating to alcohol policy, including availability and pricing, and is due to submit its report, including policy recommendations, by the end of the year.

Decentralisation Programme

Denis Naughten

Question:

201 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No 322 of 15 June 2010, the timetable for the occupation of the new building; if he will confirm the final compliment of staff to be decentralised to the building; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42233/10]

I understand that the new building for the Property Registration Authority (PRA) in Roscommon Town is still expected to be ready for occupation in the first quarter of 2011. Under the Government's decentralisation programme the total number of posts envisaged for the Roscommon office of the PRA is 230.

Firearms Licences

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

202 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will respond to this Deputy’s recent question regarding the number of handguns licensed here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42261/10]

I can now inform the Deputy that to date (valid to 11th October 2010), there have been 998 Firearm Certificates issued under the provisions of the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2009 in respect of handguns, 599 of which are classified as non-restricted handguns, with 389 classified as restricted handguns.

While the Act did provide in certain circumstances for the issuing of licenses for restricted handguns which were in the possession of persons prior to the 19th of November 2008, no licenses can be issued in respect of new restricted handguns after that date.

Departmental Expenditure

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

203 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the amount of money owed to private firms by his Department [42273/10]

I assume that the Deputy is referring in this case to unpaid invoices in relation to supplies of goods and services. While it is very difficult to derive a specific figure at a particular point in time due to the number and range of subheads in Vote 19 (Office of the Minister for Justice and Law Reform) I can assure the Deputy that every effort is made to pay invoices within a reasonable timescale once the necessary verification checks have been carried out. Over 8,400 payments to suppliers totalling €32.5 million were made by my Department in the quarter ended 30th September 2010. In all 85% (€28.2 million in monetary terms) of these payments were made within 15 calendar days and a total of 98% of all payments within 30 calendar days.

Departmental Reports

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

204 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of external reports and reviews commissioned by his Department in 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; if he will name each report and review; if he will outline the spending on external reports and reviews in each of those years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42288/10]

The information requested by the Deputy concerning external reports/reviews commissioned by my Department in 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010 is set out below:

Reports / reviews commissioned in 2008

Government Alcohol Advisory Group

Report on the work of the Criminal Law Codification Advisory Committee

A mapping of programmes working with perpetrators of domestic violence/abuse and an examination of models of best practice

An examination of court system responses to domestic, sexual and gender-based violence/abuse and models of best practice

Report of the Data Protection Review Group

Review of Adult Probation Residential Facilities

Reports / reviews commissioned in 2009

An examination of data collection systems and procedures in relation to domestic, sexual and gender-based violence/abuse in Ireland

Report on Prisoner Population Projections 2009-2024

Reports / reviews commissioned in 2010

Review by Public Appointments Service (PAS) of the Senior Management Structure at Oberstown Campus

Review of Prescribing Practices at Midlands Prison

Review of Primary Care at Midlands Prison

Review of Primary Care at Cork Prison

Review of Primary Care at Mountjoy Prison

Review of the Mental Health Factors Relating to an Incident which resulted in

the death of a prisoner at Cork Prison

Review of Drug Treatment Services at Cork, Midlands and Mountjoy Prisons

Report on the Facilitations Process, Midlands Prison

Review of the Code of Discipline (Irish Prison Service)

Audit of Lighthouse Programme Participants (Probation Service)

Working Group on transparency in commercial rent reviews

Total spending on reports/reviews commissioned in 2008 was €112,000, in 2009 was €40,000 and details of the amount expected for all of 2010 will not be available until early next year.

Departmental Expenditure

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

205 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the total capital spending allocated to his Department in 2010; the total allocated moneys spent; the allocated capital spending within his Department in 2010 for each project in tabular form; the amount allocated to each project; the amount spent to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42302/10]

The capital allocation to my Department's Head Office in 2010 was €500,000. This can be broken down as follows:

Project

Allocation

Spent to Date

IT Support Services

273,000

86,000

Financial Shared Services

227,000

70,000

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

206 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the amount spent by his Department on public relations and advertising in the years 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42316/10]

My Department does not, as a matter of policy, incur expenditure such as that referred to by the Deputy. Expenditure does arise from time to time on public information notices such as for example, the dangers of fireworks, illegal drug dealing, the bringing into force of legislation and other statutory notices.

Citizenship Applications

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

207 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he has received an application for citizenship in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; if this application is now in order; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42333/10]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question 145 on 21 October, 2010. The position remains as stated.

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

Residency Permits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

208 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 24; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42334/10]

I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that the person referred to by the Deputy is the subject of a Family Reunification Application made in March 2009.

I am further informed that the Family Reunification Unit will be in contact with the legal representative of the above named shortly.

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

Garda Investigations

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

209 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if action has been taken against the ongoing harassment and intimidation of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42335/10]

I have requested a report from the Garda authorities in relation to the matter referred to by the Deputy. I will contact the Deputy again when the report is to hand.

Residency Permits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

210 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the developments to date in determination of residency or citizenship in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42336/10]

The person concerned has had her permission to remain in the State extended for a three year period, until 14 August 2013. This decision was conveyed to the person concerned by letter dated 4 August 2010.

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

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question 138 on 18 June, 2009 in which I advised him that on examination of the application submitted it was determined that the application form had not been fully completed. It was returned to the person in question for further attention on 18 April, 2008. The person in question returned the application form to the Citizenship Division but the application form was returned again to the applicant on 1 July, 2008 as the application form was still incomplete. The Citizenship Division of my Department wrote to the person in question on 16 October, 2008 requesting she return her completed application form and supporting documentation in order for her application to be processed further. A 21 day letter was issued on 22 January, 2009. To date the Citizenship Division of my Department has not received the requested documentation and the application has been deemed ineligible. It is open to the person in question to lodge a new application for a certificate of naturalisation if and when she is in a position to meet the statutory requirements.

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

211 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding temporary residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42337/10]

I refer the Deputy to my Replies to his Parliamentary Questions, No. 202 of Thursday, 21 January 2010 and No 130 of Thursday, 20 May 2010 and the written Replies to those Questions.

The position in the State of the person concerned now falls to be considered for Subsidiary Protection in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006) and this application is under consideration at present. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person concerned will be notified in writing of the outcome.

In the event that the application for Subsidiary Protection is refused, the position in the State of the person concerned will then be decided by reference to the provisions of Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. All representations submitted will be considered before the file is passed to me for decision. Once a decision has been made, this decision and the consequences of the decision will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

212 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the current or expected residency status in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Louth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42338/10]

I refer the Deputy to the Reply given to his Parliamentary Question No. 279 on Tuesday 9th November 2010. The status of the person concerned is as set out in that Reply.

