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 11, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 12 to 20, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 21 to 31, inclusive, answered orally.

Broadcasting Services

Charles Flanagan

Question:

32 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport if she has held recent discussions with the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources with regard to the free-to-air proposals; her view on the issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44138/10]

The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources is statutorily required to consult with me before making an order or amending an order to list events of major importance which must be available on free television service. As Deputies will be aware, the Minister has proposed the designation of certain rugby and GAA matches as free to air, along with the Cheltenham festival.

The proposals in relation to certain Six Nations Championship and Heineken Cup rugby matches have created the greatest controversy.

The IRFU considers that any form of change to the existing designated list would have a very significant impact on revenues to the organisation which would hugely impact on its grass roots programmes and would lead to an exodus of professional players to other jurisdictions. The organisation considers that the proposals would undermine the economic model on which the funding of Irish rugby is based.

As Minister with responsibility for sport, I appreciate the desire to make sporting events available for viewing to as many people as possible. However, at the same time it is vital that sporting bodies are able to fund and thereby sustain and develop their sport.

I made a written submission to the Minister on this issue last July.

In August, he appointed Indecon consultants to study his proposal and prepare a report on the issue. Indecon's contract is to research, analyse, and evaluate the socio-cultural, economic and financial aspects and impacts of the designation of events of major importance to society, for which the right of a qualifying broadcaster to provide coverage on free television services should be provided in the public interest.

In the course of their work, Indecon have met with a number of the relevant stakeholders including the IRFU and myself.

I understand that Indecon are finalising their report for the Minister for Communications and I intend to engage further with him prior to the Government taking a decision on this issue.

Sports Funding

Paul Connaughton

Question:

33 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport if she envisages the capital investment in sport outlined in the Government’s Infrastructure Investment Priorities 2010 to 2016 remains realistic for the coming year given the fiscal reality; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44107/10]

The Deputy will be aware that in light of the current economic situation it is necessary for the Government to make an overall expenditure adjustment of €15 billion over the next four years in order to achieve the target deficit of 3% of GDP by 2014. The adjustments required are set out in the Four Year Plan published by the Government today. The Plan includes adjustments to the overall capital envelope for my Department's Vote Group up to 2014. The new capital envelope for 2011 is €96m, with envelopes of €100m, €85m and €80m for 2012, 2013 and 2014 respectively. Capital allocations will be distributed for each year in line with priorities in the tourism, culture and sport areas. The level of investment in sport for 2011 will be outlined in the Budget on 7 December and I am sure that the Deputy will appreciate that I am not in a position to outline the Estimates for my Department in advance of that date.

Expenditure Programme

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

34 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport in view of the fact that the Report on the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes was published over a year ago, the efforts that have been made in the intervening time, to bring about the efficiency savings and to remove the duplication of services that the report identified in her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44022/10]

I would refer the Deputy to my reply to Priority Parliamentary Question No. 22 of today's date. The Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes, published in July 2009, made a number of recommendations in respect of my Department and the agencies under its aegis.

Specifically, the recommendations of the Special Group included proposals to reduce programme expenditure by almost €105 million in 2010 and to structurally reduce 170 staff across the Department and its agencies. The Special Group's Report also proposed that consideration should be given to the discontinuation of the then Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism as a Department in it own right.

In responding to these challenging proposals, savings of more than €35 million were achieved in the Revised Estimates for 2010 for the Department's Vote Group, compared to 2009. In addition, the Government's moratorium on staff recruitment and promotion and its incentivised early retirement scheme continue to achieve reductions in staff numbers across my Department and its agencies.

In March 2010, the Government made structural re-alignments to a number of Departments of State. As part of these re-alignments, the former Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism was restructured as the current Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport, with an enhanced focus on maximising the benefits to Ireland, in financial and other terms, of both our tourism product and our cultural and sporting heritage. In addition, responsibility for the horse and greyhound racing industries was transferred to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

In its preparations for Budget 2011, the Government has had regard to all possible measures to achieve the proposed budget adjustment of €6 billion, including the recommendations of the Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes. As I have already said — while it is clearly not appropriate for me to reveal the details of what may be announced in Budget 2011 — my objective is to protect frontline programmes and services, remove any duplication of activities and ensure that an appropriate level of resources are provided to continue the successful development of the three important sectors for which I have responsibility.

Consultancy Contracts

Joe Costello

Question:

35 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the amount spent on outside consultants reports for each year from 2000 to date in 2010 in tabular form; the name of those reports and the actions taken on foot of each report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44012/10]

In 2010, no expenditure has been incurred by the Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport on consultancy services. Expenditure last year on such services came to €33,000.

The amounts for previous years were as follows:

€6,000 in 2002;

€45,000 in 2003;

€130,000 in 2004;

€122,000 in 2005;

€42,000 in 2006;

€36,000 in 2007; and

€259,000 in 2008.

35 reports were completed by outside consultants during this period, at an average cost of €19,000 per report. The least expensive report — An Evaluation of Service Offered to the Public by the National Archives — cost €2,220. The most expensive was the €114,000 spent in 2008 on the Economic Evaluation of the Benefit to the Island of Ireland of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. I have given details in an earlier answer today of how this report is feeding into the work being done by a range of government agencies to ensure that Ireland gets the maximum benefit from the London Olympics.

While no outside consultancy reports have been commissioned during my tenure as Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport, I have been informed by the Department that in commissioning earlier reports it observed the Department of FinanceGuidelines for the Engagement of Consultants in the Civil Service. These guidelines state that consultants should only be contracted by the Department in circumstances where specialised knowledge or expertise, which is not available in the Department or elsewhere in the public service, is required for a temporary period or where a specialist study or project must be completed within a very short time scale.

While it would be impossible for me to read out the details of all 35 reports here, I am making available to the Deputy a chart which sets out in relation to each report:

the topic covered by it;

the year in which it was commissioned;

its implementation status; and

its cost.

Hotel Sector

Brian Hayes

Question:

36 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the progress made in addressing excess capacity in the hotel sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44146/10]

Economic circumstances are making trading conditions difficult for most businesses at present. These difficult conditions are exacerbated in the hotel sector by an overcapacity in supply. This is proving to be a complex situation to resolve and I believe that, inevitably, it will require a market led solution over time.

In recent weeks I have received copies of the IHF's pre-Budget submission to the Minister for Finance. I will certainly ensure their priorities receive due consideration in the formulation of next years' budget. As Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport, I will continue to engage in regular consultation with the industry so that the support provided by the State tourism agencies and the Department are both relevant and effective.

In acknowledgment of the difficulties faced by the tourism sector, the Government, through Fáilte Ireland, is investing over €11 million in 2010 in the form of direct supports and advice for tourism enterprises nationally, including hotels. The key elements of Fáilte Ireland's enterprise development supports include:

A comprehensive €3.6 million Business Support Programme helping businesses to grow their ‘top line' while also tackling their cost base through a combination of restructuring debt and building greater liquidity into their businesses, as well as permanently re-engineering their business processes;

A suite of Management and Skills Development training programmes to tourism clients;

Measures to better develop, manage and promote tourism destinations, including promotion of networks and marketing partnerships with trade groups in destinations;

Strong e-Business Supports to underpin Fáilte Ireland and industry marketing activities, the delivery of enhanced visitor services and the availability of new online learning tools for industry clients.

Tourism Ireland is continuing its marketing activities in Great Britain, Mainland Europe and North America this Autumn highlighting ease of access, great fares and offers from the industry, and showcasing the wonderful holiday experiences available here. In the US, a seat sale is currently under way in gateway cities promoting Autumn/Winter fares from as low as $199 each way. Meanwhile, in Europe, over 16 million potential visitors will see the ‘Ireland — More for Less' promotion on the Ryanair website over the coming months. Car touring campaigns with the ferry companies are also encouraging visitors to take their own cars to Ireland. At home, Fáilte Ireland's €4 million home holiday marketing campaign is continuing with the Festive and New Year offering launched during November.

The Government has also set out significant plans to fund the further development of our tourism product offering. Fáilte Ireland has recently published a background briefing paper entitled "Recent Developments in the Hotel Sector and the Medium-Term Outlook", which is available on its corporate website www.failteireland.ie. This paper examines supply and demand side developments in the hotel industry, considers the medium-term prospects for the sector and presents some useful insights as to how the overcapacity issue may evolve.

When I met with NAMA in October to discuss overall policy in the Hotels Sector I gave them a copy of that paper. The Agency welcomed receipt of the analysis and I am pleased to say that NAMA will take account of overall tourism policy considerations as their own strategy development evolves.

Budgetary Submissions

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

37 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the discussions she has had with the various stakeholders in sectors relevant to her Department; the extent of submissions she received in respect of the proposed future economic plan or the forthcoming budget with particular reference to her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44088/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

120 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the extent to which she has met with the various stakeholders under her Department’s aegis in preparation for the four year plan or the forthcoming budget; if she intends to respond to the submissions she has received; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44440/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 37 and 120 together.

Policy in the areas of tourism, culture and sport is kept under constant review, in consultation with key sectoral interests. I meet many of the stakeholders in the tourism, culture and sports sectors on a regular basis as part of this ongoing consultation process.

In the tourism sector, since my appointment as Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport, I have met the Chairs and Chief Executives of the tourism agencies, namely, Fáilte Ireland, Tourism Ireland and Shannon Development, as well as the main representative bodies in the tourism sector and a number of the main airlines and sea carriers serving the island of Ireland. I have also had the opportunity to canvass the views of many other stakeholders at the many functions and events that I have attended around the country and abroad.

Also in the tourism sector, I have received copies of the pre-Budget submissions from a number of representative groups to my colleague, the Minister for Finance, including those from the Irish Hotels Federation and the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation. Moreover, as part of the preparation of my Department'sStatement of Strategy for the period 2011-2013 , I convened three consultation forums for each of the tourism, culture and sport sectors, at which I met and had discussions with the key stakeholders. These consultation forums occurred as recently as September 2010 and proved to be invaluable in fostering a mutual exchange of views as to the challenges and opportunities facing each sector.

Arising from these extensive contacts and engagements, I have been made aware of the concerns and priorities of the tourism, culture and sport sectors. The various stakeholder proposals and submissions received due consideration in the context of the ongoing Estimates process and forthcoming Budget, as well as in the preparation of the four-year Economic Plan.

My Department and I will remain in ongoing close contact with the key stakeholders, particularly over the coming budgetary period.

Corporate Governance

Kathleen Lynch

Question:

38 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport if she will consider revisiting the various Acts relating to the establishment of the Government agencies with responsibility for the formulation of public policy for tourism, culture and sport, to ensure that the primary focus of public policy formulation, evaluation and analysis in her Department is to ensure greater ministerial responsibility and accountability for public policy and the expenditure of public moneys; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44024/10]

The statutory framework for the various agencies under the aegis of my Department are the subject of regular review to ensure that each agency is fit for purpose, that there is an appropriate separation of functions between the Department and its agencies and that transparency, openness and accountability apply. The current situation is that I am responsible for the formulation, development and review of policy for the tourism, culture and sport sectors. Responsibility for the implementation of that policy rests with the various agencies under the aegis of the Department. In particular, the day-to-day operational functions of the agencies are a matter for the agencies themselves.

In this regard, on a non-statutory basis, the Department of Finance'sCode of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies provides a framework for the application of best practice in corporate governance by both commercial and non-commercial State bodies. Pursuant to this Code of Practice, the agencies under the aegis of my Department are required to confirm that they comply with the requirements of the Code in their governance practices and procedures.

The over-riding principle is that State bodies must serve the interests of the taxpayer, pursue value for money in their endeavours, including managing risk appropriately, and act transparently as public entities. Moreover, the Board and management should accept accountability for the proper management of the organisation.

