Written Answers

The following are questions tabled by Members for written response and the ministerial replies as received on the day from the Departments [unrevised].
Questions Nos. 1 to 10, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 11 to 28, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 29 to 38, inclusive, answered orally.
Question No. 39 answered with Question No. 34.

Intellectual Property

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

40 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the way he will support the development of an international content services centre as per the programme for Government; when this centre will be developed; when the national intellectual property protocol will be developed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5867/11]

TheGovernment for National Recovery Programme commits to examine how an International Content Services Centre could be developed to make Ireland a world leader in managing intellectual property. The concept of the International Content Services Centre involves establishing Ireland as a centre for funding, trading and distributing content and arranging the back office fulfilment for global traders in this field. It would require a sound regulatory environment, matched with appropriate infrastructure, technology and professional support.

Ireland has significant competitive advantages that make us well placed to develop such an International Centre. These strengths include:

Through the IFSC we have established a base of relevant skills and support services;

A large number of US MNCs already have operations in Ireland;

A modern statutory framework for IP;

A recently updated IP taxation regime;

We provide an English language location within the EU.

I plan to assemble key stakeholders to sketch out the steps needed to develop a robust proposition that would pass the necessary cost benefit tests required by the Programme for Government.

The attainment of a predictable, consistent and speedy intellectual property regime in Ireland is another, complementary goal. The main output to give effect to this aim will be the National Intellectual Property Protocol which provides clarity around expectations and terms and ensures efficient processes for the commercialisation of IP from publicly funded research.

To that end an Intellectual Property Implementation Group chaired by Dr. Jim Mountjoy and comprising technology transfer practitioners and industry representatives from various sectors is operating under the aegis of my Department, charged with the task of developing proposals for a more user-friendly system for industry to commercialise State-funded intellectual property and give Ireland a competitive advantage over many other countries. The desired outcome of the work of this group will be to ensure that all enterprises, from small businesses to multinationals, get appropriate access to intellectual property arising from Government funded research and can then use it to create jobs and drive our economic recovery.

Commercial Rent Reviews

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

41 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation when he, in conjunction with the Department of Justice and Law Reform will examine ending upward only rent reviews for existing leases; when they will meet to discuss same; the envisioned timeframe for the introduction of this legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5866/11]

Rental costs are an important factor for the competitiveness of businesses in the economy. Over recent years, upward-only rent reviews kept rents for many businesses at an artificially high level, despite the fall in property values and open market rental trends. Under the Land Conveyancing and Law Reform Act 2009, upward-only rent reviews were abolished for all new leases signed on or after 28th February 2010. Under Section 132 of the Act, rents can now decrease, remain the same, or increase if appropriate, on review.

The Land Conveyancing and Law Reform Act 2009 does not apply to the review of rent on contracts entered into prior to 28th February 2010. However, the Programme for Government expresses our intention to legislate to end upward-only rent reviews for existing leases. The question of legislating in respect of upward-only rent reviews comes within the remit of the Minister for Justice and Law Reform. I intend to have an early engagement with the Minister for Justice and Law Reform on this issue in advance of any legislative proposals.

Work Permits

Martin Ferris

Question:

42 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation if he will ratify the UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families; if he will change the employment permits system to grant permits to workers within designated job categories with the right to freely change employer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5880/11]

The UN Convention to which the Deputy refers comes within the remit of a number of Departments including Justice, Equality and Defence as well as Foreign Affairs and Trade. I understand that Ireland has not signed, nor has it any immediate plans to ratify the UN International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, adopted in December 1990. I understand also that, to date, no EU Member State has ratified this Convention. However the Deputy may wish to put down a separate question on this specific issue to the relevant Minister.

In response to the Deputy's question on the employment permits regime and the right to freely change employer, I would point out that such a change would represent a fundamental policy change in that, a core and crucial element of the current employment permit system is that it is vacancy-driven and job specific. Given the prevailing challenges in the domestic labour market, permits are issued only if the vacancy cannot be filled from within the EEA in respect of highly paid and highly skilled jobs. Prospective employers are required to carry out an extensive and expensive labour market needs test to justify the issue of permits to non-EEA nationals and it would be unfair if, having invested the time and expense involved, shortly after arrival that person were to take up employment with a different employer where no identifiable labour market shortage has been approved.

I believe that the current arrangements for changing employers after the initial 12-month period is, given the employment rights protections that apply, sufficiently flexible. A properly controlled employment permit system requires that permits be issued to a specific employee for a specific job with a specific employer.

Although employment permits are employer and location specific, it is the case that my Department currently makes best efforts to facilitate those who encounter difficult situations and who wish to change employers. In 2010, for instance, almost 1,200 new employment permits were issued in respect of employees changing to new employers. These permit applications were issued without regard to the normal requirements of advertising the position in daily newspapers and with FÁS.

Additionally, where individual instances are brought to the Department's attention, my Department considers such applications sensitively on a case-by-case basis. In such cases, the normal labour market economic needs test is dispensed with. That gives those individuals full and free access to all sectors of the labour market and to all employers. In 2010, a total of 92 such applications for new permits of this nature were received of which 70 were granted.

Enterprise Support Services

Denis Naughten

Question:

43 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the steps he will take to support enterprise development in the midland and western regions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5767/11]

The role of Government is to create the conditions where enterprise, entrepreneurship and innovation can flourish and quality employment opportunities can be grown and maintained. Two Industrial Development agencies under the aegis of my Department, IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland, together with the relevant County Enterprise Boards (CEBs) support enterprise development in the regions in question.

The primary role of IDA Ireland is the attraction of high quality Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to Ireland. An integral and fundamental element of this role is the agency's mandate to promote sustainable and balanced regional development. One of the high level goals of IDA's strategy "Horizon 2020 “ is that in the period to 2014, 50% of new FDI projects will be located outside of Dublin and Cork. To date in 2011, of the ten investments announced, four are located outside of Dublin and Cork. Three of these are located in the West Region and one in the Midlands. These announcements alone have the potential to create 190 jobs.

The marketing of individual areas for FDI and jobs is a day-to-day operational matter for the agency. While I may give general policy directives to the agency, I am precluded under the Industrial Development Acts from giving directives regarding individual undertakings or from giving preference to one area over others. However, I can say that the agency has invested heavily in the provision of property solutions tailored to meet the needs of investors and has developed a network of high-quality Business Parks in locations throughout both regions.

Considerable success has been achieved in attracting high quality investment to both regions. At present, there are a total of 115 IDA supported companies employing over 18,000 people between both regions. The key sectors of focus are life sciences, information and communications technologies and high value services activities. IDA has a good pipeline for 2011 and is hopeful of securing further investments across a number of locations.

Enterprise Ireland has a wide range of programmes to address the multi-disciplinary demands of entrepreneurship and the diversity of business types. The agency supports companies to achieve productivity gains, internationalisation and export growth. It assists with research and development, management skills acquisition, market information and seed and venture capital. Between the two regions, the agency has almost 700 clients employing over 17,000 people. In 2010, Enterprise Ireland-assisted companies created 457 new full-time jobs in the Midlands region and 786 in the West. In addition, over €23m was approved for the agency's client companies in the two regions.

During 2010, the CEBs in the two regions paid out over €2.3m in grant assistance to 207 clients. Of this, €1.1m was paid out to 101 client companies in the Midlands Region comprising counties Laois, Offaly, Longford and Westmeath. €1.2m was paid out to 106 client companies in counties Galway, Mayo and Roscommon which make up the West Region. This year, the CEBs are continuing to support enterprise development through the provision of both direct financial assistance (in the form of capital, feasibility and employment grants) and through indirect or "soft support" assistance such as management development, capability support and the development and delivery of activities to highlight and promote enterprise.

I am satisfied that the policies and initiatives being pursued by the Industrial Development agencies and the County Enterprise Boards will continue to bring about industrial development and employment opportunities for the regions.

Dessie Ellis

Question:

44 Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the way he will promote the development of the social enterprise sector as per the programme for Government; the role enterprise agencies will be given in encouraging the development of social enterprises; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5876/11]

The enterprise agencies under the aegis of my Department do not have a role in the provision of supports to social enterprise. The agencies are focussed on assisting enterprises in the commercial sphere to create employment through export led growth. In terms of promoting community activity and social enterprise, the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs has responsibility for the Rural Development Programme 2007 –13 and the Local and Community Development Programme. Responsibility for the Community Services Programme, which supports local community activity that addresses disadvantage, transferred from the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs to the Department of Social Protection in 2010.

Michael Colreavy

Question:

45 Deputy Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the way community employment and enterprise support functions are to be transferred from agencies to local government as per the programme for Government; the form this will take; the way these services will be administered; if the ultimate responsibility and accountability rest with him; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5863/11]

As Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation one of my main priorities is to ensure that the manner in which State support for enterprise activity, entrepreneurship stimulation and job creation is delivered, is properly targeted and is effective and coherent. I want to ensure that it is cost effective and that the resources available to the State are used to maximise business activity and sustainability across all sectors and to drive economic recovery.

Apart from the principal Enterprise Development Agencies i.e. Enterprise Ireland and the County and City Enterprise Boards, who report directly to my Department, there are other State Bodies, and organisations, providing a range of enterprise type supports. Notwithstanding the fact that each of these Bodies and organisations has a distinct client base the Programme for Government recognises that there is a multiplicity of enterprise and job support functions being carried out by various local, regional and national agencies. Therefore there is a need to streamline such functions, to increase shared knowledge capability and resources while saving on administration costs to ensure that duplication and overlap is avoided.

However in progressing any such streamlining it is essential that we do not compromise on service delivery to the end user. While unnecessary overlap or duplication must be eliminated, as Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, it is my priority to ensure that, above all else, there is a coherent and cohesive delivery of State support to the indigenous business sector based on clear enterprise policy principles laid down by my Department and to ensure that any structural or institutional changes do not compromise the State's support for indigenous businesses. I am engaging with my officials and other Government colleagues to determine the best way forward.

Employment Rights

Martin Ferris

Question:

46 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation his plans to strengthen the protections available for domestic workers against abusive employers; his plans to criminalise forced labour; if he plans to opt into Directive 2009/52/EC which provides protection for undocumented third party nationals against exploitative employers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5881/11]

I wish to advise the Deputy that Ireland's body of employment rights legislation protects all workers employed in Ireland in a contractual employer-employee relationship. This includes entitlement to applicable wages and conditions as well as the right to legal redress for possible infringements of employment law. Specifically, Section 20 of the Protection of Employees (Part-Time) Work Act, 2001 provides that all employee protection legislation applies to a person, irrespective of nationality or place of residence, who has entered into a contract of employment that allows them to be employed in the State.

For domestic workers, a voluntary Code of Practice for Persons Employed in Other People's Homes was developed under the Industrial Relations Act 1990. The Code seeks to set out certain employment rights and practices for persons employed in other people's homes and encourages good practice and compliance with the law in such employment situations. The Code has been cited by the international community, in the context of the current development of international labour instruments such as in the case of the preparation of an International Labour Office Convention and accompanying Recommendation on Decent Work for Domestic Workers, as an example of good practice in this area.

In terms of compliance with employment rights in the domestic work sector, Ireland is to the fore in that currently, the National Employment Rights Authority is undertaking a pilot programme to assess the level of compliance in the domestic work sector. This is being conducted in full consultation and with the positive co-operation of non-governmental organisations.

As regards the issue of forced labour, unlike employment law that is based on a contractual and consensual employer/employee relationship, forced labour is in the category of indentured labour, trafficking and slavery. These are offences that violate basic human rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. At national level, such protections fall to be dealt with by my colleague the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence in the context, inter alia, of the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008.

As regards Directive 2009/52, this falls also within the realm of the Justice and Home Affairs pillar of Community law. I am not in a position to respond to the Deputy in relation to these aspects of the question and I would suggest he put down a separate question to the Minister for Justice and Law Reform on the subject.

Official Engagements

Gerry Adams

Question:

47 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation if he has met with his counterpart in the Assembly; if he will be seeking a meeting with his colleagues in the Assembly in advance of and after the Assembly elections to discuss an all-Ireland enterprise policy; if he will be prioritising co-operation with his Northern counterparts to sell Ireland as a place for business; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5883/11]

As the Deputy is aware, the Northern Ireland Assembly was dissolved on 25 March, and elections to the Assembly are to be held on 5th May. It is of course my intention to meet with whoever is subsequently appointed as my counterpart in the Executive. I particularly look forward to my first formal working meeting in the context of the North South Ministerial Council in its Trade and Business Development format, which I will be chairing. This is likely to be held in June. In this format the Council oversees and develops the work of InterTradeIreland and encourages co-operation between enterprise agencies North and South.

InterTradeIreland was established under the Good Friday Agreement to exchange information and co-ordinate work on trade, business development and related matters in areas where the two administrations specifically agree it would be in their mutual interest. InterTrade Ireland’s remit is focussed on the indigenous enterprise sector, small and medium-sized companies, North and South. Its programmes and activities are unique in that they are implemented across two jurisdictions on an all-island basis. Its programmes cover All-Island Business Networks, Cross-border Trade, Micro Enterprise Support, Private Equity Awareness, Science, Technology and Innovation, All-Island Benchmarking, and Business and Economic Research.

The enterprise development agencies North and South of the Border have for many years co-operated where this has added value to their activities, and this collaboration has greatly increased in recent years. Enterprise Ireland, which stimulates the development of indigenous enterprise, has extensive contact with its Northern counterparts and works with them on a range of programmes. IDA Ireland collaborates with Invest Northern Ireland, for example, in the Northwest Now initiative. More recently, there have been very positive developments where a wide range of agencies and institutions now co-operate on science and technology issues, including participation in the EU Research Framework Programme.

The Government, along with the enterprise development agencies, will work diligently with the Northern Ireland Executive and its agencies to increase the economic benefits accruing from cross-border co-operation and the work of the North South Bodies.

Credit Availability

Pearse Doherty

Question:

48 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation when he will implement the temporary, partial credit guarantee scheme as provided for in the programme for Government; the time scale for the implementation, duration and cessation of this scheme; if there will be a cost of providing this insurance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5411/11]

The Government has published a comprehensive programme setting out its goals over the full range of policy concerns. The Government will address this programme over its term of office in a measured and prioritised way. The introduction of a temporary, partial credit guarantee scheme as provided for in the Programme for Government is currently under consideration. My officials are working with their colleagues in the Department of Finance, the Credit Review Office, Enterprise Ireland and Forfás to address access to credit issues for viable SMEs, including the option of a loan guarantee scheme to assist their working capital.

It is important, however, that any new initiatives complement, rather than substitute, the main banks' lending commitments and activities under the 2010 recapitalisation package and that they would represent value for money from the taxpayer's perspective. When the necessary detailed assessment work has been done, the Government will be in a position to decide on the cost and time scale for the implementation, duration and cessation of any proposed temporary, partial credit guarantee scheme and determine whatever legislative backing is required for any such scheme.

Job Creation

Brian Stanley

Question:

49 Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the sectoral initiatives that will be implemented in the domestic economy as per the programme for Government; the funding that will be dedicated to these sectoral initiatives; the time line for rolling out these initiatives; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5875/11]

Restoring confidence to the economy and facilitating the creation and retention of jobs will require a range of strategies, as set out in the Programme for Government. In addition to increasing our exports and continuing to attract investment from overseas, the Government recognises the importance of supporting companies trading in the domestic economy. In this context, the Programme for Government includes a commitment to develop initiatives in a number of sectors that will encourage job creation in the domestic economy. These include initiatives in the retail and SME sectors, ICT, agri-food, tourism, and green enterprise. The initiatives will be developed and implemented across a range of Government Departments.

For my own part, I intend to develop initiatives to target particular sectors where there is greatest opportunity to capitalise on the strengths of our enterprise base and our people. I have already started working with the enterprise agencies under my Department's remit to develop a Jobs Programme that will include the detail of these initiatives. The resources required for the sectoral initiatives which I am progressing will be considered in the course of their development. However, the initiatives will not necessarily require significant increases in public funding. There are ways in which we can do things better across Government to support businesses, reduce their costs, and restore consumer confidence.

My objective is to bring the detail of these initiatives to Government within the Government's first 100 days in office. Collectively, the actions taken across Government will stimulate the economy, facilitate enterprises and encourage job creation in both the domestic economy and the internationally trading sector.

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

50 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation when the 2011 jobs programme and the jobs fund will become operational; when businesses will be expected to be able to access the measures contained within the jobs fund as per the programme for Government; the way the many jobs envisioned will be created out of these measures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5858/11]

The Programme for Government outlines a number of measures which the Government will take to resource a Jobs Fund which will facilitate jobs growth and sustainable enterprise. Key elements of the approach will include:

providing resources for an additional 15,000 places in training, work experience and educational opportunities for those who are out of work;

cutting the 13.5% rate of VAT to 12% up to end 2013 to help labour-intensive economic activity;

halving the lower 8.5% rate of PRSI up to end 2013 on jobs paying up to €356 per week;

implementing a number of sectoral initiatives in areas that will create employment in the domestic economy;

initiating a long-term strategy to develop new markets in emerging economies;

securing additional resources for the national housing energy retrofitting plan, which will create jobs in the construction sector;

expanding eligibility for the back to education allowance; and

accelerating labour-intensive capital works, including in respect of schools and secondary roads.

The Taoiseach has indicated that the Government will introduce a Jobs Budget within its first 100 days in office to give effect to these, and other, growth strategies. These measures will be implemented across a number of different Government Departments. For my own part, I intend to develop initiatives to target particular sectors where there is greatest opportunity to capitalise on the strengths of our enterprise base and our people. I have already started working with the enterprise development agencies under my Department's remit to develop a Jobs Programme that will develop the detail of these initiatives.

I will also be working with my Government colleagues to address the cost of doing business and to further reduce the administrative burden on firms. Collectively, the actions taken across Government will stimulate the economy, facilitate enterprises and encourage job creation.

Public Procurement

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

51 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the way public procurement will be reformed to support innovative Irish firms and to allow greater access to Irish small and medium enterprises as per the programme for Government; the recommendations he has made to the Department of Finance on the reform of public procurement in order that contracts are tendered to allow SMEs greater access; when public procurement will be reformed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5870/11]

The Programme for Government includes a commitment to reform public procurement to support innovative Irish firms and to allow greater access to procurement by Irish small and medium sized businesses. While responsibility for public procurement policy is a matter for the Minister for Finance, my Department has a particular interest in this area because of the potential for SMEs to win a share of the public procurement market which is valued in the region of €14 billion per annum in Ireland.

In 2008, my Department established a Procurement Innovation Group, comprising representatives of industry, academia, Government Departments and State agencies to identify ways through which public procurement could be used to stimulate demand for innovative goods and services and ensure a level playing field for all innovative companies wishing to participate in public tendering. The Group reported in July 2009 and also publishedThe 10-Step Guide to Smart Procurement and SME Access to Public Contracts. The Guide provides practical advice to public bodies on measures which could boost the involvement of SMEs in public procurement.

In August 2010, new guidelines were issued by the Department of Finance to public contracting authorities, aimed at ensuring that their tendering processes operate in a manner that facilitates increased participation by SMEs, while ensuring that all purchasing is carried out in a manner that is legal, transparent, and secures optimal value for money for the taxpayer. The guidelines also highlight practices that can unintentionally hinder small businesses in competing for public contracts. The Department of Finance's 2010 guidelines reflect many of the recommendations made in the report of the Procurement Innovation Group.

My Department has recently engaged with the National Procurement Service (NPS) in relation to the availability of data on public procurement in Ireland, in particular in relation to quantifying the numbers of contracts which are being competed for, and won by, SMEs. The NPS is currently in the process of undertaking an overhaul of the eTenders portal system and has agreed to capture additional data as part of its upgrade to the system. As part of its engagement with my Department, the NPS has also agreed to carry out surveys in the coming months to ascertain the success rate of SMEs which apply for public contracts, and to identify some of the issues which may be a barrier to winning such contracts.