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

Citizenship Applications

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

213 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the developments to date in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42339/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

214 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the developments to date in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42340/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

215 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding an application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42341/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 213 to 215, inclusive, together.

Valid applications for certificates of naturalisation from the persons referred to in the Deputy's Question were received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in January & December 2008.

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

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

The first named person received a Long Term Residency permission from the General Immigration Division on the 23 February 2005. He subsequently applied for a Without Condition As To Time endorsement on the 8 May 2008 and received it on the 9 May 2008. Records with the Garda National Immigration Bureau indicate that he currently has the endorsement until 4 February 2014.

Officials in the Long-Term Residency section of my Department inform me that the second named person was granted a Stamp 4 for 5 years. A letter informing her of this issued on 16 June 2008.

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

216 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding an application for family reunification in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42342/10]

I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that a letter issued to the legal advisor of the person referred to on 8th November requesting further documentation. The application will be considered further on receipt of the requested documentation. I should remind the Deputy that queries in relation to the status of individual Immigration cases may be made direct to INIS by Email using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. The service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek this information through the more administratively expensive Parliamentary Questions process.

Residency Permits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

217 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42343/10]

I refer the Deputy to the replies to Question No. 1126 of 29 September 2010, Question No. 246 of 30 September 2010 and Question No. 147 of the 14 October 2010.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

218 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding an application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42344/10]

As the name of the person referred to by the Deputy does not match the reference number supplied, it is not possible to provide the information sought at this time. However, if the Deputy wishes to re-submit his Question with the correct name and reference number included, I will be happy to provide a substantive reply.However, I should remind the Deputy that queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to INIS by Email using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. The service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek this information through the more administratively expensive Parliamentary Questions process.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

219 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding an application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42345/10]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 146 of 20 May 2010 and 177 of 1 July 2010. I am informed that the person concerned has not yet presented to her local Immigration Officer for renewal of her permission to remain in the State. I shouldremind the Deputy that queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to INIS by Email using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. The service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained without the need toseek this information through the more administratively expensive Parliamentary Questions process.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

220 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding an application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42346/10]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question Nos. 1005 and 1160 of 29th September, 2010 and Question No. 130 of 21st October, 2010. The position remains unchanged. I shouldremind the Deputy that queries in relation to the status of individual Immigration cases may be made direct to INIS by Email using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. The service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek this information through the more administratively expensive Parliamentary Questions process.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

221 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the reason for refusal of an application for long term residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare in view of the fact that they were in this Country and legally employed since 2001; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42347/10]

I refer the Deputy to my detailed reply to his recent Parliamentary Question, No.365 of Wednesday, 27th October in this matter. In my reply, I informed the Deputy that I had written to the applicant clearly setting out the reasons for the refusal of his application. The reason for refusal relates to the requirement for an applicant for Long Term Residency to be of good character.

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

Human Rights Issues

Michael Creed

Question:

222 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will provide an update regarding the abduction of an Irish citizen (details supplied) abroad; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42139/10]

I refer the Deputy to my previous written answers to him on this case on 20 and 28 October 2010. I would like to confirm that there have been no new developments in this case since that time. Our Honorary Consul in Phuket has been in e-mail contact with the father offering to meet with him to discuss the case but, to date, she has received no response.

Overseas Missions

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

223 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the details ofany involvement the Government has had regarding the report of the panel on UnitedNations peace operations or Brahimi report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42262/10]

The Report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations, also known as the "Brahimi Report", which was published in 2000, charted a renewed vision for UN peacekeeping that helped make peacekeeping stronger, more effective and comparatively cost-efficient. It addressed many challenges and set down principles which remain central to modern peacekeeping today. In the intervening years, there has been an ongoing dialogue on the future perspectives for peacekeeping. Ireland has been an active participant in these discussions. In addition, Ireland has continued to support international peacekeeping and crisis management through its participation in the field. In 2009 the UN's Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Department of Field Support published a paper setting out the "New Horizon” Initiative, which outlined the complex and evolving nature of demands placed on UN peacekeeping and the steps required to strengthen peacekeeping to meet emerging challenges. The first “Progress Report of the New Horizon Initiative” was discussed at the General Assembly’s Fourth Committee on 22 October 2010. Along with our European Union partners, Ireland expressed support for the ongoing reform process. Ireland is strongly supportive of the UN’s role in peacekeeping and is anxious that this be conducted as effectively and efficiently as possible. For that reason we will continue to play an active part, along with our European Union partners, in discussions within the UN Special Committee on Peacekeeping and the General Assembly’s Fourth Committee. In May 2010, building on their extensive experience of peacekeeping operations, Ireland and Finland organised a seminar on “Modern Challenges in Peace Operations”. This event was attended by a senior official with the UN’s Department of Peacekeeping Operations, and other high level experts. Further information on the event is available on the Department’s website at:

http://www.dfa.ie/home/index.aspx?id=311

Departmental Expenditure

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

224 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the amount of money owed to private firms by his Department [42271/10]

In accordance with Public Financial Procedures, it is the Department's policy to pay matured liabilities as and when they arise, subject to presentation of valid invoices and, where appropriate, confirmation that the payee holds a Tax Clearance Certificate from the Irish Revenue Commissioners. The Department is subject to the Prompt Payment of Accounts legislation (which provides that payments made more than 30 days following receipt of a valid invoice may give rise to late payment interest) and it also strives to comply with the Government's non-statutory payment target of 15 days. The following table sets out the position for the third quarter 2010. These figures are posted on the Department's website at the end of each quarter.

Period Covered: 1 July 2010 to 30 September 2010

Details

Number

Value

Total payments made in Quarter

2,030

7,603,223

Number of payments made within 15 days

1,785

6,788,989

Number of payments made within 16 days to 30 days

209

752,199

Number of payments made in excess of 30 days

36

62,035

Disputed Invoices

(7)

(14,325)

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

225 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of external reports and reviews commissioned by his Department in 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; if he will name each report and review; if he will outline the spending on external reports and reviews in each of those years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42286/10]

The Department of Foreign Affairs is responsible for two Votes — Vote 28 (Foreign Affairs) and Vote 29 (International Cooperation). The attached tables set out, for both Votes, the details of reports commissioned by the Department in 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010 and the costs in each case.

The table includes 4 reports on the EU which I requested the Department to commission prior to and post the Lisbon Treaty Referendum in 2009. All the other reports, and those listed in Vote 29, were requested from various divisions in my Department. Irish Aid (Ireland's official development assistance programme), occasionally commissions outside expertise in cases where the specialised knowledge and/or skills are not available within the Department. During the course of their engagements these consultants/experts may prepare documentation. However, as they would not have been commissioned specifically to furnish a report, these details have not been included in the table.

