Written Answers.

The following are questions tabled by Members for written response and the ministerial replies as received on the day from the Departments [unrevised].
Questions Nos. 1 to 11, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 12 to 18, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 19 to 26, inclusive, answered orally.

Proposed Legislation

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

27 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her legislative priorities for 2011. [19838/11]

Michael Colreavy

Question:

73 Deputy Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the date on which she will publish the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19892/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 27 and 73 together.

I have an extensive legislative programme in 2011 and beyond. My priorities for 2011 are to progress the Child Care (Amendment) Bill 2009 to enactment and in that regard I would like to advise the House that the Bill will be reintroduced to the Dáil at Report Stage on Thursday next 14th July.

My intention is to progress the preparation of Children First legislation in 2011 to put the Children First National Guidelines on a statutory basis. In addition, the Child and Family Support Agency Bill is a priority and a range of matters relating to the new agency, including consideration of the various functions to be discharged and associated governance arrangements, will be addressed in advance of the preparation of Heads of Bill. In advance of this legislation to establish the Child and Family Support Agency for the delivery of child welfare and protection services, my Department is also examining putting in place legislative linkages between the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and the Health Service Executive in respect of the oversight of child welfare and protection services.

The Heads of Bill for a National Vetting Bureau have been progressed by my Department and it has recently been agreed that these will be finalised and brought to Government by the Department of Justice, Equality and Defence in association with my Department. The drafting of a Children's Referendum Bill will follow the consideration by Government of a revised draft wording amending the Constitution. This wording is currently being drafted by the Attorney General's Office in association with my Department and will be brought to Government as soon as this work is complete.

The Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill is also a priority Bill and the Heads and General Scheme will be drafted in consultation with the Adoption Authority. I am very aware of the importance of an information and tracing service for adopted persons and their birth parents and I intend to progress this Bill as quickly as possible. I am not in a position to give a specific date for publication of the Bill at this time.

Departmental Agencies

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

28 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the date on which she will establish the new child welfare agency. [19878/11]

The Government is committed to fundamental reform and transformation of the delivery of our children and family services. A number of significant structural and legislative changes are key to effecting such reform. This includes the establishment of a new agency with dedicated responsibility for the delivery of child welfare and protection services, separate from the HSE and reporting directly to my Department through its Chief Executive. Preliminary work on the establishment of the new agency has been undertaken and this will now be accelerated.

Among the key issues which are being progressed are the legislative and governance arrangements necessary to underpin the establishment and operation of the agency. My Department is also working closely with the National Director for Children and Family Services within the HSE on associated matters, including the need to disaggregate the existing resource base and organisational arrangements for children and family services from the HSE in advance of the establishment of the agency.

The onerous legal and operational responsibilities governing child welfare and protection services mean it is important that there is careful planning and preparation in the creation of the new agency and the assignment to it of operational responsibilities. While the precise final arrangements will take some time, I envisage transitional arrangements being put in place on a progressive basis to ensure the agency has the necessary skills, systems and structures in place to meet its responsibilities. My Department will be working very closely with the National Director for Children and Family Services and others in the HSE and beyond in the development of the new agency. As more detailed plans for the new agency are decided upon further information will be made available. I am very appreciative of the co-operation from the HSE to date in progressing this significant change project, one which will, in my view, create the basis for delivering better outcomes for children and families nationally.

Child Abuse

Dessie Ellis

Question:

29 Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if the planned child welfare agency will be accompanied by the establishment of an all-Ireland protocol for the exchange of information in relation to the investigation and prosecution of cases of abuse; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the absence of such a protocol to date has impeded the exchange of information between the Health Service Executive, the Director of Public Prosecutions, An Garda Síochána and other organisations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19904/11]

The work of the North South Steering Group on Child Protection, which is jointly chaired by my Department and Northern Ireland's Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, includes a particular focus on the development of an inter-jurisdictional protocol for the transfer of child care cases between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. A draft protocol has been developed by a sub-group established for this purpose and is due for approval shortly. The protocol will provide for the sharing of information between the relevant statutory authorities in relation to children who move between jurisdictions and who are in care, are known to the authorities, or in respect of whom there is a level of concern.

A common set of operating procedures to support this protocol, including awareness-raising and training requirements, has been developed by the sub-group for use by staff in the respective jurisdictions. The protocol will apply in the case of:—

Children whose names are on the child protection register in the North or the child protection notification system in the South and who move between the jurisdictions;

Children who are subject of legal orders in one jurisdiction and who move to reside in another;

Children for whom there are significant welfare concerns or who are assessed as particularly vulnerable and who move between jurisdictions.

I welcome the introduction of the protocol which will build on existing levels of ongoing co-operation between respective authorities North and South.

Proposed Legislation

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

30 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she has a contingency plan in place for any emergency legislation that may be required arising out of the pending Supreme Court appeal challenging the powers of the Health Service Executive to assess and respond to allegations of third-party abuse under section 3 of the Child Care Act 1991, while a criminal prosecution is ongoing; if emergency legislation has been drafted for such an eventuality; if the text of such legislation will be published; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19827/11]

I am aware that an appeal is before the Supreme Court which relates to Section 3 of the Child Care Act, 1991. A judicial review was sought in 2009 and successfully defended by the HSE. The High Court ruling of May 2010 was then appealed to the Supreme Court. The HSE continues to strongly defend its position in relation to this matter. The Deputy will appreciate that it would not be appropriate for me to make any further public comment at this point as the matter is before the Court.

Youth Justice Service

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

31 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the date on which the administrative structures of her Department will be finalised; the manner in which the work related to North-South co-operation will be prioritised in the development of these structures; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19886/11]

David Stanton

Question:

45 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her responsibilities regarding the youth justice service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19824/11]

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

46 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her plans to increase links with the Irish Youth Justice Service; the projects she and this organisation will engage in jointly; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19895/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 31, 45 and 46 together.

My Department was established following a series of transfer orders on 3 June, and has taken on legal authority across a range of areas, including the functions of the former Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. Functions of other Government Departments that have been transferred to the new Department are family policy and the Family Support Agency, previously the responsibility of the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs and the National Education and Welfare Board, which came from the Department of Education and Skills.

The new Secretary General was appointed last week. A key priority task for the Secretary General will be the development of the administrative structures for the Department to ensure that it works effectively across what is a challenging brief and to maximise the benefits arising from bringing the various linked functions together. I expect that this work will be completed in the autumn.

North/South co-operation is a function that has been working well within the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (OMCYA) and it will be part of the structures of the new Department. The issue of child protection features prominently in Health Sectoral meetings of the North South Ministerial Council. I plan to attend the next such meeting scheduled for Armagh later this month.

As regards the Irish Youth Justice Service (IYJS), it has been agreed that this will transfer to the new Department and this will take place later this year once the necessary legislative basis is in place. In the meantime on an administrative basis, IYJS staff have been coming to departmental management meetings and structures are being established to facilitate their integration into the work of the Department. I should say that the Director General of the OMCYA has for a number of years chaired the Irish Youth Justice Oversight Committee which brings together people from a number of organisations and which has proved an effective way of managing some of the cross cutting issues that arise.

Asylum Applications

Denis Naughten

Question:

32 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the progress made to date on addressing concerns regarding the care of unaccompanied minors claiming asylum; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18227/11]

Unaccompanied minors seeking asylum are in need of care and protection under the Child Care Act, 1991 and are entitled to the same treatment and rights as indigenous young people. The immediate and the ongoing needs of separated children seeking asylum (SCSA) relating to accommodation, medical and social needs as well as their application for refugee status are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive (HSE) in accordance with the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended) and the Child Care Act, 1991. Where children are identified by An Garda Síochána, at the point of entry, the circumstances are investigated and if there are any concerns about the welfare of the child, they are placed into the care of the HSE.

The Implementation Plan on the Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, 2009, contained a commitment that the HSE would end the use of separately run hostels for separated children seeking asylum and accommodate children in mainstream care, on a par with other children in the care system. In accordance with this commitment, the HSE phased out hostel type care for separated children seeking asylum and since January 2011, hostels have not been used to accommodate unaccompanied minors. Instead each child is cared for in a registered care placement or equivalent. The HSE has developed a national policy on the standards and services to be provided to separated children seeking asylum. The policy seeks to achieve equity and equality of services to separated children seeking asylum vis-à-vis indigenous or resident children and to ensure that there is no differentiation of care provision, care practices, care priorities, standards or protocols.

In response to the escalation in the numbers of separated children going missing, the HSE has worked extremely closely with An Garda Síochána to introduce new measures. This has included close supervision of those at risk of going missing based upon previously established profiles. As a result, whereas 47 separated children went missing in 2009 (with 9 subsequently traced), in 2010, 12 separated children went missing (with 5 subsequently accounted for). The HSE and An Garda Síochána continue to intensify joint efforts to prevent separated children going missing from care and to respond jointly where this does occur.

Child Welfare and Protection

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

33 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs when she will put the children first guidelines on a statutory footing; if it will then be possible to report Government Departments and/or the Health Service Executive for failure to protect the welfare of vulnerable children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19811/11]

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

41 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the date on which she will introduce legislation to place the children first guidelines on a statutory footing; and if the revised children first guidelines will be amended before becoming operational to ensure that they include a requirement for such a service. [19880/11]

Clare Daly

Question:

43 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her plans for the children first guidelines; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19813/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 33, 41 and 43 together.

In line with the Programme for Government, I am committed to the introduction of legislation to underpin Children First, the national guidance on the reporting and management of child welfare and protection concerns. The need for such legislation was also highlighted in the Implementation Plan prepared following the publication of the Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse. My Department has made much progress on this in recent weeks. I will be publishing, later this week, new Children First national guidance. I also hope to be in a position very shortly to outline the details of the proposed legislation, including the requirements attaching to the various agencies with regard to implementation.

National Children’s Strategy

Timmy Dooley

Question:

34 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs when the national children’s strategy implementation group last met; the current composition of the group; its current work plan; when it is next scheduled to meet; if she plans to attend that meeting; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19829/11]

The National Children's Strategy Implementation Group last met on 9th June 2011. Its next meeting is scheduled to take place on 15th September 2011. Members of the group are drawn from government departments and statutory agencies with responsibilities for the provision of services that support children and their development. It also includes representatives of An Garda Síochána and a number of local authorities. I have arranged for full details of the twenty plus member group to be provided to the Deputy.

The National Children's Strategy Implementation Group has an important role to support the implementation of the national children's strategy to achieve better outcomes for children and young people. The group's work plan for 2011 prioritises supports for the development of the children's services committees throughout the country to ensure quality integrated service delivery for children and young people. There are now 10 local children's services committees in place with an additional 5 at the preparatory stage. It is planned to have 20 committees in place by the end of 2012. Promoting evidence based practice is also a priority focus in the group's approach to developing the local committees. The 3 year strategic plan for theWorking Together for Children initiative guides the National Children’s Strategy Implementation Group’s work plans and is available on www.dcya.gov.ie.

I plan to meet the National Children's Strategy Implementation Group at an early date in the context of my plans for the new national children's strategy. I have asked my officials to make the necessary arrangements in consultation with the group.

Homeless Persons

Willie O'Dea

Question:

35 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the steps she will take to tackle homelessness for children leaving care at 18 years of age. [19837/11]

Seán Crowe

Question:

63 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the date on which she will introduce legislation to give children a statutory right to after-care on leaving the care system; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19883/11]

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

64 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her plans to work jointly with the Department of Health and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government to ensure co-ordination between local authorities and the Health Service Executive in tackling youth homelessness; the position regarding any work she has done to date on same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19902/11]

I propose to take Question Nos. 35, 63 and 64 together.

A National Strategy for Youth Homelessness was developed in 2001. A review of progress in 2008 by the HSE in conjunction with other agencies found that significant progress had been made, especially in inter-agency cooperation, early prevention and an ‘out of hours' service. A standardised system is in place whereby Gardaí can access an appropriate place of safety for children found to be at risk out of hours under Section 12 of the Child Care Act, 1991. The service is designed to ensure that children presenting as ‘at risk' outside of normal working hours are provided with an appropriate emergency place of safety, thereby reducing or eliminating social admissions of children in an acute hospital setting. In addition, a pilot out-of-hours social work service is being tested in two locations as provided for in the Implementation Plan published following the Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse.

It is acknowledged that there remain serious information deficits with regard to the number of children accessing services. Work is underway to improve the quality of information on the number of young people under 18 years who are homeless, and to establish what areas of the service are working well and where further improvements are needed. Youth Homelessness has been identified as a priority for 2011 and my Department recently met with service providers and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government to assess and review the current demand for services, the progress made to date under the Strategy and the need to address any outstanding service deficits. This work will continue over the next few months.

It is well recognised that young people leaving care, particularly those from residential care, are vulnerable to homelessness and the provision of an appropriate aftercare service is a vital element in seeking to achieve positive outcomes for young people leaving care. Our legal advice is that further legislation is not required to give children a statutory right to aftercare, as the obligation contained in Section 45(4) of the Child Care Act 1991 is in substance mandatory. The Act creates a statutory power and the HSE, as recipient of this power, must put itself in a position where it can exercise the power should the need arise.

In recognition of its statutory responsibilities, the HSE National After Care Service is underpinned by a National Policy and Procedures Document and is being rolled out nationally under the watch of the HSE's Aftercare Implementation Group. This policy was developed in cooperation with the key stakeholders including the voluntary sector agencies and my Department and it sets out the rationale for the service, the principles upon which it is based and the key elements of the service. It commits to promoting and achieving the best outcomes for young people leaving care and in ensuring consistency of support to these young people.

The HSE policy recognises that Section 45 of the Childcare Act 1991 places a statutory duty on the HSE to form a view in relation to each person leaving care as to whether there is a "need for assistance" and if it forms such a view to provide services in accordance with the section and its resources. The policy states that all young people who have had a care history with the HSE — be it foster care, residential care or high support — are entitled to an Aftercare Service based on their assessed needs.

Aftercare Services provided within the HSE to young people who are preparing to leave or who have left the care of the H.S.E. will be developed in consultation with the young person, his/her family, carer, child and family social worker, link worker, and other statutory, community and voluntary agencies. The core eligible age range for aftercare is 18 years and up to 21 years which can extend until the completion of a course of education in which he/she is engaged up to the age of 23 years.