The provisions of the Code of Practice do not transcend existing statutory requirements and other obligations imposed by, ethics legislation, Standards in Public Office legislation, and the specific statutory provisions relating to the State body itself.

The only change that I intend to make at the current time is to merge some of the cultural institutions. The Deputy will be aware of proposals to merge the National Gallery, Irish Museum of Modern Art and Crawford Art Gallery and the suggested merger of the National Library, National Archives and Irish Manuscripts Commission. Extensive consultations have already taken place in relation to both of these. Draft heads of enabling legislation are being advanced, and these will ensure that best practice is observed with respect to agency structures and functioning.

Departmental Expenditure

Michael D. Higgins

Question:

39 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the capital spend for artistic and cultural facilities for each year from 2000 to date in 2010 in tabular from; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44011/10]

Capital funding for arts and cultural projects supported by my Department is provided from the Cultural Development subhead, D5, of Vote 35 of the Revised Estimates Volume.

Under this subhead, capital grants are awarded for the development of arts and cultural infrastructure throughout the country. Integrated arts centres, theatres, museums, galleries, arts studios and creative and performance spaces have received capital funding. The table below sets out the payments made under the aforementioned Capital Development subhead D5 since when the Department was established in 2002, to date in 2010.

Cultural Development Subhead

Year

Expenditure

2002

9,777,935

2003

6,032,979

2004

6,396,658

2005

15,021,810

2006

20,049,150

2007

37,639,053

2008

32,715,664

2009

17,294,879

2010 To Date

6,074,019

Total

151,002,147

In addition the National Cultural Institutions National Archives, National Library of Ireland, the Chester Beatty Library etc are provided with annual capital to facilitate exhibitions, the expansion of the national collections, and their conservation.

Art Collection

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

40 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport if she has consulted any public art galleries on whether they have the ability to house and would like to acquire any artworks currently held by Irish banks that are entirely State owned or in nominally private institutions, the main shareholder and guarantor of which are the Irish people; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44016/10]

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

43 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport further to Parliamentary Question No. 152 of 10 November 2010 and noting that an Irish bank (details supplied) is auctioning its art collection on 26 November 2010, if she will request the State owned and nominally private institutions to seek to transfer these collections to public galleries to ensure such collections are available to the public on a continuous basis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44015/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 40 and 43 together.

I refer the Deputy to my previous replies on this matter. There is concern that the sale of Irish art works by the organisations referred to would depress an already troubled market place for Irish art. I have pointed this out to the Bank of Ireland and, emphasised the deflationary and displacement impact which the sale of a significant body of contemporary art would have on the market here and, in particular, on emerging artists. In response, that Bank has donated a number of the more significant works of its collection to the State.

It is a matter for the Board of the Bank of Ireland and the Boards of other similar organisations to decide further on these matters. I have also written to the Chairman of Allied Irish Banks regarding that institution's collection of art. I do not believe that its collection should be disposed of either and have asked that the institution enter a dialogue with us on public access to its extensive collection.

Arts Funding

Róisín Shortall

Question:

41 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport if she will provide minimum guaranteed funding for the Arts Council, to be administered on a contestable basis within a multi-annual framework, that is, provide 50% of its funding on a multi-annual basis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44013/10]

Denis Naughten

Question:

44 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the steps she is taking to secure adequate levels of funding for the arts; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43962/10]

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

110 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport if her attention has been drawn to the implications of further cuts to the Arts Council’s budget in view of the fact that funding was reduced from €84 million in 2008 to €69 million in 2010, a fall of 18%; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44423/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 41, 44 and 110 together.

Government Policy in this area is set out in the Programme for Government. This policy is to promote and strengthen the arts in all its forms, increase access to and participation in the arts, make the arts an integral and valued part of our national life, and maximise the potential for cultural tourism.

The Government appreciates the importance of the arts, culture and creative industries to both our society and to our economy. I am conscious not only of the role of the sector in providing vital opportunities for self-expression and participation, but also of the economic potential of the arts and creative industries and in particular of providing conditions in which the creative industries can flourish. The Government is also committed to enhancing access to the arts for people of all ages and income levels.

I would like to acknowledge the concerns raised by the recent Campaign for the Arts and to reaffirm my commitment to maximising the position and status of the arts in society. The campaign helped to highlight the value, the importance and the contribution of the arts not only to the economy and to our social life, but also to the raising the national spirit. The arts help to define what we are, both as community and on the world stage. I intend to do everything in my power to build on the passion displayed by the campaign and to ensure the continued vitality of this sector.

The Government is committed to supporting the crucial constituent sectors of arts and culture within limited available financial resources. Decisions regarding funding, whether within my Department's Vote or on the part of other relevant Departments will, however, have to be taken in the context of the ongoing Estimates and budget preparation process and in the light of the target aggregate Exchequer savings to be achieved for 2011. It is not possible therefore to provide funding certainties for any specific elements of my Department's Vote.

Question No. 42 answered with Question No. 31.
Question No. 43 answered with Question No. 40.
Question No. 44 answered with Question No. 41.

Sports Funding

Denis Naughten

Question:

45 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport her plans to redistribute funds not drawn down under the sports capital programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43963/10]

Under the Sports Capital Programme, funding is allocated to sporting and to voluntary and community organisations at local, regional and national level throughout the country. For a variety of reasons it can take grantees a number of years to draw down funding allocated under the Programme. Where delays are excessive, or where the project has ceased, the Department will withdraw the outstanding grant. Each year, through the Estimates process, the Department is provided with funding to meet the expected draw down requests in that year. In recent years all of this money has been drawn down by grantees. In situations where grants awarded under the Programme are withdrawn for non-compliance with the terms and conditions of the Programme such grants are not reallocated to other projects but rather is the level of outstanding commitments reduced by that amount.

Questions Nos. 46 and 47 answered with Question No. 31.

Higher Education Grants

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

48 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if third level education grants already decided for this year, of which the first of three payments have been disbursed with the remaining two to be drawn down by students later in the academic year, will remain unaffected by cuts in the upcoming budget; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44200/10]

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

Departmental Correspondence

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

49 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will respond to an issue (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44204/10]

The correspondence provided by the Deputy covers a wide range of issues within my Department. I have noted the various points raised in the correspondence and I have arranged for it to be brought to the attention of the relevant sections within my Department.

Schools Building Projects

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

50 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will respond to an issue (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44206/10]

I can confirm that my Department is in receipt of an application from the school authority to which the Deputy refers for large scale capital funding. The application has been assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for large scale building projects and assigned a Band 2rating.

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

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

In the meantime, it is open to the school authority to apply to my Department or funding for any works of an emergency nature. The appropriate application form is available on my Department's website www.education.ie.

Higher Education Grants

Niall Collins

Question:

51 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if any grant aid or other financial assistance is available to a person (details supplied) who has returned to college this year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44212/10]

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

Where a grant application is refused, the reason for the refusal is given by the grant awarding authority. An applicant may appeal the decision to the relevant local authority or VEC.

Where the grant awarding authority decides to reject the appeal, the applicant may appeal this decision to my Department by submitting an appeal form outlining clearly the grounds for the appeal.

No appeal has been received by my Department to date from the candidate referred to by the Deputy.

Schools Building Projects

Pat Breen

Question:

52 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if a school (details supplied) in County Clare will be facilitated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44215/10]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the allocated funding will be provided to the school in question once they have provided the necessary documentation outlined in the grant approval letter which issued to the school management authority earlier this year.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

53 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if a successful contractor has been chosen for the building of a new school (details supplied) in County Kildare; when construction will commence and the timeframe envisaged for same. [44245/10]

The project to which the Deputy refers is currently at an advanced stage of the tender process. Subject to no issues arising, it is anticipated that the project will progress to construction shortly and will take circa 12 months to construct.

Special Educational Needs

Deirdre Clune

Question:

54 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will ensure that relevant exam supports are in place for a leaving certificate student (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44347/10]

The State Examinations Commission has statutory responsibility for operational matters relating to the certificate examinations including organising the holding of examinations and determining procedures in places where examinations are conducted including the supervision of examinations.

I can inform the Deputy that the Commission operates a scheme of Reasonable Accommodations in the Certificate examinations. Applications for such accommodations are submitted by schools on behalf of their students. A range of accommodations are provided to enable students with special needs to access the Certificate examinations. For example enlarged print, Braille translation, modified questions, use of a scribe, a reader, a personal assistant, a tape recorder or word processor, or exemptions from areas of assessment, may be allowed depending on needs.

In view of this I have forwarded your query to the State Examinations Commission for direct reply to you.

Finian McGrath

Question:

55 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of children with a mild diagnosis of disability who do not receive resource hours and the provision for these pupils. [44360/10]

Finian McGrath

Question:

56 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will ensure that children with a mild diagnosis who attend mainstream schools receive their own resource hours and not from the general allocation. [44362/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 55 and 56 together.

The National Council for Special Education has advised my Department that additional teaching supports were in place in post-primary schools in the 09/10 school year in respect of over 3,600 students who had been assessed as having a mild general learning disability.

At primary level, pupils with a mild general learning disability, and who do not attend either a special class or special school, receive additional teaching support through the teaching staff already in place in all primary schools. The Deputy is aware that all primary schools have been allocated learning support/resource teaching support through the General Allocation Model specifically to support pupils with a high incidence special educational need, including pupils with a mild general learning disability. This model of teacher allocation is not in place at post-primary level and therefore the NCSE allocates additional teaching supports to post-primary schools in respect of students with a mild general learning disability.

My Department does not retain information on the number of children who receive support through the general allocation system.

Legislative Progress

Michael Ring

Question:

57 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Finance the status of the Construction Contracts Bill 2010. [44332/10]

Senator Quinn's Private Members Construction Contracts Bill 2010 is currently before the Seanad and is expected to proceed to Committee Stage shortly. The Government appreciates that this is an important piece of legislation and is working closely with the Senator in relation to it. It will then have to proceed to the Dáil in the New Year.

Departmental Properties

Michael Creed

Question:

58 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 157 of 16 November 2010, to whom the property in question was disposed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44186/10]

The premises was disposed to BAM (formerly Ascon).

Consultancy Contracts

Denis Naughten

Question:

59 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 60 of 28 April 2010, when the consultants for the Shannon flood risk assessment and management study were appointed; the timetable for completion of their report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44196/10]

A comprehensive management programme for the River Shannon is being addressed through the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Programme under the direction of the Office of Public Works. The CFRAM Programme is being delivered through the CFRAM Studies.

The process of procuring consultants to undertake the CFRAM study for the Shannon and the other national catchments was initiated in summer 2010. The final tenders for the second stage of this procurement process will be received on 26 November 2010. It is expected that the successful tenderer will be appointed at year end.

All national catchment flood risk management plans are due for completion and publication by 22 December 2015 according to the timetable set down in the EU Floods Directive.

Revenue Claims

Jack Wall

Question:

60 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding a claim in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Laois; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44203/10]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they are currently reviewing the claim and a letter will issue to the person concerned shortly.

Tax Collection

Jack Wall

Question:

61 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare can be furnished with a P21 for 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44207/10]

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

National Solidarity Bond

Tom Hayes

Question:

62 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Finance the amount that has been invested in the national solidarity bond to date; the number of investors who have availed of the regular saver option; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44209/10]

In Budget 2010, I announced the Government's intention to launch a National Solidarity Bond, the purpose of which is to allow citizens an opportunity to invest and provide money to the State to stimulate economic recovery and to assist in the maintenance and creation of employment. The necessary legislative basis was provided in this year's Finance Act and the Bond was launched on Tuesday 4 May. I am informed by the National Treasury Management Agency that, at close of business on Monday, 22 November, a total of some €319 million had been invested in the Bond by 14,650 customers.