In parallel with the activity that has been taking place at Departmental level, Enterprise Ireland has established a Public Procurement Team to focus on procurement opportunities in Ireland and abroad for indigenous companies, and to accelerate knowledge within contracting authorities in the public service of the potential of these Irish companies. I have asked my officials to review the current status of the recommendations made by the Procurement Innovation Group and to report to me on any outstanding issues that need to be addressed to further facilitate access to public procurement contracts by Irish companies within the parameters of EU procurement rules. I will consult with the Minister for Finance — and other colleagues as necessary — on foot of this review.

Question No. 52 answered with Question No. 34.

National Minimum Wage

Gerry Adams

Question:

53 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation when the cut in the minimum wage will be reversed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5884/11]

Dara Calleary

Question:

56 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation if he has engaged with the retail and hospitality sectors on the issue of the minimum wage; and when he will legislate for the increase in the wage as per the programme for Government. [5787/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 53 and 56 together.

There is a commitment in the Programme for Government to reverse the recent cut in the national minimum wage. The national minimum wage was reduced with effect from the 1st February 2011 by order made pursuant to section 11(1) of the National Minimum Wage Act 2000, as amended by section 13 of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2010 which required that the Minister, by order, declare a national minimum hourly rate of pay of €7.65. The commitment to reverse the recent cut in the national minimum wage will require primary legislation. To this end, I intend to publish Heads of a Bill to give effect to this commitment before 31 May next.

The wage rates applicable in the retail grocery and hospitality sectors are governed by the Joint Labour Committee system rather than the national minimum wage. In this context, an independent review of the JLC and REA mechanisms was initiated on 8 February 2011 last and is being undertaken jointly by Kevin Duffy, Chairman of the Labour Court acting in an ad hoc capacity and Dr Frank Walsh, School of Economics, UCD, under specific terms of reference. The review is a commitment under the EU/IMF programme, which provided not only for agreement on the terms of reference but also the programme of actions arising. I understand that submissions were received by the review team from representative bodies for the retail grocery and hospitality sectors.

The Terms of Reference for the review provide, inter alia, that the review shall provide an assessment of whether and to what extent the function played by Employment Regulation Orders in ensuring protection of minimum wages and conditions overlaps with that of the statutory national minimum wage system.

Job Creation

Seamus Kirk

Question:

54 Deputy Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the steps he is taking to create employment in County Louth. [5827/11]

Job creation is central to our economic recovery and the Programme for Government has job creation at its core. The role of my Department is to ensure that we have the right policies in place that will support and grow our enterprise base in order to facilitate both job creation and job retention.

The programmes supported by my Department and its agencies will be critical in achieving economic growth through promoting the export potential of enterprise in Ireland and driving our Smart Economy. The allocation of €508 million in funding for 2011 will ensure that the core programmes of the enterprise agencies are sustained and targeted as well as driving investment in research and development. This investment in the enterprise development agencies will drive recovery in the economy by facilitating the winning of foreign direct investments, the growth of indigenous exports and the creation of sustainable jobs.

Enterprise Ireland will continue to support job creation through a number of interventions, such as supporting the establishment and growth of high potential start-up companies and supporting companies to target new opportunities in overseas markets. In 2010, Enterprise Ireland paid €6.4m to companies in Co. Louth in the Engineering, Food, Consumer Products and ICT sectors. At present, there are 181 Enterprise Ireland client companies in Co. Louth employing over 4,200 people. The agency has approved funding for six Community Enterprise Centres in Co. Louth, under the Community Enterprise Centre Scheme, amounting to €1.97m to date. Recently, Enterprise Ireland was involved with Louth County Enterprise Board in the recent ‘Enterprise Week' which was held in the first week in March.

Co. Louth has the largest concentration of IDA supported companies in the North East Region with more than 1,600 people employed in 23 companies. IDA Ireland is actively marketing Co. Louth for new inward investment, particularly the Gateway Town of Dundalk and also Drogheda. The region is being targeted by IDA for new investment in the Pharma, Clean Technologies, Globally Traded Businesses and Financial Services sectors.

IDA has developed a major land bank at Mullagharlin to the south of the town of Dundalk. This extends to 150 acres in two parcels of 110 acres and 40 acres respectively and is particularly targeted at Bio Pharma type activities for which the town is being actively marketed. In addition, there are two other business parks: the 20-acre Finnabair Business Park in Dundalk which has, in recent years, undergone major site development works to bring it up to "flagship"standard, as well as the 63 acre Business & Technology Park in Drogheda. IDA is also working closely with Dundalk Institute of Technology in the development of programmes for the changing needs of the overseas sector.

Since its inception in 1993 to end 2010, Louth County Enterprise Board has issued over €5.2m in grant assistance to almost 600 clients. In addition, there were more than 4,600 participants in CEB supported training programmes. At present, there are nearly 900 people employed in CEB-assisted companies in Co. Louth. I am satisfied that the policies and initiatives being pursued by the enterprise agencies and Louth CEB will continue to bring about industrial development and employment opportunities for Co. Louth.

Commercial Debt

Sandra McLellan

Question:

55 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation when the legally binding voluntary commercial debt plan structures will be introduced as per the programme for Government; the way these structures will work; the persons responsible for overseeing these structures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5872/11]

The Government has published a comprehensive programme setting out its goals over the full range of policy concerns. The Government will address this programme over its term of office in a measured and prioritised way. When the necessary detailed evaluation and consultation has taken place on legally binding voluntary commercial debt plan structures I will bring appropriate proposals to Government.

Question No. 56 answered with Question No. 53.

Grocery Industry

Brian Stanley

Question:

57 Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation when legislation to ban unfair trading practices in the retail sector will be introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5874/11]

I expect to shortly receive the report of the facilitator appointed to engage with the various stakeholders to explore the possibilities of agreeing a Voluntary Code of Practice to regulate relationships and practices in the Grocery Goods Sector. As soon as I have considered the report a decision will be made on any legislation that might be introduced.

Enterprise Support Services

Seán Crowe

Question:

58 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation if he will be conducting an examination into allowing entrepreneurs or business start-ups access to vacant or under-utilised public property as incubation centres; the persons who will be responsible for rolling out this programme; the conditions attached to this for persons or businesses seeking premises; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5865/11]

The enterprise agencies under the aegis of my Department currently have a range of initiatives for the provision of space for start-up companies. These include incubation centres, community enterprise centres and business innovation centres. There are currently 26 campus incubation centres facilities that are operational, including 5 bio-incubator facilities. At present, there are over 250 companies in incubation units in these centres, employing over 1,000 people and providing shorter-term hot-desk space for emerging entrepreneurs.

The Community Enterprise Centre Scheme has provided significant funding to facilitate the development of community enterprise centres, which are aimed at providing a physical and human support network for emerging entrepreneurs and micro-industry. Since the launch of the first scheme in 1989, €61.4 million has been approved for the development of Community Enterprise Centres and the schemes have aided the capital investment and management development of 134 centres, of which 105 have been completed. The remaining centres are either under construction or are recent approvals.

In addition, Business Innovation Centres located in Dublin, Galway, Cork and Waterford develop and manage incubation space to assist fledgling businesses start, establish and then to move on so that vacated space can be used for other new start-up businesses. The enterprise agencies keep the need for space of this type under review. Implementation of the actions in the National Recovery Plan are currently being considered.

Proposed Legislation

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

59 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation when he will introduce legislation to protect all small building subcontractors that have been denied payments from bigger companies; if this legislation will be supplementary to the Construction Contracts Bill 2010 or if it will replace same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5869/11]

The Government has published a comprehensive programme setting out its goals over the full range of policy concerns. The Government will address this programme over its term of office in a measured and prioritised way. In accordance with the Programme, consideration will be given to the introduction of new legislation to protect all small building contractors that have been denied payments from bigger companies.

The Deputy will be aware that the Construction Contracts Bill 2010 which was introduced by Senator Feargal Quinn passed Committee and Remaining Stages in the Seanad on 8 March. I understand that the Seanad debate highlighted a number of matters relating to the Bill that require further consideration. It would also be imperative that the full regulatory impact of such a piece of legislation be fully assessed. The Minister for Finance will now be examining the Bill and will then decide how best to proceed. It is important that a solution to this problem must not place an unnecessary regulatory or cost burden on the parties to the dispute, other parties involved in the project, or the State.

Payment terms in commercial transactions are determined by the parties concerned and the responsibility for the collection of those payments and general credit control rests with the selling enterprise, in the first instance. Legislation relating to prompt payments is within my responsibility. The issue of late payments in respect of contractors and sub-contractors is addressed by the European Communities (Late Payment in Commercial Transactions) Regulations 2002 (S.I. No. 388 of 2002). Regulation (2)(1) of the Regulations defines a "purchaser" as follows:

"(a) an undertaking which contracts with a supplier for the supply of goods or services to or on the directions of the undertaking, or

(b) an undertaking ("the main contractor")—

(i) which obtains goods or services from another undertaking to supply to, or

(ii) contracts with another undertaking for that undertaking to provide goods or services on behalf of the main contractor to an undertaking;"

In accordance with these Regulations, it is an implied term of every commercial transaction that where a purchaser does not pay for goods or services by the relevant payment date, the supplier shall be entitled to interest ("late payment interest") on the amount outstanding. Interest shall apply until such time, as payment is made by the purchaser. The current interest rate applicable is 8% per annum or 0.022% per day. This rate is set as at 1st January and 1st July each year at a rate of 7 percentage points above the European Central Bank interest rate on its most recent main refinancing operation.

In the absence of any agreed payment date between the parties, late payment interest falls due after 30 days has elapsed. The 2002 Regulations also provide for compensation for debt recovery costs. Greater use of these provisions would assist in achieving earlier payments. The enforcement of contractual rights, including any rights and obligations provided for by the Regulations, is a matter for individual suppliers. The Regulations do not provide for any enforcement role for my Department in respect of these matters.

Question No. 60 was answered with Question No. 34.

Departmental Bodies

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

61 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation when the business inspection and licensing authority will be set up as per the programme for Government; the persons who will be responsible for overseeing this authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5871/11]

I intend to have proposals for the establishment of BILA developed by the end of May. While the concept of a single licensing and inspection authority spans the remit of a number of Government Departments, I intend to initiate arrangements within my Department in the first instance and to build from there. I am currently appraising the core objectives, activities and structures of the Department and its Offices and Agencies with a view to putting in place a new strategy for the Department. It is my intention that structures would reflect this new strategy.

Businesses interact with regulatory authorities in several ways including requests for information, inspections, investigations and various forms of licensing. In the area of business regulation, one of the key aims of Government is to make compliance easier, simpler and less costly. Streamlining inspection and licensing services is one potential strand in an overall strategy to achieve this aim. The proposal for a business inspection and licensing authority provides a vehicle for imaginative and more effective resource sharing in this area. I believe that there are considerable gains to be made on the business licensing issue.

The ideal for small and large enterprises alike would be a common portal for licences and permits of various kinds. We are a long way from that ideal, not least because of the structures and the proliferation of agencies that have been put in place, particularly over the past decade. However, there may be practical and tangible things that can be done in the meantime and I will be looking at these. If necessary, I will establish new arrangements on an interim basis in order to deliver benefits as soon as possible to businesses that are struggling to stay afloat, let alone cope with undue administrative burdens.

Innovation Fund

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

62 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation if he will continue to support the innovation fund established by Fianna Fáil in government. [5794/11]

Innovation Fund Ireland is part of a suite of policy initiatives to position Ireland as a Global Innovation Hub. The overall objective of the Innovation Fund is not just to increase the availability and diversity of smart capital for start-up and scaling firms, but also to transform the market by attracting top tier fund managers to Ireland and support the further development of the venture capital sector. The objectives of Innovation Fund Ireland are consistent with the commitments laid out in the Programme for Government for the development of a more dynamic venture capital industry in Ireland by seeking to attract top tier venture financing and investment companies to Ireland.

The €250 million available under the Fund will run along two parallel tracks. The first comprises a €125 million pool of funds provided by the Exchequer and managed by Enterprise Ireland. Successful applicants who receive an investment from Enterprise Ireland will have to commit to investing an equivalent amount in Irish companies or companies with substantial Irish operations over the lifetime of their fund. The second is for a similar amount, and is designed to allow Ireland's National Pension Reserve Fund (NPRF) to make a similar level of commercial investments assuming its criteria are met.

The first call for expressions of interest in Innovation Fund Ireland closed on the 26th November 2010. At present, Enterprise Ireland and officials from the National Pension Reserve Fund (NPRF) are in the process of concluding the evaluation of the 32 expressions of interest received, with a view to making a number of commitments to Venture Capital fund managers in the near term.

The funds will invest in Europe with a focus on Ireland. Over the lifetime of the funds, it is envisaged that the State will make a return on its investment. In terms of economic growth, where the Funds invest in Irish start-ups, scaling companies or companies with operations in Ireland, the State can expect to see an increase in employment; an increase in the number of high potential start-ups; the attraction of high potential start up and scaling European technology and life science companies requiring growth capital investment to Ireland and increased commercialisation of the ideas and R&D coming out of the Universities and Institutes of Technology. All of this will position Ireland as a centre for technology, life sciences and venture capital investment within Europe through multiple fund iterations.

Company Law

Denis Naughten

Question:

63 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation his plans to update the current partnership law; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5766/11]

The Company Law Review Group (CLRG) gave in-depth consideration, over a period of 4 years, to the reform of partnership law, in particular to the possibility of introducing Limited Liability Partnerships for accountants and solicitors. In general, the CLRG did not find any strong tide of opinion running in favour of introducing Limited Liability Partnerships. However, the Group did say that the issue warranted some further consideration and recommended that the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation and the Department of Justice, Equality & Law Reform should establish a committee, made up of representatives of both Departments and of the CLRG, the Irish Accountancy and Auditing Supervisory Authority and the Courts Service, to consider whether accountants and solicitors should be permitted to form Limited Liability Partnerships or companies. I understand that this committee will meet shortly.

In the meantime, there have been some changes to the overall position on liability. Section 44 of the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2008 provides that a solicitor may contract with a client to limit his/ her liability to that client. Furthermore, S.I. 220/2010, European Communities (Statutory Audits) (Directive 2006/43/EC) Regulations 2010, provides, among other things, for the removal of the prohibition on auditors incorporating as a limited liability company.

Census of Population

Clare Daly

Question:

64 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Taoiseach the role of CACI (UK) in the current census of population; the financial value of the contract; and the protection that exists for citizens regarding the data collected. [5942/11]

The census is a major undertaking for the CSO and contractors have been employed to assist with specialised parts of the work. For 2011 the contract for the design and print of the census forms, and the provision and on-site support of the hardware and software required for the scanning, capture and coding of the census forms was awarded to a UK company CACI (UK) Ltd. This company was first awarded the contract for the processing of the 2002 and 2006 censuses and more recently won the contract for Census 2011. Of the proposals assessed by CSO for 2011, CACI (UK) Ltd provided best value for money for the Irish taxpayer. EU rules do not allow bidders to be excluded because they are foreign companies. The printing of the census forms was sub-contracted by CACI (UK) Ltd. to a Dublin-based printer.

The CSO is aware of abuse allegations against the American parent company of CACI (UK) Ltd, namely CACI International. CACI (UK) Ltd. states that the allegation against CACI International was not substantiated by any evidence or proof at the time it was made, and subsequent investigations by both CACI International and the US Government could not confirm it. CACI International have stated publicly that they take this allegation extremely seriously, that they do not condone, tolerate or endorse any illegal behaviour by its employees in any circumstances or at any time and they have held in the past, and always will hold, themselves to the highest ethical standards.

As a public body the Central Statistics Office is clearly fundamentally committed to ethical and proper conduct in all matters and would never consider having any dealings with a company convicted of human rights abuse. EU procurement rules allow bidders to be excluded if they have been convicted of certain criminal or other offences but none of these exclusions apply to CACI (UK) Ltd. or indeed to its US parent.

Regarding the protection of census data, confidentiality is the cornerstone of all work conducted by the CSO. All information collected in the census is treated as strictly confidential by the CSO and will be used only for statistical purposes. This confidentiality is guaranteed by law. CACI (UK) Ltd's American parent company is not involved in any way in the preparation or delivery of systems for the Irish Census. All Census 2011 forms will be processed in the CSO census office located in Swords where all information is stored on a dedicated closed CSO network which is wholly owned by the CSO. At no time will any of the detailed census information be copied or otherwise removed from this network. All staff who are employed to work on the processing of the 2011 census data are signed-up as Officers of Statistics under the Statistics Act 1993 which legally prohibits them from divulging confidential statistical data of any sort. The penalty for breach of this provision of the Act is set at €25,000.

The CSO is the only organisation that will have access to identifiable census information relating to individuals or households. The CSO is justifiably proud of its unblemished record in protecting the confidentiality of data. It is one of their top priorities to maintain this record.

Clare Daly

Question:

65 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Taoiseach if he will furnish a breakdown of the employment status of those recruited to undertake the present census of population. [5943/11]

A total of 5,356 people have been recruited to assist with the field work on the 2011 census. All of the recruitment for the census field operation has been carried out by the CSO under licence by the Commission for Public Service Appointments and complies with their strict recruitment principles regarding fairness, equality, openness and transparency. The field staff can be divided into two separate types of contract, the field managers and supervisors, and the enumerators. The 490 census field managers are all employed full time on the census.

Some 4,866 census enumerators are engaged in a part-time capacity; on taking up employment as enumerators 3,074 people indicated that they were not in employment and 1,777 indicated some form of other employment. However it is important to note that all applicants for enumerator positions were assessed at interview on their availability for census work (given the need to make frequent calls to households at different times of the day); those in full-time work were assessed as having low availability and so would be unlikely to be offered enumerator positions ahead of other suitably qualified candidates. It is more likely that those in existing employment are working part-time elsewhere. Again it was not open to the CSO to exclude people on this basis. 734 enumerators indicated at interview that they were on the Live Register representing 15% of all enumerators.

Departmental Functions

Joe Higgins

Question:

66 Deputy Joe Higgins asked the Taoiseach the responsibilities and activities in his Department for which he is responsible to Dáil Éireann and which may be the subject of Taoiseach’s questions. [5803/11]

I am responsible to the Dáil for the general activities of my Department and parliamentary questions addressed to me must relate to public affairs connected with my Department, or to matters of administration for which I am officially responsible. However, there are specific activities undertaken by officials of my Department for which I do not have official responsibility e.g. decisions made in relation to freedom of information applications or matters concerning release of files under the National Archives Act.

I am also accountable to the Dáil in a limited way in respect of a number of State offices, for example, the legal offices of the State and the Central Statistics Office. By and large, I answer questions in the House in relation to matters of administration connected with those offices. Similarly, the nature of my responsibility to the House in respect of any Tribunal or Commission established "under the aegis" of my Department is confined primarily to the arrangements relating to their establishment and ongoing administration.

The specific nature of my accountability in respect of my Department and those bodies operating within its policy area has long been established by precedent in each case.

Census of Population

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

67 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Taoiseach the reason the unemployed were not given priority for census jobs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5581/11]

All of the recruitment for the census field operation is carried out by the CSO under licence by the Commission for Public Service Appointments and complies with their strict recruitment principles regarding fairness, equality, openness and transparency.

In making preparations for the recruitment of enumerators for the census, the possibility of giving preference to persons on the Live Register was actively examined by the CSO. However, in light of the need to conduct this recruitment within the strict recruitment principles that apply to all public sector appointments, in practice it has not been open to the CSO to discriminate in favour of any one group of people over another, be they on the Live Register or otherwise.

In selecting candidates for the positions of census enumerator, the CSO called over 15,500 people to interview and all applicants were assessed on the basis of their skills, abilities, and suitability for the post in question. The jobs were ultimately offered to the most qualified candidates. In excess of 700 census enumerators now working on the census indicated they were on the Live Register.

Official Engagements

Seán Kenny

Question:

68 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his recent visit to the United States for St. Patrick’s Day; the number of persons he met during the visit; the number of officials who accompanied him on the visit; and the cost of the visit to date. [5919/11]

I was in Washington from 15-18 March to attend the traditional St. Patrick's Day celebrations. During that time I met with a large number of groups and individuals from the worlds of politics, business and culture.

