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 and 2 answered orally.
Question No. 3 lapsed.
Questions Nos. 4 to 14, inclusive, answered orally.

Teaching Qualifications

David Stanton

Question:

15 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Skills if all persons holding a Bachelor in Civil and Environmental Engineering who have successfully completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Education are deemed eligible by the Teaching Council to teach mathematics and applied mathematics at post-primary level; if not, the reason; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19170/11]

David Stanton

Question:

50 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the discussions, if any, he has had with the Teaching Council regarding the rules and standards which are applied to engineering graduates who have completed Postgraduate Diplomas in Education and their eligibility to teach mathematics and applied mathematics at post-primary level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19171/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 15 and 50 together.

The Teaching Council is the body with statutory responsibility for the registration of teachers including the recognition of teaching qualifications. Neither I nor my Department have a role in this process.

Currently, there is a large range of engineering courses which are recognised for the teaching of Mathematics and/or Applied Mathematics. These are listed on the Teaching Council's website. I am advised by the Teaching Council that eligibility for registration depends on the amount of Mathematics or Applied Mathematics covered in the undergraduate degree course.

The Teaching Council has engaged with the professional body for engineers, Engineers Ireland, on this matter with a view to identifying further study options through which persons with engineering degrees not recognised above can make up for shortfalls in mathematical content in their qualifications. Options identified include a Higher Diploma in Mathematics/Mathematical Studies available in a number of Irish Universities or one or more modules in Mathematics available from the Open University. Engineering graduates interested in following one of these routes should check with the Teaching Council beforehand to ensure that the proposed qualification would make up for any mathematical shortfalls in their engineering degree.

School Staffing

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

16 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the redeployment of primary school teachers to gaelscoileanna, even if their standard of Irish may not be adequate to teach in an Irish speaking school. [19167/11]

Traditionally redeployment at primary level has operated within schools of the same patronage. The Croke Park Agreement provides for the continued employment of surplus teachers through redeployment. This process in nearing completion, with very limited movement of teachers between schools of different patronage. I appreciate the goodwill that applied in making this happen and recognise that this could only have been achieved through collaborative work between patrons, management bodies and my Department.

While I appreciate the desire of school patrons to select and recruit their own teachers, this must be balanced with the need to ensure that the redeployment process works. Flexible redeployment arrangements are required in order to ensure all surplus permanent teachers are redeployed into vacancies. Quite simply, the country cannot afford to have surplus teachers in a school while permitting recruitment to take place in another school.

I want to assure the Deputy that it is not a question of forcing teachers into jobs, it is one of ensuring that surplus teachers who would otherwise have to be made redundant have first call on vacant posts.

My Department will have further discussions with the relevant stakeholders to ensure that the redeployment arrangements are fit for purpose in the years ahead. I can say to the Deputy that as a general principle we will be endeavouring to bring about a situation where teachers are happy with the schools to which they are assigned and that schools are happy to receive the teachers.

Third Level Staff Remuneration

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

17 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the recent media reports in relation to remuneration levels for staff in third level colleges and universities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19176/11]

The number of staff earning more than €100,000 in universities and Dublin Institute of Technology includes the most senior levels of management whose salaries exceed €150,000, Academic Medical Consultants whose salaries exceed €200,000, and Professors who have salaries up to €145,952. These numbers also include some Associate Professors in universities and some Senior Lecturers in Institutes of Technology whose salaries in some instances exceed €100,000. Salaries for these grades were independently established through normal pay determination structures. These grades were subject to pay reductions from January 2010 along with the pension levy provisions. Staff in the Higher Education Sector are covered by the provisions of the Croke Park Agreement, which provides that their pay will not be further reduced. As part of Budget 2011 the Government has applied a 10% reduction in the pay rates applicable to persons recruited for the first time to direct entry grades in the Public Service with effect from 1st January 2011. Future appointments to Heads of Universities will be subject to the €200,000 pay ceiling applying across the Public Service.

Education Schemes

Catherine Murphy

Question:

18 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills in view of the recommendations in the value for money review of the special needs assistant scheme and the clear evidence highlighted in the review that the role of SNAs here has evolved to include an educational remit, if he intends to regrade SNAs to reflect this evolving role; if he will consider establishing a parallel learning support assistant position for which SNAs could apply assuming they had acquired the relevant skills for such a role; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19186/11]

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

38 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide further details on the way in which he intends to restate the purpose of the special needs assistant scheme following the findings of the value for money review of the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19184/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 18 and 38 together.

The Deputy will be aware that my Department has published a Value for Money (VFM) and Policy Analysis review of the Special Needs Assistant scheme. This review is available on my Departments website: www.education.ie.

The Review has shown that the SNA Scheme has been successful in supporting schools in meeting the needs of students with disabilities who also have significant care needs. However, it is clear that the allocation process is generally not well understood within schools and by parents nor is the purpose of the Scheme fully understood.

The review recommended that the SNA scheme should be restated to ensure an efficient allocation of SNA resources and to clarify the ‘care' nature of the SNA role for parents, schools and professionals. The review did not recommend a change in the role of the SNA and there are no plans to regrade them.

The DES is currently establishing a working group which will consider and implement the recommendations of the SNA Value for Money report.

Question No. 19 answered with Question No. 9.

School Curriculum

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

20 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will clarify and confirm that, in the context of any future proposed reforms of the junior certificate cycle or programme, teachers devising their own courses and who are subject to continuous assessment and self-evaluation will be evaluated within a standardised timeframe that is based on fairness and which will not over-burden teachers with unnecessary bureaucratic procedures. [19143/11]

Willie O'Dea

Question:

21 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has received the report of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment on reform of the junior certificate; and when he will publish the recommendations of the NCCA. [19183/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 20 and 21 together.

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment is currently finalising its advice to me on the direction of junior cycle reform, in consultation with the partners in education.

I have been kept informed of the Council's general progress, and I am aware that an advanced draft of proposals was discussed at a meeting of Council in June. However, I am also aware that many issues in relation to changes to the junior cycle programme and assessment are still under consideration. I expect that I will receive advice from the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment on changes to the junior cycle programme in the Autumn and I will not be in a position to comment on the detail of the Council's proposals until then.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Brendan Smith

Question:

22 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will give a commitment to protect class sizes in this year’s budget following recent figures from him which indicate a higher than expected increase in student numbers between now and 2017 and also following the publication of Census 2011. [19173/11]

At this point I do not propose to give any specific commitment on the allocation of teachers to schools for the 2012/13 school year. The number of teaching posts that we can afford to fund in schools is a matter that I will have to consider with my colleagues in Cabinet in the context of the next budget and meeting our obligations under the EU/IMF Programme.

The National Recovery Plan 2011-2014 makes provision for a net increase of just over 2,000 posts across the education sector between the end of 2010 and the end of 2014.

Clearly the latest information from the census will have to be factored into those deliberations.

As the Deputy will be aware the National Recovery Plan provided for consultation with the education partners in relation to how best to achieve a further reduction in teacher payroll costs from 2012. It envisaged the introduction of appropriate increases in the classroom teacher allocation schedules if the consultation process did not produce alternative feasible measures to deliver the required savings.

My Department has commenced this consultation process. The education partners at primary and post-primary level have been given the opportunity to contribute this month to the process of identifying a range of measures that the Government can consider in order to achieve a further reduction in teacher payroll costs from the school year 2012/13.

School Books

Derek Keating

Question:

23 Deputy Derek Keating asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consider following the practice of the Department of Education in the United Kingdom by introducing a national school books service to reduce the increasing cost that burdens parents every year because of the changing curriculum and changing reading lists; if he will consider establishing a review body to report back to him within weeks to advise on the way the cost of books can be reduced; if he will ask the review body to consider the benefits of a graded reader scheme versus text books which can often go out of date; his views that the benefits in significant savings for a family along with the individual benefit to the student using a graded reader scheme will have a significant impact in our education system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19031/11]

I share the concern expressed by many parents and organisations, including the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, in relation to the high cost of school books and the frequent rate of revisions made by book publishers.

I previously indicated to the House that I would meet with book publishers and representatives of parents to discuss this important issue in greater detail. I can confirm that I met with these groups, including representatives of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul on the 22nd June.

The education publishers have agreed to reflect on the concerns I raised with them and I am currently awaiting a formal response from them following our recent meeting.

I am currently examining how best to encourage schools to establish book rental schemes. I have also asked the National Parents Councils to provide me with examples of best practice which they have encountered in this area and I will disseminate these to schools.

Psychological Service

Dessie Ellis

Question:

24 Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Education and Skills the average time taken by the National Educational Psychological Service Agency to assess children under the age of six years suspected of having special educational needs or behavioural difficulties; and the average time taken to assess children over the age of six years suspected of having special educational needs or behavioural difficulties. [19161/11]

My Department's National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) operates an early intervention continuum of assessment in schools for children with the broad range of special educational needs, including behavioural difficulties. The continuum of assessment allows for the identification of pupils with special educational needs, their nature and severity by harnessing the experience of class teachers and support teachers, in consultation with parents, and with the support of the psychologist.

This allows for a response to be put in place at the earliest possible juncture for children before their difficulties can become intractable. Assessment of needs at this stage of the continuum involves information gathering, testing and observation by the various school personnel involved and support from the NEPS psychologist, as required.

Where the pupil does not make adequate progress following the interventions, or where the nature of the child's special educational needs are significant, severe and complex, the school may agree with the psychologist that a psycho-educational assessment be conducted to identify the specific nature of the needs and the appropriate response necessary. Students, so identified, are scheduled for assessment within the school year or, usually, the school term in question.

Special Educational Needs

Mick Wallace

Question:

25 Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to introduce an independent appeals process which would allow parents of special needs children to make appeals directly to the National Council for Special Education; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19169/11]

Seán Crowe

Question:

52 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Skills in relation to the current review into special needs assistants and when a special education needs organiser recommends the removal of an SNA from a child, the extent to which the same SENO can be involved in any appeal process. [19160/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 25 and 52 together.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible for allocating Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools. 10,575 whole time equivalent posts are being provided for the coming school year. To manage this limited resource, 475 of these posts will be retained for allocation over the coming school year to address significant emergency cases; new entrants with special needs; or new assessments or injuries acquired during the school year.

The NCSE will advise schools early in the new school year of a review process to review allocation decisions to ensure that correct procedures were followed and that they comply with my Department's policy. The merits of individual allocation decisions will not be open to appeal under this mechanism. It will be expected that schools, before requesting a review, will be in a position to demonstrate that they have made every effort to manage their allocation of SNA posts to best effect.

Future Skills Needs

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

26 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which he expects to utilise the skills currently available to meet the requirements of industry thus leading to greater job creation; the extent to which he expects to engage with the third level institutions with a view to meeting the requirements for both the public and private sector in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19236/11]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

128 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent of third level courses that are available to meet requirements of the public and the private sector in the future; if particular disciplines have been identified or trends established which might suggest a scarcity of graduates in the future; the measures taken if any to address this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19464/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 26 and 128 together.

The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs plays a key role in advising on the future skills needs of enterprise. Its reports are disseminated directly to third level institutions and provide a valuable input to the development and amendment of course curricula. EGFSN research and engagement between higher education providers and industry also informed the development and selection of the part-time higher education programmes being funded through Springboard. Under this new initiative 6,000 places are being provided for unemployed people in areas where employment opportunities are expected to arise in the future, ranging from the food industry to ICT to green technology and international services. My Department and the HEA, in collaboration with the Secretariat to the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs, are also working closely with the ICT industry to develop further responses to specific skills needs that have been identified by that sector.

Higher Education Grants

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

27 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of students that will have their higher education grants approved at €1,250 rather than €3,120 because of changes to the non-adjacent rate; if he has analysed the socio-economic and or income of the groups most affected; if he is prepared to condone students from low-income or one parent families leaving third level education because of their inability to afford the course or childcare costs; if there has been any analysis into the consequential increase in jobseeker’s allowance for students who can no longer afford third level education; if he is conscious of the likelihood of a return to the days when only the wealthy could afford third level education; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19153/11]

I regret that I am not in a position to reverse changes to the student grant scheme announced by the previous Government.

Some 18,000 students qualifying for grant support are estimated to live between 24kms and 45kms from their colleges. Furthermore, it is estimated that some 6,900 mature students qualifying for grant support live 45 kilometres or less from their institution. Students qualifying for the maintenance element of the student grant in these cohorts will receive the adjacent rate of grant together with payment of their fees or student contribution.

All students on particularly low incomes, including those that may be in one-parent families, will continue to receive a "top-up" in the special rate of grant. The Student Assistance Fund at some €5m continues to be made available through the access offices of third-level institutions to assist students in exceptional financial need. Childcare costs may be supported under this fund.

Post Leaving Certificate Places

Clare Daly

Question:

28 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to increase the cap on students by 175 in Dún Laoghaire College of Further Education, County Dublin, which would enable the creation of four new courses for which there is a very clear labour market justification as part of a job creation initiative; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14733/11]

An additional 1,000 Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) places were made available as part of the Government's Jobs Initiative. Following an application process, 55 of these places were allocated to Dún Laoghaire Vocational Education Committee (VEC), which manages Dún Laoghaire College of Further Education, bringing the VEC's total allocation for the 2011/2012 academic year to 2,206 places. Further distribution of these places to its schools/colleges is a matter for the VEC. The application process is completed and all available additional places have been allocated.

Question No. 29 answered with Question No. 9.

School Enrolments

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

30 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to deal with the number of children who will be excluded from schools in September; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19235/11]

My Department's main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking school places in an area. However, this may result in some pupils not obtaining a place in the school of their first choice. As schools may not have a place for every applicant, a selection process may be necessary. This selection process and the enrolment policy on which it is based must be non-discriminatory and must be applied fairly in respect of all applicants.

Under section 15(2)(d) of the Education Act, 1998, each school is legally obliged to disclose its enrolment policy and to ensure that as regards that policy that principles of equality and the right of parents to send their children to a school of the parents' choice are respected.

Section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 provides for an appeal by a parent or guardian to the Secretary General of my Department, or in the case of a Vocational Educational Committee (VEC) school to the VEC in the first instance, where a Board of Management of a school, or a person acting on behalf of the Board, refuses to enrol a student in a school, expels a student or suspends a student for 20 or more days in any school year.

My Department has no authority to compel a school to admit a pupil, except in the case of an appeal under section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 being upheld.

The National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) is the statutory agency which can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child. The NEWB will be able to offer assistance and advice on securing a school placement within the pupil's area. The contact details for the NEWB head office is NEWB, 16-22 Green Street Dublin 7, Tel: 01 8738623.

Special Educational Needs

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

31 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to ensure that children assessed under the Special Educational Act 2004 have a personal education plan in place. [19155/11]

I wish to advise the Deputy that although the relevant sections of the EPSEN Act providing for a statutory requirement for the use of Individual Education Plans (IEP) plans have not yet been commenced, schools are encouraged to use such plans through policy guidance, support, training and inspection. The DES Inspectorate's advice is that the majority of schools are now using some form of individual education planning for children with special educational needs.

The Department's Learning Support Guidelines recommend that an Individual profile and Learning Programme should be devised for all children who are receiving supplementary teaching from the learning-support teacher.

Training has been provided to primary and post primary schools by the Special Education Support Service in relation to individual education plans, taking close account of the procedures that are set out in EPSEN Act 2004. The provision of individual plans for children with special needs is recognised as an important feature of good practice, and it is in this context that inspectors examine and comment in Whole School Evaluation reports on the quality of planning and the collaboration that takes place between the various teachers, parents and outside services in regard to the provision of an appropriate education for children with special educational needs.

Public Private Partnerships

Barry Cowen

Question:

32 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he is confident that funding can be secured through public private partnerships to build some of the 40 new primary and post primary schools required over the next six years to meet demographic growth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19181/11]

I recently announced that up to 40 new schools are to be established within the next six years. The optimum delivery method for each of these schools will be considered on an ongoing basis within the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme and available financial resources. As part of the recent Jobs Initiative announcement I also confirmed that I intend to progress two further bundles of schools to be provided via Public Private Partnership. To date as part of the PPP process, my Department has operated the Design, Build, Finance and Maintain (DBFO) as the preferred option for PPP projects and this has proved a successful vehicle for the funding and delivery of the 11 projects completed to date with a further 6 schools to be completed this year. It is my intention to continue with this PPP model for the delivery of schools' infrastructure projects.

Higher Education Grants

Seamus Kirk

Question:

33 Deputy Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will ensure that farming families are protected from any changes to the assessment for third level grants in view of the his recent comments on these matters. [19027/11]

I have taken no decision in relation to the introduction of a capital assets test for student grant purposes.

I have made it clear, however, that I want to ensure that the objective of the student grant schemes is met. This objective is the most equitable distribution of the available resources in favour of those who have the greatest level of need and who clearly comply with the terms of the student grant schemes. As the current system deals with income alone, it may allow people with accumulated wealth — be they unemployed, employed, self-employed or retired — to obtain grants which were designed as a State support for those with insufficient means to ensure access to higher education for their children.

It is intended that a single student grant awarding authority will be in place from 2012. This will enable fundamental reform of the student grants administration process and will allow for improvements to the way in which grant assessment is carried out. This development, together with improvements in the administration of means testing generally, will inform further consideration of the introduction of a capital assets test for student grants.

Bullying in Schools

Michael Colreavy

Question:

34 Deputy Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the recourse available to a victim of serious school bullying in cases in which the school authorities have contributed to the problem and the school board of management have not successfully resolved the issues arising; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19033/11]

Michael Colreavy

Question:

48 Deputy Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has read the file that this Deputy sent to him on 1 June 2011 (details supplied) relating to a young person who was wrongly and publicly accused by a school principal of kicking another student; if he has any responsibility to provide any supports to this young person and their parents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19034/11]

Seán Crowe

Question:

98 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has read the file sent to him on 1 June 2011 (details supplied) relating to a young person who was wrongly and publicly accused by a school principal of kicking another student; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19249/11]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

126 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent school bullying incidents are reported to him, with particular reference to the need to review such incidents in order to determine frequency or seriousness; the procedures if any in place to deal with such matters at local and central level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19462/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 34, 48, 98 and 126 together.

I take the issue of bullying in schools very seriously and am committed to ensuring that schools tackle bullying in all its forms. Under the Education (Welfare) Act 2000, all schools are required to have in place a Code of Behaviour and this code must be drawn up in accordance with the guidelines of the National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB). The NEWB guidelines were issued to schools in 2008 and make it clear that each school must have policies to prevent or address bullying and harassment and schools must make clear in their code of behaviour that bullying is unacceptable. The guidelines further state that as well as making explicit that bullying is prohibited in the school, and having an anti-bullying policy, the code of behaviour should indicate what action the school will take in relation to alleged breaches of the school's bullying policy.

Every school therefore must have in place a policy which includes specific measures to deal with bullying behaviour, within the framework of the school's overall school code of behaviour. Such a code, developed through consultation with the whole school community and properly implemented, can be the most influential measure in countering bullying behaviour in schools.

The Department has also issued Guidelines on Countering Bullying Behaviour as an aid to schools in devising measures to prevent and deal with instances of bullying behaviour. These guidelines were drawn up following consultation with representatives of school management, teachers and parents, and are sufficiently flexible to allow each school authority to adapt them to suit the particular needs of their school.

As a further aid to post primary schools, the Department published a template that can be used by post-primary schools in developing an anti-bullying policy. The anti-bullying policy template is based primarily on the key document Guidelines on Countering Bullying Behaviour. However, it also takes account of more recent legislative and regulatory changes, and reference is made to issues of contemporary concern such as the need to tackle text bullying, cyber-bullying and homophobic bullying.

The education of students in both primary and post-primary schools in relation to anti-bullying behaviour is part of the Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) curriculum. SPHE is now a compulsory subject both at primary level and in the junior cycle of post-primary schools. In addition, training on The Stay Safe Programme is offered on an ongoing basis to primary schools.

Responsibility for tackling bullying falls to the level of the individual school, as it is at local level that an effective anti-bullying climate must be established and at that level that actions should be taken to address bullying. There is no requirement for local school authorities to report incidents or allegations of bullying or of verbal or physical abuse of school staff to my Department, nor do I believe that this should be the case.

Under the Education Act 1998, legally, all schools are managed by school Boards of Management, on behalf of the school patrons or trustees, and it is the Board of Management who employ the teachers at the school. Accordingly, whereas I provide funding and policy direction for schools, neither I nor the Department have legal powers to instruct schools to follow a particular course of direction with regards to individual complaint cases, or to investigate individual complaints except where the complaint involves a refused enrolment, expulsion or suspension, in accordance with Section 29 of the 1998 Education Act.

My Department does receive parental complaints and queries regarding matters that they refer to as bullying. In 2010 my Department received a total of 390 such complaints/queries via telephone or written correspondence. To the end of June 2011 my Department has received 231 similar complaints/queries.

I can confirm that I received the file that Deputy Colreavy sent to me on the 23rd June. My officials are examining the file and a response will be issued in the coming days.

In dealing with these and other parental complaints, my Department's role is to provide information to parents and students on the operation of schools' complaints procedures and to clarify for parents and students how grievances and complaints against schools can be progressed. If a parent wishes to make a complaint against a teacher or school they should contact the relevant school authorities. The complaint procedures adopted by most schools are those that have been agreed between the teacher unions and school management bodies.

The Office of the Ombudsman for Children may independently investigate complaints about schools recognised with the Department of Education and Skills, provided the parent has firstly and fully followed the school's complaints procedures. The key criterion for any intervention by the Ombudsman for Children is that the action of the school has had a negative affect on a child. The office can be contacted at Ombudsman for Children's Office, Millennium House, 52-56 Great Strand Street, Dublin 1, (Ph) 1800 20 20 40 or (01) 8656800, E-mail oco@oco.ie.

Further guidance to parents on progressing a concern in relation their child's school is available on the Guide to Services Page of my Department's website at www.education.ie.

If a parent has a child protection concern they can report this directly to the Health Service Executive, which has statutory responsibility for investigating child protection allegations. Child protection concern reported to my Department are dealt with in accordance with the Department's Procedures for responding to allegations of Child Abuse brought to the attention of staff employed by the Department of Education and Skills.

Under these procedures, the child protection concerns brought to the attention of staff employed by my Department are immediately transmitted to the relevant investigatory authorities, without judgment, including the relevant school authorities, the Health Service Executive and/or An Garda Síochána.

Educational Projects

Timmy Dooley

Question:

35 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress made to date in advancing a new digital school resource; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19180/11]

I take it that the Deputy is referring to a recommendation made in the Smart Schools = Smart Economy report in relation to the development of a national "Virtual Learning Environment" or VLE.

My officials are currently exploring ways of implementing this recommendation. As the Deputy will appreciate, this is not a straightforward undertaking. In the context of a rapidly changing and developing software environment and resultant user expectations, considerable research is required in order to identify suitable and cost-effective options which could be successfully integrated into day-to-day practice by school communities. Having regard to the current availability of resources to my Department, it is not possible to allocate significant funding to advance this recommendation at this time.

Teaching Qualifications

Joan Collins

Question:

36 Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will explain the way in which a school principal is expected to guarantee that a person with no teaching qualifications is competent and capable of acting in a teaching capacity in the school as laid out in section 6.2 of circular 31-2011; and his views on whether this provision makes a mockery of the Teaching Council statutory role in assuring the quality of teachers in Irish schools. [19029/11]

Clare Daly

Question:

45 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the way a school principal is expected to guarantee that a person with no teaching qualifications is competent and capable of acting in a teaching capacity in the school as laid out in section 6.2 of circular 31-2011; and his views that this provision makes a mockery of the Teaching Council statutory role in assuring the quality of teachers in Irish schools. [19030/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos.36 and 45 together.

I am fully committed to ensuring that, to the greatest extent possible, only qualified and registered teachers are employed in recognised schools.

My Department issued Circular 0031/2011 in May this year. It requires schools to prioritise teachers over unregistered persons, appropriately qualified teachers over teachers qualified for different sectors and unemployed teachers over teachers in receipt of a public sector pension. Only where every avenue for sourcing a registered teacher has been exhausted may a school employ an unregistered person until a registered teacher may be located, and this employment may last no longer than 5 school days.

It is important that, where a school does find itself having to employ an unregistered person, it satisfies itself that the person is fit to act in place of a teacher. I see this as simply capturing what a principal must have to consider in these circumstances. Any other approach could be seen as relieving a school of any responsibility in its choice of unregistered person in the limited circumstances where this can arise.

School Books

Brendan Smith

Question:

37 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress, if any, made following his meeting with book publishers in relation to the need to reduce the costs of school books; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19172/11]

I previously indicated to the House that I would meet with book publishers and representatives of parents to discuss this important issue in greater detail. I can confirm to the Deputy that I met with representatives of the book publishers on the 22nd June.

At that meeting I emphasised the need to minimise the amount of changes they make in textbooks. I also stressed the need to avoid new editions, where only minor changes are involved. I urged the publishers to consider closely the cost of the books they supply to the market.

I sympathise with parents who are experiencing difficulty in paying for school books. The harsh economic reality in Ireland means money is tight for many parents. It is precisely for that reason that I will continue to encourage schools to establish book rental schemes as the most effective means of lowering the cost of books for all students. Many schools are already using the funding for books provided by my Department to operate successful rental schemes, however there remains room for improvement across the wider education system. I am currently examining how best to encourage schools to establish book rental schemes and I have asked the National Parents Councils to provide me with examples of best practice that they have encountered in this area and I will disseminate these to schools.

Question No. 38 answered with Question No. 18.

School Transport

Tom Barry

Question:

39 Deputy Tom Barry asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the closed school rule as applied under the school transport scheme was, and is, a legally binding contract between the schools and his Department; if an evaluation study has been carried out to see if school transport can be provided more efficiently; the schools that were involved in the value for money review of the scheme and if any of those schools were closed schools; and if he will consider using the model already in use by an organisation (details supplied) to appoint one transport company to cover the entire school transport contract. [19032/11]

School transport arrangements under the Closed School Rule originated from the last major amalgamation of schools in the late 1960's. Under the Closed School Rule, transport is generally provided to the school of amalgamation for pupils who reside in a closed school area. However, over the course of the last forty two years, many parts of Ireland have experienced changes in population, the number of schools in an area may have increased and private transport is more widely available. While my Department acknowledges the importance of school transport, my Department must always seek to ensure that every service that is funded by the public is operated in a manner that delivers for pupils, parents and taxpayers alike.

Changes to school transport services relating to the Closed School Rule were announced in the 2011 Budget by the previous Fianna Fáil-Green Party Government and derive from recommendations in the Value for Money Review of the scheme.

It is important to stress that there are a number of dimensions to the cessation of the Closed School Rule (CSR).

The first of these, which will be implemented from September 2011, involves the uniform application of the distance criterion to all pupils travelling under the primary transport scheme, including those travelling under the CSR. This means that children residing less than 3.2 kilometres from their school of amalgamation will be deemed ineligible for school transport. In such cases, these children may apply for concessionary transport.

The second element of the change is scheduled to take effect in September 2012 and will apply only in the case of pupils commencing their primary education from that date. This second element will restrict school transport eligibility for those pupils entering in September 2012, to pupils who meet the distance eligibility criterion and are travelling to their nearest school. As part of this review, a sample study was undertaken of 92 randomly selected schools served with school transport under the CSR. Available statistics, based on the sampling undertaken indicate that the impact of this second change will be limited as the majority of pupils categorised under the CSR are in fact attending their nearest school and will not be affected by this change.

Before implementing this second main change which is proposed for 2012, my Department has requested Bus Éireann to conduct a detailed analysis of the "on the ground" impact for individual schools and the rural communities they serve. This analysis will be based on the most up to date information available on current school transport usage patterns and I expect to have this information available to me this summer. I will then have an opportunity to carefully examine the likely affects of this change well in advance of the 2012 implementation date. The review also considered a number of possible approaches through which the State can seek to support transport to school in line with the overall objectives for the support of school transport. However, the report concluded that, particularly in the context of complexities of deciding on eligibility for school transport, procuring school transport and developing networks for school transport, a single national organiser with a regional dimension to operate the scheme is required.

The report further concluded that in the medium term the single national organiser should continue to be Bus Éireann.

Private Schools Funding

Brian Stanley

Question:

40 Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consider carrying out a comprehensive review of the funding for the private school sector; and if he will provide a breakdown on the annual costs to the State. [19150/11]

I understand that the Deputy is referring to recognised voluntary secondary schools that charge fees.

The schools concerned are fully recognised by my Department since their foundation. The central funding measure is the payment of salaries in respect of teaching posts approved by my Department. The estimated cost of these in 2011 in is the order of €100m.

I am already on record that this is not a simple matter as these are arrangements that are historic and of long standing.

Literacy Levels

Barry Cowen

Question:

41 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Education and Skills when he expects the national literacy and numeracy strategy to be published in view of his promise to publish it at the end of June; and if it will contain proposals in relation to the professional development of teachers in the area of literacy. [19182/11]

I will be launching Literacy and Numeracy for Learning and Life, the national strategy to improve literacy and numeracy among children and young people, tomorrow, June 8th. The strategy contains a range of actions on the professional development of teachers in the area of literacy.

School Staffing

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

42 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has any plans to introduce a centralised system for the advertising of teaching posts including principal and vice-principal posts. [19185/11]

The advertisement of teaching and other posts is the responsibility of boards of management of schools and is managed by the relevant management body in accordance with guidelines agreed by the education partners.