Child Welfare and Protection

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

36 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her role in ensuring the welfare of children with special needs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19812/11]

Clare Daly

Question:

67 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her role in ensuring the welfare of children with special needs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19814/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 36 and 67 together.

As Minister for Children and Youth Affairs I have a wide ranging perspective on the many social and economic policies across Government which relate to children. Government colleagues obviously have particular responsibilities in relation to special needs: for example the Minister for Education and Skills in relation to education, the Minister for Health in the provision of health supports and the Minister for Transport in arranging for the provision of accessible transport services. The decision to establish a dedicated Minister for Children and Youth Affairs reflects this Government's wish to achieve an overall policy framework which is in the interests of children.

National Children’s Strategy

Brian Stanley

Question:

37 Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the date on which she will publish the new national children’s and young people’s strategy for the period 2012-2017. [19889/11]

The National Children's Strategy,Our Children — Their Lives, which was published in November 2000, was Ireland’s first children’s strategy. The goals of the strategy, that children will have a voice in matters which affect them, that their lives will be better understood and that they will receive quality supports and services to promote all aspects of their development, will inform the development of the new strategy for the period from 2012 to 2017. In April of this year I launched a nationwide consultation process with children and young people. Its purpose was to ask children and young people about what is good, what is not good and what they would change about being a child or young person in Ireland today. Their views have an important contribution to make to the new strategy.

The challenges facing children and their families today are very different to those that existed when the National Children's Strategy,Our Children — Their Lives, was published. There are a number of new and emerging issues such as childhood obesity, trends in child poverty and consumerism, which are impacting upon children’s lives today. The development of the new strategy provides an opportunity to focus on these issues and how they may be addressed to improve the experience of childhood for this and future generations of children. It is planned that the new children’s strategy will be published in mid 2012.

My Department is also currently developing a new Youth Policy Framework. The specific aims of the Policy Framework are to:

Articulate the policy objectives of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs in relation to youth;

Enhance the development, participation and support of young people in the 10 — 24 year age range;

Provide greater co-ordination and coherence in youth service provision and related services for young people.

Preparation of this new policy framework will, of course, link closely with the drafting of a new National Children's Strategy. It is envisaged that the new policy framework will also be published in 2012.

Child Welfare and Protection

Billy Kelleher

Question:

38 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her response to the 2010 annual report of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church which highlighted a lack of co-operation by some Catholic dioceses with the internal review of child protection practices; and the action she will take to ensure that there is full co-operation with the work of this board. [19835/11]

I was concerned by the reported lack of co-operation with the work of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church (NBSCCC), as indicated in the Board's 2010 Report. I was particularly concerned by reports of data protection difficulties which were giving rise to a delay in progressing the national review of safeguarding practices in the Church being undertaken by the NBSCCC.

In this context I wrote to the Data Protection Commissioner, seeking his advices as to whether any ongoing data protection concerns existed which might delay the progress of the work of the Board. The Data Protection Commissioner has advised me that his Office met on a number of occasions with representatives of the NBSCCC and the Church bodies and that mechanisms were identified by which the NBSCCC could access data held by dioceses and religious communities. The Commissioner was of the view that these engagements had addressed concerns that the NBSCCC's work could proceed in a manner that did not breach the rights of individuals under Data Protection legislation.

I have written to the NBSCCC outlining the response of the Commissioner and I would hope that there are no outstanding issues which will inhibit the flow of information to the Board. The Health Service Executive, which has statutory responsibility for child welfare and protection matters, has separately been conducting a national audit of all Catholic dioceses and expects to furnish a report to me in the Autumn.

It is the responsibility of all organisations who work with children to implement appropriate child protection policies and procedures. There can be no exceptions to this requirement and every organisation must satisfy itself and the public that its policies are in conformity with Children First and are consistently implemented in all cases.

Pearse Doherty

Question:

39 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will provide detail on the level of emergency care available outside of normal working hours; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19898/11]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) provides out-of-hours emergency services for children at risk. The service is provided in the greater Dublin area through the Crisis Intervention Service (CIS) and outside the greater Dublin area through the Emergency Place of Safety Service (EPSS). The CIS provides an out-of-hoursemergency social work service to young people aged under 18 years who are in crisis. The service operates across the greater Dublin area (Counties Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow). Referrals are made by service providers outside of normal working hours i.e. Gardaí, hospital and ambulance service personnel.

Outside the greater Dublin area, the HSE operates an EPSS whereby Gardaí can access an emergency placement for children found to be at risk out of hours. This service involves the out of hours placement of a child in a family setting until the next working day when the local social work service assumes responsibility for the case. As part of this service Gardaí have access to advice and information from a non-HSE social work off-site resource which is provided on a contract basis.

The HSE National Service Plan for 2011 includes a commitment to pilot and evaluate an out-of-hours social work component to supplement the EPSS. Two pilot projects are being undertaken, one in Cork and the other in Donegal. The projects involve the provision by local HSE staff of on-site social work support out of hours where deemed necessary by Gardaí. A decision on progression to a national roll out will be made following evaluation of the two pilot projects and other relevant data. An assessment of the cost of developing the service nationally will also be informed by the pilot process.

Rights of the Child

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

40 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her plans to increase children’s ability to have their voices heard in matters concerning them; if she will increase the number of guardians ad litem in the State; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19894/11]

Under the Child Care Act 1991, Guardians Ad Litem provide a service to the Courts, where a judge may request that a Guardian Ad Litem is appointed to a child who is the subject of care proceedings. They are always appointed where a child is subject to Special Care proceedings. There is a commitment in the Ryan Report Implementation Plan, to engage with my colleagues to agree a future policy management and funding of the service. My Department has had preliminary discussions with the Department of Justice, Equality and Defence in relation to this matter with a view, in particular to improving the quality, consistency and cost effectiveness of the current service.

Question No. 41 answered with Question No. 33.

Proposed Legislation

Sandra McLellan

Question:

42 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the position regarding the joint work of her Department and the Department of Justice and Equality on the preparation of the National Vetting Bureau Bill; the current stage of the Bill; the expected date of publication; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19900/11]

Martin Ferris

Question:

53 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she has met with the Department of Justice and Equality regarding the introduction of legislation to enable the sharing of soft information; and if she will to provide a report on the progress of that legislation. [19881/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 42 and 53 together.

The Department of Justice, Equality and Defence, in conjunction with my Department and other relevant agencies, is preparing the Heads for the National Vetting Bureau Bill. Consultations have taken place with my Department and other Departments / agencies as part of the preparation of this legislation and these consultations are ongoing. The National Vetting Bureau Bill will provide a statutory basis for the vetting of all applicants for employment and employees working with children. The Bill will provide for a vetting process which will provide for the identification of both hard and ‘soft/ relevant information', in particular, information relating to the endangerment, sexual exploitation or sexual abuse, or risk thereof, to children. This area has also been considered by the Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment for Children and the findings of the Committee are being considered in the preparation of the legislation.

Question No. 43 answered with Question No. 33.

Institutional Child Abuse

Pearse Doherty

Question:

44 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the position regarding the implementation of the actions and policies set out in the Ryan report implementation plan; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19897/11]

The Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (the Ryan Report) was published in May 2009. The Report served to highlight the need to strengthen the organisation and delivery of child welfare and protection services nationally. Following the publication of the Report a detailed Implementation Plan was prepared and published in July 2009. The Plan sets out a series of 99 actions designed to address the effects of past abuse, reform and strengthen service provision and ensure that children and young people have a stronger voice.

Implementation of the Plan is being overseen by a high level group which I personally chair. The group includes representatives from my Department, the HSE, HIQA, the Irish Youth Justice Service (IYJS), the Department of Education and Skills and An Garda Síochána. I also recently invited the Children's Rights Alliance to join the group. It is my intention to lay the second annual progress report before the Oireachtas shortly.

Questions Nos. 45 and 46 answered with Question No. 31.

Children in Care

Sandra McLellan

Question:

47 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the percentage of children in care with a care plan during this quarter and each quarter of each of the past four years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19899/11]

The HSE compiles monthly performance reports which provide an overall analysis of key performance data from finance, HR, hospital and primary and community services. The most recent published report states that 89% of children in care had a written care plan in April 2011. Monthlyperformance reports for the period from 2008-April 2011 are available athttp://www.hse.ie/eng/services/Publications/corporate/performancereports/HSE_Monthly_Performance_Reports_.html. I have asked the HSE to provide the information in relation to 2007 directly.

Seán Crowe

Question:

48 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her plans to work with the Department of Health and the Department of Social Protection in order to help reduce the numbers of children who enter the care system due to the financial difficulties of their families rather than any abuse faced, or risk of abuse. [19884/11]

Under the child Care Act 1991 children should, in the first instance, be supported to remain with their families. Children should only be taken into care where the HSE has identified abuse or the risk of abuse, including neglect that cannot be prevented or resolved without the child being received into care. My officials have met with officials of the Department of Social Protection to identify if there are any cases in which children enter the care system due to financial need rather than cases of abuse or the risk of abuse. Where any such cases are identified, my officials will work with the Department of Social Protection and the HSE to ensure that children are only received into care on the basis of risk to their safety and welfare that cannot be alleviated by financial support alone.

Child Care Services

Brian Stanley

Question:

49 Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the date on which she will complete a review of the regulatory environment of pre-school and after school services including the existing provision of pre-school inspections. [19890/11]

Pre-school services are regulated currently under Child Care (Pre-School Services) (No. 2) Regulations 2006, as provided for under Part VII of the Child Care Act 1991. Under the regulations, the Pre-School Inspectorate of the Health Service Executive (HSE) carry out inspections of pre-school services with the objective of securing the health, safety and welfare of children attending them.

The scope of the existing Child Care Regulations is limited to pre-school children and does not include after-school services. I believe the position in regard to after-school care services needs to be examined so that consideration can be given to introducing appropriate regulatory controls. In addition, I believe the introduction of the free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme, which is implemented by my Department, is a very significant development for pre-school services which should be taken into account when a review of the Child Care Regulations is undertaken.

Arrangements are already in train between officials in my Department and the Department of Education and Science and the HSE, for an evaluation of ECCE services to be carried out later this year. The evaluation would involve the Education Inspectorate, possibly in conjunction with the HSE Inspectorate. This will assist the general review of the regulatory environment and inspection process for pre-school and after-school services which I expect will be undertaken towards the end of this year.

Child Welfare and Protection

Barry Cowen

Question:

50 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the steps she has taken to remove child welfare and protection from the Health Service Executive; if she will provide details on the proposal to establish a new child welfare and protection agency; the time line involved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19834/11]

The Government is committed to fundamental reform and transformation of the delivery of our children and family services. A number of significant structural and legislative changes are key to effecting such reform. This includes the establishment of a new agency with dedicated responsibility for the delivery of child welfare and protection services, separate from the HSE and reporting directly to my Department through its Chief Executive.

Preliminary work on the establishment of the new agency has been undertaken and this will now be accelerated. I recently had a very positive meeting with the National Director and senior management representatives from the HSE at which the establishment of the new agency was discussed. It is my intention to develop an inclusive and collaborative approach in establishing the new agency and I intend to consult as widely as possible on its formation.

Among the key issues which are being progressed are the legislative and governance arrangements necessary to underpin the establishment and operation of the agency. My Department is also working closely with the National Director for Children and Families Service within the HSE on associated matters, including the need to disaggregate the existing resource base for children and family services from the HSE in advance of the establishment of the agency. I am very appreciative of the co-operation from the HSE to date in progressing this significant change project, one which will, in my view, create the basis for delivering better outcomes for children and families nationally.

Departmental Staff

Gerry Adams

Question:

51 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she has met with the Department of Health to discuss the number of social workers employed by the Health Service Executive; the number of social workers employed by the HSE; the number of vacant social worker posts in the HSE; the locations of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19888/11]

My Department is continuing to work closely with the Department of Health on a range of issues including the monitoring of employment control issues relating to the provision of children and family services by the HSE under the National Service Plan. The HSE compiles a census of health employment in the public sector. This census is currently produced on a monthly basis and the latest data available is for May 2011. The employment census for May 2011 indicates a total of 2,447 whole time equivalent social workers, including those working directly with children and family services, broken down as follows:

Total

Social worker:

1,321

Social Worker (Medical)

122

Social Worker (non-professionally qualified)

43

Social Worker, Principal

228

Social Worker, Psychiatric

32

Social Worker, Psychiatric Senior

1

Social Worker, Senior Medical

167

Social Worker, Team Leader

394

Social Work Practitioner. Senior

139

My Department has requested the HSE to compile the information requested with regard to social work vacancies and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Constitutional Amendment on Children

Robert Troy

Question:

52 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will provide a full list of the children’s advocacy groups she has met since her appointment in relation to the introduction of the amendment to the Constitution on children. [19832/11]

Since my Ministerial appointmenton Wednesday, 9th March and up to 12th July 2011, I have met 5 agencies that fall into the category identified by the Deputy. During the course of these meetings the issue of the Referendum for Children, among other things, was discussed.

Question No. 53 answered with Question No. 42.

Robert Troy

Question:

54 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the actions taken by her to progress the introduction of the amendment to the Constitution on children. [19831/11]

The Programme for Government 2011 states that the referendum on Children's Rights is a priority, and that the wording will be along the lines of that proposed by the All Party Oireachtas Committee. On taking office I instructed the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) to work with the Office of the Attorney General, with a view to preparing a draft wording which will more closely reflect the work of the Joint Committee, than that which the previous Government approved in draft form.

Accordingly the preparation of a draft wording is being undertaken by Parliamentary Counsel in association with the Advisory Counsel in the Office of the Attorney General and Officials in my Department. I would hope to be in a position to submit the outcome of this work to Government for approval in the Autumn. It is envisaged that Government will be asked to approve the drafting of a bill based on the wording submitted and to request the approval of the Oireachtas for the holding of a Constitutional referendum. I look forward to the debate among political and civic leaders and the wider public about the place of children within our society further raising societal awareness of the interests of children.

Child Welfare and Protection

Denis Naughten

Question:

55 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the progress made to date in implementing the recommendations in the report on the Roscommon child care case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18226/11]

The Report into the Roscommon case was published by the HSE on 27th October 2010. Since its publication my Department has sought and received assurances from the HSE that practice in assessing and responding to child welfare and protection concerns is being applied to the necessary standard across all regions. The HSE have already stated that they are committed to learning from this and other reports to ensure that services are strengthened to help protect children to the greatest extent possible.

