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 14, inclusive, answered orally.

Legal Aid Service

Barry Cowen

Question:

15 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the total budget of the Legal Aid Board in 2010; the costs of each individual centre in the country and the amount of money paid by the body to private practitioners during 2010. [16778/11]

I can inform the Deputy that the Legal Aid Board is the statutory body which provides legal aid and advice in civil law matters. It also provides legal services to asylum seekers through the Refugee Legal Service. In 2010, the Legal Aid Board received total Exchequer funding of €32.192 million. This comprised a grant in aid of €24.225 million in respect of its civil legal aid operations as well as funding of €7.967 million to operate the Refugee Legal Service. The Board also generated its own income of €2.26 million, largely through contributions from clients towards the cost of the service and costs recovered, giving a total budget of just over €34.45 million.

In respect of the civil legal aid operations, which is the area of most interest to the Deputy as I understand it, legal services are provided from 29 law centres throughout the country and a small number of specialist units, with administrative offices in Cahirciveen and Dublin supporting these law centres. Given the fact that there are over 30 locations, I am including the costs attaching to each centre separately in Appendix 1.

The demand for the services provided by the Legal Aid Board has increased significantly in recent years. Applications for civil legal aid services, with the exception of asylum applications, increased from just over 10,000 in 2007 to 17,200 in 2010, which represents a 69% increase approximately. The past three years has seen a considerable increase in demand for the services of the Board and this coincides with the downturn in the economy. In the first five months of 2011 the demand for services increased by a further 22% on the same period last year indicating that the increase in demand shows no sign of abating. Apart from the sharp increase in applications, evidence internationally has pointed towards a greater need for access to legal services in areas such as family law, debt and employment during times of economic distress and Ireland appears no different in this regard. Inevitably, this has created huge pressures for our law centres and our capacity to deliver legal services within a reasonable period of time.

One effect of the increase in demand for the Board's services has been an increase in waiting times to access a Board solicitor for those clients whose case does not necessitate a priority service. One of the ways the Board attempts to manage demand for its services is through the use of its Private Practitioner Schemes, under which private solicitors handle cases for Legal Aid Board clients where the client receives a near immediate service. Total expenditure on Private Practitioners in civil legal aid cases was just over €2.9 million in 2010. This comprised over €2.2 million on the District Court Scheme and a further €700,000 on the Circuit Court scheme. Both schemes are operated on a fixed case fee basis and any expenditure on the schemes comes from within the Board's resources. I should also point out that a separate Private Practitioner Scheme is operated by the Refugee Legal Service and expenditure on this scheme in 2010 amounted to just over €490,000.

Law centre

Amount

Dublin

Blanchardstown

€725,706

Brunswick Street

€1,140,488

Clondalkin

€651,131

Finglas

€862,096

Gardiner Street

€1,225,335

Tallaght

€996,889

George’s Lane

€256,633

Medical Negligence Unit

€244,376

Cork

Popes Quay

€1,137,986

South Mall

€1,010,668

Athlone

€641,996

Castlebar

€501,649

Cavan

€274,163

Dundalk

€343,335

Ennis

€559,838

Galway

€1,094,843

Kilkenny

€665,175

Letterkenny

€634,404

Limerick

€495,731

Longford

€354,475

Monaghan

€441,536

Navan

€525,443

Nenagh

€562,471

Newbridge

€534,597

Portlaoise

€452,248

Sligo

€367,289

Tralee

€564,058

Tullamore

€395,427

Waterford

€549,361

Wexford

€462,130

Wicklow

€540,445

RLS Dublin

€6,265,306

RLS Cork

€558,491

RLS Galway

475,148

Notes:

1. This is the estimated cost per law centre of the civil law centres, including salaries, operating and legal costs.

2. The costs of administrative offices are not included. The total costs of the Dublin and Cahirciveen administrative offices were approximately €4.5M.

Question No. 16 answered with Question No. 10.
Question No. 17 answered with Question No. 7.

Immigration Services

Denis Naughten

Question:

18 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to reform the immigration system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16627/11]

The Government's plans for the immigration system are outlined in the programme for Government which commits to the introduction of comprehensive reforms to the immigration, residence and asylum systems including a statutory immigration appeals mechanism, which will articulate rights and obligations in a transparent manner.

Deputies will be aware that the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2010 has been restored to the Dáil Order paper. It is my intention to bring forward amendments to the Bill at Committee Stage. One of my main objectives is to provide for a transparent and efficient immigration system which will support the overall economic and social goals of the Government. This will be complemented by a commitment to fair procedures for migrants supported by the statutory appeals mechanism which I have asked my officials to develop.

Programme for Government

The Programme for Government also elaborates on programmes in key sectors which will be supported by specific immigration initiatives.

I have announced Ireland's first formal Visa Waiver Programme as an integral part of the Government's Jobs Initiative. The Programme will permit nationals of 16 specified countries who obtain a short term visa for the UK to visit Ireland without the need to obtain an Irish visa. In addition special arrangements will be put in place to facilitate visits by nationals of those 16 countries who are long term residents in the UK. The programme, which is designed to encourage tourism to Ireland, will commence on 1 July 2011 and will operate on a pilot basis until October 2012.

The launch of the Education in Ireland brand underpins the Government's commitment to encourage more international students to study in Ireland and to create new jobs in the sector. Our target is to double the number of international students studying in Ireland with a particular focus on students from India, China and the Middle East. To that end we will overhaul the student visa regime and ensure that advertising, Diaspora policies and quality assurance systems are strategically developed to best position the international education sector. I am aware that a lot of work has already been done in this area and in some cases it is a matter of bringing that process to a speedy and successful conclusion.

We will also look at the immigration regime to see what we can do to provide further encouragement to postgraduates and researchers. We will also permit postgraduate students to be allowed to work in Ireland for up to a year after they complete their studies. High-value research students will be permitted to bring families if they are staying more than two years.

Investment and Entrepreneurship

I am also of the view that we need to look at how we can use the immigration system to tap into the entrepreneurial capacity of current and future migrants and also to bring investment into Ireland. The current regime, which has been in operation for a number of years, has been reviewed by my Department and it is considered to be insufficiently flexible in a number of areas, including the financial investment threshold and the employment targets. Furthermore, the existing system does not really cater for the needs of innovation start-up enterprises which will often initially employ only the principals or for high net worth individuals who would be willing to make a significant investment in the country in return for being allowed to reside here. Draft proposals in these areas are under discussion at present.

Public Sector Reform

The commitments regarding the immigration system will be underpinned by the Government's programme for public sector reform. In addition to the independent appeals mechanism which I have already spoken of, we will examine the structures which deliver immigration policies with a view to improving overall performance and added value for the taxpayers. This will include examining the level and range of application fees for immigration permissions with a view to recovering a reasonable portion of the administrative costs associated with processing applications.

The Deputy will also be aware of the commitment in the programme for Government in relation to the potential transfer of responsibility for the Passport Office to my Department.

Citizenship and Naturalisation

I have committed to the efficient processing and determination of citizenship applications within a reasonable period of time and I have recently announced major reforms to the citizenship processing regime which include a 6 month turnaround on naturalisation applications and the introduction of a formal citizenship ceremony.

Public Sector Staff

Derek Keating

Question:

19 Deputy Derek Keating asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the current salary scales of the various grades of judges. [16622/11]

I would refer the Deputy to my response to his Parliamentary Question No. 294 on Tuesday 21st June 2011.

The pay scales currently applicable to the judiciary are as follows:

Post

Salary

Chief Justice

€295,916

President of the High Court

€274,779

Judge of the Supreme Court

€257,872

President of the Circuit Court

€249,418

Judge of the High Court

€243,080

President of the District Court

€183,894

Judge of the Circuit Court

€177,554

Judge of the District Court

€147,961

Crime Levels

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

20 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which the number of criminal gangs known to be actively involved, directly or indirectly in drug importation, distribution, money laundering, racketeering or protection have increased or decreased in each of the past five years to date; the extent to which action has been taken to curtail their activity in the past; if it is intended to take major initiatives with a view to combating, in a substantial way, their growth activity and profit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16746/11]

The Deputy will appreciate that organised crime, by its nature, is constantly evolving and diversifying in both its structures and its activities, so as to exploit opportunities for criminal gain.

Given its complex nature and the fact that membership of organised gangs tends to be fluid and offences committed by members of criminal gangs may or may not be connected with an individual's membership of such gangs, it is not feasible to give reliable figures sought by the Deputy.

An Garda Síochána continues to deploy considerable resources in tackling organised and serious crime, and addressing such criminality remains a key ongoing priority both for the Government and for An Garda Síochána.

An Garda Síochána will continue to vigorously tackle organised crime through undertaking a range of activities designed to disrupt and dismantle the operations of criminal organisations. This involves targeting serious criminals and organised criminal groups on a number of fronts, including through the use of focused intelligence led operations by specialist units such as the Organised Crime Unit, the Criminal Assets Bureau, the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation and the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

An Garda Síochána also maintains close liaison with other law enforcement agencies internationally.

Law enforcement efforts in this regard are underpinned by a comprehensive framework of criminal law measures. I have indicated to the House that I will keep under review the question of whether any further improvements could be made to the overall legislative framework in this area to render it more effective. In particular, I have asked my Department to undertake a specific review of the provisions of the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009 to see if its provisions can be strengthened.

In addition, I will be bringing forward proposals for changes in the Proceeds of Crime legislation to increase the powers available to the Criminal Assets Bureau. As we know, financial gain will always be at the core of organised criminal activity and measures that target the proceeds of such activity, strike at the heart of such operations.

Where there is an identified requirement for additional legislative provisions to further enhance existing provisions tackling organised crime, I will not hesitate in bringing forward proposals.

Finally the Programme for Government contains a number of other commitments which are aimed at helping bring to justice those responsible for committing crime. For example, the proposed establishment of a DNA database to assist An Garda Síochána in the investigation of serious crime.

Departmental Staff

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

21 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons over the past ten years employed by him, who did not undergo the required one year probation and appropriate screening procedures for their posts; the number that were promoted; if any of these persons were convicted of crimes against children or were charged with such crimes but were not able to stand trial because of pleading mental illness or for some other reason found unfit to plead; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16776/11]

I am advised by my officials that they are not aware of any staff serving in my Department who fall (or fell) within the scope of the question. In accordance with the governing legislation and arrangements, all persons to be appointed to positions in my Department involving the imposition of clearance procedures and probationary periods have those arrangements applied to them as a matter of routine.

Firearms Licences

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

22 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Justice and Equality with particular reference to the report of the Garda Commissioner on the operation of the new firearms licensing system which has already been laid before Dáil Éireann, if he will confirm the precise number of restricted firearms licence applications which were received in each of the 28 Garda divisions since 1 August 2009 to date in 2011. [16791/11]

As it has not been possible to compile the information requested by the Deputy in the time available, I have asked the Garda Commissioner for a report on the matter and will write to the Deputy when it becomes available.

Proposed Legislation

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

23 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide an update on his proposals to fast-track personal bankruptcy reform particularly in relation to introducing a flexible discharge period for those termed as honest bankrupts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16721/11]

In line with a commitment in the Programme for Government a Personal Insolvency Bill is in the course of being developed in my Department to provide for a new framework for settlement and enforcement of debt and for personal insolvency. The commitment under the EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support for Ireland is to publish the Bill in Quarter 1 of 2012. It is my objective to publish the measure ahead of the EU/IMF deadline, if possible.

In developing the Bill, account is being taken of the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission in its recent Report on Personal Debt Management and Debt Enforcement. That report provided an in-depth review of the personal debt regime. The economic and financial effects of certain of the new arrangements that are in contemplation are being carefully assessed to ensure that all relevant issues are addressed and their impact is fully anticipated and understood.

I am glad to be able to inform the Deputy that earlier this week the Government approved my proposals for some interim reforms in the law of bankruptcy. The details will be announced by way of the publication of the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2011.

That Bill will provide for a significant reduction in the application period to the court for discharge from bankruptcy subject to existing conditions. These conditions relate to the bankrupt having discharged the expenses, fees and costs of the bankruptcy and any preferential payments involved. The court will require to be satisfied that the estate of the bankrupt has been fully realised, all after acquired property has been disclosed and that it is reasonable and proper to grant the application. The honesty of the person applying for discharge, would I imagine, be an important factor in the courts consideration.

Dara Calleary

Question:

24 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his response to the views expressed on the cost of the referendum on judicial pay versus the anticipated savings of the proposed reductions in judicial pay. [16784/11]

On foot of a commitment in the Programme for Government, the Government last week accepted my proposal to hold a referendum on judicial pay. The referendum will coincide with the upcoming Presidential election. The Attorney General's office is now drafting the necessary legislation.

As the Deputy is aware, salaries across the public service were reduced under the provisions of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009 and the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Act 2009. The salaries of judges were not affected on the ground that Article 35.5 of the Constitution does not permit reductions in judicial pay. Although the judiciary is exempt from the reductions, a majority of the judges have made voluntary contributions equivalent to the initial pension levy reduction.

The referendum to amend Article 35.5 will, if passed by the people, allow reductions in judicial salary levels but only to the same extent as reductions in similar salary levels in the public service. It will also provide for reductions in the pay of judges in line with any future reductions in pay in the public service that are made in the public interest.

It is essential to judicial independence — and to public confidence in the judiciary — that judges share — and be seen to share — the burdens caused by the economic and financial difficulties facing our State. I stress, however, that the amendment will not allow the Government to single out the judiciary for any pay reduction that is unrelated to a reduction in pay in the public service generally. The proposed constitutional amendment does not, therefore, endanger the independence of the judiciary.

The issue of fair burden-sharing by all citizens during our economic emergency is far more important than any issue about the cost of the referendum. The Deputy will appreciate, however, that by holding the proposed referendum to coincide with the Presidential election the costs will be substantially lower than might otherwise be the case.

Ministerial Appointments

Dara Calleary

Question:

25 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the contacts he had with the prescribed persons or organisations prior to the appointment of a person (details supplied) as confidential recipient and if he informed these organisations of this persons political donation to him. [16782/11]

As the Deputy is aware, on 14 June 2011, I appointed Mr. Oliver J. Connolly, Barrister-at-Law, to the position of Confidential Recipient under Regulation 6 of the Garda Síochána (Confidential Reporting of Corruption or Malpractice) Regulations 2007. The role of the Confidential Recipient is to be available to receive, in confidence, reports of corruption or malpractice within An Garda Síochána from Members of An Garda Síochána or civilian employees. Remuneration in respect of the position is €12,500 gross per annum.

Section 6 (1) of the applicable regulation states:

Confidential recipients

6. (1) The Minister shall, after consultation with the Commissioner, the Ombudsman Commission, the Garda Síochána Inspectorate, the Garda Síochána representative associations and the trade unions or staff associations recognised as representing civilians, appoint a person or persons as a confidential recipient or recipients.

(2) A person so appointed shall be a judge, former judge, barrister or solicitor or a serving or former senior civil or public servant.

In accordance with this regulation, consultation with the prescribed persons and organisations took place prior to the appointment of Mr. Connolly.

I wish to stress two essential points about my decision to appoint Mr. Connolly. First, a person appointed as a Confidential Recipient must be a judge, former judge, barrister, or solicitor, or a serving or former senior civil or public servant. For twenty years, Mr Connolly has practised as a lawyer with outstanding credentials. I will give a synopsis of his achievements to illuminate his calibre. He qualified to practise as a lawyer in Ireland, England, Northern Ireland, and New York. At Trinity College Dublin, he teaches civil and commercial arbitration and mediation on the Masters-in-Law programme. He has diplomas in various fields of mediation and is a member of the American Bar Association's Alternative-Dispute-Resolution Committee. From 2002 to 2003, he served as the Hoellering World Fellow in Residence with the American Arbitration Association in New York. Upon petition by the Irish-American Lawyers Association, he was admitted to practise before the Bar of the United States Supreme Court. Self-evidently, he possesses the qualities and qualifications inherently necessary to make him eligible for the role of Confidential Recipient.

Second, the Confidential Recipient must be a person of the highest integrity. To feel free enough to report wrongdoing in the force, any member or civilian employee of An Garda Síochána who needs to report in confidence acts of corruption or malpractice must have the assurance that he or she can place his or her trust in the Confidential Recipient. I would go so far as to say that it must be manifest to them from the very character of the Confidential Recipient that their report will be taken seriously and their right to confidentiality protected. Mr Connolly is a person of the highest integrity.

Mr. Connolly, as a lawyer, has striven to reduce the legal and other costs for people involved in civil litigation and matrimonial disputes. Specifically, he has promoted the use of alternative dispute resolution, a procedure for settling disputes other than through costly litigation. His mediation service — Friary Law — assists disputing parties to negotiate an agreed settlement of contentious issues. His track record evinces a wholly admirable public-service commitment. For example, he provided the Law Reform Commission with invaluable assistance when it was preparing its report entitled Alternative Dispute Resolution: Mediation and Conciliation, which was published in 2010. He has been active in pressing policymakers to regulate legal services with a view to widening access to justice for citizens.

Justifiably, his work and his integrity have attracted cross-party recognition. In April 2004, Michael McDowell TD, who was Minister for Justice in the Fianna Fáil-Progressive Democrat administration appointed Mr. Connolly's Friary Law as a nominating body for mediators under the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004. Then, in March 2011, Brendan Smith TD, who was Minister for Justice, appointed Friary Law as a nominating body for the appointment of mediators under the Multi-Unit Development Act 2011. I share this well-evidenced opinion of his integrity. The contribution by Mr Connolly of a sum of €1,000 to my election campaign in 2007 as properly disclosed by me in accordance with current law and as published by the Standards in Public Office Commission some years ago played no part in my appointment of Oliver Connolly as confidential recipient, just as it played no part in the appointment of Oliver Connolly's Friary Law by my predecessor as a mediator nominating Body under the 2011 Act.

Immigration Services

Áine Collins

Question:

26 Deputy Áine Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to review the policy of direct provision. [16631/11]

Áine Collins

Question:

36 Deputy Áine Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to reduce the number of direct provision centres around the country. [16630/11]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

44 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the changes he will make to the direct provision system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16727/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 26, 36 and 44 together.

The Reception & Integration Agency (RIA) of my Department is responsible for the accommodation of asylum seekers while their protection applications are being processed.