In addition to the information provided in tabular form, the establishment of a Hunger Task Force was one of the recommendations of the White Paper on Irish Aid published in September 2006. The aim of the Hunger Task Force is to identify the additional, appropriate and effective contributions that Ireland can make to international efforts to reduce hunger. The first meeting of the Hunger Task Force took place in Dublin on 14th September 2007. The Hunger Task Force reported in September 2008, and outlined a number of key actions which Ireland can take to give practical leadership internationally on the attainment of the Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of those who suffer from hunger by 2015. The total cost of the Task Force, including the publication of the report, was €301,991.

Vote 28 Reports

Vote 28: Experts/Consultants commissioned to produce reports in 2008.

Matter Reported On

Cost

Millward Brown

Research Project to establish reasons underlying the result of the Referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

138,061

Communications Clinic

The preparation of a detailed Communication Action Plan to be used to direct spending under the Department’s Communicating Europe Initiative (CEI) in 2009.

48,000

Richard Sinnott, Johan A Elkink, Kevin O’Rourke and James McBride

Report on Attitudes and Behaviour in the Referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon

11,800

Mr Jim O’Leary

Assessment of Value for Money Review of the Passport Service.

7,260

Vote 28: Experts/Consultants commissioned to produce reports in 2009.

Matter Reported On

Cost

Millward Brown

Fieldwork for survey to investigate opinions and attitudes to the European Union

30,253

Vote 28: Experts/Consultants commissioned to produce reports in 2010.

Matter Reported On

Cost

Macaulay Associates Network

Preparation of stakeholder feedback report analysing impact of Reconciliation and Anti Sectarianism Funds

7,118

Vote 29 Reports

Vote 29: Experts/Consultants commissioned by Irish Aid to produce reports in 2008

Matter Reported On

Cost

Copenhagen Development Consulting A/S

Evaluation of Irish Aid Support to Primary Education in the Rwenzori Region, Uganda

96,665

Desam International Consultants — Uganda

Evaluation of Irish Aid Civil Society Programme — Uganda

19,500

Debebe — Ethiopia

Civil Society Fund Audit

3,000

Pricewaterhouse Coopers Ltd

Develop Irish Aid Tanzania Private Sector Support Strategy

36,414

National Forestry Authority Uganda

Environmental impact assessment of the construction improvement component of the post primary education and training programme (PPET) in Karamoja.

21,666

J Fitzpatrick Assoc

External Review of Irish Aid Support to Kimmage Development Studies Centre

66,550

Paud Murphy

Evaluation of Global e-Schools & Communities Initiative (GeSCI )

33,200

FSG Social Impact Advisors

Evaluation of International Partnership for Microbicides (The Department of Foreign Affairs paid €139,000 towards the cost of this report. The remainder of the total cost of €342,000 was borne by other donors)

139,000

Helen O’Neill

Assessment of United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) as potential partner for Irish Aid

4,000

Dr.Larry Adupa — Uganda

Documenting the process of establishing the civil society fund for HIV/AIDS response in Uganda

11,257

Prof Amon Z Mattee — Tanzania

Assessment of the performance of extension services delivery under ASDP in Tanzania

19,235

ITAD Ltd

Evaluation of Ireland’s Timor Leste Country Strategy 2004-2008

130,000

The IDL Group — Mozambique

Analysis of Opportunities to Support Rural Livelihood Security and Pro-poor Growth through the Public Sector

38,743

Alicia da Silva Calane — Mozambique

Analytic Study on process and indicators to address gender related obstacles to achieving PROAGRI goals

10,000

Dr Barry Ryan

Review of the role of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in the Partnership Programme for Eastern Europe and Central Asia (PPECA)

15,000

Economics for the Environment Consultancy Ltd (eftec)

Review of Irish Aid’s Strategic Partnership’s Environment Programme 2006-2008:

30,000

Development Research Training (DRT) — Uganda

The Status of Chronic Poverty and Vulnerability in Karamoja

2,857

J Fitzpatrick Associates

Evaluation of Traidlinks

30,250

FRR/ IDL Group

Review of Irish Aid Programme in Zimbabwe

18,351

Dr. Joseph Oonyu — Uganda

Mid Term Review of Irish Aid Support to Human Resources Development for Increased Access to Primary Health Care.

6,554

Ishmaels K. B. Kabanukye and others

Mapping exercise of Gender Based Violence (GBV) Programme in Uganda

20,000

Mary Jennings/Albert Malama

Copper Belt Government Programme Evaluation

23,113

Dr. Henk J.W Mustsaers

Review Operational Research for Food Security and Capacity Building and Evaluate Joint Mekelle and Cork Universities MSc Degree in Rural Development

30,600

John O’Regan

Financial Assessment Component of an organisational Assessment on partner NGOs for Multi-Annual Programme Scheme (MAPS), Civil Society Fund, Block Grants & other Civil Society Funding Schemes

22,400

Declan O’Neill

Foreign Currency Transaction Review for Embassy in Tanzania

15,000

Elim Serviços Lda-

Evaluation of Irish support to Technoserve

19,369

Health Tech Consulting — Mozambique

Evaluation of the Provincial Investment Plan 2004-2008 (PIPS) in Niassa Province (Mozambique)

25,000

John O’ Regan

Audit of Multi-Annual Programme Scheme (MAPS) Partnership grants awarded to Self Help Development International

22,500

ITAD Ltd

Evaluation of the Uganda Country Strategy Paper 2007-2009

88,760

Catherine Butcher

Review of HIVAIDS programme in Northern Province (Zambia)

18,600

AGEMA — Mozambique

Vulnerability & Agriculture Extension Study

42,000

Jane Salvage

Feedback on evaluation of Irish Aids support to Health Rehabilitation Project for Marsh Arabs of Southern Iraq

1,650

Integra Economic Development Consultants Ltd

Report to Inter-Departmental Committee on Development (IDCD) on development of skill sets

18,300

Petrus Consulting Ltd

Quality review of draft HIV and AIDS Value for Money Report

3,400

Prof. Ronan Conroy

Independent assessment of issues arising from review of a local HIV and AIDS Programme in Tanzania.