In relation to the specific family case the management of the case was transferred to Mayo ISA in January 2011 and the monitoring and oversight role is undertaken by the HSE Regional Lead for Childcare. Child in Care Reviews on all the children have been undertaken and chaired by the Regional Lead. The local Management Team in Roscommon is leading out on implementation of recommendations and monitoring and supporting the process. An external consultant has provided training across disciplines on working with neglect, gender issues attachment and supervision.

Nationally Workshops were convened to share the learning from the Roscommon Inquiry with specific focus on the Recommendations of that Enquiry. The Workshops had a multidisciplinary focus and a Practice Guidance Document, ‘Back to Basics' as disseminated which documented key messages with accompanying guidance.

One of the Recommendations from the Inquiry was for a National Audit of Neglect Cases to be completed, commencing with Roscommon. An external consultant has completed a Review of Practice and Audit of the Management of Cases of Neglect in Roscommon, and has highlighted both strengths and challenges. Positive outcomes included:

Well established multidisciplinary arrangements and organisational structures which facilitated team work and communication

Initial assessments routinely completed

An emphasis on direct work with children and young persons and commitment to listening to children and ensuring their voices were heard

The Review found that in a majority of the cases, staff and managers displayed a commitment to early assessment of need and provided a range of supports to assist children and families, resulting in improved parenting capacity and better outcomes for children. The Review concluded that the challenges involved are similar throughout Ireland and the United Kingdom including the need for more authoritative social work, senior managers reviewing and auditing files, national supervision policy implementation and establishing thresholds for legal intervention in cases.

A Review of Progress following Audit was undertaken after three months and again this had many positive outcomes. Achievements included:

The recommendations of the Inquiry Report and the Review of Practice and Management of Neglect are being implemented via an Interdisciplinary Child Care Steering group.

A monthly child care meeting chaired by the General Manager considers specific developments within the Child Care Service, including budgetary and resourcing issues, waiting lists and individual cases which require to be notified to senior management.

Family Support Services have been streamlined to include a single point of entry and is being realigned with new social work boundaries.

Revised management structures have been put in place in Child care Services in Roscommon and 5 additional social work posts were allocated to Roscommon in 2010 and a further 3 will be in 2011 to deal with an increase in referrals.

Disciplinary Process:

In relation to disciplinary action that may be taken by the HSE, such matters are governed by employee-employer confidentiality and as such no information can be disclosed.

Youth Services

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

56 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the date on which she will publish a new policy framework for youth work and youth service provision. [19893/11]

My Department is currently developing an overarching Youth Policy Framework to accommodate the identified areas and issues pertinent to young people within the 10-24 age range that fall within — and which are related to — the remit of my Department. The overall aim of the Framework is to clarify and enhance coherence, connectivity, coordination and delivery in youth services and related out-of-school services for young people. Work in this regard is progressing with a view to finalising and publishing the Framework and accompanying implementation plan in 2012.

Education Welfare Service

Mick Wallace

Question:

57 Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will examine and reverse the decision to withdraw the visiting teacher service for Travellers’ posts; if she will acknowledge the disproportionate nature of cutbacks to Traveller education; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19168/11]

The Visiting Teacher Service for Travellers (VTST) is one of the services integrated under the National Educational Welfare Board alongside the School Completion Programme, the Home School Community Liaison and the Education Welfare Service. The National Recovery Plan 2011 to 2014 includes a range of measures which impact on every sector of the public service. The decision to remove the VTST is just one of these measures and while this decision will unquestionably lead to significant challenges for schools as well as other services the decision will not be reversed. As part of the development of the Integrated Service, the NEWB will be required to adapt its remaining support services to include a renewed focus on supporting all children at risk including Traveller children.

Child Abuse

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

58 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which she intends to put in place measures to prevent child abuse of a mental, physical or sexual nature; the degree to which she has had discussions with various groups in this context; if and when she expects to put in place the necessary protective measures; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19788/11]

The Government is committed to fundamental reform and transformation of the delivery of our children and family services. A number of significant structural and legislative changes are key to effecting such reform. This includes the establishment of a new agency with dedicated responsibility for the delivery of child welfare and protection services, separate from the HSE and reporting directly to my Department through its Chief Executive. Preliminary work on the establishment of the new agency has been undertaken and this will now be accelerated.

In line with the Programme for Government, I am also committed to the introduction of legislation to underpin Children First, the national guidance on the reporting and management of child welfare and protection concerns. The need for such legislation was also highlighted in the Implementation Plan prepared following the publication of the Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse. My Department has made much progress on this in recent weeks. I will be publishing, later this week, new Children First national guidance. I also hope to be in a position very shortly to outline the details of the proposed legislation, including the requirements attaching to the various agencies with regard to implementation.

It is my view that the new legislation needs to extend beyond the reporting of suspected abuse. We also need to emphasise the importance of multi-disciplinary, inter-agency working in the management of such concerns. Key to this is the sharing of information between agencies and disciplines in the best interests of children and the need for full co-operation to ensure the safeguarding of children.

I am attaching a particular importance to the need for this legislation and I would hope that the proposals which I will announce in this regard enjoy widespread support in the interests of protecting vulnerable children. I would hope that the implementation of both the revised Children First Guidance and the legislation which will underpin compliance will provide an opportunity to raise societal awareness of physical, sexual and emotional abuse and the need for everyone to play their part in protecting children. Since taking up office I have had the opportunity to meet and hold discussions with a wide range of representative groups on child welfare and protection issues.

Child Welfare and Protection

Gerry Adams

Question:

59 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of meetings she has attended of the cross-Border group on child protection; the number of times it has met this year; the initiatives it is taking forward on cross-Border child protection issues; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19887/11]

I attended my first North South Ministerial Council (NSMC) plenary meeting on 10th June. My next engagement in this area is the NSMC sectoral meeting scheduled for 20th July next and which will be attended by my counterpart, Mr Edwin Poots, MLA, and Minister of the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety.

North/South co-operation in the area of child protection is overseen by the NSMC and progressed on an administrative basis by a Steering Group which is co-chaired by my Department and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety. A series of initiatives were identified for co-operation as follows:

(i) Research and Knowledge Transfer in Child Protection

(ii) Inter-Jurisdictional Protocol for the Transfer of Child Care cases between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland

(iii) Vetting and Barring Protocol

(iv) All-island media awareness

(v) Internet Safety

The five areas of co-operation are being advanced by individual sub-groups and progress in each of these areas will be discussed at the forthcoming NSMC meeting.

Missing Children

Martin Ferris

Question:

60 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the date on which she will establish the 116000 hotline for missing children in Ireland; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19882/11]

The purpose of the 116000 phone number is to provide a contact number to families if children go missing. The Department of Children and Youth Affairs has had ongoing discussions with other Government Departments and NGOs in relation to the development of a hotline for missing children and I intend that my Department will liaise with the Department of Justice and Equality to progress this matter.

Bullying of Children

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

61 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which she has had an opportunity to study the extent to which children and teenagers are bullied by their peers or others; the extent to which this happens through the Internet or mobile phones, social networks or otherwise; the extent to which she can put in place procedures to alert parents, guardians or school authorities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19787/11]

I am aware that children and teenagers are susceptible to bullying which can emanate from a variety of sources. An unacceptably high proportion of children have been the subject of some form of bullying. According to the 2008 survey "Growing Up In Ireland" the most common form of bullying identified by children who were victims was verbal bullying, followed by exclusion and physical bullying.

Bullying by written messages and electronic means was less prominent at the time, but we are all aware that our children are very susceptible to the use of electronic media for bullying purposes, as use of this media, particularly for social networking, continues to grow. A Guide to Cyber Bullying was published at the end of 2008. This was a joint initiative between the Office for Internet Safety, the National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE), O2 and Barnardos. The NCTE also developed the website http://www.webwise.ie/ which provides information and resources to teachers, parents and students to help ensure that children’s online experiences are positive and safe.

In relation to bullying in schools the Department of Education and Skills deals with regulations and guidelines on this issue. It is my understanding that the individual Board of Management of the school is the body responsible for the governance of the school, including responsibility for implementing effective policies to counter bullying. Any complaint of bullying should in the first instance be made to the Chairperson of the Board of Management. The Department of Education and Skills may subsequently become involved should it be necessary to review the handling of the complaint by the Board of Management.

My Department provided funding in 2010 towards "Addressing Homophobia — Guidelines for the Youth Sector In Ireland", developed by the BeLonG To Youth Service. This is an important resource to help raise awareness of homophobia and to support the youth sector in preventing and addressing homophobic bullying.

Departmental Expenditure

Catherine Murphy

Question:

62 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the funds that have been earmarked to deliver on the actions contained in the national recreation policy for young people; the Departments, agencies or authorities that have funding available by county; if further funding has been earmarked; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19672/11]

As the Deputy may be aware, no specific dedicated funding stream was allocated for the implementation of the National Recreation Policy for young people. The policy was intended to encourage relevant stakeholders and statutory agencies (such as Government Departments and Local Authorities etc) to examine existing recreation opportunities for young people and to maximise use of available funds to deliver improved and more coordinated targeted recreational opportunities for them. Given the tight fiscal conditions which Departments and Local Authorities have been operating in and which is likely to continue to be the case for the foreseeable future, the approach being taken to date has been to allocate funding for the implementation of specific aspects of the policy which have been prioritised.

I am happy to report that specific elements of the recreational policy were prioritised for implementation by my own Department (formerly OMCYA) in 2010/11 with funding approaching €1.6m in total being allocated for two specific initiatives, the nationwide Youth Café Funding Scheme and National Recreation Week. This targeted funding approach has ensured the successful implementation of important aspects of the policy in times where large scale funding is unavailable. I hope to build on that progress once the specific budgetary priorities for my Department have been finalised.

In terms of specific achievements to date in 2010/11 a total of €1.5m was allocated from dormant accounts funds for the provision of a dedicated youth café funding scheme. The provision of such so called ‘hang out' recreation spaces was among the issues prioritised by young people themselves in consistent research which informed the recreation policy. A further €100,000 was allocated in various grants to local authorities and community groups to improve participation in the National Recreation week initiative. The event which takes place in October each year has grown in popularity in the past few years particularly with over two thirds of local authorities now arranging events consisting of a variety of sporting and culturally based activities.

I intend to explore with my officials what relevant next steps need to be taken to ensure that the remaining local authorities actively participate in such initiatives and indeed prioritise recreational opportunities for young people in their business plans. Particular attention must be paid to improving the provision of information on local authority websites which often do not adequately promote the many excellent opportunities and existing local recreational facilities available.

Much of the impetus for change in terms of the demands of the public for recreational facilities for young people falls on local authorities to deliver. They have been hugely effective in the success of the national recreation week initiative working in partnership with my Department. I intend to continue that partnership approach in the coming years. I will be writing to all City/County managers in the coming months to determine the exact level of spending from their budgets on play & recreation facilities for young people. I will be encouraging the prioritisation of the better provision of information and more effective promotion of the existing facilities in their own local areas particularly through better use of the network of local authority websites.

My Department will encourage the setting up of a formal network of officials within local authorities with responsibilities in this area next year ultimately operating (it is hoped) independently. This will enable best practice, information sharing and even possible resource sharing among statutory agencies to deliver the best value for money in meeting the public's demands for high standard recreational facilities. Many local areas already have an impressive array of facilities but the public are often unaware of what is available. This information deficit must be addressed.

Due to the severe economic constraints it will continue to be necessary to prioritise elements of recreation policy in terms of my Department's priorities with a view to achieving targeted outcomes which ensure value for money and the best outcomes for young people and families generally.

Questions Nos. 63 and 64 answered with Question No. 35.

Youth Services

Nicky McFadden

Question:

65 Deputy Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the funding available for a centre (details supplied) in County Longford; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18230/11]

The main funding mechanisms for youth cafés in recent years have been provided by the Government under 2 separate strands, the YPFSF (Young People's Facilities and Services Fund) and the competitive 2010 OMCYA / POBAL youth café funding scheme. Under the YPFSF a number of facilities funded have a multi-purpose usage. This responds to the needs of the local communities, the existing projects and services and links in with the development and accommodation of a range of new services. Most of the purpose built YPFSF youth facilities provide a safe space or youth café for young people to drop in. Capital funding of over €13 million has been provided to date under the YPFSF for 15 facilities which incorporated a youth café element in their design.

The dedicated competitive OMCYA/POBAL youth café funding scheme last year awarded a total of €1.5m to create a network of 16 new youth cafés across the State. A percentage of that fund, approximately 25%, was awarded to refurbish and re-equip a total of 50 existing youth cafés across the country. The new sites funded under both funding schemes are gradually coming on stream and indeed I had the pleasure myself of officially opening 2 brand new youth cafés in Dundalk and Dublin respectively in the past few weeks. It is expected that the remaining sites will open over the next 12 to 18 months. My Department estimates that there are approximately 75 to 100 youth cafés currently operating across the country. This represents a significant step forward in terms of the provision of safe meeting spaces for young people in a relatively short period of time. This is a direct result of targeted implementation of specific aspects of the national recreation policy.

I understand that the Attic Youth Café in Co. Longford is a vibrant and well operated project and that they competed for funds under the then OMCYA/POBAL funding scheme. Due to the highly competitive nature of that scheme they were among those not successful in obtaining funds on that occasion. My Department has no immediate plans for additional new funding schemes targeting youth cafés this year, as a significant amount of money has been allocated to various projects. I will consider in due course whether any further funding can be allocated to this area having regard to the overall budget priorities of my Department and in the context of the constraints on public spending generally at the present time.

In the meantime I would suggest that the group consider applying for funding under the Local Youth Grant Scheme administered by the local VECs and also via the National Lottery allocation scheme for my Department. I would need to advise the Deputy that demand for Departmental lottery funding is very competitive therefore no guarantee of a successful outcome can be given. I wish the project every success with their future work. My officials will be happy to assist with information on both schemes.

Children in Care

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

66 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if the proposed child welfare agency will address the number of places in the State available to treat children with severe behavioural difficulties; the places outside of the State to which children with severe behavioural difficulties are sent if there are no available or appropriate places here; her plans to expand the number of places available here and to discontinue the practice of sending children abroad for treatment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19885/11]

Special Care involves the detention on an exceptional basis of a non-offending child for his or her own welfare and protection in a Special Care unit with on site educational and therapeutic supports. The child's behaviour, and the risk of harm it poses to his or her life, health, safety, development or welfare is addressed in the care setting. Future care requirements are also explored.