As of today, RIA has 46 asylum seeker accommodation centres across 19 counties accommodating almost 5,800 residents. The system is a constantly evolving one, taking account of the ebb and flow of residents and of the financial resources available to RIA. The numbers needing to be accommodated by RIA have declined by 7% in the past year and this trend is continuing downwards. The 2011 estimates provision for RIA is €67.5 million, down €10 million (13%) from last year. Added to this is the requirement by RIA — as recommended in last year's Value for Money (VFM) Report — to maintain an overall operational ‘spare capacity' of less than 10%. Hence, by dint of a decline in demand, the number of asylum accommodation centres is falling. Five centres closed in 2008, six in 2009, eight in 2010 and more will be closed or downsized later this year.

The direct provision system is designed to deliver humane and cost efficient housing for persons who are awaiting determination of their protection claims. It is my objective to speed up the asylum determination process to the greatest possible extent, consistent with natural justice and asylum law, to keep the number of persons housed in this system as low as humanly possible.

Proposed Legislation

Dessie Ellis

Question:

27 Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to enact legislation to strengthen the rights of victims of crime; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16725/11]

Preliminary work is underway in my Department on the preparation of a Criminal Justice (Victims' Rights) Bill which will strengthen the rights of victims of crime. I expect that a general scheme of the Bill will be ready for submission to Government for consideration by the end of this year.

Immigration Services

Gerry Adams

Question:

28 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will review the State’s asylum system in view of the criticism from the United Nations Committee Against Torture. [13447/11]

The United Nations Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) issued its concluding observations on 6 June following Ireland's first examination in Geneva last month under Article 19 of the UN Convention against Torture. In its concluding observations relating to refugees and international protection, the Committee made comments/recommendations in relation to a number of matters including provisions contained in the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2010 which is currently before this House, the lodging of appeals under the Dublin II Regulation to the Refugee Appeals Tribunal and Ireland's recognition rate in respect of persons granted refugee status.

As I indicated following the publication of the Committee's observations, I will, in conjunction with my Cabinet colleagues, closely examine those observations and recommendations and the Government will, in due course, communicate with the Committee about the points raised.

With regard to the question of reviewing the State's asylum system, the Deputy is probably aware that the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2010 which I recently decided to restore to the Dáil Order Paper contains extensive provisions in the area of protection. The Bill comprehensively reforms and simplifies the current refugee status determination process by providing for the introduction of a single application procedure for the investigation of all grounds for protection presented by applicants.

I believe that the asylum system currently in place is both fair and robust and that it will be further enhanced by the provisions of the 2010 Bill. I am currently developing a number of amendments to the Bill before commencing Committee Stage which I hope to be in a position to do in the near future.

Question No. 29 answered with Question No. 13.

Garda Strength

Catherine Murphy

Question:

30 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the European average for police to population across the European Union; the Irish equivalent of same; the minimum number of gardaí deemed necessary; if the Commissioner provided information on pending retirements; when an intake of new recruits will be necessary to satisfy the minimum number of gardaí; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16626/11]

There is no mathematical formula for determining the optimum strength of the Garda Síochána, or indeed any police force. Instead, it is a matter of Government policy, taking into account all the relevant factors such as population and the crime rate, as well of course as the availability of resources. Nor is it a straightforward matter to compare police strength in different jurisdictions. EUROSTAT, the statistical office of the European Commission, maintains statistics on police strength in the European Union, but direct comparisons using these figures are difficult to make. In order to make any proper comparison, account would have to be taken of any differences in police function. For example, the Garda Síochána is not only the national police force, but also provides the national security and intelligence service, as well as an immigration service. In other jurisdictions these functions are discharged by separate agencies. The issue of civilian support staff would also need to be factored into any comparison. A greater level of civilian support staff releases proportionately more police for operational duties, resulting in a greater frontline strength than in a police force with similar police strength but a lesser level of civilian support staff. Other factors such as the prevailing crime rate would also need to be taken into account.

On retirements, I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that the number of Gardaí who so far this year have retired or indicated that they will retire by the end of 2011 is 161. It should be said, though, that it is difficult to extrapolate from that figure an estimate of the final number of retirements for the whole year.

The personnel strength of the Garda Síochána, as of 31 May 2011, the latest date for which figures are readily available, was 14,262. As the moratorium on Public Service Recruitment continues to apply to the 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.

Departmental Expenditure

Joe Higgins

Question:

31 Deputy Joe Higgins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will report on the total costs to the State of the visits of Queen Elizabeth II of England and the President of the USA. [16632/11]

In respect of the costs arising for An Garda Síochána, I would refer the Deputy to my replies to Questions Nos. 2 and 12 of today's date.

Garda Equipment

David Stanton

Question:

32 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 258 of 6 October 2011, the progress made in relation to the roll-out of sound level meters to the Garda Síochána nationally; the number of meters purchased and number in operation at present; the locations at which the Garda has access to sound level meters; if his attention has been drawn to any prosecutions which have resulted from the use of these meters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16793/11]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that, following a procurement process conducted last year in accordance with EU and national procurement procedures, twenty-nine class 1 sound level meters were provided to An Garda Síochána. The meters are deployed when and where operational needs demand.

The Road Traffic (Construction, Equipment and Use of Vehicles) Regulations 1963 provide,inter alia, for offences relating to silencers. While separate figures are not readily available for such offences, I understand that in 2010 there were 595 proceedings commenced and 189 convictions under the 1963 Regulations.

Proposed Legislation

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

33 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to update the powers of the Criminal Assets Bureau to pursue white collar criminals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16730/11]

The Deputy will be aware that the Programme for Government includes a commitment to strengthen the powers of the Criminal Assets Bureau in relation to the forfeiture of the proceeds of crime.

An Expert Group, established under the auspices of my Department, is currently reviewing the Proceeds of Crime legislation with a view to identifying possible improvements which would serve to enhance the powers of the Bureau.

The Group is engaged in a comprehensive review of the operation of the legislation with particular regard to the experience of the Bureau to date. Where that experience highlights any impediment to the proper pursuit of assets deriving, or suspected to derive, directly or indirectly, from criminal conduct, this will be examined.

With regard to the work undertaken so far by the Group, I can inform the Deputy that the Group is reviewing a number of areas including decreasing the amount of time which must elapse before criminal assets which have been frozen become the property of the State; increasing the powers of receivers over properties so as to immediately deprive criminals of the use of those properties; short term seizure of assets believed to be the proceeds of crime pending determination by the courts; and further improving measures supporting international cooperation.

In due course, I will bring forward any necessary legislative proposals arising from the review by the Expert Group. My proposals in this regard will be brought forward in the normal way.

Court Procedures

Brendan Smith

Question:

34 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to the recent criminal case in the UK that collapsed due to a juror using a social media outlet and his plans to ensure this does not occur in this jurisdiction. [16783/11]

I am aware of the case to which the Deputy refers. In the normal course of a trial a judge charges the jury, as he or she considers appropriate, as to its behaviour during the course of the trial and jury deliberations to ensure that no action is taken which could adversely affect the trial. It is a contempt of court, punishable by a fine or imprisonment for a juror, to discuss the case with any person other than another jury member. This restriction would extend to discussion of the case in a social media forum.

In addition, as the Deputy may be aware, the Law Reform Commission is considering the issue of jury service as part of itsThird Programme of Law Reform 2008-2014. The Commission engaged in a public consultation last year and I look forward to the publication of their final report and recommendations which I understand is likely to be completed in the latter half of this year. The scope of the Law Reform Commission examination extends to consideration of juror misconduct and I will, in due course, consider the matter further in the context of that report.

Criminal Prosecutions

Niall Collins

Question:

35 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of prosecutions to date under Section 41 of the Criminal Justice Act regarding juror or witness intimidation. [16786/11]

Section 41 of the Criminal Justice Act 1999 makes it an offence to harm or threaten or in any other way intimidate or put in fear another person who is assisting in the investigation by An Garda Síochána of an offence, or is a witness or potential witness or a juror or potential juror in proceedings for an offence, or a member of his or her family, with the intention thereby of causing the investigation or the course of justice to be obstructed, perverted or interfered with.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that separate records are not maintained of offences under section 41 as between those directed against witnesses and those directed against jurors. Accordingly, the information available from the Garda covers both categories of individuals. The Deputy will appreciate that, of their nature, instances of intimidation of jurors are less likely to come to notice than instances of witness intimidation. The Garda rigorously enforces the provisions of the law relating to witness and jury intimidation and, of course, will continue to do so.

The table below shows the position with regard to the number of proceedings commenced and convictions for offences under Section 41 of the 1999 Act for the period from 2000 to 16 June 2011.

Year

Proceedings

Convictions *

2011

13

0

2010

41

7

2009

31

11

2008

18

5

2007

16

3

2006

45

12

2005

22

6

2004

30

10

2003

30

7

2002

11

2

2001

6

2

2000

1

1

*Figures are provisional as they are recorded in respect of the year in which proceedings commenced and may change in light of the outcome of court proceedings.

Question No. 36 answered with Question No. 26.

National Disability Strategy

Michael Colreavy

Question:

37 Deputy Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans for the implementation of the national disability strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16729/11]

The National Disability Strategy was launched in September 2004 and its implementation continues to be the focus of Government policy. Key elements include the Disability Act 2005, the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004, the Citizens Information Act 2007 and the Sectoral Plans of six Departments which set out how they will deliver services to people with disabilities.

The National Disability Strategy is, in large measure, being implemented. Its implementation is monitored on an ongoing basis by the National Disability Strategy Stakeholder Monitoring Group which comprises Senior Officials from the relevant Departments, the Disability Stakeholder Group representing the sector, the National Disability Authority and Social Partners. Significant progress has been made to date through Departmental Sectoral Plans and the National Disability Authority continues to engage with Departments in this regard.

The Programme for Government commits to publishing, following wide consultation, a realistic implementation plan for the National Disability Strategy, including sectoral plans with achievable timescales and targets within available resources and ensuring whole-of-government involvement and monitoring of the Strategy, in partnership with the disability sector.

In line with this commitment I am currently assessing the monitoring and implementation structures already in place and what may now be required to re-energise the strategy and its implementation.

Legal Profession

Denis Naughten

Question:

38 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the plans he has to reform the public complaints system for the legal profession; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16628/11]

Under the Programme for National Recovery 2011-2016, the Government undertakes to "establish independent regulation of the legal profession to improve access and competition, make legal costs more transparent and ensure adequate procedures for addressing consumer complaints". These undertakings complement those structural reforms in the EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support for Ireland aimed at removing restrictions to trade and competition relating to the legal professions and legal costs, namely:

to establish an independent regulator for the legal professions and implement the recommendations of the Legal Costs Working Group; and

to implement the outstanding Competition Authority recommendations to reduce legal costs.

I am, at present, giving detailed consideration to proposals for a new Legal Services Bill. The Bill, which is part of the Government Legislation Programme announced by the Chief Whip on 5 April 2011, is intended to give effect to the various commitments I have mentioned including those relating to the making of complaints. The time-line for publication of the proposals is Quarter 3 of 2011.

Compensation Payments

Sean Fleming

Question:

39 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if compensation will be paid to former residents of the Magdalene laundries as called for by the UN, the Irish Human Rights Commission and groups representing the former residents. [16788/11]

In the context of the Magdalene laundries, the report of the Irish Human Rights Commission recommended that if, after investigation, State involvement/responsibility is established, the question of redress should be considered. The UN Committee Against Torture recommended that the State should investigate allegations of torture, and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in the context of Magdalene laundries and victims of such treatment should obtain redress and have an enforceable right to compensation.

The Deputy will be aware that the Government decided on a number of actions following its meeting last week which considered the circumstances of the women and girls who resided in the Magdalene Laundries. The Government believes it is essential to establish the true facts and circumstances relating to the Laundries as a first step. Along with my colleague, the Minister for State for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People, I am now following up on this decision with the relevant parties.

An inter-departmental committee, chaired by an independent person, will also be set up to establish the full extent of State involvement.

Garda Strength

Paudie Coffey

Question:

40 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Justice and Equality in view of the fact that there are in the region of 20 Garda superintendent positions vacant in the State, including a vacancy in the Tramore Garda district, Waterford, his plans to fill these positions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16747/11]

The allocation of resources, including personnel, is a matter for the Garda Commissioner and his senior management team. The strength of An Garda Síochána and the allocation of those resources is continually kept under review by the Garda Commissioner and where necessary, derogations from the moratorium on recruitment and promotions in the Public Service can be sought in exceptional circumstances from the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

Human Rights Issues

Gerry Adams

Question:

41 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the criticisms from the Irish Human Rights Commission that the human rights of prisoners, asylum seekers and former Magdalene women are being breached by the State. [13445/11]

As the Deputy is aware, Ireland had its first examination under Article 19 of the United Nations Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment on the 22nd and 23rd of May 2011.

As part of this examination process, the Irish Human Rights Commission submitted a report to the UN Committee against Torture. Reports were also submitted to the Committee by Amnesty International, Justice for the Magdalenes, SPIRASI, Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and the Irish Penal Reform Trust and the International Disability Alliance.

The Deputy will be aware that the UN Committee against Torture issued its concluding observations on Monday 6th June 2011. These concluding observations cover a wide range of areas from prison conditions to the total prohibition of corporal punishment, the Magdalene Laundries, the follow up of the Ryan Report and the processing of applications for refugee status, all of which impact on the remit of several Government Departments. As I indicated following the publication of the Committee's observations, I will, in conjunction with my Cabinet colleagues, closely examine those observations and recommendations and the Government will, in due course, communicate with the Committee about the points raised.

As regards the Committee's observations on prison facilities, I would inform the Deputy measures are already being taken to address these issues and improve conditions in our prisons. The Programme for Government contains several commitments aimed at alleviating overcrowding, upgrading and improving facilities including in-cell sanitation, and to consider alternatives to custody which are available and can be used. On taking up office, I established a committee to review the Thornton project, to examine the need for adequate prison accommodation and to consider alternatives to custody. The Committee is due to report by 1st July and I look forward to considering their views.

Moreover, I previously informed the House that I intend to bring forward amendments to the Prison Rules 2007 which will address issues raised by the Committee and the Inspector of Prisons in the areas of complaint investigation, healthcare and deaths in custody.

In relation to the Magdalene Laundries, the Committee recommended that, "the State should institute prompt, independent, and thorough investigations into all allegations of torture, and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment that were allegedly committed in the Magdalene Laundries and, in appropriate cases, prosecute and punish the perpetrators with penalties commensurate with the gravity of the offences committed, and ensure that all victims obtain redress and have an enforceable right to compensation including the means for as full rehabilitation as possible".

The Deputy will know that the Government decided on a number of actions following its meeting last week which considered the circumstances of the women and girls who resided in the Magdalene Laundries. The Government believes it is essential to establish the true facts and circumstances relating to the Laundries as a first step. Along with my colleague, the Minister for State for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People, I am now following up on this decision with the relevant parties.

An inter-departmental Committee, chaired by an independent person, will also be set up to establish the full extent of State involvement. It was agreed by Government that an initial report on progress made should be made to cabinet within 3 months of its establishment.

In its concluding observations relating to refugees and international protection, the Committee made comments/recommendations in relation to a number of matters including provisions contained in the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2010 which is currently before this House, the lodging of appeals under the Dublin II Regulation to the Refugee Appeals Tribunal and Ireland's recognition rate in respect of persons granted refugee status.

The Deputy will be aware that the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2010 which I recently decided to restore to the Dáil Order Paper contains extensive provisions in the area of protection. The Bill comprehensively reforms and simplifies the current refugee status determination process by providing for the introduction of a single application procedure for the investigation of all grounds for protection presented by applicants.

I believe that the asylum system currently in place is both fair and robust and that it will be further enhanced by the provisions of the 2010 Bill. I am currently developing a number of amendments to the Bill before commencing Committee Stage which I hope to be in a position to do in the near future.

Neighbourhood Watch

Derek Keating

Question:

42 Deputy Derek Keating asked the Minister for Justice and Equality in view of the announcement of the Garda recruitment moratorium for 2011 and 2012, if he will consider a media and press promotion of the neighbourhood watch system to promote greater awareness by communities of their responsibility in supporting the Garda for minor and major crimes and to improve community safety; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16621/11]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that as the current Strategy and Implementation Plan for Neighbourhood Watch, covering the period 2007-2011, is in its final year of operation, it is now being reviewed. Future strategies to develop Neighbourhood Watch, and similar programmes such as Community Alert, as effective crime prevention initiatives will take account of the overall policing environment.

Neighbourhood Watch is currently promoted in a variety of ways, including the Garda National Model of Community Policing, regular community safety campaigns, regional public crime prevention days, local community policing crime prevention initiatives, the Crimecall television programme and in conjunction with national events such as the National Ploughing Championships and the Ideal Homes Exhibition. Depending on policing needs at particular times, each of these promotion methods is developed and utilised to emphasise different aspects of Neighbourhood Watch with the goal of combating crime and promoting crime prevention awareness in the most effective ways.

The assistance of the public is crucial to reducing and preventing crime in our local communities, and An Garda Síochána has long experience in developing and carrying out cooperative initiatives with the public. Neighbourhood Watch is an important example of such processes.

An Garda Síochána will continue to deepen the involvement of the public in preventing crime through Neighbourhood Watch and Community Alert and to provide assistance in achieving this.

Garda Strength

Catherine Murphy

Question:

43 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the positions the Garda Commissioner sought to fill or promote, by Garda division in 2011; the positions that have been filled, by division; which positions have been refused by divisions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16625/11]

I recently received sanction from the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform for the filling of six Garda posts and on 22nd March the Government appointed one Deputy Commissioner, one Assistant Commissioner, one Chief Superintendent and three Superintendents in An Garda Síochána. The allocation of resources in An Garda Síochána, including the distribution of personnel, is a matter for the Commissioner in consultation with his senior management team and I have no role or function in that process.

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

Question No. 44 answered with Question No. 26

Proposed Legislation

Pearse Doherty

Question:

45 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the steps he will take to reduce the costs of rents for struggling businesses in order to help restore economic competitiveness. [14238/11]

The Deputy will be aware that the Programme for Government indicates that legislation will be introduced to end upward only rent reviews for existing leases. I am engaged in on-going consultations with the Attorney General in order to determine how this matter can best be expedited.