Primary school posts are advertised on a number of websites approved by the management bodies. These include www.educationposts.ie, www.eteach.ie, www.staffroom.ie and www.educatetogether.ie. Employers may also advertise Principal and Deputy Principal posts either in a national newspaper or online on www.publicjobs.ie.

At post-primary level all schools are obliged to advertise teaching posts in the national press. In addition, management bodies at this level may specify appropriate websites such as www.educationposts.ie.

I have no plans to centralise the advertising of teacher posts at the current time.

Education Schemes

Gerry Adams

Question:

43 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will elaborate on the findings contained in his value-for-money report on special needs assistants which found an over-allocation of 27% in primary and post primary schools and 10% in special needs schools which claimed the purpose of the scheme was not well understood by either schools or parents, and that this had led to some problems with allocation and also resulted in the role of the assistants being expanded beyond its original intention. [19165/11]

The Deputy will be aware that my Department has published a Value for Money (VFM) and Policy Analysis review of the Special Needs Assistant scheme. This review is available on my Departments website: www.education.gov.ie.

The Review has shown that the SNA Scheme has been successful in supporting schools in meeting the needs of students with disabilities who also have significant care needs. However, the review has found that that the allocation process is generally not well understood within schools and by parents nor is the purpose of the Scheme fully understood. The review recommended that the SNA scheme should be restated to ensure an efficient allocation of SNA resources and to clarify the ‘care' nature of the SNA role for parents, schools and professionals.

My Department is currently establishing a working group which will consider and implement the recommendations of the SNA Value for Money report.

School Curriculum

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

44 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans for future co-operation with the North’s Education Minister, John O’Dowd, MLA, in order that the expertise of Áisaonad can be used throughout the entire island to translate teaching materials relevant to the curriculums in both jurisdictions. [19141/11]

I am committed to joint co-operation in this important area. An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta (COGG), which is funded by my Department to co-ordinate the provision of teaching resources for Irish medium schools, works in partnership with CCEA to jointly plan the development of resources where appropriate. COGG has recently agreed to invite CCEA to appoint a representative to its board to further develop this partnership.

COGG, CCEA and An tÁisaonad in St Mary's University College, Belfast have developed a database of all resources available for Irish medium education on the island of Ireland. An early literacy programme is being currently developed by these 3 organisations and the first stage of the programme will be available this September. COGG and CCEA share all teaching resources.

Question No. 45 answered with Question No. 36.

Third Level Staff Remuneration

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

46 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Education and Skills in view of the increasing demands for funding from his Department’s budget, if he intends to review or introduce a cap on the salaries, expenses and benefits in kind of heads of universities and third level institutions and some senior third level lecturers therein, of whom more than 1,000 earn an annual gross salary in excess of €100,000. [19164/11]

Sandra McLellan

Question:

59 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Education and Skills in view of the increasing demands for funding in the education budget, if he intends to initiate any review or introduce a cap to the salaries, expenses and benefits of heads of universities, third level institutions and educational related boards. [19163/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 46 and 59 together.

The Government is taking measures to reduce Public Sector salary costs. The Government announced recently that salary costs at the highest levels across the Public Sector will be reduced through the application of salary ceilings. We have shown our commitment to this by introducing a cap of €200,000 for persons serving in higher positions across all sectors of the Public Service. In the Education Sector future appointments will be subject to the €200,000 pay ceiling now applying across the Public Service.

Higher Education Grants

Pearse Doherty

Question:

47 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the growing concerns relating to the rollout of applications for higher education authority grants; and the way he proposes to reduce the delays to student applications as experienced in previous years. [19148/11]

The student grant scheme for the 2011/12 academic year has been published on www.studentfinance.ie and students are urged to apply as early as possible for a grant. They do not have to wait for a CAO offer. Applicants should make sure that their application forms are properly completed and that they have the correct supporting documentation. Late applications and incorrectly completed applications contribute significantly to delays in getting decisions.

Several administrative improvements have been introduced to the student grant schemes in recent years to speed up processing. These include the introduction of a single unified grant scheme this year to make it easier to apply for a grant. Students in 35 grant awarding authorities can now also apply online. The Department is also working with the CAO, the Institute of Guidance Counsellors and USI to make sure that students apply early for grants.

In addition, the four student grant schemes have been consolidated into one for the 2011/12 academic year. From the 2012/13 year onwards, grants will be centrally administered by a single grant awarding authority which will eliminate the delays which some students have experienced in recent years.

Question No. 48 answered with Question No. 34.

Telecommunications Services

Martin Ferris

Question:

49 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding schools located in catchment areas that are commonly experiencing problems in relation to the rollout of broadband; the way this is impacting on teaching in these schools; the way he intends to resolve these matters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19147/11]

Under the schools Broadband Programme my Department procures broadband services on behalf of schools and under the resultant contracts the best available connections are provided subject to over resources constraints.

Under the Schools Broadband Programme connectivity to the internet is routed through a National Broadband Network, developed by HEAnet — the National Education and Research Network provider. HEAnet controls the broadband access to schools, and it provides centrally managed services for schools such as security, anti-spam/anti-virus and content filtering. A national helpdesk managed by the National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE) has been established to interface between the network, the Internet Service Providers (ISP) and the schools. It also provides schools with on-going advice and assistance. I am aware of the difficulties that some schools are having in relation to their broadband connectivity and in particular in relation to satellite connections.

Schools are only offered satellite connections where no alternative was offered during the procurement process. Should a better solution become available from the contractors over the lifetime of the contracts, schools will be migrated to the new solution; to date approximately over 200 additional schools have been migrated off satellite to a fixed line or wireless service under the phase 2 contracts.

The current broadband contracts are due to be re-tendered this year, my officials have explored the options with industry on how to further reduce the number of schools reliant on satellite and as a result anticipate a further reduction in schools reliant on satellite.

Question No. 50 answered with Question No. 15.

Special Educational Needs

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

51 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the degree to which he expects to meet the educational requirements of children with special needs in the future; his plans to best provide for such requirements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19237/11]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

119 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which it is expected to meet the requirements in terms of special needs teachers and special needs assistants in mainstream education in all areas throughout the country in the coming year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19455/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 51 and 119 together.

I wish to inform the Deputy that 10,575 whole time equivalent (wte) Special Needs Assistant (SNA) posts are being provided for primary, post-primary and special schools for the coming school year in order to support the care needs of pupils with disabilities. This is a significant number of posts and unlike other areas of the public sector vacancies are being filled up to this number. For example, it represents an increase over the December 2010 position where 10,543 posts were sanctioned and in place.

Approximately 9,950 learning support/resource teacher posts, including those provided under the General Allocation model, are also being provided in primary & post primary schools in order to provide additional teaching support to pupils with special educational needs. This represents an increase of approximately 350 wte posts over last year's allocation. Over 1,000 teachers are also being provided for in special schools providing teaching to pupils with various disabilities at much reduced pupil: teacher ratios e.g. autism PTR is 6:1; moderate general learning disability PTR is 8:1.

Enhanced levels of school capitation are payable to most special schools and special classes and special School Transport arrangements for pupils with disabilities are provided at a cost of over €60m per year. Approximately €1.3m is also provided annually to schools for assistive technology support. Early educational intervention is provided for children with autism from 2½ years of age. There are now 56 early intervention classes for children with autism attached to mainstream schools that are funded by the Department. Funding is also provided through the home tuition programme for children with autism aged from 2 ½ years to 5 who are unable to access an early intervention class.

An extended school year is also currently available for pupils who have either a severe/profound general learning disability or who have autism. In all, in excess of €1bn has been allocated in the 2011 budget to support pupils with special educational needs. This level of expenditure is in line with the provision in 2010 and represents a significant commitment to special education provision at a time when savings are being required across a range of expenditure areas.

Question No. 52 answered with Question No. 25.

Irish Language

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

53 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he proposes to take to improve the quality and effectiveness of the teaching of Irish at second level as per the commitment in the programme for Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19175/11]

At post primary level An tSeirbhís Tacaíochta Dara Leibhéal don Ghaeilge is a full time team dedicated to providing support to teachers of Irish. In the last school year the team provided over 5,000 training places for second level teachers of Irish. There are also a number of local and summer courses provided through the education centre network which are aimed at upskilling Irish teachers as well as a range of online resources. These supports will continue in 2011/2012.

The 20 year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030 contains a number of actions relating to improving the quality of Irish teaching. Amongst these are initiatives at both pre service and in service level. A working group has recently been established, under the auspices of the Department of Community, Equality and the Gaeltacht, to scope out and agree the steps to be taken in the implementation of the strategy. This Government is committed to supporting the overall thrust of 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030 and will deliver on the achievable goals and targets proposed.

Digital Literacy Levels

Robert Troy

Question:

54 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the OECD PISA Digital Literacy Test results; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19178/11]

The OECD PISA 2009 Digital Literacy Assessment showed that Irish students' ability to read computer-based text was significantly above the average of the 19 OECD countries that took the test. It is reassuring to see that students in Ireland compare very well with their OECD counterparts in this study but there is no room for complacency about reading standards in our schools. The above-average results of Irish students on the digital literacy tests contrasts with their poor performance in the 2009 round of the traditional pencil-and-paper PISA literacy tests. These results seem to suggest that the reading standards of Irish 15-year olds may be better than the poor results achieved on the traditional pencil-and-paper test in 2009 but not at the above-average levels scored by Irish students in 2000.

Irish Language

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

55 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will encourage the provision of a graduate diploma in the teaching of specialised subjects through Gaeilge and that consideration be given to providing courses online. [19142/11]

The 20 year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030 contains a number of actions relating to teacher education including the introduction of a new Post Graduate Diploma in Education for teaching at post primary level delivered in full through the medium of Irish and a new post graduate programme for a Diploma in Irish Language Education (Primary Teaching) which will provide specialised skills in Irish to those who have already completed a teacher education programme.

A working group has recently been established, under the auspices of the Department of Community, Equality and the Gaeltacht, to scope out and agree the steps required to implement the strategy over the 20 year period. Implementation will also have to take account of the availability of resources. This Government is committed to supporting the overall thrust of 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030 and will deliver on the achievable goals and targets proposed.

School Enrolments

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

56 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills the changes to be made to the current school enrolment policy that will deal with the discriminatory practices which have allowed elite schools to flout the equality legislation by actively discouraging the intake of pupils with special educational needs and behavioural difficulties. [19145/11]

The Deputy will be aware that I have recently launched a discussion paper on school enrolment. The document, "Discussion Paper on a Regulatory Framework for School Enrolment" contains suggestions on how to make the process of enrolling in schools more open, equitable and consistent and I am inviting education partners and interested parties to submit their views to my Department by the 28th of October.

The paper is not meant to be prescriptive, nor have any decisions been made as to what elements will be contained in any final regulations or legislation. It is meant to lead and provoke debate on enrolment policies. However, central to this debate on enrolment is the need to ensure a fair and transparent system at all of our schools, which does not discriminate unfairly against students, including pupils with special educational needs, or their parents. The discussion paper and details of how interested parties can make a submission to my Department can be found on my department's website. I look forward to receiving the opinions of our education partners and others on this important topic.

Special Educational Needs

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

57 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills the circumstances in which a special education needs officers can overrule a specific and explicit recommendation by a consultant child psychiatrist that a pupil being treated by him or her should have access to a special needs assistant. [19144/11]

The Deputy will be aware that the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN) and Disability Acts set out clearly the role and functions of the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) and the Health Service Executive (HSE) and their staff in carrying out assessments and with regard to the provision of services for children with special educational needs.

Responsibility for deciding on the quantum of educational supports and resources to be allocated to schools, or to individual pupils, rests with the NCSE in accordance with my Departments policy. Whereas health reports provide valuable assistance to education providers in identifying a diagnosis or identifying appropriate interventions, health staff are asked not to include references to the specific quantum of educational resources in their reports, but should state the outcome of tests carried out and the range of needs of the child as clearly as possible as the responsibility for allocating educational supports and resources to children or schools, rests with the NCSE.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Catherine Murphy

Question:

58 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills in view of the preliminary census results which indicate a significant growth in population here since 2006, the likely effects of this growth on school class sizes; his plans to deal with such effects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19187/11]

At this point I do not propose to give any specific commitment on the allocation of teachers to schools for the 2012/13 school year. The number of teaching posts that we can afford to fund in schools is a matter that I will have to consider with my colleagues in Cabinet in the context of the next budget and meeting our obligations under the EU/IMF Programme. The National Recovery Plan 2011-2014 makes provision for a net increase of just over 2,000 posts across the education sector between the end of 2010 and the end of 2014. Clearly the latest information from the census will have to be factored into those deliberations.

As the Deputy will be aware the National Recovery Plan provided for consultation with the education partners in relation to how best to achieve a further reduction in teacher payroll costs from 2012. It envisaged the introduction of appropriate increases in the classroom teacher allocation schedules if the consultation process did not produce alternative feasible measures to deliver the required savings.

My Department has commenced this consultation process. The education partners at primary and post-primary level have been given the opportunity to contribute this month to the process of identifying a range of measures that the Government can consider in order to achieve a further reduction in teacher payroll costs from the school year 2012/13.

Question No. 59 answered with Question No. 46.

Special Educational Needs

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

60 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of applications for special needs assistants that have been turned down; the number and percentage of schools that received less than the requested allocation of resource hours and SNAs for September 2011; the number of individual applications for resource hours and SNAs that have been refused; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19234/11]

I wish to inform the Deputy that 10,575 whole time equivalent (WTE) posts are being provided for SNA support for the coming school year. This is a significant number of posts and unlike other areas of the public sector vacancies are being filled up to this number. It is considered that with equitable and careful management and distribution of these resources that there should be sufficient posts to provide access to SNA support for all children who require such care support to attend school, in accordance with Departmental criteria.

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

The NCSE asked schools to submit all applications for SNA support to them by 18th March, 2011 and are currently in the process of informing schools of their annual SNA allocation for the coming school year. As this process is ongoing, it is not possible to provide details of the level of allocation of SNAs for schools for the coming school year. There has similarly been no overall reduction in the number of Resource Teaching posts in our education system.

In relation to the allocation of individual Resource Teaching hours, the position is that for the coming 2011/12 school year, an allocation of 90% of valid identified resource teaching allocations has been made by the NCSE to schools, in the first instance, to provide schools with the majority of their allocation, while also preserving enough capacity to deal with late applications and ensure that the Department of Education and Skills can remain within Employment Control Framework obligations. Schools have been asked to forward as soon as possible any outstanding applications, or additional outstanding materials to support incomplete applications, to the NCSE for consideration, but in any event by no later than 16th September 2011. Following consideration of all of the applications received, if the level of demand permits, the initial 90% allocation may be revisited and increased.

School Transport

Dara Calleary

Question:

61 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason Bus Éireann received an over-payment of €14 million for administering the school transport scheme on behalf of his Department as outlined in a recent report on the published accounts of Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus conducted by a company (details supplied) and published by the Coach Tourism and Transport Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18907/11]

I am pleased to have this opportunity to clarify the factual position in relation to the School Transport scheme which is operated by Bus Eireann on behalf of my Department. This is a complex transport network planning operation, which in the current school year involves the provision of daily transportation of some 123,000 children involving 4,000 vehicles on 6,000 routes to 3,000 schools. Bus Éireann also manages all of the administration issues associated with this complex system.

The Bus Éireann administration charge for 2010, as shown in the independently audited accounts now available on my Department's website was €18.2 million, and follows reductions in each of the previous three years. Bus Éireann has further committed to reducing this figure by a further €1.5 million this year to €16.7 million and to finding further cost reductions over the next three years. My Department is currently engaged in discussions with the company in this regard. I can confirm that Bus Éireann did not receive an overpayment of €14 million for administering the school transport scheme.

Tax Code

Finian McGrath

Question:

62 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will clarify the situation regarding the reduction in VAT (details supplied) at hotels. [19264/11]

The Finance (No. 2) Act 2011 provided for a second reduced VAT rate, of 9%, on a temporary basis in respect of certain services and goods mainly related to tourism for the period 1 July 2011 to end 2013. The services subject to the 9% rate include restaurant and catering services (excluding alcohol and soft drinks), lettings of rooms and accommodation provided by a hotel. Hotels must account for VAT at the 9% rate on these services provided by them on or after 1 July 2011.

In general, any advance payment, including a deposit, received by a hotel before 1 July 2011 is subject to VAT at 13.5%, and any balance paid on or after 1 July for services provided on or after 1 July is subject to VAT at 9%, the second reduced rate. Where a (VAT inclusive) price has been agreed between the hotel and a customer on the basis that a 13.5% VAT rate would be applicable to the services provided, the customer should pursue with the hotel the question of whether that price should be reduced to reflect the Finance (No. 2) Act 2011 changes.

Tax Collection

Jack Wall

Question:

63 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare is paying the correct universal social charge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19284/11]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the Universal Social Charge payable monthly by the person concerned is as follows: the first €837 of income per month at 2%; the balance of the income per month at 4%. Based on enquiries made by Revenue Commissioners to the relevant pension provider the correct charge is being levied on the person concerned.

Tax Code

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

64 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Finance the number of tax breaks that can be availed of for 2011 through the Revenue Commissioners; if he will provide a breakdown of each tax break and its implication for the overall tax take for 2011; the reason each of the tax breaks is being offered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19292/11]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the total identifiable costs to the Exchequer of all income tax and corporation tax allowances, reliefs, exemptions and tax credits available are set out in the following tables for 2007 and 2008, the most recent year for which the necessary detailed historical information is available. Relevant notes relating to items in the tables are also included.

Index of Tables and Notes

a) Note on the Cost of Tax Credits, Allowances and Reliefs 2007 & 2008

b) Table IT 6 showing Cost of Tax Credits, Allowances and Reliefs 2007 & 2008

c) Notes on Table IT 6

d) Note on Green Paper on Pensions

e) Estimate of cost of certain property-based tax incentives and incomes exempt from tax for 2007 and 2008

f) Note on reliefs in respect of which costs are not currently quantifiable or are negligible or are not identifiable within total aggregates.

Estimates of the corresponding costs to the Exchequer for years 2009, 2010 and 2011 are not available.

Cost of Tax Credits, Allowances and Reliefs 2007 and 2008

The following table IT 6 shows the estimated cost in terms of revenue forgone of the personal tax credits and the main reliefs and deductions allowable under the income tax system. A number of reliefs which apply both to individuals and companies is also included and the cost shown in relation to these reliefs covers income tax and corporation tax. An adjustment is included in the cost figures applying to income tax to compensate for incomplete numbers of tax returns on record at the time of compiling the estimates.

The tax credits and reliefs listed in the table serve varying purposes. Many are essentially structural reliefs through which individual tax liabilities are adjusted to reflect relative taxable capacity. The main personal tax credits are a good example of this since they may be regarded as part of the progressive income tax structure representing a band of income chargeable at a zero rate. Others, such as relief for interest paid in full or investment in corporate trades, are tax-based incentives in favour of specific groups or activities which are designed to promote certain aspects of public policy.

However, it should be noted that the restriction of reliefs or horizontal measure seeks to restrict the capacity of high earners to reduce their income tax liability to very low levels, or to zero, through the cumulative use of various tax incentives. From the 2010 tax year, high earners that are subject to the full restriction now pay an effective rate of income tax of 30%, on average this is an addition to PRSI and the Universal Social Charge.

In computing taxable profits, account needs to be taken in some way of the depreciation of capital assets incurred in earning those profits. To this extent, the figures in the table of the "costs" of capital allowances should not be regarded as measuring a "loss of tax revenue" on profits. To compute such "loss", regard would have to be had to the excess of the amount of the capital allowances at current rates over the amount of the normal allowances.

The figures shown for the basic personal tax credits (married, single and widowed) are the costs of these tax credits as if all other tax credits and the exemption limits did not apply. They do not include individuals who are not on Revenue records because their incomes are below the income tax thresholds. The cost figures for the exemption limits are based on the excess of the exemption limits over the basic personal tax credits. The figures of cost are for 2008 and 2007 and all figures are based on tax due in respect of assessments for each year and not on tax receipts within that year.

The figure against each credit or allowance represents the additional tax which would become payable if the tax credit or allowance were withdrawn assuming no consequent change in the behaviour of taxpayers (for example, in relation to the reliefs for savings), or the amounts of payments (for example, interest payable on certain savings schemes might need adjustment to take account of the new tax liability). The numbers of claimants of each credit or relief are shown for both years to the extent that they are available. The numbers included are the taxpayers who would be adversely affected by the withdrawal of the respective credit or relief.

In the calculations, each tax credit or allowance has been dealt with separately and on the assumption that the rest of the tax system remained unchanged. It would be therefore inaccurate to calculate the effect of withdrawing all the credits, reliefs and allowances by simply totalling the figures. For example, the costs shown for capital allowances and stock relief are also calculated on the basis of separate withdrawal of these reliefs. Their combined cost would be greater than the sum of the separate costs because allowances are not always fully set off against available profits. For instance, a person with €1,000 gross trading profits, €1,000 capital allowances and €1,000 stock relief would pay no tax if either of the reliefs were withdrawn but would pay tax on €1,000 profits if both reliefs were withdrawn. In this case, the cost of each relief separately is nil but the combined cost is tax on €1,000. Basic data is not available to enable an estimate of the combined cost of these reliefs to be made.

The figures for estimates based on tax returns have been grossed up to an overall expected level to adjust for incompleteness in the numbers of returns on record at the time the data was extracted for analytical purposes.

Apart from the artists exemption, these figures do not take account of the application of the restriction of reliefs originally provided for in section 17 of Finance Act 2006, which took effect from 1 January 2007. The restriction was extended by Section 23 Finance Act 2010. Finally, the estimates shown in many cases are tentative and are subject to revision in the light of later information.

Income Tax and Corporation Tax

Table IT6 Cost of Tax Credits, Allowances and Reliefs 2007 and 2008

Tax Relief Provision

(1) Estimated cost for

2007

2008

Income Tax

€m

Numbers

€m

Numbers

Exemption limits:

General Exemption (2)

0.0

0

0.0

0

Child Addition (2)

0.2

800

0.3

900

Age Exemption (2)

75.3

51,500

90.8

57,700

Married Person’s Credit (3)

2,776.7

834,900

2,944.9

853,100

Single Person’s Credit (3)

2,392.0

1,552,800

2,406.8

1,503,300

Widowed Person’s Credit (3)

171.3

79,500

184.3

81,100

Additional Credit to Widowed Person in Year of Bereavement

4.8

4,000

4.9

4,000

Additional Bereavement Credit to Widowed Parent

6.6

2,400

6.9

2,300

Additional Personal Credit for Lone Parent

199.0

122,200

197.4

116,700

Homecarer Credit

68.5

92,200

79.5

93,100

Additional Credit for Incapacitated Child

31.7

11,700

39.0

12,300

Employee (PAYE) Credit

3,153.1

1,732,000

3,253.8

1,710,200

Dependent Relative Credit

1.8

17,600

2.0

18,700

Person Taking Care of Incapacitated Taxpayer

4.6

1,070

5.8

1,260

Age Credit

33.7

82,900

42.3

88,100

Blind Person’s Credit

2.0

1,240

2.1

1,320

Medical Insurance Premiums (4)

300.3

1,195,300

321.0

1,322,400

Health Expenses

225.7

496,300

266.8

542,600

Contributions Under Permanent Health Benefit Schemes, after Deduction of Tax on Benefits Received (5)

3.6

26,300

4.0

29,200

Employees’ Contributions To Approved Superannuation Schemes (6)

590.0

708,500

655.0

792,600

Employers’ Contributions To Approved Superannuation Schemes (6)

150.0

364,700

165.0

362,700

Exemption of Investment Income and Gains of Approved Superannuation Funds ( 6) *

900.0

N/A

685.0

N/A

Exemption of employers’ contributions to Approved Superannuation Schemes from employee BIK

540.0

364,700

595.0

362,700

Tax Relief on “tax free” lump sums (6)

130.0

N/A

140.0

N/A

Retirement Annuity Premiums

407.9

121,300

352.8

116,000

Personal Retirement Savings Accounts

61.1

46,600

73.8

53,900

Interest paid:

Loans relating to Principal Private Residence

542.7

720,000

704.6

778,100

Other ( 7)

46.9

5,300

48.5

5,400

Rent Paid in Private Tenancies

82.1

206,000

96.5

222,100

Expenses Allowable to Employees under Schedule E

69.8

894,400

75.2

835,900

Third Level Education Fees

18.1

34,500

19.9

36,000

Exemption of Certain Earnings of Writers, Composers and Artists

27.4

2,650

21.8

2,630

Dispositions (Including Maintenance Payments made to Separated Spouses)

20.5

7,220

22.3

7,820

Exemption of Interest on Savings Certificates, National Instalment Savings & Index Linked Savings Bonds

130.3

N/A

88.1

N/A

Rent a Room

4.7

3,180

5.6

3,600

Exemption of Income of Charities, Colleges, Hospitals, Schools, Friendly Societies, etc. (8) (10)

30.7

N/A

35.8

N/A

Retirement Relief for certain Sports Persons.(9)

0.2

20

0.2

17

Exemption of Irish Government Securities where owner not ordinarily resident in Ireland ( 10) *

240.8

N/A

320.8

N/A

Exemption of Statutory Redundancy Payments

87.6

25,000

85.4

29,800

Service Charges

24.4

413,100

27.1

455,200

Top Slicing Relief — Reduced Tax Rate for Payments in Excess of Exemption Amounts Made as Compensation for Loss of Office

27.8

3,020

44.7

3,790

Revenue Job Assist allowance

0.3

360

0.2

330

Allowance for seafarers

0.3

170

0.3

160

Trade Union Subscriptions

20.7

316,300

26.4

341,900

Exemption From Tax of Certain Social Welfare Payments:

Child benefit *

355.0

347,760

435.3

401,200

Early childcare Supplement*

84.3

193,200

98.3

195,200

Maternity allowance *

15.2

20,950

18.2

23,420

Foster Care Payments

29.4

3,330

28.1

3,470

Exemption of Income arising from the Provision of Childcare Services

0.7

400

0.8

440

Approved Profit Sharing Schemes *

107.6

98,870

99

111,180

Savings-Related Share Option Schemes *

11.9

2,600

1.3

2,800

Approved Share Option Schemes *

3

1000

0.08

280

Relief for New Shares Purchased by Employees

0.2

210

0.3

280

Investment in Corporate Trades (BES)

17.5

1,900

55.7

3,200

Investment in Seed Capital

2.3

63

1.7

56

Stock Relief *

2

N/A

2.0

N/A

Relief for expenditure on significant buildings and gardens

5.0

210

5.9

290

Donation of Heritage items

5.3

4

4.7

5

Donation of Heritage property to the Irish Heritage Trust

1.9

7

3.6

4

Income Tax and/or Corporation Tax (11)

Donations to Approved Bodies

47.6

110,700

52.4

131,100

Donations to Sports Bodies. (9)

0.4

700

0.3

850

Employee Share Ownership Trusts*

4.4

26,000

8.4

29,200

Total Capital Allowances: (12)

2,019.2

270,900

2,176.6

270,200

Rented Residential Relief — Section 23 (13) *

133.6

2,920

74.7

2,429

Effective Rate of 10% for Manufacturing and Certain Other Activities (14)

406.9

2,667

160.9

1,046

Double Taxation Relief

610.8

17,600

596.5

18,000

Investment in Films*

31.1

3,000

32.8

3,200

Group Relief

254.1

1,936

450.3

2,430

Research & Development Tax Credit (15)

165.6

479

146

582

Notes on Table IT6

(1) Figures accompanied by an asterisk * are particularly tentative and subject to a considerable margin of error.

(2) The cost figures for the exemption limits are based on the excess of the exemption limits over the basic personal tax credits. They include the cost of marginal relief for taxpayers whose incomes are not greatly in excess of the exemption limits.

(3) The figures shown for the basic personal tax credits (married, single and widowed) are the costs of these tax credits as if all other tax credits and the exemption limits did not apply. They do not include individuals who are not on Revenue records because their incomes are below the income tax thresholds.

(4) Arising from the change over to Tax Relief at Source the figures relate to the number of policies issued. These include policies where subscriptions were paid by businesses on behalf of their employees.

(5) Part of the cost of contributions to Permanent Health Benefit Schemes is not identifiable as a result of the move to a "net pay" basis for contributions by PAYE taxpayers from 6 April 2001.

(6) See the following note on "Green Paper on Pensions" for background commentary on the basis of the cost figures.

(7) "Other" relates to borrowings for purposes such as acquiring an interest in a company or partnership.

(8) The income on which the cost of exemption for charities, colleges, hospitals, schools, friendly societies, etc. from income tax is based includes repaid income tax that has been deducted at source on dividends, other investment income and payments received under covenant, donations and associated tax relief by the PAYE sector to approved bodies and donations by the self-employed and corporate sectors to approved bodies and approved sports bodies. Information is not available about other income received gross.

(9) The cost figures for relief for donations to Approved Sports Bodies and for certain Sports Persons are based on self assessment returns.

(10) In the absence of other information, tax has been assumed at the standard rate of income tax even though a different rate might be appropriate in many cases.

(11) The costs included for corporation tax are by reference to accounting periods which ended in the years 2007 and 2008.