There are three designated Special Care units in the country which are operated by the HSE under a single national governance arrangement. They are Ballydowd Young Peoples Centre (Dublin), Glean Alainn (Cork) and Coovagh House (Limerick). The placing of a child in a Special Care unit is considered as a last resort, for as short a time as possible, and when other forms of residential or community care are considered to be unsuitable.

The number of Special Care places available in 2010 was reduced following HIQA inspections and recommendations regarding standards of management staffing and building maintenance. A combination of a shortage of places and particular specialised needs has led the HSE to placing a number of children abroad, most notably in a secure unit in Kibble in Scotland. Currently there are three children placed there, with five/six referrals being considered.

The HSE is committed to the provision of National High Support and Special Care Services of the highest quality. The HSE National High Support and Special Care Services consist of:

Three special care units in Ireland; Ballydowd in Dublin, Glenn Álainn in Cork and Coovagh House in Limerick, which provide a capacity of 17 + 4 emergency places and,

Two national High Support Units at Crannog Nua, Portrane in north County Dublin and Rath na nÓg in Castleblayney, Co Monaghan providing 16 places.

These services provide individualised programme of support for children and young people with exceptional needs through the provision of a time-limited, therapeutic intervention in a secure and non-secure environment. Ballydowd has recently undergone major refurbishment works. In line with the requirement for the integration of these services within the wider Children & Families Social Services structure a decision was taken by HSE in July, 2010 to transfer the operation management of HSE National High Support and Special Care Services to the Regional Director of Operations Dublin North East.

The HSE are establishing a National Therapy Service for Special Care Units and Children Detention Centres. The service will be called ACTS — National Assessment Consultation & Therapy Service. The service will cover the four RDO Regions and report in to DNE for operational management purposes. Following a consultation process a service proposal was signed off by the HSE in October 2010 and recruitment is currently in progress. The proposal recommends developing a four-pronged model comprising:

1. A national assessment and intervention service for children at risk.

2. On-site therapeutic services for high support and special care units.

3. On-site therapeutic services for the children detention schools.

4. A parallel development of a forensic child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) for children and young people with significant mental health needs requiring more specialist input.

When fully in place this key national service will ensure all children placed in secure care, whether on welfare or offending grounds, will have access to specialist clinical interventions in line with their assessed individual needs.

The overall objective of the HSE National High Support and Special Care Services is the provision of individualised services responses, within the framework of national policy and within a continuum of services through a single point of referral for children. The HSE is engaging with HSE National High Support and Special Care Services to progress a huge programme of work and plans for significant infrastructural and team development which will increase the total of special care unit places to 27 (+ 7 emergency).

With regards to high support, it is envisaged the HSE will maximize the use of existing provision and further develop ‘high support as a methodology' to provide community-based responses for those with high support needs. Components will include:

Outreach and Wilderness services as part of an ‘integrated model'

Development of specialist and/or high support fostering

The development of specialist national Assessment, Consultation and Therapy Services and improvements in pathways to access the services of other disciplines and agencies.

Access to suitable aftercare accommodation and supports.

Question No. 67 answered with Question No. 36.

Children’s Services

Catherine Murphy

Question:

68 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if the work already done on the agenda for children’s services is intended to be put into action; if so, the linkages between Government Departments that will be put in place and the resources that are earmarked; the priority areas; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19673/11]

"The Agenda for Children's Services" was published by the OMCYA in December, 2007. The core principle of the policy is the provision of health and social services, based on the child being supported within the family and within the local community. Launched in and with the document is a series of Reflective Questions for policy-makers, HSE Senior managers and front-line managers and practitioners. These questions assist people working in any part of the children's health and social services system, to check and possibly change the way they work. The questions also assist individuals to understand where their own work fits into the wider system and to ensure that their work is effectively linked with that of other stakeholders, in delivering better outcomes for children and families.

The Ryan Implementation Plan 2009, action 21 stated that all agencies that provide services to children should develop and implement an operational plan based on The Agenda for Children's Services. The HSE has committed to implementing this policy as part of ongoing business arrangements, and has committed that it is part of service level agreements with commissioned services.

Children in Care

Michael Colreavy

Question:

69 Deputy Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the date on which she will publish the report on consultations with children living in the care of the State; the methodology used for these consultations; the number of children who engaged in this process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19891/11]

I will launchListen to Our Voices! Hearing Children and Young People Living in the Care of the State in Ireland on Wednesday, 27th July 2011. From January to December 2010, the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (OMCYA) conducted a consultation process with children living in the care of the State. 211 children and young people took part in the consultations. The participants ranged in age from 8 years to young people who have left the care system and are over 18. Fifteen consultations were held in Cork, Dublin, Galway and Sligo. A separate parallel process for young people with moderate to severe disabilities was also conducted in Dublin, Meath and Galway.

The consultations were run in an informal, open and safe manner. Creative methodologies and tools were devised to enable children and young people to express their views. These tools included lifelines, body maps, workshops and feedback sessions, as well as a variety of voting mechanisms where young people had the opportunity to identify their priority issues. Arts and crafts-based activities were used for the younger age groups and with young people with intellectual disabilities. A Youth Advisory Group (YAG) made up of young people from a variety of care settings was established to advise on the consultation methodology, sit on the Consultation Oversight Committee and attend the consultations.

Mental Health Services

Dessie Ellis

Question:

70 Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she has discussed with the Department of Health the introduction of a detailed code of practice on admission to and treatment of, as well as establishing an advocacy service for, children who have been admitted for mental health treatment, including a complaints facility for them; the date on which same will be introduced; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19903/11]

I have met with my colleague Ms Kathleen Lynch TD Minister for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People and we have discussed a range of issues including children's mental health. The Mental Health Commission has issued a code of practice relating to the admission of children under the Mental Health Act 2001 which outlines arrangements and facilities that should be put in place to ensure the protection and safety of such children. The code provides that no child:

under 16 years is to be admitted to an adult unit from 1st July 2009;

under 17 years is to be admitted to an adult unit from 1st December 2010; and

under 18 years is to be admitted to an adult unit from 1st December 2011.

If, in exceptional circumstances, the admission of a child to an adult unit occurs, the approved centre is obliged to submit a detailed report to the Commission outlining why the admission has taken place. The Commission reviews any such notifications received and follows up as deemed appropriate. It is accepted that it is inappropriate to admit young people to units providing care and treatment to adults, however such admissions are sometimes necessary for the safety and treatment of the child. In arriving at a decision to admit a young person to an adult unit, due consideration is given to the risks of not admitting him/her, and the potential adverse effects of such an admission.

The HSE has prioritised the development of mental health services for children and adolescents. Bed capacity for children and adolescents has increased from 12 beds in 2007 to 52 at present, and further developments are planned which will bring capacity to 66 by 2012.

A child should only be admitted as in-patient (to any psychiatric facility) as a last resort and should as far as possible receive the necessary treatment in the community — there are now 61 multidisciplinary Child and Adolescent Mental Health teams nationally and further teams will be developed. The new Government is committed to reforming our model of healthcare delivery so that more care is delivered in the community; access to modern mental health services in the community will therefore be significantly improved. It is proposed to ringfence €35m annually from within the health budget to develop community mental health teams and services to ensure early access to more appropriate services for both adults and children. It is envisaged that the provision of improved community based services, coupled with an increase in bed capacity, will put an end to the practice of placing children and adolescents in adult psychiatric facilities.

Constitutional Amendment on Children

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

71 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the date on which she will publish a draft Bill in respect of the children’s rights referendum; and if she will confirm a specified time or date for the referendum to be held. [19877/11]

The Programme for Government 2011 states that the referendum on Children's Rights is a priority, and that the wording will be along the lines of that proposed by the All Party Oireachtas Committee. On taking office I instructed the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) to work with the Office of the Attorney General, with a view to preparing a draft wording which will more closely reflect the work of the Joint Committee, than that which the previous Government approved in draft form.

Accordingly the preparation of a draft wording is being undertaken by Parliamentary Counsel in association with the Advisory Counsel in the Office of the Attorney General and officials in my Department. I would hope to be in a position to submit the outcome of this work to Government for approval in the Autumn. It is envisaged that Government will be asked to approve the drafting of a bill based on the wording submitted and to request the approval of the Oireachtas for the holding of a Constitutional referendum. I look forward, in particular, to the debate among political and civic leaders and the wider public about the place of children within our society further raising awareness of the interests of children.

Child Protection and Welfare

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

72 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her views on calls for the setting up of a new child protection register as opposed to the existing child protection notification system. [19836/11]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) currently operates a Child Protection Notification System. The system maintains information about children in respect of the whom the HSE is satisfied that there are unresolved child protection issues, including neglect. The function of the system will be clearly set out in the new Children First National Guidance for the protection and welfare of children which I will be publishing later this week. The HSE has advised that it has no plans to introduce an alternative system for the recording of such information.

Question No. 73 answered with Question No. 27.

Trade Missions

Terence Flanagan

Question:

74 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will be leading any trade missions to Japan or China this year; his plans to increase trade to Japan and China; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19593/11]

As the Deputy will be aware, from my answers to his Parliamentary Question no. 105 on 5 July 2011 and Parliamentary Question no. 72 on 28 June 2011, the Export Trade Council, which will be established shortly and which I will chair, will consider the overall programme of trade missions. It will also monitor implementation of the Government's Trade Strategy under which Japan and China have been identified as priority markets.

The Ambassadors in Tokyo and Beijing chair local market teams which bring together the relevant State Agencies focussed on developing further our trading and investment links in those countries. Ireland's trade with China is developing strongly — exports to China in 2010 increased by 7.5% on the previous year. Exports to China from the indigenous Irish enterprise sector have increased by 66% since 2007 until 2010. In the last six years, the number of Irish companies who have established permanent presences in China has increased from some 40 to 127. Japan was Ireland's 11th largest merchandise trading partner in 2010, with total merchandise trade that year worth €2.5bn and trade in services in 2009 valued at €1.3bn. Furthermore over 40 Japanese companies have a presence in Ireland employing over 2,500 people.

The Government attaches great importance to developing our trade and economic links with all of our Asian partners. In this context, I hope to attend the annual meeting of the Asia Pacific Ireland Business Forum (APIBF) in Seoul, Korea on 14 October 2011. While it will not be possible to schedule a full trade mission to Japan before the end of 2011, I hope to visit Tokyo en route to the APIBF meeting and to have a number of meetings there focussed on trade and economic issues.

The Taoiseach hopes to lead a Trade Mission to China later this year and contact is continuing, including through our Embassy in Beijing, to arrange mutually acceptable dates. China is also one of a number of countries with which Ireland has a Joint Economic Commission. The last meeting of the JEC took place in Beijing last October and provided an opportunity for intensive bilateral discussions on a range of issues that have the potential to deepen our economic engagement. The next meeting of the JEC with China is due to take place in Dublin in 2012.

Passport Applications

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

75 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade when a person (details supplied) in County Limerick will receive their passport. [19563/11]

I am pleased to confirm to the Deputy that a passport was posted to the applicant on 6 July.

Gerry Adams

Question:

76 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the steps he is taking to tackle the back log in passport applications and the delays being experienced by those seeking passports; the length of time the passport express service takes at present. [19632/11]

The number of applications received so far this year shows an increase in demand of 12% in comparison to this time in 2009. The figures for 2010 are not a reliable comparison due to the impact of last year's industrial action. Whereas the exact reason for this increase in demand is unclear it is noticeable that passport applications for children and passports for the over 65s have been higher than during the same period in the last few years. Discussions with customers have also suggested that much of the demand relates to last minute travel plans made for holiday reasons.

In addition, changes to passport application procedures were introduced in January requiring first time adult applicants and those reporting passports lost or stolen to submit additional documentary evidence to establish identity and entitlement to an Irish passport. These changes were a necessary response to an increase in the number of fraudulently obtained passports and the need to protect the integrity and international reputation of the Irish passport. Whereas these new measures have had some impact on the time to process applications, the impact primarily relates to only a small subset of the overall application demand.

It is currently taking up to fifteen working days to process applications submitted through Passport Express. This represents a delay of five working days over the normal guaranteed turnaround. Notice of the current extended turnaround time and its likely duration has been published on the Passport Service websitewww.passport.ie. The Passport Office has also informed An Post so that customers can be advised of the situation at the point of application. Priority will continue to be given to applications made through the Passport Express Service and Irish-based customers are strongly encouraged to use that service. It is regrettable that, due to the high number of applications, those submitted through other channels i.e. through the ordinary post system or from Ireland’s overseas Missions etc. are currently taking considerably longer to be processed.

There are currently 48,242 passport applications in the system being processed across the Passport Offices in Molesworth Street, Balbriggan, Cork and London. An average of 3,400 applications per day were received last week which is down from the recent previous average of over 4,000 applications per day. This reduction provides some evidence that passport demand is beginning to level off, in which case, it is expected that the number of applications in the system will decrease over the coming weeks.

However this reduction is still not reflected in the unprecedented demand for passports at short notice. The Passport Service is currently receiving 400 people per day on average coming to the public office seeking passports within a period of less than 10 days. On 6 July, over 440 people submitted applications for a short notice service at the public office in Molesworth Street alone. In the context of these very large numbers of customers using the public counter service, it is not always possible, despite the best efforts of the Passport Office staff, to be of assistance and to accommodate all requests for a short notice service. Citizens are advised that the public counter services should only be used in cases of genuine emergency. Priority at the public counters will be given to those who have a necessity to travel for reasons of family emergency i.e. travel is necessitated by the death, illness or welfare of a family member.

It should also be stressed that to protect the integrity of the system and the quality of the passport, the Passport Service cannot provide standard passports within a single day. The shortest turnaround time available is three working days for applications received over the public counter, accompanied by proof of travel, other than in cases of genuine emergency.

From the beginning of April, my Department took on additional temporary staff to work in the Passport Service. There are now 85 additional temporary staff in place, and they have been trained in passport processing. In conjunction with seasonal overtime, I expect the Passport Service to be in a position to bring return times back to normal levels over the coming weeks. I would once again express my regret at the delays being experienced by customers of the Passport Service and would strongly appeal to the public to assist the Passport Service by checking the validity of their passports before making bookings to travel abroad. A valid passport should be the first item on any check list when considering foreign travel.