In addition to the legislation which has been specified in the Programme for Government, I am also very conscious of the fact that one of the difficulties in relation to rent reviews is the absence of readily accessible and accurate information in order to determine the market rent payable in respect of any given set of commercial premises. The Deputy will recall that I arranged for the restoration of the Property Services (Regulation) Bill 2009 to the Order Paper. The Bill is now awaiting Committee Stage. I intend to bring forward amendments to the Bill to provide for the establishment of a public database containing relevant details of letting arrangements and rent reviews in the commercial property market. The Property Services Regulatory Authority will have responsibility for the management of this database.

The recommendation regarding the database was contained in a Working Group report which was published in August of last year. That report also contained a recommendation for the adoption, by landlords and tenants alike, of a rent review arbitration code which was drawn up by the experts who participated in the Group and which was appended to the report. A particular feature of the code is that it contains detailed provisions dealing with the production of comparative evidence in relation to property transactions and it also places a firm duty on all parties to disclose all relevant information which is in their possession. As matters stand, parties are free to specify that the code should apply in relation to rent review arbitrations. I welcome the endorsement of the code by a number of significant stakeholders in the sector.

Departmental Committees

Nicky McFadden

Question:

46 Deputy Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if an inquiry into the detention and abuse of women at Magdalene laundries will be announced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16629/11]

As I have already indicated, the Government decided on a number of actions following its meeting last week which considered the circumstances of the women and girls who resided in the Magdalene Laundries. The Government believes it is essential to fully establish the true facts and circumstances relating to the Laundries as a first step. Along with my colleague, the Minister for State for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People, I am now following up on this decision with the relevant parties.

An interdepartmental committee, chaired by an independent person, will also be set up to establish the full extent of State involvement.

Departmental Appointments

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

47 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to reform the appointments procedure to the board of the Equality Authority, the present board being scheduled to complete their term this summer in order that there is an open and transparent process of interview and selection that is independent of Government; and his plans regarding same. [16728/11]

I refer the Deputy to my reply below to Parliamentary Question No. 15984 of 16 June 2011. The position is unchanged since then.

The Government has decided that new arrangements will be put in place for the making of appointments to State boards and bodies, such as the Equality Authority. In future, Departments will invite expressions of interest on their websites for vacancies on the boards of bodies under their aegis. Ministers will not necessarily be confined to those who make expressions of interest, but will ensure all appointees have the relevant qualifications. The Deputy can take it that relevant appointments for which I am responsible will be made in due course in line with the above arrangements.

Diplomatic Appointments

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

48 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will detail the contacts he has had with the US Secretary of State Ms Hillary Clinton and UK Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Mr Owen Patterson MP, regarding the appointment of a successor to Mr. Declan Kelly as US economic envoy to Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16881/11]

During his two years as Economic Envoy, Declan Kelly invested considerable time and energy in a range of initiatives to attract new investment to Northern Ireland and to develop relationships which I believe will continue to bear fruit in the years ahead. The successful Northern Ireland Economic Conference which took place in Washington last year is one example of the commitment and vision which he brought to the role of Economic Envoy. I have not discussed the appointment of a successor with the Secretary of State but I know of her continuing commitment to the peace process and her support for the Northern Ireland Executive. Indeed, following Declan Kelly's resignation last month, Secretary Clinton reaffirmed that the United States will continue to work with Northern Ireland to expand the opportunities that have been identified during his tenure as US Economic Envoy.

Of course, the Government will also continue to work directly with the Executive and support its efforts in any way we can, including through the North South Ministerial Council. We have benefited tremendously from joint work, not least in the area of tourism, and there are other areas where working together we can increase investment and opportunity for all our people.

Public Sector Staff

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

Question:

49 Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Finance the type of early retirement packages available for those working in the public service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16841/11]

There are no early retirement packages available currently in the Civil/Public Service. The only provision available for early retirement is the Cost Neutral Early Retirement (CNER) Scheme which has been in operation since April 2005. The scheme permits persons who are within ten years of their preserved pension age (which is generally 60 or 65) to make an application to be allowed to retire with immediate payment of superannuation benefits on an actuarially reduced basis. As part of the programme to correct the public finances, the Government is committed to reducing numbers in the Public Service in the period to 2015 and is currently carrying out a comprehensive review of expenditure 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 when the review is completed in the Autumn. Any such scheme would be carefully targeted to protect front-line services.

Departmental Functions

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

50 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Finance his plans to harmonise IT systems across Departments to improve compatibility and improve communication; the platform he has considered; and if migration to a cloud computing solution has been considered. [16853/11]

As with all enterprises, public or private sector, compatibility and communication between disparate systems is generally achieved by the use of recognised industry-standard data formats where available. All guidance reflects the need for public bodies to comply with international standards and to implement industry standards where international ones do not exist. The Programme for Government sets out how we plan to rationalise the usage of ICT and encourage greater sharing of ICT infrastructures, services and resources over time, building on some of the initiatives that have already been implemented for the procurement of ICT hardware, networking, telecommunications, and software licensing and support. Cloud computing is very much to the fore of our thinking. In that regard, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is engaged in research and conducting trials with a number of major international ICT companies to determine what works best for public bodies and to develop compelling commercial models for adoption.

Departmental Staff

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

51 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Finance his plans to provide for redundancies in the public sector; if he will indicate the provision for individual sectors such as local authorities, education, and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16855/11]

The Government is committed to reducing public service numbers in accordance with the Programme for Government. The actual exit mechanisms to be used will depend in part on the rate of natural wastage and decisions taken under the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure on the required future size of particular sectors and bodies.

Bank Guarantee Scheme

Peter Mathews

Question:

52 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Finance the total amount of loans outstanding and deposits at each of the banks under the State guarantee; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16908/11]

The most up to date information on the detailed deposit funding position of the covered institutions is set out in the Financial Measures Programme (Chart 5) published on the Central Bank of Ireland website,http://www.centralbank.ie. Current institution specific information is not presented in the report owing to its commercial confidentiality. The most recent published information on deposits for each institution can be found in their Annual Reports available on their respective websites. The Annual Reports also contains detailed information on outstanding lending. The Deputy will recognise that owing to consideration of market sensitivity, it would not be advisable for me to comment on detailed financial information reported by each institution or to seek to interpret it in overall terms.

Bank Deposits

Peter Mathews

Question:

53 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Finance if there are non-repatriated profits on deposit at banks located in the International Financial Services Centre; the amounts on deposit in Irish banks and the amounts on deposit in foreign banks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16909/11]

I am informed by the Central Bank that it does not hold or require regulated firms to provide it with any information in respect of non-repatriated profits for any group of firms. Banks secure their funding from a variety of sources and also receive deposits from their customer base. There is no distinction made by banks reporting to the Central Bank on the nature of the funding or deposits, be it from surplus working capital, cash or profits retained by depositors pending future investment. The Central Bank does however publish aggregate deposit statistics in its monthly Money and Banking Statistics series, which can be accessed atwww.centralbank.ie. The Central Bank has advised that the value of deposits in the Money and Banking Statistics only includes the resident offices of the banks; it does not include foreign branches and subsidiaries

The Central Bank has informed me that the value of deposits from Irish residents and deposits from non-residents held in Irish resident credit institutions at the end of April 2011 is as follows:

Month

Deposits from Irish Residents

Deposits from non-residents

Euro area

Rest of the world

April 2011

€319,478m

€135,611m

€163,391m

Bank Guarantee Scheme

Paschal Donohoe

Question:

54 Deputy Paschal Donohoe asked the Minister for Finance the value of guaranteed bank bonds that have been paid off by the State since September 2008; the breakdown of these payments by bank; the value by bank that is outstanding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16910/11]

No payments have arisen for the State in respect of any of the banks' guaranteed liabilities. It will be a matter of the utmost priority for the Government to ensure that no payment under the Guarantee arises in the future. The Deputy will be aware that Central Bank of Ireland (CBI) published on 1 April 2011 the total senior and subordinated debt issuances by those banks covered by the Guarantee as at April 2011. This information is available on the Central Bank's website atwww.centralbank.ie. The CBI has advised that publishing details per individual institution does not form part of any statistical series.

The Central Bank of Ireland has advised me that the latest information they have in relation to the value of bonds held by the six covered institutions is as follows:

Value of Bonds

Senior Bonds Guaranteed:

€20,808m

Senior Bonds Unguaranteed secured:

€19,632m

Senior Bonds Unguaranteed unsecured:

€16,306m

Subordinated bonds:

€6,250m

Total

€62,996

Tax Clearance Certificates

Michael Creed

Question:

55 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Finance if he will facilitate a situation with the Revenue Commissioners whereby an organisation (details provided) in County Cork can secure payment from a public body; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16914/11]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the organisation concerned has substantial tax debts and on that basis, Revenue will not issue a tax clearance certificate at this time. Revenue has afforded the organisation an opportunity to address certain matters by 27 June at which stage, if these matters are satisfactorily addressed, there may be scope for discussion on how matters may proceed from there without recourse by Revenue to further enforcement action. The organisation's suitability for the issue of a tax clearance certificate will be reviewed by Revenue in light of these developments.

Departmental Properties

Michael McGrath

Question:

56 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance, further to Parliamentary Question No. 54 of 2 June 2011, if an issue concerning a property previously owned by the dissolved company has arisen and which seriously affects an adjoining property owner, can that adjoining property owner contact the Office of Public Works regarding such a matter (details supplied). [16917/11]

I would refer the Deputy to my answer to previous PQ No. 54 of 2 June 2011, in that the Minister or the Commissioners of Public Works only become aware that particular asset(s) have vested in the Minister, by virtue of the State Property Act 1954, when an interested party gives notice to an issue pertaining to the asset(s) concerned. In this regard, interested parties can contact the Property Management Services section of the Office of Public Works, at which time the matters raised are investigated.

National Asset Management Agency

Arthur Spring

Question:

57 Deputy Arthur Spring asked the Minister for Finance his views on whether there is a need to appoint Government representatives to the National Asset Management Agency; the number of times the head of the National Asset Management Agency reports to him; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16918/11]

There are sufficient provisions in the NAMA legislation to ensure appropriate accountability to me as the Minister for Finance and to the Oireachtas. The NAMA legislation provides for various reporting mechanisms that underpin the accountability of the Agency to the Oireachtas, including:

section 59 which makes provision for the Chairperson and CEO of NAMA to appear before a Committee of the Oireachtas, if requested to do so, which is examining matters relating to NAMA. The Chief Executive of the NTMA and the Chief Executive of NAMA have appeared before the Joint Committee on Finance and the Public Service and the Public Accounts Committee when requested to do so; and

the requirement that NAMA must submit annual accounts which are audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General. The Committee of Public Accounts may examine NAMA on these audited annual accounts.

Outside of this statutory reporting, the Chairman of NAMA has reported to me on a number of occasions since my appointment as Minister in March. Furthermore, I have also met with the full NAMA Board.

I expect NAMA to comply to the maximum extent possible with the commitment in the Programme for Government, which states that there will be the highest standards of transparency in NAMA's operations. A dedicated unit in my Department liaises on a daily basis with NAMA, ensures that the Agency's operations are consistent with Government policy and advises me in relation to developments. In the circumstances as outlined above I do not see any immediate need to make further appointments to the NAMA Board, although I will keep this situation under continuing review.

Departmental Bodies

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

Question:

58 Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Finance the status of the fiscal advisory council contained in the programme for Government; the way that the council will be composed; if the composition of the council will have to be approved by the Houses of the Oireachtas; the frequency with which the council will report to the Houses of the Oireachtas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16921/11]

The Government is committed to a wide-ranging agenda of reform in relation to its budgetary architecture. The commitment is set out both in the Programme for Government and the Joint EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support for Ireland, and includes the establishment of a Fiscal Advisory Council. As the Deputy may be aware, the Memorandum of Understanding on Specific Economic Policy Conditionality in the Joint Programme requires, as a structural benchmark, that the following steps are taken by the end of the second quarter of 2011:-

specify the role of the Fiscal Advisory Council,

appoint its members, and

allocate resources to the Council.

Work is progressing to ensure that this deadline is met. Details of the arrangements being put in place in relation to the Fiscal Advisory Council will be announced shortly. While the Council will be independent, it is envisaged that the Oireachtas will play an important role in relation to it.

Pension Provisions

Clare Daly

Question:

59 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Finance the reason staff at an academy (details supplied) are being levied both the newly established pension levy on private pensions, while they are already subject to the public sector pension levy; and the way he will address this anomaly of a private body being deemed to be public because it receives State funding. [16923/11]

Public servants who are members of public service pension schemes are liable to pay the pension-related deduction legislated for in the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009. The applicability of the deduction to staff at the academy referred to by the Deputy arises from section 1 of the Act, by way of the definition of ‘public service body', which includes, at paragraph (i)‘a body...that is wholly or partly funded out of money provided by the Oireachtas or from the Central Fund...and in respect of which a public service pension scheme exists or applies or may be made’. The deduction arising under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009, in addition to normal contributions made to pension schemes before the introduction of that Act, qualify for income tax relief. As such these amounts are treated for income tax purposes in the same way as contributions made by private sector workers to funded pension schemes. Employees in both sectors qualify for tax relief as respects all contributions made towards the cost of pensions provided by their employers, subject only to the appropriate age and earnings limits.

As to the temporary 4 year pension levy being introduced to fund the Jobs Initiative, the levy will apply to funded pension arrangements whether in the private sector or the public sector. A stamp duty of 0.6% will be applied to the market value, on the valuation date, of assets under management in pension funds and pension plans approved by the Revenue Commissioners under Irish tax legislation, as set out in section 4 of Finance (No. 2) Act 2011.

In the circumstances as outlined above, I do not consider it anomalous for the employees concerned to make contributions or additional contributions towards the cost of their pensions provision under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009 and at the same time for the administrator or insurer of any funded pension scheme operated by their employer to be subject to the new temporary 0.6% pension fund levy.

Croke Park Agreement

Michael McGrath

Question:

60 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of the expected increase in the annual public sector pension bill and the once-off lump sum payments attributable to the persons who account for the €289 million saving in the public sector pay bill arising from the Croke Park Agreement; and if he will therefore confirm the net saving to the State from such persons leaving the public service. [16937/11]

Under current standard terms of employment, public servants generally can earn a pension of up to half their final salary and a lump sum of up to one and one half times that salary depending on years served. The precise calculations of the amount involved as sought by the Deputy are not available to me at this time. However, the relevance of this to the estimated sum of €289 million in sustainable pay savings referred to in the question is not clear and for the following reasons. The Croke Park Agreement relates to pay savings. In that context, as pension costs will arise in any event for public service employees it is considered that the estimate of sustainable pay bill savings in the order of €289m is a reasonable reflection of pay savings arising from the Croke Park Agreement. This saving has been driven primarily by not filling vacancies arising from a reduction in staff numbers of 5,349 during the period but also other factors such as reductions in overtime costs, which are down by 5.2%, and reformed work practices and rationalisation.

Public service pension costs have increased over the period. However, this is not a direct function of the Croke Park Agreement but, rather, represents costs which would arise in any event. The cost increase is not due to the Croke Park Agreement but is essentially caused by increased longevity (i.e. fewer pensioners dying) and more people retiring normally.

The Body's report, correctly, foot-noted the pension increase over the period but, equally correctly, did not seek to relate it to the Croke Park reform process. The Body's Report also footnotes the costs associated with the voluntary early retirement and redundancy schemes which were offered in the HSE last year, with one-off costs of €99m for lump sums and statutory redundancy paid in 2010. It should be noted that any voluntary early retirement scheme incurs up-front once-off costs while the savings remain sustainable into the future.

Banks Recapitalisation

Michael McGrath

Question:

61 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the consultations he has had with the European Commission or the European Central Bank prior to his recent announcement in the United States of his intention to impose losses on unsecured, unguaranteed senior bondholders in Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16938/11]

Michael McGrath

Question:

62 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance when he intends to formally raise with the European Central Bank his plans to impose losses on unsecured, unguaranteed senior bondholders in Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16939/11]

Michael McGrath

Question:

63 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he intends to proceed with his plans to impose losses on unsecured, unguaranteed senior bondholders in Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society in the absence of the support of the European Central Bank. [16940/11]

Michael McGrath

Question:

64 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details, including maturity dates, of the remaining unsecured, unguaranteed senior bonds in Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society. [16941/11]

Michael McGrath

Question:

65 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of the nature of the type of securities in place in respect of secured senior bonds in Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16942/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 61 to 65, inclusive, together.

The Government's policy with regard to senior bondholders is consistent and has not changed from the position I set out in my Statement on Banking on 31 March last. All senior bondholders in the pillar banks AIB/EBS and Bank of Ireland, and Irish Life and Permanent, whether guaranteed or unguaranteed, will be repaid in full. As I set out to the House in my Statement in March, and on a number of occasions since then, this is essential to maintain the market reputation of these institutions and to ensure their return to market funding in due course.

However, in my March Statement, I also indicated that the position regarding the bondholders in Anglo and INBS — institutions in different circumstances to the remainder of the banking system — would be considered following the completion of the independent review of the capital requirements of INBS and Anglo last month. While the Central Bank has concluded that no additional capital is required for these institutions, this does not remove the onus on the Government to consider all options to reduce the cost to the taxpayer of resolving these institutions. Therefore, while there was no specific consultation with the European Central Bank or the European Commission prior to the recent announcement regarding the Anglo and INBS senior bonds, this announcement was consistent with the Government's position as stated previously.

I have also indicated that, in the autumn, I will raise the issue of Burden Sharing which will allow for the imposition of losses on unguaranteed and unsecured senior bondholders in Anglo and INBS with the IMF and EU authorities.

Regarding the details of the maturity schedule of the remaining unsecured, unguaranteed senior bonds in Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society, this detailed information is being compiled and will be supplied to the Deputy as soon as possible. Regarding the nature of the securities in place in respect of the secured senior bonds, Anglo Irish Bank advise that these bonds are backed by Anglo's commercial property mortgage loans. Irish Nationwide advises that it does not have any secured bonds in issue.