(12) The cost shown for capital allowances does not include any cost associated with "unused capital allowances", that is, capital allowances which are not absorbed by a company in the accounting period in which they arise because they exceed the amount of the company's profits of that accounting period which are available for offset. Unused capital allowances can be offset as losses against taxable profits arising in the previous accounting period and against certain profits arising in future accounting periods and can be offset against the profits of another company in the same group of companies. It is estimated that €2820 million and €3587 million of unused capital allowances were claimed in respect of 2007 and 2008 accounting periods respectively but as the proportion of this item which is included in previous years losses and in group relief is not separately identifiable a reliable estimate of the cost of the capital allowance element cannot be provided.

(13) The tax cost shown for section 23 type relief is the estimated ultimate tax cost relating to the total allowable expenditure in respect of claims made in 2007 and 2008 tax returns for the first time. The cost shown is for income tax cases only.

(14) The cost shown for manufacturing relief for 2008 is compiled using the basic data available but for technical reasons associated with a system redesign it is understood to be understated by at least €100m.

(15) The costs shown for R&D is for claims for R&D on corporation tax returns for accounting periods ending in 2007 and 2008. However, the cost includes the cost associated with claims where the company was entitled to the credit but was unable to absorb it in that accounting year.

Green Paper on Pensions — Review of Estimates of Cost

As part of the work on the Green Paper on Pensions, a review was carried out of the current regime of incentives for supplementary pension provision with a view to developing more comprehensive and reliable estimates of the cost of reliefs in this area. The review examined, among other things, the current reliefs and incentives for investment in supplementary pensions and the data available on which to base reliable estimates of the costs in revenue foregone to the Exchequer.

The review drew on newly available 2006 aggregate data on contributions to pension schemes by employers and employees arising from a P35 initiative introduced on foot of provisions that were included in Finance Act 2004 with a view to improving data quality. Estimates of the cost of tax for private pension provision updated for 2007 and 2008 are included in table IT6.

The breakdown and make-up of these estimated costs of reliefs differ from presentations of costs in this area for years prior to 2005 in a number of respects and are not directly comparable. Further details on the cost of tax and other reliefs and the changes in the methodology are contained in pages 106 and 107 of the Green Paper on Pensions which is available at www.pensionsgreenpaper.ie.

Certain property-based tax incentives and incomes exempt from tax — uptake and estimated potential cost to the Exchequer in terms of income tax and corporation tax forgone based on 2007 and 2008 tax returns

Provisions were included in the Finance Acts of 2003 and 2004 to enable new statistical data on the uptake of tax relief for certain property-based tax incentives and incomes exempt from tax to be obtained from tax returns. This information, derived from changes introduced by the Revenue Commissioners to income tax returns and corporation tax returns for 2007 and 2008, is set out in the following tables.

The figures shown include the amounts claimed in the year but exclude amounts carried forward into the year either as losses or capital allowances, and include any amounts of unused losses and/or capital allowances which will be carried forward to subsequent years.

2007 Tax Incentive/Income Exemption

Amount Claimed €m

Assumed maximum tax cost €m

Number of claimants

Urban renewal

280.0

109.3

3,501

Town Renewal

86.1

34.6

1,128

Seaside Resorts

20.3

8.0

1,231

Rural Renewal

121.9

48.6

2,807

Multi-storey car parks

24.0

9.6

147

Living Over the shop

8.0

3.0

93

Enterprise Areas

7.0

2.8

137

Park and Ride

3.3

1.4

33

Holiday Cottages

30.7

12.4

832

Hotels

307.1

118.0

1,893

Nursing Homes

45.3

18.3

687

Housing for the Elderly/infirm

6.3

2.6

166

Hostels

1.8

0.72

24

Guest Houses

0.1

0.02

8

Convalescent Homes

1.2

0.5

27

Qualifying Private Hospitals

29.6

12.1

330

Qualifying sports injury clinics

4.3

1.8

59

Buildings Used for certain childcare purposes

24.2

9.8

420

Qualifying Mental Health Centres

0.0

0.0

1

Student Accommodation

108.7

42.0

941

Exemption of profits or gains from Greyhounds

0.4

0.1

13

Exemption of profits or gains from Stallions

59.6

11.2

226

Exemption of profits or gains from Woodlands

21.8

8.5

1,886

Exempt Patents (Section 234, TCA 1997)

528.2

90.9

1,251

Totals

1,719.8

546.5

17,841

2008 Tax Incentive/Income Exemption

Amount Claimed €m

Assumed maximum tax cost €m

Number of claimants

Urban renewal

224.6

84.5

3,271

Town Renewal

60.5

23.7

965

Seaside Resorts

14.5

5.7

1,051

Rural Renewal

84.6

34.2

2,634

Multi-storey car parks

16.8

6.6

136

Living Over the shop

6.1

2.5

81

Enterprise Areas

6.2

2.5

138

Park and Ride

1.7

0.7

19

Holiday Cottages

26.8

10.8

833

Hotels

300.6

114.7

1,966

Nursing Homes

47.6

19.4

725

Housing for the Elderly/infirm

7.4

3.0

179

Hostels

1.62

0.66

21

Guest Houses

0.3

0.11

10

Convalescent Homes

1.3

0.5

33

Qualifying Private Hospitals

30.2

12.3

340

Qualifying sports injury clinics

3.7

1.5

58

Buildings Used for certain childcare purposes

29.9

12.0

511

Qualifying Mental Health Centres

0.1

0.0

3

Student Accommodation

58.0

22.7

790

Caravan Camps

1.5

0.6

10

Mid Shannon Corridor Tourism Infrastructure

1.8

0.7

12

Exemption of profits or gains from Greyhounds

0.0

0.0

9

Exemption of profits or gains from Stallions

91.4

14.8

183

Exemption of profits or gains from Woodlands

49.4

13.0

2,357

Exempt Patents (section 234, TCA 1997)

187.2

50.2

1,184

Totals

1,302.4

455.0

18,089

These figures do not take account of the application of the restriction of reliefs originally provided for in section 17 of Finance Act 2006 and which took effect from 1 January 2007. The restriction was extended by Section 23 Finance Act 2010.

Notes:

The figures shown relate to the various reliefs/incentives and exemptions as specified in the 2007 and 2008 form 11 and CT1.

Frank Feighan

Question:

65 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Finance in lowering the rate of VAT from 13.5% to 9% the reason beauty salons were excluded. [19298/11]

VAT is charged on the supply of goods and services, and the rate applying is subject to the requirements of EU VAT law with which Irish VAT law must comply. While many tourist related services were made subject to a new temporary lower reduced VAT rate of 9% from 1 July, it is not possible to extend this treatment to the goods and services that remain subject to the 13.5% rate. While hairdressing services apply at the new temporary 9% rate, services consisting of the care of the human body, including beauty salons, will remain subject to the 13.5% rate.

This arises from the fact that many of goods and services to which Ireland applies a reduced rate of VAT, including services related to care of the human body, have their basis under an EU derogation that provides that as we applied a reduced rate to these items on 1 January 1991, we are entitled to continue applying that reduced rate to those items. However, this continuation of reduced rate application is conditional on the rate being no less than 12%. These are known as ‘parked' items, and are provided for under Article 118 of the EU VAT Directive. As the services provided by beauty salons are part of these parked items, it is not possible for Ireland to apply the rate of 9% to them.

It is for this reason that the Finance (No. 2) Act 2011 introduced a 9% VAT rate in respect of tourist activities such as restaurant and hotel accommodation services, while other tourist activities such as tour guide services and the short-term hire of cars, boat, caravans and mobile homes remain liable to VAT at the 13.5%. However, it should be noted that in the majority of EU Member States services consisting of the care of the human body apply at their standard VAT rate of up to 25% in some cases, compared to 13.5% in Ireland.

Frank Feighan

Question:

66 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Finance in lowering the rate of VAT from 13.5% to 9% the reason dry cleaners were excluded. [19299/11]

VAT is charged on the supply of goods and services, and the rate applying is subject to the requirements of EU VAT law with which Irish VAT law must comply. While many tourist related services were made subject to a new temporary lower reduced VAT rate of 9% from 1 July, it is not possible to extend this treatment to the goods and services that remain subject to the 13.5% rate.

This arises from the fact that many of the goods and services to which Ireland applies a reduced rate of VAT, including dry cleaning, have their basis under an EU derogation that provides that as we applied a reduced rate to these items on 1 January 1991, we are entitled to continue applying that reduced rate to those items. However, this continuation of reduced rate application is conditional on the rate being no less than 12%. These are known as ‘parked' items, and are provided for under Article 118 of the EU VAT Directive. As laundry and dry cleaning services are such parked items, it is not possible for Ireland to apply the rate of 9% to them.

It is also for this reason that the Jobs Initiative introduced a 9% VAT rate in respect of tourist activities such as restaurant and hotel accommodation services, while other tourist activities such as tour guide services and the short-term hire of cars, boats, caravans and mobile homes remain liable to VAT at the 13.5%. However, it should be noted that in the majority of EU Member States dry cleaning services apply at their standard VAT rate of up to 25% in some cases, compared to 13.5% in Ireland.

Frank Feighan

Question:

67 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Finance in lowering the rate of VAT from 13.5% to 9% the reason caravan sites were excluded based on the fact that they are an important part of the tourist trade. [19300/11]

The hire of a mobile home or caravan in a caravan park, camping site or other similar establishment is regarded as the provision of self-catering holiday accommodation and is subject to VAT at the new 9% rate, as provided for in the Finance (No. 2) Act 2011. Similarly, the hire of a site in a caravan park, camping site or other similar establishment is also liable to VAT at the new 9% rate. However, the hire of a mobile home or caravan in general, separate from a site, continues to be liable to VAT at the parked rate of 13.5%.

National Asset Management Agency

Michael McGrath

Question:

68 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance, further to Parliamentary Question No. 88 of 30 June 2011, if, in view of the higher then originally expected discounts applied on NAMA loans which had the consequence of inflating the losses forward among participating banks, he has any plans to propose an amendment to the National Asset Management Agency Act 2009 to further limit the amount of relief that can be claimed by participating institutions for losses carried forward from earlier years. [19311/11]

Ireland follows the international norm in that losses incurred in the course of a business are taken into account in arriving at the appropriate amount of tax that a company should bear. Under existing legislation, companies are entitled to carry forward unrelieved trading losses for offset against trading profits of the same trade in future accounting periods until the losses are fully relieved or the trade is discontinued. In this way, unused losses can be carried forward indefinitely by companies and this is the position both for institutions involved in the NAMA process and for companies generally.

However, Section 396C of the Taxes Consolidation Act has the effect of restricting the amount of taxable trading income of an institution participating in NAMA which can be reduced by losses carried forward, including losses arising from the NAMA process. This differs from the treatment applicable to companies, generally, who would be allowed to use all of their trading income arising in an accounting period to absorb losses of the same trade carried forward from previous accounting periods. The feature of note for institutions participating in NAMA is that it is the trading income against which losses may be offset that is restricted rather than the losses themselves. It will, of course, take a longer period of time for those losses to be fully used up than would be the case if the restriction did not apply.

The intention behind the section 396C restriction is that, when the participating institutions return to profitability, a minimum of 50% of their trading income will remain chargeable to tax in an accounting period notwithstanding claims for relief for losses carried forward into that period. I have no plans to increase the level of the restriction on trading income.

Financial Services Regulation

Mary Mitchell O'Connor

Question:

69 Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor asked the Minister for Finance if he will increase the length of time in which the offence of mismanagement of a credit union can be investigated, which currently stands at two years from the date on which the offence was committed. [19337/11]

The Deputy will be aware that the Commission on Credit Unions was established by Government on 31 May 2011 and has begun its programme of work. The Commission will review the future of the credit union movement and make recommendations in relation to the most effective regulatory structure for credit unions. Included in the terms of reference for the Commission is the requirement to examine existing credit union legislation and, in particular, the Credit Union Act 1997 and make recommendations on changes required to implement its findings. I expect that this review will include an examination of the offences already provided for in the Act. I have no plans to carry out a separate review of the offence of mismanagement of a credit union. The Commission will make initial recommendations on strengthening the regulatory framework for credit unions by 30 September 2011 and will submit a final report to me, as Minister for Finance, by 31 March 2012.

National Asset Management Agency

Michael McCarthy

Question:

70 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Finance if he will outline the role that the National Asset Management Agency has once it has taken over a company and acquired its assets in terms of the discharge and management of debts that the company had prior to its take-over by the agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19338/11]

NAMA has a commercial remit to manage its portfolio of acquired loans and property to generate the best achievable financial return for the State. To date NAMA, has only acquired loans not properties or companies. Following the transfer of a debtor's loans to NAMA, each debtor is requested to complete a realistic and concise business plan. The viability of the business plan of each major borrower is then assessed by NAMA. Where viability cannot be demonstrated or where a borrower is not co-operating with the process NAMA will take enforcement action against the borrower concerned.

As at end-May 2011, NAMA has approved the appointment of receivers in 66 cases. On appointment it is then the receiver's primary role to recover the money owing to the creditors. The receiver is the agent of the debtor but acts on NAMA's instructions. Each receivership proceeds on a case-by case basis in order to maximise the recoverable proceeds from a debtor's assets. In order to do this the receiver may continue to manage the business and/or sell or realise the debtor's assets.

Banks Restructuring

Michael McGrath

Question:

71 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance when a detailed plan, including a detailed timeline for the achievement of various milestones, for the downsizing and deleveraging of AIB is to be finalised. [19365/11]

Michael McGrath

Question:

73 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance when a detailed plan, including a detailed timeline for the achievement of various milestones, for the downsizing and deleveraging of Bank of Ireland is to be finalised. [19367/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 71 and 73 together.

Allied Irish Banks (AIB) and Bank of Ireland (BoI) submitted detailed deleveraging plans for the three years to the 31 December 2013 to the Central Bank of Ireland (CBI) as part of the Financial Measures Programme, which was announced on 31 March 2011. These plans outlined how the institutions would achieve a loan-to-deposit ratio of 122.5% by end 2013. To monitor progress, semi-annual interim targets have been set for each of the institutions and progress against these targets will be reported every six months. The first reporting date by the institutions to the CBI is 31 December 2011.

Subsequent to 31 March 2011, AIB and BOI were required to provide alternative deleveraging options to account for the fact that the transfer of sub-EUR 20 million land and development loans to NAMA will now no longer take place. These plans were submitted to the CBI in May 2011.

Banking Sector Staff

Michael McGrath

Question:

72 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of persons currently employed by AIB and the number expected to be employed at the end of the downsizing and deleveraging process. [19366/11]

I am informed by AIB that it currently employs 13,890 staff on a full time equivalents (fte) basis at end June 2011. This excludes the staff (slightly in excess of 600 ftes) being taken on under the just completed acquisitions of EBS. The Deputy will appreciate that it is not possible to give a number at this stage as to what the employment level will be post the restructuring and deleveraging of the bank.

Question No. 73 answered with Question No. 71.

Michael McGrath

Question:

74 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of persons currently employed by Bank of Ireland and the number expected to be employed at the end of the downsizing and deleveraging process. [19368/11]

The most recent annual report of Bank of Ireland states that the average number of staff in the 12 month period ending 31 December 2010 was 14,284 based on full time equivalents. It is not possible at this stage to say the number expected to be employed at the end of the downsizing and deleveraging process.

State Banking Sector Remuneration

Michael McGrath

Question:

75 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of any reductions in basic pay which have imposed on or volunteered by the Chief Executive of Anglo Irish Bank and the senior management team in 2010 or to date in 2011. [19369/11]

The bank has informed my Department that there were no reductions to the basic pay of its Chief Executive or any of its senior management team in 2010, or to date. Anglo Irish Bank is being run on an arms length commercial basis and it is therefore a matter, in the first instance, for the Board of the bank to formulate and implement its remuneration policy subject to the overall framework and limits on remuneration as outlined by Government for the covered institutions. However, as the Deputy will be aware, regarding the general issue of bank remuneration, I have asked the NTMA to request a review of remuneration policies and practices by each of the covered institutions. In that regard, the institutions have been asked to consider measures that could be taken to realign staff expectations with regard to remuneration and benefits in the current economic environment and financial circumstances of the banks. The review exercise is ongoing and the NTMA expects to receive the requested information shortly from all the institutions in order to allow a comprehensive evaluation to take place.

Banking Sector Remuneration

Michael McGrath

Question:

76 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if there have been any reductions in basic pay, either voluntarily or by imposition, with the exception of the CEO post as provided for or governed by the Covered Institutions Remuneration Oversight Committee, in senior management positions in Bank of Ireland in 2010 or to date in 2011 and, if so, if he will provide the relevant details. [19370/11]

The three members of the Group Executive Committee who were in situ in May 2009 have waived at least 10% of their basic salaries and this waiver is still in force. Details are published in the Bank's Annual Report for the year ended 31 December 2010. No reduction in basic salary has occurred for the remaining members of the Group Executive Committee and the Senior Executive Team in situ in 2010 and to date in 2011.

Michael McGrath

Question:

77 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if there have been any reductions in basic pay, either voluntarily or by imposition, with the exception of the CEO post as provided for or governed by the Covered Institutions Remuneration Oversight Committee, in senior management positions in AIB in 2010 or to date in 2011 and, if so, if he will provide the relevant details. [19371/11]

I am advised by AIB that members of the senior management team took the appropriate reductions in pay arising from the CIROC recommendations and the terms of the Subscription Agreement of May 2009. No reductions in basic pay occurred in 2010 and to date in 2011 in respect of the senior management team other than one reduction to a member of the team to ensure on-going compliance with the above.

AIB is being run on an arms length commercial basis and it is therefore a matter, in the first instance, for the Board of the bank to formulate and implement its remuneration policy subject to the overall framework and limits on remuneration as outlined by Government for the covered institutions. However, as the Deputy will be aware, regarding the general issue of bank remuneration, I have asked the NTMA to request a review of remuneration policies and practices by each of the covered institutions. In that regard, the institutions have been asked to consider measures that could be taken to realign staff expectations with regard to remuneration and benefits in the current economic environment and financial circumstances of the banks. The review exercise is ongoing and the NTMA expects to receive the requested information shortly from all the institutions in order to allow a comprehensive evaluation to take place.

Financial Institutions Recapitalisation

Michael McGrath

Question:

78 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of the total amount, listed by financial institution, already paid into or committed by the State to financial institutions by way of recapitalisation since 2008. [19372/11]

The follownig table sets out the amount of capital injected by the State into the Irish Banking System at year end 2010. No further capital injections have been completed since this time.

Recapitalisation of Credit Institutions

Credit Institution

Cost of Share Acquisition

Cost of Preference Shares

Capital contributions

Capital Provided to 31 December 2010

PCAR 2011 requirement

Contingent Capital

Mar 31st Total(1)

€bn

€bn

€bn

€bn

€bn

€bn

€bn

Anglo Irish Bank

4

-

25.3

29.3

-

-

0

Allied Irish Banks

3.7

3.5

-

7.2

11.9

1.4

13.3

Bank of Ireland

1.7

1.8 (2)

-

3.5

4.2

1

5.2

Irish Nationwide Building Society

0.1

-

5.3

5.4

-

-

0

EBS Building Society

0.6

-

0.3

0.9

1.3

0.2

1.5

Irish Life and Permanent

-

-

-

-

3.6

0.4

4

Total

10.1

5.3

30.8

46.3

21

3

24

(1) Before banks potential capital raising actions (LME's/Asset Sales / Internally Generated Capital)

(2) Original investment of €3.5bn, of this €1.7bn converted to equity in May 2010

Further capital injections will shortly be required to enable the merged AIB and EBS, Bank of Ireland and IL&P to raise €24 billion of capital in order to meet their regulatory capital requirements as mandated by the Central Bank of Ireland and announced as part of the PCAR results on the 31st March last. These requirements are also set out in the table. The State has committed to completing the recapitalisations to the extent possible by the 31st July as part of the IMF-EU Programme of Financial Support for Ireland.

While the Government is committed to ensuring that the banks meet the PCAR target, the Government is seeking direct contributions to the capital requirements of the banking system. As such the Government has already instigated processes which have and will reduce the cost to the State by looking for further significant contributions from subordinated debt holders, by the sale of assets to generate capital, and where possible, by seeking private sector investors. It is expected that the effect of these actions will be to reduce the amount of capital required by the State very significantly.

The recapitalisation plan for AIB and EBS was announced on Friday 1 July. Under the plan the NPRF will inject €5 billion in equity capital at a price of €0.01 per share bringing its shareholding to 99.8%. The State will also inject €1.6 billion in contingent capital. The remaining capital requirements of the combined entity, following the completion of burden sharing with subordinated debt holders, will be met by way of a capital contribution to the entity. An EGM to approve the capital raising has been scheduled for 26th July.

The recapitalisation plan for Irish Life and Permanent was announced on Monday 27 June. Under the plan the State will subscribe for up to €3.4 billion in equity capital and €0.4 billion in contingent capital with an additional €0.2 billion to be raised internally to meet a total of €4 billion. It has been agreed that the Capital Requirement will be subject to appropriate adjustment for any capital generated through asset disposals (including the possible disposal of the Irish Life Group) and the IL&P LME. As a result it is expected that €2.9 billion will be injected on or before the 31 July 2011, €2.7 billion of which will be provided by the State in the form of equity capital (€2.3 billion) and contingent capital (€0.4 billion) with the balance to follow should the LME and disposal of Irish Life not generate €1.1billion of core tier 1 capital. An EGM to approve the capital raising has been scheduled for 20 July.

The recapitalisation plan for Bank of Ireland was announced on Monday 20 June. The €4.2 billion capital requirement will be underwritten by the NPRFC and reduced to the maximum amount possible through an ongoing LME (which is expected to reduce the underwriting requirement by €1.98 billion) and further burden sharing with any remaining subordinated bondholders. An Extraordinary General Court of the Bank to approve the transaction has been scheduled for 11 July.

State Agencies

Michael McGrath

Question:

79 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he intends to implement any measures to ensure greater transparency in relation to the remuneration arrangements that apply at the National Treasury Management Agency. [19375/11]

Performance-related pay has been an integral part of the NTMA approach to remuneration, reflecting the approach to remuneration in the private sector organisations with which the NTMA competes for staff. At the same time, public sector organisations must operate having due regard to the wider public policy context, which includes general economic circumstances. Accordingly, it is my intention to examine the approach to remuneration in the NTMA in more detail in the coming months following consultation with my colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. I will then see what changes, if any, might be appropriate in relation to the remuneration of all staff in the NTMA, having regard to the changing economic circumstances of the State and the need for transparency in public expenditure. The legislation which established the NTMA in 1990 deliberately positioned it outside of the wider public service structures with operational freedom to negotiate market-competitive salaries so that it would have, for example, the flexibility to recruit specialists in mid-career from the private sector. Under the NTMA business model, its remuneration structure is such that there are no general pay grades and no pay scales and all staff are on individually-negotiated contracts.

This business model has allowed the NTMA to staff itself with the necessary technical expertise to carry out the financial and risk management functions which have been assigned to it by Government since its initial establishment as a single-function agency managing the National Debt. These additional functions include the State Claims Agency, the National Pensions Reserve Fund, the National Development Finance Agency and the National Asset Management Agency.

The NTMA Advisory Committee, the members of which are appointed by the Minister for Finance, formally advises the NTMA on remuneration, including performance-related pay, on an ongoing basis. The remuneration of the Chief Executive, including any performance related payments, is determined by me after consultation with the Committee. The Advisory Committee makes recommendations to the Chief Executive on the specific remuneration of the other members of the senior management team and on general remuneration policy in the NTMA.

It should be noted that the members of NTMA's senior management team waived their performance-related payments due for 2010 in view of the serious economic situation facing the country.

Turning to the point the Deputy raises regarding transparency, detailed information on salaries by salary band was furnished by the NTMA to my Department and included in my response to a parliamentary question from the Deputy last week. Similar information was previously provided to the Committee of Public Accounts. In addition, in line with the requirements of the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies, full details of the remuneration of the Chief Executives of the NTMA, NAMA and NDFA will be published on an annual basis in the respective agencies' Annual Reports.

Financial Institutions Regulation

Michael McGrath

Question:

80 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of the identity and role of any outside consultants presently involved in the operation of individual financial institutions. [19378/11]

The information the Deputy has requested is not held by my Department. The financial institutions covered by the State Guarantee use consultants in respect of many aspects of their operations. The Department of Finance does not compile a list of these consultants. I do however expect the banks to continue to control and reduce their cost base and ensure that they achieve value for money when engaging consultants.

The Deputy may be aware that in a reply to Parliamentary Question 169 from Deputy Pearse Doherty this week, I informed the House of details of the amounts AIB, Bank of Ireland, EBS and Irish Life and Permanent are spending on advisors, including lawyers, investment advisors and underwriters as part of their efforts to raise the €24 billion following the latest stress tests, and I will provide a copy to the Deputy.

Michael McGrath

Question:

81 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will define the role of the directors of the covered institutions appointed by him as public interest directors; and if he will elaborate on the reporting relationship in place between them and him. [19379/11]

The legal position is that any director appointed to the board of the covered institutions whether under the Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Scheme 2008 or otherwise is subject to the requirements of company law in relation to the discharge of their responsibilities as a company director. As such, the director is legally bound to act in what he or she believes are the interests of the separate legal entity that is the institution itself. These are the director's so called fiduciary responsibilities. To address the scope for actual and perceived conflicts between the fiduciary duties of the directors of financial institutions under company law and the wider public interest in circumstances that those institutions have received huge financial support from the State, legal clarity, not just to the role of the public interest director but to that of the entire boards of those institutions, was provided for under Section 48 of the Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Act 2010. It provides that the overriding duty of directors of the covered institutions relates to the public interest as set out in the Act.

Accordingly, public interest directors do not have a formal reporting relationship to the Minister or to the Department of Finance. However, as Minister for Finance, I am strongly committed to ensuring that the boards of the covered institutions act at all times in a manner fully consistent with key public interest objectives for the banking sector.

Deferred Interest Scheme

Michael McGrath

Question:

82 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the roll-out of the deferred interest scheme as recommended by the Expert Group on Mortgage Arrears and Personal Debt. [19380/11]

The Central Bank has advised me that the following lenders have notified the Bank of their decision/intention to implement the recommendation of a Deferred Interest Scheme (DIS) or a variation of it, as set out in the final report of the Expert Group on Mortgage Arrears and Personal Debt with the following effective dates:

Mortgage Lender

Effective Date

Allied Irish Banks

Final quarter of 2011

AIB Mortgage Bank

Final quarter of 2011

Bank of Ireland

Implemented

ICS Building Society

Implemented

EBS

Implemented

Haven Mortgages

Implemented

Irish Nationwide Building Society

Third quarter of 2011

Permanent TSB

Will be implemented from 11 July 2011

Springboard Mortgages

Implemented

Start Mortgages

Final quarter of 2011

It is important to note that the DIS is a voluntary scheme, and as such all lenders do not have to sign up to it.

Exchequer Savings

Michael McGrath

Question:

83 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if, based on the end of June Exchequer returns, his views that the Budget for 2011 is on target in overall terms and, separately, with regard to income and with regard to expenditure. [19381/11]

The Exchequer deficit in the first six months of the year, at €10.8 billion, was in line with my Department's expectations. Tax receipts in the period to end-June, at €15.3 billion, were almost 6% above the same period in 2010. They were however slightly below expectations with a shortfall of 0.7% or €115 million compared to profile being recorded in the first six months of the year.

While this shortfall must be viewed in the context of a target of almost €15½ billion, it is the case that individual tax-heads showed a mixed performance in the period to end-June. Corporation tax and VAT were a little weaker than expected but on a more encouraging note, income tax was in line with target and excise duties recorded a surplus of €79 million.

Although certain tax-heads have shown some signs of weakness, the Budget day target for tax revenue in 2011 of €34.9 billion remains valid, especially given the expected boost to taxes this year from the pension levy introduced to fund the Jobs Initiative.

On the expenditure side, overall voted expenditure was managed within the limits set out in the first half of the year and was 1½% below profile. This reflects the ongoing tight control of public spending, which we must ensure is maintained over the coming months.

The anticipated end-year voted expenditure position remains in line with target although pressures emerging in some areas will have to be managed from within existing resources. The Department of Public Expenditure & Reform is working with Departments to ensure that this is the case.

The Stability Programme Update published at end-April projected an Exchequer deficit of €18.2 billion in 2011, notwithstanding the requirement for the Exchequer to part fund the recapitalisation of the banking sector. That estimate remains valid at this time.

Banks Recapitalisation

Michael McGrath

Question:

84 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance his views on the matters regarding recapitalisation raised in correspondence (details supplied). [19407/11]

As the correspondence the Deputy refers to is of a legal nature, I do not think it is appropriate for me to respond in any depth at this stage other than to state that a reply to the said correspondence was issued on 28 June 2011 and that the capital requirement set by the Central Bank of Ireland (CBI) for each credit institution the subject of the 31 March stress tests, including Irish Life & Permanent, has been set by the CBI in accordance with its regulatory functions.

Tax Collection

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

85 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance the way it is expected that a person (details supplied) in County Kildare can discharge a debt to the Revenue Commissioners in view of the fact that their only income in the past two and half years derives from jobseeker’s allowance and noting a proposed court appearance in this regard in the near future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19424/11]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they have been recently in contact with the person concerned in relation to a tax debt. Arising from that contact written confirmation is awaited from the person concerned of his specific financial circumstances. I am advised by Revenue that there are no imminent legal proceedings in regard to this matter. Subject to the person concerned providing the confirmation required, matters should be capable of being resolved speedily.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

86 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance if and when a P60 will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19425/11]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they have written to the person concerned advising him that forms P60 are issued by employers to their employees and he should contact his employer in this regard. The taxpayer has also been advised that if he experiences difficulties in relation to this matter he should contact Ms. Julie Miller, Kildare Revenue District, telephone 059 8643251 to discuss the matter.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Brendan Smith

Question:

87 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will give a commitment to protect class sizes in this years budget following recent figures from his Department which indicate a greater than expected increase in student numbers between now and 2017. [19412/11]

At this point I do not propose to give any specific commitment on the allocation of teachers to schools for the 2012/13 school year. The number of teaching posts that we can afford to fund in schools is a matter that I will have to consider with my colleagues in Cabinet in the context of the next budget and meeting our obligations under the EU/IMF Programme.