Professional Fees

Terence Flanagan

Question:

63 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 177 of 9 November 2010, if he will issue a directive to the professionals in private practice such as doctors and solicitors to get them to reduce their fees to consumers who have taken a drop in their income. [44240/10]

As I indicated in my reply to Question No. 177 of 9 November 2010, professional fees paid by Government under contracts for service in the public service have already been subject to reductions in 2009 and in 2010 and the question of a further reduction is a matter for consideration by the Government in the context of the forthcoming Budget. The Minister for Finance has no function in setting the fees charged to their clients by professionals in private practice such as doctors and solicitors. These fees are a matter between the relevant professional and their client.

Bank Deposits

Billy Timmins

Question:

64 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Finance the amount of funding on deposit in Irish bank accounts as of 31 October 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44243/10]

The Deputy will appreciate that as Minister for Finance it is not appropriate for me to discuss the funding on deposit in Irish bank accounts. The Deputy will be aware that the Central Bank publishes monthly statistics on Money and Banking which includes statistics on deposits and other funding for those institutions which carry out banking business in the State.

The most recently published statistics are for September 2010.

Fiscal Policy

Billy Timmins

Question:

65 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Finance if he was approached by the EU Commission, the European Central Bank or the International Monetary Fund with offers of financial assistance during the period January 2010 to 31 October 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44244/10]

It is important to put recent developments in context. Following agreement on the Euro Area Loan Facility to Greece earlier this year, the Ecofin Council decided in May 2010 on a package of European Financial Stability arrangements in conjunction with the IMF. These were intended, to safeguard the financial stability of the EU and the euro area and to support Member States in difficulties caused by exceptional circumstances beyond their control. Under these arrangements the request for support must come from the member State concerned. The arrangements do not provide for an offer by the EU Commission, the ECB or the IMF of such support. The Deputy will be aware, however, that the Eurosystem has been providing liquidity support to the Irish banking sector as part of its normal monetary operations. The Eurogroup meeting on the 16th November welcomed the intention of the Government to engage in a short and focused consultation with the Commission, the ECB and the IMF in order to determine the best way to provide any necessary support to address continuing market risks, especially as regards the banking system, in the context of the four-year budgetary plan and the upcoming budget.

Ireland formally applied to the EU authorities on 21 November 2010 for financial assistance in the context of a joint EU-IMF programme. The request for external assistance has been made under the terms of the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism, the European Financial Stability Facility and the IMF assistance programme. EU and Euro area financial assistance will be provided under a policy programme which will be negotiated with the Irish authorities by the Commission and the IMF, in liaison with the ECB. The Government has welcomed the agreement reached at the Eurogroup meeting on 21 November that assistance to Ireland is warranted to safeguard financial stability in the EU and in the Euro Area. This assistance may possibly be supplemented by bilateral loans to be provided by EU Member States. Since the Eurogroup meeting on 16 November, there has been very constructive and positive engagement with the bodies mentioned.

Civil Service Staff

Brendan Kenneally

Question:

66 Deputy Brendan Kenneally asked the Minister for Finance the number of public servants, including those in semi-State companies, employed in Waterford city, Cork city, Galway city and Limerick city; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44348/10]

The number of civil servants serving in the locations requested by the Deputy is set out in the following table.

Non Industrial Civil Servants October 2010

Headcount

Cork City

1,714

Galway City

624

Limerick City

1,083

Waterford

681

My Department does not collate data in relation to the location of other categories of public servants. The Deputy will have to approach individual Departments separately for this information.

Departmental Correspondence

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

67 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider the points raised in correspondence (details attached) which are relevant to his area of responsibility. [44367/10]

The correspondence the Deputy refers to raises a number of issues which are being considered by my officials. A reply will issue in due course.

Departmental and Other Staff

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

68 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Finance the number of staff employed in his Department, Central Bank and Financial Regulator’s office in each individual year since 2002; if he will indicate in respect of each body the number of those staff who were full-time public or civil servants and the number or proportion of staff in each body who were contracted to provide specialist services; the nature of the services which were contracted into each of these bodies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44370/10]

The following table outlines the breakdown of staffing levels (whole-time equivalents) in my Department from end December 2002 to end October 2010.

Year

Numbers Serving

December 2002

622.52

December 2003

600.81

December 2004

587.39

December 2005

587.09

December 2006

622.43

December 2007

628.70

December 2008

612.91

December 2009

560.78

October 2010

541.76

In respect of my Department over the period in question, 31 people have been retained either by contract or secondment from other organisations to provide a range of services to address specific specialist needs in banking, economics and financial areas.

With regard to the Central Bank and Financial Regulators Office, I can confirm that the end year staff numbers since 2002 are as follows:

Year

CB/SS*

FR*

Total

2002

607.0

211.0

818.0

2003

657.5

280.5

938.0

2004

655.0

298.5

953.5

2005

645.5

318.0

963.5

2006

648.0

329.0

977.0

2007

647.5

343.5

991.0

2008

653.5

369.0

1,022.5

2009

666.5

377.2

1,043.7

*CB/SS = Central banking/Shared services.

*FR = Financial regulation.

When offering contracts of employment, consideration is given to the expected future nature of the role, resulting in a combination of fixed term and permanent contracts being offered. The Central Bank of Ireland has a policy of recruiting on the open market when particular skill-sets are not readily available within the organisation e.g. approval was granted for 20 fixed term contracts for the Government Guarantee Scheme in late 2008.

Public Private Partnerships

Joe Costello

Question:

69 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Finance the number of public private partnerships entered into by the State which have an annual cost to the Exchequer; the details for each PPP; the start and termination date of each contract; the cost of each contract; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44373/10]

I would refer the Deputy to Chapter Five of theReport of the Comptroller & Auditor General 2009 (Volume 1) which was published in September 2010. This chapter, entitled “Financial Commitments under Public Private Partnerships,” provides information about the financial commitments entered into by central Government departments and agencies under PPP contracts. The Deputy will be aware that my Department has put in place the overall PPP investment framework, including the framework for the appraisal, assessment, procurement and evaluation of projects. Individual Departments are responsible for the projects and programmes in their areas, within that overall framework. Further details about individual projects can be obtained directly from the relevant Department.

Medical Cards

Jack Wall

Question:

70 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children if a decision has been reached regarding a decision not to grant a full medical card to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44199/10]

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

Health Service Staff

Pat Breen

Question:

71 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. [44214/10]

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

Services for People with Disabilities

Olwyn Enright

Question:

72 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the difficulties being experienced by families of preschool children with disabilities, who no longer receive funding for special supports to attend preschool in an area (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44217/10]

Good quality preschool provision is of significant benefit to all children. The HSE currently funds special preschools, specifically for children with a disability, and also provides supports to children with disabilities to attend mainstream preschools, however, the nature and extent of this support can vary across the country.

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

Olwyn Enright

Question:

73 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps she and the Health Service Executive are taking to examine the issue of funding provision for special supports for preschool children with disabilities; if a policy is being produced on this issue to assist these children and their families to access preschool supports; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44218/10]

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

Departmental Bodies

Charles Flanagan

Question:

74 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children the terms of reference of the national review panel into child death; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44338/10]

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

Medical Aids and Appliances

Jack Wall

Question:

75 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the way a medical card holder (details supplied) in County Kildare can avail of the Health Service Executive audiology services for a hearing aid; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44359/10]

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

Services for People with Disabilities

Finian McGrath

Question:

76 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if children with Down’s Syndrome diagnosed in the mild range will be provided with extra support to promote their abilities and to ensure that they have the best chance of living with some degree of independence in adulthood. [44361/10]

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

Finian McGrath

Question:

77 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ensure that children with Down’s Syndrome will be regarded as a baseline disability which automatically qualifies a person to receive life-long services. [44363/10]

Downs Syndrome is a condition that is included in the International classification of functioning as a disabling condition. However the exent to which Individuals with Downs Syndrome should have automatic life long right to services is very much dependent on their assessed need consistent with their personal goals. Very many persons with a disability live very independent lives with little if any supports. Accordingly it is not appropriate to grant universal services to Individuals with Downs Syndrome without reference to a needs assessment, which will vary enormously from person to person, but who may have a similar diagnosis.

With regard to the provision of health related supports, the Health Service Executive supplies Individuals with Down Syndrome with drugs, medicines and medical and surgical appliances for the treatment of their condition under the Long Term Illness Scheme.

Inter-Country Adoptions

Andrew Doyle

Question:

78 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress that has been made, post commencement of the Adoption Act 2010, on discussions to set up a bilateral agreement for inter-country adoption with Russia; when he expects this to be in place; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44364/10]

The Adoption Act, 2010 was commenced on 1 November 2010. The commencement of the Act coincides with Ireland's ratification of the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption. The legislation, which incorporates the provisions of the Hague Convention, is designed to provide a framework to ensure that appropriate procedures have been followed and that all adoptions are effected in the best interests of the child. Future Inter-country adoption arrangements will be governed by the terms of the Adoption Act, 2010.

Agreements on administrative arrangements about adoption are a matter for the Adoption Authority. State to State agreements will continue to be a matter for the Minsiter, although the Adoption Authority will be responsible for many of the technical aspects of such agremeents. The Russian Government has made it clear that if adoptions are to continue, they wish to have bilaterals put in place with receiving countries. Prior to the establishment of the Adoption Authority, I wrote to the Minister of Education and Science of the Russian Federation to initiate discussions on putting in place a bilateral agreement with Russia that provides safety around the issues of consent and the financial costs of effecting an adoption. I will continue to engage with the Russian authorities on this matter.

Health Services

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

79 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 283 of 19 October 2010, when a reply will issue. [44387/10]

I understand the HSE has recently issued a response to the Deputy in this matter.

Child Care Services

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

80 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 113 of 7 October 2010, when a reply will issue. [44388/10]

My Department is advised by the Health Service Executive (HSE) that a reply issued to the Deputy on the 4th November 2010. The HSE has been requested to re-issue this response to the Deputy.

Health Services

David Stanton

Question:

81 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress made regarding the transfer of the dental clinic service in Cork University Hospital to the South Infirmary; when this part of the reconfiguration of services will be completed by the Health Service Executive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44427/10]

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

David Stanton

Question:

82 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children the length of time the dental clinic for young persons aged over 16 years with special needs and disabilities has been running in Cork University Hospital; the types of services this clinic offers; the number of clinics held and the number of persons treated to date and a breakdown of same per month; the number of young persons waiting for an appointment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44428/10]

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

David Stanton

Question:

83 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children the number and location of public dental clinics in Cork where young persons with a disability can receive dental treatment under general anaesthetic; the services on offer in each of these clinics; the average number of appointments or persons treated per annum at each of the clinics and the waiting lists for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44429/10]

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

Hospital Services

Arthur Morgan

Question:

84 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 296 of 19 October 2010, when a reply will issue; if she will reply directly to this question in view of the fact that the Health Service Executive were asked for a direct response four months ago on the issue and no reply has been forthcoming. [44430/10]

My Department has been advised by the HSE that a reply on this matter issued to the Deputy on 23 November 2010.

Road Traffic Offences

Tom Hayes

Question:

85 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if the revenues from the newly introduced speed cameras will be ring-fenced for road safety funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44358/10]

The purpose of bringing additional safety cameras into operation is to reduce excessive speed on our roads, and so increase safety, not to generate revenue either for the State or the service provider.

Revenue accruing to the State from the project will be paid to the Exchequer. The Exchequer provides funding for expenditure on public services, including initiatives in the area of road safety.