EU-IMF Programme

Michael McGrath

Question:

66 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if, in the event of the final deal with Greece resulting in burden sharing with private creditors, it will change his views on debt restructuring for Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16943/11]

There is no question of the Government restructuring its debt. We are determined to work with our European colleagues to find a common, shared approach to the issue of the sovereign debt crisis. We are committed to taking the steps necessary to restore our public finances to a sustainable position and implementing the policies that will assist this economy in returning to growth and generating employment. Based on conservative projections of our funding needs and taking account of funding possibilities, there is no urgency about a return to the markets. Indeed, the purpose of a programme such as the EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support for Ireland is to provide the space necessary for economic and fiscal adjustment to take place. Based on current projections and assuming full drawdown of the EU/IMF funds and no market access, the State has access to sufficient funds for its needs into the second half of 2013. The steps necessary to enable a return to the sovereign debt markets include resolution of the banking sector issues and continued progress in the reduction of the budget deficit in line with the targets agreed in the EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support, together with the implementation of policies that will see us return to sustainable economic growth. It is the stated intention of the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) to return to sovereign debt markets as soon as market conditions permit. The NTMA is in constant contact with market participants and will advise me when it feels that the time is right to re-enter the markets.

Michael McGrath

Question:

67 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he and or the National Treasury Management Agency are engaged in any contingency planning to deal with the possibility of Ireland not being able to return to the international bond markets in 2012 or early 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16944/11]

As I have previously outlined in relation to similar questions in the recent past, it is the stated intention of the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) to return to sovereign debt markets as soon as market conditions permit. The steps necessary to enable such a return include resolution of the banking sector issues and continued progress in the reduction of the budget deficit in line with the targets agreed in the EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support, together with the implementation of policies that will see us return to sustainable economic growth. A key development in that regard has been the publication of the results of the bank stress tests on 31 March 2011 and the associated recapitalisation exercise which have been well received by investors and rating agencies alike.

The NTMA is in constant contact with market participants and will advise me when it feels that the time is right to re-enter the markets. This is an issue that is under constant and close review by all concerned.

I should say that, based on conservative projections of our funding needs and taking account of funding possibilities, there is no urgency about a return to the markets. Indeed, the purpose of a programme such as the EU/IMF Programme for Ireland is to provide the space necessary for economic and fiscal adjustment to take place. Based on current projections and assuming no market access, the State has access to sufficient funds for its needs into the second half of 2013.

Fiscal Policy

Michael McGrath

Question:

68 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance his plans to increase the loan thresholds which the Credit Review Office can examine. [16945/11]

The Credit Reviewer in his last quarterly report referred to his proposals to raise the current cap on the refusals which can be reviewed by his Office to €500,000. The current threshold of €250,000 is specified in S.I. 127 of 2010. My officials have already been in correspondence with the Central Bank on this issue and the matter is under active consideration in my Department at present.

Banks Recapitalisation

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

69 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Finance the amount of money lent or invested by the Exchequer in the guaranteed financial institutions and National Asset Management Agency broken down institution by institution on a year by year basis since 1 January 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16960/11]

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

70 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Finance the amount of money lent or invested by the National Pensions Reserve Fund in the guaranteed financial institutions and National Asset Management Agency broken down institution by institution since 1 January 2008 on a year to year basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16961/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 69 and 70 together.

In 2009, the Exchequer funded a €4 billion capital injection into Anglo Irish Bank. In 2010, €30.85 billion was committed to Anglo Irish Bank, Irish Nationwide Building Society (INBS) and Educational Building Society (EBS) by way of Promissory Notes but there was no Exchequer expenditure associated with these Promissory Notes in 2010.

In 2010, the Exchequer provided €625 million to EBS and €100 million to INBS by way of special investment shares. This method of investment gave the State extensive powers and full economic ownership of the two building societies.

In March 2011, the Exchequer provided a combined €3.06 billion to Anglo Irish Bank and INBS, representing the first instalment of the Promissory Notes committed to those institutions in 2010.

In June 2011, the Exchequer will provide €25 million to EBS, representing the first instalment of the Promissory Note committed to that institution in 2010.

In relation to NAMA, in 2010 the Exchequer provided NAMA with two loans totalling €299 million, €250 million of which was to provide working capital to NAMA and €49 million of which was used to inject ordinary equity into the NAMA special purpose vehicle. The €250 million loan was repaid in 2010 while the €49 million loan was repaid in early 2011.

In relation to the National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF), in May 2008, the Fund invested €191 million in AIB subordinated debt. In July 2008, it invested €44 million in Bank of Ireland subordinated debt (this investment has been exchanged for senior debt of Bank of Ireland which matures in January 2012). In the same month, it invested €200 million in Irish Life & Permanent mortgage-backed debt (maturing in July 2011).

Following the frontloading of the 2009 and 2010 Exchequer contributions to the Fund, the NPRF invested €3.5 billion each in Bank of Ireland (in March 2009) and Allied Irish Banks (in May 2009) at the direction of the Minister for Finance.

In 2010, the NPRF, at the direction of the Minster for Finance, participated in a share placement and rights issue as part of a capital raising announced by Bank of Ireland. This involved the conversion of a portion of its 2009 preference share investment into ordinary shares, the repurchase by the bank of warrants issued in conjunction with the 2009 preference shares and transaction fees.

In 2010 also, the NPRF injected a further €3.7 billion in capital into AIB.

In 2011, at the direction of the Minister, the NPRF liquidated assets in order to set aside €10 billion in cash to meet the Fund's proposed contribution to the EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support for Ireland.

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

71 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Finance the amount of money paid by the guaranteed financial institutions and the National Asset Management Agency to the Exchequer and the National Pensions Reserve Fund, respectively, by way of payment for the guarantee or interest or dividend on shares in each year since 1 January 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16962/11]

The sum of €1,932,370,435 has been paid into the Exchequer in respect of all fees and interest accumulated under Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Scheme (CIFS) and the Eligible Liabilities Guarantee Scheme 2009. Bank of Ireland paid €214.5 million to the NPRF in February 2011 in respect of a divided on the State's remaining preference shares, no payment was made in 2010 due to the dividend stoppers.

NAMA is not a covered institution under the terms of the ELG Scheme and does not benefit from a guaranteed under the Scheme. Neither does it remit interest or dividends to the Exchequer.

Financial Services Sector

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

72 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance in view of previous responses by him that it was not possible to identify the bondholders of Irish banks because of the selling on of bonds to secondary markets if he will identify and provide details of the original buyers of those bonds. [16969/11]

As I informed the Deputy previously, as bonds are usually issued in bearer form the purchasers of the bonds are unknown to the issuing bank. When a bank issues a bond, whether by private placement or public issue, it would be usual practice for a securities depository company, such as Clearstream and Euroclear, to purchase the bond on behalf of their customers and the banks would not necessarily know the actual owner of the bond.

Securities depository companies such as Clearstream and Euroclear usually manage, safekeep and administer the securities that it holds on behalf of the purchasers of the bonds and the identity of the purchasers of the bonds is not disclosed in the public domain or to the issuer.

State Banking Sector

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

73 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance with regard to Anglo Irish Bank repaying a €750 million bond on 31 January 2011, if it was senior unsecured debt borrowed on the 17 January 2006 at the height of the property boom; and to whom was this money repaid. [16970/11]

The €750 million bond that matured on 31 January 2011 was issued in January 2006 (the bond settled on 31 January 2006). This was a senior unsecured bond which was guaranteed by the Irish Government from September 2008 until September 2010 under the CIFS scheme. The €750million was repaid to the bond holders who held the bond on its maturity date. The bank's medium term debt is publicly traded and dealt through clearing house systems. An issuer (such as Anglo) does not have any access to the records of those systems. Furthermore, the issuer has no means of establishing the underlying ownership at any given time. Unlike in the case of shares, the holders of listed debt instruments are not subject to a disclosure regime.

The Deputy will be aware that as bonds are usually issued in bearer form the purchasers of the bonds are unknown to the issuing bank.

When a bank issues a bond, whether by private placement or public issue, it would be usual practice for a securities depository company, such as Clearstream and Euroclear, to hold the bond on behalf of their customers and the banks would not necessarily know the actual owner of the bond.

Securities depository companies such as Clearstream and Euroclear usually manage, safekeep and administer the securities that it holds on behalf of the purchasers of the bonds and the identity of the purchasers of the bonds is not disclosed in the public domain or to the issuer.

Special Educational Needs

Brendan Ryan

Question:

74 Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding constraints in the provision for special needs education for children with autism; the position regarding whether schools (details supplied) will be adequately funded and staffed for the next year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16889/11]

The details supplied by the Deputy refer to two separate issues — the staffing of a school in the inner city of Dublin for the 2011/2012 school year and a decision taken by my Department on a proposal for funding from a centre on the north-side of Dublin.

I understand that the National Council for Special Education is presently engaging with the Board of Management of the school in question in the inner city regarding the future of the school taking into account current and expected pupil enrolments.

My Department took a decision not to provide funding to support the centre referred to by the Deputy as the proposal submitted was not in line with my Department's policy on educational provision for children with autism. I wish to clarify for the Deputy that my Department has no direct funding arrangements with the centre.

As the Deputy is aware my Department's policy is focused on ensuring that all children, including those with autism, can have access to an education appropriate to their needs, preferably in school settings through the primary and post primary school network. This facilitates access to individualised education programmes, fully qualified professional teachers who may draw from a range of autism-specific interventions, including ABA, special needs assistants, and the appropriate school curriculum with the option where possible of full/partial integration and interaction with other pupils.

As each child with autism is unique it is important that children have access to a range of interventions so their broader needs can be met. My Department's policy is to provide for children with special educational needs, including autism, to be included in mainstream schools unless such a placement would not be in their best interests or the interests of the children with whom they are to be educated. Some children may be supported in a special class attached to a mainstream school. These students have the option, where appropriate, of full/partial integration and interaction with other pupils. Other children may have such complex needs that they are best placed in a special school. Students with special educational needs have access to a range of support services including additional teaching and/or care supports. In special schools and special classes, students are supported through lower pupil teacher ratios. Special needs assistants may also be recruited specifically where pupils with disabilities and significant care needs are enrolled.

Reflective of the important role of continuing professional development my Department has put in place a training programme for teachers in autism-specific interventions including Treatment and Education of Autistic Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH), Picture Exchange Communications System (PECS) and Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) through the Special Education Support Service.

The Deputy will be familiar with the ABA pilot scheme which was funded by my Department for the past decade. All of the centres which participated in this scheme have been granted recognition as special schools for children with autism. These schools will operate in line with my Department's policy.

Following their recognition the new schools are currently progressing well in the transitional phase. Twelve schools have opened and the remaining school is scheduled to open shortly. It is my intention to continue to support this transitional process.

The pilot scheme was established in the absence of a network of school-based special classes for children with autism which is now available. The establishment of this network of autism-specific special classes in schools across the country to cater for children with autism has been a key educational priority in recent years. In excess of 430 classes have now been approved around the country at primary and post primary level, including many in special schools.

State Examinations

David Stanton

Question:

75 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has considered allowing students who sit and fail leaving certificate higher level maths to complete some form of matriculation mathematics exam to allow them to gain entry into third level institutions as was discussed during an Adjournment debate on 1 June 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16847/11]

The report of the Project Maths Implementation Support Group, an industry/education partnership designed to add value to Project Maths, which included higher education participation, was published in June 2010. It included a recommendation that higher education institutes should offer a second chance entrance examination in mathematics in late August/early September targeted at students who have taken Mathematics at Higher level in the Leaving Certificate but who have failed to meet matriculation requirements. The availability of this safety net was seen as a factor in encouraging more students to sit higher level Mathematics.

The admissions criteria for entry to higher education institutions are legally a matter for the institutions themselves. However, a range of colleges are now providing a second chance entrance examination specifically for courses such as science and engineering courses. However, some of the colleges which engaged in this in previous years have now ceased the practice. It should be noted that the proportion scoring below grade D in higher level Mathematics in 2010 was 3.7%

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

76 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to increase interest in maths and science, either through incentivisation at examination time or further modification to the respective curricula and the way they are taught. [16852/11]

A major programme of reform in mathematics, Project Maths, began in all second level schools at both junior and senior cycle in September last, building on the experience of 24 schools which began the programme in 2008. Project Maths is designed to encourage better understanding of mathematics, to reinforce its practical relevance to everyday life and to ensure better curriculum continuity across the system. It is supported by a comprehensive investment in professional development for teachers which will continue to at least 2013.

Mathematics has the highest participation of any subject in the Leaving Certificate, but only some 16% sit Higher level mathematics. A key aim of Project Maths is to encourage more students to take the subject at higher level. A further incentive will apply from 2012, under which 25 additional CAO points will apply to all students scoring at least grade D3 in higher level Mathematics.

Project Maths is supported by materials and resources on the websitewww.ProjectMaths.ie and by an industry education partnership designed to add value through co-operation across higher education, second level and industry. The work of the Discover Science and Engineering programme, which has extended its remit to Mathematics, is also important in this respect. In addition, career awareness information on opportunities in the science technology, engineering and mathematics sectors is featured on www.careersportal.ie, a guidance tool which is now widely used in schools.

In science, the key challenges are to improve participation in senior cycle Physics and Chemistry. As part of this approach, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment has developed revised draft syllabuses for Leaving Certificate Physics, Chemistry and Biology, and is currently engaging in a public consultation on these, prior to submitting its advice to my Department. An important objective is to build on the hands-on investigative approaches already in place in junior cycle, and to strengthen the emphasis on practical assessment and the inter-disciplinary nature of science in society.

The forthcoming national literacy and numeracy strategy will also play an important role in strengthening these skills in schools.

Residential Institutions Redress Scheme

Joe Costello

Question:

77 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of persons who applied to the redress board for compensation from 2002 to date; the number whose applications were successful; the total sum paid out; the average amount paid to each applicant; the outstanding number of applicants to be dealt with; the number of institutions and applicants associated with each of the different churches; when it is expected to complete the redress scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16857/11]

The closing date for receipt of applications by the Residential Institutions Redress Board was 15 December 2005. However, the Board, can at its discretion, extend the period for receipt of an application where it considers there are exceptional circumstances.

At the end of May 2011, the Board had received 15,135 applications, of which 14,592 had been finalised, resulting in 13,669 awards and 923 applications being withdrawn, refused or resulting in a nil or no award. The Board had 543 applications to finalise and a further 567 requests for late applications to consider.

The total expenditure approved by the Board was €1.008 billion, including some €847 million in respect of awards and some €161 million in associated medical/legal costs. The overall average award is €62,875.

A total of 139 institutions were included in the schedule of specified institutions to the Residential Institutions Redress Act, 2002 to 2005. Religious ethos was not a criterion for inclusion in the Schedule. While the majority of these institutions were managed by the 18 religious congregations who were party to the 2002 Indemnity Agreement, others were managed by State bodies, voluntary bodies/management committees or pursuant to Trusts. My Department does not have the application details sought by the Deputy. Indeed, section 28(6) of the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002 prohibits the publication of any information regarding an application made under the Act that refers to any other person, relevant person or institution by name or which could reasonably lead to such identification.

Joe Costello

Question:

78 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount of moneys paid by the Catholic religious orders to the State as their contribution to the redress scheme 2002; the amount of property transferred by the religious orders to the State; if the Protestant authorities have made any financial contribution to the State in the context of the redress scheme; the amount of moneys that the State has contributed to the redress scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16858/11]

The following table sets out the position in relation to the realisation of the €128 million contribution due from the eighteen Congregations under the 2002 Indemnity Agreement. The completion of the legal arrangements in the case of 24 properties, valued at €23.34 million, remain outstanding, although the physical transfers of these properties have taken place. The Chief State Solicitor's Office continues to pursue the legal requirements issue under the Indemnity Agreement. In addition, a potential shortfall of €160,000 has been projected between the value of properties to be transferred and the total amounts due under the Agreement. However, this is subject to change if good and marketable title cannot be realised on certain properties and the final shortfall or surplus will not be known until all properties are completed under the terms of the Indemnity Agreement.

The final cost of the response to residential institutional abuse is estimated to reach €1.36 billion, with the bulk of these cost estimates, some €1.1 billion, relating to the Redress Scheme. At the end of 2010, the overall expenditure on the Redress Scheme and associated litigation was €1.05 billion. These costs are met by the State, apart from €42.26m, which is accounted for by the cash contribution from the religious congregations and associated interest. Following the publication of the Ryan Report, the congregations were called upon to commit to making further substantial contributions by way of reparation. In response 16 of the 18 congregations made offers of additional contributions including cash and properties, which they have valued at €348.51m. In April 2010, the then Government announced its intention to utilise the cash element of €110m of the congregations' offers of contributions, to establish a Statutory Fund to support the needs of survivors of residential institutional child abuse. To date €20.6m has been received and placed in a special interest bearing account in the Central Bank pending the establishment of the Statutory Fund. The remaining congregations are awaiting confirmation that the legislation will provide for the charitable status of their contributions to the Fund or sight of the proposed terms and structure of the Fund, prior to making their initial contributions. The offers of contributions envisaged that the cash contributions would be made over a period of years. My Department has pursued the potential use of the various property offers made to date and their acceptability to the State and has engaged with the Congregations in relation to their potential to augment their offers, so as to realise a 50:50 sharing of the costs involved. As has been recognised, even if all of the properties offered were to be acceptable to the State and their values confirmed there would be a shortfall of over €200 million below the 50:50 target set.

Against this background the transfer of the congregations' school infrastructure, at no extra cost to the State, as proposed in the Programme for Government, could help achieve the 50:50 target. The schools transferred will continue to be used by the religious congregations and or their successor trusts with the same patronage arrangements as prevail today. The difference would be that the Irish taxpayer, through the State, would be the owners of that educational infrastructure. My Department has also approached the management bodies of other institutions included within the Redress Scheme in relation to a contribution towards the costs involved.

Contributions by Religious Congregations Under the 2002 Indemnity Agreement

Sums Pledged

Sums Realised

Sums Outstanding

€m

€m

€m

Cash — original

28.44

28.44

— adjustment

13.28

13.28

Property — original

76.86

40.08

23.501

— adjustment

(13.28)

Cash for Education Fund

12.7

12.7

Counselling and Support Services

10

10

Total

128

104.5

23.50

1 This includes the €160,000 potential shortfall projected between the value of the properties to be transferred and the total amounts due under the Agreement.