I held meetings with the President of the United States, the Vice President, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, the United States Treasury Secretary, Senator Patrick Leahy, the Chair of the Friends of Ireland, Peter King, Congressman Richie Neal, other members of the US Congress, the Governor of Maryland and the Governor of Virginia. I held my first formal meeting as Taoiseach with the First and deputy First Ministers of Northern Ireland, Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness, as well as informal discussions with other political leaders from Northern Ireland and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

I also met members of the Ireland America Economic Advisory Board and the Global Irish Network, as well as representatives of Irish artists who were performing in America as part of the Imagine Ireland programme. I addressed the American Ireland Fund National Gala and an event for Business Leaders which was part of an Enterprise Ireland trade mission. I was accompanied by my wife, as she was invited to the formal functions hosted by the President and the Vice President.

My delegation comprised a senior official from my Department, my special adviser, the current Government Press Secretary and his successor, my private secretary, my personal assistant and a security officer. The estimated costs of the visit are as follows:

2011

Sub-total

Total

Hotel

4,944

Car Hire

3,519

Other Costs

4,020

Gifts

1,776

14,259

Note: Other costs include: delegation office; photography; equipment and catering.

Passport Applications

Jack Wall

Question:

69 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs if the passport for a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will be considered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5655/11]

An Irish passport is valid for travel up until the date of expiry. However, some countries require a minimum validity on passports to enter their jurisdictions. The Spanish Embassy in Dublin has confirmed that an Irish passport is valid for travel to Spain and the Canary Islands until the date of expiry in the document. On the basis of the information provided the passport holder should have no difficulty in undertaking this trip.

Official Engagements

Seán Kenny

Question:

70 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will report on his recent visit to the United States for St. Patrick’s Day; the number of persons he met during the visit; the number of officials who accompanied him on the visit; and the cost of the visit to date. [5926/11]

St. Patrick's Day offers a unique opportunity to raise Ireland's profile, promote our interests overseas, to strengthen bilateral relations, provide support for Irish communities abroad and to deepen the connection with our Diaspora. This year St. Patrick's Day was a particularly valuable opportunity to begin the process of rebuilding Ireland's reputation overseas. I travelled to New York for a two day visit for St. Patrick's Day events before travelling on to Washington D.C. for a bilateral meeting with the United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

My programme was heavily focused on economic promotion. I addressed a business audience at the Ireland-US Council. I attended and addressed a joint Bank of America/Enterprise Ireland event focused on leading Irish portfolio technology companies and had an opportunity to brief senior executives in Bank of America on the Irish economy and the Government's plans for recovery. I also met with a range of Enterprise Ireland client companies. I also took the opportunity to deliver a strong economic message to large gatherings hosted by Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Cuomo.

I availed of several media opportunities throughout the visit to focus on delivering Ireland's key economic messages and outlining the policies of the new government. I did interviews with Fox Business News and with NBC, the Adrian Flannelly Show, Out of Ireland (TV show on PBS) and I also met with journalists from the visiting Irish media. While in New York, I met with various community groups including representatives of the Community Advice Centres from New York, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco.

I had a constructive meeting with representatives from the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR) and assured them of the Government's commitment to work on the bilateral E3 proposal. I welcomed the opportunity to work with the Irish American community to move forward together on the issue of immigration.

I had a very a useful meeting with representatives from the Irish American Lesbian and Gay community about a range of issues of concern to them. It was agreed by that we would stay in touch regarding these matters as well as the ongoing effort to resolve issues surrounding participation by the Gay and Lesbian community in the New York St. Patrick's Day parade.

I met with representatives of the GAA and was briefed by Larry McCarthy, President of the New York GAA, on the expansion of the game in the New York area and the wonderful success of individual clubs like Rockland GAA. I was pleased to join New York City Speaker Christine Quinn to launch a partnership initiative between the Irish Arts Centre, Imagine Ireland, Speaker Christine Quinn and the New York City Council, aimed at promoting Irish writing.

I travelled to Washington DC for a bilateral meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on 18 March. We discussed a broad range of foreign policy issues, including the ongoing situation in Japan and Libya as well as the wider situation in the Middle East. We also discussed the scope for co-operation on development issues. Ireland and the US have a shared priority in combating hunger and we have been able to work together in developing a strong partnership in the area of food security. I also raised the issue of immigration reform with Secretary Clinton and briefed her on the current situation in Northern Ireland.

I was accompanied on the visit by two officials from my Department. Details of costs, available to date, incurred by my Department in respect of official travel for St. Patrick's Day are set out in the following table. The total cost of the visit to date is €4,788.05.

Members of the delegation

Travel cost

Subsistence

Accom.

Other costs

Tánaiste & Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade, Mr. Eamon Gilmore

264.63(1)

N/A(2)

393.00(3)

PSM, Mr. Aidan Cronin

1,043.47(4)

N/A

393.00(6)

264.63(5)

207.00(7)

DG Anglo Irish Division, Mr. Niall Burgess

999.81(8)

N/A

623.35(10)

119.00(9)

232.00(11)

Delegation Costs

157.16(12)

N/A

125.00(13)

Total

2,848.70

1,814.35

125.00

(1) Internal Flight from New York-Washington. Tánaiste travelled by Government Jet to and from US.

(2) Travel Claims not yet processed.

(3) 2 nights accommodation in NY.

(4) Flight Dublin — New York.

(5) Internal Flight New York — Washington.

(6) 2 nights accommodation in NY.

(7) 1 night accommodation in Washington.

(8) Flight Dublin — Washington.

(9) Train from New York to Washington.

(10) 3 nights accommodation in Washington.

(11) 1 night accommodation in New York.

(12) Car hire for Washington only — Consulate Car used in New York.

(13) Gift.

Register of Lobbyists

Billy Kelleher

Question:

71 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Finance the instructions he has given to Ministers or officials regarding recording of lobbying activity or to limiting the lobbying access to Government of any persons or groups. [5728/11]

The Government has committed to introduce a statutory register of lobbyists and to establishing rules concerning the practice of lobbying. The Government will advance these matters as part of its implementation of its other undertakings on Open Government, including corporate donations and whistleblowers provision and the creation of a new Electoral Commission. It will be necessary to consider the introduction of legislation to underpin these initiatives.

Industrial Sites

David Stanton

Question:

72 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Finance, further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 97 and 140 of 12 January 2011, if the report of the working group on the future uses of Haulbowline, County Cork has been finalised and received by him; his plans to publish same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5845/11]

The Working Group, established by Government, to develop a structured and coherent approach to the future management and development of the former Irish ISPAT site at Haulbowline, County Cork, is concluding its deliberations. A draft report is being circulated and it is expected that the final report will be available by early May 2011. It will be a matter for Government to decide whether to publish this report.

Tax Code

Michael McGrath

Question:

73 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of the steps being taken to address the issue of coal originating in Northern Ireland being distributed in the Republic without payment of the relevant taxes. [5656/11]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that there are no taxation restrictions on businesses registered for tax in one EU Member State transacting business with customers in other EU Member States. As the Deputy will be aware, Value-Added Tax is a European Community wide-tax governed by the EU VAT Directive 2006/112/EC and all Member States must ensure their domestic VAT legislation complies with this Directive. The VAT treatment of cross-Border sales of goods depends on the VAT status of both the supplier and the customer.

Where a UK VAT-registered supplier sells goods, including coal, to a VAT-registered customer in this State the transaction is not subject to UK VAT and the Irish customer must self-account for Irish VAT at 13.5%. Where the total value of supplies by a UK supplier to unregistered customers in Ireland exceeds €35,000 in a year the UK supplier must register and account for Irish VAT on all such supplies.

The VAT Directive provides that VAT-registered persons must lodge periodic VIES Statements of their intra-Community supplies of goods and services showing the total value of goods and services supplied in the period analysed by each VAT-registered person in each EU-member State. Member States, including Ireland, use the information on the VIES statements to check compliance in relation to self-accounting for domestic VAT. Council Directive 2008/8/EC provides for the more frequent filing of VIES Statements (quarterly or monthly) and the increased frequency of filing the VIES Statements provides better real-time information to counter instances of potential evasion of VAT.

The distribution of coal by UK suppliers to Irish customers has been the subject of compliance enquiries in Revenue Regions and is subject to periodic review. Where the circumstances indicate significant evasion the matter is passed to Revenue's Investigation and Prosecutions Division for investigation with a view to possible prosecution. Revenue liaise on an ongoing basis with their counterparts in HM Revenue and Customs Northern Ireland in relation to cross-Border activities where there is the potential for tax evasion.

Financial Services Regulation

Michael McGrath

Question:

74 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance when he will establish the promised commission to review the future of the credit union movement and make recommendations in relation to the most effective regulatory structure for credit unions, taking into account their not-for-profit mandate, their volunteer ethos and community focus, while paying due regard to the need to fully protect depositors’ savings and financial stability. [5659/11]

The Programme for National Government 2011-2016 sets out the Government position with regard to the credit union sector. The Government recognises the important role of credit unions as a volunteer co-operative movement and the distinction between them and other types of financial institutions and will establish a Commission as described by the Deputy. The Deputy will be aware that, under the EU/IMF Programme of Support for Ireland, we have certain commitments in relation to the credit union sector. The Commission on Credit Unions will have the role of building on the strategy to secure the future of the movement which will be in place by end-April 2011 and I would wish to establish the Commission in due course.

Tax Clearance Certificates

Finian McGrath

Question:

75 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will support the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3 regarding a tax clearance certificate. [5661/11]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they have written to the taxpayer in question advising him to contact his local tax office so that an agreement can be reached regarding the payment of the arrears outstanding. The issue of the Tax Clearance Certificate will then be considered.

Public Sector Staff

Michael Creed

Question:

76 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Finance when he expects to be in a position to offer a voluntary redundancy scheme to employees in the civil and public service, including local authorities, and in the Health Service Executive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5682/11]

The Government is committed to reducing public service numbers by up to 25,000 by 2015, subject to there being no compulsory redundancies and to the protection of front line services. The measures necessary to give effect to these reductions are being developed by the Minister for Public Expenditure & Reform, taking account of the existing projections for staff numbers over the coming years.

Civil Service Staff

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

77 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Finance his policy regarding staff employed from temporary panels in the Civil Service; if all of these temporary contracts are for fixed periods; if there is a policy of rotation of work between persons on the panels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5695/11]

Vacancies for Temporary Clerical Officers arise, from time to time, in various Government Departments and Offices throughout the country. Such vacancies are filled by way of recruitment campaigns undertaken by the Public Appointments Service (PAS). The most recent campaign was announced on 24th February 2011 and closed on 2nd March 2011. In excess of 13,500 applications were received. A selection process to put in place panels to fill temporary clerical positions is currently under way. The competition will provide a ready supply of qualified candidates who will then be available throughout the country to the civil service and other public sector bodies wishing to draw from these panels. This competition was initiated primarily in response to demands from the civil service.

Experience shows that while the bulk of these temporary vacancies arise during the summer period to cover Term-Time needs, vacancies may arise at various times during the rest of the year. The duration of the contracts will vary from post to post and according to the needs of the appointing Department/Office. Appointments from the panels are made in order of merit.

Proposed Legislation

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

78 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance his plans to introduce legislation to give equal tax status to persons who entered civil partnership agreements overseas who have legal recognition here but yet are treated as strangers under the tax code; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5699/11]

The position is that legislation to provide the same tax treatment for civil partners as that provided for spouses is currently in preparation. It is intended that the legislation will have effect for the tax year 2011 and subsequent years. As the Deputy is aware the shortened timescale for this year's Finance Act meant that it was not possible to include the legislation in that Act but it is intended that the legislation will be put before the House shortly as part of Finance (No.2) Bill 2011. Persons who entered into civil partnerships overseas which are recognised in the State and who have tax obligations or entitlements here will, under the legislation that is currently being prepared, be treated for tax purposes in the same way as civil partners who enter into civil partnerships in the State.

Universal Social Charge

Tom Hayes

Question:

79 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Finance the way the universal social charge is being applied to persons in receipt of a pension from the UK; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5776/11]

The position is that the Universal Social Charge (USC) does not apply to social welfare payments or payments of a similar nature made by any other state or territory. Therefore, an individual in receipt of a UK pension, which is of a similar nature to payments made by the Department of Social Protection, will not be subjected to USC on that payment. However, if that individual is in receipt of an occupational pension paid by a UK pension provider or former employer that income will be liable to the USC.

Natural Heritage Areas

Brendan Griffin

Question:

80 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance if the Office of Public Works will extend the permit for boatmen (details supplied) to cover from the beginning of April to the end of October 2011; if the permit will be issued in respect of the boat and not the operator; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5780/11]

Skellig Michael is officially open to visitors during the season when a guide service is provided on the island by the Office of Public Works. The season, which in previous years was normally from mid-May to the end of September, was extended to the end of October in 2010 on a once off basis. The length of the 2011 season is currently under review.

Licensed Premises

Seán Kenny

Question:

81 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a full list of licensed premises in the Dublin region. [5925/11]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a register of renewed licences (up to 1st March 2011) is available on the Revenue website at the following link: http://www.revenue.ie/en/tax/excise/index.html

Tax Reliefs

Michael Creed

Question:

82 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Finance if the terms and conditions governing eligibility for the tax credit scheme for the upgrading of existing housing stock has been finalised; if he has had consultations on this matter with the Department of Finance and if he will ensure that the scheme will cover replacement of windows and doors in view of the significant potential heat loss in these areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5928/11]

Section 13 of the Finance Act 2011 provides for income tax relief at the standard rate for expenditure incurred by individuals on a range of works that are carried out to improve the energy efficiency of residential premises situated in the State. Relief will be available for qualifying expenditure of up to a maximum of €10,000 for single individuals, or up to a maximum of €15,000 per qualifying property. The scheme will be operated primarily by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, in conjunction with the Revenue Commissioners.

The maximum amount of expenditure that will qualify for relief in any one tax year is €150 million. Relief will be given by way of repayment in the tax year following that in which the work was completed and the expenditure incurred. I will determine the list of approved works under the scheme in consultation with the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. Discussions are currently ongoing between my officials, the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland on those works that will qualify. At this stage it is envisaged that the replacement of windows and doors, where these meet certain standards, will be included in the scheme.

Due to the truncated timetable for the Finance Bill 2011, it was not possible to consider a number of potential legislative amendments to the scheme. These will be addressed in the forthcoming Finance Bill. In addition, a commitment was made to the House to publish an Ex-Ante Economic Impact Assessment of the scheme before commencing it via Ministerial order. My officials are currently working on this assessment and it will be published as soon as it has been completed.

Banks Recapitalisation

Eric J. Byrne

Question:

83 Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Minister for Finance, in relation to the capitalisation of Irish banks and options outside of the European Union and International Monetary Fund programmes, if he approached any other countries or bodies to seek financial assistance outside of the above named institutions; and if the State ever contemplated approaching the United States or China with a view to banking institutions in those states investing in banking institutions in our State. [6047/11]

The NTMA stands ready to engage in discussions with potential investors in the banking system, has done so in the past and will continue to do so in the future. In this respect, the NTMA has worked closely with the institutions and others to explore possibilities.

Departmental Schemes

Michael Creed

Question:

84 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the labour market activation fund; the funding available in 2011 to an organisation (details supplied) which has previously been funded under this scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5930/11]

The Labour Market Activation Fund was launched in March 2010 in order to support the creation of training and education programmes for specific priority groups among the unemployed. It is intended that the €32 million Fund will enable the provision of education and training programmes for up to 12,000 unemployed people. All funded programmes must be completed by 30th June 2011. I can confirm that I have asked officials in my Department to make contact with the organisation in question concerning funding arrangements for the continued provision of training and work placements until the end of June 2011 within the context of the parameters of the 2010 Fund.

Special Educational Needs

Niall Collins

Question:

85 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills if an additional special needs assistant will be allocated to a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5662/11]

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. I have arranged for the details supplied to be forwarded to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply. All schools have the names and contact details of their local SENO. Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie.

School Staffing

Catherine Murphy

Question:

86 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will make changes or withdraw circular 0019/2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5710/11]

The process of allocating teaching resources to schools for 2011/2012 and the arrangements for filling vacant or new teaching posts takes place in the context of the EU/IMF Programme of Support for Ireland and the Public Service Agreement 2010/2014. It is necessary for my Department to exercise additional control and reporting measures this year to ensure that the numbers of teachers employed in schools is consistent with the EU/IMF Programme of Support for Ireland.

It is necessary, therefore, for my Department to ensure this year that all permanent and fixed term positions are in the first instance made available to those surplus teachers with either permanent contracts or contracts of indefinite duration and are to be redeployed. This means that until further notice no school can be given authority to commence recruitment until my Department is in a position to assess the number of these teachers, if any, that remain to be redeployed.

It is the intention of the Department to restore recruitment from fixed-term teachers on the main panels, supplementary panels or public advertisement at the earliest possible opportunity, after all the surplus permanent teachers have been redeployed. The Government will endeavour to protect frontline education services as best as possible. However, this must be done within the context of bringing our overall public expenditure into line with what we can afford as a country. We all have to understand the legacy of economic mismanagement which the last government gave to this country.

Schools Accommodation

Brendan Griffin

Question:

87 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a school (details supplied) will qualify for inclusion in the 2011 temporary accommodation scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5725/11]

I can confirm that the school to which the Deputy refers has recently applied to my Department seeking funding to provide additional accommodation. This application is currently being assessed and officials in my Department will convey a decision on the application to the school authority when the assessment process has been completed.

Capitation Grants

Terence Flanagan

Question:

88 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding funding of secondary schools (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5733/11]

My Department provides funding to secondary schools by way of per capita grants, which affords schools considerable flexibility in the use of these resources to cater for the needs of their pupils. My Department provided capitation funding in the sum of €186,477.25 to the school in question in respect of recognised enrolments for the school year 2009/10. Capitation funding for schools was reduced by 5% as part of the most recent budget.

The current financial situation and Ireland's reliance on external funding through the EU/IMF Support Programme means inevitably that the funding situation for schools will be extremely difficult in the period ahead. I would be misleading the Deputy if I pretended otherwise. The Government will do its best to prioritise education spending and protect front line services but the reality is that my Department will have to bear its share of the Government's overall effort to cut public spending in order to deal with our fiscal crisis.

It is a fundamental principle of the Free Post-Primary Education Scheme that schools participating in the scheme do not charge parents in respect of:

instruction in any subject of my Department's programme for Secondary Schools;

recreation or study facilities where all the pupils are expected to avail themselves of these as part of the school programme;

any other activities in which all pupils are required to take part.

Voluntary contributions by parents or charges for optional extras over and above what is provided for in the general school programme are permissible under the scheme, provided it is made absolutely clear to parents that there is no question of compulsion to pay, and, that in making a contribution, they are doing so of their own volition.

Special Educational Needs

Jack Wall

Question:

89 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a special needs assistant will be appointed for a child (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5771/11]

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. I have arranged for the details supplied to be forwarded to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply. All schools have the names and contact details of their local SENO. Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie.

Schools Refurbishment

Brendan Griffin

Question:

90 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if additional funding will be provided to a school (details supplied) in County Kerry for a required extension; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5786/11]

The school referred to by the Deputy applied to my Department for additional accommodation for resource teaching last October 2010 and I am pleased to advise that in November 2010 the school was approved for a devolved grant to build a resource room. The school authority has recently submitted a request to my Department seeking additional funding in connection with meeting planning requirements. The Department has requested additional information from the school in relation to this request. On receipt of this information, the request can be considered further and a decision on the matter will issue to the school authority.

Schools Provision

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

91 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will allay the fears of the boards of management, the teachers, the parents and pupils of our small national schools throughout the country by reassuring them that their future is not under threat by any proposals that may arise in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5804/11]

A review was initiated in October 2010 by the then Fianna Fáil/Green Party government in order to establish the value for money being achieved from state funding of small primary schools. This value for money review is part of the normal review processes undertaken by Departments on an annual basis on selected areas of expenditure.