Legal Aid Service

Terence Flanagan

Question:

86 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will deal with a matter (details supplied) regarding legal fees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44185/10]

I can inform the Deputy that I have nothing further to add to the reply provided in respect of Question Number 251 on 16 November, 2010.

As stated previously, full details of the estimate for 2010 for legal aid, both civil and criminal, are contained in the Revised Estimates for Public Services 2010, while the costs for the earlier years sought are contained in the Revised Estimates volume for each of the years concerned. As the Deputy is aware, copies of these documents are available at www.finance.gov.ie and in the Oireachtas Library.

Garda Recruitment

Michael Creed

Question:

87 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform when the next Garda and Garda Reserve recruitment will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44187/10]

Michael Ring

Question:

97 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if there will be recruitment within the Garda Síochána in the foreseeable future. [44351/10]

Michael Ring

Question:

98 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the level of promotions which will be made in the Garda Síochána for the next five years. [44353/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 87, 97 and 98 together.

Recruitment to the Garda Reserve is ongoing and the Government is strongly committed to the development of the Reserve. The Garda Commissioner is continuing recruitment with the objective of reaching the target of 10% of the overall strength of the Force and over 80 members of the Garda Reserve are due to graduate in the Garda College in Templemore next Friday, 26th November. The moratorium on recruitment and appointments in the public service does not apply to the Garda Reserve, as members are volunteers and do not draw a salary.

As the Deputy will be aware, the moratorium on recruitment and promotions in the Public Service continues to apply to the Garda Síochána for both sworn members and civilian support staff. The situation is continually kept under review in consultation with the Garda Commissioner and derogations can be sought in exceptional circumstances from the Minister for Finance.

Visa Applications

Thomas Byrne

Question:

88 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding an application for a visa in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Meath. [44195/10]

I can inform the Deputy that a visa sticker has been granted to the person referred to on 18 November 2010.

Garda Operations

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

89 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the level and cost of policing in north Mayo where a company (details supplied) wish to build a pipeline; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44234/10]

I am informed by the Garda Authorities that the overall costs of the policing operation for the Corrib Gas project, from the commencement of the operation in August 2005 to end-October 2010 is approximately €13,987 million. A detailed breakdown of the figures is set out in the table below. The figures do not include the basic salaries of the Gardaí who performed the duty at the Corrib Gas project as these could only be obtained by the disproportionate expenditure of Garda time and resources relative to the information sought.

Corrib Gas operation costs: August 2005-October 2010

Overtime and allowances

8,860,627

Travel & Subsistence

4,403,828

Employer’s PRSI

452,968

Miscellaneous Expenses

269,281

Total

13,986,704

Road Traffic Offences

Billy Timmins

Question:

90 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the amount of income received for road traffic offences for 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010, by category; the amount of late payment penalties involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44242/10]

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.

Criminal Prosecutions

Finian McGrath

Question:

91 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 154 of 9 June 2010, if non-nationals who overstay the duration of permission are now being subjected to criminal processes as opposed to being dealt with by way of the civil deportation procedure under the Immigration Act 1999; if he will supply, in tabular form, the number of persons who were prosecuted on the sole basis of overstaying the duration of a permission for each of the past six years; the number of convictions secured and sentence imposed; the number of such convictions overturned on appeal; if any of these cases gave rise to proceeding in the High Court and if so the outcome of such proceedings; the provisions that are in place to provide such non-nationals with legal aid and the cost of such services for each of the past six years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44335/10]

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

Public Procurement

Finian McGrath

Question:

92 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 151 of the 9 June 2010, the progress that has been made in holding a tendering process for language analysis; the details of expenditure on language analysis for 2010 broken down by language provider; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44336/10]

I can inform the Deputy that invitations to tender for language analysis services will be advertised in the near future. In the period 1st January to 31st October this year, a total of €15,822.15 has been expended with Skandinavisk Sprakabanalys AB, Sweden (known as Sprakab) and €1,213.50 with the Netherlands Immigration and Naturalisation Service.

Common Travel Area

Finian McGrath

Question:

93 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the circumstances under which an immigration officer can supply information to the UK Border Agency on non-nationals who lived here; the proper channels to be used by the UK Border Agency when they are seeking such information; the circumstances under which an immigration officer may give evidence on non-nationals who live here to the courts in the UK; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44337/10]

Ireland and the United Kingdom operate a common travel area (CTA) which facilitates unrestricted travel within that zone for citizens of both jurisdictions. The maintenance of this arrangement requires co-operation on immigration matters between Ireland and the United Kingdom, especially as the Irish courts have held that it is a fundamental public policy of the State to safeguard the existence of the CTA. It is, therefore, necessary for the immigration authorities in the UK and Ireland to exchange information regarding foreign nationals, on a regular basis. To that end, arrangements are in place between the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) and the United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) to facilitate the secure, efficient and effective exchange of immigration data to the mutual benefit of each jurisdiction in preserving the integrity of the Common Travel Area

The Immigration Act 2004 was enacted for the stated purpose of making provision, in the interest of the common good, for the control of entry into the State, the duration and condition of stay in the State and obligations while in the State of non-Irish nationals. ovision is made at section 4 of the Immigration Act, 2004 for an Immigration Officer to authorise a non-national to land in the State. However sub-section (3) of section 4 enumerates, at (a) to (k), eleven circumstances in which an immigration officer, may, on behalf of the Minister for Justice and Law Reform, refuse to give a person a permission to land in the State. The said circumstances, any one of which, may give rise to a permission to land being refused, includes that enumerated at section 4(3)(h), where “a non-national- (i) intends to travel (immediately or not) to Great Britain or Northern Ireland and (ii) would not qualify for admission to Great Britain or Northern Ireland if he or she arrived there from a place other than the State”.

Where any law enforcement authority, in the UK or elsewhere, requires An Garda Síochána to provide evidence which it is intended is to be used in a criminal prosecution, a formal request for legal assistance is made through the Central Authority for Mutual Assistance at the Department of Justice and Law Reform.

Civil Partnership

Noel Ahern

Question:

94 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding the Civil Partnerships Act; if all sections have been implemented to date or the sections that have been implemented to date; the further position regarding inheritance of the home owned or occupied by both partners; if persons can now complete the legalities for such properties or if this provision has to be finalised in the next Finance Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44343/10]

I am in consultation with the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Social Protection with a view to commencing the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010 as soon as possible, consistent with the need to make provision in the tax and social welfare codes for civil partners.

While I am not in a position to provide legal advice in response to Parliamentary Questions, I can say that the Act extends protection to the home of civil partners and it creates rights of succession as between them.

Departmental Expenditure

Finian McGrath

Question:

95 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the visa offices that operate in Irish Embassies overseas; the estimated annual running costs of each of these offices; the number and grade of staff required to resource each of these offices; the way staff have been recruited and selected for working in these offices; if he is satisfied that the recruitment and selection procedure used is in conformity with the code of practice of the Commission for Public Service Appointments; if the staff employed are paid any special allowances including rent allowance or extra remuneration to work in these offices and if so the nature of these payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44345/10]

The cost of Visa Offices attached to Irish Embassies abroad in 2009, excluding staff costs, ranged from €65,958 to €195,260. The amount of visa fee income generated in these offices far exceed these costs. The overall staffing of these functions comprised 6 Higher Executive Officers, 12 Executive Officers and 3 Clerical Officers, distributed across Visa Office locations in Abuja, Beijing, Cairo, London, Moscow and New Delhi (Cairo has recently been replaced by an office in Abu Dhabi).

Officers are selected to serve in Visa Offices through internal competitions held by my Department and I can confirm that the selection process is conducted in accordance with the principles set down in the Commission for Public Service Appointments' Code of Practice. These posts attract the usual allowances payable in respect of all foreign postings as well as a hardship allowance (except for London). These allowances are set by the Department of Foreign Affairs and are subject to review.

EU Directives

Finian McGrath

Question:

96 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 891 of 29 September 2010, if the UK has expressed any objection to Ireland opting into Directive 2009/52/EC; if he will provide details of any judgments where an Irish court held that an employer who failed to pay an undocumented worker wages did not have to do so on the basis that it would be contrary to public policy to enforce such contracts; if he will consider opting into this directive or bring forward domestic legislation to deal with such rogue employers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44346/10]

As I have already outlined to the Deputy, in my response to Question No. 891 of 29 September 2010, neither Ireland nor the United Kingdom exercised their option to participate in Directive 2009/52/EC providing for sanctions against employers of illegally staying third country nationals within the three month period provided for in Article 3 of the Protocol on the Position of the United Kingdom and Ireland (Fourth Protocol to the Treaty of Amsterdam replaced by the Twenty First Protocol to the Treaty of Lisbon). Participation is determined on a sovereign basis by each Member State and the question of objections, such as envisaged by the Deputy, does not arise. In any event, communications by the two countries regarding their respective participation would be considered privileged in the context of international relations.

I have also been advised by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, which has primary policy responsibility in the area that, in general, Irish Courts have taken the view that it would be contrary to public policy to enforce contracts that might be regarded as illegal. If the courts do not, as a general rule, permit a party to rely on his or her own illegal act, an individual "employee", who is a party to an illegal contract, may, as a matter of public policy, find that he or she is prevented from enforcing a particular term of the contract, including a term implied by statute. If an employee cannot legally enforce a claim, then it is difficult to see how a statutory Agency can pursue such a claim on his or her behalf.

Regarding any future opt-in to the Directive, as a matter of course, officials of my Department keep under review Ireland's position as regards all measures adopted under Title V of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (formerly Title IV of the Treaty on the European Union) in line with emerging Government priorities and policies as necessary.

Matters regarding the treatment under domestic law of employers of illegal workers are a matter for my colleague the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation.

Questions Nos. 97 and 98 answered with Question No. 87.

Finian McGrath

Question:

99 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if the European Commission has commenced enforcement proceedings against Ireland for the way Ireland implemented directive 2004/83/EC on minimum standards for the qualification and status of third country nationals or stateless persons as refugees or as persons who otherwise need international protection; if he accepts the view of the Commission and the steps he will take to amend the situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44384/10]

The European Commission has not commenced proceedings against Ireland in relation to Council Directive 2004/83/EC. Council Directive 2004/83/EC on minimum standards for the qualification and status of third country nationals or stateless persons as refugees or as persons who otherwise need international protection and the content of the protection granted was enacted on 29 April 2004. Article 38 of the Directive provides that Member States shall bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with the Directive before 10 October 2006.

The European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006 were made on 9 October 2006 for the purpose of giving further effect in Irish law to the Directive. The Regulations came into operation on 10 October 2006.

Social Welfare Appeals

Martin Ferris

Question:

100 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision on an appeal will be made in respect of a person (details supplied). [44188/10]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 30 October 2010. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Social Welfare Services on the grounds of appeal be sought. When received, the appeal in question will be referred to an Appeals Officer for consideration. 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.

Martin Ferris

Question:

101 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will be made on an appeal in respect of a person (details supplied). [44189/10]

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. In order to be fair to all appellants, oral hearings are arranged in strict chronological order.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Martin Ferris

Question:

102 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision on an appeal will be made in respect of a person (details supplied). [44190/10]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that Office on 21 October 2010. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Social Welfare Services on the grounds of appeal be sought. When received, the appeal in question will be referred to an Appeals Officer for consideration.

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.

Martin Ferris

Question:

103 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Social Protection when farm assist payment will issue to a person (details supplied). [44193/10]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeal from the person concerned was received in that office on 05 October 2010, via the persons Local Office, along with the relevant Departmental papers and documents by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of the appeal. These papers 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

Thomas Byrne

Question:

104 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason an application for mortgage interest supplement was refused in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Meath. [44194/10]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that the person concerned was refused mortgage interest supplement as the total household contribution is sufficient to meet his mortgage interest costs.