The National Recovery Plan 2011-2014 makes provision for a net increase of just over 2,000 posts across the education sector between the end of 2010 and the end of 2014. Clearly the latest information from the census will have to be factored into those deliberations.

As the Deputy will be aware the National Recovery Plan provided for consultation with the education partners in relation to how best to achieve a further reduction in teacher payroll costs from 2012. It envisaged the introduction of appropriate increases in the classroom teacher allocation schedules if the consultation process did not produce alternative feasible measures to deliver the required savings.

My Department has commenced this consultation process. The education partners at primary and post-primary level have been given the opportunity to contribute this month to the process of identifying a range of measures that the Government can consider in order to achieve a further reduction in teacher payroll costs from the school year 2012/13.

School Curriculum

Andrew Doyle

Question:

88 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Education and Skills the rationale for the introduction of project maths as an additional subject in the secondary school education system in the context of the rollout of pilot project for this subject. [19238/11]

Project Maths is a major programme of reform in mathematics in second level schools, which is designed to encourage better understanding of mathematics, to reinforce its practical relevance to everyday life, and to ensure better continuity between primary and second level, and junior and senior cycle. It began in 24 project schools in September 2008 and was introduced in all schools in September 2010. Project Maths provides for a professional development model under which change will be implemented in various areas of maths on a phased basis. The curriculum will be phased in over a number of years covering the following five strands of mathematics:

Phase 1: Strand 1- statistics and probability; Strand 2- geometry and trigonometry

Phase 2: Strand 3- number; Strand 4- algebra

Phase 3: functions

Strands 1 and 2 began in all schools in September 2010 for first examination in 2012 at Leaving Certificate and 2013 at Junior Certificate. Strands 3 and 4 will begin in 2011, and strand 5 will start in 2012.

A comprehensive programme of professional development is being provided for teachers. Support will be provided on a rolling basis as each strand of the curriculum is implemented, and will continue until at least 2013.

Andrew Doyle

Question:

89 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Education and Skills the process for the evaluation of the pilot project maths subject; and if this is to be provided prior to examination correction for the 2011 leaving certificate students. [19239/11]

Project Maths is a major programme of reform in mathematics in second level schools, which is designed to encourage better understanding of mathematics, to reinforce its practical relevance to everyday life, and to ensure better continuity between primary and second level, and junior and senior cycle. It began in 24 project schools in September 2008 and was introduced in all schools in September 2010. Project Maths provides for a professional development model under which change will be implemented in various areas of maths on a phased basis.

Project Maths has been widely welcomed by the partners in education and the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs. Implementation of the programme is monitored by a steering committee representing my Department, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment and the State Examinations Commission. An external research and evaluation programme is also planned.

Special Educational Needs

Seán Crowe

Question:

90 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a school or a parent appeals the removal of a special needs assistant from a child, will the actual appeal process concentrate on that individual child or will the process open up and involve other children in that school who had been left with SNAs in the initial review. [19241/11]

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible for allocating Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools. 10,575 whole time equivalent posts are being provided for the coming school year. To manage this limited resource, 475 of these posts will be retained for allocation over the coming school year to address significant emergency cases; new entrants with special needs; or new assessments or injuries acquired during the school year.

The NCSE will advise schools early in the new school year of a review process to review allocation decisions to ensure that correct procedures were followed and that they comply with my Department's policy. The merits of individual allocation decisions will not be open to appeal under this mechanism.

It will be expected that schools, before requesting a review, will be in a position to demonstrate that they have made every effort to manage their allocation of SNA posts to best effect.

Seán Crowe

Question:

91 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the growing concern and the apparent lack of consistency or use of assessment tools for diagnosis in relation to the assessment of a child or children with special needs or behavioural problems in the current review process. [19242/11]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has responsibility for processing resource applications for children with disabilities who have special educational needs through its regional Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs). The NCSE also has responsibility for planning and co-ordinating the provision of education and support services for students with special educational needs, in accordance with DES policy. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating supports. The responsibility for deciding on the quantum of educational resources to be allocated to pupils with special educational needs resides with the NCSE through the SENO. The consideration of professional reports is an integral part of determining the extent of supports to be provided for pupils with special educational needs. The NCSE has outlined the processes involved in the consideration of applications for special needs supports in its Circular 01/05 which is available on www.ncse.ie. The co-operation and co-ordination of the education and health sectors is critical in the planning and delivery of services to children with special educational needs. The NCSE circular 03/08, which is also available on www.ncse.ie, clarifies the respective roles and functions of the NCSE and the HSE and their respective personnel in carrying out assessments of and sanctioning resources to support children with special educational needs. I wish to advise the Deputy that it is a matter of professional discretion what diagnostic tools are used in the assessment of individual children. If the Deputy has a concern in relation to an individual case I would ask him to forward the details directly to the NCSE.

Seán Crowe

Question:

92 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the growing concern in relation to the withdrawal of special needs assistants and particularly around the way a special needs education organiser in the current review process can make a life changing decision by reading reports and observing a child possibly having a good day over a few minutes. [19243/11]

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible for allocating Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools. 10,575 whole time equivalent posts are being provided for the coming school year. To manage this limited resource, 475 of these posts will be retained for allocation over the coming school year to address significant emergency cases; new entrants with special needs; or new assessments or injuries acquired during the school year.

The NCSE will advise schools early in the new school year of a review process to review allocation decisions to ensure that correct procedures were followed and that they comply with my Department's policy. The merits of individual allocation decisions will not be open to appeal under this mechanism.

It will be expected that schools, before requesting a review, will be in a position to demonstrate that they have made every effort to manage their allocation of SNA posts to best effect.

Seán Crowe

Question:

93 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the growing concern in relation to the withdrawal of special needs assistants and particularly around the way a special needs education organiser can be deemed to be qualified to overrule the recommendations of eminently qualified psychiatrists, medical practitioners or a professional in relation to a child’s special care needs. [19244/11]

I wish to inform the Deputy that 10,575 whole time equivalent (WTE) posts are being provided for SNA support for the coming school year. This is a significant number of posts and unlike other areas of the public sector vacancies are being filled up to this number.

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

The Deputy will be aware that the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN) and Disability Acts set out clearly the role and functions of the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) and the Health Service Executive (HSE) and their staff in carrying out assessments and with regard to the provision of services for children with special educational needs.

Responsibility for deciding on the quantum of educational supports and resources to be allocated to schools, or to individual pupils, rests with the NCSE in accordance with my Department's policy. Whereas health reports provide valuable assistance to education providers in identifying a diagnosis or identifying appropriate interventions, health staff are asked not to include references to the specific quantum of educational resources in their reports, but should state the outcome of tests carried out and the range of needs of the child as clearly as possible as the responsibility for allocating educational supports and resources to children or schools, rests with the NCSE.

School Staffing

Seán Crowe

Question:

94 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a school (details supplied) in Dublin 8, having lost its special class, has been informed that it will not be sanctioned for a full-time resource teacher; his views that this will have a detrimental effect particularly for those children with special needs but also for all pupils in the school; if he will allow the school to appoint a full-time resource teacher thereby allowing the school, which has established a very positive reputation for integrating children with special needs, to maintain its current staffing levels. [19245/11]

My Department has been in correspondence with the school referred to by the Deputy regarding the staffing requirements for 2011/12.

I understand that the concerns raised by the Board of Management and the principal have been addressed.

School Patronage

Seán Crowe

Question:

95 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the review into the school patronage system across the Twenty-six Counties; and if it will be based on giving parents a clearer and more comprehensive choice for their children’s education. [19246/11]

In accordance with the Programme for Government, a Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector was launched in mid April. An Advisory Group, chaired by Professor John Coolahan, is overseeing the work of the Forum. The key issues being addressed by the Forum are 1. How best to establish parental and community demand for diversity in our schools 2. The practicalities of how transfer/divesting of patronage might work 3. How to cater for diversity in an area where there is only one school or a small number of schools The Group is consulting with the key stakeholders and has sought written submissions not only from them but from all interested parties. Over 200 submissions have been received. The Group will present their advice to me in their final report by the end of the year.

Disadvantaged Status

Seán Crowe

Question:

96 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a school (details supplied) in Dublin 24 which, in spite of its catchment and pupil background, has not been granted disadvantaged status. [19247/11]

As the Deputy is aware, DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) is my Department's action plan for educational inclusion, and provides for a standardised system for identifying levels of disadvantage and an integrated School Support Programme (SSP). The action plan has been rolled out over the period since 2006. The process of identifying schools for participation in DEIS, was managed by the Educational Research Centre (ERC) on behalf of my Department and supported by quality assurance work co-ordinated through the Department's regional offices and the Inspectorate. The ERC's overall approach was guided by the definition of educational disadvantage set out in the Education Act (1998), as: "...the impediments to education arising from social or economic disadvantage which prevent students from deriving appropriate benefit from education in schools".

The school to which the Deputy refers was among a number of schools that was judged by an independent identification process in 2005 not to have a sufficient level of disadvantage among their pupils to warrant their inclusion in DEIS. A review mechanism was put in place in 2006 to address the concerns of schools that did not qualify for inclusion in DEIS but regarded themselves as having a level of disadvantage which was of a scale sufficient to warrant their inclusion in the programme. The review process operated under the direction of an independent person, charged with ensuring that all relevant identification processes and procedures were properly followed in the case of schools applying for a review. The review was concluded and the results were notified to schools who applied for the review in August 2006. There was no application for review received from the school in question.

An evaluation of DEIS has been undertaken by the Educational Research Centre on behalf of the Department and a report of this evaluation is being finalised and is expected to be made available in the autumn. It is expected that the evaluation will inform any future changes to the current programme. There will not be an opportunity to consider the inclusion of this school or any other school in DEIS until this process has been completed.

School Curriculum

Seán Crowe

Question:

97 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will ensure that any reform of the junior certificate cycle be accompanied by meaningful consultation with teachers’ unions, teachers’ representatives and education bodies, that a change in the curriculum will endeavour to reduce the pupil-teacher ratio; if he will further ensure that external monitoring of continuous assessment is implemented with adequate funding to deliver the programme; and that adequate in-service training for teachers and additional payment for any extra work carried out by teachers. [19248/11]

Under Section 30 of the Education Act 1998, the curriculum in schools is subject to my approval, following any consultation considered appropriate with the partners in education and the advice of National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA).

The NCCA Council is a representative structure, the membership of which is determined and appointed by the Minister for Education and Skills. The 25 members come from organisations representing teachers, school managers, parents, employers, trade unions, early childhood education, Irish language interests and third-level education. Other members include representatives of the Department of Education and Skills, the State Examinations Commission and a nominee of the Minister. The membership of the NCCA Junior Cycle Committee includes representatives from unions, management bodies, the Post Primary Parents' Council and the State Examinations Commission.

The NCCA has been asked to review the junior certificate and advise on the scope for reform designed to strengthen literacy and numeracy, embed key skills, promote active learning and enhanced creativity and innovation, and ensure appropriate ways of generating evidence of learning. Concerns have also been raised about curriculum overload, and rote learning.

The Council has completed a public consultation process and is finalising its advice to me on the direction of reform, in consultation with the partners in education. I expect the Council's advice in the Autumn and I will not be in a position to comment on the detail of the Council's proposals until then.

Question No. 98 answered with Question No. 34.

Psychological Service

Seán Crowe

Question:

99 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a breakdown per county, the areas currently covered, the amount of psychologists available and the number of posts that are currently filled or remain unfilled by the National Educational Psychological Service. [19250/11]

I can inform the Deputy that all primary and post- primary schools have access to psychological assessments either directly through the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) or through the Scheme for Commissioning Psychological Assessments (SCPA whereby the school can have an assessment carried out by a member of the panel of private psychologists approved by NEPS, and NEPS will pay the psychologist the fees for this assessment directly. NEPS currently directly employs some 174 psychologists stationed in 22 local and regional offices countrywide and assigned to schools in their respective catchment areas. An additional three personnel are due to commence services with NEPS at the commencement of the 2011/12 academic year. The SCPA panel mentioned above currently has 79 psychologists who make themselves available to schools regionally, upon request from school authorities. In regard to commitments within the Programme for Government to further expand NEPS staffing psychologist staffing levels I will be consulting with colleagues within Government in relation to this and other such commitments with a view to the timing of the implementation thereof at which stage I will make my Department's intentions in this regard public.

Special Educational Needs

Seán Crowe

Question:

100 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a comparative analysis of the ratio of pupils and special needs assistants servicing national schools compared to primary schools in the Six Counties. [19251/11]

I wish to inform the Deputy that 10,575 whole time equivalent (WTE) posts are being provided for SNA support for the coming school year. This is a significant number of posts and unlike other areas of the public sector vacancies are being filled up to this number.

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

I wish to advise the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. This now includes a requirement for the NCSE to have regard to an overall cap on the number of SNA posts.

The NCSE has issued a circular to all schools advising of the allocation process for the 2011/2012 school year. A key feature of the amended scheme will be to provide for an annual allocation of Special Needs Assistant support to eligible schools.

The NCSE asked schools to submit all applications for SNA support to them by 18 March, 2011 and are currently in the process of informing schools of their annual SNA allocation for the coming school year.

My Department does not have details of the level of allocation of Special Needs Assistants, or comparative support grades, in Northern Ireland.

Mary Mitchell O'Connor

Question:

101 Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will reconsider the withdrawal of a special needs assistant in respect of a child (details supplied) in view of the exceptional circumstances of the case. [19271/11]

I wish to clarify for the Deputy that Special Needs Assistant (SNA) allocations are not permanent, as the level of SNA support allocated to a school may be increased or decreased as pupils who qualify for SNA support enrol or leave a school. They are also decreased where a child's care needs may have diminished over time.

The recruitment and deployment of SNAs within schools are matters for the individual Principal/Board of Management. The Board is the SNA's employer and the terms of employment are subject to the conditions of the contract of employment.

School Services Staff

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

102 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of special needs assistants in County Meath who have had their contracts terminated since March 2011; and the number of SNAs who will not have their contracts renewed for September 2011. [19279/11]

I wish to inform the Deputy that 10,575 whole time equivalent (WTE) posts are being provided for SNA support for the coming school year. This is a significant number of posts and unlike other areas of the public sector vacancies are being filled up to this number.

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

I wish to advise the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. This now includes a requirement for the NCSE to have regard to an overall cap on the number of SNA posts.

The NCSE has issued a circular to all schools advising of the allocation process for the 2011/2012 school year. A key feature of the amended scheme will be to provide for an annual allocation of Special Needs Assistant support to eligible schools.

The NCSE asked schools to submit all applications for SNA support to them by 18 March, 2011 and are currently in the process of informing schools of their annual SNA allocation for the coming school year. As this process is ongoing, it is not possible to provide details of the level of allocation of SNAs in any given area.

School Enrolments

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

103 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare can obtain a place in the current year at a school in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19290/11]

The selection and enrolment of pupils in schools is the responsibility of the authorities of the individual school. My Department's main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking school places in an area. However, this may result in some pupils not obtaining a place in the school of their first choice. As schools may not have a place for every applicant, a selection process may be necessary. This selection process and the enrolment policy on which it is based must be non-discriminatory and must be applied fairly in respect of all applicants.

Under section 15(2)(d) of the Education Act, 1998, each school is legally obliged to disclose its enrolment policy and to ensure that as regards that policy that principles of equality and the right of parents to send their children to a school of the parents choice are respected.

Section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 provides for an appeal by a parent or guardian to the Secretary General of my Department, or in the case of a Vocational Education Committee (VEC) school to the VEC in the first instance, where a Board of Management of a school, or a person acting on behalf of the Board, refuses to enrol a student in a school. My Department has no authority to compel a school to admit a pupil, except in the case of an appeal under section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 being upheld.

The National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) is the statutory agency which can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child. My officials have discussed the case in question with the NEWB. The parents of the child in question may wish to contact the NEWB who have confirmed that they will offer advice on securing a school placement within the pupil's area. The contact details for the NEWB in the area in question is NEWB, Block 3, South Dublin County Council, Tallaght Dublin 24, Tel: 01 4635513.

Schools Services Staff

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

104 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which it is expected to meet the requirement in respect of special needs assistants at a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; if the full request is likely to be met in the coming year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19291/11]

The Deputy will be aware that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. This now includes a requirement for the NCSE to have regard to an overall cap on the number of SNA posts.

My Department's Circular 0042/2011 provides details of the staffing arrangements which will apply for special schools for the coming school year. This Circular outlines that, other than for special schools which have declining enrolments, the existing levels of Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support will be maintained in special schools for the coming school year, with a review to take place in the Autumn.

Michael McGrath

Question:

105 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the allocation of special needs assistant posts to schools for the 2011-12 school year; if there is any appeal process in place; the amount of an overall budget saving he is achieving through the reductions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19306/11]

I wish to inform the Deputy that there will be more SNA posts this year than there were last year. There is therefore no estimated budget saving.

10,575 whole time equivalent (WTE) posts are being provided for SNA support for the coming school year. This is a significant number of posts and unlike other areas of the public sector vacancies are being filled up to this number. It is considered that with equitable and careful management and distribution of these resources that there should be sufficient posts to provide access to SNA support for all children who require such care support to attend school, in accordance with Departmental criteria.

I wish to advise the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. This now includes a requirement for the NCSE to have regard to an overall cap on the number of SNA posts.

The NCSE has issued a circular to all schools advising of the allocation process for the 2011/2012 school year. A key feature of the amended scheme will be to provide for an annual allocation of Special Needs Assistant support to eligible schools.

The NCSE asked schools to submit all applications for SNA support to them by 18 March, 2011 and are currently in the process of informing schools of their annual SNA allocation for the coming school year. In order to manage this limited resource, 475 of these posts will be retained for allocation over the coming school year to address significant emergency cases; new entrants with special needs; or new assessments or injuries acquired during the school year.

The NCSE will advise schools early in the new school year of a review process to review allocation decisions to ensure that correct procedures were followed and that they comply with my Department's policy. The merits of individual allocation decisions will not be open to appeal under this mechanism.

It will be expected that schools, before requesting a review, will be in a position to demonstrate that they have made every effort to manage their allocation of SNA posts to best effect.

School Staffing

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

106 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 103 of 30 June 2011, the reason he has not given a full and complete response to same; if he will now supply the information requested; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19310/11]

The allocation to date for New Kildare Town Community School is 46 teaching posts.

This includes a concession of 2.50 posts in relation to the amalgamation and 3 posts under projected enrolment for the 2011/12 school year. The 3 posts for projected enrolment are provisionally allocated and are subject to the school confirming enrolment numbers to the Department in early September.

There are two voluntary retirements notified, and all but one of the current teachers are transferring to New Kildare Town Community School in September 2011.

The advertising of new positions for the school is a matter for the school's Board of Management.

Special Educational Needs

Simon Harris

Question:

107 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of special needs assistants which have been assigned to date to schools in County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19325/11]

I wish to inform the Deputy that 10,575 whole time equivalent (WTE) posts are being provided for SNA support for the coming school year. This is a significant number of posts and unlike other areas of the public sector vacancies are being filled up to this number.

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

I wish to advise the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. This now includes a requirement for the NCSE to have regard to an overall cap on the number of SNA posts.

The NCSE has issued a circular to all schools advising of the allocation process for the 2011/2012 school year. A key feature of the amended scheme will be to provide for an annual allocation of Special Needs Assistant support to eligible schools. The NCSE asked schools to submit all applications for SNA support to them by 18th March, 2011 and are currently in the process of informing schools of their annual SNA allocation for the coming school year. While this process is ongoing it is not possible to provide details of the level SNA allocation in any given area.

Schools Building Projects

Peter Mathews

Question:

108 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to his announcement of a new primary school in the Stepaside area of Dublin South, if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a school (details supplied) in Leopardstown is in this catchment area, that it is in prefab accommodation with a capacity of 161 students; and that thousands of houses have been built in this catchment area in recent years; if he will allocate this funding to provide a permanent school building for this school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19356/11]

The building project to deliver a new 24 classroom building for the school referred to by the Deputy is currently at architectural planning stage. The Board of Management was informed last week that the project may proceed to stage 2b, to secure planning permission, fire certificate and disability access certificate.

When the relevant statutory approvals have been obtained and stage 2b completed, and assuming no issues arise, my Department will be in contact with the Board of Management with regard to progressing the project to the tender and construction stages.

Preschool Services

David Stanton

Question:

109 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Skills his roles and responsibilities or any body under his aegis in relation to the development and provision of early years and preschool education; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19385/11]

As the Deputy may be aware, the vast majority of support for childcare, including pre-school education, is not provided by my Department, but is provided by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. The principle vehicle for delivery of pre-school education is the free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme which was introduced in January 2010 and provides early learning in a formal setting to children in the year before they commence primary school.

My Department has funded two practice frameworks (Síolta and Aistear) to support the development of quality provision in pre-school services. Síolta, the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education is a comprehensive set of practice guidelines for all settings where children aged birth to six years are present. Síolta's Quality Assurance Programme is being implemented on a field-test basis by Voluntary Child Care Organisations (VCOs) working in partnership with my Department and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

Aistear, the Curriculum Framework for Early Years was developed by the National council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) who have a remit under the 1998 Education Act to provide advice on curriculum in early childhood. The primary curriculum is currently being reviewed by the NCCA in the context of the forthcoming National Literacy and Numeracy Strategy. The focus of the review will be on how best to enhance children's learning in these areas, provide a clearer delineation of the learning outcomes required, and integrate the learning experiences from Aistear into the infant cycle.

My Department continues to fund the Early Start intervention programme which is a targeted intervention for children at risk of educational disadvantage. The intervention involves an educational programme to enhance overall development, help prevent school failure and offset the effects of social disadvantage. It also funds the Rutland Street Project which was first established in 1969 and is a pre-school attached to the Rutland Street primary school in Dublin. For children under the age of 5, the National Council for Special Education, through its network of Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), liaises with Assessment Officers in the HSE in respect of the assessment of need process under the 2005 Disability Act, 2005. My Department's Circular 0020/2011, which is available on the website and issued to all primary schools earlier this year, clarifies the roles of the NCSE and the HSE in relation to the assessment of need process as well as the role of the school in this regard.

My Department will continue to work in partnership with other departments and agencies to complement and add value to existing Early Years programmes.

Vocational Education Committees

Frank Feighan

Question:

110 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will review the allocation of teacher numbers to Roscommon Vocational Education Committee in view of the fact that current proposals will leave a shortfall of five teaching posts and possible closure of one school; if he will review the position urgently; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19393/11]

Teacher allocations to VEC schemes are approved annually by my Department in accordance with established rules based on recognised pupil enrolment.

In accordance with existing arrangements, where a school management authority is unable to meet its curricular commitments within its approved allocation, my Department considers applications for additional short term support i.e. curricular concessions. An application for curricular concessions was received from Roscommon VEC and the VEC was allocated an additional 37 concessionary hours for the 2011/12 school year. This concession is available as a short term support to enable essential curricular provision to continue. Roscommon VEC was also provisionally allocated 11 hours in respect of increased enrolment for the 2011/12 school year. These hours will be available to the VEC in September on confirmation of the projected increase in enrolments.

The allocation processes also include an appeals mechanism under which VEC's can appeal against the allocation due to them under the staffing schedules. CEO's of the VEC can submit an appeal under certain criteria to an independent Appeal Board which was established specifically to adjudicate on appeals on staffing allocations in post-primary schools. The VEC in question availed of this appeals mechanism and the Appeals Board approved a further 15 concessionary hours for the 2011/12 school year. This Board operates independently of my Department and the decision of the Board is final. Discrete allocations are also made to VEC schools to cater for pupils with Special Educational Needs and those with Language difficulties for example.

In total Roscommon VEC has been allocated 2.86 whole time equivalent teaching posts on a concessionary basis for the 2011/12 academic year and this is a substantial increase in staffing at a time when my Department has to exercise additional control and reporting measures to ensure that the number of teachers employed in schools is consistent with the EU/IMF Programme of Support for Ireland.

All schools must now operate within its approved staffing allocation and each school management authority is required to organise its subject options within the limit of this approved teacher allocation. The deployment of teaching staff, the range of subjects offered and ultimately the quality of teaching and learning are in the first instance a matter for the school management authority.

School Accommodation

Patrick Deering

Question:

111 Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount of money committed for 2011 under the additional accommodation scheme. [19400/11]

€60 million has been allocated in 2011 to meet commitments arising from earlier years and to fund approvals in 2011 under my Department's Additional Accommodation Scheme.

School Services Staff

Patrick Deering

Question:

112 Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Education and Skills if will extend the time line beyond the current 12 month period to allow special needs assistants, who have had their working hours changed, to apply for part redundancy. [19401/11]

The rules and regulations governing the submission of redundancy claims are set down by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. The Department of Education and Skills has no discretion to alter the terms of the scheme.

Schools Building Projects

Anthony Lawlor

Question:

113 Deputy Anthony Lawlor asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a detailed outline of plans to address the overcrowding situation in primary and secondary schools in Kildare North, taking into consideration that the school going age of children in County Kildare has experienced a significant increase in recent years, according to Census 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19402/11]

The Forward Planning Section of my Department has examined all areas of the country to determine where additional provision will be required at both primary and post-primary level up to 2017. This detailed analysis is now being finalised and action plans are being drawn up for each priority location in order to identify how to meet the additional school accommodation.

It is within this context that I announced that up to 40 new schools are to be established within the next six years, comprising of twenty new primary schools and twenty new post-primary schools, including a new primary school in Kildare town and new second level schools in Naas, Maynooth and Celbridge. In addition it will be necessary to extend the capacity of many existing schools to meet the demand for increased pupil places.

Special Educational Needs

Finian McGrath

Question:

114 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will not cut the special needs assistant at a school (details supplied) in Dublin 3. [19413/11]

I wish to inform the Deputy that 10,575 whole time equivalent (WTE) posts are being provided for SNA support for the coming school year. This is a significant number of posts and unlike other areas of the public sector vacancies are being filled up to this number.

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

I wish to advise the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. This now includes a requirement for the NCSE to have regard to an overall cap on the number of SNA posts. The NCSE has issued a circular to all schools advising of the allocation process for the 2011/2012 school year. A key feature of the amended scheme will be to provide for an annual allocation of Special Needs Assistant support to eligible schools. The NCSE asked schools to submit all applications for SNA support to them by 18th March, 2011 and are currently in the process of informing schools of their annual SNA allocation for the coming school year.

FÁS Training Programmes

John Lyons

Question:

115 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide details of the number of persons in FÁS training programmes by area, who have a qualification at a given level on the National Framework of Qualifications, who are now undertaking courses at the same level of the framework; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19419/11]

John Lyons

Question:

116 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide details of the number of persons in FÁS training programmes from Dublin north west, who have a qualification at a given level on the National Framework of Qualifications, who are now undertaking courses at the same level of the framework; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19420/11]

John Lyons

Question:

117 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide details of the number of persons in FÁS training programmes by area, who have a qualification at a given level of the National Framework of Qualifications, who are now undertaking courses at a higher level on the national framework; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19421/11]

John Lyons

Question:

118 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide details of the number of persons in FÁS training programmes from Dublin north west, who have a qualification at a given level of the National Framework of Qualifications, who are now undertaking courses at a higher level on the national framework; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19422/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 115 to 118, inclusive, together.

FÁS does not routinely report certification statistics by individual in the form that the Deputy has requested. However, FÁS can provide indicative statistics in response to the Deputy's questions , but it may take FÁS a couple of weeks to compile the information . When the statistics are available they will be sent to the Deputy.

Question No. 119 answered with Question No. 51.

School Staffing

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

120 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the degree to which the full requirements in respect of speech and language teaching have been determined; the extent to which these requirements are expected to be met now and in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19456/11]

It would appear that the Deputy is referring to the arrangements that are applying for 2011/12 to Language Support Teachers in schools.

A phased reduction in the number of Language Support Teachers was one of a number of measures introduced in Budget 2011 in order to contain the cost of the public sector wage bill. However, due to increased pressure on teacher numbers, it has proved necessary to apply a reduction greater than planned. This measure is necessary to ensure that the terms of agreement with EU/IMF are adhered to. Schools that made application, where more than 25% of the enrolment would qualify for language support, have had their applications assessed on the basis of the same criteria as last year. However, for schools with less than 25% of the school population requiring language support, only those pupils requiring language support for their first or second year counted for the purpose of determining their allocation.

The criteria on the number of children outlined in Circular 15/2009 still applies, i.e. the first post is granted where there are 14 to 30 eligible children, the second post granted for between 31 and 90 children, the third post granted for between 91 and 120 eligible children, and the fourth post for between 91 and 120 eligible children. Applications for part-time language support posts will be considered in the autumn. Decisions on this issue are framed in the context of the Employment Control Framework under the EU/IMF agreement.