Human Rights Issues

Joe O'Reilly

Question:

77 Deputy Joe O’Reilly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will raise the matter of parents in India having the sex of their young daughters changed to male from as young as one year old with the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, with a view to preventing this practice from continuing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19660/11]

I am aware that there have been media reports that surgical procedures were carried out on young girls to change their sex to male in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. I understand that the Indian National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, a statutory body, has demanded an investigation into the allegations and that the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh has ordered such an inquiry. I am also aware that several human rights organisations in India are active on the issue. Officials from my Department and our Embassy in New Delhi will continue to monitor developments in this matter.

Ireland is committed to the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women and is involved in a variety of initiatives at international level to this end, such as playing an active role in the negotiation and adoption of resolutions at the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council aimed at promoting the rights of women and girls. Furthermore, Ireland actively participates in the Commission on the Status of Women under the UN Economic and Social Council. Ireland was to the fore in promoting the establishment of UN Women, the new UN agency working for gender equality and women's empowerment, and has provided over €1.8 million since its establishment earlier this year for its work in developing countries.

Ireland acceded to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) on 23 December 1985. Ireland signed and ratified the Optional Protocol to CEDAW on 7 September 2000. As a State Party to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, Ireland is committed to implementing the provisions of the Convention and ensuring the elimination of gender based discrimination. India is also a party to CEDAW and ratified it on 25 June 1993.

Foreign Conflicts

Dan Neville

Question:

78 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the efforts he is making to see that human rights standards will be respected for all Sudanese women and men in independent South Sudan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19686/11]

Dan Neville

Question:

79 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the efforts he is making to see that the popular consultation process in Kordofan and Blue Nile is credible and respected after South Sudan independence on 9 July 2011; his response to the current conflict on the transitional border zones of Sudan; the way the comprehensive peace agreement will be upheld; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19687/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 78 and 79 together.

The Republic of South Sudan declared its independence on 9 July in accordance with the terms of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and the results of the self-determination referendum held on 9 January 2011. The EU was a witness signatory to the CPA and all EU Member States have agreed to recognise the Republic of South Sudan in accordance with their own domestic procedures. Ireland, for its part, recognised the new state on 9 July following a Government decision taken on 5 July.

However, there are a wide range of issues that have yet to be agreed between the parties including border demarcation, citizenship and oil revenues and the ongoing uncertainty over these issues is a serious concern. The international community must remain engaged to find ways in which these issues can be resolved. In this regard, we welcome the EU comprehensive approach on Sudan agreed at the recent Foreign Affairs Council as laying out the way forward on these issues. I wish to also acknowledge the important role being played by the United Nations and its mission to Sudan, UNMIS, as well as the African Union and IGAD. The establishment of normal relations between the Government of the Republic of Sudan and the Government of the Republic of South Sudan is also important in this regard.

Continuing violence in Southern Kordufan and the resulting humanitarian crisis are a major concern. I welcome the recent agreement between the parties on political and security arrangements in Blue Nile and Southern Kordufan but call on them to conclude a cessation of hostilities agreement as a matter of urgency and to allow full humanitarian access. Only in such circumstances of peace and stability can the popular consultation processes envisaged in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement be agreed upon and conducted in a credible manner. I also call on the Government of the Republic of Sudan and the Government of the Republic of South Sudan to respect the agreement on Abyei and to cooperate fully with the Ethiopian peacekeeping mission and the UN as it seeks to improve the humanitarian situation on the ground.

The international community must remain engaged in seeking to promote human rights standards both in the Republic of Sudan and the new Republic of South Sudan. Through membership of such organisations as the African Union, and the United Nations, the new State of the Republic of South Sudan will have to play its part in upholding these rights. Ireland will engage with others internationally to help resolve the outstanding issues between Sudan and South Sudan, and will also seek to provide what assistance we can to the very vulnerable population of the new State. Ireland, through Irish Aid, provides considerable humanitarian assistance towards meeting the needs of the people of Sudan, north and south. Since 2008, nearly €24 million has been provided specifically to the south, of a total of more than €50 million provided in humanitarian assistance to Sudan in general. We also contribute to the UN's Common Humanitarian Fund, to which we have contributed €5 million this year.

As regards future assistance, officials from my department visited South Sudan last month, holding political meetings, as well as an assessment team from Irish Aid to see what assistance we might be in a position to offer, as South Sudan is extremely undeveloped and will be in need of assistance for some years to come.

Trade Promotion

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

80 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the contact he has had with the Canadian ambassador about increasing trade between Ireland and Canada; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19771/11]

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

81 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the level of trade between Ireland and Canada in each of the years 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19772/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 80 and 81 together.

Ireland has an excellent and long-standing relationship with Canada. Our trade links are particularly strong and growing. Canada is one of Ireland's top 20 trading partners with total trade over €1.5 billion. There is good potential for this to grow with Irish exports to Canada increasing by almost 30% in 2010. Canada has been identified as a high-potential market for Ireland under the Strategy and Action Plan for Irish Trade, Tourism and Investment to 2015. The local market team set up under the Strategy and chaired by our Ambassador has developed a detailed market plan and is already active in pursuit of specific targets identified by the State Agencies.

My Department works continually to develop our trade links with Canada and the Director General of the Trade and Promotion Division of my Department met recently with the Canadian Ambassador to Ireland, H.E. Loyola Hearn, in this regard. I myself have had an exchange with Ambassador Hearn on the matter and I will be seeking an early opportunity to meet with my Canadian Ministerial counterpart to build on the existing strong bilateral economic relationship between our two countries. I have asked my officials to explore the possibility of setting up an initial such meeting in the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York in September.

The Embassy of Ireland in Ottawa is very active in the promotion of Ireland's economic and trading interests with Canada and is also working to restore Ireland's international reputation, which has been affected by the economic and financial crisis. Recent activity in this regard includes Embassy involvement in aDoing business in Ireland and the UK seminar in Montreal and Embassy representation at 34 events throughout Canada over the St Patrick’s Day period. The Embassy also collaborated on the inaugural business summit organised in Toronto by the Ireland Canada Business Association. During a recent visit to Nova Scotia, the Ambassador met with a wide range of political and economic contacts in the province, many of whom expressed interest in collaboration, and increasing trade, with Ireland.

Enterprise Ireland also has an office in Toronto and is represented on the local market team chaired by the Ambassador. The Enterprise Ireland Canada office works with companies from a variety of sectors including telecoms, government and financial software, consumer, life sciences and third level institutes. So far in 2011, Enterprise Ireland has worked with approximately 85 companies on an individual basis and its office has also hosted and managed five delegations of Irish companies that were invited to explore the market. This included Market Study Visits to the Canadian Gift and Tableware show and the National Heavy Machinery show, advisory sessions for software companies targeting financial services and a Trade Fair presence for third level institutes at the NAFSA, the biggest annual gathering of international educators and Study Abroad advisors in North America. Exports to Canada by Enterprise Ireland clients rose 58% between 2007 and 2011.

Following, as the Deputy requested a table outlining the level of trade between Ireland and Canada in the years 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 based on the information that is currently available from the Central Statistics Office.

Trade with Canada € Million

Year

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011 Q1

Merchandise exports

421

394

436

570

153

Merchandise imports

345

337

385

241

84

Total merchandise trade

766

731

822

812

237

Service exports

574

569

271

Service imports

278

294

502

Total service trade

852

863

773

Total trade (where available)

1,618

1,594

1,595

Source: Central Statistics Office

Certificates of Irish Heritage

Gerald Nash

Question:

82 Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to develop a certificate of Irish heritage scheme directed at the Irish diaspora worldwide; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19960/11]

The Certificate of Irish Heritage is in the process of being established by my Department in direct response to a strong demand for such a scheme from those members of our diaspora who are not entitled to Irish citizenship. I believe that the scheme will provide a practical demonstration of the inclusive approach adopted by successive Governments to our diaspora.

The Certificate of Irish Heritage will give official recognition to the many people worldwide who are conscious of their Irish heritage and feel a strong affinity for Ireland. It will not, however, confer any citizenship or other legal rights or entitlements to the successful applicants. Those applying for Certificates of Irish Heritage will be required to submit comprehensive details of their Irish ancestral connections and relevant documents and certificates to show their connection with Ireland. Contract negotiations with FeXco the company selected to operate the service on behalf of my Department have now been completed. It is expected that the scheme will be operational by October.

Foreign Conflicts

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

83 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, following his response to my recent question regarding the allegations that the Irish aid boat to Gaza, the MV Saoirse, had been sabotaged while docked in Turkey, where he outlined his understanding that a spokesperson for the Turkish Foreign Ministry has indicated that the authorities, who have inspected the vessel, do not believe that sabotage took place, if he will now seek a report from the Turkish authorities outlining in detail the reasons they believe sabotage did not take place, in view of the serious implications of the sabotage allegations and the consequent reckless endangerment of the lives of Irish citizens. [20059/11]

In my earlier reply to the Deputy, I stated that, if the authorities in Turkey concluded that theSaoirse had been sabotaged, I would regard this as a matter of serious concern. That remains my position. I also stated that a Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman had indicated that the Turkish authorities did not consider that sabotage had taken place. Our Embassy in Ankara had been in contact with the local authorities in the port when the reports of damage to the Saoirse were received.

The local authorities concerned indicated that the persons who reported the damage gave it as their opinion that sabotage was involved. However, the local coastguard considered that the damage to the vessel they were shown was likely to have resulted from a collision with an object at sea. They expressed the view that it would be difficult for a person in the water to have inflicted damage of that type to a moored vessel, particularly without being detected by those on board or in the harbour. They also noted that an intending saboteur could have disabled the propeller far more easily than by inflicting the type of damage incurred by theSaoirse. I have no grounds on which to dispute these views or to demand a further investigation.

European Neighbourhood Policy

Micheál Martin

Question:

84 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the initiative he has taken regarding the European Union’s Neighbourhood Policy. [15392/11]

The European Neighbourhood Policy provides an overarching framework for the EU's relations with a range of countries, some 16 in all, in its immediate proximity. These are partners with substantial interaction in various fields with the Union, and the potential for further developing this. The EU has a natural, strong interest in promoting stability and in the spread of its values in the regions close to it. Ireland shares that interest and takes an active part in the Neighbourhood Policy and its implementation.

The most recent development has been a strategic review of the European Neighbourhood Policy by the Commission and the EEAS following a mandate from the European Council. Ireland contributed to that review by way of a written response in November 2010. In that response we emphasised the importance of differentiation between our partners, and of helping when asked, but also of being careful not to impose our own precepts. We also supported a strong conditionality, rewarding greater engagement and reform efforts with greater funding and support.

These ideas are well reflected in the Communication resulting from the review by the EEAS and Commission entitled "A new Approach to a changing Neighbourhood" which was published on 25 May 2011. The joint Communication was discussed at the Foreign Affairs Council on 20 June and I made the point that conditionality should be applied intelligently and that the EU should be respectful in its approach to our neighbours. The aim should be to support wherever we can, but not seek to impose solutions. Conclusions were adopted by the Council broadly endorsing the new approach, and this was in turn endorsed by the European Council at its meeting on 24 June.

Neighbourhood Policy mobilises an array of actions in support for the modernisation of neighbouring countries through reforms in return for concessions from the EU, above all in the fields of trade and freedom of travel, with the stated aim of achieving long-term stability and prosperity in the neighbourhood. Actions involving civil society, the use of the financial aid of the Neighbourhood Instrument, sectoral cooperation, and participation in EU programmes all form part of the effort.

The review and the subsequent new approach come at what has turned out to be a particularly sensitive time in terms of the Union's relations with our partners in the Southern Neighbourhood, with events of the Arab Spring making an effective and prompt EU response all the more relevant. The current Polish Presidency of the Council is putting considerable emphasis on work under the Eastern Partnership. I support them in this and in the various sectoral and Foreign Ministerial meetings planned as well as the summit in Warsaw in late September.

EU Treaties

Micheál Martin

Question:

85 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his approach to discussions at European Council level regarding any treaties-related changes, such as opt-outs from existing treaty commitments by some countries, to be agreed during the next year. [15384/11]

In June 2009 the Heads of State or Government of the 27 Member States of the EU, meeting within the European Council, adopted a Decision on the concerns of the Irish people on the Treaty of Lisbon concerning the right to life, family and education; taxation; and security and defence. It was also declared that at the time of the conclusion of the next accession Treaty the provisions of the Decision would be set out in a Protocol which would be attached to the Treaty on the European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. On 30 June, the accession negotiations with Croatia were formally concluded and it is expected that the Accession Treaty will be ready for signature at the December European Council. National ratifications would then follow, with the working assumption of accession taking effect on 1 July 2013.

The procedures to effect the necessary Treaty change to take account of the Irish protocol are set out in Article 48 of the Treaty on the European Union. It is currently envisaged that the Government will submit to the General Affairs Council in October a proposal to amend the Treaties by annexing the proposed protocol to the Treaties. This proposal will in turn be submitted by the Council to the European Council and national Parliaments shall be notified. The European Council, after consulting the European Parliament and the Commission, must then adopt a decision in favour of examining the proposed amendment.

The amendment may then be examined by a Convention involving representatives of the national parliaments, of the Heads of State or Government of the Member States, of the European Parliament and of the Commission and, following a recommendation by the Convention, agreed by an Inter-Governmental Conference comprised of representatives of the Governments of the Member States. Alternatively, it may be possible to have the amendment agreed by an Inter-Governmental Conference directly, without convening a convention. The amendment would then enter into force after being ratified by all Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements.

At the European Council in October 2009, the Heads of State or Government also agreed that, at the time of the conclusion of the next Accession Treaty and in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements, they would attach a Protocol to the Treaty on the European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union on the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union to the Czech Republic. It is now, therefore, a matter for the Czech authorities to submit to the Council a proposal for the amendment of the Treaties in accordance with Article 48 of the Treaty of the European Union in order to achieve this.

North-South Ministerial Council

Micheál Martin

Question:

86 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he intends implementing any changes to scheduled meetings of the North-South Ministerial Council; the issues involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18840/11]

The North South Ministerial Council meets in three formats: plenary, institutional, and sectoral. I have no plans to seek changes to the structure, format or frequency of NSMC meetings. The most recent meeting in plenary format was held on 10 June, and the next meeting in plenary format is scheduled for 18 November. Officials of my department are currently considering dates for the next meeting in institutional format.