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

105 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Social Protection if a person (details supplied) who is here on a student visa but works part-time, is entitled to some form of supplementary welfare allowance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44210/10]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that the person concerned should contact the community welfare officer at her local health centre to discuss her entitlement, if any, to assistance under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme.

Social Welfare Appeals

Michael Noonan

Question:

106 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will issue on an appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44355/10]

An application for domiciliary care allowance (DCA) was received on the 29th September 2010 from the person in question. This application was referred to one of the Department's Medical Assessors who found that her child was not medically eligible for DCA.

A letter issued to the person in question on the 8th November where she was advised of the decision to refuse DCA. In the case of an application which is refused on medical grounds, the applicant may submit additional information and/or ask for the case to be reviewed or may appeal the decision directly to the Social Welfare Appeals Office within 21 days.

In this case the applicant submitted an appeal to the Appeals Office together with additional medical information. As part of the appeal process, the new medical information provided will be reviewed by a Medical Assessor and if the child is now considered eligible for DCA, the claim will be put into payment immediately. If the child is still not considered eligible for DCA, the file will be submitted to the Social Welfare Appeals Office for decision.

Social Welfare Benefits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

107 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the way it is intended to address the issue of hardship caused to many persons throughout the country arising from the imposition of the carbon tax; the extent to which any effective evaluation as to its impact on the population has been carried out; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44356/10]

The Department of Social Protection already assists low income households with heating costs through their basic payments, through the fuel allowance scheme and through the household benefits package of electricity and gas allowances. These schemes have been improved significantly in recent years.

The fuel allowance is paid for 32 weeks each year from end September to early May arising from an increase in the duration of the payment period by 2 weeks in Budget 2009. In the 2010/2011 heating season it is estimated that over 350,000 recipients will benefit from the allowance at a cost of over €239 million.

There are also 380,000 households, mainly older persons and persons with disabilities, in receipt of the household benefits package which provides up to 2,400 electricity units per annum (or the gas equivalent) over the year. It is estimated that 140,000 of these households are receiving both the fuel allowance and the electricity/gas allowance under the household benefits package to assist with heating and other energy requirements. The electricity and gas allowances under the household benefit package cost €184 million in 2009, with €225.8 million provided in 2010. In addition, I have recently announced that the electricity allowance has been increased with effect from 1 October 2010 to cover the cost of the Public Service Obligation levy on domestic electricity, which will increase the annual cost of the scheme by €12.6 million.

In addition to the basic welfare payments, household benefits and fuel allowance payments, the Department also provides funding to the Community Welfare Service to assist people with special heating needs. CWOs can pay a heating supplement to people in certain circumstances with specific heating needs due to infirmity or a particular medical condition. They can also make exceptional needs payments to people who do not have enough money to meet their heating costs. €90m has been provided for all exceptional needs payments in 2010. Expenditure for 2009 is estimated at over €77m. Approximately 16,000 claims at a cost of €4.2m were paid in respect of heating related needs under the Exceptional Needs Payment Scheme in 2009.

The Government is also committed to protecting vulnerable households from the impact of fuel poverty through investment in programmes to improve the energy efficiency of the housing stock and energy efficiency awareness initiatives such as the Keep Well and Warm booklet and accompanying associated website. Some 150,000 copies of the booklet have been distributed to date in the last couple of years. The Warmer Homes Scheme administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), under the aegis of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources is the primary mechanism for alleviating the key underlying cause of energy poverty — that of thermal inefficiency of houses. Over 19,000 low-income houses were retrofitted in 2009 with a target of a further 22,500 in 2010.

In his Carbon Budget Statement, the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government, outlined details of €130 million in funding for insulation, €76 million of which will be used to assist low income families.

The significant income support measures already in place and the Government's commitment to schemes such as the warmer homes scheme and the local authority insulation scheme are concrete actions currently being taken to address fuel poverty.

The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has overarching responsibility for the energy portfolio and has convened an Inter- Departmental/Agency Group on Affordable Energy to coordinate and drive Government policy in this area. They were tasked with devising an Energy Affordability Strategy. This strategy will set out existing and future approaches to addressing energy affordability.

Pat Breen

Question:

108 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44425/10]

An application for domiciliary care allowance (DCA) was received on the 26th August 2010 from the person in question. This application was referred to one of the Department's Medical Assessors who found that her child was not medically eligible for DCA.

A letter issued to the person in question on the 5th October 2010 where she was advised of the decision to refuse DCA. In the case of an application which is refused on medical grounds, the applicant may submit additional information and/or ask for the case to be reviewed or may appeal the decision directly to the Social Welfare Appeals Office within 21 days.

In this case the applicant submitted an appeal to the Appeals Office together with additional medical information. As part of the appeal process, the new medical information provided will be reviewed by a Medical Assessor and if the child is now considered eligible for DCA, the claim will be put into payment immediately. If the child is still not considered eligible for DCA, the file will be submitted to the Social Welfare Appeals Office for decision.

Tourism Industry

Mary Upton

Question:

109 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport in view of the continuing decline in overseas visitors to Ireland according to the Central Statistics Office figures for the first nine months of the year, the efforts that are being made to halt the decline in tourist numbers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44229/10]

The most recent published figures from the CSO show a reduction of 15.7% in the number of overseas visitors to Ireland in the first three quarters of 2010 compared to the corresponding period of 2009. Figures for the third quarter of this year show that the fall-off is slowing down, at just over 8% compared to the corresponding period of 2009.

While any decrease is disappointing, the figures must be viewed in context. Tourism worldwide has been deeply affected by global economic difficulties and loss of consumer confidence. Furthermore, the exceptional weather conditions in the early part of the year and the closure of airports due to the volcanic ash cloud meant that it was inevitable that a falloff in the numbers travelling, particularly in Northwest Europe, would be experienced in the first half of 2010. At the same time it is important to recognise that over 4.6 million overseas visitors came to Ireland in the first nine months of the year with hugely positive benefits for the Irish economy. The Government recognises the opportunities to grow this figure further and ensure that tourism plays a key part in Ireland's economic recovery. Based on my recent experience in supporting the international marketing effort, I know that the industry and the tourism agencies are fighting hard for every bit of available business for the remainder of this year and into 2011. Tourism Ireland is finalising its 2011 Business Plan at present and next week I will be launching their Marketing Plans for 2011. The main focus of the plans will be on those markets offering the best real prospects of growth in 2011 namely, Great Britain, the United States, Germany and France. The marketing campaigns will emphasise that there has never been a better time to holiday in Ireland in terms of the value that is available and the quality of the tourism product on offer.

On the Business Tourism front, the new Convention Centre Dublin will be highlighted and further enhance our capacity to attract international events. Other significant events next year such as the Solheim Cup at Killeen Castle, the start of the Tall Ships Race Series in Waterford, Dublin Contemporary, Imagine Ireland, and the UEFA Cup Final at the Aviva Stadium will also provide significant opportunities to boost our international profile and the tourism agencies will be working to maximise the tourism benefits of these events.

In terms of the broader policy environment, the Report of the Tourism Renewal Group set out a clear plan for the survival, recovery and growth of Irish tourism. I established the new Tourism Renewal Implementation Group in July 2010 to oversee and further drive actions on measures, based on the wide-ranging Framework for Action, that support tourism in Ireland, increase competitiveness and ensure that the sector is ready for recovery and growth. Good progress has been made with regard to the survival actions recommended by the Renewal Group and the Implementation Group will continue to meet to pursue outstanding measures that can ensure that Irish tourism returns to growth next year and plays a major role in Ireland's economic recovery.

Question No. 110 answered with Question No. 41.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

111 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the extent to which she directly or agencies under her remit have taken initiatives to invigorate the tourism sector in each of the past three years to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44431/10]

The overall tourism services budget of the Department was increased to over €153 million for 2010, representing an increase of 3% on 2009 expenditure outturn. The Tourism Marketing Fund in 2010 has a provision of €44.25 million. This is enabling the level and value of investment in overseas marketing of Ireland to be maintained in real terms in 2010 as recommended in the report of the Tourism Renewal Group. Better value for money in purchasing advertising space, currency advantages and once-off expenditure in 2009 relating to the redevelopment of Tourism Brand Ireland is ensuring that there is no adverse impact from the nominal reduction in the 2010 allocation.

Tourism Ireland is continuing its marketing activities in Great Britain, Mainland Europe and North America this Autumn highlighting ease of access, great fares and offers from the industry and showcasing the wonderful holiday experiences available here. In the US, a seat sale is under way in gateway cities promoting Autumn/Winter fares from as low as $199 each way. Meanwhile, in Europe, over 16 million potential visitors will see the ‘Ireland — More for Less' promotion on the Ryanair website. Car touring campaigns with the ferry companies are also encouraging visitors to take their own cars to Ireland.

Fáilte Ireland has undertaken its biggest ever home holiday marketing programme in 2010 with a budget of €4 million, as a central plank in its strategy to increase the home market share of the overall Irish leisure break market. The home holiday marketing campaign is continuing with the Festive and New Year offering launched during November.

The allocation for capital investment in tourism product development has been very significantly increased. This investment will be focussed on a number of new iconic visitor attractions, completing the upgrading of some major tourism attractions, as well as improving infrastructure for recreational cycling, walking and water-based activities and heritage attractions.

In 2010, Fáilte Ireland is investing over €11 million in the form of direct supports and advice for tourism enterprises. Business supports are aimed at assisting key tourism businesses to increase their international customer base, better manage their cost base, improve overall performance and sustain employment levels.

The Government further demonstrated its commitment to tourism by its inclusion of tourism in a range of cross-cutting measures — including the Employment Subsidy Scheme, the Work Placement Programme, the Credit Review System and incentives for investment in energy-efficiency — all of which support sustainable tourism enterprises and employment. The industry will also benefit from the establishment of the Credit Review System for all SME sectors, including tourism.

Further specific measures that are helping tourism include the changes in alcohol excise duties and VAT and the free rail travel initiative aimed at senior citizens visiting Ireland from abroad. The reduction in alcohol excise duties will result in lower hospitality costs to our visitors.

The enhancement of the scheme of accelerated capital allowances for energy efficient equipment to include catering and hospitality equipment will also benefit the sector.

Of course, while I know that our businesses and tourism agencies are responding positively to current challenges, it is just as important that the strategic framework for tourism development responds to the changing environment. In this regard, the wide-ranging set of measures recommended in the Tourism Renewal Group's Framework for Action now forms the strategic basis on which Government is responding to the current difficulties. Tourism remains a key element of the Government's wider strategy for economic renewal.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

112 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport if she intends to take any particular initiatives to promote or develop any particular aspects of the tourism sectors with particular reference to emphasis on economic recovery. [44432/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

113 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport if it is her policy to expand or develop any particular aspect of tourism in the next four years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44433/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

114 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport her role in respect of tourism in the context of economic recovery; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44434/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 112 to 114, inclusive, together.

Tourism is a key driver of social and economic development at both national and regional levels in Ireland. Through the strength of our tourism brand and the quality of the tourist experience, tourism also plays a central role in creating a positive image of Ireland. Part of my role, as Minister with responsibility for tourism, is to ensure that the important contribution of the tourism industry is widely recognised and that the tourism agenda is accommodated in all relevant policies and programmes. This is being put into practice by my Department and the tourism agencies through engagement with the relevant Departments and agencies. The Report of the Tourism Renewal Group, published in October 2009, endorses this view and clearly sets out tourism's contribution to Ireland's economic, social and cultural development. The wide-ranging set of measures recommended in the Group's Framework for Action now forms the strategic basis on which Government is responding to the current difficulties and tourism is a key element of the Government's wider strategy for economic renewal as set out in the policy documentBuilding Ireland’s Smart Economy: A Framework for Sustainable Economic Renewal .