Special Educational Needs

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

79 Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to streamline access to learning resources (details supplied) in post primary schools; and the timeframe for same. [16866/11]

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible for the provision of a range of educational services at local and national level for students with special educational needs. In particular, its network of Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) co-ordinates special needs education provision at local level and arranges for the delivery of special educational services. Each SENO works in an assigned local area with parents, schools, teachers, psychologists, health professionals and other staff who are involved in the provision of services in that area for children with special educational needs. They act as single points of contact for parents of students with special educational needs.

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 onwww.ncse.ie. Some children with special educational needs may require health therapy services which are necessarily delivered by the Health Service Executive (HSE). In some instances such therapy services are delivered in schools. An integrated approach is adopted by the education and health sectors to target resources to the areas of greatest need and to integrate services to the greatest extent possible. Progress in this regard continues to be kept under review by the Office for Disability and Mental Health, and the cross sectoral team (comprising of representatives of the Department of Education and Skills, Health and Children, the NCSE and the HSE.

School Transport

Dan Neville

Question:

80 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Education and Skills if concessionary terms for fees can be applied in respect of a case (details supplied) in County Limerick. [16876/11]

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

It is open to pupils who reside less than 3.2 kilometres from their nearest school, which applies in this case, to apply for concessionary fare-paying transport to the school which they are attending. Concessionary transport is offered subject to a number of terms and conditions, including the availability of spare seating on an existing service and the payment of the concessionary charge of €200 per child or a maximum family charge of €650.

School Accommodation

Patrick Deering

Question:

81 Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount of money that has been set aside by him for the 2011 additional accommodation scheme; and if he will provide a breakdown of the total spend so far in 2011. [16883/11]

The total allocation available in 2011 for the additional accommodation scheme (including commitments arising from approvals issued prior to 2011) amounts to €60 million. Expenditure so far this year amounts to €17.6 million

Schools Building Projects

Patrick Deering

Question:

82 Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount of money that has been set aside by him for the 2011 major works programme; and if he will provide a breakdown of the total spend so far in 2011. [16884/11]

The total allocation available in 2011 for the provision of new schools and large scale extensions amounts to €211.5 million (includes commitments arising from projects that commenced architectural planning or construction prior to 2011). Expenditure so far this year amounts to €79.8 million

School Staffing

John Lyons

Question:

83 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will clarify the instructions that have been given to a board of management (details supplied) in Dublin 11 in relation to the recruitment of teachers; and if he would outline the reason for same. [16886/11]

The process of allocating teaching resources to schools for 2011/2012 and the arrangements for filling vacant or new teaching posts, including temporary 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.

This requires that all permanent and fixed term positions including the developing post allocated to the school referred to by the Deputy are in the first instance made available to those surplus teachers with either permanent contracts or contracts of indefinite duration.

The purpose of these changes is to ensure all surplus teachers are absorbed into vacancies that exist in other schools. Flexible redeployment arrangements are required in order to ensure all surplus permanent teachers are redeployed into vacancies. The country simply cannot afford to have surplus teachers in a school while permitting recruitment to take place in another school. 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.

Schools Refurbishment

Michael Creed

Question:

84 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will review a decision on an application for the emergency works scheme by a school (details supplied) in County Cork in view of the fact that the works involved were referred to in an asbestos register compiled by the Office of Public Works in 2003 and that the material involved has deteriorated substantially since then; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16911/11]

An application under my Department's Emergency Works Scheme to replace the school's floor covering has been received from the school referred to by the Deputy.

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 has been informed of the decision.

Schools Building Projects

Michael Creed

Question:

85 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a school building project in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16913/11]

A planning application for the school building project to which the Deputy refers, was recently lodged on behalf of the Department. Subject to receipt of the necessary statutory approvals, and assuming no issues arise, it is intended to progress the project to construction.

School Curriculum

Robert Dowds

Question:

86 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to introduce a leaving certificate course on political science, philosophy, ethics or social studies or any combination of these subjects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16922/11]

Civic, social and political education is a mandatory part of the Junior Certificate programme and is supported by resources and professional development for teachers. It includes a key focus on the concepts of democracy, human dignity, rights and responsibilities, law, development, interdependence and stewardship. A syllabus for Politics and Society as a new subject in the Leaving Certificate was submitted to my Department by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment in May 2011. The implementation issues are being examined at present in the context of overall system priorities and resources.

Social, personal and health education (SPHE) is also a mandatory subject in junior cycle, and includes a strong focus on personal development, social skills, relationships and sexuality education, decision-making, healthy lifestyles and promoting positive mental health. A curriculum framework for SPHE as a senior cycle subject was submitted by the NCCA to my Department in mid 2008. However, the Department is not in a position to proceed with implementation in the current budgetary climate. The priority in this area is to continue to enhance the implementation of SPHE at junior cycle and to ensure that all schools implement the Relationships and Sexuality Education programme which is already required in senior cycle.

Social Studies is also an integral part of the Home Economics (Social and Scientific) syllabus in junior and senior cycle.

Third Level Fees

Jack Wall

Question:

87 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Skills if funding will be provided through any agency under his remit to permit a person (details supplied) in County Kildare to complete a designated course; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16930/11]

Under my Department's free fees scheme and student grant schemes, eligible students may receive funding provided they are attending an approved course at an approved institution as defined in the relevant scheme.

I understand that the college referred to by the Deputy is a private college and is not on the list of approved institutions. However, my Department has been in touch with FÁS about this case and I understand that arrangements have been agreed for the person in question to meet with a FÁS Employment Services Officer on Wednesday June 22nd to discuss technical employment support (TESG) funding for the course referred to by the Deputy.

It should also be noted that Section 473A of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997, as amended by Section 11 of the Finance Act 2011 provides for tax relief for fees paid in publicly funded colleges here and in other EU Member States as well as in private colleges in the State. Further details on claiming this relief are available from the Revenue Commissioners' website atwww.revenue.ie.

Ministerial Correspondence

Willie O'Dea

Question:

88 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has received correspondence from a person (details supplied) regarding payment for public relations work carried out by their company on behalf of the Dell Redundant Workers’ Association with regard to the European globalisation adjustment fund; and when he intends to make this payment. [16959/11]

My Department has received correspondence from the legal representatives of the person named in respect of public relations work undertaken under contract to the Dell Redundant Workers Association (DRWA), and in relation to amounts owing thereby.

The contract for public relations work was entered into by the person concerned with the DRWA and not with this Department. This Department were not party to the contract and therefore no liability arises in relation to any outstanding fees.

On 14 June 2011 my Department informed the legal representatives of the person concerned of the position as outlined above.

Employment Support Services

Willie O'Dea

Question:

89 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has received representation from the Dell Redundant Workers’ Association containing proposals (details supplied); the reason the he is not willing to accept these proposals; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the European Globalisation Fund implementation was delayed for 13 months as a result of which EGF clients had only 11 months to avail of funding; and in view of this if he will reconsider its approval. [16967/11]

I have received and will reply shortly to further representations from the Dell Redundant Workers Association (DRWA) in relation to the European Globalisation Fund (EGF). The measures and supports being provided under the Dell EGF programme are available to all eligible persons encompassed by the programme, and not just to those persons engaged in FÁS programmes. The measures and supports were based on the inputs provided by a range of service providers and include occupational guidance, training and upskilling, educational and enterprise supports. By the end of March 2011, some 2,500 beneficiaries had been provided with guidance, training and upskilling, educational and enterprise supports under the Dell EGF programme.

In Ireland, significant mobility allowance payments and the purchase of computer equipment are not part of the domestically-funded supports provided to unemployed persons either attending private courses funded through FÁS or attending publicly-funded education courses. Similarly, job search allowances are not part of the domestically-funded supports provided to unemployed persons. As such, a decision was taken by the former Minister for Education and Skills not to include measures of these types were not included in the EGF application.

It is not therefore possible at this time to provide for the retrospective purchase of computer equipment outside the terms of the Back to Education Allowance Cost of Education scheme, the scheme designed by FÁS for those persons availing of the EGF HETAC training grant to pursue courses in private colleges. This scheme permits an annual grant of up to €5,000 in total inclusive of course fees, books and equipment subject to meeting the requirements of the scheme. Higher Education Authority guidelines for publicly-funded third level institutions where the equipment is specified in the official course literature and course leaders verify that the item is essential for participation in the course.

In relation to mobility allowances, no current Irish EGF programme provides for such payments outside existing national procedures. Any EGF-eligible former Dell or ancillary enterprise worker who incurs costs in getting to and from further training or approved education programmes will be considered for reimbursement in accordance with current FÁS procedures. The estimated costs of enterprise supports to be provided by City and County Enterprise Boards (CEBs) in the Mid-West region to eligible persons under the Dell EGF programme as set out on the EGF application amounted to €1.1m. To date, my Department has provided overall funding to those CEBs to the value of €3.557m, of which the national 35% element is €1.25m. The CEBs in turn have paid out €3.045m in supports for some 226 EGF beneficiaries. It is estimated that most if not all potential business start-ups will have received significant support prior to the EGF end-date of 28 June. All relevant EGF measures and supports must under the relevant European Commission decision end on 28th June 2011. I understand that CEBs will not be providing national funds beyond 28 June 2011 to fund CEB supports currently being EGF co-funded.

Occupational guidance was provided to former Dell workers on site at the Dell facility in Raheen from 3 February 2009, four months before the EGF application was submitted. I would point out that training, educational and enterprise supports were provided without any significant delay as workers became redundant later in 2009 and 2010, and services were ramped up accordingly in line with increasing user demand and participation.

FÁS Training Programmes

Paul Connaughton

Question:

90 Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps that can be taken to complete an apprenticeship in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Galway. [16972/11]

My Department has contacted FÁS about this case. I understand from FÁS that the person in question has to-date completed six of the required seven phases of the Standards Based Apprenticeship Programme in the trade of Plasterer. He completed Phase 6 of his Apprenticeship in the Athlone Institute of Technology from 4th January, 2010 to 12th March, 2010 but did not complete Phase 7 or the associated assessments.

In order to qualify for the FETAC Advanced Certificate Craft, it is a requirement that all seven phases of the apprenticeship are successfully completed and that all the associated assessments have been passed. It is also a requirement of the Standards Based Apprenticeship that the required four years have been completed (i.e. 208 weeks) in paid insurable employment with an approved employer in the trade.

FÁS has introduced a number of initiatives to assist Redundant Apprentices to complete their apprenticeship:

Redundant Apprentice Placement Scheme;

Recognition of Prior Learning;

Phase 7 Equivalent Assessment Programme (mandatory to apply for recognition of prior learning);

Other FÁS Courses relevant to the trade which may be included for consideration as part of an Application for Prior Learning.

I understand that the person was contacted by FÁS on 4th April, 2011 to establish if he wished to participate in the Redundant Apprentice Placement Programme but that he declined the offer. I also understand that the Phase 7 Assessments must be conducted in this jurisdiction in order to gain the Irish Qualification for Tradespersons i.e. FETAC Advanced Certificate Craft. Once this has been completed, the person may make an application under Recognition of Prior Learning for recognition of any relevant and verifiable work experience relating to his trade.

County and City Enterprise Boards

Brendan Griffin

Question:

91 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation his plans for the future of county enterprise boards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16878/11]

The issue of restructuring the County and City Enterprise Boards has been in the public domain since the publication of the McCarthy Group Report under the last Administration. It is both timely and appropriate to re-structure, and re-focus, how the State delivers its support to the indigenous micro-enterprise sector as, after all, this sector will be vital to job creation and to overall economic recovery in Ireland. However, within this context, it is vital to ensure that any restructuring does not compromise on service delivery to the end user and that it is vital to ensure that State support for enterprise and job creation activities is delivered in a coherent, effective and efficient manner.

Both I, and my officials, are currently seeking to determine the extent to which there should be restructuring of the County and City Enterprise Boards having regard to the programme for Government, and to other recommendations on CEB restructuring, to the need to achieve a rational and focused model for entrepreneurs, as well as the need to ensure that there is targeted local delivery of enterprise support, driven by a national enterprise policy, in a manner which eliminates overlap and duplication.

Legislative Provisions

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

92 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if in accordance with the Factories Act 1955, section 84, Ireland’s Magdalene laundries were considered factories and, as such, were subject to the conditions laid out in that legislation; if his position reflects the statement made by the then Minister for Industry and Commerce, William Norton, in Seanad Éireann on 5 May 1955 that “once you wash clothes in the institution, not for the institution, then that is a factory. In other words, you have a right to wash clothes for the institution, but if you start to wash other people’s clothes it is a factory, for the purpose of section 84”; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16904/11]

Section 84 of the Factories Act 1955 reads as follows:—

84. —(1) Where, in any premises forming part of an institution carried on for charitable or reformatory purposes, any manual labour is exercised in or incidental to the making, altering, repairing, ornamenting, finishing, washing, cleaning, or adapting for sale, of articles not intended for the use of the institution, but the premises do not constitute a factory, then, nevertheless, the provisions of this Act shall, subject as hereinafter in this section provided, apply to those premises.

(2) This Act shall not, except in so far as the Minister may by order direct, apply to any premises which do not constitute a factory if the premises are subject to inspection by or under the authority of any Minister of State.

Subsection (1) is clearly addressed at premises or workplaces which do not constitute a factory. It does provide that certain types of institution may, despite the fact that they "do not constitute a factory", be subject to the provisions of the Act. However, Subsection (2) qualifies this by providing that the Act shall not apply to such institutions if they "are subject to inspection by or under the authority of any Minister of State". The mere fact that the State has a right to inspect particular premises does not mean that it has an obligation to do so — there neither was nor is any obligation on the State to inspect every workplace.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Government decided last week to establish an interdepartmental committee chaired by an independent person to establish the full extent of State involvement in relation to the Magdalen Laundries. Along with his colleague, the Minister of State for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence is now following up on this decision with the relevant parties.

Given the generally acknowledged lack of information about the type of institution mentioned by the Deputy, I do not consider it appropriate, at this juncture, to comment on the possible application of the 1950s code of occupational health and safety to particular institutions.

Departmental Expenditure

Peter Mathews

Question:

93 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation further to Parliamentary Question No. 170 of 19 January 2010, if he will provide the most recently available data in tabular form; if he will give details of the number of invoices paid each year by Departments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16905/11]

The reply to PQ No. 170 of 19 January 2010, included data in tabular format on payments made within 15 days by central Government Departments covering the period 15 June 2009 — 30 September 2009. In the interim period, my Department has published on its website a further six sets of quarterly returns and these can be accessed on the Department's website at the following link:http://www.djei.ie/enterprise/smes/publications.htm.

The most recent sets of returns covering the period 1 January-31 March 2011 (Quarter 1, 2011), were published on 30 May 2011 and follow in tabular form. These returns show that:

A total of 47,227 payments were made within 30 days by Departments in the above period amounting to €608m;

41,527 payments totalling €593m were paid within 15 days. These payments represent 88% of the total number of payments made by Departments;

In value terms, 97.5% were paid within 15 days compared with 98% for Quarter 4 2010 figures;

A further 5,700 payments or 12% were made between 16 and 30 days;

12 Departments were paying in excess of 90% of invoices by value within 15 days;

The other three Departments were paying in excess of 65% of invoices by value within 15 days and

All 15 Departments had paid between 93% and 100% of their invoices within 30 days, in respect of the number of invoices received.

Clearly central Government Departments are making their contribution to assisting the cash flow of their business suppliers. It is now the turn of the broader public sector to match this lead and play its part in assisting SME suppliers. Government is now extending the 15 day prompt payment rule beyond central Government Departments to include the Health Service Executive, the Local Authorities, State Agencies, and all other Public Sector Bodies, (with the exception of the Commercial Semi-State bodies). The new arrangement will apply in respect of valid invoices received on, or after, 1 July 2011.

PROMPT PAYMENT RETURNS BY GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS 2011

Quarter 1: January — March 2011

Quarter 4: October-December 2010

TABLE 1: GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS

% of overall total value paid within 15 days

Value of Payments within 15 days

% No. of Payments within 15 days

No. of Payments within 15 days

% of overall total value paid within 15 days

Value of Payments within 15 days

% No. of Payments within 15 days

No. of Payments within 15 days

Health and Children

100%

€1,005,801

100%

685

94%

€1,180,838

98%

720

Transport

100%

€299,920,999

98%

3,166

100%

€1,172,808,027

98%

4,891

Enterprise, Trade and Innovation

96%

€17,065,593

80%

1,304

98%

€59,663,255

85%

1,928

Finance

96%

€1,372,698

93%

800

96%

€4,734,210

93%

1,219

Foreign Affairs

96%

€9,145,557

95%

1,337

96%

€15,152,665

96%

1,895

Social Protection

96%

€117,224,536

83%

3,040

97%

€111,522,897

70%

3,167

Taoiseach

96%

€1,353,576

89%

369

87%

€1,914,516

86%

425

Education and Skills

95%

€58,866,149

77%

2,875

98%

€168,186,438

73%

2,281

Tourism, Culture and Sport

95%

€3,770,166

84%

457

95%

€8,743,114

87%

729

Defence

94%

€33,902,635

91%

9,179

88%

€89,286,259

94%

12,526

Justice & Law Reform

93%

€24,347,415

88%

5,738

87%

€33,988,988

87%

7,066

Environment, Heritage and Local Gov

92%

€2,821,515

88%

2,788

88%

€12,695,506

79%

3,840

Agriculture, Fisheries & Food

82%

€20,460,971

78%

8,645

82%

€32,366,552

86%

11,704

Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs

69%

€764,214

57%

399

90%

€1,819,341

87%

672

Communications, Energy and Nat Resources

65%

€1,318,114

91%

745

94%

€7,928,702

89%

1,003

Total

€593,339,939

41,527

€1,721,991,308

54,066

PROMPT PAYMENT RETURNS BY GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS 2011

Quarter 1: January — March 2011

Quarter 4: October — December 2010

TABLE 2: GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS

% Value of overall total value paid within 30 days

Value of Payments within 30 days

% No. of Payments within 30 days

No. of Payments within 30 days

% Value of overall total value paid within 30 days

Value of Payments within 30 days

% No. of Payments within 30 days

No. of Payments within 30 days

Education and Skills

100%

62,036,007

98%

3,663

99%

€171,516,754

96%

2,991

Finance

100%

1,423,845

100%

854

100%

€4,930,406

97%

1,270

Foreign Affairs

100%

9,546,325

99%

1,393

100%

€15,717,487

100%

1,966

Health and Children

100%

1,006,134

100%

686

99%

€1,252,482

100%

731

Justice & Law Reform

100%

25,952,008

98%

6,379

99%

€39,030,682

98%

7,985

Social Protection

100%

121,127,933

97%

3,571

100%

€113,994,763

91%

4,137

Taoiseach

100%

1,401,052

99%

409

90%

€1,985,066

98%

481

Tourism, Culture and Sport

100%

3,944,509

98%

531

100%

€9,176,993

98%

821

Transport

100%

300,000,183

100%

3,212

100%

€1,173,073,556

100%

4,955

Enterprise, Trade and Innovation

99%

17,618,554

97%

1,568

100%

€60,463,114

96%

2,194

Environment, Heritage and Local Government

99%

3,026,726

98%

3,134

99%

€14,238,448

96%

4,678

Communications, Marine and Natural Resources

98%

1,997,039

96%

788

97%

€8,245,772

96%

1,083

Defence

97%

35,197,405

98%

9,895

99%

€101,054,950

98%

13,142

Agriculture, Fisheries & Food

92%

23,057,294

94%

10,495

100%

€39,502,297

98%

13,463

Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs

97%

1,069,161

93%

649

100%

€2,017,359

99%

769

Total

608,404,175

47,227

1,756,200,129

60,666

Jobs Initiative

Michael McGrath

Question:

94 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation his plans to introduce a partial loan guarantee scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16946/11]

As part of the Jobs Initiative announced in this House on, 10 May, both the Minister for Finance and I confirmed the Government commitment to initiating a tendering process for the development of a temporary partial credit guarantee scheme. A call for competition for the design of a scheme was published on e-tenders on 15 June.