5,000

Vote 29: Experts/Consultants commissioned by Irish Aid to produce reports in 2010 (to date)

Matter Reported On

Cost

Mike Kiernan

Joint Appraisal for the development of a Joint Modality within a Sector Wide Approach to support the Palestinian Education System

10,410

Dr. Kamal Kar

Review of draft Irish Aid Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Policy

2,391

The Circa Group, Europe

Development of a Performance Measurement Framework for the Programme of Strategic Cooperation between Irish Aid and Higher Education and Research Institutes 2007-2011

24,561

COWI Zambia Ltd

Assessment of the Zambian Ministry of Education School Infrastructure Implementation Plan 2008.

23,760

Peter McEvoy

Evaluation of Irish Aid Supported Activities of Dochas, 2006-2008

15,058

Howard Dalzell

Review of Irish Aid Support for unexploded Ordinance Programmes in Lao PDR & De-Mining in Cambodia

18,172

Karen O’Shea

An Evaluation of the Development Intercultural Education (DICE ) Lectures Project ( Part 2of 2007-09 Model ) January 2009

3,819

Mary McKeown

Redesign of Irish Aid Regional Support in Ethiopia.

9,254

Mary McKeown Varney A Yenbeth Dr Yvonne Harding

Evaluation of Sierra Leone & Liberia Country Programmes

35,557

Rural Net Associates

Evaluation of support to Zambian Ministry of Education programme.

14,150

Channel Research

Review of Rapid Response Initiative

10,647

Johnny O’Regan

Audit of DFA Travel and Subsistence Budget

12,386

KPMG — Kenya

Report on Uganda Aids Commission

48,500

Eleanor O’Gorman

Provision of Conflict Analysis for Timor Leste

23,449

Marcel Grogan

Audit of MAPS Partner (Trocaire)

11,423

Matthias Fiedler

Development Assistance Committee Research Mapping

25,000

Moroko Ltd

Preparation of Good Practice Note Empowering Local Development

21,900

Tierney & Associates

Consultancy to Undertake Risk Appraisal (Audit)

12,692

Paul Isenmann

Consultancy to support the work to advance Mutual Accountability

24,661

Tribal Consulting

Audit of Development Education

12,304

Moroko Ltd

Evaluation of Vietnam CS

78,637

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

226 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the amount spent by his Department on public relations and advertising in the years 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42314/10]

Department is responsible for two votes — Votes 28 (Foreign Affairs) and 29 (International cooperation — Irish Aid). Expenditure on public relations and advertising arises under subhead A3 on both votes. Advertising undertaken by my Department typically includes: advisory notices on public opening hours over holiday periods, changes in passport application procedures and fees, and public information notices relating to significant developments in the European Union (such as the Lisbon Treaty) or in regard to Ireland's Official Development Assistance programme, Irish Aid. While much of this material is now placed on the Department's website, a certain level of advertising continues to be necessary in order to reach all of our customers, particularly in relation to important passport and consular services. Details of advertising expenditure per year for both votes are included in the table below.

From time to time, public relations initiatives are undertaken by my Department. These arise in very specific circumstances where the Department carries out information and awareness-raising campaigns. In 2009 an initiative was undertaken for a public information campaign to inform on and promote awareness of the EU and Ireland's membership of the EU. Two initiatives were undertaken on development issues relating to the management of Africa Day (2008, 2009 and 2010) and the Simon Cumbers Media Fund (2010). Details of expenditure per year are included in the table below.

Advertising

Public Relations

Vote 28

Vote 29

Vote 28

Vote 29

2008

259,805

378,126

34,485

2009

78,972

46,015

560,407

63,058

2010 to-date

24,730

18,978

78,832

In addition to this, the network of Irish diplomatic missions abroad occasionally incurs some limited expenditure on advertising and public relations. This would include advertising of Embassy opening hours, changes to consular services, promotion of Irish cultural events, etc.

I am very conscious of the need to achieve value for money on such expenditure, and as with all expenditure appropriate financial controls and regulations are in place.

Social Welfare Benefits

Thomas Byrne

Question:

227 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for mortgage interest supplement in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Meath [42148/10]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that the person concerned made an application for mortgage interest supplement in September 2009 and that his application was refused as the loan was not taken out for the purchase, repair or essential improvement of the sole or main residence. The person concerned appealed the decision to the HSE Appeals Office and the decision to refuse mortgage interest supplement was upheld by the HSE Appeals Office. The person concerned further appealed the decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office and the decision to refuse mortgage interest supplement was also upheld by the Social Welfare Appeals Office.

If the circumstances of the person concerned have changed and he wishes to make a new application for mortgage interest supplement then he should contact the community welfare officer at his local health centre.

Community Development

Brendan Howlin

Question:

228 Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application to Pobal under the Community Service Programme in respect of an organisation (details supplied); if and when funding will be provided to enable the vital work of this organisation to continue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42212/10]

The organisation referred to by the Deputy was approved for funding from the Community Services Programme and is currently being funded under the Community Services Programme. Their contract will expire at the end of December 2010 in line with all contracts under that Programme. I am currently considering proposals to extend the contracts for organisations providing services under the Community Services Programme. This organisation is included in that process. I hope to be in a position to inform the organisation of the outcome of this process in the coming weeks.

Social Welfare Benefits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

229 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a back to education allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; if the application can be reviewed at an early date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42365/10]

A review of this case is currently in progress and the person concerned will be informed of the outcome within the next week.

Social Welfare Appeals

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Question:

230 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Social Protection when a date will be set for a disability allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin and if that person is entitled to receive a supplementary welfare payment in the meantime [42105/10]

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. The person concerned should contact their local Community Welfare Officer regarding their entitlement to Supplementary Welfare Allowance. 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.

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

231 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a carer’s allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Galway [42155/10]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 15 June 2010. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received back in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 28 September 2010 and the appeal will be referred in due course to an Appeals Officer who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Benefits

Willie Penrose

Question:

232 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason an application for mortgage interest supplement in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath has not been dealt with to date despite the submission of the required information; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42219/10]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that the person concerned has made an application for mortgage interest supplement but that no decision has been made on her application as the person concerned has not yet provided the HSE 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.

Social Welfare Code

Willie Penrose

Question:

233 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Social Protection when will the new scheme which will allow persons in receipt of jobseeker’s benefit and jobseeker’s allowance to participate in such schemes come into effect [42220/10]

Considerable work is required on the proposals for the new initiative before they come on stream and take their place within the suite of activation measures aimed at supporting unemployed people. Details of the rollout of this initiative will be made available as soon as possible.

This new initiative will be an important element in the development and delivery of employment and community services and will aim to provide quality work opportunities to the unemployed and beneficial outcomes to the community. A key feature of the new scheme will be to provide a new activation route that will support unemployed people in remaining job-ready for re-entry to employment as the economic environment improves.

