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].

Higher Education Grants

Michael D'Arcy

Question:

1 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if a person (details supplied) may avail of any educational grant from the State; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4288/11]

The Higher Education Grant Scheme operates under the Local Authorities (Higher Education Grants) Acts, 1968 to 1992. Under the scheme an approved course is defined as a full-time undergraduate course of at least two years duration or a full-time postgraduate course of not less than one year duration pursued in an approved institution. I understand the college referred to by the Deputy is a private college and is not on the list of approved institutions for the purpose of the scheme.

However, Section 21 of the Finance Act 2000 provides for the introduction of tax relief for fees paid in publicly funded colleges here and in other EU Member States as well as in private colleges in this state. This relief, which applies at the standard rate of tax, is available to full time and part time students and includes distance education courses offered by publicly funded colleges in other EU Member States. Further details on claiming this relief are available from local tax offices or on Revenue's internet site athttp://www.revenue.ie.

Schools Building Projects

Finian McGrath

Question:

2 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the future development of a school (details supplied) in Dublin 3. [4294/11]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the School Authorities of the Senior & Junior Boys school in the area referred to by him have been authorised to issue a letter of intent to the recommended bidder. Once the supplementary tender report is received and provided there are no issues arising, the project will be progressed to the award stage.

FÁS Training Programmes

Joe McHugh

Question:

3 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the options available to skilled trades persons planning to emigrate for work in the short term to acquire accreditation for specific trades; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4298/11]

Skilled trades persons who are registered with FÁS as apprentices and who wish to validate their competence may apply for the National Craft Certificate or the Advanced Certificate (Craft) awarded by FETAC under Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) procedures. The RPL procedures cover three categories of applicant: — FÁS registered time-served craftspersons applying for a National Craft Certificate — Apprentices newly registered with FÁS and who are seeking exemptions from the Standards Based Apprenticeship Programme. Exemptions are based on a portfolio of evidence submitted by the applicant to FÁS Apprenticeship Services for subsequent subject matter expert analysis. — FÁS registered apprentices under the Standards Based Apprenticeship Programme who have completed Phases 1 — 7 (including Phase 7 equivalent assessments where appropriate) of their apprenticeship but who have not completed four years in employment as an apprentice from the date of registration. These persons can submit a portfolio of evidence to include further training, education and work experience to the Redundant Apprentice Accreditation Committee for consideration for award of the Advanced Certificate (Craft).

Skilled trades persons who wish to make an application under the RPL procedures can request an application form from their local FÁS Services to Business office and will be duly assisted in establishing their eligibility.

In relation to qualifications under the Standards Based Apprenticeship Programme an apprentice who has successfully completed an apprenticeship in Ireland is awarded the FETAC Level 6 Advanced Certificate (Craft). This is a compulsory requirement for craftsperson status in Ireland and has both national and international recognition.

Disadvantaged Status

Charles Flanagan

Question:

4 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the rural co-ordinators at a school (details supplied) in County Offaly, with particular reference to the positive benefit of such co-ordinator in rural schools, with particular reference to literacy projects, numeracy projects and parents classes for extra-curricular activities and if having regard to the importance of the scheme for the entire community, consideration will be given towards the restoration of this scheme. [4306/11]

The decision to remove the Rural Coordination Service is just one of a range of measures, included in the National Recovery Plan 2011 to 2014, to secure some €24m in savings in the 2011/2012 school year. The service will therefore be discontinued with effect from 31 August 2011.

This measure will not affect the provision of HSCL services which remain in 200 post primary and 345 urban primary participating in DEIS. DEIS rural primary schools will continue to receive the following supports:

additional capitation funding based on level of disadvantage;

additional funding for schools books;

access to the School Meals Programme — access to numeracy/literacy supports and measures

access to planning supports

access to a range of professional development supports.

The measures required as part of the National Recovery Plan sets out a pathway of bringing our overall public expenditure back into line with what we can afford as a country. Education has been protected much more than other areas of public spending, but given the enormity of the current difficulties, the reality is that no area of public spending can be completely spared.

FÁS Training Programmes

Brian O'Shea

Question:

5 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position of students who undertook FÁS courses and are awaiting FETAC certification in regard to their CAO applications; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4315/11]

It is my understanding that there is no effect on CAO applications for those students who have undertaken FÁS courses that are awaiting FETAC certification.

Higher Education Grants

Joe McHugh

Question:

6 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the funding avenues open to Irish students studying for Masters of Music Therapy in New Zealand for 2011-2013; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4323/11]

The statutory framework for the student grants scheme, as set out in the Local Authorities (Higher Education Grants) Acts, 1968 to 1992, provides for means-tested higher education grants in order to assist students to attend full-time third level education.

The position is that the third level grant schemes do not extend to postgraduate study outside of Ireland.

There are no plans at present to extend the current arrangements to provide for students pursuing post-graduate courses outside Ireland. Any such extension could only be considered in the light of available resources and other competing demands within the education sector.

Traveller Education

Róisín Shortall

Question:

7 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if her attention has been drawn to the damaging impact of her decision to withdraw resource and visiting Traveller teachers on progress that has been made on raising education standards among Travellers; if she will consider the case of a school (details supplied) in Dublin 11 which will suffer a major detrimental effect due to the loss of three such teachers and if, in view of the large concentration of Traveller children in this school and the likely impact on them and all other pupils in the school, if she will review the decision on this case. [4324/11]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the Government has taken a decision to provide educational teaching supports to Traveller students on the same basis as other students in schools. This means that Traveller students who require additional tuition will receive this tuition through the existing learning support provision in schools.

All schools will be advised to select students for learning support on the basis of priority of need. The principle of "individual educational need" rather than "Traveller identity" is central to The Report and Recommendations for a Traveller Education Strategy and the key criterion underlying the recommendations of the report for the provision of additional resources to all children, including Traveller children.

Resource Teacher for Traveller posts will be withdrawn, effective from September 2011. It is intended that alleviation measures will be provided for schools with high concentrations of Traveller children and that schools will shortly be advised of the alleviation measures which will apply and of the qualifying criteria.

My Department will advise all schools of their staffing allocation in advance of the next school year. With regard to the Visiting Teachers Service for Travellers, the decision to remove the Visiting Teachers Service for Travellers is just one of a range of measures, included in the National Recovery Plan 2011 to 2014, to secure some €24m in savings in the 2011/2012 school year. The service will therefore be discontinued with effect from 31 August 2011. At present there are 41 posts in this service. Until September 2009 the Visiting Teachers Service for Travellers was managed directly by the Regional Office Directorate within my Department. In September 2009 the Service was transferred to the National Education Welfare Board to be integrated with existing school support services.

The set of measures included in the National Recovery Plan 2011 to 2014 impacts on every sector of the public service and will unquestionably lead to significant challenges for schools as well as the Department in the coming years. The major challenge will undoubtedly be to seek improved outcomes for children with fewer resources prioritising available resources to maximum effect across the education sector to enhance educational outcomes for all including Traveller children and adults.

Departmental Property

Jack Wall

Question:

8 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she has legal responsibility for the restoration, maintenance and safety of a premises (details supplied) in County Kildare; if she has replied in full to the concerns raised by persons or their representatives regarding such responsibilities; if not when same will be undertaken; if she has no responsibility, the agency or sub section of the Department that has any responsibility towards the implementation of such conditions and, if so, the up to date position of such responsibilities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4330/11]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the restoration of the Athy Model school is the responsibility of my Department. My Department has been in preliminary discussions with the representatives of the owner of the premises and the Office of Public Works with a view to scoping out the required restoration project. The OPW, at the request of my Department, is now in the process of appointing a conservation architect for the project. I understand that Kildare VEC arranged for works to secure the building and the site to the satisfaction of my Department.

School Staffing

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

9 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will consider the points raised in correspondence (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4347/11]

The standardisation of the staffing schedule for Gaelscoileanna to the same that operates for other ordinary national schools is one of a number of budgetary measures to reduce teacher numbers. These changes are effective from September 2011. The impact at individual school level will be determined as part of the allocation process for 2011/12 school year and schools will be notified in the normal manner.

The National Recovery Plan sets out a pathway of bringing our overall public expenditure back into line with what we can afford as a country. Education has been protected much more than other areas of public spending, but given the enormity of the current difficulties, the reality is that no area of public spending can be completely spared.

Schools Refurbishment

Denis Naughten

Question:

10 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills when a decision will issue on an application (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4413/11]

I understand that the school referred to by the Deputy has submitted an application for the works in question under the 2011 Summer Works Scheme. Applications for funding under the scheme are being processed in my Department, as outlined in the Circular governing the operation of the Scheme, and the school authority in question will be notified of the decision on the application later in the year.

School Accommodation

Willie Penrose

Question:

11 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she has received an application from a school (details supplied) in County Westmeath, to move to appropriate accommodation which complies with her Department’s guidelines for accommodation for pupils with special educational needs; if same will now be progressed, in view of the fact that it is urgently required, in terms of the number of pupils and their appropriate requirements; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4419/11]

I can confirm that the school to which the Deputy refers has written to my Department with a proposal to relocate to alternative accommodation. As the school has provisional recognition, the provision of interim accommodation remains the responsibility of the Patron. However, my officials are examining the proposal and will convey a response to the school authority on the matter in due course.

Special Educational Needs

Emmet Stagg

Question:

12 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the provision of devolved funding for an autistic spectrum disorder unit at a school (details supplied) in County Kildare. [4432/11]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the school in question has been allocated funding on a devolved basis for the provision of an Autistic Spectrum Disorder Unit.

Schools Building Projects

Emmet Stagg

Question:

13 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will appoint a design team for the building of a permanent school for a school (details supplied) in County Kildare. [4433/11]

I am pleased to advise the Deputy, that a project to provide a new school building for the school to which he refers, has been announced as one of the projects to commence the process of appointing a design team under my Department's 2011 Multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme.

My officials will be in further contact with the school authority in due course relating to the steps to be taken to progress the project.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

14 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills her plans to sanction the provision of a Gaelcholáiste for north Kildare. [4440/11]

As I previously outlined to the Deputy the Forward Planning Section of my Department is in the process of analysing all areas in the country in order to determine the level of additional provision which will be required at both primary and post primary level up to 2017. Overall post-primary requirements in the North Kildare area, including the case for the provision of a new Irish language post-primary school will be considered in this context. However, as the Deputy may be aware, a multi-million Euro building project has been provided for Coláiste Cois Liffe, Lucan to cater for a long term projected enrolment of 600 pupils. This Gaelcholaiste, under the aegis of Co. Dublin VEC was built to serve the needs of the west Dublin /north Kildare area, including Maynooth and Kilcock. The enrolment for 2009/10 in Coláiste Cois Life was 345 and therefore this school would appear to have capacity to cater for the North Kildare area.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

15 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the projects for which large scale capital funding has been sought from her Department in County Kildare which have as not yet commenced construction; the details of the facilities sought and the stage of each project [4441/11]

Information in respect of the current school building programme, along with all assessed applications for major capital works and the status of these applications, is available on my Department's website atwww.education.ie. However, for the convenience of the Deputy, I have set out two lists which set out details of school building projects for County Kildare as requested.

List A details applications for major capital works from primary and post primary schools in Kildare which are currently at application stage and includes projects which, earlier this week, I announced would progress to the Brief Formulation/Design Team Stages.

List B contains details of building projects in County Kildare that are in Architectural Planning, including those at tender stage but not yet in construction.

List A — Schools in Kildare — Applications/Brief Formulation/Design Team stage for Major Capital Works

County

Roll No.

School Name

Current Status

Band Rating

Project

Kildare

01821V

S N Rath Mor, Naas

Application

Band 1

New School

Kildare

11893G

St Davids NS., Naas

Brief Formulation/Design Team stage

Band 2

New School

Kildare

13328I

Newbridge 2 N S

Application

Band 2

Extension/Refurbishment

Kildare

13902O

Hewetsons N S, Clane

Application

Band 2

Extension/Refurb

Kildare

15040T

Mercy Convent NS, Naas

Brief Formulation. Design Team stage

Band 1

Extension/Refurb

Kildare

15599D

St Brigids Primary School Kildare Town (Kildare)

Application

Band 3

Extension/Refurb

Kildare

15769C

Monasterevan Convent, Monasterevan

Application

Band 3

Extension/Refurb

Kildare

15870O

Scoil Chonnla Phadraig, Newbridge

Application

Band 2

Extension/Refurb

Kildare

15957D

St Patrick’s Boys NS, Rathangan

Brief Formulation/Design Team stage

Band 2

Extension/Refurb

Kildare

16302F

St Brigids N S, Ballysax

Application

Band 2

Extension/Refurb

Kildare

16706G

St Josephs BNS, Kilcock

Brief Formulation/Design Team stage

Band 2

Extension/Refurb

Kildare

16707I

Scoil Naisiunta Naomh Pheadar, Monasterevan

Application

Band 2

New School

Kildare

16817P

Brannoxtown N S, Brannockstown

Application

Band 2

New School

Kildare

16845U

Rathcoffey N S, Rathcoffey

Application

Band 2

Extension/Refurb

Kildare

17254C

St Corban’s Primary School, Naas

Design Team to be appointed

Band 1

Extension/Refurb

Kildare

17341U

Maynooth Boys’ NS

Design Team to be appointed

Band 1

Extension/Refurb

Kildare

17650K

Scoil Ide Naofa, Kilmead

Application

Band 2

Extension/Refurb

Kildare

17872F

St Conleths And Marys N S, Newbridge

Application

Band 2

Extension/Refurb

Kildare

17873H

S N Connlaodh Naofa N, Newbridge

Application

Band 2

Extension/Refurb

Kildare

17931S

S N Brighde, Ticknevin

Application

Band 2

Extension/Refurb

Kildare

17968S

Ursaille Naofa Teach, An Da Mhile

Application

Band 2

New School

Kildare

18063A

S N Naomh Lorcain, Levitstown

Application

Band 3

Extension/Refurb

Kildare

18093J

S N Cloch Rinnce Cloch Rinnce (Kildare)

Application

Band 1

Extension/Refurb

Kildare

18130M

St Patricks NS, Johnstownbridge

Application

Band 2

Extension/Refurb

Kildare

18288B

Scoil Mhichil Naofa, Athy

Brief Formulation/Design Team stage

Band 2

Extension/Refurb

Kildare

18430B

S N Baile, Robertstown,

Application

Band 2

Extension/Refurbishment

Kildare

18445O

S N Scoil Treasa, Kilshanroe

Application

Band 2

Extension/Refurb

Kildare

18449W

St Conleths N S, Derrinturn

Application

Band 3

Extension/Refurb

Kildare

18644U

Straffan N S, Straffan

Application

Band 1

Extension/Refurb

Kildare

18650P

Newtown NS, Enfield

Application

Band 2

Extension/Refurb

List A — Schools in Kildare — Applications/Brief Formulation/Design Team stage for Major Capital Workscontinued

County

Roll No.