I do not have a predetermined view on the outcome of the review. Educational quality for the pupils must be one of the main criteria in any consideration of primary school size and organisation, taking into account both the needs of local communities and wider social and cultural factors. Decisions on school provision and reorganisation must be widely perceived to be cost-effective, equitable and reasonable. These decisions need to be based on a rigorous evaluation of requirements and needs, not just at a local level but also at both regional and national levels. The review should be completed by the end of this year and I plan to consider the review's outcomes when they are finalised.

Departmental Schemes

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

92 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a school (details supplied) in County Kerry will qualify for funding under the summer works scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5805/11]

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

School Patronage

Simon Harris

Question:

93 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on recognising Educate Together as a patron body for second level schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5834/11]

The Programme for Government gives a commitment to move towards a more pluralist system of patronage at second level, recognising a wider number of patrons. It is my intention to address this policy over the lifetime of this Government. My immediate priority has been to establish a National Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the primary school sector. This will take a multi-dimensional approach involving consultations with the key education stakeholders, including parents over the course of this year. I will turn my attention to the issue of the patronage at second level in due course and I will consider the role that all patron bodies, including Educate Together, can play in ensuring our education system caters for a pluralism of choice which reflects the needs of Ireland today and into the future.

Special Educational Needs

Simon Harris

Question:

94 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the provision of special needs assistants in schools; and if he envisages any further cutbacks in the numbers of SNAs in schools. [5835/11]

The Programme for Government clearly states that education will be a priority for this Government and that we will endeavour to protect and enhance the educational experience of children, young people and students. To that end, we will endeavour to protect frontline services in education.

However, the fiscal position is extremely difficult. This country is effectively in receivership. It is necessary to ensure that educational services are delivered within the resources available. I intend to prioritise and support special educational services. However, I cannot re-visit the previous Government's decision to place a cap on the number of posts available under the Special Needs Assistant (SNA) scheme. This number is 10,575 whole time equivalent (WTE) posts. This is a significant number of posts and unlike other areas of the public sector vacancies are being filled up to this number. It also represents continual increases in the number of SNAs over recent years.

It is considered that with equitable and careful management and distribution of these resources that there should be sufficient posts to provide access to SNA support for all children who require such care support to attend school, in accordance with Departmental criteria.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. The NCSE has issued a circular to all schools advising of the allocation process for the 2011/2012 school year. A key feature of the amended scheme will be to provide for an annual allocation of Special Needs Assistant support to eligible schools.

My Department and I will be glad to consider any suggestions from school management or parent representative organisations as to how the allocation of SNA resources can best be managed within the context of the overall limit on SNA numbers established. In this regard I am committed to making whatever improvements are possible to the resource allocation system. We all have to understand the legacy of economic mismanagement which the last government gave to this country.

Departmental Schemes

John McGuinness

Question:

95 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills if funding allocated to schools in County Kilkenny under the water conservation scheme has been awarded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5837/11]

Forty two Primary Schools and ten Post Primary Schools in County Kilkenny were allocated funding under my Department's Water Conservation Scheme. The Management Authorities of the schools in question were informed of the terms and conditions of the scheme in an approval letter issued in October 2010. To date 25 schools have drawn down funding under the scheme and the balance of funding allocated will be paid out as soon as the remaining schools meet the drawdown criteria.

Special Educational Needs

Pat Breen

Question:

96 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Education and Skills, further to Parliamentary Question No. 41 of 7 December 2010, if a person (details supplied) in County Clare will be facilitated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5852/11]

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

In considering applications for teaching and SNA support for individual pupils, the SENOs take account of the needs identified in the professional reports and decide whether the circumstances come within the Department's criteria. They then consider the resources available to the school to identify whether additionality is needed or whether the school might reasonably be expected to meet the needs of the pupil from its current level of resources.

All schools have the names and contact details of their local SENO. Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie. I understand from officials in my Department that the NCSE has now issued a response to the Deputy in relation to the matter raised by him.

Pat Breen

Question:

97 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Education and Skills, further to Parliamentary Question No. 24 of 7 December 2010, if a person (details supplied) in County Clare will be facilitated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5853/11]

The Deputy will be aware that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating resource teachers, Special Needs Assistants and making recommendations on the provision of assistive technology to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department sanctioned a grant to the pupil's school for a laptop and computer software for the pupil in question on 6th January 2011.

Schools Building Projects

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

98 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding funding for a school (details supplied) in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5857/11]

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that a project to provide improved accommodation 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. Officials in my Department are in ongoing contact with the school authority with regard to progressing the project. The next stage in the process includes a visit to the school site by my Department's professional and technical staff and this is due to take place shortly.

Special Educational Needs

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

99 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will give consideration to an application for special needs assistance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; when a determination will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5888/11]

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. I have arranged for the details supplied to be forwarded to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply. All schools have the names and contact details of their local SENO. Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie.

Schools Building Projects

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

100 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of applications for capital projects awaiting approval for schools in Cork North Central; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5895/11]

Information in respect of the current school building programme along with all assessed applications for major capital works, is available on my Department's website at www.education.ie. For the Deputy's convenience, details of the major capital applications from schools in the area specifically referred to by him are in the following tabular statement.

Roll Number

School Name

Major Capital Application

Band Rating

Current Status

Address

14198D

Naomh Eoin Easpal

Extension

2

Application

Old Youghal Road, Mayfield, Cork

18217B

Scoil Padre Pio N S

Extension/Refurb

1

Design Team to be appointed

Churchfield Terrace West, Churchfield, Cork

18587L

Scoil Mhuire Banrion

Extension

4

Application

Boherboy Road, Lotabeg, Mayfield

18786R

Scoil Iosagain

Extension/Refurb

2

Progressing To Tender

Knockpogue Avenue, Farranree, Cork

19909M

Gaelscoil Peig Sayers

New school

2

Application

North Point Business Park, New Mallow Road, Cork

19993E

Gaelscoil An Ghoirt Alainn

New school

2

Application

Murmont Road, Mayfield, Cork

19714U

Mhuire Ar Chnoc Haoine

Extension

2

Application

Courtown Drive, Knocknaheeny, Cork

62730N

Saint Patrick’s Girls Secondary School

Extension/Refurb

2

Application

Gardiner’s Hill, Cork

91400F

Mayfield Community School

Extension/Refurb

4

Application

Old Youghal Road, Cork

62690E

Scoil Mhuire

Extension/Refurb

2

Progressing to tender

2 Sidney Place, Wellington Road

62530F

North Monastery Cbs

Extension/Refurb

2

Application

North Monastery Road, Cork

62640M

Saint Angela’s College

Extension/Refurb

2

In Architectural Planning

Saint Patrick’s Hill, Cork

Schools Refurbishment

Brendan Griffin

Question:

101 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a school (details supplied) in County Kerry will qualify for a grant under the summer works scheme and for emergency funds for pipe work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5934/11]

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

An application under the Emergency Works Scheme was also received from the school in question. The purpose of the Emergency Works Scheme is solely for unforeseen emergencies or to provide funding to facilitate inclusion and access for special needs pupils. An emergency is deemed to be a situation which poses an immediate risk to health, life, property or the environment which is sudden, unforeseen and requires immediate action and, in the case of a school, if not corrected, would prevent the school or part thereof from opening. As the scope of works for this project is outside the terms of the Emergency Works Scheme it cannot be considered for emergency funding. The school was recently notified of this decision by my Department.

School Staffing

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

102 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of teachers in a school (details supplied) in County Meath in 2010; the number of same in 2011; the proposed number for the academic year of 2011/12; the reason for a change in staffing levels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5936/11]

My Department's Teacher Allocation Section is currently focused on the initial work for the allocation of staffing for the coming school year and I do not propose to divert them from this work at this key time in the allocation process. The standardisation of the staffing schedule for Gaelscoileanna so that it is the same as that which applies to primary schools generally is one of a number of measures introduced in Budget 2011 by the previous Fianna Fáil/Green Party government to control and reduce teacher numbers. These changes are effective from September 2011.

Special Educational Needs

Clare Daly

Question:

103 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to discrepancies between results from tests carried out in schools on students by the National Educational Psychological Service psychologists and results from tests carried out by other psychologists as part of a full educational assessment on students, with the discrepancies arising from use of the WRAT and WIAT2 tests, both of which are recognised by his Department; the way he plans to deal with this discrepancy, which is resulting in some students being discriminated against as the results they have measured from the full tests are being ignored, even though they are based on the test which is required for entry into third level under DARE. [5937/11]

I can inform the Deputy that my Department's National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) provides a range of psychological supports to pupils and teachers in first and second levels schools nationally.

In common with many other psychological services and best international practice, NEPS encourages a staged assessment process, whereby each school takes responsibility for initial assessment, educational planning and remedial intervention. Only if there is a failure to make reasonable progress in spite of the school's best efforts, will a child be referred for individual psychological assessment. This system allows the psychologists to give early attention to urgent cases and also to help many more students indirectly than could be seen individually. It also ensures that students are not referred unnecessarily for psychological intervention.

In second level schools, in addition to providing direct and ongoing supports, including full psycho-educational assessment of students, NEPS psychologists make recommendations to the State Examination Commission (SEC) on applications under the Reasonable Accommodation for State Examinations scheme (RACE). Under this scheme students with specific learning difficulties may be afforded additional supports or accommodations while sitting their Leaving Certificate examinations.

As part of these RACE responsibilities, NEPS psychologists must take into account the results of a range of psychometric tests, including the WRAT and WIAT2 tests mentioned by the Deputy, and including any previous psychometric assessment data available. They must also consider information supplied by school authorities on the applicant's educational history, attainments and current performance in reading and writing as part of the process of recommending the granting of accommodations. My Department's NEPS service is satisfied that, based upon criteria as set down by the SEC, the process put in place under this scheme appropriately and fairly identifies candidates for receipt of such accommodations.

Any, or all, of the above assessment information can be submitted by the student in support of an application under the DARE scheme for entry into third level.

State Examinations

Clare Daly

Question:

104 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will support the application of a leaving certificate student (details supplied) for a spelling and grammar exemption. [5938/11]

The State Examinations Commission has statutory responsibility for operational matters relating to the certificate examinations including organising the holding of examinations and determining procedures in places where examinations are conducted including the supervision of examinations. I can inform the Deputy that the Commission operates a scheme of Reasonable Accommodations in the Certificate examinations. Applications for such accommodations are submitted by schools on behalf of their students.

A range of accommodations are provided to enable students with special needs to access the Certificate examinations. For example enlarged print, Braille translation, modified questions, use of a scribe, a reader, a personal assistant, a tape recorder or word processor, or exemptions from areas of assessment, may be allowed depending on needs. In view of this I have forwarded your query to the State Examinations Commission for direct reply to you.

Schools Recognition

Clare Daly

Question:

105 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he plans to recognise a school (details supplied) in County Dublin and if he will make a statement regarding the issue in view of the urgency for a second level Gael Coláiste to serve students across north County Dublin. [5939/11]

My Department has recently announced plans to open at least 13 new post-primary schools over the next five years to cater for increased demographics in a number of locations including the North County Dublin/South County Louth area. Decisions on the patronage of any new school will be taken in line with the Programme for Government which gives a commitment to move towards a more pluralist system of patronage at second level, recognising a wider number of patrons. This will have also have regard to all-Irish provision. It is my intention to address this policy.

School Staffing

Clare Daly

Question:

106 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to remove gaelscoileanna from the provisions of Circular 19/2011. [5940/11]

The standardisation of the staffing schedule for gaelscoileanna so that it is the same as that which applies to primary schools generally is one of a number of measures in Budget 2011 by the previous Fianna Fáil/Green Party government to control and reduce teacher numbers. These changes are effective from September 2011. This change will result in a reduction of the order of 50 posts in Gaelscoileanna. There are currently a total of over 1,500 teaching posts in these schools. The actual impact at individual school level is determined as part of the allocation process for 2011/12 school year and schools are being notified in the normal manner.

This Government will endeavour to protect front line education services as best as possible. However, this must be done within the context of bringing our overall public expenditure back into line with what we can afford as a country. All areas of Government, including gaelscoileanna, will have to manage on a reduced level of resources. The challenge will be to ensure that the resources that are being provided are used to maximum effect.

School Accommodation

Brendan Ryan

Question:

107 Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will expedite an urgent technical assessment, as recommended in his Department’s area development plan for north Dublin, in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Dublin in view of the school’s urgent accommodation needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5946/11]

My Department is aware of the situation at the school referred to by the Deputy. The Forward Planning Section of my Department is finalising its analysis of all areas in the country in order to determine the level of additional school provision which will be required at both primary and post-primary level up to 2017. Overall post-primary requirements in the area referred to by the Deputy are being considered in this context. My Department will then identify the means by which the need in the area will be met commensurate with demand and site visits will be arranged if deemed necessary.

School Staffing

John O'Mahony

Question:

108 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a teaching post in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [5956/11]

The correspondence provided by the Deputy raises a number of issues regarding a teacher's terms and conditions in the context of the Department's policy in this area. I will arrange for my officials to contact the correspondent directly to address the issues raised.

Schools Refurbishment

Niall Collins

Question:

109 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consider meeting the shortfall in funding in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Cork. [5963/11]

I can confirm that the school referred to by the Deputy received approval from my Department for a devolved grant to provide an additional classroom and an additional resource room in April 2010. One of the conditions of the grant was that the school would manage the project in order to ensure that it would be delivered successfully without the need for additional funding from the Department. Since then, my Department has received requests on behalf of the school in question for additional funding to meet planning requirements and to replace existing temporary structures on the site. Officials in my Department are currently assessing these requests and will convey a decision on the matter to the school authority when this assessment process is complete.

Primary Schools

Thomas Pringle

Question:

110 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he is including schools of a Protestant ethos in his review of small schools, given there are large distances between schools of a Protestant ethos in rural areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5980/11]

A review was initiated in October 2010 by the then Fianna Fáil/Green Party government in order to establish the value for money being achieved from state funding of small primary schools. All primary schools with a total enrolment of less than 50 pupils come within the terms of reference of this review.

Educational quality for the pupils must be one of the main criteria in any consideration of primary school size and organisation, taking into account both the needs of local communities and wider social and cultural factors. Decisions on school provision and reorganisation must be widely perceived to be cost-effective, equitable and reasonable. These decisions need to be based on a rigorous evaluation of requirements and needs, not just at a local level but also at both regional and national levels. I do not have a predetermined view on the outcome of the review. The review should be completed by the end of this year and I plan to consider the review's outcomes when they are finalised.

School Transport

Niall Collins

Question:

111 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide free school bus transport for a family (details supplied) in County Cork. [5994/11]

Bus Éireann, which operates the school transport schemes on behalf of my Department, has advised that the family referred to by the Deputy is eligible for school transport to the school in question. The €50 charge, introduced by the previous Fianna Fáil/Green Party government in the 2011 Budget, will apply to all eligible primary pupils availing of school transport services for the 2011/12 school year. This charge is being introduced to ensure that school transport services provided are fully utilised in a cost efficient manner. The maximum family charge to be levied for eligible primary pupils will be €110 per annum; eligible pupils holding medical cards will be exempt from paying the charge.

Niall Collins

Question:

112 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will ensure that school transport is in place in a region (details supplied) in County Cork. [5996/11]

Under the terms of my Department's Post Primary School Transport Scheme, pupils are eligible for school transport if they reside 4.8 kilometres or more from and are attending a post primary school within their catchment area. The pupils referred to by the Deputy are not attending a post primary school within their catchment area and are therefore not eligible for school transport to their school of attendance. The service withdrawn was a Bus Éireann public passenger service which does not come under the remit of my Department.

Schools Refurbishment

Frank Feighan

Question:

113 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a summer works scheme in respect of a school (details supplied). [6038/11]

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

Enterprise Support Services

Simon Harris

Question:

114 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation his plans to help self-employed persons struggling in this economic recession; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5831/11]

In the current economic climate entrepreneurship, and the growth and development of small Irish businesses, is central to economic recovery, and it is essential that Irish enterprises continue to be supported.

The Programme for Government includes a number of key issues to assist SMEs in the current environment and we are committed to introducing a Jobs Fund within the first 100 days. This Fund will contain a number of measures to support our SMEs. We have committed to:

Cut the 13.5 per cent rate of VAT to 12 per cent up to the end of 2013.

Halve the lower 8.5 per cent rate of PRSI up to the end of 2013 on jobs paying up to €356 per week.

Reverse the cut in the minimum wage.

Implement a number of sectoral initiatives in areas that will create employment in the domestic economy.

Initiate a long-term strategy to develop new markets in emerging economies.

Secure additional resources for the national housing energy retrofitting plan, as part of a plan to phase out subsidies in this area by 2014.

Accelerate capital works that are ‘shovel ready' and labour intensive, including schools and secondary roads.

In addition, the County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) play a key role, acting as a valuable first point of contact for general business advice and information, as well as through their provision of both financial (grants) and non-financial (business advice, mentoring and a range of training programmes) supports to eligible micro-enterprises.

The CEB network's priorities for 2011 are to assist owner/managers in enhancing the survival and sustainability of their businesses in these difficult economic times and to assist people wishing to start their own business including those made redundant. The CEBs can support individuals, firms and community groups provided that the proposed projects have the capacity to achieve commercial viability. They must give priority to manufacturing and internationally traded services. My priority is to ensure that both the business environment in Ireland and the assistance available from the Enterprise Agencies continue to be supportive of enterprise and encourage growth in all areas of the economy.

Ministerial Responsibilities

Dara Calleary

Question:

115 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the precise functions that have been allocated to the Minister of State, Deputy John Perry; the budget that has been allocated and the initiatives he will undertake to support small business in the next 100 days. [5974/11]

Mr John Perry, T.D., has been assigned responsibility for the Small Business portfolio. The appointment of a Minister for Small Business reflects the importance the Government attaches to the sector and the contribution the sector can make to our overall economic recovery and growth. The detailed range of duties and associated legislative provisions that will accompany this portfolio are currently being finalised within my Department. It is the aim to have the necessary Delegation Of Functions Orders drafted and presented to Government for approval in early April. A notice will be published in Iris Oifigiúil once the Orders have been made by the Government.

Budgets have already been allocated to my Department and the relevant enterprise support agencies under the 2011 Estimates process. The Programme for Government sets out a comprehensive range of initiatives which will assist the small business sector. The Minister for Small Business, together with Cabinet colleagues, will prioritise action in relation to these initiatives.

Social Welfare Appeals

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

116 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will issue regarding the refusal of carer’s allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5843/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 22 March 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Social Welfare Services on the grounds of appeal be sought. When received, the appeal in question will be referred to an appeals officer for consideration. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Benefits

Michael McGrath

Question:

117 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will respond to an issue raised in correspondence in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork regarding the social welfare system. [5654/11]

The jobseeker's benefit and jobseeker's allowance schemes provide income support for people who have lost work and are unable to find alternative employment. It is a fundamental qualifying condition for these benefits that a person must be available for full-time work. Under the current system, a working week is considered to be six days. Sunday is not considered to form part of the working week and any work done on a Sunday is not reckoned when entitlement to a payment is being determined.

The benefit is only payable in respect of days of unemployment and it is not, therefore, payable in respect of any day during which the person is engaged in insurable employment, irrespective of the extent of the employment (number of hours worked) or the remuneration. Where a person is employed for up to three days in a week, they may claim jobseeker's benefit or allowance in respect of the remainder of the week, subject to being available for full-time work.

It is recognised that a changing labour market has resulted in a move away from the more traditional work patterns, with a consequent increase in the number of atypical workers. In response, the Department conducted a ‘Review of the Application of the Unemployment Benefit & Assistance Schemes Conditions to workers who are not employed on a full-time basis' which examined the application of the jobseeker's benefit and allowance scheme conditions to workers who are employed part-time, casual or systematic short-time basis. The review made a number of recommendations including broadening jobseeker's scheme conditions to provide compensation for loss of employment in the case of part-time and other atypical workers. The report is under active consideration within the Department.