Social Welfare Benefits

Róisín Shortall

Question:

234 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social Protection the approximate percentage of rent supplement tenancies where the tenant pays rent to a letting agency. [42250/10]

Under the relevant rent supplement legislation, the Department's relationship is with the tenant; the tenant makes the application for rent supplement and payment is made to the tenant. It is not possible to say how many tenants pay their rent to a letting agent.

Legislation does, however, provide for the making of a rent supplement payment to another person (e.g. a relative, a landlord or landlord's agent) on behalf of the recipient. This arrangement is generally at the tenant's request and is subject to the consent of the Health Service Executive. The proportion of rent supplement payments which are paid to a person other than the recipient is 20%.

Michael Ring

Question:

235 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason farm assist was reduced in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [42254/10]

When the spouse of the person concerned was s awarded illness benefit in September 2009, his farm assist payment became subject to a limitation. Due to an oversight, he continued to receive his payment at the higher rate of €192. However, his rate of payment was reduced to the correct amount of €183.40 from 27 October 2010.

Departmental Expenditure

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

236 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Social Protection the amount of money owed to private firms by his Department. [42274/10]

The Department makes payments to suppliers of goods and services in accordance with Government policies and within the terms of Prompt Payment legislation.

The value of unpaid invoices to suppliers of goods and services on 9 November 2010 was €619,372. This represents invoices recorded on the Department's financial management system which are awaiting payment.

Departmental Reports

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

237 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of external reports and reviews commissioned by his Department in 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; if he will name each report and review; if he will outline the spending on external reports and reviews in each of those years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42289/10]

The information requested is currently being compiled within the Department and will be made available to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Departmental Expenditure

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

238 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Social Protection the total capital spending allocated to his Department in 2010; the total allocated moneys spent; the allocated capital spending within his Department in 2010 for each project in tabular form; the amount allocated to each project; the amount spent to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42303/10]

The information requested by the Deputy is outlined in the following table:

Department Of Social Protection Capital Expenditure 2010

Subhead

Project

Allocated 2010

Spend to End Of Sept

A.5.1 Computers and Related Equipment

Non Project Related Capital Expenditure

4,751,000

2,808,000

Medical Referral Case Management Project

40,000

30,000

Mobile Certification of Unemployed Project

199,000

2,000

Time and Attendance System Project

97,000

31,000

DSP Integrated Services Connector Project

60,000

0

Local Office Project Management

161,000

0

Other Small Projects

113,000

16,000

Total A.5.1

5,421,000

2,887,000

A5.2 Photocopiers

Purchase

100,000

23,000

A5.3 Other Office Machinery

Purchase

125,000

227,000

A 6.4 Buildings

Balbriggan Local Office

12,654

12,654

Ballina Local Office

59,298

96,619

Carlow Local Office

64,118

60,000

Carlow Regional Office

59,963

0

Cavan Local Office

555,000

670,000

Clondalkin Local Office

134,098

134,098

Drogheda Local Office

153,355

153,355

Dun Laoghaire Office

19,402

350,000

Kells Inspectors Office

33,071

33,071

Killarney Local Office

725,660

725,661

Mallow Local Office

340,500

75,712

Navan Local Office

5,885

8,000

Newbridge Local Office

44,169

55,000

Unallocated

1,792,827

0

Total A6.4

4,000,000

2,374,170

A.10 E-Govt Projects

Projects

556,000

0

Overall Departmental Total.

10,202,000

5,511,170

Public Relations Contracts

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

239 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Social Protection the amount spent by his Department on public relations and advertising in the years 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42317/10]

The Department of Social Protection had no expenditure on public relations in the period 2008-2010. The Department's press office deals with all media queries and public relations matters.

Advertising for the Department falls under two categories:

Routine newspaper/magazine advertisements to advise the public of office closures, relocations or recruitment.

General advertising to raise awareness of schemes and services including campaigns on radio, television and in the print media.

The total amount spent on advertising in the period 2008 to 2010 is outlined in the table below.

Advertising Expenditure 2008-2010

Year

2008

2009

2010 (To October)

Amount

1,147,000

237,000

143,000

I am satisfied that the amount of money spent on public relations and advertising by the Department is closely monitored and is determined by the nature and number of advertising activities undertaken.

Social Welfare Appeals

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

240 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding jobseeker’s allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42329/10]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 31 March 2010. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received back in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 29 September 2010 and the appeal will be referred in due course to an Appeals Officer who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing.

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

Social Welfare Benefits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

241 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for child benefit in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42330/10]

Payment of child benefit was suspended in October as a request for information which issued to the person concerned in August 2010, had not been returned. The information requested was received on November 8 and the suspension on her child benefit claim has now been lifted. Accordingly, she will receive her child benefit payment in December.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

242 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 180 of the 7 October 2010, when entitlement to arrears of child dependant element of jobseeker’s allowance will be paid in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42331/10]

Enquiries are continuing regarding the entitlement of the person concerned to an arrears payment in respect of his child. On completion of these enquiries a decision will be made on his entitlement and he will be advised of the outcome.

Social Welfare Appeals

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

243 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will review disallowance and disallowance on appeal having regard to general practitioners’ contradictory evidence in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42332/10]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer, having considered all the available evidence, disallowed the appeal.

Under Social Welfare legislation, the decision of the Appeals Officer is final and conclusive and may only be reviewed by the Appeals Officer in the light of new evidence or new facts. If there is any new evidence or new facts pertinent to this case that was not brought to the attention of the Appeals Officer during the determination of this appeal, they may be submitted to the Social Welfare Appeals Office for further consideration.

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.

Departmental Expenditure

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

244 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the amount of money owed to private firms by her Department. [42275/10]

In terms of valid invoices for goods or services received which have not yet been approved and/or sent forward for payment, it is estimated that the amount of money currently owed to private firms by my Department is €14,462. The Department makes every effort to observe both the provisions of the Prompt Payment of Accounts Act 1997 and a Government decision of May 2009 mandating a fifteen-day timeframe for payment.

Departmental Reports

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

245 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the number of external reports and reviews commissioned by her Department in 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; if she will name each report and review; if she will outline the spending on external reports and reviews in each of those years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42290/10]

The number of external reports and reviews commissioned by my Department in 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010 is 3, 2 and 0, respectively. The other information requested by the Deputy is as set out in tabular form below.