School Name

Current Status

Band Rating

Project

Kildare

18666H

Tiremohan National School, Donadea, Naas

Application

Band 1

Extension/Refurb

Kildare

19675N

St Brigids N S, Kilcullen

Brief Formulation/Design Team stage

Band 1

Extension/Refurb

Kildare

19794V

Scoil Mochua, Aghards, Celbridge

Application

Band 1

Extension/Refurb

Kildare

19797E

Scoil Naisiunta Bhride Prosperous Road,

Brief Formulation/Design Team stage.

Band 1

Extension/Refurb

Kildare

20257C

Sc Naomh Padraig, Celbridge

Brief Formulation/Design Team stage.

Band 1

New School

Kildare

61681V

Patrician Secondary School, Newbridge

Application

Band 2

Extension

Kildare

61690W

Cross And Passion College Kilcullen (Kildare)

Application

Band 2

Extension/Refurb

Kildare

70660O

Curragh Post-Primary School Mcswiney Road, Curragh

Application

Band 2

New School

Kildare

70670R

Colaiste Lorcain, Castledermot

Application

Band 2

Extension/Refurb

Kildare

70680U

St. Conleths Vocational School, Newbridge

Design Team to be appointed

Band 1

Extension/Refurb

Kildare

70710D

St Patrick’S Community College, Naas

Application

Band 2

New School

Kildare

91371B

Leixlip Community School, Celbridge Road

Application

Band 1

Extension/Refurb

Kildare

New Post Primary School, Naas

Kildare

New Post Primary School, Maynooth

List B — Kildare — Major Projects in Architectural Planning — to Tender Stages

Roll No.

School Name

Status

Application For

06209J

Athy Model School

Tender Stage — Progressing to Construction

Extension/Refurbishment

09414C

St Laurence’s NS, Crookstown

Secure Planning Permission & prepare Tender Docs

New School

16705E

Scoil Pádraig Naofa, St John’s Lane, Athy, Co Kildare — Phase 2

Tender Stage — Progressing to Construction

New School

17064U

Scoil Phadraig, Ballylinan, Athy

To complete Tender Documentation & Tender 2011

New School

18018S

Bunscoil Bhride NS Rathangan

To complete Tender Documentation & Tender 2011

Extension/Refurbishment

18988G

St Raphael’s Special Sch, Celbridge, Co Kidare

In early Architectural Planning

New School

19277B

St Anne’s Special School, The Curragh

Awaiting Design Team Appointment

Extension/refurbishment

19796C

St Patrick’s Boys NS, Clane

Awaiting Design Team Appointment

Extension/refurbishment

20114D

Scoil Brid, Naas

To complete Tender Documentation & Tender 2011

Extension\refurbishment

20192A

Scoil Átha Í, Athy

Tender Stage — Progressing to Construction

Extension/Refurbishment

20271T

Scoil na Naomh Uilig, Phase 2 Rickardstown, Newbridge, Co Kildare

Tender Stage — Progressing to Construction

Major extension

70700A

Maynooth Post-Primary School, Moyglare Road, Maynooth

Awaiting Design Team Appointment

Extension/refurbishment

Emmet Stagg

Question:

16 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills when a design team will be appointed for the required extension to a school (details supplied) in County Kildare. [4442/11]

I can confirm that the school to which the Deputy refers has made an application to my Department for large scale capital funding. The application has been assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for large scale capital projects and assigned a Band 3 rating. Information in respect of the current school building programme along with assessed applications for major capital works, including the project referred to by the Deputy, is available on my Department's website atwww.education.ie.

I recently announced the projects which will be commencing the process of appointing design teams in 2011 and in light of current competing demands on the capital budget of my Department, it was not possible to include a project for the school to which he refers on this list. The progression of all large scale building projects, including the project for this school, from initial design through to construction phase will be considered in the context of my Department's future multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

17 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will sanction the appointment of a design team for the required extension to a school (details supplied) in County Kildare. [4443/11]

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that a project to provide a new school building for the school to which he refers has been announced as one of the projects to commence the process of appointing a design team under my Department's 2011 Multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. My officials will be in further contact with the school authority in due course relating to the steps to be taken to progress the project.

Departmental Meetings

Emmet Stagg

Question:

18 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 92 of 14 December 2010, if the briefing has been held and if not, when it will be held. [4444/11]

The briefing session referred to by the Deputy has not yet taken place. As previously advised, when a date for the briefing is arranged, officials from my Department will be in contact with the school authorities informing them of same.

Schools Building Projects

Emmet Stagg

Question:

19 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 130 of 18 January 2011, if a decision has been made in relation to the provision of a new national school in an area (details supplied) in County Kildare and if it will be an educate together school. [4445/11]

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

The establishment of new schools, including the request for a new school in the Clane/Prosperous area, will be considered in this context.

Disabled Drivers

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

20 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the new procedure requiring cars that have been adapted for disabled drivers to wait two weeks to be assessed by national car test is causing hardship; whereas pre-September 2010 they could be seen straight away by the vehicle registration office and if he will take steps to eliminate the wait [4251/11]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that under the revised registration procedures (operated by the National Car Testing Service (NCTS) since 1 September 2010), the Revenue Commissioners continue to manage and administer the scheme of relief from vehicle registration tax (VRT) for Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers. In this regard, where Revenue approves an application for relief under the scheme, a letter confirming the appropriate relief from VRT is issued to the applicant, which must then be presented at an NCTS centre in order that the particular vehicle may be registered. The Deputy may wish to note that where a letter confirming relief from the payment of VRT under Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers relief is presented by a person at the time of registration (along with other required documentation (e.g. drivers licence, utility bill, evidence of PPS number)), for a vehicle that has previously been declared to Revenue by the distributor, vehicle registration can be completed at that time.

However, for a specific model, whose details have not previously been declared to Revenue and for which Revenue officials have not determined the value for registration tax purposes, that vehicle must first be valued by Revenue's officials before registration can be completed. Revenue have confirmed that at present this process generally takes 2/3 days.

In order to streamline registration procedures, Revenue will, from the end of March 2011, be providing electronic facilities so thatnew vehicles purchased by disabled drivers and disabled passengers from authorised traders may be registered by the trader at their premises through the Revenue On-Line Service (ROS). This represents a significant improvement on the pre-September 2010 service.

Additionally, a further facility is being introduced in March to allow authorised traders to haveused vehicles supplied to disabled persons under the relief scheme, subjected to a pre-registration examination in advance of the sale so that they can again be registered at the dealers’ premises through ROS. This procedural development will again represent an improvement on the pre-September level of service, as it will eliminate the need for the disabled driver/passenger or his/her agent to present the vehicle at a vehicle registration office for examination which will expedite the registration of such vehicles.

Garda Stations

Jack Wall

Question:

21 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the refurbishment of a premises (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4329/11]

The Commissioners of Public Works are awaiting approval to proceed with upgrade works to the married quarters at Ballytore Garda Station, Co. Kildare, from the Garda authorities. Works to the Garda Station proper have not been requested.

Tax Code

John Cregan

Question:

22 Deputy John Cregan asked the Minister for Finance if a person (details supplied) in County Limerick is paying the correct amount of tax on their pension. [4250/11]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the person named is currently taxed under PAYE on a private pension and his tax credits have been reduced to take account of a Department of Social Protection pension of €5750. In view of the age entitlements of the named individual, it is not however clear that the correct DSP pension amount has been included in the tax credit reduction, and Revenue will be in contact with the named individual to clarify the matter.

Flood Relief

Michael Creed

Question:

23 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding flood relief works at a location (details supplied) in County Cork; if applications for funding are being sought by his Department presently for minor flood relief works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4287/11]

The Office of Public Works has not received a funding application from Cork County Council to date for minor flood relief works in Inchigeela. However, it is open to the Council to submit an application under the minor flood works scheme. If an application is submitted, it will be considered having regard to the conclusions of the Lee Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management Study which are currently being reviewed in light of the November 2009 flood event, and also to the overall availability of resources for flood risk management.

Tax Yield

Róisín Shortall

Question:

24 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance his estimate of the yield from applying income tax to approved profit sharing schemes. [4302/11]

If an employee is given free shares by his or her employer, the employee is normally chargeable to income tax on the value of the shares, just as the employee would be chargeable to income tax on the value of a cash bonus. However, where the shares are awarded by an employer to an employee through a Revenue approved profit sharing scheme, the employees are not chargeable to income tax on the value of the shares awarded, subject to a general annual limit of €12,700 on the value of shares. The cost to the Exchequer is essentially the income tax forgone on the value of any shares awarded under such schemes. I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the cost to the Exchequer of this tax relief is estimated at €99 million for the income tax year 2008, the most recent year for which final information is available.

As regards the yield from a possible withdrawal of the tax relief it should be borne in mind that the scale of any such yield would arise in terms of current values which, in view of the impact of the recession, might now be less than those underlying the 2008 cost.

State Bodies

Frank Feighan

Question:

25 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Finance further to the report of the special group on public service numbers and expenditure which set out recommendations on the rationalisation of State agencies and quangos, the agencies or quangos that have been rationalised; the ones that remain to be rationalised; the total reduction in job numbers and the number employed in each agency or quango. [4333/11]

The Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes outlined 43 rationalisation measures concerning State agencies and other bodies and information on the status of these proposals, including information on the numbers employed, as reported to my Department is set out in Table 1. In summary, 3 decisions have been taken to implement the proposed rationalisations in full. There will be a reduction of 20 bodies as a result. Decisions have also been taken to implement a further 11 proposals in part. Further information in relation to individual rationalisation decisions should be sought from the relevant Minister. These rationalisation decisions are in addition to the 30 decisions announced in Budget 2009, 19 of which have been implemented to date. Given the variety of factors that affect public service numbers policy, it is not possible to determine accurately the total reduction in public sector numbers associated with individual policy decisions taken to date. Overall public service numbers have reduced by over 12,000 since end 2008. This is due to a range of factors, including the moratorium on recruitment and promotion, the introduction of a new numbers control framework as recommended by the Special Group, the rationalisation of State Agencies and bodies and Government priorities in regard to public service provision. In addition, the public service numbers ceilings as set out on Page 64 of theNational Recovery Plan 2011-2014 will see the number employed in the public service reduced to under 295,000 by the end of 2014.

I would also draw the Deputy's attention to Page 69 of theNational Recovery Plan 2011-2014 where it is stated that the programme of State Agency rationalisation that commenced in 2008 will continue with a particular emphasis on:

reducing the number and range of agencies;

redeploying staff to areas of greatest need;

improving governance and performance arrangements; and

sharing services.

The reduction in expenditure allocations over the period of theNational Recovery Plan 2011-2014 in conjunction with revised employment ceilings will, accordingly, require continued progress across Departments and Offices in the rationalisation of Agencies as appropriate.

Table 1: Agency Rationalisations in the Special Group Report

Proposal adopted

Numbers Employed

In Full

Partial

q4 2008

q4 2010

AGRICULTURE

Transfer export promotion function ofAn Bord Bia and BIM to Enterprise Ireland, transfer BIM’s other functions to D/AF&F and consider same for An Bord Bia

1

An Bord Bia

96

104

BIM

143

126

TOURISM, CULTURE & SPORT

Elimination of spending onSports Campus Ireland

6

5

Transfer ofIrish Film Board (IFB) functions to Enterprise Ireland and discontinuation of the investment fund

16

16

IFB only

COMMUNICATIONS, ENERGY & NATURAL RESOURCES

Merge theDigital Hub Development Agency with EI/IDA

21

16

DHDA only

MergeComReg and the new Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.

Com Reg

120

125

Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.

38

33

Transfer theIrish Film Classification Office into the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland

Merge the OSI and theValuation Office with the Property Registration Authority

317

290

OSI only

COMMUNITY, EQUALITY AND GAELTACT AFFAIRS

Discontinuation ofDormant Accounts Fund Board

1

0

0

TransferWestern Development Commission’s enterprise development functions to Enterprise Ireland

1

17

14

Discontinuation of theFamily Support Agency

39

37

Table 1: Agency Rationalisations in the Special Group Report —continued

Proposal adopted

Numbers Employed

In Full

Partial

q4 2008

q4 2010

EDUCATION

Amalgamation of smaller primary schools

n/a

n/a

Discontinuation ofComhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta (COGG)

n/a

Rationalisation of VEC’s (33 to 16)

1

12,445

12,496

Rationalisation of third level institutions

1

11,785

10,907

MergeHigher Education Authority (HEA) and D/E&S

59

53

Discontinue funding forGrangegorman Development Agency

6

4

DiscontinueNational University of Ireland

1

no posts

no posts

AbsorbNational Education Welfare Board (NEWB) into D/E&S

103

101

AbsorbNational Council for Special Education (NCSE) into D/E&S

89

107

ENTERPRISE, TRADE & INNOVATION

Consolidate all indigenous enterprise support and sector marketing functions inEnterprise Ireland and rationalise the organisations losing functions as appropriate e.g. the County Enterprise Boards

903*

828*

EI only

County Enterprise Boards

122

130

Rationalise IDA & Enterprise Ireland overseas offices — will contribute to measures 19

282**

264**

IDA only

Shannon Development’s enterprise functions should be transferred to EI/IDA as appropriate. Surplus property assets should be realised for the benefit of the Exchequer.

132***

116***

SFADCO only

Rationalise all employment services provided/funded by the State into a single operation offering a consistent nationwide service

1

FÁS

2,242

1,936

Relocate all IR institutions to a single location with increased potential for shared services and efficiencies, and rationalise the industrial relations institutions over the medium term

Merge theHealth and Safety Authority and the National Employment Rights Authority into one Work Place Inspectorate.

200

185

HSA only

Formally merge the functions of theRegistrar of Friendly Societies and Companies Registration Office and secure additional efficiencies

Merge theIrish Takeover Panel with the Competition Authority

Table 1: Agency Rationalisations in the Special Group Report —continued

Proposal adopted

Numbers Employed

In Full

Partial

q4 2008

q4 2010

ENVIRONMENT, HERITAGE & LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Rationalise housing agencies and schemes

1

72

59

Rationalise the number of local authority structures into a single tier by discontinuing town councils and regional authorities, and reduce the remaining single tier from 34 city and county councils to 22 local authorities.