Building on the recommendations of the Renewal Group, and in line with the Government's overall framework for economic renewal, Budget 2010 recognised the tourism sector as a critical, labour-intensive sector and provided for a 3% increase to over €153 million in the overall tourism services budget. This included maintaining the real level of investment in overseas marketing, as well as a significantly increased capital allocation for tourism product. The tourism sector was included in a range of beneficial cross-cutting measures to support enterprises and jobs, including the Employment Subsidy Scheme, the Work Placement Programme and the Credit Review System.

Building Ireland's Smart Economy included a commitment to develop an action plan to drive export-led growth over the coming years. Accordingly, the Government's new Strategy and Action Plan for Irish Trade, Tourism and Investment to 2015, Trading and Investing in a Smart Economy , was drawn up by the representatives from the key Departments and agencies, including my Department, Tourism Ireland and Culture Ireland. Its tourism-related elements draw on the robust analysis already carried out by the Tourism Renewal Group in its Report and Framework for Action.

This Strategy, which was launched on 28 September last, contains targets for job creation, exports, tourist numbers and inward investment projects by 2015 and details on how the Government and its agencies will achieve these priorities and targets. As regards tourism specifically, it sets a target of increasing visitor numbers to 8 million by 2015 and provides for 15,000 new jobs to be generated directly in the tourism sector by this growth in numbers. Drawing on the recommendations of the Tourism Renewal Group,Trading and Investing in a Smart Economy reiterates the scope to develop both the leisure and business tourism sectors and highlights certain areas where Ireland may have a particular competitive advantage — namely Food Tourism/Gastronomy; Eco-tourism; Film and TV production, Cruise Tourism; Irish Diaspora; Music, Literature and the Arts; and Niche Tourism. In terms of achieving the tourism-related targets, the Strategy recognises that in the short to medium term, Ireland’s best prospects are in the United States, Great Britain and the major European markets and these priorities will be reflected in Tourism Ireland’s overseas marketing plan for 2011, which I will be launching next week.

On the domestic front, Fáilte Ireland will continue its significant investment in tourism product and services and will also continue to support local festivals and events. These, together with Fáilte's highly successful "holiday at home" marketing campaign, are playing a key role in boosting tourist revenues around the country as well as boosting employment. Fáilte Ireland also continues to work closely with businesses all over Ireland to increase their customer base, better manage costs, improve overall performance and sustain employment.

Overall, I believe that Government is pursuing the right policies and programmes to support the continued development of tourism, working with the industry and the tourism agencies in order to position the sector for recovery and growth as part of the Government's wider strategy for economic renewal. This work is being greatly assisted by the two tourism agencies, Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland, as well as by the Tourism Renewal Implementation Group, which will continue to oversee and drive further action on measures to support the competitiveness and sustainability of tourism in Ireland.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

115 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport if she intends to maintain or extend the level of support for the sporting and cultural sectors over the next four years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44435/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

119 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport her proposals to develop and or expand the sectors under her aegis on an annual basis over the next five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44439/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 115 and 119 together.

The financing of the tourism, culture and sport sectors will be in accordance with the provisions of the four-year economic plan. In that context, I remain fully committed to assisting these sectors as much as possible over the coming years. Moreover, I will remain in ongoing contact and consultation with the key stakeholders so that my Department's policy and other responses to the needs of these sectors remain current, proportionate, targeted and effective.

Job Creation

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

116 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the extent to which she expects the sectors for which she has direct or indirect responsibility to influence job creation over the foreseeable future; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44436/10]

With regard to the tourism, culture and sport sectors, safeguarding existing jobs and supporting job creation has been my priority since taking up office as Minister. In particular, it is my policy to develop and support the tourism industry in partnership with those bodies that represent tourism business. Despite the difficulties in our public finances, the Government increased the tourism services budget in 2010 by providing more than €153 million, which is an increase of 3 per cent over the 2009 outturn.

The State tourism agencies are maintaining their marketing drives to attract overseas and domestic tourists to holiday in Ireland. Tourism Ireland is continuing its marketing activities in Great Britain, mainland Europe and North America, highlighting ease of access, great fares and offers from the industry and showcasing the wonderful holiday experiences available here. Here at home, Fáilte Ireland's €4 million home holiday marketing programme is also continuing apace. In 2010, Fáilte Ireland is investing more than €11 million in the form of direct supports and advice for tourism enterprises. Business supports are aimed at assisting key tourism businesses to increase their international customer base, better manage their cost base, improve overall performance and sustain employment levels.

The Government further demonstrated its commitment to tourism by the inclusion of the sector in a range of cross-cutting measures — including the Employment Subsidy Scheme, the Work Placement Programme, the Credit Review System and incentives for investment in energy-efficiency — all of which support sustainable tourism enterprises and employment. Tourism businesses accessed the second call for applications under the Employment Subsidy Scheme, under which total support of €65 million was available to protect vulnerable employment. The take-up of this scheme in the hotel sector was very strong. Further specific measures originally announced in the last Budget that are helping tourism include the changes in alcohol excise duties and VAT and the free rail travel initiative aimed at senior citizens visiting Ireland from abroad.

The Strategy and Action Plan for Irish Trade, Tourism and Investment to 2015, published at the end of September, envisages the creation of an additional 15,000 jobs in the tourism and hospitality sector by 2015. With regard to culture, I remain committed to supporting and funding this sector to ensure the maintenance of as much employment as possible. My policy is to promote and strengthen the sector in all its forms, increase access to and participation in the arts and culture, make culture an integral and valued part of our national life, and maximise the potential for cultural tourism, including associated employment spin-offs.

The sports sector is also a major contributor to the economy — a contribution which includes sports tourism, ticket sales, subscriptions and the cost of playing sport, together with the purchase of sports equipment and the economic value of time given by volunteers. There is also a very extensive financial dividend to be obtained through the benefits of hosting major sporting events, particularly those with an international dimension. With specific regard to employment, the Irish Sports Council, through its grant funding to the National Governing Bodies of Sport, supports a large number of jobs throughout the country. The Department's capital expenditure, through its Sports Capital Programme and Local Authority Swimming Pool Programme, is also a major contributor to employment.

Ministerial Responsibilities

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

117 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the areas or activities in respect of her portfolio for which she has direct responsibility to the Dáil; the areas of responsibilities for which have been devolved to others with specific reference including funding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44437/10]

I have not statutorily devolved any areas of my responsibility as Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport. In other words, I remain directly responsible to Dáil Éireann in respect of my portfolio in the tourism, culture and sport sectors. I have non-statutorily devolved responsibility for a range of matters to my colleague, Mr. Martin Mansergh, T.D., Minister of State with special responsibility for the Arts. In particular, Minister of State Mansergh has been delegated responsibility for:

North/South arts and culture co-operative projects;

assisting with the renovation and construction programme at the National Cultural Institutions;

assisting with maximising the use of publicly owned facilities and venues under the aegis of the Commissioners of Public Works to support the promotion of arts and cultural events and also in maximising the synergies between this public and heritage infrastructure and arts, culture and tourism policy objectives;

providing support generally, as required, to me on arts and culture, tourism and sport matters; and

representing me, as required, at events related to the responsibilities of my Department.

For the sake of clarity, I should state that I am responsible for overall policy in relation to the tourism, culture and sport sectors. In respect of the agencies under the aegis of my Department, day-to-day operational matters and issues of administration and spending within prescribed budgets are a matter for the agencies themselves as prescribed in the relevant Acts governing their establishment.

Job Creation

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

118 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport her plans to develop and utilise the sporting and leisure sectors in the next four years with emphasis on job creation and job retention; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44438/10]

Safeguarding existing jobs and supporting job creation can only be achieved by promoting the robustness and vibrancy of the sector. I have sought at every opportunity to do just that. The sports sector is a major contributor to the economy, a contribution which includes sports tourism, ticket sales, subscriptions and the cost of playing sport, together with the purchase of sports equipment and an economic value of time given by volunteers. There is also a very extensive financial dividend to be obtained through the success of major sporting events, particularly those with an international dimension. Through a variety of actions and investments Ireland is developing an enviable reputation as a destination to play and watch sports. Stadia such the Aviva, Croke Park, Semple and Thomond Park attract international and domestic tourists in large numbers throughout the year.

The targeting of major international sporting events such as the Ryder and Solheim Cups in golf, the Volvo Ocean Race and the Irish Open golf tournament attracts tourists and also showcases the country in the best possible light. In 2008 DKM economic consultants valued the ongoing economic benefit of Croke Park to be approximately €46 million to Dublin each year. A study by BDO Simpson Xavier showed that a single rugby match at Thomond park was worth almost €10.5m to the Limerick Economy; with as single concert worth at least €9.9m. Since it opened in late 2008 Thomond Park has contributed more than €131 m to the economy of the Limerick city region.

The Irish Sports Council, through its grant funding to the National Governing Bodies, supports a large number of jobs throughout the country. The Department's capital expenditure, through its Sports Capital Programme and Local Authority Swimming Pool Programme, is also a major contributor to employment. A typical newly opened swimming pool employs 24 staff while during the construction phase of the pool some 350 people would be employed. Based on analysis by the Department, each €27,000 allocated under the Sports Capital Programme supports a single job in the construction sector. For example, in 2009 alone, the SCP supported over 2,200 full-time equivalent jobs in the construction sector. I remain in ongoing contact and consultation with the key stakeholders so that our responses to the needs of the sector remain current, proportionate, targeted and effective.

Question No. 119 answered with Question No. 115.
Question No. 120 answered with Question No. 37.

Local Authority Housing

Catherine Byrne

Question:

121 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the reason the interest rate for local authority mortgage holders has been increased by 0.5%; the person who made the decision to increase this rate; his views on whether this decision should be reversed in view of recent data showing that local authority mortgage holders are six times more likely than bank mortgage holders to be in arrears; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44198/10]

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

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

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

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

Local Authority Funding

Olwyn Enright

Question:

122 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the supports that are in place to assist local authorities in an area (details supplied) to prioritise action to ensure obligations by both builders and developers to leave their sites in a safe and secure condition are being met in these areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44219/10]

Developers and owners of sites are required to ensure that their sites are left in a safe and secure condition. The National Housing Development Survey database provides,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. It establishes a sound basis for assisting local authorities in identifying those developments that require priority interventions by the key stakeholders concerned such as developers, financial institutions and local authorities.

One of the key aims of the National Housing Development Survey was to facilitate the development of best practice management and resolution approaches in dealing with unfinished housing developments by key stakeholders. The high-level Expert Group on Unfinished Housing Developments is currently developing measures effectively to address unfinished housing developments, including a guidance manual and Code of Practice. 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.

Water and Sewerage Schemes

Arthur Morgan

Question:

123 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when work will commence on a scheme (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44238/10]

The Dungloe and Glenties Sewerage Schemes, which are to advance jointly, are included in the Water Services Investment Programme 2010-2012 among the list of contracts in Donegal to start in the period 2010 -2012. Donegal County Council's Tender Documents for the contract are under examination in my Department and are being dealt with as quickly as possible.

Motor Taxation

Phil Hogan

Question:

124 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will provide a breakdown of motor tax receipts by each CO2 category and engine size category for 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44349/10]

Phil Hogan

Question:

125 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will provide a breakdown of the total number of motor vehicles taxed in each CO2 category and engine size category for 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44350/10]

I propose to take Question Nos. 124 and 125 together.

The information requested in respect of 2009 is set out in the following tables.