Finian McGrath

Question:

118 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will support the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5 regarding benefits. [5660/11]

The Health Service Executive has advised that there is no record of an application for rent supplement from the person concerned. If the person concerned wishes to make an application for rent supplement then he should contact the community welfare officer at his local health centre.

Social Welfare Appeals

Finian McGrath

Question:

119 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding benefits in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9. [5708/11]

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

There was a 46% increase in the number of appeals received by the Social Welfare Appeals Office in 2009 when compared to 2008, which in itself was 27% greater than the numbers received in 2007. There was an increase of a further 25% in the number of appeals received in 2010. These increases have caused delays in the processing of appeals. In order to be fair to all appellants, oral hearings are arranged in strict chronological order. 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

Brendan Griffin

Question:

120 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection when jobseeker’s allowance will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5724/11]

The person concerned is currently in receipt of jobseeker's allowance at the weekly rate of €73.80. This is the maximum rate payable in his case. His spouse is currently in receipt of illness benefit and where one member of a couple is claiming jobseeker's allowance and the other is in receipt of illness benefit, their combined payments cannot exceed the amount which would be payable if only one person made a claim.

Terence Flanagan

Question:

121 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding child benefit in respect of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5746/11]

The social security rights of people moving around the EU are governed by EU Regulations 883/2004 and 987/2009. These regulations, which have been in existence in one form or another since 1959, are designed to co-ordinate the social security systems of the various member states so that people and their families are not disadvantaged when they move within the EU. A key principle of the co-ordination system is that persons moving to different member states are subject to the same obligations and enjoy the same benefits as the nationals of those member states. With few exceptions, it is the country of employment which receives the social security contributions and which is generally responsible for the payment of benefits.

Irish child benefit is classed as a family benefit and there are specific rules governing the payment of these benefits. EU nationals who come to work in Ireland, and who pay Irish social security contributions, are entitled to receive child benefit in respect of their families, even if the family resides in another EU member state. The equality provisions of the regulations require that these payments are made at the same rates applicable to a person whose family is resident in Ireland. These provisions are seen as important in an EU context for the role they play in encouraging and facilitating the free movement of EU citizens.

As stipulated in the programme for Government it is intended to raise the issue of child benefit in respect of non-resident children at EU level, and seek to have the entitlement modified to reflect the cost of living where a child is resident. This is a major departure from the current rules and so it is something which must be approached in a cautious and sensitive manner.

The normal procedure for amending EU legislation is that a formal proposal is put forward by the EU Commission and this is then discussed and refined at various working parties and groups before being approved by a Council of Ministers. The proposal is then considered by the European Parliament in consultation with the Council. In order to make progress on the commitment in the programme for Government it will be necessary to enlist the support of other countries and the EU Commission. I am at present considering the best way of initiating this process.

Social Welfare Appeals

Martin Ferris

Question:

122 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will be made on a social welfare appeal in respect of a person (details supplied). [5749/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 3 March 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the deciding officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 22 March 2011 and the appeal will be referred to an appeals officer in due course, who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Benefits

David Stanton

Question:

123 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason mortgage interest supplement has been suspended in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5754/11]

The Health Service Executive has advised that following a routine review payment of mortgage interest supplement ceased as the person concerned had sufficient income to meet his mortgage interest costs.

Brendan Griffin

Question:

124 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection if a review of entitlements will be carried out in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5779/11]

The person concerned has not made an application for any social welfare payments. If he wishes to make an application for a jobseeker's payment he may do so by calling to his local social welfare office to complete the necessary forms and a decision will be given on any application made as soon as possible.

National Carers’ Strategy

Simon Harris

Question:

125 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will prioritise the publication of a national carers’ strategy after the failure of the last Government to publish such a strategy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5832/11]

During 2008, an interdepartmental group, chaired by the Department of the Taoiseach, undertook work to develop a National Carers' Strategy. The Departments of Finance, Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Health and Children, and Social and Family Affairs, as well as the Health Services Executive and FÁS were represented on the group. The group met on six occasions during 2008 and the expertise of other Departments and agencies was drawn on as particular issues were being considered. Discussions were also held with colleagues in Northern Ireland. A wide ranging consultation process was also undertaken which included a meeting with the social partners; two meetings with carer representative groups; and a public consultation process.

While each of the themes set out in the terms of reference was examined in terms of the current position, because of the prevailing economic situation, it was not possible to agree future targets or time limits which could be achieved. In that context, rather than publishing a document which did not include any significant plans for the future, the then Government decided not to publish a strategy.

The Government is committed in the programme for Government to developing a carers' strategy. It will consider how to progress the development of the strategy, taking into account the prevailing economic realities.

Social Welfare Benefits

Simon Harris

Question:

126 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will examine the delays being experienced by persons applying for domiciliary care allowance; if she will provide figures on the number of DCA applications received in 2009, 2010 and to date in 2011; the number of applications that have been granted, denied, appealed and successfully appealed in each of these years. [5833/11]

This Department has been accepting new claims for domiciliary care allowance (DCA) since April 1st 2009. Statistics relating to the period prior to April 2009 are a matter for the Health Service Executive (HSE). The average processing time for DCA applications is currently eight weeks. There can be occasional exceptions to this, for example, where the applicant is waiting for detailed medical reports or is obtaining documentary evidence to satisfy the habitual residence condition.

In the period 1st April 2009 to 31st December 2009 a total of 3,389 DCA applications were received by the Department. Of these, 2,823 were fully processed that year, with 1,031 deemed to satisfy the criteria for the scheme. The balance of 1,792 did not satisfy the criteria. There were 836 appeals registered in 2009 of which 183 cases were allowed on review by the deciding officer based on additional information received. A total of 11 DCA appeals were decided by the Appeals Office in 2009 with six allowed.

In 2010 a total of 5,457 DCA applications were received by the Department, with a total of 5,333 applications processed that year. Of these a total of 2,058 were deemed to satisfy the qualifying conditions for the scheme while the remaining 3,275 applications did not satisfy the criteria. There were 1,848 appeals registered in 2010 of which 477 cases were deemed to be qualified when reviewed by the deciding officer based on additional information received. There were 622 DCA appeals decided by the Appeals Office in 2010 with 224 cases allowed.

A total of 1,520 DCA applications have been received to date in 2011 with 1511 applications processed this year to date. Of those cases decided 550 were deemed to satisfy the criteria for the scheme, with 961 having failed to satisfy the criteria. Some 526 appeals have been registered to date in 2011 of which 68 cases were deemed to be qualified on review by the deciding officer based on additional information supplied. To date in 2011, 163 appeals have been processed by the Appeals Office with 58 cases allowed.

Social Welfare Appeals

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

127 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Social Protection when a determination will be made regarding an appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork to have disability allowance reinstated in view of the circumstances; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5886/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the disability allowance claim of the person concerned was disallowed following an assessment by a Medical Assessor who expressed the opinion that she was medically unsuitable for the allowance. An appeal was registered on 11 March 2011 and in accordance with the statutory procedures, the relevant department papers and the comments of the Department on the matter raised in the appeal have been sought. In that context, an assessment by another Medical Assessor will be carried out. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social and Family Affairs and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Fraud

Terence Flanagan

Question:

128 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will deal with a matter regarding social welfare fraud (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5889/11]

The control of social welfare fraud and abuse is a priority for the Department which has abroad-ranging and comprehensive control strategy. The objective is to minimise risks of fraud and eliminate incorrect payments. The matter has been referred to the Department’s special investigation unit for investigation.

Social Welfare Appeals

Brendan Griffin

Question:

129 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection if domiciliary allowance will be made available in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5901/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 12 January 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 21 February 2011 and the appeal will be referred to an Appeals Officer in due course, who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

130 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an appeal for carer’s allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; if she will expedite a response; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5909/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 15 October 2010. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 28 February 2011 and the appeal will be referred to an Appeals Officer in due course, who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Benefits

Mattie McGrath

Question:

131 Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will issue on an application for domiciliary care allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5966/11]

An application for domiciliary care allowance was received on the 11th February 2011. This application has been forwarded to one of the Department's Medical Assessors for their medical opinion on the case. Upon receipt of this opinion a decision will issue to the customer.

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

132 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of returning Irish citizens who have applied for means tested social welfare schemes; the number that have been refused on the grounds of not satisfying the habitual residence condition; and further, in the case of applications being refused, the number of these decisions that are being made by deciding officers and the number by the community welfare office. [6030/11]

All applicants for a means tested social welfare payment must satisfy a habitual residence condition test. My Department does not hold statistics for the number of returning Irish citizens who have applied for a means tested payment and therefore undergone a habitual residence condition test. I have attached a table which shows the number of Irish Nationals disallowed on the grounds of the habitual residence condition by scheme type from 2006 to 2009. It should be noted that the figures for 2010 are not available because of industrial action during that year.

The Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme (SWA) is the "safety net" within the overall social welfare system in that it provides a basic income support payment to eligible people in the State whose means are insufficient to meet their needs and those of their dependants. The main purpose of the SWA scheme is to provide immediate and flexible assistance for those in need who do not qualify for payment under other State schemes. The scheme is administered by the community welfare service which has now been seconded to the Department. The SWA scheme is delivered locally by community welfare officers.

A community welfare officer interviews applicants for a payment under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme when they first present in order to determine if they satisfy the statutory qualifying conditions for the scheme. They also ensure that all the documentation required to make a decision has been provided. Claim details are recorded electronically in cases where it is established that an entitlement exists. However, given the pressure on the community welfare service, claim details are not always recorded electronically where no entitlement has been established. For this reason, reliable statistics are not available on the total number of people who applied for and were refused a payment under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme.

Number of Irish Nationals disallowed on Grounds of Habitual Residence Condition by Scheme Type.

Scheme Type

2006

2007

2008

2009

Jobseeker’s Allowance

438

351

879

530

State Pension (Non-Con)

8

3

0

9

Blind Pension

0

0

0

0

Widow/er’s & Orphan’s Non-Con Pensions

0

0

0

0

One-Parent Family Payment

4

16

37

23

Carer’s Allowance

24

6

7

33

Disability Allowance

17

3

40

98

Child Benefit

6

2

22

45

Domiciliary Care Allowance

n/a

n/a

n/a

0

Total

497

381

985

738

Social Welfare Offices

Eric J. Byrne

Question:

133 Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Minister for Social Protection if it is planned to close the local social welfare office at a location (details supplied) and, if so, whether a new office will be built in the area. [6034/11]

There are no plans at this stage to close the social welfare local office in Thomas Street or to build a new social welfare office in the area.

Eric J. Byrne

Question:

134 Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Minister for Social Protection if it is planned to close the social welfare office at a location (details supplied) and build a new state of the art centre in Dublin South-Central; and the specific status of all social protection offices and community welfare offices in Dublin South-Central. [6035/11]

There are no plans at this stage to close the social welfare office at Bishops Square, Dublin 8. The integration of the Community Welfare Service from the HSE and the transfer of the work placement and community programme services from FÁS will provide an opportunity to develop and deliver a more integrated service for our customers throughout the country, including the Dublin south central area, in line with the commitment in the Programme for Government.

Social Welfare Appeals

Dan Neville

Question:

135 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Social Protection if a carer’s allowance application which is under appeal will be dealt with as soon as possible by way of an oral hearing in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [6048/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 09 November 2010. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 16 February 2011 and the appeal will be referred to an Appeals Officer in due course, who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Swimming Pool Projects

Michael McCarthy

Question:

136 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will provide a progress report on the redevelopment of a facility (details supplied) in County Cork; when he expects that work will commence on this project; the expected timeframe for completion of these works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5684/11]

Under the Local Authority Swimming Pool Programme there are four principal stages in a swimming pool project following the submission of a feasibility study. These, in order of progress, are: Preliminary Report; Contract Documents; Tender and Construction. My Department has received a proposal from Cork County Council on behalf of Dunmanway for the refurbishment of the existing pool together with an extension to accommodate additional facilities including a gym. A Preliminary Report on this proposal was approved in March 2001. I understand that the Council expects to have Contract Documents submitted to the Department for approval by December 2011.

Arts Council

Gerald Nash

Question:

137 Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs when he will appoint new members to the board of the Arts Council of Ireland; the criteria he will apply to the appointments process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5783/11]

At present, there are three vacancies on the Board of the Arts Council. The legislation governing the appointment of members to the Board of the Council is contained in Section 11 of the Arts Act 2003. Under the Act, all of the members of the Arts Council are appointed by the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport. The legislation requires that the Council shall consist of a chairperson and 12 ordinary members each of whom shall in the opinion of the Minister, have a special interest or knowledge in relation to the arts or matters connected with the functions of the Minister or the Council under the Act. Appointments are made for 5 years from the date of appointment.

The Act also requires that not less than six members of the Arts Council shall be men and not less than six shall be women. The current membership of the Council is seven women and three men. This means that the three vacancies must be filled by men.

In addition to the legislative provisions, I believe it is important that conflicts of interest do not arise on the Council. New members are formally requested to resign from membership of boards of organisations funded by the Arts Council when appointed to the Board of the Arts Council. I am giving careful consideration to this matter to ensure that the Board will continue to include members of the highest calibre with the skills required to serve the needs of and to maximise the potential of the arts. I intend to make decisions on these appointments shortly.

Alternative Energy Projects

Terence Flanagan

Question:

138 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the position regarding wind energy (details supplied). [5751/11]

Ireland has progressively increased consumption of electricity from renewable sources — from 4.3% in 2003 to 13.4% in 2010. This increase came primarily from the development of onshore wind resources.

Ireland's National Renewable Energy Action Plan, NREAP, (available on the Department's website) sets out how Ireland's binding national target under the EU Renewable Energy Directive will be met. The binding 16% target will be achieved by 10% of energy consumption in transport, 12% of heat consumption and around 40% of our electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2020. In the electricity sector, 36% of our consumption i.e. 4649 megawatts (MW), will be from wind by 2020. This is proportionately the highest contribution from wind among all the EU Member States.

There are currently 1776 MW of installed generating plant harnessing alternative energy technologies connected to the Irish national grid. The total number of wind farms connected is approximately 122 and this represents a generation capacity of about 1500 MW. Hydropower contributes about 238 MW of generation capacity and there is 38 MW of biomass, mainly landfill gas. There are approximately 1150 MW of wind farms that are currently contracted to connect to the grid (i.e. they have received and signed a Connection Offer) in the coming years. There are an additional 150 wind farms that have received or are due to receive, a connection offer under the Gate 3 project round of project approvals. EirGrid (the transmission system operator) and ESB networks are investing in the distribution and transmission systems to underpin the development of Ireland's wind resource.

Offshore Exploration

Finian McGrath

Question:

139 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the royalties or taxes the State will receive from the Corrib gas field; and if he is satisfied with the agreement made by a former Minister (details supplied). [5711/11]

Ireland's fiscal terms are tax based and do not include royalty payments. In 1987, Ireland followed the lead of other countries such as the UK and Norway in moving away from a royalty based payments system to a tax based system. Under the tax based system the return to the State is linked directly to the profitability of the individual oil or gas field, as compared to a royalty system where payments are linked to the actual volume of production and does not take account of differences in development cost or actual profitability.

The taxation rates which apply to profits from petroleum production are set out in the 1992 and 2008 Finance Acts. Profits from petroleum production arising from exploration licences granted prior to 2007 are taxed at a rate of 25%. This is the rate that will apply in the case of profits from the Corrib Gas Field. A comprehensive review of Ireland's licensing terms was carried out in 2007 by independent economic consultants, following which both the fiscal and non-fiscal licensing terms were revised. The revised terms, which were put into effect in the 2008 Finance Act, apply to all exploration licences issued since 1st January 2007 and provide for a new profit resource rent tax of up to 15% in addition to the 25% corporate tax rate previously applying. The revised terms ensure that the return to the State would be up to 40% in the case of very profitable fields.

The direct financial return to the State from the Corrib gas field will be through the 25% tax on profits. The level of profits from the Corrib gas field will depend on a combination of factors including the volume of recoverable gas, the cost of developing and operating the infrastructure, the price of gas over the life of the field, together with the timing and profile of production. The Corrib gas field will also strengthen Ireland's security of energy supply and at peak production will provide approximately 60% of Ireland's annual gas needs. During its development phase the Corrib Project has contributed significantly to creating employment, both in the Erris region and nationally.

The tax regime applicable to petroleum production is a key factor in attracting internationally mobile exploration investment to Ireland. The tax terms offered to companies reflect the fact that Ireland's petroleum potential is largely unproven and that Ireland needs to encourage a higher level of exploration activity. Ireland's petroleum taxation rate is deliberately pitched at a level that is consistent with countries such as France, Portugal and Spain, who like Ireland have limited petroleum production, rather than with major petroleum producers such as Norway or the UK.

Energy Conservation

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

140 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the grants that are or will be available to homeowners to cover the cost of roof insulation, chimney insulation and the purchase of a solid fuel cooker stove. [5905/11]

Grants for roof insulation are included under the Home Energy Saving Scheme, which is administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). While chimney insulation and solid fuel cooker stoves are not currently eligible for grant-aid, my Department and the SEAI keep all potential energy efficiency measures under ongoing review.

Fishing Vessel Licences

Seán Kenny

Question:

141 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the number and types of fishing licences issued in Dublin in each of the past five years; and to date in 2011. [5923/11]

Salmon and eel fishing licences are issued by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) in accordance with the Fisheries Acts 1959 to 2010. I am advised that the numbers and types of licences that have been issued by IFI (and the former Eastern Regional Fisheries Board) in Dublin from 2006 onwards are as set out in the following table:

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011 (to date)

Salmon — Commercial Licences

Draft

172

0

0

0

0

0

Drift

16

0

0

0

0

0

Total

188

0

0

0

0

0

Salmon — Angling Licences

One day

8

10

25

11

24

5

Annual district

71

69

101

121

117

34

Annual national

289

232

407

353

369

116

Annual Juvenile

7

8

19

24

35

7

21 day licence

59

61

52

66

62

21

Foyle area extension

0

0

2

2

7

1

Total

434

380

606

577

614

184

Eel Fishing Licences

Long Line

4

4

5

0

0

0

Coghill net

7

7

5

0

0

0

Fyke net

12

12

17

0

0

0

Eel Trap

2

2

0

0

0

0

Crib

2

2

0

0

0

0

Total

27

27

27

0

0

0

Broadcasting Services

Thomas Pringle

Question:

142 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will make representations to the relevant United Kingdom authorities to ensure that persons living in Border areas can avail of free-to-air digital television pictures when the digital changeover is complete in the Six Counties and continue the availability of a service they have had up to now by virtue of the fact that they live in a Border area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5981/11]

The analogue TV services both in Ireland and in Northern Ireland are due to be switched off at the end of 2012 and my Department has been working closely with its UK counterparts to facilitate a co-ordinated approach on both sides of the border in respect of the roll-out of digital terrestrial television (DTT) and analogue switch-off. In this regard, in February 2010, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the then Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and the then UK Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. A copy of the Memorandum of Understanding is available on www.dcenr.gov.ie.

The aim of this Memorandum is to facilitate, on a cross-border basis, a smooth transition to digital switchover in Northern Ireland and Ireland. In particular, the Memorandum provides a basis for making available the Irish public service channels (TG4, RTÉ 1 and RTÉ 2) in Northern Ireland and for ongoing cooperation between the two jurisdictions in relation to spectrum coordination, information sharing and, to the extent practical, adopting a coordinated approach to the provision of information to the public on both sides of the border on the switchover process. In accordance with the objectives of the Memorandum, my Department, along with ComReg, the BAI, the Department of Foreign Affairs, and RTÉ, is continuing to engage with the relevant UK Authorities on all of these issues and this work will continue until after the digital switchover process has been successfully implemented on both sides of the border.

In relation to channel overspill from the Northern Ireland network, this issue comes within the scope of spectrum co-ordination and, while the precise broadcast parameters of the North's DTT system will ultimately be a matter for the authorities in that jurisdiction, it is understood at this stage that the level of channel overspill of the DTT system will be similar to that of the current analogue system.