35,008

30,703

Merge the functions of Comhar into the Department

0

0

Valuation Office

Merge theValuation Office and the Ordnance Survey of Ireland (OSI) with the Property Registration Authority (PRA)

Valuation Office

158

146

OSI

310

290

Office of the Commission for Public Service Appointments

Potential to merge theOffice of the Commission for Public Service Appointments with the Office of the Ombudsman [It is intended that this proposal will be given legislative effect in the forthcoming Ombudsman (Amendment) Bill]

1

Office of the Ombudsman

94

88

CPSA

12

8

Office of the Ombudsman

Amalgamate ombudsmen/regulators offices into theOffice of the Ombudsman

HEALTH

Merge theHealth Research Board with single stream of science funding

84

71

Merge theHealth Insurance Authority into the Financial Regulator

9

9

Table 1: Agency Rationalisations in the Special Group Report —continued

Proposal adopted

Numbers Employed

In Full

Partial

q4 2008

q4 2010

JUSTICE

Merge theProperty Services Regulatory Authority with the Private Residential Tenancies Board

1

Property Services Regulatory Authority

11

11

Private Residential Tenancies Board

23

85

Transfer the Irish Film Classification Office into the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland

8

I7

IFCO ONLY

Merge theValuation Office and the Ordnance Survey of Ireland with the Property Registration Authority

1

686

588

PRA ONLY

SOCIAL PROTECTION

MergePensions Ombudsman with the Financial Service Ombudsman

Pensions Ombudsman

10

10

MergePensions Board with the Financial Regulator

Pensions Board

40

39

Department of the Taoiseach

Discontinue NESF and NCPP

1

24

19

Staff to NESDO

Table 1: Agency Rationalisations in the Special Group Report —continued

Proposal adopted

Numbers Employed

In Full

Partial

q4 2008

q4 2010

Attorney General’s Office

Discontinuation ofLaw Reform Commission

1

27

19

TRANSPORT

Merge theNational Vehicle and Driver File into the Road Safety Authority

N/A

N/A

Proposed amalgamation of NRA and RPA (This is currently still a proposal and a Steering Group has been set up to examine the possibility) Numbers for 2008 NRA=146, RPA =257; Number for 2010 NRA=135, RPA=295

403

430

Examine the possibility of creating a single transport safety body comprising existing separate bodies (RSA, RSC, MSD, IAA) [The administrative co-location of the three units Air Accident Investigation Unit, Marine Casualty Investigation Board, and Railway Accident Investigation Unit will be achieved in the week commencing 31 January 2011 and work on the legislation to give statutory effect to the measures necessary to amalgamate the investigation units has commenced]

1

N/A

N/A

Health Service Staff

Jack Wall

Question:

26 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance the reasons a person (details supplied) has not been allocated a P45 by their employer the Health Service Executive; the mechanism that is available to the person to ensure the form is allocated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4343/11]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the HSE have confirmed a P45 was issued to the named individual on 24th January 2011.

Ministerial Correspondence

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

27 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Finance his response to correspondence (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4346/11]

The correspondence which the Deputy refers to proposes that mortgage holders should be able to access moneys invested in their pension funds before the date of maturity in order to meet mortgage repayments on their homes or investment properties. Responsibility for occupational pensions' policy rests with my colleague the Minister for Social Protection. However, as the Deputy will be aware his issue was commented on briefly in the Final Report by the Mortgage Arrears and Personal Debt Group (Group) set up by me to make recommendations for improving supports for homeowners in difficulty with their mortgage repayments. While the Group did not consider in any great detail the issue of accessing pension funds, it did recognize that this is a complex matter with long term implications. Any such measure for example would have tax implications for the individual concerned.

The rationale for giving various tax reliefs to statutory and Revenue-approved pension savings schemes is to encourage and promote savings over the long term in order that individuals will have an adequate replacement income in old age. Any proposal, however well intentioned, that would allow pre-retirement access by individuals to retirement savings could significantly reduce the quantum of pension savings available to those individuals in retirement.

Emerging demographic indicators point to increasing numbers of people living longer and healthier lives with more of their lives spent in retirement than previously. In those circumstances, I think it is important to protect pension savings to ensure an adequate post-retirement income.

Revenue approval of occupational pension schemes is given on the basis, essentially, that benefits may generally only be paid at the point of retirement (usually from age 60) or death, whichever is the earlier. Similar rules apply in the case of personal pensions such as retirement annuity contracts and PRSAs. I have no plans to amend these provisions.

As has been stated on many occasions in this House, it is a priority of the Government to ensure that as far as possible that difficulties in relation to mortgage arrears do not result in legal proceedings for home repossession. I am confident that the support measures been taken by Government, including the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears, the Mortgage Interest Subsidy Scheme and the services provided by MABS, are having a positive effect alongside the recommendations of the Mortgage Arrears and Personal Debt Group which I referred to earlier.

Tax Code

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

28 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance when a refund of income tax paid will be made in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4370/11]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they are still awaiting further information from the taxpayer concerned before they will be in a position to deal with any possible refund.

Noel Ahern

Question:

29 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Finance if he will clarify the situation regarding the increased taxation and the universal social change as announced in budget 2011 particularly for working widows; the reason widows have been treated more harshly than other workers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4391/11]

The position is that all income tax credits with the exception of the aged tax credits where reduced by approximately 10% in Budget 2011. In addition, the single standard rate band was reduced by approximately 10% and the relationship between the single standard rate band and the additional rate bands was maintained. For example, the one-parent family rate band which is available to widowed parents is still €4,000 greater than the single standard rate band. As the income tax code has many favourable provisions relating to the tax treatment of widowed persons, particularly widowed parents with dependent children, the cumulative effect of the 10% reduction in income tax credits and tax bands in Budget 2011 has seen widowed persons losing more when compared to a single income earner on the same income. However, I would point out that a widowed person is still far better off in terms of net income after deductions when compared to a single individual on the same income.

The Universal Social Charge (USC) was introduced in Budget 2011 and it replaced the Income Levy and Health Levy. The USC is a more equitable charge that applies on a wider base at a low rate. It removes the steps and poverty traps associated with the Income Levy and Health Levy. It should be noted that payments from the Department of Social Protection such as the widowed person's contributory State pension are exempt from the USC. The Universal Social Charge (USC) is applied at the following rates:

2% on the first €10,036 (€193 per week)

4% on the next €5,980 (€193.01 to €308.00 per week) and

7% on the balance.

In addition, I should point out that I introduced a Committee Stage amendment during the Finance Bill 2011, which provides for medical card holders to be chargeable to the USC at the following rates:

2% on the first €10,036 (€193 per week)

4% on the balance.

Widowed persons in receipt of a widowed person's State pension were previously exempt from the Health Levy and there are no such exemptions from the USC. Therefore, widowed persons will see their net pay reduce as a consequence of the introduction of the USC. However, I would point out again that a widowed person is still better off in terms of net income after deductions when compared to a single individual on the same income.

Universal Social Charge

Noel Ahern

Question:

30 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the introduction of the universal social charge; if he will outline the rates applying to retired public servants in receipt of medical cards and the rates applying where the sole income is public service pension; where income is public service pension and other, that is another occupational pension and social welfare State pension; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4398/11]

The position is that the Universal Social Charge (USC) is applied at the following rates:

2% on the first €10,036 (€193 per week)

4% on the next €5,980 (€193.01 to €308.00 per week) and

7% on the balance.

For persons aged 70 years and over the USC is applied at the following rates:

2% on the first €10,036 (€193 per week)

4% on the balance.

In addition, I should point out that I introduced a Committee Stage amendment during the Finance Bill 2011, which provides for medical card holders to be chargeable to the USC at the following rates:

2% on the first €10,036 (€193 per week)

4% on the balance.

Furthermore, it should be noted that payments from the Department of Social Protection such as the contributory and non-contributory State pension are exempt from the USC. Also, where an individual's total income which is chargeable to the USC, is below €4,004 in a year of assessment, the USC would not apply.

Therefore, based on the question put forward by the Deputy, where a retired public servant is in receipt of a medical card and has a State pension from the Department of Social Protection and a public service pension they will only be chargeable to the USC on their public service pension at a rate of 2 per cent on the first €10,036 per annum and 4 per cent on the balance, assuming it is above €4,004 per annum.

Medical Cards

Jack Wall

Question:

31 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4230/11]

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

Medical Reviews

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

32 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the report on symphysiotomy requested from the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists; if the proposed literature review to be undertaken by a team from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine has been replaced by research commissioned from a university school of public health; the name and location of the school in question; the name and status of the person directing this research; the brief for the research, that is, the terms of reference specified; if substantive work has commenced on this project; the deadline for this research; the amount of taxpayers’ money, if any, to be expended on this exercise; if the report team headed by a person (details supplied) is still in place, and if so, the composition of that team; if not, the composition of the replacement team and if no replacement team, the process now envisaged for the completion of the overall report from the institute to her; if substantive work has commenced on this overall report and the date now envisaged for the delivery of the completed report from the Institute to her. [4234/11]

As indicated in a reply to a previous Parliamentary Question on 13 January 2011, the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists sought to make arrangements for the review to be carried out by an external team. Unfortunately, it was not possible to progress this in the way originally proposed. I understand that the Institute is now making alternative arrangements with the assistance of a university school of public health.

Discussions on how best to proceed are in progress and I understand that a project plan is being prepared by the school for consideration by the Institute. I am committed to ensuring that the work proceeds as soon as possible.

Health Service Staff

Jack Wall

Question:

33 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reasons the Health Service Executive will not allocate a P45 to a former employee (details supplied) despite the fact that they have sought such a form on a number of occasions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4344/11]

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

Medical Cards

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

34 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when a medical card will issue to persons (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4362/11]

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

Health Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

35 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if continuation of dental treatment can or will be offered to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare which was previously approved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4386/11]

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

Noel Ahern

Question:

36 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she can obtain a residential place in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4388/11]

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

Inter-Country Adoptions

Noel Ahern

Question:

37 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 154 of 4 November 2010, in relation to the setting up of a bilateral agreement on adoption with Russia, the position regarding same; if she will report on action taken; if she will provide a target date for completion; her views on the reason the children’s rights Ombudsman in Russia, while recently making a full statement on adoption issue, reported that they expected this year to complete bilateral agreements with the USA and France and made no reference to Ireland; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4393/11]

As stated in my previous reply, the Russian Government has made it clear that if adoptions are to continue, they wish to have bilateral agreements 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. I am still awaiting a response to this letter. I will continue to engage with the Russian authorities on this matter.

As with any bilateral agreement on intercountry adoption, a bilateral agreement with Russia would need to be explicit on the issues of consent and the financial costs of effecting an adoption.

Care of the Elderly

Catherine Byrne

Question:

38 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the National Positive Aging Strategy; the major developmental phases of the strategy and the timeframe for same; when the strategy will be completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4400/11]

Catherine Byrne

Question:

39 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the details of the consultation process for the National Positive Ageing Strategy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4401/11]

Catherine Byrne

Question:

40 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the institutional arrangements for the development, implementation, monitoring and review of the national Positive Ageing Strategy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4402/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 39 to 40, inclusive, together.

The development of a National Positive Ageing Strategy arises from a commitment in the Programme for Government 2007-2012. It is being developed within the constraints posed by the present fiscal situation. It is not the intention that it will propose new service developments; rather it will set the strategic direction for future policies, programmes and services for older people in Ireland. It is envisaged that the Strategy will set out a common framework for the development of operational plans by Government Departments clearly setting out their objectives relating to older people, as well as the development of ongoing mechanisms designed to monitor progress and identify challenges facing older people in the future.

Development of the Strategy is being assisted by a Cross-Departmental Group (CDG), comprised of officials from 11 Government Departments, the Central Statistics Office and An Garda Síochána, and is chaired by the Director of the Office for Older People. An NGO Liaison Group comprising representatives of twelve national-level non-governmental organisations with an interest in older people's issues has been established under an independent chair. An Expert Advisory Group, which is in the process of being established, will also inform the process.

Research has been commissioned on national strategies for older people in other jurisdictions. The Strategy will also take cognisance of other strategies and policy documents developed in Ireland over the past decade, and the strategy will be underpinned by theUN Principles for Older Persons, the World Health Organisation’s Active Ageing: A Policy Framework (2002), and the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (2002).

The development of the Strategy will also be informed by information gained through a public consultation process. A call for written submissions was issued in June 2009 and 190 submissions were received from a broad range of stakeholders. Following the written consultation process, a series of nine consultation meetings was held from March to May 2010. These meetings, attended by approx 1200 people, were held in Cork, Sligo, Galway, Kildare, Wexford, Newcastle West, Dundalk, Dublin and Athlone. Meetings were also held in April 2010 with groups representing vulnerable and marginalised older people. A round-table meeting was also held with stakeholders involved in the Louth Age Friendly County Initiative with a view to learning more about the approaches taken in relation to older people's issues in County Louth.

A report on the consultation process to highlight issues which older people and service providers raised was finalised and published on 22 November 2010. The report also outlines other relevant background information.

Work on the preparation of the Strategy and the development of monitoring and review structures and processes are on-going in consultation with the groups listed above.

Age of Consent

Charles Flanagan

Question:

41 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children her position on the age of consent; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4403/11]

The age of consent is a matter for the Minister for Justice and Law Reform. The Department of Justice and Law Reform has provided me with the following information. The Deputy will be aware that a majority of members of the Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children favoured a reduction in the age of consent from 17 to 16. In Northern Ireland, the age of consent has been reduced to 16 bringing it in line with the age threshold in the rest of the UK.

A Draft General Scheme to implement the majority recommendation of the Joint Committee is close to finalisation. The proposed reduction will also make it easier to harmonise our laws protecting young persons against sexual abuse with those in Northern Ireland. It would reduce confusion about the age and remove anomalies, particularly in border areas where young people cross the border regularly to socialise.

Garda Vetting of Personnel

Charles Flanagan

Question:

42 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children her view on enacting legislation to facilitate the use of soft information in vetting individuals working with children; the practical implications of this change; if this will have resource implications; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4404/11]

The Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, in conjunction with the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, is drafting the Heads for the National Vetting Bureau Bill. Formal consultations have taken place with the Health Service Executive, An Garda Síochána and colleagues in other Government Departments. Once complete the Heads and General Scheme will be submitted to Government for approval to proceed to the drafting of the legislation.

This area has also been considered by the Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment for Children and the findings of the Committee are being considered in the preparation of the legislation.

The National Vetting Bureau Bill will make provision for a statutory basis for the vetting of applicants for employment and employees.The vetting process will provide for the identification of both hard and ‘soft/relevant information', in particular, information relating to the endangerment, sexual exploitation or sexual abuse, or risk thereof, to children and vulnerable adults.

A number of complex issues, including rights of citizens under the Constitution and human rights generally, require to be addressed in the preparation of the legislation The use of ‘soft/relevant information' for vetting purposes is inherently complex and great care must be taken in the drafting of the Heads and General Scheme to ensure that due account is taken of the complex constitutional, legal and ethical issues which arise.