There were meetings in sectoral format on the environment on 1 July; aquaculture and marine on 4 July, and the language body and inland waterways, both of which took place on 7 July. Three further meetings in sectoral format have been agreed for the remainder of July as follows: 20 July, health and food safety; 25 July, trade and business development; and 26 July, agriculture. Sectoral meetings are attended by the relevant government minister, and are held in the offices of the NSMC joint secretariat at Armagh.

Tax Code

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

87 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Finance when he will sign the ministerial order regarding the leisure sector arising from section 117(2)(b) of the 2010 Finance Act; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19512/11]

Section 117 of the Finance Act 2010 included provision to make public bodies subject to VAT with effect from 1 July 2010 in accordance with the European Court of Justice ruling against Ireland of 16 July 2009 in Case C-554/07. In summary, the VAT Act 1972 was amended to provide that public bodies, including local authorities, are made subject to VAT. More specifically, they are subject to VAT where they engage (i) in economic activities; (ii) in any activities as outlined in Annex I of the EU VAT Directive, unless the activity is carried out on such a small scale as to be negligible; and (iii) in the case of their regulatory capacity as a public authority, when their treatment as non-taxable could lead to a distortion of competition. These are subject of course to the activity not being otherwise exempted from VAT.

During the debate on the Finance Bill, the then Minister for Finance undertook to look again at the provisions, in particular in relation to the supply of community and sports facilities by public bodies, especially local authorities. The legislation was accordingly amended to provide that the new VAT rules for public bodies, in relation to the supply of sports and community-type facilities, will be commenced by order, rather than on 1 July 2010. This was to allow for a more complete examination of the issues, including an analysis of how the new rules might best be implemented. In the circumstances, I have no immediate plans to introduce such an Order.

Tax Reliefs

Paschal Donohoe

Question:

88 Deputy Paschal Donohoe asked the Minister for Finance his views in relation to the provision of section 23 tax reliefs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19524/11]

The Programme for Government states that property tax reliefs and other tax shelters which benefit very high income earners will be reduced, capped or abolished and to this end I have directed that a process be initiated to assess the possible impacts of such changes on the "legacy" property-based tax relief schemes. The first stage of this assessment process is currently underway in the form of a public consultation. The consultation paper and details of how to make submissions are available on the Department of Finance's website. The consultation will run from 23 June to 29 July 2011.

The purpose of this consultation is to provide an opportunity for all interested parties to offer input on how the impact assessment should proceed in determining an appropriate policy approach to the "legacy" reliefs, including Section 23 type reliefs. The assessment will consider the economic impact of curtailing the costs to the State of outstanding or ‘legacy' reliefs, which have so far not been fully claimed by investors. It will enable us to better understand the benefits that may accrue to the Exchequer in terms of additional tax yield as well as consequences for investor groups and the wider economy arising from possible changes to the treatment of property-based legacy reliefs. The results of the assessment will be considered in the context of Budget 2012.

Tax Code

Joe McHugh

Question:

89 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Finance the vehicle registration tax charges that will be levied on vehicles (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19538/11]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that their valuation officers do not provide an indicative estimate of the vehicle registration tax (VRT) that might be levied on a vehicle in advance of that vehicle being presented for registration. Instead, a number of tools have been made available, through which an individual should be able to estimate an approximate liability. Revenue valuation officials maintain a database of valuations of the more common makes, models, types and versions of vehicles imported into the State. This database contains over 20,000 valuations and can be accessed on the Revenue website athttps://www.ros.ie/evrt-enquiry/vrtenquiry.html?execution=e1s1. Using this facility, an individual intending to purchase a used vehicle abroad, may input the specific criteria relating to a particular vehicle, i.e. age, mileage, condition, etc. and receive a valuation (including the VRT due) for that particular vehicle or a comparable model.

If the vehicle is not available on the website, an individual can, using the methodology used by Revenue valuation officials, estimate the valuation of a vehicle. This methodology is available on Revenue's website athttp://www.revenue.ie/en/about/foi/s16/vehicle-registration-tax/vrt-manual-section-8.pdf. Additionally, in order to help an individual to get as accurate an estimate as possible, a form was devised to guide them in the self-estimate process. This form is available at http://www.revenue.ie/en/tax/vrt/forms/vrt-pre-registration-self-estimate.pdf and uses the techniques used by Revenue valuation officers in determining the OMSP of a vehicle. It should if followed correctly, yield an accurate self-estimate of the value of the vehicle for VRT purposes.It should be noted that Section 132(1) of the Finance Act 1992 (as amended) provides for the charging of VRT. That section provides that: —

"In addition to any other duty which may be chargeable, subject to the provisions of this Chapter and any regulations thereunder, with effect on and from the 1st day of January, 1993, a duty of excise, to be called vehicle registration tax, shall be charged, levied and paid at whichever of the rates specified in subsection (3) is appropriate on —

(a) the registration of a vehicle, and

(b) a declaration under section 131(3)."

Accordingly, regardless of how accurate an estimate may be, the actual liability cannot be determined until such time as the vehicle is presented at an NCTS centre, where the actual valuation and VRT liability specific to that particular vehicle, will be determined by Revenue at the time of registration.

National Asset Management Agency

Sean Fleming

Question:

90 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Finance the approximate number and value of loans transferred to the National Asset Management Agency on a bank by bank basis when the loans were fully performing and all payments were up to date and they are expected to fully perform; if he will outline if such loans were transferred at full commercial value or was a hair cut applied; and if so, if he will further outline the reasoning behind same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19579/11]

The position in relation to the number and value of loans transferred to NAMA on a bank by bank basis as at 31st December 2010 is set out in the table. This information is provided in the NAMA Quarterly reports which are laid before the Oireachtas and published on the NAMA website on a quarterly basis. At the end of Quarter 4 2010, NAMA reported a figure of 23% of the overall Portfolio as ‘performing'.

NAMA advises that the performance status of a loan can change over its life depending on the means of the borrower to meet its obligations and the characteristics of the underlying asset. The performance status of the loans is unrelated to the acquisition discount. The discount is primarily based on the underlying value of the property which is the security for the loan. The performance status of the non-performing loans in the overall NAMA portfolio is also set out in the table. I am advised by NAMA that this information is not available on a bank by bank basis as the loans now form part of the overall NAMA portfolio and performance is monitored on an aggregate basis.

December 2010

Loan Nominal Value €m

NAMA Consideration Issued €m

Discount

AIB

18,443

8,459

54%

BOI

9,251

5,404

42%

Anglo

34,191

12,920

62%

INBS

8,672

3,043

64%

EBS

840

331

60%

Total

71,397

30,157

58%

Loan Performance

Classification

Number

Loan Nominal €m

%

Performing

3,550

16,485

23%

Non-Performing

10,726

54,912

77%

Total

14,276

71,397

Non Performing

Loan Payment Status

Degree of Default

Loan Nominal €m

%

9

Current Non Cash

3,952

7%

1

30-59 Days Delinquent

1,787

3%

2

60-89 Days Delinquent

2,853

5%

3

90+ Days Delinquent

2,171

4%

4

120+ Days Delinquent

39,583

72%

7

Foreclosure

4,566

8%

8

Otherwise Enforced

0

0%

Total

54,912

Tax Code

Terence Flanagan

Question:

91 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance if businesses are legally obliged to pass on the reduced VAT rate to customers with effect from 1 July 2011; the checks that will be carried out to ensure that businesses who operate in the area in which the reduced rate applies do not retain the VAT reduction by not passing on the cut to customers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19613/11]

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 for the period 1 July 2011 to end 2013. Businesses must account for VAT at the 9% rate on these specified goods and services provided by them on or after 1 July 2011. Where the goods and services are supplied to another VAT-registered business a VAT invoice must be issued, charging VAT at the new rate. However, where the supplies are to unregistered customers there is no obligation to show the VAT separately. Businesses dealing with unregistered customers are not legally obliged to reduce their (VAT-inclusive) pricing to reflect the post-1 July 2011 lower rate, but would be expected to do so.

However, in reducing the VAT burden on activities related to the tourism industry, the introduction of the 9% VAT rate is aimed at contributing towards boosting tourism and the creation of additional jobs in that sector. With this in mind, the VAT reduction will be kept under review and evaluated before end 2012 in order to determine its effectiveness in aiding the industry. If it is shown that the VAT reduction has little or no effect in aiding the industry then the measure is open to being reformed or abolished. In addition, checks on the correct operation of VAT, including the rates of VAT applied are integral parts of Revenue's audit and compliance programmes.

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

92 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Finance the tax take that would be raised each year from a wealth tax of 1% levied on all persons with wealth of over €1 million; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19618/11]

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

93 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Finance the tax take that would be raised each year from a wealth tax of 1% levied on all persons with wealth of over €10 million; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19619/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 92 and 93 together.

I am informed by the Central Statistics Office that the CSO institutional accounts do not give an indication of the number of households or persons classified by the categories of wealth they hold. These statistics are based on aggregate information collected from financial institutions and do not contain the demographic details which would enable such a breakdown of the statistics. I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that they have no statistical basis for compiling estimates in relation to a potential wealth tax. It is therefore not possible to provide the information requested by the Deputy.

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

94 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Finance the extra tax that would be raised by increasing the income tax on all taxable income over €100,000 for an individual and €200,000 for a couple by 1%; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19620/11]

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

95 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Finance the extra tax that would be raised by increasing the income tax on all taxable income over €200,000 for an individual and €400,000 for a couple by 1%; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19621/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 94 and 95 together.

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the estimated full year yield to the Exchequer, estimated by reference to 2011 incomes, of a 1% point increase in the top rate of income tax for those single and widowed individuals with incomes over €100,000 and married couples with incomes over €200,000 as referred to by the Deputy would be of the order of €59 million in a full year. In addition, the cost of a 1% point increase in the top rate of income tax for those single and widowed individuals with incomes over €200,000 and married couples with incomes over €400,000 would be of the order of €30 million in a full year. These estimates are based on confining the increased tax rate to the segment of income that is in excess of the stated thresholds of €100,000, €200,000 and €400,000.

These figures are estimates from the Revenue tax-forecasting model using actual data for the year 2008 adjusted as necessary for income and employment trends for the year 2011. They are therefore provisional and likely to be revised. It should be noted that a married couple who has elected or has been deemed to have elected for joint assessment is counted as one tax unit. The Deputy should be aware that increases in the income tax rates at the levels proposed would constitute a third rate of tax. Given the current band structures, major issues would need to be resolved as to how, in practice, such new rates could be integrated into the current system and how this would affect the relative position of different types of income earners

Mary Mitchell O'Connor

Question:

96 Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide an update regarding the amount of revenue realised since the exemption from benefit-in-kind tax for employer-provided child care was abolished by the last Government; if he will consider overturning the decision to abolish the exemption in view of the fact that attempts are being made to encourage persons back into the workplace; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19681/11]

The costs of the provision of certain free or subsidised childcare facilities by employers were exempt from a benefit-in-kind charge on the employees that availed of such facilities. This exemption was abolished in the recent Budget and Finance Bill 2011. This relief was introduced in 1999 to encourage employers to invest in childcare facilities and thus increase the overall supply of childcare places. At the time of its introduction, there was a scarcity of childcare places and the costs associated with childcare were increasing. The aim of the exemption was to encourage employers who were not traditionally associated with the provision of childcare to provide such facilities for their employees. The Commission on Taxation recommended the abolition of this exemption, citing equity, due to the likelihood that only large employers have the ability to make the necessary investments.

A number of support measures are in place to ease the burden on working parents. These support measures include a free pre-school year in Early Childhood Care and Education, a five-year National Childcare Investment Programme which aims to fund an additional 25,000 childcare places by end 2011, as well as extended paid and unpaid maternity leave. With a view to keeping the scheme simple and reducing administration on the part of employers, there was no notification procedure for employers involved. Accordingly, the Revenue Commissioners do not have costs for the scheme. It was estimated in Budget 2011 that the abolition would yield €3 million to the Exchequer in 2011 and €6 million in a full year.

EU-IMF Programme

Gerry Adams

Question:

97 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Finance the steps he has taken to secure a reduction in the interest rate on the EU-IMF bailout since the conclusion of the June European Council summit. [18709/11]

The Government is taking every appropriate opportunity to raise the issue of the interest rate charged on the EU/IMF Programme funds and to press our case for a reduction in the rate. In my recent engagements with Troika senior officials I raised the issue of programme pricing. I have also continued to do so at every suitable opportunity at EU level. The Government is prepared to discuss changes that will not have a negative effect on our economy. However, the Government has consistently stated that it would not put Ireland's economic recovery in jeopardy through changes to the corporation tax rate, which is a significant factor in attracting the foreign direct investment that supports 250,000 jobs in Ireland.

Tax Code

John Deasy

Question:

98 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Finance if he will detail fully the eligibility criteria for the new 9% VAT rate for the tourism industry; the tourism products that are to be covered by this new VAT rate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19690/11]

VAT is applied on the value added on the supply of goods and services. VAT rates are not specific to business sectors, unless a sector deals in one particular good or service. The goods and services to which the 9% VAT rate applies are those, and only those, listed in paragraphs 3(1) to (3), 7, 8, 11, 12, and 13(3) of Schedule 3 of the VAT Consolidation Act 2010.

Examples of such goods and services supplied in the tourism industry are: the supply of food and drink (excluding alcohol and soft drinks) in the course of catering; the supply, by means of a vending machine, of food and drink that would otherwise be zero-rated; hot take-away food and hot drinks; hotel lettings, including guesthouses, caravan parks, camping sites etc; admissions to cinemas, theatres, certain musical performances, museums and art gallery exhibitions; amusement services of the kind normally supplied in fairgrounds or amusement parks; and the provision, by a person other than a non-profit making organisation, of facilities for taking part in sport. The 9% rate also applies to printed matter, including newspapers, magazines, brochures, leaflets, programmes, maps, catalogues and printed music, and to hairdressing services.