Breakdown of Number of Vehicles and Motor Tax Receipts for Vehicles taxed as Private Standard in 2009 by Engine CC.

Engine CC

No. of Vehicles

Motor Tax Receipts

not over 1,000

150,193

27,165,763

1,001 to 1,100

7,616

2,143,283

1,101 to 1,200

103,816

32,042,014

1,201 to 1,300

133,189

44,689,520

1,301 to 1,400

473,048

169,724,019

1,401 to 1,500

59,600

22,949,126

1,501 to 1,600

279,607

133,621,526

1,601 to 1,700

6,594

3,389,735

1,701 to 1,800

112,952

67,142,744

1,801 to 1,900

133,653

82,988,447

1,901 to 2,000

194,274

127,705,985

2,001 to 2,100

571

486,124

2,101 to 2,200

23,925

20,955,236

2,201 to 2,300

7,395

6,827,757

2,301 to 2,400

4,515

4,304,336

2,401 to 2,500

22,852

22,943,683

2,501 to 2,600

1,912

2,267,499

2,601 to 2,700

4,537

5,737,108

2,701 to 2,800

4,942

6,414,289

2,801 to 2,900

795

1,142,923

2,901 to 3,000

20,478

28,306,956

3,001 or more

13,417

22,546,205

Total

1,759,881

835,494,278

Breakdown of Number of Vehicles and Motor Tax Receipts for Vehicles taxed as Private CO2 in 2009 by Band

CO2 Band

No. of Vehicles

Motor Tax Receipts

A

13,240

1,441,301

B

65,490

10,225,842

C

39,266

11,250,677

D

14,832

6,637,357

E

6,666

4,221,404

F

2,829

2,643,443

G

225

530,622

Total

142,548

36,950,646

Planning Issues

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

126 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the steps he will take in respect of overzoning of land for residential development by certain local authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37672/10]

The responsibility for zoning lands for specific purposes is a matter for planning authorities through their development plans and local area plans. Under the Planning Acts, the making, reviewing and varying of a development plan or local area plan is a reserved function of the elected members of the planning authority for the area.

In January 2009, to inform the review of the Regional Planning Guidelines (RPGs) for the period 2010-2022, my Department published national and regional population targets for the years 2016 and 2022 which take account of the changed economic climate and the likely impact on demographic trends of reduced in-migration, unemployment levels and a more constrained financial situation. In October 2009, specific Gateway and Hub population targets which were derived from the January 2009 national and regional targets were also issued.

Each Regional Authority, together with the constituent City and County Councils, is determining population targets for county towns, other smaller towns, villages and rural areas, within their respective regional targets, which will in turn inform the demand for housing over the period of the RPGs and the requirements for development land, taking account of such matters as available vacant housing units within their area. Regional Planning Guidelines for the period 2010 to 2022 have now been adopted by all eight Regional Authorities.

Furthermore, the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2010 provides,inter alia, that an evidence-based core strategy must be included in development plans, providing information on how the plan is consistent with the National Spatial Strategy, relevant Regional Planning Guidelines and statutory planning guidelines, including information in relation to the quantum, location and phasing of lands zoned for development over the period of the plan. Planning authorities are required to introduce these core strategies into their development plans within one year of the adoption of the updated Regional Planning Guidelines for the area.

Litter Pollution

David Stanton

Question:

127 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the discussions he has had with local authorities in relation to the impact of litter and fly-tipping on tourism; if his attention has been drawn to any studies conducted into this and his views on same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44072/10]

Under the Litter Pollution Acts 1997 to 2009, the primary response to litter is a matter for local authorities. It is the responsibility of each local authority to enforce the litter laws and to determine the most appropriate course of action to tackle litter pollution within the relevant legislation. The role of my Department is to provide the legislative framework within which to combat litter pollution and as necessary to motivate and energise anti-litter responses.

In recognition of the effects of litter and fly-tipping I have established an action group on rural and roadside litter. This group, which includes representatives from my Department, the local authorities, Fáilte Ireland and other key stakeholders, is examining the issue of rural and roadside litter, including its impact on tourism, and will be reporting to me with recommendations on proposed actions to counter the issue.

Furthermore in direct response to the potential impact of litter and fly -tipping on tourism I have committed funding of €1.5 million over a three year period to aid local authorities in their fight against litter at locations with high tourist footfalls.

The scheme, the Tourist Season Anti-Litter Support Grant, is specifically designed to counter litter levels at tourist destinations and access routes across each local authority's functional area during the peak summer tourist period from May to September. It is intended that these grants will be utilised to assist local authorities in the deployment of staff and resources to clean up key tourist destinations, such as beaches and popular scenic areas.

Postal Network

Deirdre Clune

Question:

128 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his plans for the future of the postal service here; the way the current level of service across the country will be protected; the way in which the universal service obligation will be impacted by this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44184/10]

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

The Communications Regulation (Postal Services) Bill was recently published with a view to transposing the third Postal Services Directive, which mandates opening the postal market to full competition from 1 January, 2011.

The Bill sets out the regulatory framework for a liberalised postal market, the key principles of which include:

The maintenance of a universal postal service, the essential element of which is the collection and delivery of mail to every address in the State on every working day. The Bill also designates An Post as the universal postal service provider;

The development of a competitive sector providing competitively priced, high quality postal services to both business and residential customers;

The protection of postal service users.

The Government recognises the important role that An Post has played to date, and, in this context, an innovative, successful An Post will play a key role in the development of the wider postal sector.

Television Licence Fee

Alan Shatter

Question:

129 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the total sum received by RTE in each of the years 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010 by way of television licence fee; if he has engaged in any discussions with RTE with regard to any future increase or decrease in the licence fee or with regard to a decrease in operating costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43686/10]

Under Section 123 of the Broadcasting Act, 2009, with the approval of the Minister of Finance, I may pay RTÉ in respect of each financial year an amount equal to the total receipts in that year in respect of broadcasting (TV) licence fees less (i) any expenses incurred in relation to the collection of those fees, and (ii) an amount being equal to 7% of these net television licence fee receipts which is paid under Section 156 of the Broadcasting Act 2009 to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) in respect of the Broadcasting Funding Scheme. The following table sets out details of the amounts paid to RTÉ in the years 2005 to date in 2010:

Year

RTÉ

€ million

2005

172.0

2006

183.0

2007

194.0

2008

199.0

2009

204.0

2010

167.1

In relation to modification of the licence fee, Section 124 of the Broadcasting Act 2009 sets out the mechanism by which increases or decreases may be determined. In particular it allows for the BAI to recommend in a report to the Minister an annual licence fee modification. This recommendation is to be based on a review on the extent to which RTÉ has fulfilled its commitments in respect of its public service objects stated in its annual statement of performance commitments for that financial year and the adequacy or otherwise of public funding to enable the corporation to meet its public service objects.

A review of RTÉ's 2009 public service commitments has been carried out by the BAI, the findings of which, I understand, will be discussed at the next meeting of the Authority's Board on 13 December. It is expected that the Authority will be forwarding a report on this matter to my Department following this meeting. Any modification of the licence fee is then a matter for myself and the Government. The ongoing operational costs are a day to day matter for RTÉ, however officials from my Department are in continuous contact and are being kept up to date on the steps being taken by RTÉ to increase operating efficiencies and minimise costs.

Energy Conservation

Leo Varadkar

Question:

130 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the supports available to businesses in order to increase energy efficiency or to install renewable energy technology; the amount allocated to these supports in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44340/10]

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) on behalf of the Government launched the Energy Efficiency Fund for business and the public sector in June 2010. The fund supports exemplar projects which achieve verifiable and significant energy savings. These 43 projects will critically provide key lessons for all business and public sector bodies. The projects are projected to create lifetime savings of over €70 million, with 50,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions avoided each year. In 2010 €11,065,000 was allocated to this programme.

A total of €2.722m was allocated by me to SEAI in 2010 to assist the development of energy demand management programmes in Industry and Business. The Large Industry Energy Network (LIEN) engages all of the largest energy using enterprises (in manufacturing and services) where the average annual energy spend of the 130+ member companies is in the region of €8 million. This programme has for example resulted in avoided energy costs totalling of €60 million in 2008 alone.

The Government's Accelerated Capital Allowances scheme allows companies to write off the full capital cost of registered energy efficient equipment in the year of purchase, unlike non-ACA equipment which is typically written off over 8 years. This scheme has been extended year on year including 2010 to incorporate additional categories, including IT software solutions, refrigeration and cooling systems, electro-mechanical systems and catering and hospitality equipment, and now covers 49 different technologies with more than 7000 products on its register. A dedicated support programme has also been established by the SEAI, which offers free energy management training, advice and support to any business that is willing to show a commitment to becoming more energy efficient. Over 1,600 businesses have already availed of this programme.

I have also announced the National Retrofit Programme, which is designed to build on the success of existing domestic and non-domestic energy efficiency programmes. The new programme, which will come into effect in 2011, has the objective of delivering energy efficiency upgrades to one million residential, public and commercial buildings in Ireland, with an estimated lifetime energy saving worth €16 billion. This programme will make discounts on retrofit work available up front rather than having to wait for retrospective grant payments, and will make energy efficiency measures more accessible to homes and businesses. The public consultation process recently concluded, and responses are being analysed with a view to final programme design.

CHP (Combined Heat and Power) is the simultaneous generation of usable heat and electricity in a single process. The SEAI Biomass CHP programme aims to support the deployment of CHP in public and commercial properties in Ireland as well providing support for undertaking feasibility studies. In 2010 €3,678,000 was allocated to this programme. SEAI's REHEAT programme has supported the deployment of renewable energy heating technologies in commercial, industrial and community sectors. Financial assistance is provided for biomass boilers, solar thermal collectors and heat pumps. In 2010 €2,238,000 was allocated to this programme.

Telecommunications Services

Joe McHugh

Question:

131 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Communications; Energy and Natural Resources if he will communicate with 3 to ensure that full connectivity is delivered to a community (details supplied); the reason the scheme has not been delivered in this location within the agreed timeframe; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44374/10]

Broadband services have been made available, since October 2010, to all Electoral Divisions (EDs) within the National Broadband Scheme (NBS) Coverage Area in line with the timeframe set out in the NBS contract. My Department and its external consultants actively monitor coverage within the NBS areas. With particular reference to the Electoral Division of Church Hill (ED reference no. 57032) broadband services are available to 95.88% of the 194 premises located therein by means of mobile wireless broadband coverage, with coverage to the balance of 4.12% of premises being provided by way of satellite.

Grant Payments

Martin Ferris

Question:

132 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when single farm payment and area aid payment will issue to a person (details supplied). [44192/10]

An application under the Single Payment Scheme/Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was received from the person named on the 28 April 2010. This application was selected for and was the subject of a Ground Eligibility and Animal Identification Inspection. The inspection process is completed and the application has now been fully processed. Payment under the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme and the 50% advance payment under the Single Payment Scheme will issue within a week. The 50% balancing payment under the Single Payment Scheme will issue after 1 December.

Niall Collins

Question:

133 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if any assistance is available for a person (details supplied) to put an underpass on a road; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44213/10]

There is no grant-aid available from my Department for the construction of cattle underpasses.

Michael Creed

Question:

134 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason a person (details supplied) in County Cork has not yet received payment under the installation aid scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44231/10]

Grant-aid under the Young Farmers' Installation Scheme was paid by my Department to the person concerned on 18 October 2010.

James Bannon

Question:

135 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the position regarding single farm payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath; when same will be issued; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44331/10]

An application under 2010 Single Payment Scheme/Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was received from the person named on 20 April 2010. Advance payments under the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme issued on 29 September and under the Single Payment Scheme on 18 October 2010, both on the basis of the land cleared at that stage. Parcels listed on the application of the person named required re-digitisation and this process is now complete. The balancing payment due under the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme will issue to the person named shortly. Payment of the balance due under the Single Payment Scheme will commence on 1 December, in accordance with the provisions of the relevant EU Regulations.