The establishment of a new National Vetting Bureau would give rise to a need for additional resources. The quantification of this resource will take place in the context of the legislative process, in particular as part of the required Regulatory Impact Analysis.

Hospital Procedures

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

43 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she will request the Health Service Executive to expedite an essential surgical procedure in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4405/11]

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

Hospital Accommodation

Emmet Stagg

Question:

44 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if the 24 beds currently closed at Naas General Hospital County Kildare will be reopened; if so, when and if not the reason for same. [4423/11]

Emmet Stagg

Question:

45 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when staff will be hired at Naas General Hospital County Kildare to enable the opening of the new medical assessment unit. [4424/11]

Emmet Stagg

Question:

46 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when additional nursing staff will be hired at Naas General Hospital County Kildare to relieve pressure on the accident and emergency department. [4425/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 44 to 46, inclusive, together.

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

Health Services

Emmet Stagg

Question:

47 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of children and adults assessed as requiring occupational therapy and who are awaiting the provision of same in the Kildare and west Wicklow and the average waiting time for the commencement of treatment. [4426/11]

Emmet Stagg

Question:

49 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children her plans to reduce the waiting times for assessment of children for occupational therapy in Kildare and west Wicklow which at present stands at one year. [4428/11]

Emmet Stagg

Question:

50 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of speech and language therapists employed in the speech and language therapist service in Kildare and west Wicklow and the number that would be required to meet the demand of the service in view of the fact that on the 30 June 2010 there were over 2,000 children awaiting either therapy or assessment. [4429/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 47, 49 and 50 together.

As the Deputy's questions relate to service matters, I have referred these questions to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

48 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of occupational therapist employed in the occupational therapy service in Kildare and west Wicklow and the number that would actually be required to deal with the workload in the area. [4427/11]

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

Questions Nos. 49 and 50 answered with Question No. 47.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

51 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the steps she will take with the Health Service Executive to establish the reason there is an 18 month waiting time for an eye test for children at Naas health centre County Kildare. [4430/11]

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

Health Service Staff

Emmet Stagg

Question:

52 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if discussions between the Health Service Executive senior management and the community welfare senior management in relation to securing accommodation for a public community welfare office in Naas County Kildare have concluded satisfactorily. [4431/11]

I am aware that the Health Service Executive, in reply to Question No. 137 of 13 January 2011, from Bernard Durkan, TD indicated that it has been agreed that, subject to its feasibility, the Health Centre at Sarto Road, Naas will be vacated and assigned for use by the Community Welfare Service. The premises is being examined at present and plans for adaptation to the requirements of the Community Welfare Service will be drawn up in the near future. It is hoped that this work can, subject to feasibility, commence as soon as possible after the building is vacated.

Health Services

Emmet Stagg

Question:

53 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of children awaiting orthodontic treatment following assessment in Kildare and west Wicklow and the average waiting time for treatment. [4434/11]

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

Emmet Stagg

Question:

54 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the number of children awaiting assessment for orthodontic treatment in Kildare and west Wicklow and the average waiting time for assessment [4435/11]

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

Health Service Staff

Emmet Stagg

Question:

55 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when the primary care team planned for Kilcock, County Kildare will be up and running. [4437/11]

Emmet Stagg

Question:

56 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if a site for a new health centre at a location (details supplied) in County Kildare has been identified and if not, the action the Health Service Executive will take to source same. [4438/11]

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

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

Hospital Waiting Lists

Michael Ring

Question:

57 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be admitted for surgery to a hospital. [4453/11]

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

Medical Cards

John McGuinness

Question:

58 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if a medical card will be issued as a matter of urgency in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow and if she will expedite a response. [4459/11]

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

State Airports

Noel Grealish

Question:

59 Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Transport if the figure published in section 7.5 key indicator 5 — operating costs per airport, table 7.4 for Galway Airport contained in the report Value for Money Review of Exchequer Expenditure on the Regional Airports Programme — Department of Transport June 2010 is incorrect based on the audited accounts as submitted to his Department (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4232/11]

The Value for Money Review of Exchequer Expenditure on the Regional Airports Programme was completed during 2010 and published on 12 January 2011. The figure referred to by the Deputy for operating costs at Galway Airport in 2009 is correctly stated as €3,588,827 in Section 6.4.4. Galway Airport — Table 6.15 Revenues, Costs and OPEX subvention received since 2005. However, due to a clerical error the figure for operating costs in 2009 was incorrectly stated in the further table and location in the Report mentioned by the Deputy. I would like to apologise for this mistake and to assure the Deputy that the reference and any related commentary in the section of the Review will be rectified.

Section 6.4.4. of the Review correctly noted that the trend towards steadily increasing OPEX subvention "continued until last year [2009], when a major cost cutting scheme by the airport meant that losses sustained were minimised somewhat." The Review also correctly commented that "Despite having the benefit of a PSO route, Galway Airport was still not breaking even during the height of the economic boom. Further losses along the lines of what were sustained in 2009 are to be expected in the short-term at least. All things being equal, this means that OPEX funding in the region of €1m will be required to make up the shortfall." For 2010, a total of €1,799,339 was provided to Galway under the OPEX scheme.

I should point out that Key Indicator 5, was only one of the indicators used in the Review and the overall conclusions and recommendations of the Review are not affected.

Proposals for revised schemes for the Core Airport Management Operational Expenditure Subvention (OPEX) scheme and the Capital Expenditure Grants (CAPEX) scheme will be submitted to Government in due course.

Citizenship Applications

Bernard Allen

Question:

60 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform when a decision will issue on an application for a certificate of naturalisation in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [4245/11]

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

The application is being processed in the normal way with a view to establishing whether the applicant meets the statutory conditions for the granting of naturalisation and will be submitted to me for decision in due course. While the average time from application to decision is 26 months, processing requirements and time taken to carry out necessary checks vary from case to case.

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

Departmental Expenditure

Finian McGrath

Question:

61 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he paid for the costs for the unsuccessful asylum seekers who had to return from Athens airport in view of the fact that no safe aircraft was available to take them to Nigeria; if so, the steps he is taking to recover this money from the flight operator as well as any other costs incurred by the State; if he has been able to establish if the flight operator has an insurance policy in place to deal with such liabilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4279/11]

I am not in a position to indicate at this point the costs incurred during this operation. I can inform the Deputy however that discussions are ongoing with the relevant parties and my Department has insisted that all reasonable costs are recouped from the flight operator.

Language Analysis Services

Finian McGrath

Question:

62 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 151 of 9 June 2010, if the tendering process for language analysis has taken place; the number of tenders received; the selection criteria; the names of the successful companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4280/11]

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service that a new tender in respect of language analysis services is nearing completion and is expected to issue in the very near future. The drafting of the tender is complex particularly because of stricter rules on tendering introduced by the European Commission having regard to the EU Remedies Directive.

Immigration Issues

Finian McGrath

Question:

63 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 in Ireland for the purpose of civil litigation against these non-nationals; if he will detail the proper channels to be used by the UK Border Agency when it is seeking such information; the circumstances under which an immigration officer can give evidence on non-nationals who lived in Ireland to the civil courts in the UK; the number of such requests made in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4281/11]

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. Provision 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”.

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

In the event that a member of An Garda Síochána is required to offer evidence relating to any persons immigration status in this State, in court proceedings of a civil nature, in another jurisdiction, including the UK, the permission of the Commissioner will be sought for the member concerned to travel to the relevant jurisdiction for the purpose of offering the evidence required.

No application was received from the UK immigration authorities in 2010, for any member of An Garda Síochána attached to the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) to travel to the UK for the purpose of offering evidence in a UK court in civil proceedings undertaken in that jurisdiction.

EU Directives

Finian McGrath

Question:

64 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 891 of 29 September 2010, if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the new Government in the UK is now considering opting into this directive; if he will consider opting into this directive or the part of the directive that would require rogue employers to pay wages to undocumented workers that they failed to pay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4282/11]

Directive 2009/52/EC provides for minimum standards on sanctions and measures against employers of illegally staying third country nationals. The Directive is targeted at the illegal employment of third country nationals in order to counteract illegal immigration. It provides minimum standards on sanctions and measures, including disqualification from public benefits and, in serious cases, criminal penalties against employers of illegally staying third country nationals.

The Directive was adopted in the summer of 2009 and Member States are expected to have transposed the measure into national law by the second half of 2011. The Commission will then report on the coming into operation of the measure in February 2012 after it has come into effect in all affected Member States.

Neither Ireland nor the UK have opted into the Directive, to date, under the provisions of the protocol to the Treaties on the special position of Ireland and the UK. My Department was aware, however, that the UK authorities have commenced a formal review, in line with commitments made to their national parliament, on the possibility of opting into the Directive under the post adoption procedure provided for in the Twenty First Protocol to the TFEU.

As stated previously, the question of Ireland opting into the Directive is something that is kept under review by my Department. The outcome of the UK process will clearly be relevant in that context.

Departmental Staff

Finian McGrath

Question:

65 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the location of visa offices that operate in Irish embassies overseas; the number of civil servants from his Department by grade employed in each embassy location; if any other civil servants from his Department are employed in Irish embassies abroad and if so the location and capacity of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4283/11]

I would refer the Deputy to my Reply to Parliamentary Question 95 on 24 November, 2010.

Visa Applications

Finian McGrath

Question:

66 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding naturalisation in respect of a person (details supplied). [4286/11]

A valid application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in February 2009.

The application is being processed in the normal way with a view to establishing whether the applicants meets the statutory conditions for the granting of naturalisation and will be submitted to me for decision in due course.

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

Prisoner Statistics

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

67 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 55 of 8 December 2010, if the requested information is now available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4297/11]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the information is now to hand. The number of prisoners in custody on the 17th December 2010 (when the survey required to answer this Question was initiated) was 4,397. Details are set out in the table.

The Deputy will be aware that there has been major progress in recent years in terms of addressing and eliminating the problems presented by slopping out. 72% of our accommodation now has in-cell sanitation. New spaces at Castlerea, Portlaoise and Wheatfield Prisons have been made available. In addition, construction has commenced on the extension to the Midlands Prison which is due to open in 2012. With these developments, the proportion of prisoners with access to full sanitation facilities will rise to in excess of 80% of the total prisoner population. The final elimination of the remaining outdated accommodation, mainly at Mountjoy and Cork Prisons, and to a lesser degree at Portlaoise and Limerick is dependent on the progress of the Thornton Hall and Kilworth Projects.

I might also add that a new camping style toilet/commode has been tested recently on a trial basis, in Mountjoy, Limerick and Cork Prisons. I understand the initial feedback from prisoners was positive and the Irish Prison Service is now rolling out this initiative to all areas where prisoners currently slop out. The Irish Prison Service also has toilet patrols in operation until late evening in Mountjoy, Cork and Limerick Prisons with staff rostered to provide this function after final lock in the evenings. Prisoners requesting to use toilet facilities after these times are accommodated where possible. The possibility of extending toilet patrols is being further examined by the Irish Prison Service.

Finally, in assembling the information for this reply, the Deputy may wish to note the following interpretations placed on the Question:

1. Where the Question refers to "in private", this is taken to mean that modesty screens are available when prisoners wish to use toilets / chamber pots. The term "private" is taken to refer to the availability of a modesty screen because, for operational and prisoner safety reasons, no prisoner is allowed to be entirely out of the view of prison staff at any time.

2. The term "prisoners required to use normal toilet facilities but in the presence of others" is taken to refer to prisoners occupying cells with a normal flush toilet installed but where the cells are occupied by more than one prisoner.

Institution

Number in custody on 17/12/2010

No. of prisoners who are sole occupants of a cell that has a normal flush toilet installed or have access to toilet facilities in private at all times

No. of prisoners who are required to slop-out

No. of prisoners who are required to use normal toilet facilities in the presence of others

Arbour Hill

154

82

0

72

Castlerea

382

143

0

239

Cloverhill

449

38

0

411

Cork

306

7

299

0

Dóchas

137

41

0

96

Limerick Male

298

86

99

142

Limerick Female

29

Loughan House

99

99

0

0

Midlands

553

335

0

218

Mountjoy

683

57

515

111

Portlaoise

268

91

51

126

Shelton Abbey

100

100

0

0

St. Patrick’s Institution

210

120

0

90

Training Unit**

113

74

39

0

Wheatfield

616

255

0

361

Total

4,397

1,528

1,003

1,866

**In relation to the Training Unit, it should be noted that the 39 prisoners required to slop out have access to private toilet facilities during the day and evening.

Prison Accommodation

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

68 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of prisoners, in total and in each institution, that are locked up for 23 hours or more in a normal day; for 22 to 23 hours in a normal day; for 20 to 22 hours in a normal day; for 18 to 20 hours in a normal day; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4301/11]

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the table and relates to the situation as it pertained on the 26 January, 2010.

The primary role of the Irish Prison Service is the provision of safe and secure custody for prisoners. The majority of prisoners on lock up are those who would be considered to be under threat or "at risk" in the general population due, for example, to gangland feuding, drug debts, because they gave evidence in a court case or because of the nature of their offences, e.g. those of a sexual nature.

The requirement for prisoners who request protection to be accommodated in separate areas from other identified persons from whom they may be at risk is of primary importance. In that regard a number of our prisons have significant numbers of what would be regarded as protection prisoners accommodated on separate landings. These prisoners have access to a wide regime of activities including school, workshops, gym facilities, probation and chaplaincy services.

Notwithstanding that, there is a cohort of protection prisoners who are subject to a more restricted regime. The majority of these prisoners are located in our older prisons. These prisons are not in a position to offer enhanced regimes because of constraints on space, resources, staffing levels and the number of factions which have to be kept separate from each other. Nonetheless, efforts are made on a continuous basis to reduce the numbers of protection prisoners who fall into this category and regular transfers take place to other institutions where a prisoner will not require protection.

Prison/Place of Detention

Number in custody on 18-20 hour lock up

Number in custody on 20-22 hour lock up

Number in custody on 22-23 hour lock up

Number in custody on 23 hours or more lock up

Arbour Hill

0

0

0

0

Castlerea

0

0

26

4

Cloverhill

43

0

0

0

Cork

13

4

0

0

Dóchas Centre

0

0

0

1

Limerick

0

0

0

64

Loughan House

0

0

0

0

Midlands

4

0

0

33

Mountjoy

0

103

0

59

Portlaoise

0

0

0

22

Shelton Abbey

0

0

0

0

St. Patrick’s Institution

0

57

0

0

Training Unit

0

0

0

0

Wheatfield

0

0

0

67

Total

60

164

26

250

Proposed Legislation

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

69 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding the concerns expressed in relation to sections 35 to 39, inclusive, of the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009; the steps being taken to review same and to propose amendments thereto; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4326/11]

The position is that my Department has already met with the Law Society to discuss their submission in relation to sections 35 to 39 of the 2009 Act and is currently engaged in discussions with the Law Reform Commission and the Property Registration Authority with a view to identifying how best to address issues relating to easements raised in the submission.