The design of the scheme will draw from international experience to support new lending that would not otherwise have been extended by the banks. In this way, the scheme will be limited in its scope and will complement, rather than be a substitute for, existing lending activities by the main financial institutions. It will be designed to encourage banks to lend to these new or expanding commercially viable SMEs so that they can grow their company, develop new products or expand into new markets.

The Government's commitment will be for an initial period of one year. Specific performance criteria will be set down that allow for review and revision of the scheme at the end of that initial period before committing to a roll-over of the scheme for subsequent years. It is intended that the Scheme will be in place in the autumn.

International Agreements

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

95 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation his plans to ratify the International Labour Organisation convention on domestic workers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16952/11]

I welcome the recent successful outcome of discussions at the International Labour Conference (ILC) that lead to the adoption of a new International labour standard aimed at ensuring Decent Work for Domestic Workers. This outcome was achieved following extensive negotiations on the draft text of an instrument over a three-week period on which work commenced at the 2010 session of the ILC.

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that the final text of the draft Convention was one that the Irish Government was in a position to support and the Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers now becomes ILO Convention No. 189 supplemented by a Recommendation. The Convention was adopted by a sizeable majority of ILO members at the plenary session of Conference just a week ago.

Ratification of the Convention by ILO member countries would commit members to respect, promote and realise the labour standards and principles inherent in the Convention. It is now a matter for ILO members individually, to consider ratification to the maximum extent in order for this instrument to receive widespread and universal application as a global standard.

The issue of ratification by Ireland of this Convention will be considered in the context of our standard approach to the ratification of international instruments. In this regard, the Convention will need to be examined from the perspective of any changes that may be required to existing domestic legislation. This will involve careful examination of the provisions of the Convention as well as obtaining any legal advice that might be necessary. Issues around implementation and enforcement of the Convention will also need to be considered.

In the meantime, it is important to point to the fact that the full suite of employment rights legislation, including that of redress for violations of employment rights, that apply to employees generally in Ireland apply equally in the case of domestic workers.

Job Creation

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

96 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Social Protection if Members of the Oireachtas will be able to hire interns under the national internship scheme. [16854/11]

In order to offer an internship opportunity under the national internship scheme, host organisations must be legal entities. This criterion is in place to prevent possible abuses of the scheme such as displacement and deadweight and to ensure that interns receive a quality internship. Members of the Oireachtas will, therefore, be ineligible to participate in the national internship scheme as they are not legal entities.

Departmental Schemes

Joe Costello

Question:

97 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Social Protection the support mechanisms available for persons whose employment is seasonal or sporadic; her plans to look at the circumstances of persons working in the arts whose income is intermittent but who have child care, education, mortgage and other daily commitments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16862/11]

There are no specific schemes in the Department that are targeted at those in the Arts nor are there any plans to introduce such a scheme. However there are a number of measures that are applicable, on a non-sectoral specific basis, to a range of unemployed, or underemployed workers, along with those who pursue self-employment but receive low income from same.

Unemployed persons may qualify for jobseeker's benefit or jobseeker's allowance. Jobseeker's benefit is based on a person's social insurance record and jobseeker's allowance is based on weekly means. A fundamental qualifying condition for the benefit is that a person must be available and looking for full-time work but payment can be made to those in part-time, casual or seasonal work having regard to these conditions.

Artists are generally adjudged to be self-employed workers, liable for PRSI at the Class S rate of 4%. They are consequently eligible for a narrower range of benefits than general employees who, together with their employers, pay a total social insurance contribution of 14.75%, excluding levies, under the full-rate PRSI Class A.

Self-employed workers are not insured against short-term benefits such as illness and jobseeker's payments — these are only available to persons covered by PRSI Classes A, E, H and P. This reflects the need for coverage for various contingencies, the rate of contributions that self-employed persons pay, the practicalities of administering and controlling access to short-term payments and the annualised system of contributions that these people enjoy. A system of separate arrangements for employed and self-employed workers within a social insurance context is common in other European social protection systems.

There are no plans at present to extend cover for short-term benefits to this group of insured workers. Any such measure would have significant financial implications and would have to be considered within a budgetary context. Consideration would also have to be given to an appropriate increase in the rate of the PRSI Class S contribution.

Self-employed workers who do not qualify for an insurance-based benefit may establish entitlement to assistance-based payments such as jobseeker's allowance. They can apply for the means-tested jobseekers allowance if their business ceases or if they are on low income as a result of a downturn in demand for their services. In general their means will take account of the level of earnings in the last twelve months in determining their expected income for the following year. If the means test is satisfied they can receive a payment and continue to pursue their self-employed activities. In the current climate account is taken of the downward trend in the economy. It is accepted that future earnings may be lower than those of previous years and this is factored in projecting future earnings, with account being taken of the potential for significant upward or downward variations in income from one year to the next.

In common with those from other sectors, people in receipt of jobseekers payments may be entitled to access back-to-work enterprise allowance. This is a scheme which facilitates those who wish to either, become self-employed, or increase the level of their self-employment. Under the scheme a self-employed person retains 100% of social welfare payment for the first year and 75% for the second year and secondary benefits received are retained as appropriate. There are also small grants potentially available to support the establishment of the enterprise. Further, individually-specific, information is available from the network of Facilitators that are based in the Department's Local Offices.

Social Welfare Appeals

Joe Costello

Question:

98 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will reverse the decision to refuse supplementary welfare allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 7; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16863/11]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that the person concerned has appealed the decision to refuse supplementary welfare allowance to the HSE's designated Appeals Officer. The person concerned will be notified of the outcome in due course.

Questions Nos. 99 and 100 withdrawn.

Social Welfare Benefits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

101 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the procedure to be followed to transfer from jobseeker’s allowance to disability allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16872/11]

The person concerned was in receipt of jobseeker's allowance until 10 May 2011. His claim was closed on 6 May 2011 as he submitted an application for Illness Benefit (IB) with effect from 21 April 2011. His IB claim is under consideration.

In order to apply for Disability Allowance (DA) it is necessary to complete the relevant application form DA1. This should be certified by a GP and forwarded to Disability Allowance Section, Social Welfare Services, Government Buildings, Ballinalee Road, Longford. To qualify for DA a person must satisfy a means test. A member of staff in Disability Allowance Section has issued an application form in the post to the person concerned, on 21 June 2011. This should be completed and forwarded to Disability Allowance Section for processing.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

102 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason sufferers of fibromyalgia are not deemed eligible for invalidity pension as in the case of a person (details supplied); if she will arrange to have this case reviewed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16873/11]

Invalidity Pension is a payment for people who are permanently incapable of work because of illness or incapacity and who satisfy the contribution conditions. Medical eligibility for invalidity pension is not based on a set of prescribed illnesses. Rather, it is assessed on a case by case basis by a medical assessor of the department, based upon a GP report and other relevant medical evidence supplied by the claimant.

On 9th May, 2011, the person concerned was refused invalidity pension on the grounds that she was not considered to be permanently incapable of work, and she has been notified of this decision. Further medical evidence was received which was reviewed on 30th May 2011. This review did not result in a revision of the decision and she was notified of this on 16th June 2011. She was also notified of her right to appeal this decision.

Jack Wall

Question:

103 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection when an application for rent allowance will be determined in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16916/11]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that the person concerned is in receipt of rent supplement of €135 per week which is the maximum amount payable appropriate to her circumstances after an overpayment deduction of €20 per week has been applied. The HSE further advised that the person concerned has appealed the overpayment deduction to the HSE Appeals Office but that no decision has been made on her appeal. The HSE Appeals Office will contact the person concerned directly when a decision has been made.

Paschal Donohoe

Question:

104 Deputy Paschal Donohoe asked the Minister for Social Protection her plans to provide a discount to those on disability or invalidity benefits towards the cost of digital terrestrial television; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16919/11]

The national digital switchover strategy is a matter for the Department of Communications, Energy and National Resources. That Department is to deliver a substantial information campaign providing households with information on the digital switchover and on their options for going digital. I understand this information campaign will start in October. In conjunction with this, the Department of Communications, Energy and National Resources is developing plans to ensure that a range of practical assistance is made available to address the particular needs of vulnerable households as they prepare to go digital. The Department of Social Protection provides a free television licence as part of the household benefits package. I have no plans to introduce a further element to the package to cover the cost of digital terrestrial television.

FÁS Training Programmes

Jack Wall

Question:

105 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare is entitled to apply for any training or community employment schemes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16926/11]

FÁS Employment Services provide a fully integrated range of services and supports to employers and jobseekers nationally. Responsibility for FÁS employment services has been transferred to my Department whilst my colleague, the Minister for Education and Skills, retains responsibility for policy in respect of training services.

In order to avail of these services and identify any training or community employment scheme opportunities, jobseekers can register at any one of the 63 local FÁS Employment Service Offices across the county. The Employment Service Offices provide on-site career guidance and job placement services. FÁS also contracts with local development companies and community organisations for the delivery of the Local Employment Service (LES) which provides career guidance, support and advice on entitlements in a further 25 locations throughout the country. In addition, FÁS Employment Services and the LES are the gateway to all FÁS training and employment programmes. Further information is available from any one of the local FÁS Employment Service Offices nationwide or online atwww.fas.ie. Local employment services in Kildare are available in Naas, Kildare Town, Leixlip and Athy.

Social Welfare Appeals

Seán Kenny

Question:

106 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will issue on an appeal against a disallowance of a carer’s allowance claim in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [16931/11]

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. There has been a very significant increase in the number of appeals received by the Social Welfare Appeals Office since 2007 when the intake was 14,070 to 2010 when the intake rose to 32,432. This has significantly impacted on the processing time for appeals which require oral hearings and, in order to be fair to all appellants, they are dealt with in strict chronological order. In the context of dealing with the considerable number of appeals now on hand, the Department has made a further 9 additional appointments to the office in recent weeks. While every effort is being made to deal with the large numbers awaiting oral hearing as quickly as possible, it is not possible to give a date when the person's oral hearing will be heard, but s/he will be informed when arrangements have been made.

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.

Seán Kenny

Question:

107 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will request the chief appeals officer to review the disallowance of the jobseeker’s allowance claim in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 13 who was refused their request for an oral hearing in respect of which he has been advised he has a legal entitlement. [16932/11]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer, having fully considered all the evidence, disallowed the appeal of the person concerned by way of summary decision. Notification of the Appeals Officers decision was issued on 9th June 2011. Under Social Welfare legislation, the decision of the Appeals Officer is final and conclusive and may only be reviewed by the Appeals Officer in the light of new evidence or new facts. The legislation also provides that an Appeals Officer may decide a case before him/her on the basis of the documentary evidence. This course of action was taken in the case of the person concerned as it was considered that an oral hearing was not warranted.

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that no new evidence has been received to date in that Office to warrant a review of the case by the Appeals Officer. 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

Clare Daly

Question:

108 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will continue to pay child benefit for children who are 18 years but who have not yet sat their leaving certificate while the child continues to be a full time student at second level. [16935/11]

Child benefit is a universal payment that assists parents in the cost associated with raising children and it contributes towards alleviating child poverty. It is paid monthly in respect of all children up to the age of 16 years and in respect of children over 16 years of age up to their 18th birthday who are in full time education or have a disability. There are no plans for extending the upper age limit for child benefit at the present time.

For families on low incomes there are a number of provisions to social welfare schemes which support children in full-time education until the age of 22, including:

Qualified Child Increases to primary social welfare payments in receipt of either:

A long-term social welfare payment, or

A short-term social welfare payment for six months or more (short-term schemes include such payments as Jobseeker's Benefit and Assistance, Illness Benefit and Supplementary Welfare Allowance).

The family income supplement (FIS) scheme to low paid employees with families. This supplement is paid where a family's weekly income is below a specified amount for the family size, and is calculated at 60% of the difference between the net family income (i.e. gross pay less tax, PRSI, USC, superannuation) and the relevant income limit.

The back to school clothing and footwear allowance, which provides a one-off payment to eligible families to assist with the extra costs when children start school each autumn.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

109 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason that persons (details supplied) in County Monaghan were refused rent supplement. [16949/11]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) advised that the persons concerned inquired as to their possible entitlement for rent supplement in respect of their new address. The couple were informed that, based on their household income, they would qualify for a rent supplement of €0.80 (80 cent) per week.

The HSE further advised that the persons concerned did not follow up this inquiry with a formal application for payment.

Social Welfare Appeals

Brendan Griffin

Question:

110 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will issue on an application for disability allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16974/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that a disability allowance appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 22 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 8 March 2011 and the appeal has been referred to an Appeals Officer who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing.

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

Local Authority Charges

Brendan Griffin

Question:

111 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will consider a waiver of the non-principal private residence tax for persons forced to migrate for work purposes due to the economic situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16874/11]

The Local Government (Charges) Act 2009, which sets out the detail of the €200 charge on non-principal private residences, is structured with a starting position of a universal liability for residential property in respect of the charge. It goes on to exempt certain buildings and owners from this liability, the most important exemption being where a property is occupied by the owner as his or her sole or main residence on the liability date. A person who owns a property in this country which is not his or her main residence is liable for the charge unless otherwise exempt, regardless of which country he or she normally resides in. I have no plans at present to introduce a waiver scheme.

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

112 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will clarify his position regarding the imposition of water charges and commercial rates on community child care initiatives. [16963/11]

Commercial rates are local property taxes that are levied by local authorities on commercial properties rateable under the Valuation Act 2001. Local authorities are under a statutory obligation to levy rates on any property used for commercial purposes in accordance with the details entered on the valuation lists prepared by the independent Commissioner of Valuation. The determination of the annual rate on valuation, which is applied to property valuations to calculate rates, is a decision taken locally by the elected members of a local authority in their annual budget.

With regard to the application of rates to childcare facilities, local authorities levy rates on commercial establishments. Where childcare provision is within a community facility, operating in a non-profit capacity, commercial rates do not generally apply.

The Water Pricing Framework adopted in 1998 requires local authorities to recover the cost of providing water services from all non-domestic users of these services. The policy provides for full cost recovery without profit, with charges based on metered consumption.

Departmental Schemes

Brendan Griffin

Question:

113 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the position regarding the walks scheme; if he will reopen the scheme to new applicants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16845/11]

The Walks Scheme is currently operating on 40 trails being managed by 14 Local Development Companies around the country. The Scheme involves 1,804 participant landholders who are contracted to carry out maintenance work on these trails. In 2011 payments to these landholders will amount to some €1.9m. In line with the commitments in the Programme for Government and the requirements of the Comprehensive Expenditure Review, all areas of work and programmes in my Department are being examined. The outcome of the Review will determine funding availability and decisions regarding the reopening of the Scheme.

Local Authority Charges

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

114 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the way he will determine the free water allowance to be granted to each household before such time as conservation charges are incurred. [16849/11]

Seán Kyne

Question:

117 Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if persons with a long-term illness or disability will receive an extra allowance or waiver on charges for water usage, particularly when experiencing medical problems such as arthritis, the symptoms of which can be alleviated through the therapeutic use of water. [16906/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 114 and 117 together.

The Programme for Government provides for the introduction of a fair funding model to deliver clean and reliable water. The objective is to install water meters in households and move to a charging system based on usage above a free allowance. My Department is currently preparing a strategy to implement these proposals, including the level of the free allowance and the potential impacts on vulnerable groups. Further details will be made available when the Government has considered the proposals.

Departmental Funding

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

115 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the reason funding was withdrawn from the Community Workers’ Co-operative; the assessment criteria employed and the aspects in which the CWC was deficient; in view of the valuable work undertaken by this group in the most disadvantaged areas of society if he will consider the restoration of this support; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16856/11]

I refer to the reply to Questions Nos. 237, 247, 248, 249, 250 and 259 of 21 June 2011 which set out the position in this matter.

Local Authority Charges

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

116 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 139 of 16 June 2011, the local authorities currently offering the facility for businesses to pay their rates by direct debit; the local authorities that currently allow businesses to pay their rates in weekly and or monthly instalments; the piece or pieces of legislation that provide for the collection of local authority rates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16888/11]

Local authority rates are legally payable in two moieties. However, local authorities also facilitate the payment of rates by instalments, including by direct debit, standing order, cheque and cash. The levying and collection of rates are matters for each individual local authority and this would include the arrangements for ratepayers in making payment by instalments. In this regard, ratepayers experiencing difficulty in the payment of rates should contact their rating authority in the matter. The law on the collection and levying of rates is contained in the statutory framework comprehending a number of pieces of legislation, as follows:

Poor Relief (Ireland) Act 1838

Poor Relief (Ireland) Amendment Act 1843

Poor Relief (Ireland) Act 1849

Valuation (Ireland) Act 1852

Poor Relief (Ireland) Act 1862

Poor Law Acts (Ireland) Amendment Act 1890

Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898

Local Government Collection of Rates Act 1924

Local Government (Dublin) Act 1930

Limerick City Management Act 1934

Waterford City Management Act 1939

Cork City Management (Amendment) Act 1941

Local Government Act 1941

Local Government Act 1946

Local Government Act 1955

Local Government (Rates) Act 1970

Local Government (Financial Provisions) Act 1978

Local Government (Financial Provisions) Act 1983

Local Government (Dublin) Act 1993

Local Government Act 1994

Valuation Act 2001

Question No. 117 answered with Question No. 114.