Pension Provisions

Frank Feighan

Question:

143 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if persons employed as telephonists with the Department of Posts and Telegraphs during the 1960s and up to 1976 are entitled to a partial pension based on their years of service. [5984/11]

In general, all civil servants are eligible for superannuation benefits provided they satisfy the qualifying conditions outlined in the Superannuation Schemes. Civil servants who resigned on or after 1st June 1973 are entitled to have their Superannuation benefits preserved and these become payable on reaching minimum retirement age, i.e. age 60 or 65 depending on which Scheme they are members of. Telephonists appointed to the Department of Posts and Telegraphs by the Civil Service Commissions would have had Civil Service status and would have been members of the Pension Scheme. However, it should be noted that some female civil servants may have been paid a marriage gratuity in lieu of superannuation benefits in which case there is no entitlement to any benefits on reaching minimum retirement age.

Waste Disposal

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

144 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when he plans to publish the Hennessy report on the proposed incinerator at Poolbeg, Dublin 4; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5675/11]

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

145 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans to consult with the Dublin city manager to ensure that no decision to proceed with the incinerator on the Poolbeg peninsula, Dublin 4, will be made before the publication of the Hennessy report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5676/11]

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

146 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the break clause in the contract for the proposed incinerator at Poolbeg, Dublin 4, which is available until 2 May 2011; if he will act on this break clause; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5677/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 144 to 146, inclusive, together.

I am considering the Hennessy Report in consultation with the Attorney General, including issues relating to publication, and am working to conclude this consideration as soon as possible. I am aware that the parties to the contract in respect of the Poolbeg facility are in a period of review. The activation of any break clause and all other contractual decisions are a matter solely for those parties.

The Government's Programme commits to the development of a coherent national waste policy, in adherence to the waste hierarchy, which will aim to minimise waste disposal in landfill and maximise recovery. I am prioritising this commitment, as I am anxious to provide early regulatory certainty, in the form of both policy and legislation, to ensure that the necessary actions and investment are taken to achieve those aims.

Radon Gas

Michael McGrath

Question:

147 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans to introduce a grant or other financial support for homeowners to carry out radon tests in their home. [5698/11]

Over a number of years Government, largely through the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII), has worked to assess the extent of the radon problem in Ireland, and to increase public awareness of the issue. Between 1992 and 1999, the RPII carried out a comprehensive National Radon Survey to measure radon concentrations in Irish homes. The principal objective was to assess the scale of the radon problem and, in particular, identify areas at higher risk of radon contamination above the National Reference Level of 200 becquerels per metre cubed (Bq/m3).

The Government's primary approach to radon, which is similar to that of the majority of EU Member States, is to concentrate efforts on increasing public awareness of the risks posed by radon in the home. Householders, particularly those in known high radon areas, have been strongly encouraged by the RPII to have their homes tested for radon and to undertake remediation works where necessary. At present, there is no funding available through my Department to carry out radon tests. The cost of household radon texts is typically around €55. Further information is available on the RPII websitewww.rpii.ie .

Local Authority Housing

Catherine Murphy

Question:

148 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the way he will deal with the local authority housing waiting lists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5700/11]

The Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2009, provides for a new process of housing needs assessment for applicants for social housing support. The Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011, made under that Act, will come into force on 1 April 2011. From this date, all applicants for social housing support will be assessed under new eligibility criteria, including maximum net income limits prescribed by Regulation.

In tandem with the progressive implementation of the provisions of this Act, I intend to undertake a wider review of social housing policy generally to examine how best the needs of those on housing waiting lists can be met in the context of the further development of sustainable communities, while taking account of new housing options and the level of funding and resources available.

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

149 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans to purchase some of the unfinished housing estates and finished houses to take care of the housing needs of persons awaiting social housing. [5806/11]

The sourcing of suitable housing units to meet social housing needs in individual areas is primarily a matter for the statutory housing authorities and approved housing bodies. Providing an enhanced legal and policy framework within which the statutory and other housing bodies can meet social housing need is a high priority for the Government. In order to deliver on this priority, I intend to undertake a wider review of social housing policy generally to determine how best the needs of those on housing waiting lists can be met in the context of the further development of sustainable communities and the overall financial parameters which apply. In this context it will be important to ensure that the current surplus housing stock can, where appropriate and sustainable, be deployed to meet social housing needs.

Planning Issues

Noel Harrington

Question:

150 Deputy Noel Harrington asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the new regulations regarding grave digging introduced by Cork County Council; if they have been approved by him or his predecessor; if any other local authority has sought to introduce or approved similar regulations and if he will seek to amend these regulations to respect family traditions or if he will make any other amendments to these regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5846/11]

Section 199 of the Local Government Act 2001 provides that local authorities may make bye-laws for or in relation to the use, operation, protection, regulation or management of any land, services, or any other matter provided by or under the control or management of the local authority, whether within or without its functional area or in relation to any connected matter. The making of such bye-laws is a matter for decision by individual local authorities and is a reserved function of the elected members under Section 199 (5) of the above Act. My Department does not hold details of such bye-laws in relation to graveyards.

Genetically Modified Organisms

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

151 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans to revert to the Ireland’s previous stance in the EU on GM crops and foods. [5847/11]

The responsibility for GMOs is spread across a number of Government Departments. My Department has responsibility for policy matters in relation to the deliberate release of GMOs into the environment and the contained use of GMOs. The Department of Health and Children has responsibility for policy matters concerning genetically modified food and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is responsible for regulating seed of certain species for marketing and cultivation; regulating animal feed that contains or is derived from authorised GM crops; developing a national strategy to ensure the co-existence of authorised GM crops with other crops; and authorisation and control of marketing of pesticides for use on crops, including GM crops.

National legislation in this area takes account of the common EU framework for assessment and control of GMOs, by which Ireland, in common with all Member States, is bound. National policy on GMOs merits careful consideration and requires input from the three Departments, a number of state bodies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, Teagasc and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, as well as other stakeholders. Working with my Ministerial colleagues, account will also be taken of the Programme for Government commitments in relation to enhancing the potential of the Irish agri-food sector globally and the potential for an eco brand.

Fire Stations

Question:

152 Deputy Michael P. Kitt asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding the provision of a fire station in Tuam, County Galway. [5891/11]

The provision of a fire service in its functional area, including the establishment and maintenance of a fire brigade, the assessment of fire cover needs and the provision of premises, is a statutory function of individual fire authorities under section 10 of the Fire Services Act 1981 and 2003. My Department supports the local fire authorities through setting of general policy, training support and issue of guidance on operational and other related matters, and the provision of capital funding.

An application to replace the existing fire station in Tuam was approved in principle by the Department in 2007. A site for the project has been purchased by the fire authority and the site cost has been recouped by my Department. The design process has also been completed. The provision of funding to bring the project to construction phase will be considered under future capital programmes within the constraints of available resources, and will have regard to the fire authority's priorities, the spread of existing facilities and the totality of requests from other fire authorities for available funding.

Planning Issues

Noel Grealish

Question:

153 Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if there are provisions in the Planning Act that address first floor fire exits in domestic dwelling houses or if there are any plans to include a provision in the future in order that first floor exits can be installed to enable persons with limited mobility to leave the house safely in the event of a fire on the ground floor; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5924/11]

Part B (Fire Safety) of the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations provides for the means of escape in case of fire in buildings. In particular, the requirement at B1 states: "A building shall be so designed and constructed that there are adequate means of escape in case of fire from the building to a place of safety outside the building, capable of being safely and effectively used." Technical Guidance Document B (TGD-B) provides guidance on how to comply with the requirements of Part B.

Part B/TGD B does not currently require first floor fire exits in domestic dwelling houses to enable persons with limited mobility to leave the house safely in the event of a fire on the ground floor. The provisions for fire safety in relation to people with disabilities in dwellings will be considered in the context of the next review of Part B (Fire Safety) of the Building Regulations.

Water and Sewerage Schemes

Clare Daly

Question:

154 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has granted funding for phases 2-4 of the Donabate — Portrane WWTP upgrade in County Dublin; and if so, when those moneys will be released and the expected timeframe for delivery of the works. [5944/11]

The Water Services Investment Programme 2010 — 2012, a copy of which is available in the Oireachtas Library, provides for the development of a comprehensive range of new water services infrastructure in Fingal. The Programme includes contracts under construction and to commence in the county to the value of some €130 million during the period of the Programme.

While some network improvements in the Rush area of the Portrane/Donabate/Rush/Lusk Sewerage Scheme are included in the Programme amongst the list of contracts in the county to progress through planning in the period 2010 to 2012, it was not possible to include all elements of the network improvements proposed amongst the priority contracts and schemes selected for inclusion.

A key input to the development of the Programme was the assessment of needs prepared by local authorities, including Fingal County Council, in response to my Department's request to the authorities in 2009 to review and prioritise their proposals for new capital works in their areas. These were subsequently appraised in my Department in the context of the funds available and key criteria that complemented those used by the authorities. Inevitably, through this process, certain projects that had been proposed had to give way to others that are more strategically important at this time.

Fingal County Council has written to my Department seeking the inclusion in the Programme of the remainder of the network it proposes for the ultimate development of the Portrane/Donabate/Rush/Lusk area. The annual review of the Programme is due to commence shortly and any proposals received from local authorities that meet the criteria being developed for the review will be considered for inclusion the Programme, having regard to overall financial implications.

EU Directives

Frank Feighan

Question:

155 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the time scale and methodology regarding the establishment of the management plan structures to deal with turf cutting on the land of special areas of conservation, SAC, bogs, in order that compliance with the EU habitat directive will be in place. [6037/11]

I am giving early and urgent attention to the issue of turf cutting on protected habitats, and am currently working with my colleague, Mr Jimmy Deenihan, TD, who will have responsibility in this regard as Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs, in developing comprehensive proposals for Government reflecting the commitment in the Programme for Government. These proposals, to be brought to Government as a matter of urgency, will also address concerns raised by the European Commission regarding Ireland's alleged breaches of the Habitats and Environmental Impact Assessment Directives in relation to the issue of peat extraction.

This Government will seek to resolve the long-standing issues regarding peat extraction on protected sites by working with local communities to address legitimate concerns while ensuring that Ireland is in compliance with EU environmental legislation. The proposals which are now being developed will put in place a range of measures designed to meet these twin aims.

Asylum Applications

Finian McGrath

Question:

156 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will support the case of a person (details supplied) regarding family reunification. [5657/11]

I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that the person concerned made an application for Family Reunification on behalf of his wife in July 2008. The application was forwarded to the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner for investigation as required under Section 18 of the Refugee Act 1996. This investigation has been completed and the Commissioner has forwarded a report to INIS.

I am further informed that INIS have recently been in contact with the person's legal representative seeking clarification of certain issues and upon receipt of same, the application will be considered further. I should remind the Deputy that queries in relation to the status of individual Immigration cases may be made direct to INIS by Email using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. The service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek this information through the more administratively expensive Parliamentary Questions process.

Crime Prevention

Finian McGrath

Question:

157 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will support the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5 regarding anti-social activities. [5658/11]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the location referred to is within Santry Garda District. Local Garda management is not aware of any specific issues regarding organised anti-social behaviour in the area. Local gardaí have been in contact with the resident at the location referred to and have not been informed of any anti-social behaviour. Two members of the local Community Policing Unit are specifically assigned to the area and regularly meet residents' groups and individual residents to discuss their concerns. Residents are encouraged to contact Gardaí if they have any policing concerns.

The area is the subject of regular patrols by uniform and plain clothes personnel, including the Community Policing Unit and Mountain Bike Unit and local Detective and Drug Unit personnel, supplemented as required by the Divisional Crime Task Force and Traffic Corps personnel. Local Garda management closely monitors and keeps under review patrols and other operational strategies in place, in conjunction with crime trends and policing needs of the communities in the area, to ensure optimum use is made of Garda resources and the best possible Garda service is provided to the public.

Current policing plans in the area are designed to address issues of crime and public order offences. Community policing is a central feature and core value of Garda policing policy, and current policing strategies are predicated on the prevention of crime, public order offences and anti-social behaviour.

Citizenship Applications

Tom Hayes

Question:

158 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform when a decision will issue on an application for naturalisation in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary. [5713/11]

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 2011. 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.

Garda Recruitment

Terence Flanagan

Question:

159 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will deal with a matter (details supplied) regarding the Garda Síochána training and development review group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5719/11]

I am currently reviewing the entry requirements into An Garda Síochána in consultation with the Garda Commissioner. This review will of course take into account the recommendations of the Training and Development Review Group Report 2009 including the recommendations on the proposed educational entry requirements.

Niall Collins

Question:

160 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform when the next round of recruitment to an Garda Síochána will take place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5726/11]

Niall Collins

Question:

161 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform when the next intake of Garda trainees in Templemore, County Tipperary, will be called for training; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5727/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 160 and 161 together.

As the moratorium on Public Service Recruitment continues to apply to An Garda Síochána, no date has been fixed for future intakes into the Garda College or for the commencement of a recruitment competition. A decision on when recruitment will re-commence will take into account the rate of retirement in the Garda Síochána and Government targets for reductions in public service numbers.

Candidates who have been successful at stages one and two of the previous recruitment process have had their names forwarded by the Public Appointments Service to the Commissioner. These candidates will be eligible, subject to successfully undergoing the medical examination, the physical competency test and character vetting, for any future intakes into the Garda College when recruitment next begins.

Legal Aid Service

John Deasy

Question:

162 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the criteria which are required to qualify for free legal aid here; if they are the same criteria used throughout the EU or if not, the criteria adopted by different EU member states; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5755/11]

John Deasy

Question:

163 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if a person has been refused free legal aid in their own member state is allowed to apply in another EU country; if there is a maximum limit to the cost involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5768/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 162 and 163 together.

I wish to inform the Deputy that the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995 makes provision for the grant by the State of legal aid and advice to persons of modest means in civil cases who meet the requirements of the Act and Regulations. The scope of the Act is very broad and covers most areas of civil law. The applicant must satisfy a means test and be found to be financially eligible under the provisions of the Act and Regulations. In addition to satisfying the means test, a merits test is applied also to each individual application for legal aid. The applicant is liable for a contribution which is also determined under the provisions of the Act and Regulations.

I should also stress that for the vast majority of persons, civil legal aid is not free and they are required to make a financial contribution (based on their income and assets) which in most cases is relatively small. The minimum contribution for legal advice is €10 and for legal aid is €50. The contributions can be waived in certain limited circumstances. There are certain categories of cases in which it is free and is not means assessed. I understand that Information Leaflets about the services (including a Leaflet on Financial Eligibility) that the Board provides and a full list of the Board's Law Centres is available at the Board's website(www.legalaidboard.ie).

The criteria for granting legal aid are not uniform across the EU. The Council Directive 2002/8/EC is designed to improve access to justice in cross-border disputes by establishing minimum common rules relating to legal aid for such disputes. There is a standard application form which a person may complete and send to his or her own legal aid authority who can transmit it to the legal aid authority of the Member State in which the court is sitting. A person who is deemed to be financially ineligible in their own country may have an application transmitted to this country in respect of court proceedings in this jurisdiction and if found to be financially eligible and to meet the other legal aid criteria, may be granted a legal aid certificate.

I should emphasise that the Board can only process and determine applications for legal aid where the proceedings are in this jurisdiction. Any applicant wishing to seek legal aid for a matter in another jurisdiction must complete the standard application form and the Board, which is the designated transmitting and receiving authority for inter-jurisdictional legal aid applications, transmits the application to the relevant receiving authority in the other jurisdiction. A copy of the relevant form is available on the Board's websitewww.legalaidboard.ie

Under the Criminal Justice Legal Aid Act 1962, the courts, through the judiciary, are responsible for the granting of legal aid in criminal matters. An applicant for legal aid must establish to the satisfaction of the court that his/her means are insufficient to enable him/her to pay for legal representation him/herself. The court must also be satisfied that, by reason of the "gravity of the charge" or "exceptional circumstances", it is essential in the interests of justice that the applicant should have legal aid. I have no function in these matters which are determined by the Judiciary. Under the 1962 Act, the applicant for free legal aid in criminal matters may be required by the court to complete a statement of means. It is an offence for an applicant to knowingly make a false statement or conceal a material fact for the purpose of obtaining legal aid.

My Department, in consultation with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel, is considering a range of changes to the current system, including the introduction of measures aimed at bringing a greater degree of rigour to the means assessment process in relation to criminal legal aid, increase the sanctions for providing false information and provide for the possibility of contributions towards the cost of legal representation where individuals have the means to do so. Responsibility for administering all legal aid will be consolidated with the Legal Aid Board. It is essential that the system is rigorous while ensuring legal aid is available to those who are entitled to it. I am also anxious to ensure that any measures introduced should not ultimately cost more than is saved.

The Deputy will be aware that EU member states operate different legal systems and by virtue of this will apply different criteria for the award of legal aid within their respective national systems but all states are bound by Article 6.3.c of the European Convention on Human Rights which provides that "Everyone charged with a criminal offence has the following minimum rights: . . . . .(c) to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing or, if he has not sufficient means to pay for legal assistance, to be given it free when the interests of justice so require”.

Crime Levels

Joe Costello

Question:

164 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of persons arrested for possession of drugs for sale and supply while they were on bail in each of the past five years; the number of those arrested who were again released on continuing bail; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5772/11]

The Garda Síochána Act 2005 makes provision for the compilation and publication of crime statistics by the Central Statistics Office, as the national statistical agency, and the CSO has established a dedicated unit for this purpose. I have requested the CSO to provide directly to the Deputy any available statistics in relation to the commission of drugs offences during the reporting period, where the suspected offender was on bail.

Other information sought by the Deputy relates to the granting of bail by the courts. Under the Courts Service Act, 1998, the Courts Service is independent in the performance of its functions, which includes the provision of information on the courts system, including the provision of statistical and other related information. I have requested this information from the Courts Service in so far as what is available or can be compiled and will contact the Deputy again.

I am concerned about offences being committed by persons on bail. For that reason, I intend to bring forward a new Bail Bill which will consolidate and update bail law. In preparing the Bill, I have asked my Department to examine a number of matters in the current law to ensure that the bail regime can operate in as tight and effective a way as possible. One of the measures I am looking at is the extent to which the law can give greater guidance to the courts on the need to protect the public against those who present an unacceptable risk of committing a serious offence if granted bail.

Proposed Legislation

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

165 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform when he plans to bring forward legislation on proposed new anti-corruption laws; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5896/11]

The Government is committed to consolidating and reforming the law on corruption. My officials have commenced work with a view to bringing proposals to Government in due course.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

166 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform when he will introduce legislation to abolish upward only rent reviews for existing leases as set out in the programme for Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5899/11]

As the Deputy notes, the Programme for Government indicates that legislation will be introduced to end upward only rent reviews for existing leases. I am in consultation with the Attorney General with a view to progressing this matter as expeditiously as possible.

Citizenship Applications

Pat Breen

Question:

167 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding an application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Leitrim; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5906/11]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Section of my Department in March 2011. On examination of the application submitted, it was determined that the application be returned in its entirety to the person concerned for further attention on 16 March, 2011. In order to be fair to all applicants, only valid applications can be considered.

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 Resources

Seán Kenny

Question:

168 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of dogs currently in the Garda dog unit; his plans to increase the number of dogs; and the cost of one extra dog. [5920/11]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that there are currently twenty-six dogs attached to the Garda Dog Units in the Dublin Metropolitan Region and the Southern Region. The cost of purchasing dogs varies between €1,000 and €3,000, depending on the breed involved. The allocation of Garda resources is a matter for the Garda Commissioner, in line with his identified operational requirements and priorities. In that context I have been advised that the roll out of Garda Dog Units to other Garda Regions is being examined.

Seán Kenny

Question:

169 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of horses currently in the Garda mounted unit; his plans to increase the number of horses; and the cost of one extra horse. [5922/11]

The allocation of Garda resources is a matter for the Garda Commissioner, in line with his identified operational needs and priorities. I have been informed by the Garda authorities that there are currently twelve horses attached to the Garda Mounted Unit and that plans to increase this number are being progressed. The approximate cost of purchasing a horse for the Garda Mounted Unit is €6,000.