Citizenship Applications

Jack Wall

Question:

70 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the procedure a person (details supplied) in County Kildare has to adhere to in seeking Irish citizenship in view of the fact that the applicant has Irish connections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4328/11]

A person born outside of Ireland with a parent who was born in Ireland is automatically an Irish citizen by descent.

A person born outside of Ireland with a parent who was also born outside Ireland and a grandparent who was born in Ireland may become an Irish citizen by registration in the Foreign Births Register, which is maintained by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

If a person wishes to apply for Irish citizenship through a great grandparent born in Ireland, the position is more complex. Eligibility depends on one of the applicant's parents, i.e. the grandchild of the person born in Ireland, being already entered in the Foreign Births Register, the date of that registration and the applicants date of birth.

If persons are not entitled to Irish citizenship in these circumstances, they can apply for Irish citizenship through naturalisation. Such applications are considered under the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended. The applicant must fulfil certain statutory requirements including requirements in relation to residency. However I am empowered to dispense with the statutory conditions in whole or in part in certain circumstances — for example where the applicant is of Irish descent or Irish associations. Every such application is decided upon on its individual circumstances and in accordance with the law.

Irish Prison Service

Frank Feighan

Question:

71 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will issue a full reply to representations sent to his office on 20 December 2010 and also to the head of human resources in the Irish Prison Services, on behalf of a person (details supplied). [4337/11]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that a full reply has issued from the Director of Human Resources of the Irish Prison Service to his representation of the 21st December 2010. It has been confirmed to me by the Irish Prison Service that the matter raised has been resolved to the satisfaction of the person on whose behalf you made the representation was made.

Visa Applications

Arthur Morgan

Question:

72 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform when an application for family reunification will be completed in respect of a person (details supplied); if two years is an average waiting time for such applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4341/11]

I have been informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that the person referred to made an application for Family Reunification in January 2009.

I understand that a letter issued to the person's legal representative in July 2010 informing them that the INIS is waiting on an interdepartmental report. A further letter issued on the 5th January 2011 advising the person concerned that they should contact their legal representative.

In recent years significant progress had been made in reducing the waiting period to 15-16 months. However, some cases may take considerably longer than this. Family Reunification cases, of their nature, can give rise to longer than average processing times because of the necessary checks to establish the family relationships and, where appropriate, dependancy on the applicant. This work includes the examination and verification of relevant documentation and other background investigations. In some cases, depending on the country of origin of the applicant, it can prove very difficult to produce the kind of documentation requested. When such documents are lacking this naturally can lead to considerable further delay.

Furthermore, legal proceedings taken in these cases, including cases pending a decision of the Courts, may also affect the processing of applications for family reunification.

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

Residency Permits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

73 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the current or expected residency status in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4357/11]

Arising from the refusal of her asylum application, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 16 January 2009, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of her. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why a Deportation Order should not be made against her. In addition, she was notified of her entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006.

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

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

74 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the procedure to be followed to upgrade from stamp three to stamp four residency status in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4358/11]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 564 of 12 January, 2011. My Department wrote directly to the person concerned in August 2010 and to date no response has been received to this request. I advise that the person concerned respond as soon as possible so as to progress this matter.

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

Citizenship Applications

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

75 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if reference to a court case previously referred to in the determination of application for citizenship is likely to be used again in such determination given that the case in question was struck out as having no basis in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4359/11]

The Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1956, as amended provides that the Minister may, in his absolute discretion, grant an application for a certificate of naturalisation provided certain statutory conditions are fulfilled. One such condition is that the Minister be satisfied that applicant is of good character. An application for a Certificate of Naturalisation from the person concerned was received in the Citizenship Section of my Department in February 2008 and my predecessor decided to refuse the application. The reason for the refusal was disclosed to the applicant in a letter dated 18 January 2011.

It is open to the person in question to lodge a new application at any time. However, in doing so she should bear in mind the reasons for refusal of her previous application. Any further application will be assessed in terms of the statutory requirements applicable at that time.

Residency Permits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

76 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the procedure for renewal or extension of residency status in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 7; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4360/11]

I refer the Deputy to my detailed Reply to his recent Parliamentary Question, No. 162 of Thursday, 13th January, 2011, in this matter. The position in the State of the person concerned is as set out in that Reply.

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

77 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the residency status in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4361/11]

There is currently no application pending in my Department for residency in the case of the persons whose details were supplied. If an application for asylum has been made by the person concerned the Deputy will of course be aware that it is not the practice to comment on asylum applications that are pending.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

78 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the way it is deemed that application for long-term residency on foot of work permit or stamp 4 has not been received by him in view of the acknowledgement to such received by the applicant by way of letter dated 17 July 2009 in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4368/11]

Officials in the Long Term Residency Section of my Department inform me that having checked their records, no trace of an application for Long Term Residency for the person referred to in the Deputy's Question can be found. A letter was issued to the person in question on 5/1/2011 informing her of this and also the criteria necessary to enable her apply for Long Term Residency.

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

79 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding residency in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4371/11]

Arising from the refusal of her asylum application, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 10th July, 2007, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of her. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why she should not have a Deportation Order made against her. She was also notified of her entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006.

The person concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection and, following consideration of this application, it was determined that she was not eligible for Subsidiary Protection. The person concerned was notified of this decision by letter dated 25th April, 2008.

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

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

80 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 190 of 7 December 2010 if any details can be found in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 6; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4373/11]

The further information provided by the Deputy has enabled officials in the Citizenship Division of my Department to identify a match with an application received in 2003. While neither the name nor the reference number exactly match the details provided by the Deputy, my officials are satisfied that the file relates to the person referred to in the Deputy's question. Following assessment of this application, it was deemed ineligible as the conditions for naturalisation were not satisfied. A letter informing the applicant of this decision was issued in April 2005 and the file was closed.

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

Citizenship Applications

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

81 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if and when a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3 will become eligible for naturalisation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4374/11]

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

is of full age

is of good character

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

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

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

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

periods granted for the purposes of study

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

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

Irish Prison Service

Noel Ahern

Question:

82 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will clarify the situation in relation to a prison officer (details supplied) who left the service, is not currently under benefit and wishes to qualify for past or future payments. [4395/11]

I can advise the Deputy that the person referred to resigned from the Prison Service with effect from 5 October 2002. In line with the required procedures as set down in the Civil Service Superannuation Scheme for Established Civil Servants, her pension, lump sum gratuity and death benefits were preserved. The pension and lump sum will be paid as from the time she reaches 60 years of age. If before attaining 60 years the person's state of health deteriorates to such an extent that immediate payment of preserved benefits is justified, the pension and lump sum will become payable. Otherwise, it is not possible to bring forward payment of preserved benefits. The Deputy will understand that it is not possible to retrospectively change the circumstances of this person's departure from the Prison Service.

Visa Applications

Noel Ahern

Question:

83 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will clarify the issue regarding the extension of a visitor's visa which has been refused in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9; and if he will re-examine or arrange an early appeal. [4396/11]

I have been informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that the person mentioned by the Deputy contacted my Department in relation to an extension of his permission to remain in the State on 22 November 2010. This application was examined by officials in my Department and a letter of refusal was issued on 22 November 2010.

Nationals of the U.S.A. are not visa required and may seek to enter and reside in the State on visitor's conditions for up to 90 days. A visitor stamp should be read as indicating that the immigration Officer at the port of entry was told by the Non-EEA national that he/she was coming for a visit of a duration of not more than 90 days and should leave at the end of the permitted period.

In accordance with the immigration laws of the State the person mentioned is required to leave the State on expiry of his visitor's condition. However, once outside the State there is nothing to prevent him from re-entering the State. It is the policy of my Department not to extend a permission to remain to persons who are admitted for a period of 90 days or less on a short stay visit, save in very exceptional and unforeseen circumstances.

If the person in question feels that there is additional information which has not been submitted with his initial application and which would add further weight to his initial request for an extension, it is open to that person to contact General Immigration Division requesting that his case be considered in light of this additional information.

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

Garda Strength

Emmet Stagg

Question:

84 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of gardaí in each Garda division on 31 December 2010. [4436/11]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that on the latest date for which figures are readily available, the personnel strength in each Garda Division was as set out as follows:

Division

Strength

Division

Strength

Division

Strength

DMR South Central

777

Tipperary

392

Sligo/Leitrim

324

DMR North Central

700

Cork City

701

Clare

328

DMR North

810

Cork North

311

Mayo

320

DMR East

475

Cork West

319

Galway

606

DMR South

632

Kerry

340

Roscommon/Longford

302

DMR West

793

Limerick

645

Westmeath

264

Kilkenny/Carlow

324

Donegal

474

Meath

313

Wicklow

357

Cavan/Monaghan

394

Kildare

325

Laois/Offaly

332

Louth

315

Waterford

304

Wexford

284

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

85 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the current numbers of fully attested members of the Garda Síochána, recruits in training and members of the Garda Reserve; if it is anticipated that there will be any intake of recruits in the foreseeable future from those selected by the Public Appointments Service who have successfully undergone the physical competency test, medical examination and character vetting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4465/11]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that as of the latest date for which figures are readily available, the personnel strength of An Garda Síochána was 14,364. The strength of the Garda Reserve was 703.

The National Recovery Plan 2011- 2014 outlines a reduction in the strength of An Garda Síochána to 13,000 by the end of 2014. This reduction, and the rate at which it is achieved through retirements, will be taken into account in determining when recruitment will re-commence.

Overseas Development Aid

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

86 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on the current overseas aid programme; the way he envisages the programme being sustained and expanded into the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4348/11]

For 2011, the Government has provided an overall allocation for Official Development Assistance (ODA) of €669 million. Of this total, €534 million will be administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and a further estimated €135 million will come from other Government Departments, including Ireland's share of the EU Development Cooperation budget.

The 2011 allocation ensures our ODA effort is stabilised at approximately 0.52% of GNP which remains ahead of the EU average. In the context of our very difficult economic circumstances, I believe this is a significant achievement, and clear evidence of our commitment to the fight against global poverty and hunger. As I have stated many times the stabilisation of our public finances and the return of economic growth are the best foundations for restoring growth to the development aid programme.

The Government's aid programme is the Irish people's aid programme. We are proud of its strong international reputation for quality and effectiveness and in particular for its sharp focus on the poorest countries and communities in sub-Saharan Africa. I am determined to maintain the high quality of our aid programme and ensure that we continue to deliver a programme that has maximum impact and is rigorously focused on achieving clear results for the lives of the poor, the marginalised and the hungry.

Passport Applications

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

87 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Foreign Affairs the requirements for issue of a passport in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare whose certification of naturalisation was issued on foot of sworn affidavit in lieu of birth certificate but whose passport seems to be dependent on a birth certification which is not available; if he will set out any further requirements in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4372/11]

On 21 January, 2011, the applicant wrote to the Department to cancel his application. This has been done and passport fee is being refunded. The Passports Act, 2008 requires, inter alia, that before issuing a passport to a person, the Minister for Foreign Affairs shall be satisfied as to the identity of the person. Documentary proofs in respect of identity are required for all passport applications. These requirements, which are rigorously pursued, are outlined in the passport application form notes that accompany each application form. Details are also available on the Department's website.

Redundancy Payments

M. J. Nolan

Question:

88 Deputy M. J. Nolan asked the Minister for Social Protection when an application for redundancy will be processed in respect of a person (details supplied) and when payment will issue. [4236/11]

On 1 January 2011, my Department assumed responsibility for making redundancy payments from the Social Insurance Fund. There are two types of redundancy payment made from the fund i.e. rebates to those employers who have paid statutory redundancy to eligible employees and statutory lump sums to employees whose employers are insolvent and/or in receivership/liquidation. I can confirm that statutory redundancy lump sum claims in respect of the individuals concerned were received on 6th October 2009. I understand that their claims are pending processing and that payment is expected to issue over the next two weeks.

M. J. Nolan

Question:

89 Deputy M. J. Nolan asked the Minister for Social Protection when an application for redundancy will be processed in respect of a person (details supplied) and when payment will issue. [4237/11]

On 1 January 2011, my Department assumed responsibility for making redundancy payments from the Social Insurance Fund. There are two types of redundancy payment made from the fund i.e. rebates to those employers who have paid statutory redundancy to eligible employees and statutory lump sums to employees whose employers are insolvent and/or in receivership/liquidation. I can confirm that statutory redundancy lump sum claims in respect of the individuals concerned were received on 6th October 2009. I understand that their claims are pending processing and that payment is expected to issue over the next two weeks.

Proposed Legislation

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

90 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Social Protection if the review of the Civil Registration Act 2004 has taken place with particular reference to making provision for the registration here of all deaths of persons domiciled in Ireland who died abroad; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3527/11]

The administration of the Civil Registration Service is statutorily a matter for the Registrar General. I have made enquiries with the Registrar General and he has informed me that the general review of the provisions of the Civil Registration Act, 2004 is expected to be completed by the middle of this year. The review will include the provisions relating to the registration of deaths.

The provisions and procedures governing the registration of deaths in Ireland are contained in Part 5 of the Civil Registration Act, 2004.

Where the death of an Irish citizen domiciled in the State occurs abroad, the death may be registered here if there was not at the time of the death a system of registration of deaths in the place where the death occurred, or it is not possible to obtain copies of or extracts from civil records of the death.

Where an Irish citizen dies abroad and the death is registered by the civil authorities of the place where the death occurred, a certified copy of the death registration, translated, if necessary, is sufficient for all legal and administrative purposes here and there is no necessity for the event to be entered in the register of deaths in the State. However, it is appreciated that registration here of the deaths abroad of Irish citizens would be significant to the relatives of the deceased and it is in this context that a commitment has been made to review the existing provisions of the Civil Registration Act, 2004, in relation to this issue.

There is a range of issues to be considered in relation to the scope and implementation of any proposed amendment on this matter. Some of these issues may have cross-departmental implications and these need to be considered also.

Social Welfare Appeals

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

91 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Social Protection the reasons for delays in dealing with cases in the social welfare appeals office; the average time scale for dealing with appeal applications; if his attention has been drawn to the hardship that can arise from such delays; if he has any proposals to expedite the hearing of appeals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3528/11]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that the average waiting for an appeal dealt with by way of a summary decision is 27.4 weeks, while the average time to process an oral hearing is 45.6 weeks. These processing times are calculated from the registration date of the appeal to the date of its finalisation and include all activities during this period including time spent in the Department for comments by the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal put forward by the appellant and any further investigation, examination or assessment by the Department's Inspectors and Medical Assessors that is deemed necessary. A considerable period of time is added to the process when an oral hearing is required because of the logistics involved in this process.