Tax Yield

Paschal Donohoe

Question:

99 Deputy Paschal Donohoe asked the Minister for Finance the total tax revenue expected for 2010 and 2011; and if he will supply in tabular form the value, in gross spending and percentage terms of this revenue going into servicing the national debt, paying for public services and any costs associated with supporting the banking system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19693/11]

Tax revenue in 2010 amounted to €31.8 billion. Tax revenue in 2011 is estimated at €34.9 billion. The Deputy should be aware that tax revenues are generally not assigned to particular areas of expenditure but rather are available, along with other sources of revenue such as non-tax revenue, capital receipts and Exchequer borrowing, to fund overall expenditure.

€ billion

TaxRevenue (A)

National Debt Servicing (B) 1

(B) as a % of (A)

Gross Voted Expenditure (C) 2

(C) as a % of (A)

Exchequer Banking Expenditure (D) 3

(D) as a% of (A)

2010

31.8

4.2

13

60.5

190

0.7

2

2011

34.9

6.2

18

57.5

165

3.1*

9

*figure to end-June

Notes

1 The National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) reports total national debt servicing costs in 2010 at €4.2 billion. The April Stability Programme Update (SPU) projected total 2011 national debt servicing expenditure at some €6.2 billion, including €0.6 billion in national debt interest expenditure sourced from the Capital Services Redemption Account (CSRA).

2 The outturn for total gross voted Government expenditure in 2010 is estimated at €60.5 billion. The February 2011 Revised Estimates Volume (REV) estimated total gross voted Government expenditure at €57.5 billion in 2011. A new REV for 2011, updated for the restructuring of Departmental responsibilities, the Jobs Initiative and certain other minor technical adjustments, will be published shortly.

3 In 2010, €30.85 billion was committed to be provided to Anglo Irish Bank, Irish Nationwide Building Society (INBS) and Educational Building Society (EBS) by way of Promissory Note, the terms of which provide, inter alia, that 10 per cent shall be paid to the Note holder each year. The first such payments, amounting to €3.085 billion, were made to the institutions in the first half of 2011. However, there was no Exchequer expenditure associated with these Promissory Notes in 2010.

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

It should also be noted that in 2010, the National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF) injected a further €3.7 billion in capital into AIB. As this injection was sourced from the NPRF, it did not impact on Exchequer spending in 2010. In addition, the recent banking stress tests carried out by the Central Bank identified an additional €24 billion in support to the banking sector as being required, including €3 billion of funds which take the form of contingent capital. However, it is anticipated that mitigating actions, such as burden sharing, will mean that up to €5 billion of this €24 billion will not have to be provided by the State, with €10 billion of the State's contribution being sourced from the National Pensions Reserve Fund and the balance funded by the Exchequer.

National Asset Management Agency

Peter Mathews

Question:

100 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Finance the number of employees in the National Asset Management Agency who earn €100,000 per annum or more; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19694/11]

Under section 42(1) of the National Asset Management Agency Act 2009, the NTMA assigns staff to NAMA as necessary for the performance by NAMA of its functions under the Act. All staff assigned to NAMA are NTMA employees. The NTMA also provides NAMA with business and support services and systems. 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, the National Asset Management Agency and certain banking system functions of the Minister for Finance. Details of NTMA salaries at end June-2011 by salary band are as follows:

Salary Band

Number of Staff

Up to €100,000

235

From €100,001 to €150,000

78

From €150,001 to €200,000

27

From €200,001 to €250,000

3

Over €250,000

14

Banking Sector Staff

Peter Mathews

Question:

101 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Finance the number of new staff employed by Anglo Irish Bank directly, on contract or on secondment from professional firms in the past 12 months; the number of these who are on salaries of more than €100,000 per annum; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19695/11]

Peter Mathews

Question:

102 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Finance the number of personnel employed by professional firms that have been working on Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society business analysis and operational matters for the past 24 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19696/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 101 and 102 together.

These institutions — namely Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society (INBS) which have been merged with effect from 1 July 2011 — have been managed to date on an arms-length basis and the new merged entity will continue likewise, notwithstanding the Government's shareholding in both institutions, as is appropriate. Similarly where the State has extensive shareholdings in other relevant covered institutions, this is important from the point of view of ensuring that their operations are managed, by their respective boards and management, on a commercial basis with a view to securing the maximum return for the taxpayer. I do not, therefore, compile the detailed data sought by the Deputy on pay, or on the number of personnel on secondment from professional firms providing services to Anglo Irish Bank and INBS. The latter would, in any event, be a matter that is primarily a professional and commercial matter for the particular firms providing the service.

However, I fully recognise that there is a real public interest in the levels of remuneration at the covered institutions and I have indicated, in answers to other questions today, that I am asking the institutions to compile data on staff numbers and remuneration practices and details with a view, as part of the remuneration review presently being conducted by the institutions at the request of my Department, to improving transparency on the issue. I will forward the information in due course to the Deputy, when it has been supplied and examined by my Department.

Banks Recapitalisation

Peter Mathews

Question:

103 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider an alternative bank recapitalisation strategy involving the reversal of the National Asset Management Agency, temporary nationalisation of both pillar banks, together with negotiating substantial creditor write-downs on loan amounts owing by the banks to the ECB and senior bondholders to reflect the losses of at least €70 billion incurred by the six Irish banks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19697/11]

The Deputy will be aware that the Minister is pursuing a strategy which has been well exposed and fully communicated, involving a significant downsizing of the Government supported banking sector and the creation of two Government supported universal domestic pillar banks. With the exception of the merged Anglo Irish Bank and INBS where the matter remains open, burden sharing with the senior bondholders of the banks does not form part of this strategy. It is the Minister's firm opinion that this was and remains the optimum strategy not least because it guarantees the continued funding of the banking system and the supply of at least €30 billion of lending into the domestic economy until 2013, despite the deleveraging of non-core banking assets.

The Deputy will be aware that in the previous three months, very considerable progress has already been made in the implementation of this strategy in many cases significantly in advance of the originally anticipated deadlines.

The legal mergers of Allied Irish Banks with the EBS Building Society, and of Anglo Irish Bank with INBS have been completed well ahead of the scheduled delivery dates of September 30, 2011 and December 31, 2011, respectively.

The proposed name change of the merged Anglo Irish Bank has been announced to Irish Bank Resolution Company and a number of the foreign branches are being closed.

The merged Anglo Irish Bank has already commenced the process of selling $10 billion of US property lending assets.

All on-going banks have split into core and non-core management teams and identified non-core assets for disposal.

€4.4billion of burden sharing has already been secured.

As a result of the successful liability management debt for equity exercise in Bank of Ireland, a continuing free float element of circa 30% has been ensured. The State's obligation to buy shares in this bank may decrease even further depending on both the outcome of the current rights offering and ongoing discussions with private equity.

Information Memoranda in respect of the sale of Irish Life have already been circulated to interested parties in advance of the Troika deadline of October 2011.

Consultancy Contracts

Peter Mathews

Question:

104 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Finance if Goldman Sachs has been retained professionally by his Department, the National Treasury Management Agency or by any body under the aegis of his Department, including the banks under majority Government control; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19698/11]

In response to the Deputy's question, Goldman Sachs has not been retained professionally by my Department. The National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) appointed Goldman Sachs International, following a competitive tender process involving a number of advisory firms, as advisors as part of its Banking Unit's involvement in overseeing the capital raising exercise of the four financial institutions (Allied Irish Bank, Bank of Ireland, EBS and Irish Life and Permanent), following the announcement of the results of the Central Bank's PCAR/PLAR process on 31 March 2011. Fees of up to €7.8m may be payable to Goldman Sachs depending on completion of transactions and performance.

I am informed by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) that it expects to recoup the external advisory fees associated with the NTMA Banking Unit's involvement in the oversight of the capital raising exercise from the four financial institutions (Allied Irish Bank, Bank of Ireland, EBS and Irish Life and Permanent). The fees include the costs associated with achieving burden-sharing with holders of subordinated debt together with costs in relation to raising of additional capital. Goldman Sachs Asset Management has been a National Pensions Reserve Fund investment manager since March 2002, managing a North American equities portfolio. Goldman Sachs Asset Management was appointed under EU public procurement rules.

The NTMA recognised Goldman Sachs International as one of its sixteen Primary Dealers in Irish Government bonds in February 2010. The Primary Dealers each make continuous two-way prices in designated benchmark bonds in specified minimum amounts and within specified maximum bid-offer spreads. They have exclusive access to the NTMA's bond auctions. These are not contractual arrangements and the NTMA does not pay fees to Primary Dealers.

Anglo Irish Bank, which intends to change its name to Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Limited following its merger with Irish Nationwide Building Society, has retained Goldman Sachs International, since July 2006, as the sole prime broker for its AIAC Long/Short Equity fund. The prime broker provides a range of services that relate to cash or security positions including centralised securities clearing facilities, acting as settlement agent, providing custodial services, financing of margined long or short cash and securities positions and associated reporting services.

Tax Code

Terence Flanagan

Question:

105 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance his views on the matter (details supplied) regarding personal fund threshold; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19721/11]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they will be able to provide a full breakdown of Personal Fund Threshold (PFT) applications received and certificates issued when all of the applications have been processed. Each case has to be examined individually to ascertain the correct PFT amount and Revenue are still working through the applications. In view, amongst other things, of the poor quality of some of the submissions, Revenue anticipate that this will take at least another 2 to 3 months to complete.

Drug Seizures

Joe McHugh

Question:

106 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Finance the references to drugs and drug seizures in the Revenue’s business plans for each of the years 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011; if he is satisfied that Revenue is deploying the necessary resources at ports and privately owned airports in order to bring about the necessary drug seizures; if he is concerned that there is no customs presence at several airports in terms of searching privately owned aircraft; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19736/11]

Joe McHugh

Question:

107 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that in a criminal case involving a large seizure of drugs at foreign airports (details supplied) and which were bound for a privately owned airport here that the presiding judge made strong reference in handing down a custodial sentence that he was concerned at the fact that there was inadequate customs presence at privately owned airfields and airports and said there was a significant case for review of security; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that this matter was raised in Dáil Éireann by a Deputy in the past; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19737/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 106 and 107 together.

The Customs Service of the Revenue Commissioners has primary responsibility for the prevention, detection and seizure of controlled drugs at importation. It has particular responsibility for implementing import controls at points of entry to the State, specifically at ports and airports, including licensed airfields, and on the land frontier. Revenue's annual Corporate Plans reflect the actions and targets outlined in the current 2009-2016 and in the earlier 2000-2008 National Drugs Strategy. The Revenue Corporate Plan for 2011 states that Revenue will contribute to the National Drugs Strategy 2009-2016 targets through increased drugs supply detections in 2011 with improved intelligence and enhanced Memoranda of Understanding programmes.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that there is a permanent customs presence at Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports and at the main ports and the staffing resource at these locations is kept under ongoing review. It is important to note by way of context that the operating environment for customs has been shaped to a significant degree by the introduction of the Internal Market and the related principle of freedom of movement within the EU. Of specific relevance is the abolition of routine and systematic customs checks on goods and passengers moving within any part of the Union. This is particularly relevant in the case of airfields where traffic is predominantly intra-Community.

In this context, Revenue's approach has, of necessity, been to balance the freedom of movement principle in relation to persons and goods with the need to control smuggling and enforce prohibitions and restrictions. In this regard all enforcement interventions in intra-Community traffic across the European Union are by necessity carried out on a risk and intelligence basis. International experience has also shown that this is the most effective and productive approach in the fight against drug smuggling.

Customs controls at regional airports and public and private aerodromes are risk-based and are carried out by mobile customs enforcement officers. Attendance by these officers is selective and targeted and is based on analysis and evaluation of national and international seizure trends, local traffic frequency and routes and on other profiling indicators. Attendance can also result from specific intelligence relevant to a particular location. Flights with origins and destinations attracting a high-risk rating attract particular interest. Attendance by customs enforcement personnel covers the full range of flight times and is adapted to take account of emerging trends and any increase or changes to traffic at particular airfields. There were 606 enforcement visits undertaken to regional airports and public and private aerodromes in 2008, 694 in 2009 and 635 in 2010.

Revenue's Customs Service liaises and shares intelligence on an ongoing basis with other national and international enforcement agencies such as An Garda Síochána, the Naval Service, Air Corps and foreign customs and police services. It participates on a regular basis in European bilateral and national surveillance operations focused on specific drug smuggling methodologies and routings. Some of these operations are specifically directed at light aircraft and helicopter movements. Both Customs and Gardaí meet regularly and work closely together to improve co-operation with the operators of airfields to help them prevent the use of their facilities by persons involved in international drug trafficking.

I am aware of the criminal case referred to by the Deputy, which was the subject of a previous Parliamentary Question. I am not in a position to comment on the operational aspects of any given case. However, in 2007, in the light of concerns following that particular drug seizure, the Customs Service carried out an extensive review of controls at private airfields and have implemented the recommendations arising from that review. In this regard I am advised that the Revenue Commissioners are satisfied that current controls and monitoring at these locations are effective and proportionate and in line with best international practice.

Credit Availability

Sandra McLellan

Question:

108 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Finance his views on the current rate of lending to small and medium business in the hospitality sector by Irish banks covered under the bank guarantee scheme; the efforts he has made to ensure adequate funding for viable businesses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18962/11]

The Deputy may be aware that under the terms of the government recapitalisation, both pillar banks produce a quarterly report which incorporates figures for balance sheet volumes, sanctions and drawdowns by SMEs. The data contained in these reports will continue to be reviewed and analysed by my Department and the Credit Review Office to ensure that the banks are compliant with the terms of the Government recapitalisation as it relates to the provision of credit for SMEs.

The most recent quarterly report by the Credit Reviewer which was published in May gave information on the balance sheet share of lending by both AIB and Bank of Ireland at end March 2011 and compared this with January 2010. The Hotel and Restaurant sector was 17% of the SME balance sheet in January 2010 and remained at the same 17% level in March 2011. Therefore I would conclude that the hospitality sector is not disproportionately affected in relation to credit.

The Deputy will be aware that the banking system restructuring plan creates capacity for the two Pillar Banks, Bank of Ireland and AIB, to provide lending in excess of €30 billion in the next three years. SME and new mortgage lending for these banks is expected to be in the range of €16-20bn over this period. In each bank, a team of senior managers will be dedicated to the task of ensuring lending continues to grow to support economic growth. This lending capacity is incorporated into the banks' deleveraging plans which allow for repayment of Central Bank funding through asset run-off and disposals over the period to 2013.