School Transport

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

121 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will review the school transport curtailments inherited from his predecessor with a view to the introduction of a fairer and more efficient system with an emphasis on reduction of hardship for parents and children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19457/11]

The changes relating to the School Transport Scheme derive from decisions of the previous Fianna Fáil-Green Party Government to implement recommendations in the School Transport Value for Money review and the need to obtain savings of €17 million under the four year national recovery plan. The school transport changes at primary and post primary level will, in fact, result in a simplified, fairer and more efficient system for a number of reasons:

Eligible children who hold medical cards, currently 42% of all post primary children or some 27,000 children, will continue to be exempt from paying any charge. This exemption will also apply in respect of the new primary charge. This means that the parents and children most in need will continue to be supported.

Children with special educational needs continue to travel free of charge

The combined maximum family charge remains unchanged at €650, or a maximum outlay of €3.55 per day per family based on the primary standardised school year of 183 days. The payment of the school transport charge may also be spread over two instalments, payable in July and December.

The distance criterion at primary level will now be applied equitably, nationally.

School transport eligibility will be to the nearest school, having regard to ethos and language.

Schools Building Projects

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

122 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he expects to be in a position to fulfil, in full or in part, the school building programme in the course of the coming year, with particular reference to requests for additional or replacement facilities or buildings the need for which has been identified in the previous five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19458/11]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

124 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the new schools in County Kildare likely to be opened in the next 12 months; the extent to which this meets the requirement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19460/11]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

125 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number and location of school building projects in County Kildare; the number in respect of which construction work is in progress; the number still at planning stage; the degree to which it is intended to advance such works in the course of the next 12 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19461/11]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

127 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of schools at primary and secondary level throughout the country at present which are deemed to be urgently in need of refurbishment or replacement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19463/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 122, 124, 125 and 127 together.

Based on my Department's most recent statistics, it is expected that enrolments will increase nationally from a current enrolment at primary level of circa 509,652 pupils to circa 552,800 pupils by 2017 and at post-primary level from a current enrolment of circa 317,432 pupils to circa 342,300 pupils by 2017. My Department is currently examining all areas of the country to determine where additional provision will be required at both primary and post-primary level up to 2017. This analysis will inform the development of a multi-annual plan for capital investment in schools.

It is within this context that I recently announced that up to 40 new schools are to be established within the next six years, comprising of twenty new primary schools and twenty new post-primary schools. Of the 40 new schools, 17 will be in the Dublin area with a further twelve in the commuter belt of Wicklow, Kildare, Meath and Louth. Six new schools will be established in Cork, three in Galway and one each in Wexford and Cavan.

In addition, it will be necessary to extend the capacity of many existing schools to meet the demand for increased pupil places. Should the demand for increased pupil places emerge in County Kildare, it may be necessary to increase the capacity of schools in the area. Decisions in this regard will be taken in due course.

All large scale building projects, including proposed projects for Kildare, from initial design through to construction phase will be considered on an ongoing basis within the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme and available financial resources.

Meanwhile, the current status of all projects on the school building programme, including those in County Kildare, may be viewed on my Department's website at www.education.ie and this will be updated regularly throughout the year. For the Deputy’s convenience, however, I am including a spreadsheet setting out the proposed projects for schools in Kildare and their current status.

Projects in County Kildare

Projects on Site

Roll No

School

Project

Band Rating

Status

11976

Scoil Choca Naofa, Kilcock

Extension/Refurbishment

1.1

In Construction

17662R

Scoil Bhride, Kill

New School

1.1

In Construction

18654A

Caragh National School, Naas

Extension/Refurbishment

1.1

In Construction

06209J

Athy Model School, Athy

Extension/Refurbishment

1.1

In Construction

20192A

Scoil Atha I, Athy

Extension/Refurbishment

1.1

In Construction

16705E

Scoil Phadraig Naofa, Athy

New School

1.1

In Construction

61710C

Meanscoil Iognaid Rís, Naas

Extension/Refurbishment

1.1

In Construction

17674B

Sn Aine Naofa, Ardclough

New School

1.1

In Construction

20058T

Scoil Ui Fiach, Maynooth

New School

1.1

In Construction

20271T

Scoil na Naomh Uilig, Newbridge

Extension/Refurbishment

1.1

In Construction

Projects at Tender Stage

Roll No

School

Project

Band Rating

Status

20114D

Scoil Brid, Naas

Extension/Refurbishment

1.1

Tenders received

18018S

Scoil Bhride, Rathdangan

Extension/Refurbishment

1.1

Tenders received

Projects to Secure Planning Permission

Roll No

School

Project

Band Rating

Status

09414C

St Laurences NS Crookstown

New School

1.1

Completing Stage 2(a) Developed Design

Projects to Complete Tender Documents

Roll No

School

Project

Band Rating

Status

17064U

Scoil Phadraig Ballylinan

New School

2.2

Completing Stage 2(b) (Tender Documents)

Other Projects in Architectural Planning

Roll No

School

Project

Band Rating

Status

18988G

St Raphaels Special School Celbridge

New School / Refurbishment

1.2

At Early Architectural Planning

19277B

St Anne’s Special School Newbridge

New School / Extention

1.2

At Early Architectural Planning

19796C

St Patrick’s BNS Clane

Extension

1.1

At Early Architectural Planning

70700A

Maynooth Post Primary

Extension/Refurbishment

1.1

At Early Architectural Planning

Projects where Briefs will be formulated in 2011 and the process of appointing a Design Team will commence

Roll No

School

Project

Band Rating

Status

15040T

Mercy Convent NS, Naas

Extension/Refurb

Band 1

Brief Formulation. Design Team stage

19797E

Scoil Naisiunta Bhride Prosperous Road,

Extension/Refurb

Band 1

Brief Formulation/Design Team stage.

20257C

Sc Naomh Padraig, Celbridge

New School

Band 1

Brief Formulation/Design Team stage.

19675N

St Brigids N S, Kilcullen

Special Needs

Band 1

Brief Formulation/Design Team stage

18288B

Scoil Mhichil Naofa, Athy

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Brief Formulation/Design Team stage

16706G

St Josephs BNS, Kilcock

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Brief Formulation/Design Team stage

11893G

St Davids NS., Naas

New School

Band 2

Brief Formulation/Design Team stage

15957D

St Patrick’s Boys NS, Rathangan

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Design Team stage

Applications for Major Capital Projects

Roll No

School

Project

Band Rating

Status

01821V

S N Rath Mor, Naas

New School

Band 1

Application

13328I

Newbridge 2 N S

Extension/Refurbishment

Band 2

Application

13902O

Hewetsons N S, Clane

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Application

15599D

St Brigids Primary School Kildare Town (Kildare)

Extension/Refurb

Band 3

Application

15769C

Monasterevan Convent, Monasterevan

Extension/Refurb

Band 3

Application

15870O

Scoil Chonnla Phadraig, Newbridge

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Application

16302F

St Brigids N S, Ballysax

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Application

16707I

Scoil Naisiunta Naomh Pheadar, Monasterevan

New School

Band 2

Application

16817P

Brannoxtown N S, Brannockstown

New School

Band 2

Application

16845U

Rathcoffey N S, Rathcoffey

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Application

17254C

St Corban’s Primary School, Naas

Extension/Refurb

Band 1

Design Team to be appointed

17341U

Maynooth Boys’ NS

Extension/Refurb

Band 1

Design Team to be appointed

17650K

Scoil Ide Naofa, Kilmead

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Application

17872F

St Conleths And Marys N S, Newbridge

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Application

17873H

S N Connlaodh Naofa N, Newbridge

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Application

17931S

S N Brighde, Ticknevin

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Application

17968S

Ursaille Naofa Teach, An Da Mhile

New School

Band 2

Application

18063A

S N Naomh Lorcain, Levitstown

Extension/Refurb

Band 3

Application

18093J

S N Cloch Rinnce Cloch Rinnce (Kildare)

Extension/Refurb

Band 1

Application

18130M

St Patricks NS, Johnstownbridge

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Application

18430B

S N Baile, Robertstown,

Extension/Refurbishment

Band 2

Application

18445O

S N Scoil Treasa, Kilshanroe

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Application

18449W

St Conleths N S, Derrinturn

Extension/Refurb

Band 3

Application

18644U

Straffan N S, Straffan

Extension/Refurb

Band 1

Application

18650P

Newtown NS, Enfield

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Application

18666H

Tiremohan National School, Donadea, Naas

Extension/Refurb

Band 1

Application

19794V

Scoil Mochua, Aghards, Celbridge

Extension/Refurb

Band 1

Application

61681V

Patrician Secondary School, Newbridge

Extension

Band 2

Application

61690W

Cross And Passion College Kilcullen (Kildare)

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Application

70660O

Curragh Post-Primary School Mcswiney Road, Curragh

New School

Band 2

Application

70670R

Colaiste Lorcain, Castledermot

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Application

70680U

St. Conleths Vocational School, Newbridge

Extension/Refurb

Band 1

Design Team to be appointed

70710D

St Patrick’S Community College, Naas

New School

Band 2

Application

91371B

Leixlip Community School, Celbridge Road

Extension/Refurb

Band 1

Application

19455N

St. Marks Special School, Newbridge

Extension/Refurb

Band 1

Application

70720G

St. Farnan’s Post Primary

18096P

Coill Dubh NS, Naas

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Application

Extension/Refurb

Band 2

Application

Education Policy

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

123 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he intends to take in general to alleviate the impact of curtailment of plans brought about by the economic situation he inherited, with particular reference to pupil-teacher ratios, overcrowded classrooms and inadequate school buildings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19459/11]

The process of allocating teaching resources to schools for 2011/2012 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.

At this point I do not propose to give any specific commitment on the allocation of teachers to schools for the 2012/13 school year. The number of teaching posts that we can afford to fund in schools is a matter that I will have to consider with my colleagues in Cabinet in the context of the next budget and meeting our obligations under the EU/IMF Programme.

The National Recovery Plan 2011-2014 makes provision for a net increase of just over 2,000 posts across the education sector between the end of 2010 and the end of 2014. Clearly the latest information from the census will have to be factored into those deliberations.

As the Deputy will be aware, the National Recovery Plan provided for consultation with the education partners in relation to how best to achieve a further reduction in teacher payroll costs from 2012. It envisaged the introduction of appropriate increases in the classroom teacher allocation schedules if the consultation process did not produce alternative feasible measures to deliver the required savings.

My Department has commenced this consultation process. The education partners at primary and post-primary level have been given the opportunity to contribute this month to the process of identifying a range of measures that the Government can consider in order to achieve a further reduction in teacher payroll costs from the school year 2012/13.

Based on my Department's most recent statistics, it is expected that enrolments will increase nationally from a current enrolment at primary level of circa 509,652 pupils to circa 552,800 pupils by 2017 and at post-primary level from a current enrolment of circa 317,432 pupils to circa 342,300 pupils by 2017. My Department is currently examining all areas of the country to determine where additional provision will be required at both primary and post-primary level up to 2017.

It is within this context that I recently announced that up to 40 new schools are to be established within the next six years, comprising of twenty new primary schools and twenty new post-primary schools. Of the 40 new schools, 17 will be in the Dublin area with a further twelve in the commuter belt of Wicklow, Kildare, Meath and Louth. Six new schools will be established in Cork, three in Galway and one each in Wexford and Cavan. In addition, it will be necessary to extend the capacity of many existing schools to meet the demand for increased pupil places.

The current status of all projects on my Department's school building programme may be viewed on my Department's website at www.education.ie and this will be updated regularly throughout the year.

Questions Nos. 124 and 125 answered with Question No. 122.
Question No. 126 answered with Question No. 34.
Question No. 127 answered with Question No. 122.
Question No. 128 answered with Question No. 26.

Schools Building Projects

Frank Feighan

Question:

129 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding devolved funding for an extension to a special school (details supplied) in County Roscommon; and if he will expedite the matter in view of extra pressure on this facility due to the SNA situation. [19466/11]

I can confirm that the school to which the Deputy refers has applied to my Department for funding to provide ancillary accommodation and for refurbishment works. Additional information was sought from the school authority in relation to the application. This information has now been received and the application is currently being assessed. A decision will be conveyed to the school authority when the assessment process has been completed.

School Inspections

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

130 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the process by which he can address the failure of a board of management to implement changes recommended by a whole-school evaluation inspector. [19468/11]

Responsibility for the implementation of recommendations arising from inspection reports rests primarily with the board of management and the principal and staff of the school.

Following the in-school evaluation phase of a whole-school evaluation, the evaluation team meets with the board of management, principal and staff of the school to discuss the findings and recommendations of the WSE. A representative of the patron and a nominee of the parents' association are also invited to a post-evaluation meeting. The inspectors from my Department draw the attention of staff and school management to issues that require improvement, including any issues of serious concern if such have been identified. The inspectors also provide practical advice on how improvements can be achieved.

A particularly important feature of the new Whole-School Evaluation — Management, Leadership and Learning (WSE-MLL) model of inspection for post-primary schools is the specific procedure built into that inspection process for following up on whether or not a school has implemented the recommendations of previous subject inspections or programme evaluations.

Prior to the publication of the WSE report on the website of my Department, the board of management of the school has an opportunity to respond to the findings of the evaluation. Many boards use this opportunity to record how the school will seek to improve its work. In the vast majority of cases, the post-evaluation meetings and the written evaluation report are sufficient to ensure that improvement takes place.

In a very small number of cases, the weaknesses identified through external evaluation of the school are so significant that intervention is required to assist the school improvement agenda. In some instances the shortcomings may relate to failure to implement key recommendations arising from previous evaluations.

In response to the need for intervention in these serious cases, the Department established a School Improvement Group (SIG) in 2008 to ensure that improvement happens following inspection. The School Improvement Group comprises members of the Inspectorate and officials from the Department's Schools Division and other relevant divisions. This group coordinates the Department's actions in following up on the recommendations from the inspection.

The experience of the School Improvement Group has shown that where serious weaknesses are identified in schools, interventions and supports need to be tailored to the particular circumstances and context of each case. The starting point in any intervention by the Department is to ensure that the management of the school fully appreciates the need for improvement and change and can take the necessary steps to access any supports that may be needed to bring about improvement. This is normally progressed through an initial meeting with the management and/or patron/trustees and by follow-up contact and meetings where the management report on progress.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

131 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the process by which a complaint can be made to him that a board of management has failed to implement changes recommended by a whole-school evaluation inspector. [19469/11]

In accordance with the provisions of the Education Act 1998, the Board of Management is the body charged with the direct governance of a school. The Education Act sets out the obligations of a recognised school including the requirement to make appropriate educational provision for its students and to ensure that the education provided meets curriculum requirements. The act also requires each school to establish and maintain systems whereby the efficiency and effectiveness of the school's operations can be assessed, including the quality and effectiveness of teaching in the school and the attainment levels and academic standards of students. Working under the direction of the board, the school principal and staff are responsible for the quality of education provided on a day-to-day basis.

Responsibility for the implementation of recommendations arising from inspection reports rests primarily with the board of management and the principal and staff of the school. Where there is concern that a recommendation for improvement has not been implemented, the concern or complaint should be referred to the board of management of the school in question.

Language Support Provision

John McGuinness

Question:

132 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the two teachers required by a school (details supplied) in County Carlow who will teach English as an additional language will be approved as a matter of urgency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19473/11]

Significant support is given to schools by way of language support provision. The level of extra teaching support provided in respect of language support to any school is determined by the numbers of eligible pupils enrolled and the associated assessed levels of those pupils' language proficiency. This is done through an annual application process in the Spring/Summer of each year. The school referred to by the Deputy lodged an appeal to the Primary Staffing Appeals Board for a review of its allocation for language support for the 2011/12 school year (Circular 15/2009). Having considered the case at its meeting on 30 June 2011, the Board refused the appeal and the school has been notified of the outcome. The Appeal Board operates independently of the Department and its decision is final.

Pension Provisions

Ciara Conway

Question:

133 Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the position regarding pension payments for workers of a company (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19274/11]

Ciara Conway

Question:

134 Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when a final decision will issue on the pensions insolvency payment scheme with respect to former workers of a company (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19277/11]

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

The Pensions Insolvency Payment Scheme (PIPS) offers annuities for sale to defined benefit DB schemes where the scheme is winding-up and where the parent company is insolvent. Waterford Crystal trustees now wish to finalise applications for two of the Waterford schemes to enter PIPS.

A proposal relating to a number of aspects of these applications was sent by the Waterford trustees to the Department of Finance in January last. That proposal requested that a particular approach be adopted to the pricing of Waterford's applications. This request raised a number of important and complex issues and an examination of these matters is being carried out by officials of my Department. That examination is now at an advanced stage and I hope, therefore, to be in a position to respond to the proposal in the very near future. I regret the time taking to deal with this matter which was in part due to the complex nature of the issues involved and the fact that the applications from Waterford are the first to be made to PIPS.

National Lottery Funding

Michael McCarthy

Question:

135 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will provide a breakdown in the allocation of funding for the national lottery in respect of each of the years 2009, 2010 and 2011, to specify the amount of funding allocated to the fund each year; the amount of funding administered to individual recipient programmes per year in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19319/11]

The surplus generated by the National Lottery is transferred annually to the Exchequer and is applied to part-fund the Exchequer allocations to a specified range of expenditure subheads across various Votes. It is not, a priori, allocated by specific spending headings as such. The amount transferred to the Exchequer from the National Lottery surplus, together with details of the total Exchequer allocations to the relevant lottery supported subheads, are published each year in Appendix 1 of the annual Revised Estimates for Public Services which gives a breakdown of allocations by programme.

The following information, contained in Appendix 1 of the Revised Estimates for Public Services, shows the allocation of funding by Department for 2009 and 2010. Similar information in relation to 2011 will be available in the Revised Estimates for Public Services for 2011, which will be published shortly.

Allocations to Government Departments for subheads that are part-funded by the National Lottery (€m)

Departments

2009

2010

Vote 6 Department of Finance

8.618

8.618

Vote 25 Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government

90.459

91.590

Vote 26 Department of Education and Skills

1.148

1.060

Vote 27 Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs

97.289

88.716

Vote 35 Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport

183.765

168.263

Vote 36 Department of Defence

0.800

-

Vote 39 Department of Health and Children

3.985

3.786

Vote 40 Health Service Executive

9.983

10.052

Vote 41 Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs

39.340

38.600

Total

435.387

410.685

Of which: transferred to the Exchequer from the surplus of the National Lottery

275.000

250.000

In short, the lottery surplus funds around 61% over the total spending under these headings.

State Properties

Simon Harris

Question:

136 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Finance if he will outline the sites owned by the Office of Public Works at a location (details supplied) in County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19331/11]

The information requested by the Deputy is currently being investigated by the Office of Public Works (OPW), who will revert directly to the Deputy once the relevant data has been compiled.

Flood Relief

Michael McGrath

Question:

137 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding a flood relief project (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will confirm when this project was referred to the Office of Public Works by the local authority. [19344/11]

The Office of Public Works received a funding application from Cork County Council in February 2011, under the Minor Flood Mitigation Works Scheme, to undertake works at the location concerned. The OPW is continuing its assessment of the application, has undertaken a site inspection and is also in further consultation with the Council in the matter. A decision on providing funding for the application will be made on the conclusion of the assessment, in accordance with the criteria of the scheme and having regard to the overall availability of resources for flood risk management.

Departmental Expenditure

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

138 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to publish the consolidated comprehensive spending review following the presentation of the same to the Cabinet in September. [19409/11]

Ministers have been working with their Departments over the last number of weeks to complete reviews of all expenditure under their auspices, including in all public service bodies. These Reports are now being submitted to the Steering Committee for evaluation and finalised reports will be presented to the Governmental Economic Management Committee in September. The results of the Comprehensive Review process will then be brought before Government for consideration and decision in the annual Budget and Estimates process later this year. The question of publication of the outcome of the Comprehensive Review in respect of each Department will arise for consideration in that overall context.

Information and Communications Technology

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

139 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the managing director of a company (details supplied) has admitted that cloud data is not protected against the USA Patriot Act and his plans to raise this at EU level with the Commissioner. [19348/11]

My attention had not been drawn to the specific comments of the UK company MD to which the deputy refers. However, I am aware that the Irish equivalent company point out that cloud data is not in any different position than any other kind of data in terms of its exposure to government access, whether by the US or many other countries.

A recent report by ENISA, the EU body responsible for information security concluded that holding data in the cloud could represent both a risk and a protection in that the concentrations of data may be an attractive target but the economies of scale can allow defences to be more robust. The Irish Data Protection Commissioner has pointed out that robust EU and national data protection laws must be complied with and that the legislation is technology neutral and must be complied with equally when data is moved to the cloud.

Ireland is extremely well-placed to take advantage of the rapidly-growing international potential of cloud computing. A recent report commissioned by Microsoft has estimated that by 2014 the cloud computing industry in Ireland could be worth €9.5 billion and employ 8,600 people. Now more than ever we must do everything we can to seize opportunities like this. I do not believe that these jobs will be created automatically, and Government must act decisively and urgently if we are to position Ireland as a world leader in this high-growth sector. In May I announced the establishment of a €5 million applied research centre in cloud computing, which will bring industry and researchers in this sector together in order to turn good ideas into good jobs. I have also established a cross-Government implementation group on cloud computing, to support the implementation of the ambitious programme for Government commitment on cloud computing.

Job Losses

Gerry Adams

Question:

140 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the steps he has taken to promote job retention and to counteract the tendency of companies to move off-shore jobs from Ireland to countries such as Egypt and India. [19354/11]

Many of the recent jobs losses which have occurred are as a result of the restructuring process which has been going on in industry in Ireland and around the world whereby on the one hand, overall job numbers in individual companies have been reduced at plants around the world in response to the recession in 2007/2008, and on the other hand, activities (and hence jobs) at the lower end of the value added scale are being phased out as these activities would become uneconomic in particular locations.

In Ireland, such job losses are now at a much lower level than in 2009 and in 2010 there was a net increase in jobs in IDA client companies. Reductions in costs across the economy including labour costs, energy, property and accommodation are having a positive impact and further reductions in costs will be a key contributor to further competitiveness gains. Productivity enhancement through research and innovation also gives Ireland a competitive advantage against lower cost economies.

In March 2010, IDA published "Horizon 2020”, its strategy for the forthcoming decade, Horizon 2020 sets out IDA’s targets for the five-year period to 2014 as well as the agency’s view of how the environment in which we operate will change over the next decade and the opportunities for FDI created by global trends. The investment targets set out in this strategy include the creation of 105,000 new jobs in Ireland from the period 2010-2014.

IDA's strategy includes winning as many new jobs as possible each year and giving equal priority to maintaining existing jobs. The agency recognises that jobs losses occur every year for a variety of reasons including changing competitiveness, competition from sister sites, product and technology lifecycles or global location rationalisation as a result of mergers and acquisitions.

To address the need to maintain jobs in Ireland, IDA is actively encouraging its existing clients to strongly engage in transformation initiatives, and is assisting them in programmes to:

Improve company-wide competitiveness;

Enhance use of new technologies;

Grow the skills of the business;

Engage in Research, Development and Innovation;

Develop new business processes; and

Make company operations more energy efficient.

There is a requirement to have a constant agenda to support clients to improve and invest to transform their Irish operations to ensure jobs can be maintained and losses minimised. I have every confidence that the combined influence of Ireland's increased competitiveness in business costs, commitment to our 12.5% corporate tax rate, transformation of agency client operations and activities, national infrastructure development, the Government's investment strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation and development of growth markets will continue to attract and increase the level of inward investment and industrial jobs in Ireland.

Departmental Agencies

John Deasy

Question:

141 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will detail the employees of Enterprise Ireland and the Industrial Development Agency who are physically based in Limerick city and county; and if he will identify their positions within those organisations. [19358/11]

John Deasy

Question:

142 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will detail the employees of Enterprise Ireland and the Industrial Development Agency who are physically based in Galway city and county; and if he will identify their positions within those organisations. [19359/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 141 and 142 together.

The allocation of staff between the various offices of both IDA and Enterprise Ireland is a day-to-day operational matter for each agency. I have asked each agency to respond to you directly in the matter.

Employment Rights

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

143 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding low paid workers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19405/11]

Earlier today, the High Court issued its ruling in a legal challenge, taken by John Grace Fried Chicken Ltd and others, to the Joint Labour Committee system and the 2008 Employment Regulation Order (ERO) covering the Catering Sector outside of Dublin. The High Court ruled that certain provisions of the Industrial Relations Acts of 1946 and 1990 governing the making of EROs are unconstitutional and that the 2008 ERO constituted an unlawful and disproportionate interference in the property rights of the plaintiffs. I am currently considering the implications of the judgment in consultation with the Attorney General.

The overall finding of the Report of the Review of Employment Regulations Orders and Registered Employment Agreement Wage Setting Mechanisms was that the basic framework of the current ERO/REA regulatory system requires radical overhaul so as to make it fairer and more responsive to changing economic circumstances and labour market conditions. The Report does not recommend, nor have I proposed, specific adjustments in wage rates and other conditions of employment for employees covered by EROs/REAs.

Workers are protected by contracts of employment and proposed reform of the wage setting mechanisms would not if implemented, change the terms of those individual contracts. What is proposed would have the effect of changing how pay and conditions are set in order to make the operation of the machinery more flexible and prevent businesses being left behind by changing economic circumstances. Existing employees would not have their current entitlement affected by future changes to EROs unless (a) it is already stipulated in their contract of employment that they be paid at the prevailing rate of pay and conditions set by the relevant ERO or (b) the application of alternative provisions to those specified in the ERO is agreed between the employer and the employee or the employee's representatives.

The Government is determined to proceed with urgency to a substantial reform of the current JLC / REA regulatory system in order to protect existing jobs in these vulnerable sectors of the economy and to increase the likelihood of employment in these sectors being increased. This will restore competitiveness in key sectors of the economy, including the hospitality sector which is crucial to our tourism product offering, and complement the restoration of the recent cut to the National Minimum Wage thereby providing an adequate floor for lower paid workers.

Together with the decision to restore the National Minimum Wage to €8.65 per hour, the decision to reform the Joint Labour Committee structure represents a significant commitment by the Government to the lowest paid and most vulnerable workers in the economy.

Employment Support Services

Pearse Doherty

Question:

144 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the position regarding discussions between his Department and other relevant Departments on the programme for Government commitment to construct a €100 million microfinance start-up fund that will provide start-up loans and equity that draws funding from the National Pensions Reserve Fund and private institutional funds. [18604/11]

As Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, I recognises the importance of supporting business start-ups if we are to encourage entrepreneurship and create more jobs. I also acknowledge that micro enterprises can find it very difficult to access funding from traditional sources, particularly at start-up phase.

For this reason, the Minister for Finance and I confirmed on 10 May last, as part of the recent Jobs Initiative, that the Government is committed to setting up a dedicated Microfinance Start-Up Fund that will provide start-up and expansion loans to potentially viable businesses at the micro level. The Fund, including scheme design and appropriate delivery mechanisms, will be developed with a view to formalising proposals in the context of Budget 2012.

My Department is taking the lead on this initiative and has almost concluded detailed discussions with relevant stakeholders, including the Department of Finance, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the European Investment Bank. Work is currently progressing on the development of a suitable model for delivery.

Credit Guarantee Scheme

Pearse Doherty

Question:

145 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the position regarding the programme for Government commitment to provide a temporary partial credit guarantee scheme that will provide a level of insurance to banks against losses on qualifying loans to job creation firms to get banks lending again to industry and entrepreneurs; if he will provide an estimation of the level of insurance to be provided; and if he will further provide an explanation as to the reason the scheme will only be temporary. [18603/11]

The Deputy will be aware that as part of the Jobs Initiative announced in this House on 10 May, both the Minister for Finance and I confirmed the commitment given under the Programme for Government to initiate 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 with a closing date of 7 July 2011.

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 a targeted scheme aimed at new companies or expanding companies trying to develop new products or markets that can demonstrate repayment capacity for the additional credit facilities but which cannot secure credit facilities, due to certain market failures that pre-date but have been exasperated by the financial crisis. The level of any guarantee to be provided will be an intrinsic element of the scheme design and is one of the key issues to be addressed by the current tendering process.

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 any commitment to a roll-over of the scheme for subsequent years. The temporary credit guarantee scheme will complement the Government actions to date plans on the restructuring and recapitalisation of the banking system.

It is envisaged that the introduction of a temporary scheme should provide lenders with a sufficient period within which to address the types of market failures identified above for coverage under the scheme. With a restructured and properly functioning banking sector the need for any partial credit guarantee scheme should reduce over time.

Social Welfare Payments

Joan Collins

Question:

146 Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will examine the case of a person (details supplied) who was refused rent supplement on the basis that they had vacated local authority housing; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19282/11]

In order to qualify for a payment under the rent supplement scheme a person must first satisfy a number of qualifying conditions. The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that the persons concerned were refused rent supplement for a number of reasons: · they vacated accommodation provided by a housing authority without good cause for doing so, · they are not assessed by the housing authority as having a housing need, and · they were not residing in private rented accommodation, where at the commencement of the tenancy the person could have reasonably afforded the rent and has experienced a substantial change in his or her circumstances where they are now unable to pay the rent, for 183 days in the previous 12 months.

The persons concerned appealed the decision to the HSE Appeals Office and to the Social Welfare Appeals Office but the decision to refuse rent supplement was upheld on both occasions. The persons concerned should contact their local authority in relation to their housing needs.