A number of initiatives have been taken in recent years to deal with backlogs in the Social Welfare Appeals process which have occurred as a result of the increases in numbers of cases received in that Office. The annual intake of appeals has increased from 14,070 in 2007 to 32,432 in 2010, an increase of 18,362 (130.5%).

The Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2010 facilitated the use of experienced retired former Appeals Officers, on a strictly temporary basis to assist in reducing the backlog of Social Welfare Appeals cases.

In conjunction with the provision of extra staff, more emphasis is now placed on dealing with appeals on a summary basis so as to increase productivity. As a result, the number of appeals dealt with by way of oral hearing was reduced from 59% in 2009 to 31.5% in 2010.

A project to improve the business processes in the office was also 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.

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.

Departmental Staff

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

92 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of temporary staff operating at the clerical grade in his Department and the contingencies on which they are engaged (details supplied). [4246/11]

Currently there are 148 temporary clerical officers employed in the Department of Social Protection.

Temporary staff are recruited by this Department to cover absences of permanent staff on maternity leave, long term sick leave, other statutory leave and also to provide cover for some staff availing of the shorter working year scheme. They are also recruited to alleviate work pressure in certain areas, for short periods of time.

Temporary contracts are offered for a fixed purpose and the term can vary according to the purpose of the contract.

The tabular statement outlines the number of temporary clerical officers currently employed and the purpose for their contracts.

Table A: Breakdown of Temporary Clerical Officer Contracts

Contract Purpose

Number of temporary clerical officers

Maternity Leave

45

Sick Leave

22

Carers Leave

4

Increase in the live register and pending availability of permanent staff

72

Shorter Working Year

2

Projects

3

Total

148

Social Welfare Benefits

Finian McGrath

Question:

93 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will support the case of a person (details supplied). [4284/11]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that the person concerned was refused rent supplement as the local authority stated that he did not have a long term housing need and he did not provide the HSE with sufficient evidence to show that he was in rented accommodation for 183 days within the preceding 12 months of the date of claim for rent supplement.

Departmental Reports

David Stanton

Question:

94 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Social Protection when he expects a final report from the gender recognition advisory group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4303/11]

The Gender Recognition Advisory Group was established in 2010 with the following terms of reference:

"To advise the Minister for Social Protection on the legislation required to provide for legal recognition of the acquired gender of transsexuals. In particular, to propose heads of a bill to provide for:

The establishment of a process for legal recognition of the acquired gender of persons suffering from Gender Identity Disorder, who have made the transition from one gender to another.

The establishment of a gender recognition register

The granting of entitlement to marry in the legally recognised reassigned gender, and

Any other provisions as may be deemed necessary consequent to the main provisions of the Bill."

The Group is made up of representatives of various Departments and Offices of State. The group has met on a number of occasions and has engaged in extensive consultation with a range of representative organisations and individuals with knowledge and expertise in the area, both in Ireland and abroad. Further consultation, research and discussion is required on the issues arising. I understand that the group hopes to report by the end of February 2011.

International Agreements

Jack Wall

Question:

95 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection if Ireland has any agreements with Canada regarding social payments; if not, if there are plans to do so and if there is a time scale regarding such an agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4325/11]

A bilateral Social Security Agreement between Ireland and Canada came into force in January 1992.

The main purpose of the Agreement is to protect the pension rights of people who have worked in Ireland and who have worked or resided in Canada.

For example, if you do not have enough contributions paid or credited to qualify for an Irish pension, based on your Irish record alone, then periods of social insurance and/or residence in Canada may be counted to help you qualify for an Irish pension.

Likewise, if you do not have sufficient periods of social insurance/residence in Canada to qualify for a Canadian pension, reckonable Irish social insurance contributions may be counted to help you qualify for a Canadian pension.

The Agreement also deals with the Social Security status of workers who are sent on temporary assignments from Ireland to Canada.

Social Welfare Appeals

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

96 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will, in the course of current appeal take into account the compelling evidence submitted by an organisation in the case of a person (details suppled) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4356/11]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an oral hearing of this case took place on 11 January 2011 and the Appeals Officer is now considering the appeal in the light of all the evidence submitted, including that adduced at the oral hearing. The additional evidence received by the Appeals Office on 24 January 2011 will also be considered by the Appeals Officer.

The person concerned will be notified of the Appeals Officer decision when the appeal has been determined. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Benefits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

97 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection when basic payment will be made in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4363/11]

The HSE has advised that the person concerned was refused a basic weekly payment under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme as he was not considered habitually resident in the State, a decision that was upheld by the Appeals Office in the HSE.

This decision was then appealed to the Social Welfare Chief Appeals Officer. The person concerned will be notified of the outcome of this appeal in due course.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

98 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the extent to which his reduced income was taken into account in the determination of his entitlement to jobseeker’s allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4365/11]

The person concerned has re-applied for jobseeker's allowance with effect from 24th January 2011. His application is currently being processed and he will be notified of the outcome as soon as possible.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

99 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the period of unemployment and receipts of social welfare payment in the period 2004 to 2006 in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4369/11]

During the period in question the person concerned was paid jobseeker's allowance from 6th March 2006 to 27th January 2007 and received a total payment of €7,333.30.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

100 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection when he expects to reach a conclusion in respect of entitlement to child benefit claim in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4375/11]

Correspondence issued to the Lithuanian authorities on 12 October 2010 in relation to the person concerned, querying her entitlement to family benefits in that State as her son now resides there. No reply has been received to date, but based on experience of this type of case a reply from the Lithuanian authorities could take between 3 and 6 months.

On receipt of a reply from the Lithuanian authorities entitlement to Child Benefit will be examined and the person concerned will be notified accordingly.

Noel Ahern

Question:

101 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will clarify his policy of considering ex-taxi drivers for jobseeker’s allowance; if it is policy to request them to surrender their PSV licence; the reason for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4390/11]

Self-employed people, including taxi drivers, can apply for the means-tested jobseeker's allowance if their business ceases or if they are on low income as a result of a downturn in demand for their services. If a taxi driver has ceased operating in the taxi business completely, the Department requires a letter from the Taxi Regulator confirming that the customer has surrendered his or her PSV licence. This is required, along with other evidence, so that the Department is satisfied that the customer is no longer receiving an income from self-employment in the taxi business.

If a self-employed customer is still trading as a taxi driver he or she does not have to surrender the PSV licence in order to claim jobseeker's allowance. Means from self-employment will be assessed to determine the level of jobseeker's allowance paid to the person. It is recognised that the present downturn in the economy is having a significant impact on many self-employed persons and the consequent reduction in their income and activity levels would be reflected in any assessment of their means from self-employment for jobseeker's allowance purposes.

If a self-employed person's situation changes after they have made an initial claim for jobseeker's allowance, the person can apply to have his or her means reviewed in the light of these changed circumstances.

Information on social welfare entitlements, including for self-employed people, is set out on the Department's websitewww.welfare.ie.

Social Welfare Appeals

Richard Bruton

Question:

102 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Social Protection the length of time it is taking to determine appeals of carer’s allowance cases (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4456/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was received in that office on 21 December 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 average waiting time in carer's allowance cases decided by way of a summary decision is 26.9 weeks, while the average time to process an oral hearing in carer's allowance cases is 47.3 weeks. These processing times are calculated from the registration date of the appeal to the date of its finalisation and include all activities during this period including time spent in the Department for comments by the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal put forward by the appellant and any further investigation, examination or assessment by the Department's Inspectors and Medical Assessors that is deemed necessary. A considerable period of time is added to the process when an oral hearing is required because of the logistics involved in this process.

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.

Departmental Staff

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

103 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of vacancies at each grade in his Department. [4471/11]

Since the moratorium on recruitment was introduced in March 2009, the only method of filling vacancies in the Department is through the redeployment and lateral transfer of existing civil and public servants. When staff become available from other Government Departments critical posts, not currently occupied, are prioritised and staff are assigned to those posts.

The number of staff employed in the Department has risen in the last two years as outlined in the table.

Year

Total Posts

1st Jan 2009

4,539

1st Jan 2010

4,733

1st Jan 2011

4,872

Electoral Management System

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

104 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he now accepts that the proposal in the 2007 programme for Government to establish an independent electoral commission will not be fulfilled by him; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3992/11]

The Programme for Government, agreed in 2007, contains a commitment to the establishment of an independent Electoral Commission. The renewed Programme for Government, agreed in October 2009, reaffirmed this commitment and identifies a range of responsibilities which the Commission will be mandated to fulfil.

An independent Electoral Commission will require new legislation for purposes of its establishment and to transfer to it a range of roles and responsibilities including those assigned to the Standards in Public Office Commission in electoral law, the roles and responsibilities of the Constituency Commission and roles and responsibilities currently assigned to me as Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. This will involve changes to over 20 primary acts and to the associated regulations. Towards implementing the Programme for Government commitments, and to assist in consideration of the issues involved, my predecessor as Minister commissioned a report by an expert group from University College Dublin. The report, entitled A Preliminary Study on the Establishment of an Electoral Commission in Ireland, was published for consultation in February 2009. The UCD study recommends that an Electoral Commission should be established through the enactment of an Electoral Commission Act. This Act would amend and consolidate the law in this area, bringing together in one Act the law relating to referendums and elections to local authorities, Údarás na Gaeltachta, the European Parliament, Dáil Éireann, Seanad Éireann and the office of President of Ireland. This would be a major task.

Many of the electoral reform issues that will come within the remit of an Electoral Commission were considered by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution, which published its report on the electoral system in July 2010. This report states that the Committee strongly supports the establishment of an independent Electoral Commission. The report represents a valuable input and is being taken into account in progressing work in this area.

A good deal of groundwork has been done to date in considering and identifying the approaches that may be taken and this should act as an important foundation in progressing the establishment of an independent Electoral Commission.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Jim O'Keeffe

Question:

105 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans to encourage a more widespread installation of carbon monoxide detectors in view of the fact that approximately 40 persons die every year here from carbon monoxide poisoning; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3993/11]

I refer to the reply by Minister of State John Moloney, T.D., in response to a Seanad Adjournment Motion on 12 January 2011 which sets out comprehensively the actions already in place and currently being undertaken in order to address the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning.

As indicated in that response, the Department is committed to a review of Part J of the Building Regulations, which deals with Heat Producing Appliances, later this year. As an integral part of the review, consideration will be given to whether, and in what circumstances, mandatory provision for carbon monoxide alarms might appropriately be included in the Building Regulations. The review of Part J will be the subject of a full public consultation process, as well as a Regulatory Impact Assessment, before any final decisions in the matter are made.

A research paper published in the Irish Medical Journal (volume 96, March 2003) found that 40 deaths per year in Ireland were attributed to carbon monoxide poisoning. The research was based on statistical sources relevant to the years 1992 to 1997. The deaths occurred as a consequence of carbon monoxide poisoning from a range of sources including house fires, the incomplete combustion of fuels from heating systems and vehicle exhausts.

The paper advocated a multi-dimensional approach to the prevention of carbon monoxide poisoning which would include the promotion of the use of CO detectors in a domestic setting, the proper installation and maintenance of combustion appliances and flues/chimneys in buildings, and education of the public and health professionals of the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning. All of these measures have been addressed as set out in the above mentioned reply to the adjournment.

The Department will continue to work closely with all other relevant Departments and agencies with a view to taking whatever further action is necessary and appropriate.

Local Authority Housing

Billy Timmins

Question:

106 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding housing (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4242/11]

Any person or household may apply to a housing authority for social housing support. In assessing whether an applicant requires such support a housing authority will take into consideration whether the applicant has available to them alternative accommodation that would meet their accommodation needs. If there is no alternative accommodation available to the applicant then the housing authority can, in consideration of all eligibility criteria, deem that they require social housing support.

Water Charges

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

107 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has sought or received a guarantee from the European Commission that his proposed model for domestic water charges which reportedly involves a free portion for each household is not in breach of the full cost recovery principle of Article 9 of the Water Services Directive considering that only Ireland’s established practice is exempt from that principle; if he has sought legal advice on the matter and if so, the nature of the advice received. [4285/11]

Work is being advanced in the Department on the preparation of draft legislation which will provide, inter alia, for the introduction of domestic water charges. The advice of the Attorney General will be obtained on all aspects of the draft legislation before it is finalised.

Housing Grants

Pádraic McCormack

Question:

108 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the allocation Galway city received in 2010 for the three housing repair grant schemes administered by Galway City Council, that is, the housing adaptation grant, mobility aids grant and housing aid for older people; the total allocation for Galway City Council and Galway County Council; the amount each council spent in allocating housing grants during 2010 and the amount, if any, returned to his Department at the end of the year. [4308/11]

The Housing Adaptation Grant Schemes for Older People and People with a Disability are funded by 80% recoupment available from my Department together with a 20% contribution from the resources of the local authority. Record Exchequer allocations totalling almost €80m were notified to local authorities under the schemes on 5 March 2010, giving a combined allocation of almost €100m. It is a matter for each local authority to decide on the specific level of funding to be directed to each of the various grant measures from within the allocations notified to them by my Department and to manage the operation of the schemes.

Details of the Exchequer allocations and recoupments to Galway County Council and Galway City Council for 2010 are set out in the following table:

2010

Exchequer Allocations

Amount Recouped

Percentage Recouped

Exchequer Allocation unspent

Galway City Council

981,333

381,975

39%

599,358

Galway County Council

1,900,000

1,755,000

92%

144,610

Electoral Management System

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

109 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding storage and disposal of the e-voting technology; the ongoing costs associated with storage; the extent to which any such storage costs have not been resolved in any particular case; if any effort is being made to dispose of the technology in the past three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4376/11]

Sean Fleming

Question:

121 Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the annual cost of storing the electronic voting machines and with respect to each location where they are stored, the number of machines in each location, the annual cost of the facility, the expiry of any rental or contractual on respect of the premises; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4448/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 109 and 121 together.

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

In considering options for disposal of the equipment, the priority is to pursue the most economically advantageous approach, with a view to achieving the maximum recovery of cost possible in the circumstances, consistent with environmental and other obligations. While proposals have not at this stage been invited in respect of the equipment, some expressions of interest have been received. In 2007, over 60% of the machines (4,762 in total) were moved from 12 local storage locations to a central facility at Gormanston Army Camp. One-off costs associated with the movement of these machines were €328,363.21. There are no ongoing rental costs in respect of the use of this property. Costs of €552.83 were incurred in 2009 in respect of equipment to monitor the environmental storage conditions at the Gormanston premises. A further 14 machines are held in the Custom House.