Grant Payments

John O'Mahony

Question:

170 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive their REP scheme payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5664/11]

The person named commenced REPS 3 on 1st October 2006 and has received payment in respect of each of the years 1 to 4. Following the imposition of a non-compliance penalty on his year 3 payment, the person named lodged an appeal to the Agriculture Appeals Office. The original decision was upheld by the Agriculture Appeals Office and the file is currently under review by the Office of the Ombudsman. Once the file has been returned by the Office of the Ombudsman processing of his Year 5 payment will be finalised.

Pat Breen

Question:

171 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when payment of REPS 4 will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5701/11]

The person named commenced REPS 4 in January 2010. A revised plan was submitted and has now been processed. Payment will issue within 10 days.

Pat Breen

Question:

172 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when REP scheme payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5732/11]

The above named commenced REPS 4 in June 2009 and received his year 1 payment in December 2009. A new plan was submitted and, during processing, was found to be invalid. My officials have recently been in touch with the planner involved in order to resolve the matter.

Martin Ferris

Question:

173 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Kerry will receive their single farm payment. [5734/11]

An application under the 2010 Single Payment Scheme was received from the person named on 17 May 2010. A number of land parcels declared by the applicant and listed as permanent pasture on the Single Payment Scheme application form were also being claimed as forestry under another Scheme. The matter has now been resolved and payment under the Single Payment Scheme will issue to the applicant shortly.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

174 Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason a person (details supplied) in County Galway has not been paid extra grant aid under the REP scheme in relation to endangered species; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5758/11]

The person named commenced REPS 3 on the 1st December 2005 and received his year 5 payment in December 2009. The additional payment to the person named in respect of Rare Breeds was paid on 22nd March 2011.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

175 Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason a person (details supplied) in County Galway has not been paid €10 per ewe grant aid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5759/11]

An application under the 2010 Grassland Sheep Scheme was received from the person named on 15 April 2010. This application was selected for and was the subject of a ground eligibility and Grassland Sheep Scheme inspection. This inspection revealed that the number of breeding ewes as declared by the person named on the 2009 Sheep Census was over-declared by 25%. Under the requirements of the Scheme, where the over-declaration between the total breeding ewes declared and the total determined is greater than 20%, no payment is due to the applicant.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

176 Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason a 10% penalty was imposed on a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5760/11]

REPS 3 specifications state that at least half of the recommended level of lime must be applied by the end of year 2 of the REPS plan, and the remainder by the end of year 4. In the case of granulated lime, the recommended requirement must be spread in equal amounts every year for the period of the contract. An inspection was carried out on the farm of the person named and it was found that the lime was not spread within the first two years. A letter explaining this and advising the person named of the penalty was sent on 18 November 2010. The letter also informed him of his right to appeal. To date no letter of appeal has been received from the person named.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

177 Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason grant aid under the sheep fencing scheme has not been approved in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5761/11]

The person named submitted an application under the Sheep Fencing/Mobile Equipment Scheme on 31 January 2011. The application is currently being processed. As soon as processing is complete the person named will be advised as to whether or not he has been approved for the scheme.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

178 Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason grant aid under the sheep fencing scheme has not been approved in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5764/11]

The person named submitted an application under the Sheep Fencing/Mobile Equipment Scheme on 31 January 2011. My Department is awaiting further information concerning the application and when this is received processing of the application will recommence.

Veterinary Inspection Service

Martin Ferris

Question:

179 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if his attention has been drawn to the closure of the district veterinary office (DVO) in Portlaoise, County Laois, and the fact that this will mean that there will be no DVO in counties Laois, Carlow, Kilkenny, Westmeath and north Tipperary; and the measures he will take to address this void. [5769/11]

Decisions regarding the reorganisation of my Department's local office structure were taken almost two years ago following an extensive review undertaken within the Department. The closure of the District Veterinary Office in Portlaoise represents the final phases of implementation of that review.

Paramount to restructuring the local office network was concern to ensure a high quality service to farmers and food business operators throughout the country. The new structure not only maintains a high quality service but in fact, will enhance the level of service available, while at the same time driving greater efficiencies and encouraging broader flexibilities within the new Regional Office structure. Through the greater use of modern technology, the simplification of schemes and programmes, the reduction in disease levels, the uptake and availability of on-line services and the improved telephone service as a result of electronic systems, quite apart from the reduction in office footfall, the Department's public interface with its clients can now be carried out in any one of the new Regional Offices.

As a result, the number of local offices will be reduced to a sustainable level to reflect the overall reduced staffing levels within local offices and the reduced requirement for public counter services arising from the increased availability of the Department's on-line services and the success of information technology investments, especially in the areas of animal health and welfare, customer management, animal movement identification and the management of field inspections.

Instead of having a presence in every county, or more than one in many counties, a new regional structure of offices will replace a total of fifty eight separate office locations throughout the country. Farmer clients in neighbouring counties can access any of the regional offices in the network and all regional offices are geared up to provide service to farmers and food business operators.

Grant Payments

Martin Ferris

Question:

180 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a REP scheme payment will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry. [5774/11]

The person named commenced REPS 3 in June 2006. His final payment in respect of year 5 was made in full in August 2010.

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

181 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will immediately pay farmers their REP scheme payments and all other payments due. [5807/11]

My Department makes substantial payments under REPS and over €78 million was paid to participating farmers under the scheme in 2011 alone. To date, some 24,000 REPS 4 farmers have received a 2010 Scheme year payment. I am acutely aware, nevertheless, that many farmers are still awaiting their REPS 4 payments. I appreciate the importance of such payments to these farm families and I can assure the Deputy that every effort is being made by my officials to expedite these payments.

Some REPS participants have not yet received their REPS 4 payment because their applications have not yet cleared the mandatory administrative checks. To meet the requirements of the EU regulations, applications for REPS payments have to go through an exhaustive series of administrative checks before payment can be released. In a significant number of cases, those checks have raised issues and queries which require further detailed examination. My officials are working to resolve these as quickly as possible with the applicants with a view to completing payment as quickly as possible.

Tom Hayes

Question:

182 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when payment under the REP scheme will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary and the reason for the delay in issue of payment. [5900/11]

The person named joined REPS 4 on 1st January 2009 and received his year 1 payment in March 2010. The 2010 REPS 4 application from the person named was under examination following a crosscheck with the 2010 Single Farm Payment application. Difficulties due to re-digitisation have now been resolved and payment will issue over the next two weeks.

Michael Creed

Question:

183 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the position regarding a forestry grant in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; if this person is entitled to payment at the farmer or non-farmer rate and the exact payment per acre in this case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5927/11]

To qualify for the farmer rate of premium under the afforestation scheme, an applicant must either have an active Department ID (Herd Number) or prove that 25% of their income was from farming for either the year of completion of planting or for 1 of the 3 years prior to completion. The person named has yet to submit acceptable proof of his farming activity in order to qualify for forestry premiums at the farmer rate. The rates of premium payable, for the species planted, are €467.50 per hectare for farmers and €194.79 per hectare for non-farmers. Also, payment of grants and premiums cannot be made until the person named submits a current/valid Tax Clearance Certificate as issued to him by the Office of the Revenue Commissioners.

Michael Creed

Question:

184 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will be paid their sheep grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5929/11]

An application under the 2010 Grassland Sheep Scheme was received from the person named on 14 April 2010. Payments under the 2010 Grassland Sheep Scheme commenced on 1 February 2011 in respect of those cases cleared for payment at that stage; the application for the person named in now fully processed with payment due to issue shortly.

Live Exports

Clare Daly

Question:

185 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his plans to outlaw the export of Irish greyhounds to China. [5941/11]

I am not aware of any exports of greyhounds from Ireland to China in recent years. Any proposal to export greyhounds from Ireland to China would require the establishment and agreement of export health certification protocols with the Chinese authorities, and appropriate transport arrangements would have to be put in place to ensure the welfare of the animals in transit.

Veterinary Inspection Service

Arthur Spring

Question:

186 Deputy Arthur Spring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if his attention has been drawn to the concerns of the local farming community in Portlaoise regarding the decision to relocate the Portlaoise district veterinary office and staff of 30 persons to a new rented building in Naas, County Kildare; the reason behind this decision; if it makes economic sense to move this office; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5947/11]

Decisions regarding the reorganisation of my Department's local office structure were taken almost two years ago following an extensive review undertaken within the Department. The closure of the District Veterinary Office in Portlaoise represents the final phases of implementation of that review.

Paramount to restructuring the local office network was concern to ensure a high quality service to farmers and food business operators throughout the country. The new structure not only maintains a high quality service but in fact, will enhance the level of service available, while at the same time driving greater efficiencies and encouraging broader flexibilities within the new Regional Office structure. Through the greater use of modern technology, the simplification of schemes and programmes, the reduction in disease levels, the uptake and availability of on-line services and the improved telephone service as a result of electronic systems, quite apart from the reduction in office footfall, the Department's public interface with its clients can now be carried out in any one of the sixteen new Regional Offices.

The financial savings from the reorganisation of the local offices are very significant and for 2011 the reduction in running costs amounts to some €20 million and the reduction of over 250 staff. For 2012 the reduction in running costs are expected to be some €30 million with an overall reduction from the programme of over 400 staff. In the case of the new Regional Office in Naas, no additional accommodation is being rented by my Department.

Grant Payments

Paul Connaughton

Question:

187 Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if there were any entitlements in the names of persons (details supplied); if such entitlements are still available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5949/11]

The persons named established 13.15 standard entitlements with a net unit value of €261.43 resulting in an overall Single Payment of €3,437.80. In scheme year 2005 the persons named successfully consolidated their entitlements which resulted in an allocation of 11.56 National Reserve entitlements with the higher unit value of €297.39 each. Subsequently in scheme year 2010, the persons named transferred, by way of sale, 6.66 of these entitlements. They now have 4.90 entitlements remaining with a unit value of €297.39 each.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

188 Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when payment through the agri-environment options scheme will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5950/11]

Under the EU Regulations governing the Agri-Environment Options Scheme and other area-based payment schemes, a comprehensive administrative check, including cross-checks with the Land Parcel Identification System, must be completed on all applications before any payment can issue. Payment will issue to the person named at the earliest possible date once these checks have been completed.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

189 Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will consider paying the suckler cow welfare scheme to a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5952/11]

Section 8.7 of the Terms and Conditions of the Suckler Welfare Scheme states that“ it shall be mandatory for an approved applicant to attend a suitable training course before reaching the end of their second year in the Scheme .” The Department provided courses for applicants extensively throughout the country during 2008 and 2009. However, in view of the difficult circumstances faced by a number of farming enterprises in Ireland during 2009, the Department decided, as an exceptional measure, to extend the period for completing a training course for a further year. To this end, further courses were run around the country in late 2010. Notification issued to all of those participants in the Scheme who had not already undertaken a course reminding them of their obligations under the Scheme and advising them that this was the final opportunity to attend a course and that failure to do so would result in no further payments being made and that any payments already made may be recouped.

The person named applied for the above Scheme in 2008 and was made aware of the requirements regarding the training for the Suckler Welfare Scheme under the Terms and Conditions and through the extensive media campaign, which was conducted prior to the Scheme coming into operation. He had three years in which to complete the training and has not done so. Consequently, no further payments can be made to this herd owner under this Scheme and payments already made may be recouped.

Thomas Pringle

Question:

190 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when payments will be made to farmers in Donegal South-West who have signed contracts as long ago as November 2010 with his Department under the agri-environment options scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5979/11]

Under the EU Regulations governing the Agri-Environment Options Scheme and other area-based payment schemes, a comprehensive administrative check, including cross-checks with the Land Parcel Identification System, must be completed before any payment can issue. Payment will issue at the earliest possible date once these checks have been completed.

Tom Hayes

Question:

191 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason the final 25% of payment under the REPS scheme has not issued to a person (details supplied) in Count Tipperary. [6039/11]

The person named commenced REPS 4 in November 2008 and received the first two years' payments in full. 75% of the year 3 payment was made in December 2010. Payment of the final 25% cannot be made until outstanding checks are finalised and compliance with the scheme conditions has been fully established. Payment will issue at the earliest possible date once all checks have been completed.

Michael Creed

Question:

192 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will receive payment in respect of their REPS 4 application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6049/11]

The person named commenced REPS 4 on I December 2009 and received his year 1 payment in March 2010. The REPS file of the person named is the subject of an audit and will be processed for payment when the audit has been completed.

Community Development

Catherine Murphy

Question:

193 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs if a decision has been made regarding funding for an organisation (details supplied); if a further extension will be granted; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5817/11]

TheScheme to Support National Organisations in the Community and Voluntary Sector, under which the organisation referred to by the Deputy has been funded, commenced in 2008 with the aim of providing multi-annual funding to national organisations which provide coalface services to disadvantaged target groups. The three-year contracts were concluded at the end of 2010.

On 16 December 2010, applications were invited under a new round of funding for theScheme to Support National Organisations in the Community and Voluntary Sector. This new round of funding will replace the previous Scheme and will provide multi-annual funding (subject to funding being available) to national organisations towards core costs associated with the provision of services. The closing date for applications was 24 January 2011.

On 2 December 2010, organisations funded under the previous Scheme were offered an extension to their contract until 31 March 2011. In light of the changes currently underway in relation to Departmental functions, I have decided to roll-over the current interim funding for a further month to allow sufficient time for decisions on the allocations under the new scheme to be made by the end-April 2011. The relevant organisations were informed of this revised timescale on 25 March 2011.

Údarás na Gaeltachta

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

194 D’fhiafraigh Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Comhionannais agus Gaeltachta an bhfuil sé i gceist aige airgead a chur ar fáil do Scéim na mBóithre Pobal i mbliana de bharr an luacha airgid atá ar fáil ón scéim; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [5693/11]

Mar is eol don Teachta, rinneadh ciorrú substaintiúil ar bhuiséad na Roinne Gnóthaí Pobail, Comhionannais agus Gaeltachta don bhliain 2011. I gcomhthéacs an chiorraithe sin agus i bhfianaise na ngealltanas atá ar láimh, ní léir go mbeidh sé ar chumas mo Roinne-se deontais a cheadú i leith bóithre pobail sa Ghaeltacht sa ghearr-théarma.

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

195 D’fhiafraigh Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Comhionannais agus Gaeltachta an bhfuil sé i gceist cead a thabhairt d’Údarás na Gaeltachta Príomhfheidhmeannach nua a cheapadh; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [5691/11]

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

196 D’fhiafraigh Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Comhionannais agus Gaeltachta an bhfuil sé i gceist na feidhmeanna fiontraíochta atá ag Údarás na Gaeltachta a fhágáil acu mar atá leagtha síos sa Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [5692/11]

Tógfaidh mé ceisteanna 195 agus 196 le chéile.

Mar is eol don Teachta, tá molta sa Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge 2010-2030 go mbunófaí Údarás Gaeilge agus Gaeltachta (Údarás na Gaeilge agus na Gaeltachta), a ghníomhódh ar bhonn náisiúnta agus a chomhlíonfadh feidhmeanna ábhartha a dhéanann Údarás na Gaeltachta agus eagraíochtaí Stáit agus neamhrialtasacha eile i láthair na huaire, de réir mar is cuí. Tá ráite sa Straitéis freisin go leagfar síos ról sonrach agus feidhmeanna sonracha an Údaráis mholta nua i ndréacht-reachtaíocht. Maidir le Príomhfheidhmeannach nua a cheapadh, tuigfidh an Teachta nach mbeadh sé cuí tabhairt faoi sin go dtí go mbeadh na cinntí cuí tógtha maidir leis na cúrsaí seo uile.

Health Services

Michael McGrath

Question:

197 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the provision of appropriate adult day services for a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [5665/11]

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

Michael McGrath

Question:

198 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the provision of respite care in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [5666/11]

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

Medical Cards

Finian McGrath

Question:

199 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [5673/11]

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

Jack Wall

Question:

200 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a medical card application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5678/11]

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

Hospital Services

Timmy Dooley

Question:

201 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will continue to quote the trolley figures produced by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation and not the figures produced by the Health Service Executive which he previously claimed were discredited. [5690/11]

The information currently available on waiting times in Emergency Departments records only those who have been assessed as in need of admission at a particular time. The HSE publishes this information in respect of 2 p.m. each day. The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation publishes information from 8 a.m. each day. I do not consider that the information currently produced is a good indicator of the actual extent of waiting times in our EDs, particularly where it relates only to patients awaiting admission, rather than to all ED attendances.

The HSE is now implementing a project to collect data on the full patient waiting time experience in EDs. This ‘time in/time out' data will show the actual time waited by all patients, whether admitted or not, from time of registration at an ED to time of admission or discharge. The HSE is working intensively to put this data system in place. When complete later this year, I expect that they will be in a position to produce better validated, more comprehensive information.

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

202 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Health and Children if funding will be provided in 2011 for the provision of a unit to provide radio iodine ablation in Galway University Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5694/11]

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

Health Services

Finian McGrath

Question:

203 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will support a home care package in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin. [5709/11]

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

Finian McGrath

Question:

204 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will support the case of a person (details supplied) regarding assistance. [5716/11]

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

Medical Cards

Jack Wall

Question:

205 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a medical card appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5723/11]

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

Nursing Homes Support Scheme

Michael Creed

Question:

206 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will be approved under the fair deal nursing scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5731/11]

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

Mental Health Services

Jack Wall

Question:

207 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children his views regarding youth mental health (details supplied); the actions he proposes or has instigated to address the issues raised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5745/11]

The Deputy can be assured of this Government's commitment to youth mental health and to the development of the child and adolescent mental health service. Of course many factors affect the mental health of young people and I fully accept that youth is a very vulnerable time. In these circumstances, it is I believe critical, that we provide within our communities, the kinds of supports young people require. By ensuring early access to appropriate interventions we can help to prevent a lifetime of needless pain and suffering.

In this regard the Government will reform our model of healthcare delivery so that more care is delivered in the community; access to modern mental health services in the community will therefore be significantly improved. It is proposed to ringfence €35m annually from within the health budget to develop community mental health teams and services to ensure early access to more appropriate services for both adults and children. It is hoped that the provision of such services will put an end to the practice of placing children and adolescents in adult psychiatric facilities.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Jack Wall

Question:

208 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children when a child (details supplied) in County Kildare will have a physiological test completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5752/11]

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

Martin Ferris

Question:

209 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Kerry will receive an appointment. [5753/11]

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

Departmental Offices

Eric J. Byrne

Question:

210 Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children his plans to close the Department of Social Protection local office at a location (details supplied) in Dublin 12 and move all staff and services to another local office. [6033/11]

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

Hospital Waiting Lists

Jack Wall

Question:

211 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Kildare has not been provided with a date for an operation; if the position of surgical beds at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin 9, is resolved; the number of operations cancelled or deferred there for each of the past six weeks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5653/11]

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

Hospital Services

Niall Collins

Question:

212 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health and Children if he issued a statement regarding the relocation of orthopaedic services from St. Mary’s Orthopaedic Hospital to the South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital in Cork, which stated that this will enable the services to best serve the needs of orthopaedic patients in the region, in the safest and most efficient manner. [5668/11]

Niall Collins

Question:

213 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health and Children if he has now decided to review the decision on the relocation of orthopaedic services from St. Mary’s Orthopaedic Hospital to the South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital in Cork; when he made this decision; the persons present at the meeting on Tuesday, 15 March 2011 when this was discussed; and if the Minister of State, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, was present at the meeting. [5669/11]

Niall Collins

Question:

214 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health and Children if he has discussed his decision to review the relocation of orthopaedic services from St. Mary’s Orthopaedic Hospital to the South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital in Cork with the director of reconfiguration in the south. [5670/11]

Niall Collins

Question:

215 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health and Children when the review of the decision to relocate orthopaedic services from St. Mary’s Orthopaedic Hospital, Cork, will take place; when a decision will be taken; the persons who will carry out this review and the cost of this review. [5671/11]

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

234 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Health and Children when the review he is undertaking on the future of orthopaedic services at St. Mary’s Orthopaedic Hospital in Cork will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5903/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 212 to 215, inclusive, and 234 together.