FÁS Training Programmes

Michael McGrath

Question:

147 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection her plans to change the terms of the FÁS work placement programme for participants in view of the fact that participants in the new national internship scheme receive an amount of €50 in addition to the retention of their welfare benefits. [19289/11]

The FÁS Work Placement Programme and the new JobBridge National Internship Scheme are two separate schemes. The Work Placement Programme will continue to operate and will offer people another stream through which to obtain valuable work experience. I have no plans to change the terms of the Programme at this time.

John Lyons

Question:

148 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of meetings on average a person who signs on the live register would have with an adviser from FÁS within the first year of their claim; the length of time it takes on average, by area, from the initial claim, for FÁS to contact these persons to arrange such meetings; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19417/11]

John Lyons

Question:

162 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Social Protection if in view of the increased numbers of persons who are now classified as long-term unemployed, she will provide details, by area, of the average length of time it takes for a person who signs on the live register to be entered into a mentoring programme which includes career, education and training advice from a skilled adviser; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19418/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 148 and 162 together.

The National Employment Action Plan (NEAP) is the main activation measure for jobseekers and provides for a systematic engagement of the employment services with unemployed people. Under the plan, all eligible persons between the ages of 18 and 65 years who are approaching 3 months on the Live Register, are identified by the Department of Social Protection and referred to FÁS Employment Services' Officers (ESOs) for interview with the aim of assisting them to enter/re-enter the labour market. The number of interviews/meetings people referred through the NEAP will have with an ESO or a Local Employment Services (LES) Mediator will vary depending on each client's individual needs. Self-referred clients may also have a guidance interview with an ESO/LES Mediator with subsequent meetings depending on individual needs and circumstances. The NEAP process is a key element in addressing the progression needs of those on the Live Register. It provides a stimulus to job search and affords an opportunity to explore, under professional guidance, the full range of employment and training services offered by the Employment Services. In this context, FÁS, in its role as the national training service, will deliver at least 90,000 training places for the unemployed in 2011.

People remain on the live register while engaged with the Employment Service under the NEAP until they take up offers of employment or training. If they do not attend for interview with the Employment Service or, having engaged, decline offers of employment or training, their cases are referred back to the social welfare local office for review to determine if they continue to satisfy the conditions for receipt of jobseekers payments. There is a statutory obligation on recipients of jobseekers payments to be available for and genuinely seeking full time employment.

People, who, for valid reasons, are unable to avail of the opportunities for placement in employment, training or education provided, continue to receive payment. In such cases, the Department's facilitator service is available to assist them in identifying barriers to participation and exploring alternative progression routes. It may also be noted that the Programme for Government states that a new National Employment and Entitlements Service will be established under the management of the Department of Social Protection. The objective is to integrate the unemployment payments elements currently provided directly by the Department of Social Protection and the employment services currently provided by FÁS into a single service.

A key objective of the Government in relation to the new service is that it will offer users a high level of personalised employment support and prioritise the provision of more intensive support for those on the live register who are identified as being most at risk of long-term unemployment. This will be achieved through the use of proactive approaches such as profiling and adopting modern case management systems.

Social Welfare Appeals

Jim Daly

Question:

149 Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding disability allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19256/11]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer, having fully considered all the evidence, has allowed the appeal of the person concerned by way of summary decision. The person concerned has been notified of the decision. 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

Ciara Conway

Question:

150 Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason social welfare payments cannot be automatically transferred to accounts in a credit union (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19259/11]

The Department offers a range of payment options to customers including payment by electronic fund transfer to a bank, building society account or to certain credit unions that have been authorised by the banking and credit union regulators. The Department makes no distinction made between smaller and larger credit unions in facilitating electronic funds transfers.

In transmitting payments to independent credit union companies, different situations will pertain depending on the banking arrangements of the respective credit unions. The arrangements for money transmission span across a range whereby some credit unions are not reachable for electronic fund payments as the credit union do not have a national sort code to others which are reachable with straight through payments processing into customer accounts.

The credit union referred to in the Deputy's question is one of a number of credit unions that operates under the Bank of Ireland Credit Union Programme. Each of the credit unions participating in the Bank of Ireland Credit Union Programme has a unique sort code. However, the shareholders in these credit unions are not directly and individually addressable to receive funds on an automated basis. Therefore the accounts are not reachable to receive welfare payments transmitted by electronic fund transfers which can be lodged to individual accounts on an automated basis. For that reason funds are received by the credit union and in many cases have to be manually applied to customers' accounts. Under the programme, there is some capacity to facilitate the lodgement directly to the customers' credit union accounts. However, the programme does not enable direct transmission on all schemes which would be the optimal arrangement for customers, credit unions, their bankers and the Department.

The Department is willing to facilitate any customer to receive their welfare payments by electronic fund transfer. It offers a safe, efficient and economic form of money transmission. In this context, the Department has been discussing the credit union programme with Bank of Ireland and will be examining the progress possible to facilitate and expand the use of and range of electronic payments for welfare transfers payable into individual accounts. Every assistance will be given by the Department with the cooperation of the Bank of Ireland to develop the potential of this programme with a view to providing a high quality service to our customers.

National Internship Scheme

Michael McGrath

Question:

151 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason sole traders are excluded from hosting a person under the national internship scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19268/11]

The National Internship Scheme has been set up with a view to giving job seekers the opportunity to take part in a quality internship with a host organisation. A host organisation participating in JobBridge must be in a position to provide a substantial commitment to their intern and to ensure that they are provided with a quality internship. It is considered that many sole traders will have insufficient capacity to mentor and support properly the professional development of an intern over the course of the internship and thereby making their internship experience a positive one. It has therefore been decided that, initially, sole traders will not be eligible to participate in the national internship scheme. The Department will monitor the operation of JobBridge on an ongoing basis, including eligibility criteria, and will amend them if considered necessary.

Social Welfare Benefits

Jack Wall

Question:

152 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) in County Kildare did not receive the back to school allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19312/11]

The administrative arrangements for the 2011 back to school clothing and footwear allowance scheme differ from those that applied in previous years. For this year, the majority of back to school clothing and footwear allowance entitlements were fully automated with no application form required from customers.

As the person in question was not one of the customers who received an automated payment they are required to complete an application form which is available for download from www.welfare.ie or by texting “Form BTSCFA”, followed by their name and address to 51909. The completed application form should be returned to Department of Social Protection, PO Box 131, Letterkenny, Co Donegal where a decision will be made in relation to their entitlement.

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

153 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will consider correspondence regarding a PPS number in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19315/11]

The details which the Deputy has supplied are not sufficient to identify the person concerned. I have made arrangements for officers in my Department to contact the Deputy to obtain the necessary details in order to look into the matter.

Social Welfare Appeals

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

154 Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Social Protection when a disability allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Offaly will be processed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19318/11]

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

Social Welfare Benefits

Simon Harris

Question:

155 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will consider granting a pro rata respite payment to carers whose role concludes before the completion of a 12-month period; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19330/11]

The respite care grant is an annual payment of €1,700 for carers who look after certain people in need of full-time care and attention. The payment is made regardless of the carer's means but is subject to certain conditions. One respite care grant per year is paid in respect of each person for whom the carer is providing full time care and attention.

In order to qualify a person must, in addition to other criteria, be caring for at least six months. The payment is made to those who are caring on the first Thursday in June. This date in June is in place to allow carers to avail of respite over the summer months, to facilitate the administration of the grant as a once-off payment and to ensure that the grant is targeted at those providing full-time care over a significant period of time.

There are no plans to amend the criteria for the grant to allow for a pro-rata payment.

John McGuinness

Question:

156 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social Protection if supplementary allowance will be approved in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [19362/11]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that the payment of rent supplement to the person in question has been restored and payment will issue shortly.

Social Welfare Code

Michael McGrath

Question:

157 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection the estimated cost to the Exchequer, if any, of implementing the recommendations made by the Expert Group on Mortgage Arrears and Personal Debt concerning proposed changes to the mortgage interest supplement scheme. [19376/11]

Michael McGrath

Question:

158 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection her plans to implement the proposals made by the Expert Group on Mortgage Arrears and Personal Debt concerning proposed changes to the mortgage interest supplement scheme. [19377/11]

Michael McGrath

Question:

160 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection the amount of money allocated to the mortgage interest supplement scheme in 2011; and the number of persons currently in receipt of the support. [19403/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 157, 158 and 160 together.

There are currently 18,564 households benefiting from the mortgage interest supplement scheme for which €77.2m has been allocated in 2011.

To implement all of the recommendations of the Expert Group on Mortgage Arrears and Personal Debt would have cost implications for the Department. Any such changes can only be dealt with in a budgetary context where a full financial assessment will be carried out.

Social Welfare Benefits

Jack Wall

Question:

159 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) in County Kildare has had their rent subsidy cut; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19396/11]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that, as part of a routine control procedure, payment of rent supplement to the person concerned was suspended as his primary social welfare payment was suspended. The HSE further advised that payment of rent supplement has now been restored and payment will issue to the person concerned as normal at the end of July.

Question No. 160 answered with Question No. 157.

Social Welfare Appeals

Timmy Dooley

Question:

161 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision on an invalidity pension appeal will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19416/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 19 March 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Social Welfare Services on the grounds of appeal be sought. When received, the appeal in question will be referred to an Appeals Officer 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.

Question No. 162 answered with Question No. 148.

Employment Support Services

John Lyons

Question:

163 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Social Protection if there is a timescale for the implementation of the new national employment service and the provision of a higher level of personalised employment counselling targeting those at risk of long-term unemployment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19423/11]

The Department is establishing a new National Employment and Entitlements Service, as provided for in the Programme for Government, which will integrate employment and benefit payment services within the Department. The new integrated service will be based on a case management approach with the objective of providing a more customised and personal service to customers.

In line with international good practice, this new service will focus primarily on activation. The objective is to encourage and enable customers to embark on developmental pathways appropriate to their needs; pathways to employment and/or training and/or personal development. A key feature of the new service will be that customers will be expected to engage with these options in order to retain their entitlement to full benefit payments.

With regard to the timeline for the development of the National Employment and Entitlements Service the assignment and integration of functions and the full transformation to a case management approach focussed on activation, will be a multi-annual programme of work. However, significant progress has already been made and many aspects of the new service will be delivered within the coming twelve months.

As part of the process of developing and implementing the new business model for the National Employment and entitlements Service, the Department has commenced a major and comprehensive programme of change management entailing the integration of services previously, or currently, provided by other agencies — including both the Employment Services and Community Employment Programmes of FÁS and the Community Welfare Services (CWS) of the HSE.

The administration of the supplementary welfare allowance scheme has already been transferred to the Department of Social Protection with the secondment of the Community Welfare Service from the Health Service Executive at the beginning of this year. The intention is to have the staff fully transferred into the Department by the end of September this year. This will enable the Department to integrate the payment of all benefits into one organisation simplifying customer processes.

Planning for the transfer and integration of the Employment Services and Community Employment Services of FÁS to the Department has already commenced and it is envisaged that the transfer of staff will commence later this year. Again this will enable us to simplify and integrate the delivery of employment support services to customers.

Even in advance of integration, FÁS and the Department are already working on a number of pilot projects in relation to the development of case management, the identification of those who are most at risk of falling into long-term unemployment, and the provision of appropriately tailored responses to their needs. These pilot projects will be completed and evaluated in the coming months after which approaches will be developed for their rollout nationwide as part of the National Employment and Entitlements Service. A key objective of the Government in relation to the new service is that it will offer users a high level of personalised employment support and prioritise the provision of more intensive support for those on the live register who are identified as being most at risk of long-term unemployment. This will be achieved through the use of proactive approaches and modern case management systems.

As part of such an approach, FÁS and the Department have collaborated on the development the National Internship Scheme. This scheme which will provide 5,000 internships of up to nine months duration was successfully launched on 1st July 2011. Participants will retain their social welfare entitlements and will also receive a ‘top-up' of €50 per week. The scheme, which is the first public manifestation of the National Employment and Entitlements Service, is already receiving strong support from the business community and potential participants.

Social Welfare Appeals

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

164 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if and when an appeal will be determined in respect of disability allowance or disability benefit in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; the current status of the case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19427/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that a disability allowance appeal, by the person concerned, was registered in that office on 05 April 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 01 June 2011 and the appeal will, in due course, be 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.

Social Welfare Benefits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

165 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if and when a PPS number will issue in the case of the children of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare whose spouse is a full-time employee of the Health Service Executive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19428/11]

My Department has no record of any such application for a PPS Number.

In order to have a PPS Number allocated, it is necessary to attend at a PPS Number allocation centre with sufficient documentation to prove identity and address in Ireland. The PPS Number allocation centre in county Kildare is based at Eyre Street, Newbridge. The person should attend there with the required documentation in order to have PPS Numbers allocated in respect of her children.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

166 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will set out the total receipts of unemployment benefit or jobseeker’s allowance received by a person (details supplied) in County Kildare in the period 1 January 2007 to date in 2011; the number of weeks involved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19429/11]

The person concerned was paid jobseeker's allowance during the period 1 January 2007 to date as follows:

Year

Amount Paid €

Number of Weeks

2007

15,242.20

43

2008

164.83

1

2009

15,385.79

49

2010

20,056.40

52

To date 2011

9,682.40

26

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

167 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason rent support in respect of a single person has not been awarded in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19431/11]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that payment of rent supplement is currently suspended as they are still awaiting information from the person concerned in relation to his accommodation needs.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

168 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if an entitlement exists to a basic social welfare payment in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19432/11]

From the information provided in your Parliamentary Question, the person concerned may have an entitlement to disability allowance. An application form and information booklet has been issued directly to the person concerned. He should complete and return this form in the freepost envelope provided. Upon receipt in this department of the duly completed application form, his entitlement to disability allowance will be examined and he will be advised directly of the outcome.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

169 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection when unemployment benefit payments will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19433/11]

The person concerned submitted an application for jobseeker's allowance with effect from 22 February 2011. His claim was closed on 28 March 2011 as he failed to submit the required identification documentation as requested in a letter to him on 2 March 2011.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

170 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection when disability allowance will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19434/11]

The person concerned applied for disability allowance on 8 September 2010. Her claim was disallowed by a deciding officer on the grounds that she was not medically suitable for disability allowance. She was notified of this decision and of her right to review or appeal within 21 days on 18 April 2011.

Frank Feighan

Question:

171 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Social Protection when a back to school clothing and footwear grant will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Roscommon. [19467/11]

The administrative arrangements for the 2011 back to school clothing and footwear allowance scheme differ from those that applied in previous years. For this year, the majority of back to school clothing and footwear allowance entitlements were fully automated with no application form required from customers. According to the information available to the Department the person in question has already been paid their full entitlement under the 2011 scheme.

Social Welfare Appeals

John McGuinness

Question:

172 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social Protection if an appeal regarding an application for jobseeker’s allowance will be approved in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [19470/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that a jobseeker's allowance appeal, by the person concerned, was registered in that office on 16 May 2011 and will be referred to an Appeals Officer, in due course, who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Benefits

John McGuinness

Question:

173 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social Protection if an application for domiciliary care allowance will be expedited and approved in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [19474/11]

An application for domiciliary care allowance was received on 15th March 2011. This application was referred to one of the Department's Medical Assessors who found that the child was not medically eligible for the allowance. A letter issued to the person concerned on 24th May 2011 advising her of the decision to refuse the allowance.

In the case of an application which is refused on medical grounds, the applicant may submit additional information and/or ask for the case to be reviewed or they may appeal the decision directly to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. The person concerned submitted further medical information and an appeal was registered by the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 13th June 2011. As part of the appeals process, this additional information is currently being reviewed by a Medical Assessor.

Údarás na Gaeltachta

Pearse Doherty

Question:

174 D’fhiafraigh Pearse Doherty den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta an mbeidh buiséad caipitiúil de €12 mhilliún ar a laghad deimhnithe ag an Rialtas d’Údarás na Gaeltachta i 2012 chun go mbeidh siad in ann a gcuid oibre a chur i gcrích agus líon os cionn 1,000 post a chruthú an bhliain seo chugainn. [18431/11]

Déanfar cinneadh maidir le maoiniú Údarás na Gaeltachta do 2012 mar chuid de phróiseas na meastachán agus i gcomhthéacs an Athbhreithnithe Chuimsithigh ar Chaiteachas Poiblí atá ar siúl i láthair na huaire.

Mar atá curtha in iúl don Teach cheana, thóg an Rialtas cinneadh ar 31 Bealtaine 2011 go mairfidh an status quo maidir le feidhmeanna reatha Údarás na Gaeltachta go ginearálta, a chuid feidhmeanna fiontraíochta san áireamh, faoi réir:

(a) foráil reachtúil a dhéanamh chun cumhacht a thabhairt don Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta treoir a thabhairt don Údarás a chuid acmhainní teoranta a dhíriú i dtreo earnálacha fiontraíochta ar leith; agus

(b) meicníocht a fhorbairt chun go mbeidh an tÚdarás in ann comhoibriú le háisíneachtaí fiontraíochta eile, ach go háirithe i gcás tograí suntasacha Gaeltachta a bhfuil poitéinseal ard acu.

Ag eascairt as an gcinneadh sin, tá tús curtha ag oifigigh mo Roinne le comhráite lena gcuid comhghleacaithe sa Roinn Caiteachais Phoiblí agus Athchóirithe agus sa Roinn Post Fiontar agus Nuálaíochta chun an mheicníocht seo a fhorbairt. Beidh ionchur ag na háisíneachtaí forbartha fiontraíochta sna comhráite seo chomh maith. Leis an mheicníocht nua seo, táim ag súil go bhfaighfear an luach is fearr ar airgead agus an toradh is fearr maidir le cruthú fostaíochta sa Ghaeltacht ó na hacmhainní teoranta atá ar fáil ón Státchiste san aeráid eacnamaíoch reatha.

Proposed Legislation

Michael McGrath

Question:

175 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources when legislation to support the implementation of a postcode system will be introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19308/11]

Provisions relating to the introduction of postcodes have been included in the Communications Regulation (Postal Services) Bill, 2010 which is currently at Dáil Committee Stage.

Departmental Expenditure

Michael McGrath

Question:

176 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if it is the case that the tender process to select an organisation to implement a national postcode has not met the published schedule; if some of the related budget has been allocated elsewhere; and his views on whether the process will be completed in 2011. [19309/11]

The procurement process to select an organisation to implement a national postcode system is being managed by my Department on a ring-fenced basis. The extent to which the project will be drawing on capital funding in 2011 is a function of the progress of the procurement and the nature of the proposal made by the tender selected by my Department and approved by Government.

As I indicated in reply to Question No. 129 of 18th of May 2011, €2m of the Postcodes Programme allocation for 2011 has been reallocated to the National Energy Retrofitting Programme as part of the Jobs Initiative of the Minister for Finance. This reallocation will be reflected in my Department's 2011 estimate which will be presented to the Committee on Communications, Energy and Natural Resources next week.

Energy Conservation

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

177 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the initiatives his Department has taken to monitor and reduce energy consumption in terms of electricity and gas use. [19347/11]

My Department has been working with the OPW since 2008 on an energy efficiency programme in my Department's two main buildings at Adelaide Road and Tom Johnson House on Haddington Road. Among other things this has involved the installation of a new Building Management System which offers greater control over consumption of energy. As part of the project, energy awareness presentations were made to staff, an Energy Team/Working Group was established from among the staff to promote the energy awareness and conservation imperative.

My Department is very conscious of the use of energy and encourages the efficient use of electricity and power through its staff Energy Team and Energy Officer. Overall, notwithstanding the exceptional cold weather of January and December 2010, my Department's energy consumption cost was reduced by circa €170,000 from 2008 to 2010.

Proposed Legislation

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

178 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his plans to introduce regulations or laws to allow gardaí enter a premises in which an alarm has been sounding continuously to deactivate said alarm. [19346/11]

The Programme for Government includes a commitment to address noise pollution through the introduction of fixed payment notices (also known as on the spot fines) and provision for mediation between neighbours. The development of new noise legislation by my Department will be considered in the context of this commitment. As indicated in the Government Legislation Programme published on 5 April 2011, it is not possible at this time to indicate when the legislation will be published.

The current position is that all external alarms installed on premises after 1 August 2006 must comply with the current Irish Standard — IS EN50131. This standard specifies a maximum duration of 15 minutes for the sounding of external alarms on buildings.

Water and Sewerage Schemes

Pearse Doherty

Question:

179 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if funding will be made available under the small capitals scheme for pipe replacement in the Derrybeg and Srathnacorcra area of County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19253/11]

Responsibility for the administration of the Rural Water Programme, which includes small public water and sewerage schemes, has been devolved to local authorities since 1997. The selection and approval of individual group schemes for advancement and funding under the programme, within the overall priorities set by my Department and subject to the block grant allocation provided, is therefore a matter for the local authorities, and for Donegal County Council in this case.

Local Authority Expenditure

Regina Doherty

Question:

180 Deputy Regina Doherty asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide a breakdown of the communication costs involved in running each of the 34 county and city councils under the headings postage costs, telephone costs, e-mail communications, website maintenance, traffic light controlling systems; and the administration costs associated with each of these five areas. [19260/11]

It is a matter for each local authority to determine its own spending priorities in the context of the annual budgetary process having regard to both locally identified needs and available resources. The breakdown of the expenditure requested is a matter for the local authorities concerned and such information is not held by my Department.

Social and Affordable Housing

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

181 Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his plans for land purchased by him from an organisation (details supplied); if it is possible for Leitrim County Council to use this land to build social housing, in view of the fact that the council is not in ownership of any building land in this area and the need for such housing is in great demand. [19266/11]

The site in question was acquired by the Sue Ryder Housing Association for the purpose of developing 33 units of sheltered housing for older people under the terms of my Department's funding schemes for voluntary and co-operative housing. To date, some €468,711 has been paid by my Department in respect of site costs and planning and design fees. It was decided to defer the construction stage of this project due to the current budgetary situation and the existing high level of capital commitments under the voluntary housing funding schemes. While there are no proposals at this time to develop this site for standard social housing units, this may be an option at some time in the future.

Housing Aid for the Elderly

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

182 Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the position regarding a housing facility (details supplied) in County Leitrim; if there will be funding from the Health Service Executive to maintain 12 beds at this facility or will this project be social housing with no residents being funded by the HSE. [19267/11]

Capital funding is available through my Department's Capital Assistance Scheme to approved voluntary housing bodies for the provision of accommodation to meet the needs of persons with specific categories of housing need such as older people, the homeless or persons with a physical, intellectual or mental health disability. The scheme is not intended to fund nursing home or similar accommodation where residents would require high-level medical, nursing or institutional type care.

In the case of the sheltered housing scheme referred to in the question, my Department provided some €2.8 million towards the cost of the project. I understand that the Health Service Executive (HSE) provided an element of matching funding towards the cost of the communal facilities. The HSE is also providing a care and support package in respect of a number of tenants. The nature and scope of the care element is a matter for the HSE and the voluntary housing body to determine.

The voluntary housing body is responsible for the management and operation of the facility in accordance with the terms and conditions of the funding schemes. My Department's involvement with the scheme relates primarily to the provision of funds for individual projects. The administration of the scheme, and the certification that particular projects comply with the terms of the scheme, are the responsibility of the local authority.

Local Authority Financial Reserves

Joan Collins

Question:

183 Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the surplus or debit balance of each county and city council, as outlined in their respective annual financial statement for the financial year ended 31 December 2010 including the deficit or surplus for the year; the opening debit balance, if any, for the year; the closing debit balance, if any, for the year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19275/11]

I assume the question refers to the local authorities' revenue accounts. The figures in the following table are taken from the Income & Expenditure Statement of the relevant 2010 Annual Financial Statements (AFS). Closing balances, together with annual surpluses/(deficits), are shown inclusive of Transfers from/(to) Reserves. The figures are un-audited. It should be noted that the audit of the 2010 AFS data is not due for completion until 31 March 2012 and that un-audited data are always subject to post audit revision.

Overall Surplus/ (Deficit) for Year

Opening Balance @ 01/01/2010

Closing Balance @ 31/12/2010

County Councils

1

Carlow

9,992

(122,100)

(112,108)

2

Cavan

659

1,661,261

1,661,920

3

Clare

112,694

(1,856,538)

(1,743,844)

4

Cork

1,983,604

15,156,723

17,140,327

5

Donegal

188,535

(12,893,134)

(12,704,599)

6

Fingal

202,024

17,448,786

17,650,811

7

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown

115,548

8,993,933

9,109,481

8

Galway

(111,331)

(1,272,553)

(1,383,884)

9

Kerry

637,112

1,889,034

2,526,146

10

Kildare

972,489

(4,885,743)

(3,913,253)

11

Kilkenny

(17,303)

(35,334)

(52,637)

12

Laois

2,104

(521,604)

(519,500)

13

Leitrim

(34,857)

(88,264)

(123,121)

14

Limerick

195,061

81,220

276,281

15

Longford

246,507

(842,400)

(595,893)

16

Louth

34,955

1,670,221

1,705,176

17

Mayo

302,277

(3,049,924)

(2,747,647)

18

Meath

974,947

(9,304,736)

(8,329,789)

19

Monaghan

391,863

(1,064,263)

(672,400)

20

North Tipperary

84,911

25,026

109,937

21

Offaly

(906,527)

(484,668)

(1,391,195)

22

Roscommon

395,414

(322,505)

72,908

23

Sligo

(2,463,505)

(7,518,111)

(9,981,616)

24

South Dublin

12,932

12,070,176

12,083,108

25

South Tipperary

22,963

2,940,208

2,963,171

26

Waterford

16,900

(6,933,807)

(6,916,907)

27

Westmeath

269,176

(2,796,051)

(2,526,874)

28

Wexford

15,831

(6,381,642)

(6,365,811)

29

Wicklow

(94,440)

(1,997,736)

(2,092,176)

City Councils

30

Cork

83,555

317,022

400,577

31

Dublin

5,618,365

9,765,759

15,384,124

32

Galway

458,128

(525,870)

(67,742)

33

Limerick

57,634

260,191

317,825

34

Waterford

92,954

(447,887)

(354,932)

Local Government Management Services Board

Joan Collins

Question:

184 Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the funding or contribution, if any, each local authority has paid to the Local Government Management Services Board in each of the years 2007 to 2011, inclusive; if there is a legal obligation on a local authority to make a contribution to the board; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19276/11]

The Local Government Management Services Board (LGMSB) was established under the Local Government Corporate Bodies Act 1971. The LGMSB was subsequently placed on a primary legislative footing under the Local Government Services (Corporate Bodies) (Confirmation of Orders) Act 2008. Article 5 (20) of the Local Government Management Services Board (Establishment) Order, 1996 states that "the expenses of the Board in so far as not met from other sources shall, to such extent as shall be approved by the Minister, be recouped by the several councils of counties and corporations of county boroughs in such proportions as those authorities may agree upon, or, failing such agreement, in such proportions as may be determined by the Minister."

The following table outlines the levy paid by each local authority to the Local Government Management Service Board in the years 2007 — 2011.

Local Government Management Services Board

Local Authority

Type

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

Carlow County Council

Levy

47,501.99

49,162.14

50,131.89

46,121.76

43,815.67

Cavan County Council

Levy

56,103.38

58,064.14

59,209.48

54,473.22

51,749.56

Clare County Council

Levy

84,555.98

87,511.13

89,237.33

82,099.09

77,994.14

Cork City Council

Levy

165,005.64

170,772.44

174,141.02

160,211.19

152,200.63

Cork County Council

Levy

244,289.02

252,826.70

257,813.84

237,190.88

225,331.34

Donegal County Council

Levy

77,023.69

79,715.60

81,288.03

74,785.67

71,046.38

Dublin City Council

Levy

722,303.63

747,547.49

762,293.26

701,316.15

666,250.34

Dun Laoghaire/ Rathdown Co. Council

Levy

189,230.44

195,843.88

199,707.00

183,732.10

174,545.50

Fingal County Council

Levy

236,392.27

244,653.96

249,479.89

229,523.58

218,047.40

Galway City Council

Levy

66,794.36

69,128.76

70,492.37

64,853.56

61,610.89

Galway County Council

Levy

96,364.65

99,732.51

101,699.79

93,564.65

88,886.42

Kerry County Council

Levy

87,520.29

90,579.05

92,365.77

84,977.28

80,728.41

Kildare County Council

Levy

109,849.88

113,689.03

115,931.61

106,658.04

101,325.14

Kilkenny County Council

Levy

73,549.12

76,119.60

77,621.10

71,412.05

67,841.45

Laois County Council

Levy

40,577.15

41,995.28

42,823.66

39,398.13

37,428.22

Leitrim County Council

Levy

25,974.24

26,882.01

27,412.27

25,219.52

23,958.54

Limerick City Council

Levy

60,841.43

62,967.78

64,209.85

59,073.60

56,119.92

Limerick County Council

Levy

102,074.61

105,642.03

107,725.87

99,108.70

94,153.27

Longford County Council

Levy

28,404.00

29,396.70

29,976.56

27,578.69

26,199.75

Louth County Council

Levy

94,153.56

97,444.15

99,366.28

91,417.81

86,846.92

Mayo County Council

Levy

82,150.50

85,021.59

86,698.69

79,763.51

75,775.34

Meath County Council

Levy

80,182.39

82,984.69

84,621.61

77,852.59

73,959.96

Monaghan County Council

Levy

54,475.43

56,379.30

57,491.41

52,892.58

50,247.95

North Tipperary County Council

Levy

54,645.51

56,555.33

57,670.91

53,057.72

50,404.83

Offaly County Council

Levy

46,432.89

48,055.68

49,003.61

45,083.73

42,829.54

Roscommon County Council

Levy

45,072.22

46,647.46

47,567.60

43,762.59

41,574.46

Sligo County Council

Levy

44,537.67

46,094.23

47,003.46

43,243.57

41,081.39

South Dublin County Council

Levy

197,030.00

203,916.02

207,938.37

191,305.04

181,739.79

South Tipperary County Council

Levy

81,543.06

84,392.92

86,057.61

79,173.72

75,215.04

Waterford City Council

Levy

52,337.23

54,166.37

55,234.83

50,816.51

48,275.68

Waterford County Council

Levy

46,530.08

48,156.27

49,106.18

45,178.09

42,919.19

Westmeath County Council

Levy

54,062.37

55,951.80

57,055.48

52,491.52

49,866.94

Wexford County Council

Levy

86,961.45

90,000.67

91,775.98

84,434.67

80,212.94

Wicklow County Council

Levy

77,047.99

79,740.75

81,313.67

74,809.26

71,068.80

Grand Total

3,611,518.12

3,737,737.46

3,811,466.28

3,506,580.77

3,331,251.74

Local Authority Expenditure

Joan Collins

Question:

185 Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he monitors the level of travel and subsistence paid to senior officials in local authorities; the outcome of such monitoring; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19278/11]

It is a matter for each local authority to determine its own spending priorities in the context of the annual budgetary process having regard to both locally identified needs and available resources. Expenditure on travel and subsistence is a matter for each individual local authority.