Title to Report/Review

Year

Spend

Church Records Microfilm and Records Numbers Survey

2008

5,808

Evaluation of Irish Sports Council Value-for-Money and Policy Review

2008

3,267

Report of Tourism Strategy Implementation Group

2008

3,130

Spend for Reports Commissioned in 2008

12,205

Economic Impact of the Cultural Sector of the Arts, Culture and Creative Sectors

2009

12,092

Report on the Amalgamation of the National Gallery, Irish Museum of Modern Art and Crawford Art Gallery Cork

2009

8,677*

Spend for Reports Commissioned in 2009

20,769

*Excluding VAT.

Departmental Expenditure

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

246 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the total capital spending allocated to her Department in 2010; the total allocated moneys spent; the allocated capital spending within her Department in 2010 for each project in tabular form; the amount allocated to each project; the amount spent to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42304/10]

The total capital allocation for my Department's Vote for 2010, as outlined in the amended Revised Estimates Volume following transfer of the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund function to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in May 2010, is €128.842m. The amount spent to date is almost €71m. By the end of November, capital expenditure is profiled to reach €106m.

The following table outlines the capital allocation under each of my Department's subheads and the amount spent to date. The Department's capital programmes are primarily demand led and there are a number of major items of expenditure which will fall due between now and year end.

2010 Capital Provision

Capital Expenditure to date

€000

€000

Administration

Office Machinery etc.

300

52

Tourism

Fáilte Ireland

1,000

161

Tourism Product Development

21,000

832

Sport

Sports Capital Programme

48,000

37,810

Local Authority Swimming Pools Programme

7,500

2,136

National Sports Campus

3,642

230

Lansdowne Road

4,500

4,450

Arts and Culture

National Archives

400

305

IMMA, Chester Beatty Library, National Concert Hall, Crawford Gallery

1,500

1,431

Cultural Development

16,000

5,007

Arts Council

500

250

National Museum

2,000

1,832

National Library

1,500

950

Irish Film Board

16,500

11,000

Horse and Greyhound Racing*

Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund

4,500

4,500

Total

128,842

70,946

*Responsibility for the Horse and Greyhound Racing function transferred to Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on 1 May 2010.

Public Relations Contracts

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

247 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the amount spent by her Department on public relations and advertising in the years 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [42318/10]

The information sought by the Deputy is as set out in tabular form.

Item

Year 2008

Year 2009

Year 2010

Public Relations

€60,000 (+ VAT)

Nil

Nil

Advertising

€80,094

€27,691

€10,486

Motor Taxation

Joan Burton

Question:

248 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the revenue that could be raised in 2011 and on a full year basis by raising all motor tax rates by 1%, 2%, 3%, 4% and 5%. [42127/10]

It is estimated that the total gross motor tax receipts in 2010 will be in the region of €1,015m, a 4% decrease on 2009. Based on this figure, the table below indicates the estimated gross receipts for 2011 with percentage increases of 1% to 5% applied. The figures assume that the overall national fleet numbers and the make up of the fleet by taxation category remain static at 2010 levels.

Percentage Increase

Estimated Gross Receipts

1%

€1,025.15m

2%

€1,035.30m

3%

€1,045.45m

4%

€1,055.60m

5%

€1,065.75m

Social and Affordable Housing

Terence Flanagan

Question:

249 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42110/10]

Part 4 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 provides for tenant purchase, along incremental purchase lines, of apartments in designated existing local authority complexes. I expect to make the necessary statutory instruments early in 2011 to enable the apartment sales scheme to be brought into operation as quickly as possible thereafter.

Unfinished Housing Estates

John O'Mahony

Question:

250 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of houses in each local authority area which are deemed ghost estates by virtue of the fact that they have a high proportion of unlived in domestic dwellings on a county basis in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42111/10]

The aim of the National Housing Development Survey was to establish overall numbers and categories of unfinished housing developments in order to facilitate the development of subsequent best practice management and resolution approaches in dealing with such developments by key stakeholders such as developers, financial institutions and local authorities.

The content of the baseline National Housing Development Survey database is available in tabular form on a county by county basis, together with the methodology employed in conducting the survey, on my Department's website — www.environ.ie. The survey results provide, inter alia, figures on the overall number of dwellings in unfinished housing developments on a county by county basis and the number of such dwellings that are completed and vacant.

A high-level Expert Group is currently developing measures effectively to address unfinished housing developments, including a guidance manual and Code of Practice for managing and resolving issues in these developments for implementation by key stakeholders. It is expected that the guidance manual will be published very shortly as a consultation draft which will, inter alia , identify the type of developments and issues that need to be prioritised for action in the short term; the final manual and Code of Practice will be published early next year.

Public Procurement

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

251 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the measures in place to ensure that contractors engaged by local authorities are tax compliant and that they observe industry agreements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42146/10]

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

252 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he is satisfied that any contracts entered into by a council and a contractor (details supplied) are tax compliant and in accord with the registered agreement for the construction industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42147/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 251 and 252 together.

As a general guide, local authorities should always comply with the requirements set out in national and EU procurement guidelines.

The Department of Finance has responsibility at central level for the preparation of procurement guidelines for public bodies. My Department's role is to ensure that such guidance is brought to the attention of bodies under its aegis, including local authorities.

With specific reference to the scheme mentioned, the local authority concerned has advised my Department that it will rigorously enforce compliance with the obligations of the contract, including tax compliance requirements and in accordance with the Registered Agreement for the Construction Industry.

Water and Sewerage Schemes

Enda Kenny

Question:

253 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the proposal for a design, build and operate sewerage scheme bundle at a location (details supplied); the progress that has been made on approving the clients representative brief for the first sewerage scheme; the progress that has been made on the associated foreshore and discharge licences for this sewerage scheme; the next stage for advancing this sewerage scheme; and the progress that has been made on advancing the other sewerage schemes. [42159/10]

My Department's Water Services Investment Programme 2010 — 2012, a copy of which is available in the Oireachtas Library, includes a contract for waste water treatment plants and associated networks for the Belmullet, Foxford and Charlestown Sewerage Scheme to advance to construction during the period of the Programme at an estimated cost of €14.3 million.

My Department expects to issue its decision on Mayo County Council's design brief for the appointment of consultants to advance the procurement of the three wastewater treatment plants and associated works under a single Design Build Operate (DBO) contract before the end of the year. This decision will also assist the Council to determine the scale and scope of the works to be carried out on the collection systems at the three locations, and whether to incorporate those works into the DBO contract or to procure them under separate contracts.

I understand that the Council has already carried out some works required for the preparation of contract documents for the Foxford and Charlestown collection systems. A set of contract documents have already been developed for the Belmullet collection system by the Council and submitted to my Department as outlined in the reply to Question No. 214 of 4 November 2010. The parallel work on the design brief and the Council's decision on the procurement strategy for the overall scheme will have to be factored into my Department's consideration of this set of contract documents.