Environmental Protection

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

118 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his plans to ensure that Cork City Council implements the noise action plan regarding the south city link road, N27; if funds have been ring-fenced for this purpose; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16915/11]

The Environmental Noise Regulations 2006 give effect in Ireland to EU Directive 2002/49/EC relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is designated as the National Authority for the purpose of the Regulations. The EPA's role includes supervisory, advisory and coordination functions in relation to noise-mapping, action planning, and fulfilling reporting requirements.

The Directive and Regulations provide for a two-stage approach to the assessment and management of environmental noise. Strategic noise maps for areas and infrastructure falling within defined criteria, including major roads, are first prepared by the relevant mapping authorities. Local authorities then prepare noise action plans for their functional areas based on the results of noise mapping. Both the noise maps and noise action plans are required to be reviewed at least every 5 years. The next reviews are scheduled for 2012 and 2013, respectively.

My Department has been advised by the EPA that Cork City Council has submitted its finalised Noise Action Plan to the Agency. Assessment of progress made in relation to the implementation of the plan will be undertaken as part of the review due in 2013. Allocation of funding for the implementation of the noise action plan is a matter for Cork City Council.

Local Authority Housing

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

119 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the basis in legislation for a local authority imposing assessed rent arrears on a tenant who maintained up to date payments on the original rental contract with the local authority; if the differential rent system should produce documented revisions of rent assessments in the current recession and time of falling incomes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16953/11]

Local authority rents are set in accordance with a rent scheme adopted by each local council. The making and amending of these rent schemes are an integral part of a housing authority's housing management functions, subject to broad principles laid down by my Department in Circular letter HRT 3/2002 of 6 March 2002.

Section 31 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 will replace, once commenced, existing provisions in relation to differential rent schemes. Regulations and guidelines for housing authorities in relation to differential rent are currently in preparation in my Department. While it is not the intention to implement a national standardised differential rent scheme, regulations later this year will more clearly set out the matters that may be included in a local rent scheme, including —

the level, type and sources of household income that may be assessed for rent purposes;

how dependents will be accounted for in calculating rent; and

procedures for rent reviews.

Social and Affordable Housing

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

120 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the way he proposes to address the rehousing of the 19,880 persons and families on the Dublin City Council housing list; the way he proposes to address the rehousing of the thousands of persons and families on the Fingal housing list; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16954/11]

On 16 June I launched the Government's new housing policy statement which will serve as a framework for a sequence of legislative and policy initiatives in the short to medium term. Based on a number of fundamental principles and goals that will form the foundation of a substantial reform programme, the new framework for housing policy responds to current and emerging conditions in the housing sector, taking account of the dramatic cycle of rapid growth and sudden collapse in the residential property market. The centrepiece of the approach is to chart a way forward for housing policy in Ireland by placing greater emphasis on:

choice;

equity across housing tenures; and

delivering quality outcomes for the resources invested.

In terms of the delivery of social housing, the policy statement clearly identifies that the main focus in terms of supports provided by Government will be on meeting the most acute needs — the housing support needs of those unable to provide for their accommodation from own resources.

The financial parameters in which we will be operating for the coming years rule out a return to very large capital funded construction programmes by local authorities. Nevertheless, we are committed to responding more quickly and on a larger scale to social housing support needs through a variety of mechanisms including through increased provision of social housing.

Delivery of social housing will be significantly facilitated through more flexible funding models such as RAS and leasing, but the Government is also committed to developing other funding mechanisms that will increase the supply of permanent new social housing. Such mechanisms will include options to purchase, build to lease, the sourcing of loan finance by approved housing bodies for construction and acquisition. There is also obvious potential, across a range of housing programmes, for the Government's objective of sourcing and providing suitable residential units for use as social housing, to be aligned with the commercial objectives of the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA).

Unfinished Housing Developments

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

121 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his timeframe for the occupation of the empty and unfinished homes in Dublin north east which number up to 1,500 units; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16955/11]

There is clear potential to align demand for social housing with oversupply of suitable residential stock where it exists. The restructuring of the social housing investment programme to enable greater delivery through more flexible funding models such as RAS and leasing is key to this, in conjunction with other funding mechanisms to support the delivery of permanent new social housing.

There is also potential, across a range of housing programmes, for the Government's objective of sourcing and providing suitable residential units for use as social housing, to be aligned with the commercial objectives of the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA).

My Department has been engaging with representatives of NAMA, and since coming into office I have also met with the Chairman and the CEO, to discuss options for securing a social dividend through the acquisition of suitable residential units for social housing purposes, while providing a return in line with NAMA's mandate. I anticipate that this and other engagements will see the delivery of new social housing in the short term and I am progressing this agenda as a matter of urgency.

Social and Affordable Housing

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

122 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if the recent statement of housing policy means there will be no more rental-buy or shared ownership arrangements for low income families to purchase a home; the number of such homes that were delivered nationally in the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16956/11]

On 16 June I launched the Government's new housing policy statement which will serve as a framework for a sequence of legislative and policy initiatives in the short to medium term. Based on a number of fundamental principles and goals that will form the foundation of a substantial reform programme, the new framework for housing policy responds to current and emerging conditions in the housing sector, taking account of the dramatic cycle of rapid growth and sudden collapse in the residential property market. The centrepiece of the approach is to chart a way forward for housing policy in Ireland by placing greater emphasis on:

choice;

equity across housing tenures; and

delivering quality outcomes for the resources invested.

The policy statement also formally announces the standing down of all affordable housing schemes, including shared ownership, in the context of a full review of Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000.

Affordable housing schemes were introduced to bridge the affordability gap that emerged during the boom years, preventing middle income households from realising their ownership aspirations. However, affordable housing did nothing to address the underlying problem — which is that the market was becoming overheated with an unsustainable chasm being created between prices and incomes. Affordable housing was therefore a symptom of a market failure and not a solution to it.

In addition, affordability has eased to such an extent that there is little or no demand for affordable housing. Indeed, in recent years the challenge has been more of how to deploy existing affordable stock productively rather than deliver new affordable housing.

The possibility of localised affordability challenges in the future, particularly in areas where supply is short and demand is likely to bounce back relatively quickly is not ruled out. Such affordable housing schemes that may be necessary in the future will have a broader tenure focus than in the past.

The Government is committed to supporting access to home ownership for lower income households and a range of paths to home ownership will remain in place in that regard. These include the incremental purchase scheme, the availability of loan finance from local authorities for house purchase, including open market purchase, and the tenant purchase scheme.

Information on the number of houses provided under the Shared Ownership Scheme is published in my Department's Housing Statistics Bulletins, copies of which are available in the Oireachtas Library and on my Department's website (www.environ.ie).

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

123 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the numbers of new build social housing units directly built and tenanted by Dublin City Council and Fingal County Council from 2007 up to June 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16957/11]

My Department collates and publishes a wide range of housing statistics that inform the preparation and evaluation of housing policy. The full range of data compiled can be viewed on my Department's website,www.environ.ie, where data on Local Authority completions, broken down by county and city, are displayed. Information on occupation of local authority units is provided on an annual basis. The most recent data published on this relates to 2009. I expect that 2010 data will be published shortly.

Garda Vetting of Personnel

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

124 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding the vetting system for those working with children (details supplied); the reason that this process is taking so long; and his plans to improve the system. [16850/11]

The Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU) provides a centralised vetting service for all registered organisations nationwide. The organisation to which the Deputy refers is registered with the GCVU for employment vetting purposes. I am informed by the Garda Authorities that there have been no changes to the procedures in place for the processing of Garda vetting applications.

The length of time currently being taken to process vetting applications is a matter of concern and I am determined to take action to address it. I recognise that it is important to process these applications within a reasonable time frame both for the benefit of the applicants and the organisations involved.

A number of immediate measures are being taken to improve the situation. The sanction of the Department of Finance has been obtained to retain the services of ten temporary employees in the GCVU. A further sanction has been obtained to engage an additional ten temporary employees for the Unit and the process of recruiting these is under way. This should have an impact on processing times. In addition, further steps are under consideration with a view to alleviating the pressure on the staff of the GCVU and to reduce the time taken for the processing of applications.

I am informed by the Garda Authorities that at present there is a total of five Gardaí, 76 full-time Garda civilian personnel and ten temporary civilian personnel assigned to the GCVU. This represents a very significant increase in the level of personnel assigned to the unit, which stood at only 13 before the current process of development in Garda vetting began in 2005.

The average processing time for vetting applications fluctuates in line with periods of increased demand. In processing an individual vetting application, additional time may be required in cases where clarification is needed as to the details provided or where other enquiries need to be made, for example, when the person in question has lived and worked abroad. There will always be a reasonably significant time period required to process a vetting application. Registered organisations have been advised to take account of this in their recruitment and selection process. However, the Gardaí make every effort to reduce the time to the minimum possible consistent with carrying out what are very necessary checks. I am informed by the Garda Authorities that, at present, the average processing time for vetting applications received at the GCVU is approximately 10 weeks.

The GCVU has managed a substantial increase over recent years in the numbers of vetting applications it receives from around 188,000 in 2007 to almost 292,000 in 2010. At present, there are approximately 55,000 applications in the course of being processed.

Missing Persons

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

125 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to introduce the 116000 European hotline for missing children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16851/11]

I am informed that the telephone number to which the Deputy refers has been reserved by the European Commission as a common missing children telephone hotline for the entire EU. It is made available by national telecoms regulators to organisations they consider to be qualified to offer such a service. The allocation of the number in Ireland is therefore a matter in the first instance for the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) and the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

I am informed that ComReg has published an information note on its website which makes all relevant information available to potential applicants who may wish to provide the 116 000 service. It also issued on a number of occasions national press advertisements inviting applications, most recently on 20 June.

Gaming Licences

Joe Costello

Question:

126 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to grant a gaming licence to the consortium which has received planning permission for a casino in County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16861/11]

I am not aware that an application has been made for a gaming licence in respect of the development to which the Deputy refers. However, should an application be made, it will be assessed in accordance with the relevant statutes, namely the Gaming and Lotteries Acts 1956-2003. Those Acts are based on the principle that only those gaming activities and establishments permitted by the Acts may be licensed. There is, therefore, a positive duty to comply with the legislation. Bearing that in mind and having regard also to the reports that it is proposed to include a casino in the development, I draw attention to section 4 of the 1956 Act. It makes it clear that casinos are not permitted and therefore they may not be licensed. The fact that a facility may have been granted planning permission does not alter that position in any way.

Citizenship Applications

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

127 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding an application for citizenship in the case of persons (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16871/11]

Valid applications for a certificate of naturalisation from the persons referred to in the Deputy's Question were received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in November 2008.

The application from the second named person is at the final stage of processing. Officials in the Citizenship Division inform me that a letter requesting further documentation was issued to the applicant on 14 June 2011.

The application from the first named person is at an advanced stage of processing and will be finalised as expeditiously as possible.

In that context, I can inform the Deputy that, I have announced steps within my Department to provide for speedier processing of applications to bring about a substantial reduction in the processing timescale. The new arrangements include improved application forms that are coming into force this Friday, 24th June 2011, and are currently available online with an associated online residence checker, streamlined and accelerated procedures for certain types of application and plans to recruit interns under the new Internship Programme. Further details can be obtained from the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration websitewww.inis.gov.ie.

The granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is a privilege and an honour which confers certain rights and entitlements not only within the State but also at European Union level and it is important that appropriate procedures are in place to preserve the integrity of the process.

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.

Prison Accommodation

Clare Daly

Question:

128 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of cells in each institution here; the number that accommodate two, three, four or more prisoners; and the current levels of overcrowding within each prison with reference to the safe levels of custody on each prison as identified by the Inspector of Prisons in his report, The Irish Prison Population — An examination of the duties and obligations owed to prisoners, from July 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16891/11]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

132 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the total number of prison spaces currently available at each location throughout the country; the number of prisoners per cell at each location; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16896/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 128 and 132 together.

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the following tables.

Table 1 sets out the total number of cells in each institution and is broken down into cells that can accommodate one, two, three and four or more prisoners. The table also includes the capped bed capacity as suggested by the Inspector of Prisons in the report referred to by the Deputy, along with the bed capacity and numbers in custody on Monday 20th June, 2011. Table 2 sets out the number of prisoners held in single, double, triple, quadruple and larger cells per institution.

The numbers in prison at the moment do not allow all of the Inspector's standards to be met in the short term. The problem of prison overcrowding remains a challenging issue. As of 22nd June 2011, there were 4,433 prisoners in custody. In 2000 that figure stood at 2919. 400 additional prisoner places will come on stream by mid 2012 and the Committee looking at Thornton are due to report by 1 July 2011.

I am pursuing alternatives to custody. I would mention in particular the Criminal Justice (Community Service) (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill which will require judges to consider imposing Community Service in any case where the appropriate sentence would otherwise be a custodial one of up to 12 months imprisonment. I also have asked my officials to look at a scheme where suitable long term prisoners might have the last period of their custodial sentence replaced by a form of Community Service.

Table 1.

Institution

No. of Single Cells

No. of Double cells

Number of 3 person cells

Number of Cells for 4 or more persons

Total number of cells

Bed Capacity per Inspector’s Report

Irish Prison Service Bed Capacity 20/06/2011

Number in Custody 20/06/2011

Arbour Hill

84

26

0

5

115

131

148

152

Castlerea **

85

107

0

4

196

300

351

371

Cloverhill

49

20

84

29

182

446

431

457

Cork

13

102

29

0

144

146

272

305

Dóchas Centre

43

31

3

0

77

85

105

129

Limerick Male

72

109

0

0

181

185

290

293

Limerick Female

14

10

0

0

24

10

34

35

Loughan House**

68

38

0

4

110

160

160

113

Midlands

295

113

3

16

427

477

616

592

Mountjoy

265

122

10

10

407

540

590

583

Portlaoise

154

53

3

0

210

Not reported

359

269

Shelton Abbey**

35

6

0

10

51

110

110

99

St. Patrick’s Institution

96

56

0

0

152

218

217

203

Training Unit

75

21

0

0

96

96

127

119

Wheatfield

211

238

0

0

449

N/A*

700

683

* The capping of the bed capacity suggested by the Inspector was prior to the opening of the new block at the prison.
** It should be noted that some prisons/place of detentions have dormitory style accommodation such as the Grove in Castlerea Prison and Open Centres.
Table 2.

Institution

Current Bed Capacity

Number of prisoners held in single occupancy cells

Number of prisoners held in double occupancy cells

Number of prisoners held in triple occupancy cells

Number of prisoners held in quadruple occupancy cells

Number of prisoners held in larger occupancy cells

Arbour Hill

148

85

52

0

15

0

Castlerea

351

88

178

39

12

52

Cloverhill

431

49

40

252

116

0

Cork

272

13

204

87

0

0

Dóchas Centre

105

43

62

14

0

0

Limerick Male

290

72

212

9

0

0

Limerick Female

34

14

18

3

0

0

Loughan House

160

55

50

0

8

0

Midlands

616

295

226

9

16

0

Mountjoy

590

265

244

30

20

32

Portlaoise

359

154

106

9

0

0

Shelton Abbey

110

35

12

0

20

32

St. Patrick’s

217

91

112

0

0

0

Training Unit

127

75

44

0

0

0

Wheatfield

700

211

472

0

0

0

Organised Crime

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

129 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the total number of cases in respect of which proceedings are currently under way against criminal gangs or members thereof; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16893/11]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

130 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of known members of criminal gangs currently active throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16894/11]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

131 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of prosecutions taken against members of criminal gangs in each of the past four years to date in 2011; the number that were successful; the number that were unsuccessful; the number pending; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16895/11]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

135 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons or gangs currently deemed to be involved in drug or people trafficking; the extent to which action has been taken such as prosecution and sentence in each of the past five years to date in 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16899/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 129 to 131, inclusive, and 135 together.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that there are two categories of organised crime groups operating in this jurisdiction. The first category consists of individuals/groups that are well established and tightly structured involved in drug trafficking, armed robbery, firearms offences and other offences with international connections. The second category involves groups whose activities are characterised by less cohesive group structures and criminal activities which are mainly confined to Ireland.

The Deputy will appreciate that membership of organised crime gangs tends to be fluid and the nature of criminal activity such, that offences committed by members of criminal gangs may or may not be connected with an individual's membership of such gangs. It is therefore not feasible to give reliable figures for the information sought by the Deputy.

However, figures are available with regard to the number of arrests and charges which have been made in connection with the provisions of the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009 dealing with organised crime. Since the enactment of that legislation on 23 July 2009, up to and including 31 May, 2011, I am advised by the Garda authorities that the provisions of the Act have been used on 127 occasions where arrests have been made relating to organised crime. To date, eight individuals have been charged under the legislation, six under section 72 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 as inserted by section 6 of the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009 (participating in organised crime) and two under section 71A of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 as inserted by section 5 of the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009 (directing a criminal organisation). In addition, a number of investigation files are currently with the Law Officers awaiting directions. Furthermore, these arrests have also resulted in charges being preferred for a range of other offences and these cases are awaiting the submission of comprehensive investigation files to the Law Officers.

As the Deputy will appreciate, given the serious nature of the offences dealt with under the 2009 Act, full, thorough and often complex investigations of suspected organised criminal activity is necessary and must be conducted before charges can be brought against any individuals involved in such crime. I can assure the Deputy that tackling serious and organised crime and bringing those involved in such activities to justice is a key ongoing priority both for the Government and for An Garda Síochána.

Question No. 132 answered with Question No. 128.

Prison Education Service

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

133 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which rehabilitative, educational, psychological or other training is available for prisoners at all locations throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16897/11]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

134 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which short-term prisoners serving sentences for minor crimes are able to access rehabilitative training and support while in prison; the extent to which such services remain available on their release; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16898/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 133 and 134 together.