Water and Sewerage Schemes

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

186 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the reason he has decided that the best way forward for the future of water treatment in Cork city is not to have the local authority retaining operational control, as was the recommendation following the procurement appraisal report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19297/11]

I refer to the reply to Question No. 245 of 24 May 2011 which sets out the position in this matter.

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

187 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if progress has been made regarding the construction of a sewerage treatment plant in Arklow, County Wicklow. [19349/11]

The Water Services Investment Programme 2010-2012, a copy of which is available in the Oireachtas Library, provides for the development of a comprehensive range of new water services infrastructure in County Wicklow. Three contracts under the Arklow Sewerage Scheme are included in the Programme amongst the list of contracts in the county to start in the period 2010-2012.

The major contract relates to the proposed wastewater treatment plant. I understand that the unsuccessful applicant to the High Court for a judicial review of An Bord Pleanála's decision to grant approval for the wastewater treatment plant was given leave to appeal to the Supreme Court and has exercised that option. The hearing was held on 2 December 2009 and the Council is awaiting the Supreme Court's decision in the matter. Further progress on this element of the scheme together with the contract for the Northern and Southern Interceptor Network will be dependent on the decision of the Court. The planning of the proposed contract for the upgrade of South Green and Harbour Road Network is under consideration by the Council.

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

188 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if it his intention to include sanitary services, specifically sewage treatment plants, currently under the remit of the local authorities, in the proposed new national water body. [19360/11]

The Programme for Government proposes the establishment of a new State-owned water company to be called Irish Water. The Memorandum of Understanding between Ireland and the European Union and International Monetary Fund commits Ireland to undertaking an independent assessment of the establishment of a water utility. My Department is overseeing an independent assessment of the establishment of the new water company. The assessment is to be completed by end October 2011. No decision has yet been taken on the functions to be assigned to the new company. The matter will be considered by the Government on completion of the independent assessment.

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

189 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if it is his intention to regulate further the installation of septic tanks and proprietary treatment systems as part of the construction of one-off domestic houses in rural locations; and if persons operating in the installation of same will be required to provide mandatory service contracts. [19361/11]

Part H of the Building Regulations (Drainage and Waste Water Disposal) sets out the requirements for the design and installation of wastewater systems. The relevant Technical Guidance Document (TGD) H provides guidance on how to comply with the requirements of Part H.

The EPA's new Code of Practice on Wastewater Treatment and Disposal Systems serving Single Houses was published in October 2009 and refers to the suite of new European Standards for small wastewater treatment plans, EN 12566. The new Code of Practice updates previous guidance and sets out comprehensive requirements in relation to new on-site wastewater systems, including the methodology to be followed for the assessment of sites for single houses in unsewered areas, as well as procedures for the selection, installation and maintenance of wastewater treatment and disposal systems appropriate to conditions encountered on specific sites. The EPA Code of Practice has been called up into the Technical Guidance Document to Part H of the Building Regulations. A copy of the Code of Practice is available to view and download from www.epa.ie.

My Department issued a circular letter to planning authorities in January 2010 regarding implementation of the EPA's new Code of Practice, which inter alia requests planning authorities to continue their practice of requiring that details of on-going proprietary wastewater systems maintenance contracts with suppliers and/or expert contractors are provided as part of the planning application documentation, and that such contracts should be maintained by the applicants, developers and/or property owners as appropriate, as a condition of any planning permission or approval. A copy of the circular letter is available to view in the Oireachtas Library and also on the Department's website —www.environ.ie.

It is the responsibility of planning authorities to monitor the degree to which those carrying out approved developments meet their obligations to comply with the terms of planning permissions granted, and to enforce such terms where necessary.

As stated in the reply to Questions Nos. 350 and 351 of 28 June 2011, the Government recently approved the urgent drafting of a Bill to provide for the establishment of a new system for the inspection and monitoring of the performance of septic tanks and other on-site wastewater treatment systems in response to a European Court of Justice ruling that Ireland failed to adopt the necessary legislation to comply with Articles 4 and 8 of Council Directive 75/442/EEC regarding domestic wastewaters disposed of in the countryside through septic tanks and other individual wastewater treatment systems. The Bill will be published as soon as possible and my intention will be to pursue its early enactment thereafter.

Social and Affordable Housing

Anthony Lawlor

Question:

190 Deputy Anthony Lawlor asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government taking into account the 12.4% population increase in the Kildare North constituency, as outlined in census 2011, the measures being taken by Kildare County Council to increase the number of social and affordable housing units to cater for increasing demand; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19389/11]

Under the social housing investment programme, local authorities meet social housing needs from a variety of sources including the traditional construction and acquisition programmes, projects advanced by the voluntary and co-operative sector and through the leasing of accommodation from private landlords and property owners. In 2011, my Department allocated €5.7 million for Kildare authorities for capital social housing supply programmes. Funding has also been set aside for leasing and for the Rental Accommodation Scheme.

To ensure that the social housing investment programme is delivered in a coherent and coordinated manner, each local authority, in consultation with my Department, has formulated a programme of work for 2011, having regard to their notified funding allocations, and the prioritisation of commitments and new proposals. Under these plans, particular emphasis is placed on achieving best value for money having regard to the current economic situation while responding to local housing needs.

Water and Sewerage Schemes

Anthony Lawlor

Question:

191 Deputy Anthony Lawlor asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide details of the plans to improve the water and sewerage treatment services in County Kildare taking into account the population increase of 12.7% in the county, according to census 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19390/11]

Water services authorities, including Kildare County Council, were asked in July 2009 to submit an assessment of needs for water and sewerage services to my Department. In preparing their assessments, water services authorities were required to take into consideration key environmental and economic criteria in prioritising contracts and schemes to be progressed in their areas. The assessments of needs submitted by Kildare County Council and the other water services authorities were subsequently appraised in my Department in the context of the funds available and key criteria that complemented those used by the authorities.

These processes were a key input to the contracts and schemes included in my Department's Water Services Investment Programme 2010-2012, a copy of which is available in the Oireachtas Library. The Programme includes contracts under construction and to commence to the value of over €172 million in County Kildare during the period of the Programme.

Progress under the Water Services Investment Programme 2010-2012, has recently been reviewed and through this process, consideration was given to any newly emerging priority contracts and schemes submitted by water services authorities for addition to the programme. Some 39 contracts have been added to the Programme as a result of the review, including two in County Kildare with a total value of €19.6 million.

Responsibility for the administration of the Rural Water Programme, which includes group water schemes, has been devolved to local authorities since 1997. Kildare County Council have been allocated a block grant of €1,351,000 for 2011 under the devolved Rural Water Programme. The selection and approval of individual schemes for advancement and funding under the programme, within the overall priorities set by my Department and subject to the block grant allocations provided, is therefore a matter for the local authorities.

Community and Recreational Facilities

Anthony Lawlor

Question:

192 Deputy Anthony Lawlor asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the steps being taken to improve the community and recreational facilities in Kildare North to accommodate the 12.4% population increase, which comprises a substantial number of young persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19391/11]

There are a number of supports administered by my Department that can assist community and recreational facilities and services in Co. Kildare.

The Local Agenda 21 Environmental Partnership Fund (LA21), supports small scale, non-profit projects and initiatives, such as community gardens, rainwater harvesting systems and environmental exhibitions, which increase environmental awareness and facilitate sustainable development at community level. Each local authority receives a standard minimum allocation annually plus an additional amount based on their population as provided in the most recent census figures.

Funding of €12,282,448 is available under the Rural Development Programme Ireland (RDP) 2007-2013 for allocation by Cill Dara ar Aghaidh Teoranta (Kildare LEADER Partnership) to qualifying projects up to the end of 2013. One of the objectives of the RDP is to identify and provide appropriate amenity and leisure facilities to local communities not otherwise available to them with a particular focus on young people. In this context it may be possible to obtain funding for a variety of projects to improve community and recreational facilities in County Kildare.

Cill Dara ar Aghaidh Teoranta is contracted, on my Department's behalf, to deliver the RDP throughout County Kildare and is the principal decision-maker in relation to the allocation of project funding.

Decisions are made in the context of the local development strategy of the company and in line with Departmental operating rules and EU regulations. Contact details for this group can be found on my Departments website at www.environ.ie.

Kildare Volunteer Centre were awarded funding of €93,220 in 2011 under the Funding Scheme to Support Volunteering. Kildare Volunteer Centre works closely in partnership with local groups, organisations and networks within the community and voluntary sector in the Kildare area.

My Department also delivers the Local and Community Development Programme. While it does not directly support the development of community and recreational facilities, it funds actions aimed at tackling poverty and social exclusion — among other things, it supports actions which facilitate increased access to formal and informal educational, recreational and cultural development activities and resources for children, young people and adults.

The Programme is delivered in Kildare by Cill Dara ar Aghaidh Teoranta and information on specific actions funded through the Programme can be obtained from the Group.

Housing Stock

Anthony Lawlor

Question:

193 Deputy Anthony Lawlor asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the plans in place to deal effectively with the vacant housing units throughout the country and in particular in County Kildare in which 8% of units are currently vacant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19392/11]

The overhang in housing stock is a cause for concern for all stakeholders in the construction and housing sector. From my own point of view as Minister for Housing and Planning it also presents some opportunities.

In recent years the social housing provision model has switched from predominance on build and acquisition to the rental accommodation scheme and leasing of units. These initiatives have delivered housing units in a more flexible and speedy manner than before, including through the use of suitable vacant private residential stock.

I signalled in my recent policy framework the need to maximise our housing provision by means of these tools. The allocation for the current year stands at €125 million for RAS and €23.5 million for leasing. Together, these two delivery modes are expected to yield half of the social housing capacity delivered in 2011.

My Department has been engaged in ongoing discussions with NAMA with a view to harnessing a social dividend in the form of the acquisition or leasing of stock subject to NAMA control. I hope to announce soon the first fruits of that work, with the acquisition of premium new accommodation for social housing purposes.

Additionally, I recently established the National Co-ordination Committee in respect of Unfinished Housing Developments, comprised of representatives from NAMA, the banking, construction and housing sectors as well as the local authorities and the Department. Its second meeting takes place next week. I expect this close collaboration of all interested parties to yield imaginative and constructive proposals for the further absorption of surplus housing stock.

Garda Vetting of Personnel

Terence Flanagan

Question:

194 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding a Garda clearance application in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 13; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19258/11]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that a vetting application in respect of the person to whom the Deputy refers was received by the Garda Central Vetting Unit on 23 June 2011. The application will be processed by the vetting unit and a response will issue to the registered organisation involved in due course.

Departmental Expenditure

Regina Doherty

Question:

195 Deputy Regina Doherty asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the cost of the Garda Síochána’s presence at the Slane concert in County Meath this year, with the cost broken down under the headings of preparation, overtime and number of gardaí present. [19261/11]

I am advised by the Garda authorities that a breakdown of the relevant Garda expenses in the form sought by the Deputy is not readily available and could only be compiled by way of the use of a substantial amount of Garda resources. However, I have been informed that overtime costs of approximately €201,000 and travel/subsistence costs of approximately €18,500 were incurred.

The number of Garda members involved over the three day period was 531.

Suicide Statistics

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

196 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the Garda collects suicide statistics; the frequency with which they are updated; the statistics for the collection time periods in 2010; the statistics to date in 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19283/11]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that An Garda Siochana does not collect statistics in relation to suicides in Ireland.

I understand, however, that the Central Statistics Office, as the national statistical agency, compiles and publishes such statistics. I have requested the CSO to provide statistics directly to the Deputy.

Garda Vetting of Personnel

Mary Mitchell O'Connor

Question:

197 Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will consider amending the Garda vetting process such that it be conducted on the basis of PPS numbers in order to alleviate the potential problems caused by persons receiving Garda clearance and then changing their name in an attempt to avoid being tracked. [19285/11]

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

In the vetting process, in response to a written request from a registered organisation, the Garda authorities will release criminal history information in respect of the person who is the subject of the vetting application. A vetting application may only be made with the written consent of the subject of the vetting application who provides identifying information which is checked against Garda records and authorises the Garda authorities to furnish a statement that there are no convictions recorded against the subject in the State or elsewhere or a statement of any convictions recorded against the subject as the case may be or a statement of all prosecutions, successful or unsuccessful, pending or completed in the State or elsewhere as the case may be.

In accordance with the provisions of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act 2005, a person's PPS number cannot be used as an identifier in the Garda vetting process.

Crime Prevention

Finian McGrath

Question:

198 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will support action to prevent anti-social activity at a location (details supplied) in Dublin 3. [19320/11]

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

Citizenship Applications

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

199 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will indicate the current or expected status in respect of naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19333/11]

A valid application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in January, 2010. The application 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 recently announced a series of measures within my Department to provide for speedier processing of citizenship applications to bring about a substantial reduction in the processing timescale. The new arrangements include improved application forms that came into force on 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. These measures are targeted at clearing the backlog of applications awaiting a decision in excess of six months by spring of next year and from that time on the aim is, save in exceptional circumstances, that persons applying for citizenship will be given a decision on their application within six months.

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.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

200 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will indicate the current or expected status in respect of naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19334/11]

A valid application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in January, 2010. The application 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 recently announced a series of measures within my Department to provide for speedier processing of citizenship applications to bring about a substantial reduction in the processing timescale. The new arrangements include improved application forms that came into force on 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. These measures are targeted at clearing the backlog of applications awaiting a decision in excess of six months by spring of next year and from that time on the aim is, save in exceptional circumstances, that persons applying for citizenship will be given a decision on their application within six months.

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.

Proposed Legislation

David Stanton

Question:

201 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the plans, if any, he has to amend blasphemy legislation or hold a referendum to amend the constitutional requirement for such legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19382/11]

There is a commitment in the Programme for Government to consider the question of a Referendum on blasphemy. The Constitutional Convention that is proposed in the Programme will include blasphemy in its review.

Visa Applications

Jack Wall

Question:

202 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reasons a person (details supplied) has been refused a visa; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19388/11]

The visa application referred to by the Deputy was received in the Irish Consulate in Manila on 16 May 2011 and was forwarded to the Visa Office in Dublin for decision. It was refused by the Visa Officer on 29 June 2011 for the following reasons:

1. The evidence of finances shown was deemed insufficient.

2. It was the opinion of the Visa Officer that the applicant's obligations to return to her home country were not sufficient.

It is open to the applicant to appeal the decision within two months of the date of the refusal. In view of the applicant's visa history in the State, positive consideration will be given to granting the visa on receipt of the relevant documentary evidence to address the concerns of the Visa Officer.

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

Garda Deployment

Anthony Lawlor

Question:

203 Deputy Anthony Lawlor asked the Minister for Justice and Equality in view of the population increase since 2006 in the Kildare North constituency of 12.4%, according to census 2011, if he will consider reallocating gardaí to the constituency to deal with this population increase and to bring Garda numbers in County Kildare in line with the national average; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19394/11]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that as of 31 December 2006, the personnel strength of all Garda stations in County Kildare was 267. At that time County Kildare formed part of the Carlow/Kildare Garda Division and on 29th June 2009, the Garda Division of Kildare was established. The personnel strength of Kildare Garda Division on 31st May 2011 was 324. This represents an increase of 57 (21.34%) from 2006 to 2011.

The allocation of Garda resources, including personnel, is a matter for the Garda Commissioner and his senior management team. Resource levels are constantly monitored, in conjunction with crime trends and the situation is kept under continuing review to ensure optimum use is made of all resources and the best possible Garda service is provided to the public.

Proposed Legislation

Michael McCarthy

Question:

204 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 278 of 10 May 2011, if he intends to review the legislative position in relation to awarding members of An Garda Síochána a special status and protection in view of the recent incident whereby a male Garda based in Kilmainham Garda station was attacked and burned while responding to a domestic incident; if he will take appropriate action in view of the seriousness of the incident; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19395/11]

The Deputy will appreciate that while I cannot comment on any particular case that may come before the courts, I want to make it clear that no attack on any member of An Garda Síochána or indeed another emergency service will be tolerated and that the full rigours of the law will be brought to bear on the perpetrators of any such attacks. It is very important for everyone to understand that the current legislation, as outlined in my reply on 10 May 2011, specifically protects Gardaí and other emergency workers from such attacks.

It is absolutely right that the criminal law should afford Gardaí and other emergency workers such specific protection and, if further measures are necessary in this regard, I will not hesitate to bring forward appropriate proposals.

Citizenship Applications

Sean Conlan

Question:

205 Deputy Seán Conlan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when an application for naturalisation will be processed in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19408/11]

A valid application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in November 2007.

The application is currently being processed with a view to establishing whether the applicant meets the statutory conditions for the granting of naturalisation and will be submitted to me for decision as expeditiously as possible.

In that context, I can inform the Deputy that I recently announced a series of measures within my Department to provide for speedier processing of citizenship applications to bring about a substantial reduction in the processing timescale. The new arrangements include improved application forms that came into force on 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. These measures are targeted at clearing the backlog of applications awaiting a decision in excess of six months by spring of next year and from that time on the aim is, save in exceptional circumstances, that persons applying for citizenship will be given a decision on their application within six months.

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.

Crime Levels

Michael McCarthy

Question:

206 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide a breakdown of the number of gardaí who have been assaulted in each of the years 2009, 2010 and to date in 2011 separately; in this context, the number of prosecutions that are currently under way under section 19 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act and section 3 of Non-fatal Offences against the Person Act; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19415/11]

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. 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.

Deportation Orders

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

207 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which a full appraisal of circumstances has been undertaken in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19436/11]

I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that the person referred to by the Deputy is the subject of a Deportation Order, signed on 20 October 2010, following a comprehensive and thorough examination of his asylum claim and his application for subsidiary protection, and a detailed examination of the representations he submitted for consideration under Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended).

The effect of the Deportation Order is that the person concerned must leave the State and remain thereafter out of the State.

The enforcement of the Deportation Order is an operational matter for the Garda National Immigration Bureau.

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

208 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the procedures so far in the determination of entitlement to residency and naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19437/11]

I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that the person referred to by the Deputy has no application pending for residency or naturalisation. The person concerned is the subject of a Deportation Order, signed on 10 December 2004.

I am advised that the applications made by the person for asylum, for subsidiary protection, for temporary leave to remain and for revocation of his Deportation Order together with all refoulement issues, were all fully examined before the decision to deport him was taken.

The effect of the Deportation Order is that the person concerned must leave the State and remain thereafter out of the State.

The enforcement of the Deportation Order is an operational matter for the Garda National Immigration Bureau.

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

209 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the procedures undertaken to date in the matter of determination of residency and naturalisation in the case of persons (details supplied) in Dublin 20; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19438/11]

I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that the first named person referred to by the Deputy has no application pending for residency or naturalisation. The person concerned is the subject of a Deportation Order, signed on 20 April 2010, following a comprehensive and thorough examination of his asylum claim and his application for subsidiary protection, and a detailed examination of the representations he submitted for consideration under Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended).

However, if new information or circumstances have come to light, which have a direct bearing on their case and which have arisen since the original Deportation Orders was made, there remains the option of applying to me for revocation of the Deportation Orders pursuant to the provisions of Section 3(11) of the Immigration Act, 1999, as amended. However, I wish to make clear that such an application would require substantial grounds to be successful.

The second person concerned was granted permission to remain in the State under the revised arrangements for non-EEA parents of children born in Ireland prior to 1 January, 2005, known as the IBC/05 Scheme. This permission to remain is currently valid until 5 May,2012.

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.

Residency Permits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

210 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress made to date in the determination of residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19439/11]

The person concerned was granted leave to remain in the State for a three year period to 26th June, 2011. This decision was conveyed in writing to the person concerned by letter dated 26th June, 2008.

An application for the renewal of this permission was received in my Department on 5th July, 2011. This application will be considered shortly. Once a decision has been made on this renewal application, this decision and the consequences of the decision will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

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

Citizenship Applications

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

211 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the current or expected position in regard to the determination of naturalisation status in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19440/11]

A valid application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in August 2010.

The application is currently being processed with a view to establishing whether the applicant meets the statutory conditions for the granting of naturalisation and will be submitted to me for decision as expeditiously as possible.

In that context, I can inform the Deputy that I recently announced a series of measures within my Department to provide for speedier processing of citizenship applications to bring about a substantial reduction in the processing timescale. The new arrangements include improved application forms that came into force on 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. These measures are targeted at clearing the backlog of applications awaiting a decision in excess of six months by spring of next year and from that time on the aim is, save in exceptional circumstances, that persons applying for citizenship will be given a decision on their application within six months.

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.

Residency Permits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

212 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress made to date in the determination of residency and citizenship status in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19441/11]

The person concerned has been granted Leave to Remain in the State for the period to 12th August, 2011. This decision was conveyed in writing to the person concerned by letter dated 12th August, 2008.

The person concerned is required to apply in writing for the renewal of this permission. As my Department's records show no evidence of such a renewal application having been made to date, it is recommended that the person concerned should do so in the near future.

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.

Asylum Applications

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

213 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will review the residency status and procedures in the case of persons (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19442/11]

The persons concerned are a husband and his wife who entered the State on 10th September, 2004, and lodged separate asylum applications on 17th May, 2006. Their asylum applications were considered by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, both of whom concluded that the persons concerned did not meet the criteria for recognition as refugees.

Arising from the refusal of their respective asylum applications, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the persons concerned were separately notified, by letters dated 7th March, 2011, that the Minister proposed to make Deportation Orders in respect of them. They were each given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why Deportation Orders should not be made against them. In addition, they were notified of their respective entitlements to apply for Subsidiary Protection in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006.

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

Citizenship Applications

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

214 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the current position in the matter of determination of naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19443/11]

I am advised that an application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in December 2009 and my predecessor decided to refuse the application on 2 March, 2011. The person concerned was informed of this in a letter issued to him on 11 March, 2011.

It is open to the person concerned to lodge a new application for a certificate of naturalisation if and when he is in a position to meet the statutory requirements. However, in doing so he should bear in mind the reasons for refusal of his previous application.

My officials inform me that there is no record of an application for a certificate of naturalisation from the spouse of the person concerned.

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.

Deportation Orders

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

215 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will review the case of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19444/11]

I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that the person referred to by the Deputy is the subject of a Deportation Order, following a comprehensive and thorough examination of his asylum claim and of his application to remain temporarily in the State. He has been evading his deportation since 3 November 2009 and should he come to the notice of the Garda authorities, he would be liable to arrest and detention. He should, therefore, present himself to the Garda National Immigration Bureau without any further delay.

As a general matter of policy, it would be logistically inconsistent to reward persons who have failed a very fair and comprehensive asylum process, and who have thereafter proceeded to evade their deportation for several years, by granting such persons residency in the State.

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.

Residency Permits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

216 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the history of the case in the matter of determination of residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19445/11]

I am informed by the Immigration Division of my Department that the person concerned made an application for residency in the State on 27 March 2007 on the basis of his being the spouse of an EU national exercising their right to free movement. Following consideration of this application, under the provisions of the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations, 2006, a decision was made to refuse the application. The person concerned was notified of this decision by registered letter dated 24 September, 2007 which was returned undelivered. A subsequent issuing of the letter, on 14 January, 2008, was not returned and presumed delivered.

Following the ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union in the case of Metock -v- Ireland in July, 2008, this application, amongst others, was reviewed by EU Treaty Rights Section of my Department. The person concerned was notified in writing of the outcome of that review by letter dated 12 August, 2008. They were advised that, in order to obtain a residence card, they must report to the local immigration office and that the permission to remain would be backdated to 27 September, 2007. The person concerned was also advised that their passport would be endorsed with the appropriate permission to remain. No correspondence, in response to the letter of 12 August, 2008, was received from the applicant and he did not register with the local immigration office.

On 25 March, 2011, the person concerned wrote to EU Treaty Rights Section stating that, when the letter from EU Treaty Rights Section was received, they were intending to return temporarily to their home country. The person added that they presumed they could present to the local immigration office on their return to the State. Documentation was submitted to EU Treaty Rights Section with the letter of 25 March, 2011 which, it was stated, the applicant hoped was sufficient to get registered. On 5 April, 2011, the applicant was informed that, as they had failed to register with the local immigration office and had been absent from the State for a period exceeding one year it was not now possible to register based on the approval letter of August, 2008. The person concerned was informed that a fresh application should be made. To date, EU Treaty Rights Section has not received a reply from the applicant.

All of the above should, of course, be known to the applicant.

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.

Deportation Orders

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

217 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if a full review of the circumstances will be undertaken in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Waterford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19446/11]

I am advised that the application for asylum made by the person concerned was fairly and comprehensively examined before a decision to refuse it was arrived at. I am further informed that the representations he submitted for consideration under Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), together with all refoulement issues, were given the fullest consideration before his Deportation Order was made on 11th September 2003. The individual did not present to the Garda National Immigration Bureau in October 2003 and instead evaded his deportation for almost 6 years until June 2009.

The Deportation Order requires him to remove himself from the State and remain thereafter outside the State. By failing to remove himself from the State, he is in breach of the Deportation Order. The enforcement of the Deportation Order is an operational matter for the Garda National Immigration Bureau.

The individual made an application to have his Deportation Order revoked under Section 3(11) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended). Having considered the application fully, the Deportation Order was affirmed and this decision was conveyed to the applicant and copied to his legal representative on 29th June 2011.

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

Residency Permits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

218 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if details of residency permission updates granted since 1998 will be furnished in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 1; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19447/11]

The person concerned was granted permission to remain in the State for an initial one year period. This decision was conveyed in writing to the person concerned by letter dated 20th April, 2006. This permission to remain was subsequently renewed and is currently valid to 29th May, 2013. Each period of permission to remain became operative once the person concerned had completed the registration process with the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB).

If the person concerned requires a letter detailing his reckonable residency in the State, he should send a request in writing to the Garda National Immigration Bureau, 13-14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2.

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

219 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if a record of updated grants of permission to remain will be provided in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 1; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19448/11]

The person concerned was granted permission to remain in the State for an initial three year period. This decision was conveyed in writing to the person concerned by letter dated 23rd November, 2004. This permission to remain was subsequently renewed and is currently valid to 2nd April, 2012. Each period of permission to remain became operative once the person concerned had completed the registration process with the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB).

If the person concerned requires a letter detailing his reckonable residency in the State, he should send a request in writing to the Garda National Immigration Bureau, 13-14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2.

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.

Defence Forces Property

Michael Creed

Question:

220 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Defence his proposals in respect of a property (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19323/11]

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. The property referred to is surplus to military requirements and has been earmarked for disposal subject to favourable market conditions.

Food Safety Standards

Mary Mitchell O'Connor

Question:

221 Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his plans to ban unpasteurised milk; if he will consider the option of regulating the industry in place of an outright ban and if he will consider holding a public consultation on the matter. [19240/11]

The reason for maintaining a ban on the sale of raw milk for human consumption is to protect public health. This is based on strong advice from both food safety and public health professionals. There have been very serious health issues associated with the drinking of raw milk in Ireland and in a number of other countries.

The introduction of S.I. No. 910 of 2005 to implement the EU Food and Feed Hygiene Regulations in 2006 had the effect of removing the existing legal basis for the prohibition of the sale of raw cows milk for direct human consumption under S.I. No. 9 of 1996. Consideration was then given to extending the ban to cover goats and sheep milk. A consultation process was held during 2008 to determine public views on the proposal to extend the ban to include goats and sheep milk. Seventeen responses were received. Neither my Department nor the Food Safety Authority of Ireland were convinced that the submissions received provided any justification to oppose the expert advice that the extended ban should be supported in legislation.

While public health is the overriding consideration, it is also worth noting that legislation required to allow the sale of raw milk on a restricted basis would be much more complicated and would impose very significant extra cost on my Department in relation to oversight and enforcement. Failure to adequately oversee such high-risk business operations could result in serious national and international reputational risk, for instance in the event of an outbreak of TB being linked to the consumption of raw milk purchased from an establishment approved by the competent authority. It should be noted that the prevalence of TB in herds in Ireland puts us in a different position to most other Member States in the EU where the disease has been eradicated. It is inappropriate that Ireland should adopt the same approach to the consumption of raw milk as countries that do not have the same difficulty with TB and therefore have no associated risk.