The remaining machines are stored at 13 local premises that were originally identified by Returning Officers for this purpose. It is intended that all machines will be removed from their present locations when arrangements for disposal are implemented. Work on termination of local lease arrangements is proceeding in this context.

The table, which is based on information received in the Department from Returning Officers, provides details of the annual costs for storage of the electronic voting equipment for 2009, and the lease arrangements for each property. Details of the number of electronic voting machines stored at each location are also included.

Figures for costs incurred by Returning Officers for the local storage of the electronic voting equipment in 2010 are currently being gathered and are therefore not yet available. Apart from these costs incurred by Returning Officers, a further €5,566 was expended in 2010 in relation to work undertaken on behalf of the Department by DTZ Sherry Fitzgerald in respect of the negotiation of local lease arrangements.

Storage of Electronic Voting Equipment

City/County

Number of machines

Storage Costs 2009 (incl. VAT)

Period of Lease Contract / Expiry Date

Cavan-Monaghan

280

21,754.32

25 years/February 2029

Clare

200

3,600.00

3-Monthly

Donegal

294

13,005.60

6-monthly

Galway (equipment stored in Castlebar, Co. Mayo)

310

2,800.00

Annual

Kerry

310

30,387.20

9 years 11 months/September 2013

Laois-Offaly

219

27,797.60

6-monthly

Longford

95

16,638.37

6-monthly

Roscommon

137

11,098.07

6-monthly

Louth

179

568.55

Not Applicable (State-owned property)

Meath

234

26,395.72

9 years 9 months/March 2012

Sligo

129

Nil

Not Applicable (State-owned property)

Leitrim

101

3,200.00

3-monthly

Wexford

240

25,277.71

Monthly

Total

182,523.14

Departmental Funding

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

110 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has issued instructions to the various local authorities the result of which is review of contracts already entered into in respect of water, sewerage or housing schemes being deferred; the degree to which this is likely to delay investment in infrastructure; the extent, if known, to which this is likely to postpone remedial or upgrading works necessary to prevent the issue of pollution of ground water, rivers, streams and lakes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4377/11]

The Department has not issued any instructions to local authorities to review any contracts already entered into in respect of water, sewerage or housing schemes.

Social and Affordable Housing

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

111 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of houses currently held by voluntary agencies under the capital allowance scheme; if he is satisfied that rent reviews and other obligations have been complied with annually in all such cases; the action that is contemplated to ensure that all statutory requirements are met when and as necessary in respect of such schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4379/11]

In the case of standard accommodation provided under the CLSS, tenants are drawn from the local authority housing waiting list and rents are largely based on the local authority Differential Rents Schemes. Under the CLSS, the application of the rent formula as set out in the scheme may be modified, at the discretion of the approved housing body, in particular respects where they consider this appropriate. Rent payable under the scheme to an approved housing body, by a tenant, is based on household income in the previous tax year. Where this would result in hardship arising from a fall in income due to loss of employment, disability etc, the rent may be adjusted accordingly.

In the case of accommodation provided under the CAS, rents are charged at a reasonable rate having regard to tenants' income. In a case where the approved housing body contributes a minimum of 5% of the capital cost of a CAS funded project, the approved body may retain nomination rights for up to 25% of the units. In these circumstances, the normal landlord/tenant arrangements, including in relation to rent, apply.

The local authority has an overall responsibility to ensure that approved housing bodies comply with the requirements in relation to letting policy, as set out under the funding schemes, including the requirement for prior consultation and agreement on letting policies for each new project.

National Housing Survey

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

112 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of unoccupied houses available for sale or letting throughout the country in the private sector including incomplete developments on a county basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4380/11]

The National Housing Development Survey database, published in October 2010, established an authoritative baseline analysis of unfinished housing developments to assist in fully understanding the scale and extent of the issues involved; the analysis is informing the work of the high-level Expert Group on Unfinished Housing Developments established in November 2010.

A total of 2,846 developments were inspected where construction had commenced but had not been completed, and these included over 180,000 housing units with planning permission. Of these some 120,000 have begun or progressed through construction, while work has yet to commence on 60,000. Of the 120,000 dwellings, some 77,000 are complete and occupied; 23,000 are complete and vacant; 10,000 are near complete; and a further 10,000 dwellings are at various early stages of construction activity.

The content of the baseline National Housing Development Survey database is available in tabular form on a county by county basis, together with the methodology employed in conducting the survey, on the Department's website —www.environ.ie.

Water Supply

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

113 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding the augmentation of the domestic drinking water supply throughout Leinster with particular reference to storage, treatment and pumping facilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4381/11]

My Department's Water Services Investment Programme 2010-2012, which is available in the Oireachtas library, sets out the plans for investment in major water services projects, including wastewater treatment schemes, in order to meet key environmental and economic objectives over that period. The transposition of the Water Framework Directive in 2003 strengthened the catchment based approach to water management with the establishment of eight River Basin Districts on the Island of Ireland to provide a more coordinated delivery of water services. Leinster is served via three separate River Basin Districts — Eastern, South Eastern and Shannon. Contracts under construction, due to commence and schemes in planning are presented in a river basin district format in the Water Services Investment Programme 2010-2012. Details of contracts and schemes by water services authorities are also available on the Department's website (www.environ.ie).

Emergency Planning

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

114 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the action he proposes arising from lessons learned during the severe weather conditions of this winter with particular reference to issues for which he has responsibility; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4382/11]

A process to review the response to the latest exceptional severe weather began on 12 January 2011. The primary objective of this latest review is to enable a quick identification of lessons which should be learned — what worked successfully and what needs improvement, so that organizations/ agencies are facilitated to consolidate and further enhance preparedness and the response process. This latest report is intended to build on, and incorporate issues from, reviews of previous severe weather emergencies, including the flooding of November 2009 and severe cold weather of January 2010. Many learning points and changes were implemented from those earlier experiences, and were used to good effect in the latest severe weather response. Among the areas I refer to are the enhanced integration of public transport with the response effort, new salt supply/ management arrangements operated by the NRA and local authorities, more developed arrangements for community involvement in the response and an enhanced approach to the provision of public information.

The two-stage review of the latest severe weather response takes account of the lessons learned and changes implemented from the November 2009 and January 2010 experience. Headline conclusions will be available for consideration by the relevant agencies involved in the response effort before the end of January 2011, while a more detailed review report will be completed by mid-March 2011.

Air Pollution

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

115 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the extent to which excessive air pollution has been identified at any of the locations monitored in County Kildare; the action proposed or taken as a result of detection of excessive pollutant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4383/11]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

116 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the extent to which air pollution as monitored at the various vantage points throughout the country has given indication of high levels of any particular of pollutant; the action or actions arising in any such case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4384/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 115 and 116 together.

The monitoring, assessment and management of ambient air quality in Ireland is carried out according to the requirements of the EU Air Quality Framework Directive. This Directive was transposed into Irish law through the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 (Ambient Air Quality Assessment and Management) Regulations 1999. Under further regulations made in 2002, 2004 and 2009, specific ambient air quality standards have been prescribed for the following pollutants:

sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and oxides of nitrogen, particulate matter and lead (2002);

carbon monoxide and benzene (2002);

ozone (2004); and

polyaromatic hydrocarbons, arsenic, nickel, cadmium and mercury in ambient air (2009).

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has responsibility for the monitoring of Irish air quality. The EPA continually monitors a range of atmospheric pollutants via a network of air quality monitoring stations located around the country.

The EPA reports the results of the air quality monitoring of the above pollutants on its website at:http://www.epa.ie/whatwedo/monitoring/air/data/. My Department keeps these data under ongoing review to identify any significant trends which might emerge and also meets periodically with the EPA on air quality issues.

The EPA also publishes a comprehensive annual report on air quality, the most recent being Air Quality in Ireland 2009 — Key Indicators of Ambient Air Quality (November 2010). This report provides an overview of ambient air quality trends in Ireland in 2009 based on data from 28 monitoring stations. Of these, 25 were fixed continuous-monitoring stations with a further 3 sites being visited by mobile monitoring units. Newbridge, Co Kildare, was among the locations visited by the mobile monitoring units and no exceedance of statutory limit values was recorded for any pollutant. In addition to the monitoring stations above, there were a further 15 monitoring stations operated by local authorities measuring black smoke. The report confirmed that air quality was generally good at monitoring stations throughout the country.

The report found that levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter (PM10 ) remain a concern in larger cities owing to traffic levels. Elevated levels of nitrogen dioxide were recorded at the monitoring station at Winetavern Street in Dublin City Centre in April 2009. The EPA has advised that this was most likely due to meteorological factors rather than any significant increase in emissions. The Department has met with the EPA, Dublin City Council and the Health Service Executive to discuss this issue, and the four Dublin local authorities are now preparing an Air Quality Management Plan under Section 16 of the Air Quality Standards Regulations 2002 to address this. This plan is expected to be completed by December 2011. Provisional data indicate that levels of nitrogen dioxide in Dublin measured during the first 9 months of 2010 are below the statutory limit value.

In addition to these structured arrangements for air monitoring, the EPA may also from time to time engage in additional air quality monitoring in specific locations where this is considered necessary. In the context of its role as the licensing authority for the landfill facility at Kerdiffstown, Naas, the Agency has installed a continuous monitoring station at Kerdiffstown House providing hourly feeds of data. I understand that the results to date from such sampling, which are also shared with the Health Service Executive, are within the relevant thresholds.

Waste Management

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

117 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his policy on waste management, the use of landfill, incineration or other means of waste disposal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4385/11]

It is the role of the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and the Government collectively to set the national waste management policy framework. This process is informed by domestic policy goals, EU and wider international policy and practice, and EU legislation and commitments, particularly the revised Waste Framework Directive and the associated waste hierarchy set out in Article 4 of the Directive.

Building on engagement with key stakeholders, the goal is to ensure that waste management policy represents a balanced approach to the delivery of optimum environmental and economic performance, and protects health and minimises the risk of environmental pollution. In that context, the Government is determined to pursue a sustainable, resource-based approach to waste management. This involves a shift in focus from traditional residual waste management options, such as landfill, to technologies which can maximise the energy or material value to be extracted from what should be viewed as a resource rather than as a waste. This is the direction outlined in the draft statement of waste policy published for consultation in July 2010 and in respect of which submissions received are currently under consideration.

Social and Affordable Housing

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

118 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if the full details of changes to the tenant purchase scheme for local authority tenants are available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4408/11]

I refer to the reply to Question No. 796 of 12 January 2011, which outlined the current position on this matter.

Planning Issues

Phil Hogan

Question:

119 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 362 of 18 January 2011, in the context of his reply, if he is prepared to seek information from local authorities in respect of difficulties in the implementation of part five agreements in the Planning and Development Act 2001 for properties in receivership; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4412/11]

While the operation of Part V is a matter for local authorities, I have asked my Department to identify, through contact with the City and County Managers Association, whether specific implementation issues have recently arisen.

Water and Sewerage Schemes

Emmet Stagg

Question:

120 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has received the revised contract documents for the Castlewarden to Ballygoran water supply scheme in County Kildare. [4439/11]

The Kildare Water Supply Scheme Phase 2 (Castlewarden to Ballygoran) is included in the Water Services Investment Programme 2010-2012, as a scheme to advance through planning during the period of this Programme. I understand that Kildare County Council will shortly be submitting the contract documents for the scheme to the Department.

Question No. 121 answered with Question No. 109.

Foreshore Leases

Pearse Doherty

Question:

122 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the date the proposed lease (details supplied) in respect of reclaimed foreshore at Burtonport Harbour will be transferred to Donegal County Council; his views on the length of time this lease has taken to be issued in view of the fact that this issue had been agreed more than eight years ago and that a European grant of €465,000 has been lost to the development of a marina due to time elapsing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4452/11]

Donegal County Council only recently accepted the valuation terms offered by the Department for a 99 year lease of the foreshore in question. The Department has instructed the Chief State Solicitors Office to finalise drafting of the lease.

The Department understands from Donegal County Council that the provision of EU funding for marina development was not or is not conditional on the grant of a foreshore lease at Burtonport Harbour.

Turbary Rights

Denis Naughten

Question:

123 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 795 of 12 January 2011, the provision made in the 2011 Estimate to compensate turf cutters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4454/11]

Provision to meet costs arising from the acquisition of turbary rights and freehold under the voluntary bog purchase scheme, together with compensation for commercial and domestic turf cutters who have been obliged to cease activities within designated bogs, will be included in the Revised Estimates for 2011, and supplemented as necessary by support from the Environment Fund over the coming year.

Fishing Licences

Joe McHugh

Question:

124 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the position regarding the withdrawal of licences for native oyster fishing in the Swilly Estuary, County Donegal; the reason the licences have been withdrawn; the identities of the persons or organisation who made the decision; if appeal avenues are open to the affected fishermen; the penalties for non-compliance; the compensation avenues open to affected parties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4300/11]

As the Deputy may be aware, Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) is responsible for issuing oyster fishing licences, in accordance with the Section 278 of the Fisheries (Consolidation) Act 1959, as amended.

By way of background, I am advised that Lough Swilly is a Natura 2000 site. It also contains a wild oyster fishery. The assessment of the fishery and its compliance with the Habitats Directive as transposed by the European Communities (Natural Habitats) Regulations 1997 (S.I. No. 94 of 1997) is, I understand, to be undertaken this year by the Marine Institute on behalf of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government. Therefore as of now, no appropriate assessment of the potential impact of the oyster fishery on the protected habitat has taken place.

Licences are issued annually upon receipt of applications. There is no question, therefore, of withdrawing licences. Pending the outcome of the assessment and in view of the need to ensure than no intensification of the wild oyster fishery takes place in the meantime in Lough Swilly, the number of licences that will be issued by Inland Fisheries Ireland for the first part of 2011 will be limited to no more than the average number of licences issued for the past five years.

Penalties for non-compliance with the conservation measures of the Fisheries Act are set out in Section 277 of the Fisheries (Consolidation) Act 1959 as amended in this regard.

Telecommunications Services

Jack Wall

Question:

125 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the position regarding the roll-out of broadband in the south Kildare area; when and if the national roll out will cover areas (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4248/11]

The provision of telecommunications services, including broadband services, is a matter for private sector service providers operating in a liberalised market regulated by the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg). Broadband services are provided by private service providers over various platforms including DSL (i.e. over telephone lines), fixed wireless, mobile, cable, fibre and satellite. Service providers' decisions to provide broadband services in areas are taken on the basis of commercial viability. Such decisions are matters for the service providers concerned.

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

EU State Aid and competition rules govern how states can intervene in areas where there are existing service providers operating. Accordingly, the NBS is prohibited from providing a service in served areas where to do so would give rise to an unacceptable level of market distortion.