Michael Creed

Question:

136 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will receive their single farm payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44385/10]

An application under the 2010 Single Payment Scheme was received from the person named on 16 April 2010. As this application is now fully processed, payment will issue to the person named shortly.

Michael Creed

Question:

137 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will receive their single farm payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44386/10]

An application under 2010 Single Payment Scheme was received from the person named on 17 May 2010. The 50% advance payment, which issued on 18 October 2010, on the basis of the land cleared at that stage, as a number of parcels declared required digitising. While balancing payments are scheduled to commence issuing as and from 1 December, such payments would, in normal circumstances, be confined to those whose applications are fully processed, specifically, where all digitising is finalised. However, following recent consultation with the EU Commission, agreement was reached whereby, in addition to issuing balancing payments to those farmers whose applications are fully processed and whose maps are fully digitised, payments will also issue to those farmers where some or all of their maps are still to be digitised, with the payment being calculated on the basis of the digitised land confirmed otherwise eligible. I am pleased to say that, because of this change, many farmers, including the person named, whose balancing payments would otherwise have been delayed until their digitising is complete, will now receive an interim balancing payment. The position regarding the balancing payments is, therefore, as follows:

From 1 December all applicants will be paid their full balancing payments, where the case is fully processed and clear; Applicants, whose applications are fully clear, where the only outstanding issue is a non-digitised map(s), will be paid 80% of their balancing payment on the clear, digitised area (excluding their non-digitised land); these farmers will receive the final instalment of their balancing payment when their maps are re-digitised and their applications are fully clear.

Site Acquisitions

Jack Wall

Question:

138 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the purchase price paid for lands (details supplied) by the Industrial Development Agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44342/10]

Under the Industrial Development Acts, IDA Ireland has the power to acquire, hold and dispose of land and other property for the purpose of providing sites and premises facilitating industrial development. Accordingly, the management of IDA Ireland's industrial property portfolio is an operational matter for the Agency, as part of the statutory responsibility assigned to it by the Oireachtas, and it is not a matter in which I have a function. The Agency acquires and disposes of land in response to the needs of industry. For reasons of commercial sensitivity and client confidentiality details relating to the costs of land acquisition and disposal are in some cases not made public. I have asked the Agency to respond directly to the Deputy.

National Drug Strategy

Jack Wall

Question:

139 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs the actions he has taken to address the increases in drug possession and supply recorded offences in Ireland since 2003 where controlled drug offences, possession of drugs for sale or supply and possession of drugs for personal use has seen an increase in offences of over 100% in each case; his views on the national drug strategy in addressing such major problems; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44239/10]

The table sets out Drug-Related Crime Offences (Number) by Type of Offence and Year for the period 2004-2009, as recorded by the Central Statistics Office. As the Deputy has indicated, there has been a marked increase in the number of offences over that period.

The Key Performance Indicators for the supply reduction pillar of the National Drug Strategy 2001-2008 were:

to increase the volume of drugs seized by 50% based on 2000 figures;

to increase the number of seizures by 20% based on 2004 figures; and

to increase the number of supply detections by 20% based on 2004 figures.

All of these Indicators were surpassed.

The increases in seizures represent important operational successes for the law enforcement agencies and reflect the ongoing co-operation between An Garda Síochána and Revenue's Customs Service, as well as the intelligence-led approach being utilised. The focus on supply reduction continues under the National Drugs Strategy 2009-2016.

In terms of drugs law enforcement, drugs and organised crime are being prioritised by An Garda Síochána as a core focus for 2010, through the Garda Síochána Policing Plan. Drugs Units are in place in every Garda Division and they work in partnership with the Garda National Drugs Unit in tackling and targeting drug-related crime. Divisional and District Policing Plans reflect the focus of the overall Policing Plan in terms of drugs law enforcement. In addition, An Garda Síochána has strong and strategic partnerships in place at international level that target drug trafficking. An Garda Síochána is satisfied that a significant impact has been made more recently by the arrest and prosecution of a number of major players involved in the trafficking of drugs. Also, while the trend for drug-related crime offences is upward from 2004 to 2009, some of the 2009 figures show reductions on the previous year. An Garda Síochána views this as reflecting a reducing market caused by a number of factors, including proactive law enforcement activities and the economic downturn.

I am fully committed to the implementation of the supply reduction actions of the National Drugs Strategy. Combined with initiatives in the areas of prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and research, I am confident that the Strategy will impact very significantly on the drugs problem in Ireland.

Recorded Drug Related Crime Offences (Number) by Type of Offence and Year (Source CSO)

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

Controlled drug offences

9,868

13,322

14,234

18,554

23,405

21,983

Importation of drugs

36

36

43

54

67

46

Cultivation or manufacture of drugs

38

50

92

161

218

273

Possession of drugs for sale or supply

2,196

2,659

3,018

3,602

4,302

4,029

Possession of drugs for personal use

7,138

10,037

10,470

14,008

18,093

16,818

Other drug offences

460

540

611

729

725

817

Jack Wall

Question:

140 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs his views regarding families who use their salary or wages for the funding of drug debts 50%, credit union loans 72%, bank loans 18%, moneylenders 42%, remortgage homes 22%, selling personal property 34%, social welfare payments 44%, borrowing from family and friends66%; the action he will take to deal with such major social problems; the meetings he has had or is proposing to have to discuss the problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44248/10]

I am very aware of the issues that are arising for families in relation to the payment of the drug debts of family members who are involved with drug use.

The issue of intimidation in the context of the drugs market was consistently raised during the public consultation process undertaken prior to the development of proposals for the National Drugs Strategy 2009-2016. Subsequently an Action was included under the supply reduction pillar of the Strategy —develop a framework to provide an appropriate response to the issue of drug-related intimidation in the community — with An Garda Síochána taking the lead role and also involving the Family Support Network and the Department of Justice & Law Reform.

An Garda Síochána have since developed such a framework in co-operation with the other parties. The implementation of the framework on a pilot basis in the Dublin Metropolitan Area was launched at the Annual Work Conference of the Family Support Network which I attended in October. The pilot scheme was well received by the family representatives and its implementation will now be monitored with a view to possible expansion to the rest of the country.

The issue of drug-related intimidation around the collection of debts, and more generally in relation to drug issues, is something that is associated with the drugs trade on an international level. It is a most difficult issue to address in a comprehensive way but I am confident that the steps being taken will lead to improvements in the lives of many families. Meanwhile, I will continue to monitor the situation through the quarterly meetings of the Oversight Forum on Drugs and in my interactions with ministerial colleagues.

Jack Wall

Question:

141 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs his views regarding the use of cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy in Irish society that sees Ireland in the top ten users in the EU, in each instance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44249/10]

Jack Wall

Question:

143 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs the actions he or any agency within his remit has taken to address the concerns expressed regarding the contents of a report (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44357/10]

Jack Wall

Question:

144 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs the actions he has taken to address the use of illicit substances by 15 and 16 year olds as stated in a recent newspaper article that showed this age group using at least once, an illicit substance 15%, cannabis 20% solvents 15% ecstasy 4% cocaine 4%, amphetamines 3%, tranquilisers 13%; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44377/10]

I propose to take Question Nos. 141, 143 and 144 together.

The data to which the Deputy refers is primarily drawn from the 2010 annual report of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). This report is compiled based on the inputs of the relevant national agencies, the Health Research Board in the case of Ireland.

There is a need for caution when using such data to derive cross-European comparisons as a number of factors make this difficult to achieve with accuracy. These factors include the timeliness of the data supplied, the different methodologies used in collecting data, drug market segmentation across Europe and the fact that not all countries may report on various aspects of the illicit drugs situation.

By definition the data in the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction report will be somewhat out of date, given that it is compiled nationally before transmission to the EMCDDA. Also, countries report at different times on different aspects of their drugs situation. Most of the Irish data on drugs prevalence is based on the Drugs Prevalence Survey 2006/07. This data is currently being updated with the fieldwork of the Drugs Prevalence Survey 2010/11 being undertaken at present and with first reports therefrom expected towards the end of 2011.

Drugs market segmentation also impacts on comparisons across Europe, particularly in relation to the use of stimulants. Heavier use of cocaine is generally associated with Western Europe while amphetamines are more prominent in the eastern countries of Europe. This is reflected in the figures for Ireland. Ireland is considered to be a mid-ranking user of cannabis, while ecstasy use has diminished significantly here in recent times, as it has across much of Europe.

As regards heroin, the newspaper article acknowledges that the data in the EMCDDA report was based on returns from only 15 countries. The EMCDDA also indicated the need for caution in making comparisons due to different methodologies used by countries in compiling their figures. The Irish input is based on a study published by the National Advisory Committee on Drugs (NACD) in December 2009. As was indicated then, due to a number of technical factors associated with the capture/recapture methodology used, the figures were regarded as an overestimate of the opiate using population here. It is generally recognised that it is difficult to estimate numbers in cases (such as heroin consumption) where a "hidden population" is involved. The NACD are currently undertaking research aimed at identifying an appropriate estimate model for use in Ireland, taking the data sources available into consideration. A report is expected in this regard early in 2011. At the same time, I accept that heroin use remains as a major problem in our country. All the indications are that, while the use of heroin is relatively stable in the Dublin region, it has become more widely dispersed around the country, particularly in the major cities and in towns across Leinster.

The statistics on lifetime drug use among 15 and 16 year olds are taken from the 2007 European Schools Project for Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) report which was published in 2009. While the figures outlined reinforce the need for continued prevention measures under the National Drugs Strategy, they represent a decrease on the corresponding figures in the previous such report. The data referenced was taken on board in the drawing up of the National Drugs Strategy 2009-2016 and I am confident that the implementation of the Strategy will impact significantly on the issue of problem drug use in Ireland.

Jack Wall

Question:

142 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs the position regarding the national drug strategy; the funds drawn down to date; his plans to address the recommendations and the further review of the strategy in relation to alcohol use; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44333/10]

Significant progress is being made on the implementation of the National Drugs Strategy 2009-2016 across the five pillars of supply reduction, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and research. Significant progress has been made in this area, with 15,000 people now in treatment, over 9,400 of whom are in receipt of opiate substitution treatment. New opiate substitution services have opened this year in Cork, Tralee and Wexford, and these will be followed shortly by facilities in Kilkenny, Waterford, Limerick, Dundalk and Drogheda. This is being done by the HSE with financial support from my Department. Further opiate substitution services in the Midlands are being initiated and expansions of needle exchange services, rehabilitation services and detoxification facilities are being implemented. The progress made in addressing the issue of headshops and the psychoactive substances they sell is illustrative of what can be achieved with cross-departmental co-operation under the National Drugs Strategy. Following legislative changes implemented by the Minister for Health and Children and the Minister for Justice and Law Reform, the number of headshops in operation has reduced from 102 to 11 at the latest count.

An Garda Síochána and Revenue's Customs Service continue to prioritise the targeting of those involved in the supply of drugs, and their work will encompass measures to tackle the threat of psychoactive substances being sold through the internet. Meanwhile, preventative initiatives continue in school, youthwork and family settings and through various awareness initiatives. Work is progressing on the development of proposals for a National Substance Misuse Strategy incorporating alcohol and drugs. A Steering Group, jointly chaired by officials of my Department and the Department of Health & Children, is currently finalising their proposals and I expect that they will provide their report to the Minister for Health & Children and myself in December.

Questions Nos. 143 and 144 answered with Question No. 141.