In addition, my Department's assessment of the Council's two foreshore licence applications for the Belmullet scheme is substantially complete but any decision on them must await the Environmental Protection Agency's decision on the Council's wastewater discharge licence application for the Belmullet plant. I understand that the Council has also applied to the Agency for wastewater discharge licences for the Foxford and Charlestown plants. As the discharge licences are matters to be dealt with between the Council and the Agency, further information on progress with those applications may be had from the Council.

In essence, Mayo County Council must await the grant of the foreshore and discharge licences before it can issue the certificate of completion of planning for the proposed contract and progress the appropriate contract documentation.

Motor Taxation

Joe McHugh

Question:

254 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if a farmer with a herd number has a van, crew cab or a commercial jeep, does that individual qualify for the €288 tax; if so, the proof needed; must the farmer pay private tax on a vehicle that they and their spouse use for all trips and if so can they then put back seats in their commercial vehicle if they are paying the high tax bracket; is a VAT number needed if the farmer has a herd number; when this rule will be operational; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42166/10]

The law in relation to the taxation of goods vehicles has not changed.

To be taxed as a goods vehicle, a vehicle must be constructed or adapted for that purpose and used solely in the course of trade or business, including agriculture. If a vehicle is adapted, it must have the same characteristics as a goods vehicle in relation to space and accommodation for carrying goods and it must have limited seating capacity. In effect, this means that in order to be taxed in the goods category, the goods-carrying area of the vehicle must be greater than the seating area; all seats to the rear of the driver's seat must be removed and seat bolt holes welded over and all rear seat belts must be removed and seat belt anchor points welded over. There are no such restrictions if a vehicle is taxed privately.

Under Article 3 of the Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) (Amendment) Regulations 1992, a licensing authority must be satisfied that a vehicle is correctly taxed, and it is thus open to a motor tax office to seek additional documentation supporting a claim for the goods rate of motor tax. Such documentation may include a certificate of commercial insurance or evidence of registration for VAT purposes, or, at the discretion of the licensing authority concerned, any other appropriate document.

Under section 2 of the Finance (Excise Duties) (Vehicles) Act 1952, if a vehicle is used in a condition or manner which would attract motor tax at a higher rate, tax then becomes payable at that rate. In other words, if a goods vehicle is used in a private capacity, it must, like all other private vehicles, be taxed at the private rate of motor tax.

Application of the law in particular cases is a matter for the motor tax authorities.

Wildlife Protection

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

255 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the concerns by an organisation (details supplied) on matters relating to the issuing of licences to cull deer outside of the designated open season, under section 42 of the Wildlife Acts; the steps he will put in place to ensure proper deer management and supervision during the season; if he will address the problem of trophy hunting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42173/10]

Phil Hogan

Question:

258 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views on the reduced numbers for female red deer arising from changes made in the licensing regime under section 42 of the Wildlife Acts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42210/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 255 and 258 together.

Deer may only be hunted under licence by my Department. The open season for most deer species, including Red, Fallow and Sika, operates annually from 1 September to 28 February, depending on the gender and age of deer. The hunting of red male deer is prohibited in the county of Kerry during the open season and these deer can only be hunted under a permission issued under Section 42 of the Wildlife Acts.

The Kerry red deer population is regarded as of national significance because of the likelihood that they may be descended from native populations of red deer, whereas other red deer herds in the country are known to be from introduced stock. The Kerry red deer population is considered to be in good status.

The control of deer is primarily a matter for the land owner; proper deer management requires controlling the numbers of both male and female deer. Section 42 of the Wildlife Acts offers a facility whereby a person can obtain permission, on a case by case basis, to prevent serious damage caused by individual deer or groups of deer on specific lands, and permissions are only issued where there is evidence of such damage. Should such damage be caused by male deer, it would be appropriate to allow a number of stags to be removed from the herd involved.

There has been no change in the licensing regime.

My Department is actively taking measures to combat deer poaching around the country. I understand that the organisation in question has a particular concern that the Section 42 permissions issued for red male deer in county Kerry are been used to encourage trophy hunting. My Department will arrange to meet with the organisation in the next few weeks to discuss this issue and other matters raised in its letter.

Marine Designated Areas

Phil Hogan

Question:

256 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to list and describe all proposed new inshore and off shore marine designated areas or extensions to existing designated areas under the NATURA 2000 Habitats Directive’s special protection areas and special areas of conservation; the percentage of the Irish coastline that is currently designated under NATURA 2000; the final target for the percentage of coastline to be designated under NATURA 2000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42194/10]

Under the EU Birds Directive, Ireland is required to designate Special Protection Areas for the most important areas used by birds, especially migratory or rare species. The European Court of Justice has determined that all important areas used by birds must be designated. In Ireland, many of the most important areas are bays and estuaries used by large flocks of migrant birds in the winter months.

Under the EU Habitats Directive, Ireland is further required to designate the best sites for 7 different marine habitats, including large shallow inlets and bays, and sandbanks, as Special Areas of Conservation (SACS). SACs are also required for a number of marine species, including the harbour porpoise, the bottle-nosed dolphin and both the grey and harbour seal. In March 2009, the European Commission held a review of the SACs proposed by all Atlantic coast Member States and required Ireland to carry out further work in regard to sandbanks, dolphins and porpoises in particular.

My Department is currently finalising work on what is necessary to meet the requirements of the EU Directives and I will publish a list of any additional sites required as soon as possible.

The percentage of coastline designated was calculated by my Department by estimating the length of the high tide line with a designated area on the seaward side of the tideline. Using an estimate of 8,400 km as the length of the Irish tide line, it is estimated that 62% borders on a designated area.

The length of coastline is not a criterion used in the designation process and there is no set target.

Departmental Schemes

Noel Ahern

Question:

257 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the situation regarding insulation of houses being sponsored and grant aided by Sustainable Energy Ireland; if planning approval is required in exterior insulation schemes; if so, the reason SEI do not inform persons of same, the reason they do not ask if planning approval has been granted before awarding grant approval; if a standard approach can be taken by all local authorities; if Dublin City Council can now be instructed to withdraw the warning notice under section 152 issued to a person (details supplied) who has done everything in accordance with SEI but has no planning approval. [42206/10]

Under the Planning and Development Acts 2000-2010 and the associated regulations, all development commenced on or after 1 October 1964 requires planning permission unless specifically exempted. Section 4(1) of the Planning and Development Act 2000 sets out certain broad categories of development that are exempted developments for the purposes of the Act. Section 4(1)(h) provides that development consisting of the carrying out of works for the maintenance, improvement or other alteration of any structure is exempted development if the works affect only the interior of the structure or do not materially affect the external appearance of the structure so as to render the appearance inconsistent with the character of the structure or of neighbouring structures. The interpretation and application of the legislation is a matter for the planning authorities in the first instance.