The mapping exercise undertaken by my Department at the time of designing the NBS found that a number of broadband suppliers were already active in the areas referred to in the Deputy's Question and consequently the localities were excluded from the scheme. In order to comply with EU Commission State Aid rules, any market interventions by Government must be technology neutral and cannot specify a particular form of technology.

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

The European Commission has set aside a portion of the European Economic Recovery Programme (EERP) funding for rural broadband initiatives. Using this funding, which will be augmented by an Exchequer contribution, I intend, subject to Government approval, to formally announce the launch of a Rural Broadband Scheme before the end of the year. This scheme will aim to provide a basic broadband service to individual un-served rural premises outside of the NBS areas.

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

ComReg's websitewww.callcosts.ie provides detailed information on the various private sector telecommunications products and services available on a county by county basis including County Kildare.

Dinny McGinley

Question:

126 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if his attention has been drawn to the difficulties experienced by subscribers in the Drumkeen area, County Donegal regarding the provision of broadband and the plans that are in place to ensure that this service is provided to Drumkeen. [4313/11]

The provision of telecommunications services, including broadband services, is a matter for private sector service providers operating in a liberalised market regulated by the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg). Broadband services are provided by private service providers over various platforms including DSL (i.e. over telephone lines), fixed wireless, mobile, cable, fibre and satellite. Service providers' decisions to provide broadband services in areas are taken on the basis of commercial viability. Such decisions are matters for the service providers concerned.

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

EU State Aid and competition rules govern how states can intervene in areas where there are existing service providers operating. Accordingly, the NBS is prohibited from providing a service in served areas where to do so would give rise to an unacceptable level of market distortion.

The mapping exercise undertaken by my Department at the time of designing the NBS found that a number of broadband suppliers were already active in the area referred to in the Deputy's Question and consequently the locality was excluded from the Scheme. In order to comply with EU Commission State Aid rules, any market interventions by Government must be technology neutral and cannot specify a particular form of technology.

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

The European Commission has set aside a portion of the European Economic Recovery Programme (EERP) funding for rural broadband initiatives. Using this funding, which will be augmented by an Exchequer contribution, I intend, subject to Government approval, to formally announce the launch of a Rural Broadband Scheme before the end of the year. This scheme will aim to provide basic broadband service to individual un-served rural premises outside of the NBS areas.

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

ComReg's websitewww.callcosts.ie provides detailed information on the various private sector telecommunications products and services available on a county by county basis including County Donegal.

Grant Payments

Michael Creed

Question:

127 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the situation regarding the repayment of REP scheme 3 funding in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork arising from a successful appeal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4239/11]

The persons named joined REPS 1 on 1 January 1997 and received three years payment. The persons named failed to lodge their 4th year application for payment and their contract was terminated and full recoupment sought.

An application to withdraw from the scheme underForce Majeure (regarding ill health) was applied for on 3 August 2001. The Department were unable to apply Force Majeure at that time. Further medical evidence dated 1 June 2010 was received. The Department continued to seek recoupment of monies paid.

The persons named appealed this decision to the Agricultural Appeals Office on 10 August 2010. The Agricultural Appeals Office allowed the appeal. All monies recouped under the REPS 1 were refunded to the persons named on 18 January 2011.

Michael Creed

Question:

128 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the position regarding the single farm payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4240/11]

Michael Creed

Question:

129 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason persons (details supplied) in County Cork did not receive grant aid towards their dairy enterprise in 2010 as all other dairy producers did; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4241/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 128 and 129 together.

Further to my reply of 12 January 2011, I can confirm that an official of my Department did make contact with the person named. I can also confirm that the appeal by the person named against the proposed REPS penalties has been successful, as a result of which all monies recouped have been refunded. In this regard, I can confirm that the payment due to the person named under the Dairy Compensation Scheme was included in recent payments.

John Cregan

Question:

130 Deputy John Cregan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a single farm payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [4249/11]

An application under the 2010 Single Payment Scheme was received from the person named on 17 May 2010. The person named submitted an application with 19 land parcels, 5 of which required re-digitisation. Payments issued to the person named on the basis of the land parcels clear for payment on 18 October 2010 and 1 December 2010 respectively. My Department has now completed the re-digitisation process of the remaining parcels. The Single Payment Scheme application is currently being further processed with a view to a final balancing payment issuing in the near future provided no further errors are identified.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

131 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason a person (details supplied) in County Galway has not received their single farm payment and if entitlements from the national reserve have been assigned to them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4290/11]

In 2005, the person named established 36.39 Single Payment Entitlements to the value of €5,588.41 and received payment under the 2005 and 2006 Single Payment Scheme.The person named did not declare any land on a Single payment application form during the years 2007, 2008 or 2009. One of the requirements of the Single Payment scheme is that entitlements must be used in full at least once during a 3 year period, otherwise unused entitlements are permanently lost to the National Reserve.

A letter issued to the person named on 25 January 2010 informing her that due to non usage her entitlements had now expired and were being lost to the National Reserve. She was offered an opportunity to appeal this decision to my Department and include any extenuating circumstances which may have prevented her submitting Single Payment application forms as required.

To date no appeal has been received by my Department.

Bobby Aylward

Question:

132 Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when single farm payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [4292/11]

An application under the 2010 Single Payment Scheme was received from the person named on 17 May 2010. The 50% advance payment under the Single Payment Scheme, which issued on 18 October, the further 30% payment under the same Scheme, which issued on 1 December, and the 75% advance payment under the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme which issued on 21 September, were on the basis of those parcels cleared for payment at that stage, as a number of other land parcels listed on the application of the person named required re-digitisation. This process was recently completed, following which the balancing payments due under the Single Payment Scheme and the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme issued directly to the nominated bank account of the person named on 20 January and 26 January, respectively.

Farm Waste Management

Jimmy Deenihan

Question:

133 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason persons who have qualified for the farm waste management grant are still awaiting 20% of the grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4304/11]

My Department has now paid out the final instalment of 20 per cent to all approved applicants for grant-aid under the Farm Waste Management Scheme. I have also announced that a special ex-gratia payment not exceeding 3.5 per cent of the value of the deferred amount will be made to farmers whose Farm Waste Management grants were partially deferred. This payment will be made in the early part of this year.

Departmental Schemes

Andrew Doyle

Question:

134 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the number of applicants to the agri-environment options scheme that have been approved to date; if it is envisaged that under the 2011 budgetary parameters this scheme will be expanded beyond this number and of so, to what extent; if the four year plan for his Department envisages an expansion of this scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4307/11]

Some 9,236 applications were received for the Agri-Environment Options Scheme in 2010 of which 8,404 have been accepted into the scheme. The processing of the remaining applications is at an advanced stage and applicants will be notified of the outcome shortly.

I have already announced my intention to reopen the scheme in 2011 to allow entry of up to 10,000 new applicants and a maximum payment of €5,000 per applicant.

For 2012 and following years decisions on the scheme will be made in the context of the annual Estimates process and the financial constraints of the National Recovery Plan.

Grant Payments

Michael Ring

Question:

135 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo can expect to receive the REP scheme 4 payment. [4314/11]

The person named commenced in REPS 4 on 1 December 2007 and payments have issued for 2007, 2008 and 2009. The 2010 REPS 4 application from the person named is currently under examination following a crosscheck with the 2010 Single Farm Payment application. My officials have been in contact with the REPS planner of the person named to resolve this issue.

Pat Breen

Question:

136 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when payment will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4407/11]

An application under the Single Payment Scheme/Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was received from the person named on the 17 May 2010. This application was selected for and was the subject of a Ground Eligibility and Animal Identification inspection.

The inspection process is complete and the application has now been fully processed. Advance payment under the Single Payment Scheme issued on 18 October 2010 and balancing payment issued on 1 December 2010

In relation to the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, the Terms and Conditions governing the Scheme require, inter alia, that applicants maintain a minimum stocking density on their holding of 0.15 livestock units per forage hectare declared, for at least three consecutive months, during the calendar year of application. However, where the holding of an applicant is identified as not meeting this minimum requirement, the person in question is invited to submit evidence of satisfactory stocking i.e. Flock Register, Horse Passports or details of a REPS or Commonage Framework Plan, which provides for a lower stocking level. My Department records currently do not show the person named as having yet achieved the minimum stocking density. On satisfaction of this requirement, the application will be further processed with a view to payment at an early date.

Harbours and Piers

Michael Ring

Question:

137 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will provide funding for a pier (details supplied) in County Mayo; if any funding has been requested to carry out works at this pier to date in 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4409/11]

The pier at Killerduff, Ballycastle Co. Mayo is owned by Mayo County Council and responsibility for its maintenance and development rests with that Local Authority in the first instance.

My Department has not received any request for funding from Mayo County Council for the current year in respect of the pier at Killerduff, Ballycastle Co. Mayo. Any future application made, will however be given consideration subject to the availability of exchequer funding and overall national priorities.

Grant Payments

Pat Breen

Question:

138 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when payment will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4410/11]

The person named has thirteen suckler cows for the 2008 Suckler Welfare Scheme. To date, payment has issued in respect of five of these animals. However, during the validation process, errors were identified in case of the remaining animals i.e. seven calves were not meal-fed for the minimum requirement of four weeks prior to the weaning date, while no weaning data has been provided in respect of the eight calf. While the person named has responded to my Department's correspondence regarding this matter, as the specific issues i.e. meal feeding and weaning, have not been addressed, further payments cannot issue. However, the remaining eight animals may be reconsidered for payment if the person named satisfactorily addresses the outstanding issues.

John O'Mahony

Question:

139 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive their full payment under single farm payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4411/11]

An application under the 2010 Single Payment / Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was received from the person named on 7 May 2010. A land parcel listed on the application required re-digitisation. Payments on clear parcels were made to the person named under the Single Payment Scheme on 18 October 2010 and 1 December 2010. My Department has now completed the re-digitisation process and a final balancing payment will issue shortly.

Willie Penrose

Question:

140 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the steps he will take to expedite REP scheme payment due to a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4422/11]

The person named commenced REPS 4 on 1 August 2008. REPS 4 payments have issued to the person named for 2008 and 2009. The REPS 4 2010 application from the person named has now been processed and payment will issue shortly.

Billy Timmins

Question:

141 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the position regarding payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4455/11]

An application under the 2010 Single Payment Scheme/Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was received from the person named on 17 May 2010. The 50% advance payment under the Single Payment Scheme, which issued on 18 October, the interim balancing payment which issued on 1 December and the 75% advance payment under the Disadvantaged Area Scheme which issued on 21 September, were on the basis of those parcels cleared for payment at that stage, as one of the land parcels listed on the application of the person named required re-digitisation. As this process has recently been completed, the application was further processed with the final balancing payments under both Schemes having issued in recent days.

Departmental Schemes

John McGuinness

Question:

142 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason a person (details supplied) in County Carlow was refused support under the agri-environment options scheme and if their case will be reviewed based on the fact that a genuine error was made in their application. [4458/11]

The person named submitted an application under the Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS) on 10 May 2010. One of the eligibility conditions for the AEOS is that applicants who have land designated by the National Parks and Wildlife Service as a Special Protection Area or a Special Area of Conservation must submit a sustainable management plan prepared by a planner with their application. As the person named has designated land on his holding but did not submit the required sustainable management plan he is ineligible for the scheme. The person named will be notified in writing of this decision shortly and will be informed of his right of appeal.

International Agreements

Jack Wall

Question:

143 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation if Ireland has any agreements with Canada regarding the provision of employment visas; if so the mechanism available to a person to make such applications, or if not, if there are any proposals to do so; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4327/11]

I can confirm to the Deputy that Ireland has a reciprocal arrangement in place with Canada under the Working Holiday Programme. The Working Holiday Programme provides young people with a once off opportunity to holiday for an extended period, not exceeding one year, and to engage in employment as an incidental aspect of their holiday in order to supplement their income while travelling. Participants under the Programme are not allowed to extend their stay for longer than 12 months and may not avail of a working holiday a second time.

Working Holiday Programmes are administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs so that applicants in Canada wishing to apply under the Working Holiday Programme should apply through their local Embassy or Consulate. Irish-based applicants should apply to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Outside of this arrangement, the normal employment permit requirements currently applicable to non-EEA nationals wishing to work in Ireland apply. Further information and the specific conditions for new employment permits can be found on my Department's website atwww.deti.ie.

Work Permits

Noel Ahern

Question:

144 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the position regarding a work permit (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4387/11]

My Department processes applications in respect of the different types of employment permits — Green Cards Permits, Work Permits, Spousal/Dependant Permits and Intra-company Transfer Permits. All applications are processed in line with the Employment Permits Act 2006.

I wish to advise the Deputy that it is current Government policy to issue new employment permits only in respect of:

highly skilled, highly paid positions or;

non-EEA nationals who are already legally resident in the State on valid employment permits or;

where there is an officially recognized scarcity of workers of a particular type or qualification.

A list of the ineligible job categories for employment permits is available at my Department's website atwww.deti.ie. The job category described as administrative positions is currently not eligible for the granting of new employment permits.

The Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform determines the immigration status of persons within the State and whether they can remain in the State. Persons in the State on a Stamp 3 visa are present in the State as a visitor. Accordingly, my Department is not in a position to consider employment permit applications from persons present in the state with visitor status, apart from applications received under the Spousal/Dependant Permit Scheme. Further information and the conditions that apply to the obtaining of new employment permits can be found at my Department's website atwww.deti.ie.

Grant Payments

Willie Penrose

Question:

145 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation if there are any start up grants available to a person who wished to engage in the insulation and or maintenance of windows and doors; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4421/11]

My Department does not provide direct funding or grants to businesses but provides funding to a number of State Agencies, including the County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) and Enterprise Ireland, through whom assistance is delivered directly to businesses. The CEB's unique role positions them as a first point of contact for persons wishing to set up in business. The promoter should in the first instance contact their relevant local CEB to discuss what options may be available to them and their proposed business venture. Contact details for each individual Board can be obtained through the CEBs' national website address atwww.enterpriseboards.ie.

To be eligible for CEB grant support an enterprise must be in the commercial sphere, must demonstrate a market for the proposed product/service, must have a capacity for growth and new job creation and must not employ more than 10 people. CEBs can provide both financial and non-financial assistance to a project promoter. The forms of financial assistance, which are available, subject to certain restrictions and conditions, include Priming Grants, Business Expansion/Development Grants, and Feasibility/Innovation Study Grants. The CEBs give priority to enterprises in the manufacturing or internationally traded services sector and must always give consideration to any potential for deadweight and displacement arising from a proposed enterprise. In addition, the CEBs deliver a range of non-financial supports to improve management capability development within micro-enterprises designed to help new and existing enterprises to operate effectively and efficiently so as to last and grow.