In all the circumstances I am satisfied that a ban on the sale of raw milk for human consumption is fully justified. I do not propose to ban the sale of cheese or other products manufactured from raw milk, as the same risk to public health does not arise.

Article 10 (8) of EU Regulation 853 of 2004 provides that a Member State may, of its own initiative and subject to the general provisions of the Treaty, maintain or establish national rules prohibiting or restricting the placing on the market within its territory of raw milk or raw cream intended for direct human consumption. Section 54 of the Health Act of 1947 (as amended by Section 25 of the Irish Medicines Board (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2006) has been identified as the appropriate primary legislation for this purpose and the Department of Health has agreed to promote a Statutory Instrument under that Act on behalf of my Department. The latest indicative timeframe for the introduction of the S.I. is end 2011, which includes allowance for a 3-month EU notification period.

Grant Payments

Sean Conlan

Question:

222 Deputy Seán Conlan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan will receive their REP scheme payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19286/11]

The person named commenced REPS 4 in May 2009 and has received full payment in respect of year 1.

A discrepancy relating to the LINNET and Orchard Supplementary measures under the REPS plan was discovered during a check between the applicant's Single Payment Scheme application and the REPS application. My officials are currently investigating this discrepancy and will in touch with the applicant directly.

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

223 Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a REP scheme payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Offaly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19317/11]

The person named commenced REPS 4 in August 2009 and has received full payment in respect of year 1.

The advance payment of 75% totalling €4,076.58 issued on 20 June 2011. Payment of the final 25% cannot be made until all outstanding checks are finalised and compliance with the scheme conditions has been fully established. Payment will issue at the earliest possible date once all checks have been completed.

Official Engagements

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

224 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he intends to visit China this year following the visit by the Chinese Vice Minister for Agriculture, Mr Niu Dun, in May of this year. [19351/11]

Since taking office, I have focused on developing and deepening our trade links and levels of cooperation with China, which is the world's fourth largest food importer and the fifth largest exporter of agriculture produce. With a population of 1.3 billion and with increasing urbanisation and affluence, China offers the Irish agri-food and fisheries sector enormous potential in the future and is already a significant destination for exports of Irish agri-food and seafood products. Last year, Ireland exported over €107 million in food, seafood, beverages, forestry products and wool to China, as well as a further €95 million worth to Hong Kong. China can play a key role in fulfilling the ambitions of the Food Harvest 2020 strategy in terms of increasing export value in the agri-food sector.

The recent visit in May this year of the Chinese Vice Minister, Mr Niu Dun was a very successful one, which culminated in the signing of an Action Plan between the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and the Irish Department of Fisheries and Food on mutual co-operation between the two countries in the agri-food and fisheries sectors. The visit and the Action Plan, has led to the deepening of relationships between both countries, between Vice Minister Niu Dun and myself and Minister McEntee and between our respective officials. Ultimately, I would envisage that this would result in a greater understanding of, and confidence in, the integrity of our respective food safety and veterinary control systems, through the proposed sharing of expertise in areas of food safety, veterinary health, animal husbandry and the seafood sector. As part of the Action Plan, it is also proposed that there would be an exchange of specialist personnel between our respective administrations and that Chinese officials could also undertake specialist courses in Ireland in food safety, veterinary public health and animal husbandry.

During the visit of the Chinese Vice Minister for Agriculture, Mr Niu Dun to Ireland, he kindly extended an invitation to me to visit China. I would hope to be able to visit China before the end of the year but this will of course be contingent on agreeing a date that is mutually convenient and of course having regard to any national demands at that time.

Pension Provisions

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

225 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the basis on which is it proposed to reduce the pension entitlements arising from employment and early retirement on ill-health grounds as per letter dated 4 May 2011 in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19426/11]

The person named retired on ill-health grounds and is in receipt of a pension under the Pension Scheme for Non Established State Employees. At retirement his pension was integrated with (i.e. reduced to take account of) the appropriate rate of Illness Benefit payable by the Department of Social Protection.

Under the terms of the Pension Scheme, his occupational pension fell to be re-calculated to take account of his entitlement to the State Pension payable by the Department of Social Protection from the date of his 66th birthday. As the rate of the State Pension is higher than the rate of Illness Benefit, the amount of the occupational pension is consequently lower.

Afforestation Programme

John McGuinness

Question:

226 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food further to Parliamentary Question No. 311 of 14 December 2010, if he will investigate this case further; if he will request Coillte to resolve matters with the landowners; if Coillte intends to provide walks through this land; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19483/11]

Coillte Teoranta was established as a private company under the Forestry Act, 1988 and day-to-day operational matters, such as planting for private landowners, is the responsibility of the company. Coillte has advised, however, that it will contact the persons concerned directly on this matter.

Youth Services

Anthony Lawlor

Question:

227 Deputy Anthony Lawlor asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs taking into account the 12.4% population increase in the Kildare North constituency, as outlined in census 2011, the plans in place to increase the resources and level of support for youth services in the area, bearing in mind that the population increase is mainly due to natural increase and therefore the constituency has a high population of young persons; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19399/11]

The 2011 budget allocation for the Youth Affairs Unit of my Department is €60.154 million on current expenditure and €800,00 on capital expenditure. This funding supports the delivery of a range of youth work programmes and services for all young people, including those from disadvantaged communities, by the voluntary youth work sector. Some €656,000 has been allocated to youth projects and clubs in Co.Kildare. My Department is in the process of developing a Youth Policy Framework which will, inter alia, provide greater co-ordination and coherence in youth service provision and related services for young people. My Department has also recently established a Task Group under the auspices of the National Youth Work Advisory Committee to examine current funding mechanisms and to consider options for moving towards a more streamlined resource effective approach.

Missing Persons

Finian McGrath

Question:

228 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the reason for the delay in implementing the 116000 number for missing children. [19288/11]

The purpose of the 116000 phone number is to provide a contact number to families if children go missing. My Department is involved in ongoing discussions with other Government Departments in relation to the development of a hotline. The issue of missing children is a matter for the Garda Síochána.

Preschool Services

David Stanton

Question:

229 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her roles and responsibilities or those of any body under her aegis in the development and provision of early years and preschool education; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19383/11]

The principle vehicle for my Department, in developing and providing early childhood care and education, is the free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme. The pre-school year was introduced in January 2010 and provides early learning in a formal setting to children in the year before they commence primary school. In 2011, the ECCE programme is expected to cost €166 million.

As well as the ECCE programme, I have responsibility for two other major programmes in the area of early childhood care and education. These are the Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) programme, which provides funding to community child care services to enable them to charge reduced child care fees to disadvantaged and low income parents, and the Childcare Education and Training Support (CETS) programme, which supports parents availing of certain FAS and Vocational Education Committee (VEC) courses.

The ECCE programme has been extremely successful to date with almost every pre-school service in the State involved in its delivery and a participation rate of 63,000 children, or 94% of the eligible age cohort, from September 2010. Children are eligible for the free Pre-School Year where they are aged more than 3 years and 2 months and less than 4 years and 7 months in September of the relevant year. The fact that the ECCE programme is universally available free of charge to all pre-school children, is important in terms of ensuring equality of access and school readiness.

All Pre-School Leaders working in the free Pre-School Year are required to hold minimum qualifications in early education and a higher capitation rate is paid to services in which all Pre-School Leaders and Pre-School Assistants hold higher level qualifications. Participating services are required to adhere to the principles of Siolta, the National Framework for Early Learning, and are also encouraged to implement the Aistear Curriculum for children aged from birth to 6 years, when providing age appropriate pre-school activities.

Services are assisted in this by a national team of Síolta Co-ordinators, provided by a number of National Voluntary Childcare Organisations which are funded by my Department. In addition, the 33 City and County Childcare Committees (CCCs) which are funded by my Department, play an important support role in assisting ECCE services in implementing Siolta and Aistear and in providing access to training and other quality supports.

The Pre-School Year is an important development which I hope to improve and develop incrementally over the term of this Government. In doing this, I envisage that officials in my Department will work closely with their colleagues in the Department of Education and Skills to develop a more integrated approach to early education. An example of this will be a co-ordinated approach to tackling literacy and numeracy problems from an early age.

Health Services

Catherine Murphy

Question:

230 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the reason a special care unit (details supplied) is being re-opened on 5 July, in view of the fact that none of the issues raised in the recent Health Information and Quality Authority report has been addressed and the Health Service Executive has accepted that the building is in need of remodelling; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19386/11]

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

Medical Cards

Jim Daly

Question:

231 Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Health the position regarding a medical card renewal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19262/11]

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

Pension Provisions

Pearse Doherty

Question:

232 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Health if he will confirm that private employees of a company (details supplied) in Dublin 20 are being charged the public sector pension levy; the number of staff currently paying this levy; the period of time they have been charged this levy; the legal basis for the charging of this levy; the use to which the money charged is subsequently put; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19273/11]

Pearse Doherty

Question:

238 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Health the instructions given by the Health Service Executive to the management of a company (details supplied) in Dublin 20 regarding the application of the public service pension levy to salaries of employees of the company; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19305/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 232 and 238 together.

I understand that a Private Pension Scheme has been in operation in the company in question since 1973. The scheme is a non-contributory defined benefit scheme and is an exempt approved scheme (approved under Section 774 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997). It was established to provide retirement and life assurance benefits for its members. As of 30th June 2011, there were:

738 Active members;

195 deferred members;

49 members in receipt of a pension;

Total scheme membership of 982.

When the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act, 2009 came into force, the Department of Finance confirmed that the a Pension Related Deduction (PRD) applied to all employees of the company, as it is deemed to be a public sector employer under the legislation (Sections 1(i), 2(1)(b)(i) and 2(1)(b)(iii) refer). The deduction came into effect in March 2009.

I have also been informed that the Private Pension Scheme was closed to new entrants on 31st December 2006. Staff who joined the company on, or after, January 1st 2007 are members of the New Model Superannuation Scheme. There are 178 New Model Scheme members as of 31st December 2010, who also pay the PRD.

At present, monies deducted from salaries under the PRD are retained by the company. To offset this, I understand that the HSE has reduced the company's annual allocation by a similar amount. In 2011, their allocation has been reduced by approximately €2.05 million, to offset the PRD retained by them. In effect, the PRD is being used for day-to-day running expenses of the organisation.

Medical Cards

Joan Collins

Question:

233 Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Health if the Health Service Executive has received an application for a renewal of a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied). [19280/11]

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

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

234 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health the reason for a delay in the allocation of a medical card number in respect of applicants in the Dublin 12 area; the steps he is taking to ensure that applicants can have a medical card number issued promptly thus reducing the financial stress on persons who have to wait months; and when he expects the backlog to be cleared. [19281/11]

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

Hospital Accommodation

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

235 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the amount of money the Health Service Executive has spent on security for the unopened Tralee Community Hospital, County Kerry, since it has been completed; when the new hospital will open; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19296/11]

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

Health Services

Frank Feighan

Question:

236 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Health the position regarding the provision of funding to provide a health care centre in Keadue. [19302/11]

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

Hospital Staff

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

237 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Health the number of consultants who have received remuneration from the VHI of over €1 million; the number of consultants who receive between €900,000 and €200,000 in remuneration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19304/11]

This Government is committed to reviewing costs generally across all sectors, including the private health insurance market, and scrutinising where savings can be made for the Exchequer and the consumer. I am not satisfied that any consultant should be paid €1 million in a single year. This level of remuneration is grossly out of step with most ordinary people's expectations. I am also dissatisfied that a number of other consultants earned enormous sums from the VHI and no doubt to a lesser extent from other insurers, in recent years.

Tables 1 and 2 below show a breakdown of consultant earnings from VHI during 2010. Table 1 shows the gross payments in 2010 by VHI to consultants who are engaged in both public and private practice. Table 2 shows the gross payments in 2010 by VHI to consultants who have private practice only. The professional fees paid by Vhi Healthcare to consultants are expected to cover the costs of the procedure or service rendered plus the doctor's rooms, professional indemnity insurance, practice nurse, secretary and sundry other practice expenses. As can be seen from Table 1, the majority of consultants who have both public and private practice (57.95%) were paid less than €50,000 by VHI in 2010. 11% of consultants with both public and private practice were paid in excess of €200,000 by VHI in 2010.

In relation to consultants who have both public and private practice, there are a number of different contracts under which consultants practise and are remunerated for their public practice. Table 3 gives the public salary scales for consultants who engage in both public and private practice.

Type A: Work exclusively for the public hospital with no private practice.

Type B: Work exclusively for the public hospital but may engage in limited private practice on the public hospital campus up to a maximum of 20% of total clinical throughput.

Type C: To be created only in exceptional circumstances where there is a demonstrable benefit to the public health system. Such a consultant will be entitled to treat private patients outside the public hospital campus.

In addition as a special transitional arrangement, a Type B* contract was available to existing Category II Consultants and Category I Consultants in Emergency Medicine. This permits them to engage in private practice in facilities operated by the employer or in private hospitals on the public hospital campus. Consultants holding this type of contract may also engage in private practice in locations outside the public hospital campus subject to them signing up to all the other terms and conditions of the new contract.

Table 1

VHI Study of individual consultant earnings with Public and Private Hospital attachments; for all speciality groups — Discharges 01-Jan-10 to 31-Dec-10

Earning Band

Consultants

% of Total Consultants

0-50,000

1,061

57.95%

50,001 — 100,000

295

16.11%

100,001 — 150,000

154

8.41%

150,001 — 200,000

118

6.44%

200,001 — 250,000

79

4.31%

250,001 — 300,000

43

2.35%

300,001 — 350,000

28

1.53%

350,000 — 400,000

12

0.66%

400,001 — 450,000

11

0.60%

450,001 — 500,000

7

0.38%

500,001 — 550,000

8

0.44%

550,001 — 600,000

5

0.27%

600,001 — 650,000

2

0.11%

650,001 — 700,000

3

0.16%

700,001 — 750,000

2

0.11%

750,001 — 800,000

3

0.16%

1,831

100%

Table 2

VHI Study of individual consultant earnings with Private Hospital attachment only; for all speciality groups. (Discharges 01-Jan-10 to 31-Dec-10

Earning Band

Consultants

% of Total Consultants

0 — 50,000

160

33.97%

50,001 — 100,000

74

15.71%

100,001 — 150,000

56

11.89%

150,001 — 200,000

56

11.89%

200,001 — 250,000

34

7.22%

250,001 — 300,000

30

6.37%

300,001 — 350,000

17

3.61%

350,001 — 400,000

15

3.18%

400,001 — 450,000

8

1.70%

450,001 — 500,000

7

1.49%

500,001 — 550,000

1

0.21%

550,001 — 600,000

5

1.06%

600,001 — 650,000

2

0.42%

650,001 — 700,000

2

0.42%

700,001 — 750,000

1

0.21%

800,001 — 850,000

2

0.42%

850,001 — 1,000,000

0

0.42%

1,000,001

1

0.21%

Table 3

Consultant Contract 2008 — Salary Scales 2010

Salary ranges w.e.f. 1 Jan 2010

Type A

€176k — €192k

Type B

€173k — €184k

Type B*

€159k — €167k

Academic Consultants

Type A

€194k — €242k

Type B

€185k — €237k

+Type B*

€176k — €219

Table 4

Consultants who remain on the 1997 contract

Salary ranges w.e.f. 1 Jan 2010

Category I

€159k — €176k

Category II

€149k — €158k

Academic Consultants

Category I

€183k — €220k

Category II

€165k — €211k

Table 5

New entrants

Contract Type

Scale Points

1

2

3

4

Type A

01/01/2011

€166,010

€168,420

€170,831

€173,243

Type B

01/01/2011

€156,258

€158,338

€158,400

€158,400

Table 6

Allowances

Total

Clinical Directors

€46,000

Continuing Medical Education

€3,000

Masters of Maternity Hospitals

€53,009

On-call/Call-out payments

€3,857 to €10,460

Emergency call-out payments

78.59 to 104.84 per call out — annual limit

€22,303

I met the Chairman and CEO of the VHI very shortly after my appointment in March 2011. At that meeting, I expressed my concerns about the VHI's significant claims costs. Because of its size and position in the market the VHI has a crucial impact on costs and I made clear my firm belief that this issue needed to be addressed vigorously. Many of the concerns about the company's approach to costs were outlined in a report commissioned by my Department and conducted by the Department's actuarial advisers, Milliman.

I also raised the important issue of the base cost of procedures with the company. They responded to me with an outline of how their payments to consultants were calculated. I am not satisfied that these costs represent best value for the consumer. For this reason I met with the Health Insurance Authority on 10 June 2011, as the regulator of the private health insurance market, and requested them to examine the issue of provider costs in the market. The Authority undertook to revert to me within one month on how this matter might be addressed.

In April I welcomed the VHI's announcement of its financial outturn for 2010, which shows a significant improvement over the 2009 outturn. I acknowledged that, over the last two years, the company has taken steps to contain the rising costs of meeting customers' health care needs, including a 15% reduction in consultants fees per procedure, a 6% reduction in private hospital fees per procedure and an annualised reduction in internal administration costs of €14 million. These actions have generated annualised savings of €100 million. VHI pays professional fee benefits to medical practitioners for services rendered on a fixed fee per service basis. In 2011 VHI anticipates that the total remuneration paid to hospital consultants will be over €50 million less than the total remuneration paid in 2009.

Question No. 238 answered with Question No. 232.

Medical Cards

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

239 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health when a decision will be made regarding an application for full medical cards by persons (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19316/11]

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

General Medical Services Scheme

Michael Creed

Question:

240 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health if he will outline the criteria used to determine eligibility by a GP for a GMS contract; if he will clarify his intentions regarding the recommendations of the Competition Authority in this area which suggest that all GPs should have access to a GMS contract; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19322/11]

The General Medical Services (GMS) Capitation Contract between individual GPs and the HSE is based on an Agreement concluded between the Minister for Health and the Irish Medical Organisation in 1989. The entry terms to the scheme form part of the Agreement. There are three routes for entry for fully qualified and trained GPs: where a vacancy arises due to the retirement, resignation or death of an existing GMS doctor; where a new GMS panel is created in response to an identified need for an additional doctor in an area; or where a GMS doctor obtains approval from the HSE for the creation of an Assistant with a View to Partnership within his or her practice.

The HSE is required, before filling a vacant GMS panel or creating a new panel, to take account of the potential viability of the panel under a range of headings, including: the number of GMS patients on the panel and their age/gender profile; the number and age profile of the GMS doctors in the area, and their panel sizes; the private practice profile of the area, including the ratio of private to public patients; the population size in the area and surrounding areas; and the particular public health needs of the area in question.

The EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support provides for the introduction of legislation to remove restrictions on GPs wishing to treat public patients under the GMS Scheme. e Competition Authority report —Competition in Professional Services — General Medical Practitioners (2010) also included a recommendation regarding the elimination of such restrictions.

The Government recently agreed to the preparation of Heads of a Bill which will eliminate current restrictions on fully qualified and trained GPs wishing to obtain contracts to treat public patients under the GMS contract and empowered the Minister for Health to set entry terms based on public health and public interest considerations.

This proposed legislation will result in medical card and GP visit card patients having a greater choice of GPs under the GMS Scheme. It will also help to ensure that private patients of new GP contract holders, who qualify for a medical card or GP visit card, will not have to change their GP. I hope to be in a position to make an announcement in the near future as to how this will be implemented.

Dental Treatment Scheme

Michael Creed

Question:

241 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health if the findings of a survey by the Irish Dental Association have been brought to his attention; if he has quantified the economic costs to his Department in view of the critical findings in this report including increased incidence of gum disease, extractions, broken dentures and loose teeth arising from cuts to the dental treatment services scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19324/11]

My colleague, the Minister for Health, met the Irish Dental Association on 26th May last to discuss a range of issues, including their concerns about changes to the Dental Treatment Services Scheme (DTSS) and the findings of their survey. In view of the current position of the public finances it is not possible to increase spending on the DTSS, which is currently being maintained at the 2008 level of approximately €63 million. Last year the Health Service Executive (HSE) introduced measures to ensure that patients with special needs, high risk patients and those who have greater clinical needs receive priority for treatment. The HSE will continue to monitor the operation of the DTSS to ensure the most beneficial, effective and efficient use of available resources.

Primary Care Strategy

Simon Harris

Question:

242 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Health if he will outline his plans for a primary health centre at a location (details supplied) in County Wicklow; the size of the centre; the process by which the location was decided; the services which will be provided at this centre; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19326/11]

Simon Harris

Question:

243 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Health if any contractual agreement has been entered into by the Health Service Executive to provide services at a primary health centre (details supplied) in County Wicklow. [19327/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 242 and 243 together.

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

Simon Harris

Question:

244 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Health if he will outline the primary care plans in place in respect of a location (details supplied) in County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19328/11]

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

Simon Harris

Question:

245 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Health if he will outline the primary care centres that exist in County Wicklow; if he will further outline the specific services and facilities in these centres; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19329/11]

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

Medical Cards

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

246 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health if he will indicate if and when a medical card will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19332/11]

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

Community Care

Billy Kelleher

Question:

247 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health if he will review the home care package in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [19343/11]

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

Ambulance Service

Frank Feighan

Question:

248 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Health if, in relation to the failure of systems to have a liver transplant patient (details supplied) delivered to London in time, he will investigate how this occurred; if State agencies, the Health Service Executive and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport are culpable; the measures he will put in place to ensure it does not recur; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19387/11]

An air ambulance service is currently provided by the Air Corps through a service level agreement between the Department of Health and the Department of Defence. The Air Corps service provides for: inter-hospital transfer of patients with spinal or other serious injury or illness; neonates requiring immediate medical intervention in Ireland; patients requiring specialised emergency treatment in the UK; organ retrieval teams within Ireland; and paediatric patients requiring immediate medical intervention in Ireland.

I have asked the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), to co-ordinate an inquiry into the events and circumstances surrounding the incident referred to by the Deputy. HIQA will work with all of the relevant agencies involved. Its inquiry will clarify the facts that led to this situation and will report to me with recommendations on how best to operate transport arrangements to ensure such a problem does not occur in future.

Once again I would like to express my deep concern and sympathy to the family over the traumatic events that have led to this lost opportunity. It would not be appropriate to go into any further detail on this matter until HIQA has published its findings.

Hospital Services

Anthony Lawlor

Question:

249 Deputy Anthony Lawlor asked the Minister for Health the position regarding the upgrading of phase 3 at Naas General Hospital, County Kildare, which, based on the 12.7% population increase in County Kildare according to the 2011 census, is now urgently required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19397/11]

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

Health Policy

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

250 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health the policy-making structures that exist within the Health Service Executive; the extent to which policy changes require his or his Department’s approval; the number of personnel within the policy-making sector of the HSE; the extent to which forward planning is the responsibility of this or other sectors within the service; if he will indicate with whom responsibility rests for planning for future in all areas of the HSE; the degree to which such persons are expected to identify shortages in personnel or other inadequacies within the services; the degree to which they have done so; the action taken or required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19449/11]

The Department of Health has primary responsibility for health policy development and review. The HSE National Service Plan is the primary vehicle through which my Department monitors and evaluates the performance of the HSE to ensure that health services are delivered in accordance with Government policy. The National Service Plan 2011 outlines how the HSE plans to deliver health and personal social services within its current budget and is based on service activity levels for 2011 which are broadly in line with 2010 levels. My Department is working collaboratively with the HSE to develop next year's Service Plan in the context of the comprehensive expenditure review of the health sector. By reducing costs and reforming the way services are provided, the Government is confident that the HSE will maintain appropriate access to services and continue to improve health outcomes for the population.

I recently established a new Interim HSE Board, comprised of senior representatives from both my Department and the HSE. The Board is focussing on operational excellence and it reviews monthly performance reports on all aspects of progression of the HSE National Plan including financial, human resource and service activity. I have asked the Board as one of its priority tasks to examine how it will streamline reporting relationships to ensure that decisions are implemented quickly and as a result, better services are delivered for patients.

I want to develop strong and coherent governance arrangements for the entire health care system which will continue to operate after the abolition of the existing legal governance structure. This will facilitate the Government's plans to reform the health system and make the health services more directly accountable to me as Minister for Health. In the short term, we plan to establish a Special Delivery Unit to tackle waiting lists. Over the longer term, our goal is to eliminate the two-tier health service and move to a system of Universal Health Insurance.

Medical Cards

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

251 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health if and when a medical card will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19450/11]

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

Social Welfare Benefits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

252 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health if an evaluation has been done into the family circumstances and health and welfare in the case of persons (details supplied) in County Kildare; if the matter will be investigated with a view to resolution as a matter of urgency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19451/11]

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

Medical Cards

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

253 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health if and when an EU medical card will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19453/11]

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

254 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health if a medical card will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19454/11]

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

Medicinal Products

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

255 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health if a difficulty exists in obtaining supplies of a product (details supplied) or its generic equivalent in view of the fact that a number of patients have had such difficulty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19505/11]

I have been advised by the Irish Medicines Board that it is not aware of any shortage in the supply of the medicinal product referred to by the Deputy. In addition, it has checked with the pharmaceutical company concerned which has advised that there is no problem with its supply.

Semi-State Bodies

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

256 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the Exchequer funds given to CIE in 2010 excluding funds given to its subsidiaries; the administrative cost of CIE excluding Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann and Irish Rail; his views on the role of CIE in view of the fact that each subsidiary has its own chief executive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19252/11]

The company's Annual Report & Financial Statements for year ended 31st December 2010 have recently been published and are available on the CIÉ website at www.cie.ie and copies have also been placed in the Dáil Library. Exchequer funds for subvention and infrastructure paid to CIÉ in 2010 relate entirely to the subsidiaries and are outlined in note 9 to the 2010 Accounts.

Total expenditure incurred by the CIÉ holding company (including CIÉ Tours) amounted to €45.113m in 2010 (see note 1 to the Accounts dealing with the breakdown of activities in CIE and its subsidiaries).

I recently announced the appointment of new Chairpersons to CIE and Dublin Bus, Bus Eireann and Iarnród Eireann. As part of the new governance model for the CIE Group the chairpersons of Dublin Bus, Bus Eireann and Iarnród Eireann have also been appointed to the CIE Board. In the interest of the future development of the CIE Group, I envisage CIÉ overseeing good corporate governance and the strategic direction of the CIE Group whilst encouraging commercial autonomy and efficiency within the subsidiaries.

Taxi Regulations

Michael McGrath

Question:

257 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide details of the review of the taxi industry; and if he will include the operation of the inspection regime around the country. [19287/11]

In my announcements of the 8th and 24th June respectively I clarified the terms of reference and the membership of the Taxi Regulation Review Group, in line with the commitment in the Programme for Government. The review will enable the necessary further reforms of the sector to allow consumers to have confidence in the taxi system while also ensuring that legitimate and competent operators and drivers can be rewarded fairly by operating under a regulatory framework that is adequately enforced. It will address a wide range of issues relating to the taxi sector including the current regulatory policy and practices, licensing systems, enforcement and future dialogue with the taxi sector.

The strengthening of the existing inspection and enforcement arrangemets will therefore be a key focus of the review

Public Transport

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

258 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when it is intended that Bus Éireann will introduce real-time bus timetable information in Cork city; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19321/11]

Following the establishment of the National Transport Authority (NTA) in December 2009 responsibility for the delivery of an integrated transport system, including Real Time Passenger Information (RTPI) in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) is a matter for the National Transport Authority. Subsequently on 31st March 2010 an Order was signed by the then Minister extending the functions of the Authority in relation to RTPI to the cities of Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford with effect from 1st April 2010 — see S.I. No. 139/2010 {National Transport Authority (Extension of Remit) Order 2010}

The NTA has recently informed my Department that the roll-out of RTPI signage should commence in Cork City by the end of this year, with advance testing likely to commence in late Autumn.

Appointments to State Boards

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

259 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will be reappointing the board of the Dublin Airport Authority after it expires in 2011. [19350/11]

I appoint directors to the board of the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the State Airports Act 2004 and Section 22 of the Air Navigation and Transport (Amendment) Act 1998, as amended by paragraph 9 of the Schedule to the Act of 2004, as the need arises.

There are thirteen director positions on the board of the DAA, four of whom are Worker Directors. Currently the position of Chairperson is vacant and six director posts fall due to be filled before the end of the year. I will be appointing a new Chairperson in the near future and will make the other appointments as the vacancies arise.

Taxi Regulations

Finian McGrath

Question:

260 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the reason that no plans were granted to the full-time taxi drivers in the review body. [19414/11]

In my announcements of the 8th and 24th June respectively I have clarified the terms of reference and the membership of the Taxi Regulation Review Group, in line with the commitment in the Programme for Government. The review will enable the necessary further reforms of the sector to allow consumers to have confidence in the taxi system while also ensuring that legitimate and competent operators and drivers can be rewarded fairly by operating under a regulatory framework that is adequately enforced. It will address a wide range of issues relating to the taxi sector including the current regulatory policy and practices, licensing systems, enforcement and future dialogue with the taxi sector.

I would just point out that there is a full-time taxi-driver on the Review Steering Group.

In my view, the wide ranging membership of the Review Steering Group will allow an appropriate contribution from stakeholders, including dispatch operators, drivers, consumers as well as the regulatory and enforcement agencies. I should add that the consultation on the review extends to all interested parties and stakeholders through an invitation for written submissions to be made before the end of July.

Questions Nos. 261 and 262 withdrawn.