I can advise the Deputy that the Irish Prison Service provides a range of rehabilitative programmes which have the dual purpose of providing prisoners with purposeful activity while serving their sentences and encouraging and equipping them to lead productive lives on release. Amongst these are health care, psychiatric, psychological, educational, work and training, vocational, counselling, welfare and spiritual services. These services are important in addressing offending behaviour, addiction, missed educational and vocational opportunities, anger management, and self management in the interest of encouraging positive personal development in prisoners, and preparing them for re-integration and resettlement on release from custody.

Educational services are available at all institutions and are provided in partnership with a range of educational agencies in the community including the VECs, Public Library Services, colleges and the Arts Council. Literacy, numeracy and general basic education provision is the priority and broad programmes of education are made available which generally follow an adult education approach. During 2010 approximately 35% of the prison population attended classes.

A significant expansion and development of vocational training programmes has taken place in recent years and there are now over 90 workshops in place in our prisons capable of catering for in excess of 800 prisoners each day. There was a significant increase in the number of prisoners who participated in accredited vocational training courses in 2010 when compared to the numbers recorded for 2009; 874 prisoners attended such courses last year, up from 376 who participated in 2009, an increase of 132%.

The Psychology Service offers group and individual interventions to all prisoners. Group interventions include programmes on motivational enhancement, relapse prevention, anxiety management, dialectical behaviour therapy, stress management, enhanced thinking skills and anger control. A particular emphasis has been put on the development of programmes for prisoners convicted of sex offences and violent offences. Individual interventions comprise therapeutic work focusing on mental health care and offence-related issues, motivational counselling and crisis counselling. Significant progress is also being made in the development of programmes based on risk assessment and rehabilitation needs.

Integrated Sentence Management System (ISM) is a prisoner-centred, multidisciplinary approach to working with prisoners with provision for initial assessment, goal setting and periodic review to measure progress. ISM is now in operation in twelve prisons. Since the commencement of the pilot in the summer of 2008, approximately 2,200 prisoners have been offered participation in ISM and approximately 1,700 were participating at the end of May 2011.

The full range of services is available to all prisoners, although prisoners on shorter sentences may not be able to complete the full range of course-work and programmes. Staff working in prisons have a wealth of experience in tailoring programmes to suit both short term and long term prisoners. In all cases, services endeavour to provide as complete a regime as possible within the time available.

The Probation Service has an active role in helping prisoners to maintain links with family and community agencies, encouraging prisoners to address their offending behaviour and engaging prisoners in individual counselling and group counselling programmes such as offending behaviour, addiction, violence and sex offending.

Question No. 135 answered with Question No. 129.

Crime Levels

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

136 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons charged with anti-social behaviour in each Garda division and subdivision throughout the country in each of the past five years to date in 2011; the nature or extent of the penalty applied in general; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16900/11]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

137 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the total number of incidents of alleged anti-social behaviour lodged at each Garda station throughout the country in each of the past five years to date in 2011; the extent to which prosecution took place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16901/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 136 and 137 together.

Following the submission in 2004 of a report and recommendations by an expert group on crime statistics, it was decided that the compilation and publication of crime statistics should be taken over by the Central Statistics Office, as the national statistical agency, from An Garda Síochána. The Garda Síochána Act 2005 consequently makes provision for this and the CSO has established a dedicated unit for this purpose. The CSO recorded crime statistics, which are published quarterly and annually, provide figures on offences recorded by An Garda Síochána, including incidences of anti-social behaviour such as public disorder and criminal damage. Following the setting up of the necessary technical systems and auditing of the data from which the statistics are compiled, the CSO is now compiling, publishing and responding to queries regarding recorded crime statistics.

I have requested the CSO to provide statistics directly to the Deputy.

Incidents of public disorder and anti-social behaviour reported to the Garda authorities are the subject of investigation and dealt with appropriately, including by juvenile or adult caution, fixed charge penalty notices or initiating criminal proceedings. Any persons found engaging in such behaviour will be dealt with appropriately in accordance the law.

Courts Service

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

138 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent, if any, to which changes are required to address any backlog in the courts system; if there are particular areas identified as being in need of specific attention in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16902/11]

The management and administration of the courts, as the Deputy will be aware, is a matter for the Courts Service. The allocation of the business of the courts, scheduling of court cases and the management of court lists are matters for the judiciary and the Presidents of the courts. The Deputy will also be aware that judges are, subject to the Constitution and the law, independent in the exercise of their judicial functions.

I am informed that the judiciary monitor waiting times and backlogs of court cases on an ongoing basis to ensure that delays are kept to a minimum. Measures introduced by the President of the High Court have resulted in marked improvements with many cases now receiving trial dates within a single legal term. Additional judges are frequently assigned to Circuits and to Districts to assist with the disposal of cases where backlogs have arisen. The Courts Service works with the judiciary to ensure that all cases are dealt with and disposed of as speedily as possible.

Notwithstanding this I intend to take action, within my area of responsibility as Minister, to seek to address particular problems as they arise. For example, following a judgment last year of the European Court of Human Rights I recently established an Expert Group under the chair of Mr Paul McDermott, SC to consider, inter alia, how delays might be alleviated.

As the Deputy will be aware, an area of particular concern is the backlog at Supreme Court level which currently stands at 37 months. There is a commitment in the Programme for Government to establish a court of appeal and in this regard my Department is further considering the report of the Working Group on a Court of Appeal chaired by Mrs. Justice Susan Denham.

Residency Permits

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

139 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will expedite an application for long-term residency in the case of a person (details supplied ) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16947/11]

I can confirm that the person concern has submitted an application for Long Term Residency. This application is one of a number of applications which are awaiting a decision at present. However, I can assure the Deputy that, assuming that all necessary documentation and information has been submitted and all is found to be in order, there will be no avoidable delay in having this application processed to finality. Once a decision has been made on this application, this decision will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

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

Visa Applications

Jack Wall

Question:

140 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding an application of a person (details supplied) to come to their family in Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16958/11]

Based on the information supplied by the Deputy, I am informed by officials in my Department that they can find no record of a current visa application for the person referred to.

When completing an on-line visa application the applicant is assigned a unique visa transaction number. This detail must be provided where a query on the status of a visa application arises. The provision of this unique visa transaction number ensures that accurate and up to date information is provided to the authorised enquirer. If the Deputy can provide the relevant detail I will ensure that officials in the Visa Office will make further enquiries and respond to the Deputy directly.

Information regarding the visa application process is available on the website of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service,www.inis.gov.ie.

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

Garda Recruitment

John Deasy

Question:

141 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when he expects Garda training to recommence for recruits at Templemore training college, County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16976/11]

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.

Army Barracks

Ann Phelan

Question:

142 Deputy Ann Phelan asked the Minister for Defence his future plans for retaining the Army presence in Kilkenny; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16865/11]

Various commissions, reports and studies back to the 1990s identified barrack closure as a fundamental requirement towards improving military effectiveness and efficiency. The dispersal of Defence Forces personnel over an extended number of locations is a major impediment to essential collective training and the consolidation process is designed to facilitate higher training standards, while also freeing up under-utilised resources and personnel for operational duties. In addition, the funding realised from the disposal of surplus barracks and properties provides some of the resources required for infrastructure, training-area development and equipment procurement.

The Defence property portfolio is kept under review to ensure the most effective use of military resources having regard to the roles assigned by Government to the Defence Forces. In that context the dispersal of personnel over an extended number of locations is a major impediment to effectiveness and also imposes increased and unnecessary overheads on the Defence Forces in terms of barrack management, administration, maintenance and security.

The consolidation of the Defence Forces formations into a smaller number of locations is a key objective for me as we strive to maximise the effectiveness of the Defence Forces.

Whilst no decision has been made in relation to the future of any particular military installation I cannot give a commitment that there will not be further programmes of barrack consolidation or that any particular location will be excluded.

Defence Forces Recruitment

Emmet Stagg

Question:

143 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Defence his plans for recruitment into the various sections of the Defence Forces in 2011 and 2012; and if recruitment will be sought when applications will be accepted. [16870/11]

Recruitment to the Permanent Defence Force was suspended in late 2008 pending a review of the best means by which to achieve the reduction of 3% in payroll costs that had been applied, in common with other areas of the public service, to the Defence Forces. The present position is that, within the context of consolidating the public finances, the Government is focused firmly on maintaining the operational efficiency of the Defence Forces. To this end, targeted recruitment was carried out in 2010 and 2011.

The Military Authorities have advised that to the end of May 2011 a total of 265 General Service Recruits have been enlisted. There are no plans for further general service recruitment to the Permanent Defence Force at this time.

There will be an intake of 30 cadets from the Cadetship Competition in 2011 and a number of technical appointments will also be filled.

With the support of the Chief of Staff and within the resources available, I intend to retain the capacity of the organisation to operate effectively across all roles while contributing to the necessary public service economies. I am advised that at this time the Defence Forces retain the capacity to undertake the tasks laid down by Government both at home and overseas.

Grant Payments

Brendan Griffin

Question:

144 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the position regarding an application for a single farm payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16843/11]

An application for the Single Payment Scheme 2010 signed by the ‘Reps Of' of the person named was received, in my Department, on 6 July 2010. Under the Terms and Conditions of the Single Payment Scheme 2010, all applications received after 11th June 2010 will incur a 100% late penalty.

An official from my Department has been in direct contact with the person who signed the application on behalf of the person named in order to establish if there are any particular extenuating circumstances pertaining to this case. Once this additional information is received a decision will issue in relation to the processing of the application.

Foster Care

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

145 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs further to Questions Nos. 543 and 544 of 15 June 2011, if her attention has been drawn to the fact that private arrangements made by social workers do exist; and if her attention has been drawn to the number of same in each community care area or LHO region. [16907/11]

As previously advised to the Deputy in answer to his PQ's dated the 15th of June 2011, where a child is in the care of the State, the HSE will, where possible, place a child in foster care. In the first instance, the HSE will seek a suitable relative or person known to the child to provide relative care. Relative carers go through an assessment and approval, in a similar way to general foster carers. The child is allocated a social worker who visits regularly and a Care Plan is developed and reviewed regularly based on the needs and wishes of the child. Currently foster/relative care services are provided directly by the HSE or by private foster care agencies on behalf of the HSE. These are not ‘Private Arrangements' under the Children Act 2001.

I have asked the HSE to provide information on the number of children placed in relative care by social workers directly to the Deputy.

Children in Care

Pearse Doherty

Question:

146 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the reason 145 applications to place a young person in special care were refused by the Health Service Executive’s national special care admissions and discharge committee between 2008 and 2010. [16951/11]

The HSE has a National Special Care Admissions and Discharges Committee to screen applications to ensure they meet the criteria for Special Care. It also prioritises cases where the HSE presents the case to the High Court seeking an order to allow the child be detained in a Special Care Unit.

The HSE has a range of options available to children who are in need of specialised care and treatment. Children with a high level of need may also be placed in High Support Units, Multidimensional foster care services and in one child residential placements. The HSE seeks to place children in settings appropriate to their needs, where they will receive specific care and treatment required. Children who present at the National Special Care Admissions and Discharges Committee may be referred to a more appropriate service to meet their needs.

I have requested the HSE to provide further information directly to the Deputy on the issue raised.

Nursing Homes Support Scheme

Michael McCarthy

Question:

147 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Health if he will provide a definite date on which the fair deal scheme will resume; the number of persons covered by the west Cork Health Service Executive local health office area who are waiting to get into the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16859/11]

The processing of approvals for financial support under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme re-commenced last week. Approvals are being issued to those applicants processed to final stage in the chronological order in which they were received in the Central Office in Tullamore. Approvals are currently being issued to the first 400 of these applicants. Funding is being assigned on a daily basis. There are approximately 700 further applications processed to final stage and now awaiting approval.

With regard to the number of people in the West Cork are who are waiting for financial support under the scheme, this is a service matter and has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Health Services

Martin Ferris

Question:

148 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Health when Tralee Community Hospital, County Kerry, will be operational; the reason there has been a delay in its opening; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16860/11]

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

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

149 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 133 of 19 May 2011 when a reply will issue from the Health Service Executive. [16890/11]

The working group is made up of a multidisciplinary team with representation from a number of Nursing and Allied Health Professionals, Podiatrists, GPs etc. The Diabetes Federation of Ireland is also a member of this working group.

The National Diabetes Working group is working through a number of key objectives, including the implementation of projects such as Diabetes Retinopathy Screening and a multidisciplinary Footcare package for patients with diabetes.

The National Clinical Programme for Diabetes — which is working on care for children and adolescents with diabetes to be considered for inclusion in the 2012 HSE Service Plan — is also actively designing an Integrated Care solution, for inclusion within the Chronic Disease Watch process in collaboration with the Primary Care National Clinical Programme. With a newly established National Clinical Programme for Paediatrics, the whole area of improved services for children and adolescents with diabetes will be examined in detail and solutions worked through.

Medical Cards

Arthur Spring

Question:

150 Deputy Arthur Spring asked the Minister for Health when a medical card application will be processed in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Kerry. [16920/11]

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

Jack Wall

Question:

151 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will be allocated the funding necessary to remain in a nursing home; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16927/11]

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

Departmental Funding

Jack Wall

Question:

152 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health if funding will be provided through any agency under his remit to permit a person (details supplied) in County Kildare to complete a designated course; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16929/11]

Each Local and Regional Drugs Task Force has an annual funding allocation from my Department for community-based initiatives, including education and prevention programmes to counteract problem drug use. The education programmes operated by the South West Regional Drugs Task Force do not include supports for individuals who wish to undertake addiction studies. I am also advised that the HSE does not provide a national bursary for addiction studies.

Accident and Emergency Services

Regina Doherty

Question:

153 Deputy Regina Doherty asked the Minister for Health his views on the serious risk of cross infection to immuno compromised patients cancer patients, and other patients old and young waiting for long periods of 12, 24 and sometimes 48 hours in overcrowded accident and emergency departments in hospitals here; his plans to deal with these risks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16934/11]

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

Healthcare associated infection, including MRSA, is a challenge for all health systems across the world as healthcare becomes more intensive, complex and invasive. In 2007, the HSE launched its strategy "Say No To Infection" for prevention and control of healthcare-associated infection. A HSE HCAI Governance Group was established to lead on the implementation of this strategy and to monitor progress. Local implementation teams were also established to drive change at a local level.

As part of the governance and performance management regarding this issue the HSE is committed to ensuring that infection control is an integral part of clinical and corporate governance within every healthcare institution and hospital in Ireland and an acceptance that the prevention of infection is every healthcare worker's responsibility.

In addition the focus of the HSE prevention of healthcare-associated infection clinical programme is to prevent cross infection by improving hand hygiene, antibiotic prescribing and indwelling device care (to prevent urinary catheter and IV line infections) and monitoring compliance with National Infection Prevention and Control Standards.

Overcrowding in the Emergency Department is caused by many factors and any solution to problems that may arise from this issue must reflect this reality. The recently established Special Delivery Unit is the primary way I have chosen to address this.

This can be achieved by improving options for patients to avoid hospital attendance and facilitating hospital discharge. The HSE clinical care programmes including the chronic disease programmes, elective surgery, emergency medical care and acute medical programme when implemented will facilitate many aspects of this.

I have been in touch with the Health Information Quality Authority (HIQA) on this important issue of the risk of cross-infection resulting from overcrowding in accident and emergency departments in our hospitals. The Authority's National Standards for the Prevention and Control of Healthcare Associated Infections and National Standards for Safer Better Healthcare are available to support and guide providers on the quality and safety of care they provide. These standards outline what a good, safe, service looks like and what the public can expect in terms of standard of care.

However, I remain concerned at the potential risk to patients if in overcrowded Emergency Departments and have discussed this with my Department and the HSE to see what further immediate action can be taken to reduce this potential risk.

Medical Cards

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

154 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Health the reason a person (details supplied) in County Limerick had their medical card withdrawn. [16964/11]

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

Health Services

Paul Connaughton

Question:

155 Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Health when braces will be provided in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Galway. [16968/11]

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

Billy Timmins

Question:

156 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health the position regarding the fair deal scheme in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 7; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16975/11]

The processing of approvals for financial support under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme re-commenced last week. Approvals are being issued to those applicants processed to final stage in the chronological order in which they were received in the Central Office in Tullamore. Approvals are currently being issued to the first 400 of these applicants. Funding is being assigned on a daily basis. There are approximately 700 further applications processed to final stage and now awaiting approval.

With regard to an individual's application under the scheme, this is a service matter and has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Sport and Recreational Development

Frank Feighan

Question:

157 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the reason darts which is recognised as a sport in the UK and other European countries cannot receive designation here; his views that there should be parity of esteem with its treatment here as in other European countries; and the avenue of appeal open to the darts body to achieve recognition. [16842/11]

As outlined in my reply to the Deputy on 24 May 2011, the Irish Sports Council (ISC), which is funded by my Department, is the statutory body responsible for the promotion, development and coordination of sport which includes statutory responsibility for the recognition of sporting organisations as National Governing Bodies of sport and allocation of funding to same. The ISC was established on a statutory basis on 1st July, 1999, and the functions of the Council are outlined in Section 6 of the Irish Sports Council Act 1999. This includes recognition, for purposes of funding or for any other reason, of any sporting or recreational activity, including dealing with sporting organisations and allocation of funding to same. Therefore this is a matter for the Irish Sports Council. I understand that the ISC has replied to the Deputy regarding this matter. Regarding the avenue of appeal, this is also a matter for the ISC. I have referred the question to them for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a reply has not been received within ten days.

Tourism Promotion

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

158 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on the promotion (details supplied) of Valentia Island, County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16965/11]

The maintenance and improvement 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.

A total of €435.176 million is being provided in regional and local road grants in 2011. From this allocation, Kerry County Council is being provided with a total of €19.071 million. This total figure includes the additional allocation of €2.885m which was made to Kerry County Council as part of the Jobs Initiative in May.

Local authorities will shortly be invited by the National Roads Authority (NRA) to submit applications for consideration for funding in 2012 under the Specific Improvement Grant Scheme. It is open to Kerry County Council to prioritise the roads in question for funding in 2012 and to include them among their application to the NRA.