This advice is available on the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland website, www.seai.ie .

Enforcement of planning control is a matter for the planning authority which can take action if a development does not have the required permission, or where the terms of a permission have not been met. I have no role in the matter. Under section 30 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, I am specifically precluded from exercising any power or control in relation to any particular case with which a planning authority or the An Bord Pleanála is or may be concerned.

Question No. 258 answered with Question No. 255.

Departmental Agencies

Róisín Shortall

Question:

259 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding the Housing and Sustainable Communities Agency; the areas of responsibility which has been or will be devolved from the Department to the agency; the scope of the proposed policy and operational role of the agency, the work being undertaken and the accountability and governance arrangements in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42235/10]

In June 2009 I announced the establishment of a single housing agency — the Housing and Sustainable Communities Agency (HSCA), as a rationalization of existing Agencies in the housing sector. In May 2010 the Agency was established on an administrative basis. It is intended that HSCA will be given full legislative underpinning next year.

It is not proposed that any specific housing functions will be devolved by my Department to the Agency, the principle objective of which is to work with and assist my Department and local authorities in the provision of housing services. Its functions will include the following:

[a] within a shared service environment, to assist local authorities in the discharge of their functions under housing, planning and building control legislation, [b] to facilitate, advise and assist housing authorities, approved housing bodies and my Department in the formulation and implementation of housing policy,[c] to carry out research and analysis, and to disseminate information to housing practitioners and the wider public, [d] to undertake such duties or such other services as are requested of it by myself or the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

At present the Agency continues to carry out some remaining activities previously under the remit of the Affordable Homes Partnership and the Centre for Housing Research, such as, for example, the conduct of credit checks for local authority loans, the preparation of guidance for local authorities in relation to the disposal of affordable housing and the carrying out of housing research. In addition, the Agency is supporting the promotion of the social housing leasing initiative, is helping to source accommodation for homeless persons and, through Housing and Sustainable Communities Ltd., is administering the Land Aggregation Scheme. From 1 January 2011 it is expected that a broader range of the proposed functions for the Agency will be taken on.

Notwithstanding that the Agency has only been established on an administrative basis, it subscribes to the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies.

Social and Affordable Housing

Róisín Shortall

Question:

260 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the way, and the arrangements through which, he will ensure that a consistent supply of homes for social housing applicants will be delivered through the social housing leasing schemes. [42236/10]

For some time now the social housing investment programme has been undergoing a significant restructuring to shift the focus increasingly towards more flexible delivery mechanisms, including through the introduction of long term leasing arrangements, with a lesser reliance on construction and acquisition. This is in line with the reform agenda clearly set out under the Government's housing policy statement, Delivering Homes, Sustaining Communities.

I am confident that there is a considerable supply of suitable available vacant accommodation around the country which can be made available for leasing. This is evidenced by the sourcing of almost 2,800 units, to the end of October 2010, and of these almost 1,000 are operational with agreements signed. I expect further substantial numbers of units to be provided in the years ahead to meet housing needs.

My Department has engaged the Housing and Sustainable Communities Agency to provide on-going support and advice to local authorities on the leasing initiative, in general and also on an individual project basis. Given the work which my Department has undertaken to support the leasing initiative and its extension to include the voluntary and co-operative housing sector, and given the impact of the establishment of the National Asset Management Agency, I am satisfied that a solid basis is being put in place to support increased delivery under the initiative.

Róisín Shortall

Question:

261 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the date and format planned for the 2011 housing needs assessment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42237/10]

A statutory assessment of housing need is carried out every three years by all housing authorities in accordance with the terms of the Housing Act 1988 and involves local authorities assessing all households on their waiting lists, to determine whether they are/remain eligible for and in need of social housing support.

The social housing reform programme, which was given legislative effect by the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, provides for a new process of housing needs assessment. Regulations which will set out the detailed provisions of the assessment process will be made later this year. They will include provisions on—

how applications for social housing should be made including which authority an applicant may apply to;

the manner in which an authority will conduct housing needs assessments;

the criteria for determining eligibility for social housing support ;

the determination of what form of social housing should be provided;

when a housing authority should carry out an update or review of a social housing assessment; and

rules for carrying out the statutory summary of social housing assessments.

The regulations will provide a standard approach to the carrying out of assessments across all housing authorities.

In September 2010, my Department issued a circular letter to housing authorities advising them of the intention to undertake an assessment of need as of 31 March 2011.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

262 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the procedures he has put in place to ensure that capital funding allocated under the various social housing programmes in his Department is drawn down and spent; the way the process is monitored to ensure all allocations are spent and there is not significant underspend; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42238/10]

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

263 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the purpose of the review of the local authority housing action plans; the way the Departments funding allocations are linked to these reviews and performance under the action plans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42239/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 262 and 263 together.

My Department monitors activity and expenditure across all programmes on an ongoing basis to ensure productive spend and value for money for the resources invested.

In the area of housing a number of procedures are in place. The specific allocations for each authority are informed by both the level of contractual commitments for the following year and the extent of social housing need in each authority's functional area. Following the notification of allocations to all local authorities at the start of the year, my Department then monitors drawdown on a continual basis through direct engagement at official level.

Each year as part of the Housing Action Plan (HAP) review process my Department meets twice with each housing authority, in spring and autumn, to discuss their social housing programmes.

In January, prior to the spring HAP meetings, my Department issues provisional allocations and expenditure projections. These figures are to be used as the basis for the operational programmes for housing authorities and are discussed at the spring HAP meetings.

The primary purpose of the spring 2010 HAP meeting was to:

agree the work programme for the year;

confirm financial and physical outputs;

outline the parameters within which the investment programmes for 2011 — 2013 are to be prepared; and

agree a list of projects that have been deferred until such time as budgetary conditions improve to enable these projects to advance.

Final allocations are issued after the spring HAP meeting and all local authorities are advised of their allocation under each of the social housing programmes.

The primary purpose of the autumn 2010 HAP meeting was to:

confirm financial and physical output for the current year, including progress under the Social Leasing Initiative; and

further outline the parameters within which the investment programmes for 2011 — 2013 are to be prepared.

Additionally, the HAP process is supplemented by continuous and ongoing engagement between my Department and the Local Authorities.

Local authorities also receive a monthly statement of expenditure which clearly shows drawdown in monetary terms by subhead item and the percentage of their allocations drawn down to date.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

264 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environme