My Department has asked the HSE to identify any situations where it is planning to withdraw services from individual acute hospitals in the coming months and to arrange to brief me as Minister on the circumstances and implications in each case. Pending such briefing, I have asked the Executive not to withdraw or transfer any acute services. If there is any case where the HSE considers that a change in service arrangements is required as a matter of urgency, I require the Executive to inform me of the reasons for this and the steps being taken. My colleague, Deputy Dara Murphy, recently raised with me the HSE's plans to reorganise the provision of orthopaedics service in Cork and I intend to discuss this particular issue with the Executive.

Departmental Communications

Niall Collins

Question:

216 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will undertake to publish all press statements issued by him, and on his behalf, on the website of his Department. [5672/11]

All press releases issued by me, Ministers of State and my Department are published on the website of the Department of Health at www.dohc.ie, however this does not include responses to direct media queries. The Deputy might also like to note that in September, 2010, the Press and Communications Unit of my Department launched a new web link, www.healthupdate.gov.ie which was specially developed to provide information on health topics which may be of interest such as launches and speeches by me and my Ministers of State, health matters raised in the Oireachtas and developments in the health services from around the country.

Health Service Staff

Michael Creed

Question:

217 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health and Children when he expects to be in a position to offer a voluntary scheme to non-frontline employees in the Health Service Executive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5681/11]

As the Deputy will be aware, a voluntary targeted early retirement scheme and redundancy scheme for employees in the ‘Management/Administration' and the ‘General Support Staff' categories was made available in the health sector late last year. 2,006 individuals (of whom 1,409 were HSE employees) availed of these exit schemes.

The Government is committed to bringing about a significant reduction in the number of staff across the public service over the period to 2015, to realise efficiencies in the delivery of public services and contribute to the overall correction of the national finances, while protecting front-line services as far as possible. The Minister for Public Expenditure & Reform is currently considering the range of measures that will be necessary to bring about the necessary numbers reductions. Policy measures across various areas of Government activity should contribute to this overall objective, and the Government will be carrying out a Comprehensive Review of Expenditure this year to examine all areas where savings and numbers reductions might be identified. Part of the overall policy on public service numbers may involve voluntary staff exit mechanisms, and the options in this regard will be considered by the Government in this overall context.

Vaccination Programme

Joe Costello

Question:

218 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children when the commitment in the programme for Government for the provision of the cervical cancer catch-up programme for all girls in secondary school will be implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5748/11]

I have asked the HSE to develop an implementation plan for a catch-up programme for HPV vaccination of girls in secondary school, to commence in the new school year this autumn.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

219 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will be granted a first appointment; if the period spent waiting for a first appointment will be considered when seeking a referral to the National Treatment Purchase Fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5750/11]

The management of out-patient waiting lists is a matter for the HSE and the individual hospitals concerned. I have, therefore, referred the Deputy's question to the Executive for direct reply. Subject to the resources available to it, the National Treatment Purchase Fund may arrange treatment for patients who have been on a surgical waiting list for more than three months.

Pat Breen

Question:

220 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 39 of 26 January 2011, when a person (details supplied) in County Clare will be facilitated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5821/11]

I understand that the HSE has issued a reply to the Deputy in relation to this matter.

Health Services

Pat Breen

Question:

221 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 41 of 26 January 2011, when an application will be processed in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5822/11]

The HSE has advised that they replied to the Deputy on the 4th February 2011 in relation to this matter.

Mental Health Services

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

222 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will produce a step by step plan including a timeframe for each action demonstrating the way he will deliver on the promise to close unsuitable psychiatric institutions, improve access to modern mental health services in the community and implement A Vision for Change; and if so, when. [5824/11]

Government policy on mental health incorporates the recommendations ofA Vision for Change; the closure of the old psychiatric hospitals and the transfer of patients to more appropriate community based settings is central to A Vision for Change and is therefore a priority for the Government. The evidence is overwhelming that a modern mental health service is best delivered in the community and as close to service users as possible. In these circumstances the Government is committed to improving access to modern mental health services in the community, and will ringfence €35m annually from within the health budget, to develop community mental health teams and services to ensure early access to more appropriate services, and improved integration with primary care services. As the implementation of A Vision for Change is primarily a matter for the HSE, the Deputy’s request for details of a step by step plan has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Medical Cards

Pat Breen

Question:

223 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children when an application will be processed in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5825/11]

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

Proposed Legislation

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

224 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason the Criminal Justice (Female Genital Mutilation Bill) 2011 was not restored to the Dáil Order Paper; if he will bring forward his own legislation to outlaw this practice as a matter of priority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5829/11]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that since this Bill was initiated in the Seanad, it remains on the Seanad Order Paper. The issue of restoration will only arise after the new Seanad is formed.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

225 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason that the Sunbeds Regulation Bill was not restored to the Dáil Order Paper; if he will bring forward his own legislation to prohibit the use of sunbeds by under 18s; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5830/11]

The Sunbed Regulation Bill 2010 was a Private Members Bill which lapsed on the dissolution of Dáil Éireann on 1 February 2011. Shortly, I will seek Government approval to prepare legislation to regulate sunbed use, in particular to prohibit their use by those under 18 years of age.

Genetically Modified Organisms

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

226 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children his plans to revert to Ireland’s previous stance in the EU on genetically modified, GM, crops and foods. [5848/11]

Responsibility for issues relating to the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) crops in Ireland rests with my colleague Mr. Phil Hogan, T.D. Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government while responsibility for GM animal feed rests with the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mr. Simon Coveney, T.D. My responsibilities in this area relate to the safety of food.

Each application for authorisation to place food consisting of, or containing, genetically modified ingredients on the markets of EU Member States is considered on a case-by-case basis. The food in question must be deemed to be safe by both the European Food Safety Authority and the competent authority in the country of application. If authorised, the food must be clearly labelled to ensure that consumers are fully informed as to the properties of the product. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) is the competent authority on food safety in Ireland. My Department has consulted with the FSAI and has been informed that there are currently no authorised GM foods on the Irish market.

National Lottery Funding

Pat Breen

Question:

227 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 93 and 103 of 2 December 2010, the position regarding an application in respect of a group (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5854/11]

National Lottery funding applications are approved based on the recommendation of the relevant section within my Department. I am pleased to advise the Deputy that the application for National Lottery funding which was made by the group in question has been successful and funding amounting to €22,600 has been approved. A letter confirming this outcome has issued to the group.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Jack Wall

Question:

228 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Carlow will be provided with a bed to allow further investigation and medical attention for their illness; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5855/11]

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

Health Services

Question:

229 Deputy Michael P. Kitt asked the Minister for Health and Children if he has received a submission from an organisation (details supplied) to provide rehabilitation; if his attention has been drawn to the lack of community rehabilitation services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5890/11]

I have received correspondence from Acquired Brain Injury Ireland on behalf of the Neurological Alliance of Ireland regarding their Action Plan for Neurological Care. My Department is in the process of finalising a National Policy and Strategy for the delivery of Neuro-Rehabilitation Services in Ireland 2011-2015. The Health Service Executive's National Service Plan for 2011 includes a commitment to

target people waiting for a neurology out-patient appointment,

appoint a national clinical lead for neuro-rehabilitation,

establish an implementation structure and develop an implementation plan for neuro-rehabilitation

I am confident that the implementation of the Government's Programme of reform for the Health Services will improve services for people living with a neurological condition.

Care of the Elderly

Question:

230 Deputy Michael P. Kitt asked the Minister for Health and Children when the national positive aging strategy will be published; the Minister or Minister of State who will be dealing with these issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5892/11]

Question:

231 Deputy Michael P. Kitt asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will have responsibility for issues raised by organisations involved with the elderly; if these matters will be dealt with by a Minister of State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5893/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 230 and 231 together.

I would like to reassure the Deputy that policy in relation to older people in Ireland is a priority for the Government. While policy in relation to the health services is a matter for me as Minister, positive, active, healthy aging must not be considered to be solely a health issue. It is a matter for every Minister to consider the wide range of issues which directly impact on the lives of older people particularly in the context of the increasing numbers of older people in society. It is therefore a matter for every Minister to address issues relevant to older people and respond accordingly.

As the Deputy may be aware, the Programme for Government commits us to complete and implement the National Positive Aging Strategy. The Strategy will establish the strategic framework for future policies, programmes and services for older people in Ireland. It is envisaged that the National Positive Aging 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. The 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. Work on preparing and developing the Strategy is continuing in my Department.

I would also like to assure the Deputy that I consider it vital for me, as Minister, and for officials at my Department, to liaise and work closely with groups who represent and are involved with all citizens, including older citizens. Indeed, as part of the ongoing work to develop the National Positive Aging Strategy, a 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. The purpose of this Group is to facilitate the exchange of information and views during the development of the Strategy between NGOs, their members and the Cross Departmental Group assisting in the development of the Strategy.

Medical Cards

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

232 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children when a decision will issue on an application for a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5894/11]

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

Medical Aids and Appliances

Martin Ferris

Question:

233 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) will receive orthopaedic shoes. [5902/11]

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

Question No. 234 answered with Question No. 212.

Health Insurance

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

235 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will outline all contacts between him and a group (details supplied) and Voluntary Health Insurance between his appointment as Minister and Tuesday, 23 March 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5904/11]

I met with representatives of the Cork Medical Centre along with the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Deputy Simon Coveney, on 10 March 2011. I listened to their concerns about the decision of the VHI not to provide cover for the facility. I explained that I could not intervene in what are commercial decisions for the VHI. However, I indicated that while I was not in a position to give any undertakings, that I would discuss the issue with the VHI.

I met with the Chairman and Chief Executive of the VHI on 11 March to discuss a range of issues, including the VHI's decision on the Cork Medical Centre. In particular, I expressed my disappointment at a decision which would lead to the closure of such a modern facility and the consequent loss of jobs. While it is not appropriate for me to intervene in the decisions of the VHI as to which health service providers it makes arrangements with on behalf of its customers, I am anxious to deal with the perceived dominance of the VHI in the private health insurance market. In that regard, I have instructed my officials to proceed with the appointment of financial and legal advisors to examine options for the rebalancing of the market, with a view to addressing this position.

Hospital Services

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

236 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health and Children if Beaumont Hospital, Dublin 9, is proceeding with a new car park; if declining parking revenues was an element of the decision to develop new parking facilities at Beaumont; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5961/11]

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

237 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health and Children the projected cost to Beaumont Hospital, Dublin 9, for the option to acquire the title in 2013 of the multistorey car park that was opened in Beaumont in 1999; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5962/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 236 and 237 together.

As decisions relating to car park facilities at Beaumont Hospital, including the projected cost for the option to acquire title to the multistorey car park, are matters for the HSE, the questions have been referred to the Executive for direct reply.

Medical Cards

Niall Collins

Question:

238 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an appeal of a medical card refusal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [5968/11]

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

Health Services

Niall Collins

Question:

239 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will expedite an application for home help in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [5969/11]

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

Niall Collins

Question:

240 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health and Children when a specific item will be made available to a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [5970/11]

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

Child Care Services

Niall Collins

Question:

241 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will specify the regulations in relation to child care (details supplied). [5971/11]

Child minding in Ireland is governed by Part VII of the Child Care Act 1991 and by the Child Care (Pre-School Services) (No 2) Regulations 2006. The explanatory guide to the regulations prescribes that a childminder should look after not more than five pre-school children including the childminder's own pre-school children. Not more than two of the prescribed number of children should be less that 15 months. Exceptions in relation to the numbers under 15 months can be made in the case of multiple births or siblings. It is also a requirement that a telephone and a second person be available on the premises to deal with emergencies.

General Practitioner Services

Thomas Pringle

Question:

242 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will provide a breakdown of the costs that general practitioners meet out of their general medical services payments, relating to staff, accommodation and so on, received from the Health Service Executive. [5982/11]

More than 60% of the population receive GP services on a private fee paying basis, while almost 40% receive such services under the General Medical Services (GMS) Scheme. While these percentages may vary between practices, information in relation to GPs business expenses are not available to my Department.

GPs who hold contracts with the Health Service Executive (HSE) under the GMS Scheme are remunerated through a range of fees and allowances, including capitation fees, out-of-hours payments, special items of service fees, rural practice allowance, payments towards the employment of practice nurse, secretary and manager support and fees for locum cover for leave.

In 2009, the total fees and allowances paid by the HSE to contracted GPs was over €470 million. This included allowances of some €75 million towards the employment of practice secretaries, nurses and managers. These staff are available for the provision of services to the GPs' private patients. The full list of GMS payments to GPs is set out in the Primary Care Reimbursement Service "Statistical Analysis of Claims and Payments 2009", which can be viewed on-line athttp://www.hse.ie/eng/staff/PCRS/PCRS_Publications/2009.pdf.

Regulations made in 2009 and 2010 under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009 will result in full year savings of some €78 million in 2011 in GP fees and allowances. The current rates of GMS payments are set out in the Health Professionals (Reduction of Payments to General Practitioners) Regulations 2010 (S.I. 638/2010).

Health Services

Niall Collins

Question:

243 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health and Children when a specific service will be made available to a child (details supplied) in County Cork. [5986/11]

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

Health Service Staff

Niall Collins

Question:

244 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will assist in resolving the issues which have arisen in relation to the transfer of staff from one facility to another (details supplied). [5987/11]

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

Health Services

Niall Collins

Question:

245 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health and Children if assistance has been approved for transport costs in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [5988/11]

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

Niall Collins

Question:

246 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will restore a specific service which was recently suspended by the Health Service Executive. [5989/11]

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

Hospital Waiting Lists

Niall Collins

Question:

247 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will arrange a hospital appointment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [5995/11]

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

Medical Cards

Niall Collins

Question:

248 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [5997/11]

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

Search and Rescue Service

Brendan Griffin

Question:

249 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Transport if the full complement of staff, in light of impending retirements, will be maintained at Valentia coast guard radio station, County Kerry, now and in the future in view of the fact that this is a front-line emergency service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5784/11]

Brendan Griffin

Question:

250 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Transport when the urgently needed updated equipment will be installed at Valentia coast guard radio station, County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5785/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 249 and 250 together.

In relation to the current staffing complement and impending retirements of staff at Marine Rescue Sub Co-ordination Centre (MRSC) Valentia, there are no plans to reduce the current establishment numbers of the Coast Guard's Co-ordination function which are located at Valentia, Malin and Dublin. As regards the installation of Integrated Communications System (ICS) at Valentia, the existing buildings will have to be adapted to accommodate the ICS equipment. Planning for this is currently under way in consultation with the Office of Public Works. Installation is not expected to be completed until next year.

Taxi Hardship Panel

Terence Flanagan

Question:

251 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Transport the position regarding the taxi hardship scheme in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 13. [5935/11]

The Taxi Hardship Payments Scheme was established in late 2003 to implement the recommendations of the Report of the Taxi Hardship Panel. The Scheme was formally launched in November 2003 and the final date for receipt of applications was 24 September 2004. The processing and consideration of applications under the Scheme was undertaken independently of my Department by Area Development Management Limited, now known as Pobal. My Department has no details of applications made under the Scheme. I have referred the Deputy's Question to Pobal for direct reply. There are no proposals to reopen the Scheme.

Road Network

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

252 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Transport if he will provide funding for the bridge at Ballindeega on the N72 road between Barraduff and Rathmore, County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5777/11]

As Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme element of Transport 21. The construction, improvement and maintenance of individual national roads, is a matter for the National Roads Authority (NRA) under the Roads Acts 1993 to 2007 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. Noting this I have referred the Deputy's question to the NRA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

253 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Transport the position regarding the steel structure on the bridge at Valentia, County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5778/11]

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of each local authority, in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from local authorities own resources and are supplemented by State road grants. The initial selection and prioritisation of projects to be funded is also a matter for the local authority. The 2011 Regional and Local Road Grant Allocations were announced on 1st February 2011. A total of €375.176 million is being provided to local authorities this year for the maintenance and improvement of regional and local roads.

In July last year, local authorities were invited to submit applications for funding in 2011 under the Specific Improvement Grants Scheme. However, funding for Valentia Bridge was not among the applications submitted by Kerry County Council. It is open to Kerry County Council to prioritise this project and to include it among its applications for funding in 2012 when submissions are sought later this year. Alternatively, Kerry County Council may fund this project from its own resources.

Ministerial Travel

Seán Kenny

Question:

254 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Transport if he will report on his recent visit to India for St. Patrick’s Day; the number of persons he met during the visit; the number of officials who accompanied him on the visit and the cost of the visit to date. [5921/11]

India is the second fastest-growing major economy in the world. It has been growing at over 6% for the past 15 years and offers a wide range of opportunities for Irish interests, particularly in relation to trade, industry, education and tourism. If the Irish economy is to return to sustainable annual growth, we need to successfully engage with the BRIC economies. As such, the expansion of Irish firms into the Indian marketplace, as well as attracting foreign direct investment from India will play a key role in our economic recovery. Therefore, the purpose of my trip was to increase awareness of Ireland generally in India, to help promote Irish interests there, and to encourage investment and tourism from India to Ireland as well as educational co-operation.

In this regard, I departed from the 15th of March 2011 and returned on the 21st of March 2011. From my arrival in New Dehli on the 16th of March, to my departure on the 20th of March, there was a full schedule from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. During the course of my visit I met with a wide range of individuals and groups. These included Indian central and state governmental ministers and officials including the Minister for Civil Aviation, Shri Vayalar Ravi, the Secretary for Civil Aviation Dr. Zaidi, and Joint Secretary for Civil Aviation Prashant Sukul and the Minister for Science and Technology, Ashwani Kumar. I also met with Ministers from the Governments of the states of Goa, West Bengal and Maharastra.

I met with a number of Irish businesses operating in India and seeking to attract investment from India to Ireland. In this regard I met with a number of IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland clients, with a number of aviation interests, visited Dell's Indian headquarters as well as witnessing the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding between Keenan Technologies, an Irish company, and Keventer Agro, an Indian company.

In addition, I held meetings in New Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai with Indian tourist and education agents in order to promote Ireland's attractions as a destination for Indian tourists, as well as a location for learning. Finally, I also attended the Irish cricket team's match with the Netherlands as a guest of Cricket Ireland and met with the team afterwards to congratulate them on their success at the Cricket World Cup in defeating England and the Netherlands. I also met with Sister Cyril Mooney of the Loretto Rainbow School in Kolkata — a noted Irish educationalist who has been a foremost innovator in Indian education since the 1950s.

I also carried out a number of interviews and briefings with the Indian media. I also met with IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and Tourism Ireland representatives working on the ground in India, as well as the Honorary Consuls in Kolkata and Mumbai. On my return from India, I had the full details and costs of the trip published on the Departmental website. These details can be accessed from http://www.transport.ie/pressRelease.aspx?Id=300 . Furthermore during the course of my trip, there were regular updates on the Departmental website as to my activities on this trip including details of my itinerary.

On the trip I was accompanied by my private secretary. The total cost of the trip (for both myself and my private secretary) to my department including flights to India, and internal flights within India, overnight accommodation, gifts for dignitaries amongst other costs was €9,156.31. A full breakdown of these costs can be found on my Department's website. Approximately half those costs relate to me and half to my private secretary. I was also accompanied on part of my visit by Declan Collier, CEO of the Dublin Aviation Authority. It should be noted however, that his costs were not borne by my Department.

With regard to the number of people I met on the trip, it is not possible to state this definitively given the number of events that I attended. However, it was in excess of 100 people. Furthermore, I addressed over 1,000 people at evening events in New Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai. I would like to place on record my appreciation of the work being done by the Irish Embassy in India, as well as the various Irish State agencies operating there.

Public Transport

Finian McGrath

Question:

255 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Transport the reason Dublin Bus services are being reduced in Dublin North-Central, particularly on the 123 bus route. [6050/11]

This is a day-to-day operational matter for Dublin Bus in conjunction with the National Transport Authority (NTA) under its public service contract with the company. I have no function in the matter. I have arranged for the Deputy's question to be sent to the NTA for a direct response. Please advise my Office if you do not receive a response within ten days.