As I have said before the Credit Review Office will, on application from the borrower, carry out an independent and impartial review of a bank's decision to refuse or reduce credit. This is another means of ensuring that the money is lent to the productive sector. I would strongly advise anyone who has unsuccessfully appealed through the bank's own internal appeals process to seek a review by the Credit Review Office. Last week, I raised the threshold for reviews from €250,000 to €500,000 to bring more credit refusals within the scope of the Credit Review Office. In addition, Enterprise Ireland is working with both banks to develop staff who are well versed in the issues facing exporters especially in the emerging sectors and are capable of cashflow based lending.

Last week I published some of the suggestions sent in by members of the public in response to my Credit Suggestions Initiative on how to improve the number of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) applying for credit. The public has now been invited to comment on the published list with a view to improving and refining them and my officials will be working on the assessment of the suggestions at the same time.

Banks Recapitalisation

Joe Costello

Question:

109 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Finance the status of the financial institutions which have been bailed out by the State and which are substantially or entirely owned by the State; the number of employees involved; the way the conditions of employment, pay and redundancy are determined; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19795/11]

The financial institutions to which the Deputy refers are independent economic entities with various levels of state ownership. Employees of the institutions are not public servants for the purposes of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009. As I said in my reply to question 19918/11, I will ask the institutions to write to the Deputy to provide the information on the numbers employed in each over the past five years. Conditions of employment, pay and redundancy are a matter for the normal human resources and industrial relations policies of the various institutions but are subject to certain restrictions and approvals either by me as Minister for Finance or by the NTMA/NPRFC as shareholders.

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.

Tax Collection

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

110 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance, further to Parliamentary Question No. 151 of 28 June 2011, if it is recognised that the taxpayer concerned at all stages followed the advice of a tax consultant, that the taxpayer received written confirmation from the Revenue Commissioners indicating that a refund of more than €22,000, that the first instalment was paid, and without any changes in legislation an audit deemed the tax payer to have a liability instead of a refund; that in the past two weeks the tax payer’s house was repossessed by the lending authority for almost the precise amount of unpaid mortgage instalments as that promised by way of refund by the Revenue Commissioners to the tax payer initially; the extent of disappointment to the taxpayer arising from such a process; if given the original indication and promissory correspondence the Revenue Commissioners are in fact obliged to make good the promise; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19823/11]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the taxpayer in question has been the subject of an ongoing Revenue audit. In September 2010 the taxpayer's agent agreed a basis for settlement with the Revenue auditor — essentially involving the set off of underpaid tax, interest and penalty against relevant contracts tax credits, with a small balance to be refunded. At that meeting, the agent said that he would recommend this settlement to the taxpayer. However, despite multiple contacts by the Revenue auditor with the taxpayer's agent and with the taxpayer, the audit has still not been formally agreed. There has been no indication from the taxpayer or his agent that they disagree with Revenue's computation of the underpayment amount (against which the relevant contracts credits are to be set off) and no alternative computations or proposals have been forthcoming.

Prior to the commencement of the audit, the Revenue Commissioners made a partial refund to the taxpayer in respect of relevant contracts tax credits. A statement did issue to the taxpayer in September 2008, from the Collector General's office, showing a credit balance of €18,262. However, this statement clearly indicated that the question of any refund of this credit balance was subject to Revenue's right to collect additional tax due in respect of outstanding or incorrect returns. When the additional tax liabilities were identified during the course of the audit, the Revenue auditor proposed that the credit balance of relevant contracts tax would be offset against the additional liabilities under the audit settlement. The taxpayer's agent, as part of the proposed audit settlement, agreed this offset.

At all times the Revenue Commissioners have sought to make the taxpayer and his agent aware of the position in the case and on the basis of the facts set out above, neither the taxpayer nor his agent could reasonably have anticipated any significant refund being due. The taxpayer is advised by Revenue to now engage with the Kildare District so as to reach closure on this matter.

Financial Services Regulation

Joan Collins

Question:

111 Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to any material systemic issues involving a company (details supplied); if the Central Bank informed him of any issues with this company; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19844/11]

I have been advised by the Central Bank that it does not comment on its supervisory activities in respect of individual regulated financial institutions. This rule applies in the case of the institution mentioned by the Deputy. However, the Deputy may wish to note that the Central Bank engages regularly with mortgage lenders on supervisory issues and carries out inspections as part of its ongoing programme of themed inspections.

Loan Facility Agreements

Pearse Doherty

Question:

112 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the day on which the margin on the bilateral loan from the British Government was agreed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19868/11]

Pearse Doherty

Question:

113 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he had requested a reduced margin as part of the bilateral loan between Ireland and the British Government. [19869/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 112 and 113 together.

The bilateral loan agreement between Ireland and the UK was signed on 22 December 2010. At this point, no funds have yet been drawn down under the agreement. The agreement provides that the interest rate on the amounts drawn down will be based on the Sterling Pound mid-market semi-annual swap rate at the time of drawdown plus a margin of 2.29% per annum. At the time that the UK loan facility agreement was signed the overall interest cost was calculated at about 5.9%, similar to the blended rate calculated by the EU Commission for the troika loans at the time our Programme was agreed last year. The actual rate will depend on the market rates prevailing at the time of disbursement. I have not formally raised the issue of an interest rate reduction with the UK Government to date.

Pearse Doherty

Question:

114 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance when he expects the margins to be agreed for the Danish and Swedish loan facilities. [19870/11]

The bilateral loan agreements with Denmark and Sweden have not yet been signed. Discussions on the terms and conditions are continuing. The interest rate on each will be based on the 3-month Euribor interest rate, a market reference rate of good standing, plus a margin yet to be agreed.

EU-IMF Programme

Pearse Doherty

Question:

115 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the profit that the IMF will make on the loan facility extended to Ireland as part of the EU-IMF programme assuming a full draw down of the moneys available and that the moneys are held for an average of 7.5 years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19907/11]

The IMF loans to Ireland under the EU/IMF Programme come from the quota subscriptions of its member countries and a new arrangement whereby certain countries and institutions provide a back-stop facility. This is in sharp contrast to the EFSF/EFSM which access the general capital markets for funds through the sale of marketable bonds when funding opportunities present themselves.

Under the IMF's Extended Fund Facility, the official name of the fund used, interest is due quarterly at the IMF's standard interest rate. The interest rate is the IMF's basic rate of charge plus surcharges which are based on the size of the loan relative to the country's IMF quota. An amount of 1% is charged over the SDR interest rate to give the basic rate of charge. In addition a level-based surcharge of 2% for amounts over 300% of the borrower's quota is added. This surcharge is modified after three years such that a further 1% is added. This added surcharge is referred to as the time-based surcharge. In addition to the interest charge there is a once off up front handling fee of 0.5% for all disbursements. Repayments in respect of each disbursement are made by way of 12 equal semi-annual payments that commence 4½ years after disbursement.

The SDR interest rate is reset weekly and is based on a weighted average of the three-month Eurepo rate, three-month Japanese Treasury Discount bills, three-month UK Treasury bills, and three-month US Treasury bills. The current SDR interest rate is 0.58% but could change significantly over the life of the programme.

I am informed by the IMF that its surcharges are automatically placed in its reserves to protect the value of assets that member countries place with it. It says that the security of these assets means that the IMF's cost of funds is low, being a weighted average of 3-month Treasury bill rates for the US, Japan, and UK, and the 3-month eurepo rate. This low cost of funds is passed on to borrowing countries as a lower interest rate. As of July 11, the interest rate due on Fund credit is 1.6% on the first 300 percent of quota, and 3.6% on amounts above 300 percent of quota.

I understand from the NTMA that the total amount of interest and surcharges over the basic SDR rate due under the extended arrangement, assuming all disbursements are made as scheduled and all repayments are also made as scheduled (with the last repayment in 2023), is estimated at SDR 4,115 million, which is equivalent to €4637 million based on the July 11 SDR/€ exchange rate. Unlike the EFSF and EFSM, it is possible to pay the IMF borrowing back early without penalty, should circumstances allow at some point in the future, thereby reducing the cost of borrowing.

Pearse Doherty

Question:

116 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the average blended interest rate on EFSM loans based on the interest rates being charged on draw downs to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19909/11]

Pearse Doherty

Question:

117 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance his views that the average interest rate charged on EFSM loans will exceed the 5.7% indicated by the former Minister for Finance and the National Treasury Management Agency in December 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19910/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 116 and 117 together.

In November, the EU Commission agreed that the methodology used to calculate the cost of funds from the EFSM would be designed so as to generate a cost of funds from the EFSM at a rate similar to the cost of IMF funds. At the time it was calculated that the IMF floating rate translated to a Euro fixed 7.5 year rate of 5.7%. This 5.7% interest rate was calculated using market rates in November. This figure was indicative only, based on market conditions at that time, and not a commitment.

The gap between the interest charged to Ireland on its EFSM borrowings and the 5.7% is explained by the cost of funds in the bond market. The financial assistance programme envisages a weighted average maturity of 7.5 years for EFSM loans to Ireland and the EFSM achieves this by issuing bonds of different maturities. In general, bonds with longer maturities will have higher yields, or costs of funds. This has been reflected in the borrowing to date.

To date, Ireland's nominal borrowings from the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism under the EU/IMF Programme amount to €11.4 billion. The weighted average interest on the EFSM borrowings to date is 5.91% with a weighted average maturity of 6.87 years. Details of these loans, including the nominal interest rates for the EFSM, which is the rate used to calculate the amount of interest due on the loans for Ireland, as supplied by the NTMA to my Department, are set out in the table.

Lender

Nominal Loan amount

Amount Disbursed

Date of Draw down

Maturityfrom date of receipt.

Interest Rate used to calculate ongoing payments

(Borrowing Cost including margin but excluding fees)

EFSM

€5.00 billion

€4.973 billion

12-Jan-11

4 years 11 months

5.425%

€3.40 billion

€3.39 billion

24-Mar-11

7 years

6.175%

€3.00 billion

€2.986 billion

31-May-11

10 years

6.425%

Overall Totals / Weighted Averages

€11.4 billion

€11.35 billion

n/a

6.87 years

5.91%**This rate is based on the coupon of the bonds issued by the EFSM to finance the loan, plus the margin of 2.925%.

Notwithstanding the data supplied, I am advised by the NTMA that the appropriate interest rate to use to assess the overall cost of a particular loan is the all-in cost of borrowing or yield. On this basis the overall EFSM weighted average interest rate, including all costs on loans drawn down to date is calculated at 5.99%.

Tax Yield

Michael McGrath

Question:

118 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the amount of money collected from the universal social charge for the first six months of the year; the amount which was expected to be collected; and the amount by which the universal social charge income exceeds the amount that would have been collected if the health levy and income levy had remained in place. [19911/11]

The Universal Social Charge (USC) is a tax which replaces the income and health levies. It is intended to broaden the tax base in an equitable manner. It has a wider base and a lower rate when compared to the combined impact of the income and health levies. USC receipts are collected by the Revenue Commissioners as a component of income tax. I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that it is estimated that receipts from the USC amounted to €1,218 million in the first six months of 2011. This compares to a projected yield of €1,241 million for the first six months so receipts were close to target.

Monthly profiles of receipts from the income and health levies, as they had previously applied, were not prepared as these levies have been replaced by the USC. Therefore, it is not possible to estimate with any precision the amount that they would have generated in the first six months of the year had they remained in place or to compare this to the amount that has been collected in USC receipts in the first half of the year.

Had the income and health levies remained in place, it is expected that they would have generated €1.5 billion and €2.1 billion, respectively, in receipts in 2011 or €3.6 billion in total. Receipts from the USC combined with arrears in respect of the income and health levies were estimated to generate €3.6 billion in 2011, thus ensuring revenue neutrality in 2011. However, as I have indicated over the course of the year as a whole, receipts from the USC and arrears in respect of the income and health levies are expected to generate the same amount as would have been generated had the levies remained in place.

Banks Recapitalisation

Pearse Doherty

Question:

119 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance with respect to the €270,000 paid out in legal fees by EBS as part of its capital raising measures, if the EBS sought and received quotes from other firms before deciding to continue to use previous legal advisers for this work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19913/11]

Pearse Doherty

Question:

120 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the name of the firm used by EBS to provide advice in relation to its capital raising measures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19914/11]

Pearse Doherty

Question:

121 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he is satisfied that best value for money was achieved in relation to the fees paid to advisers, including lawyers, investment advisers and underwriters, as part of capital raising measures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19915/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 119 to 121, inclusive, together.

The Deputy will be aware that the radical restructuring of the Irish banking system which I announced on March 31 and the very fundamental recapitalisation of the Irish banks involves many complicated capital markets and legal decisions. We have embarked on perhaps the most complicated systemwide banking restructuring ever and doing so in the rapid timeframe involved requires considerable expertise and resources. Making the right choices is critical to ensure best value for the State. Equally, the raising of capital when placing shares and the like invariably involves significant underwriting and other fees.

The engagement by banks of advisors is not only typical in this situation, it is also necessary to help make the best decisions and prevent making costly errors. We would expect banks to be conscious of obtaining best value and before engaging advisors, to make comparative choices as part of their procurement process. Recognising that the State is now a significant shareholder in the banks, my Department has however since March streamlined the use of advisors by eliminating considerable duplication and where appropriate utilising the services of the advisors already engaged by the banks which has permitted considerable saving to the taxpayers. There are however occasions where it is necessary for the State to have its own advisors where the interests of the state taxpayer and the banks might not be fully aligned.

The added value for the State in having these advisors has substantially outweighed the cost. The Deputy is reminded that €4.4 billion of burden sharing has already been secured. As I stated in a response to question number 18684 on 5 July from the Deputy, I have been informed by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) that it expects to recoup the external advisory fees associated with the NTMA Banking Unit's involvement in the oversight of the capital raising exercise from AIB, Bank of Ireland, ILP and EBS. The Deputy will also be aware that, in relation to Bank of Ireland, the State is receiving fees totalling circa €100 million in relation to the capital raise (underwriting fees, contingent capital instrument fees, VAT etc.).

Turning to the questions relating to the EBS, the Deputy will be aware that the EBS is an independent economic entity which operates at arm's length from the Government. Nonetheless, as I said previously, we would expect it to be conscious of obtaining best value and before engaging advisors to make comparative choices as part of their procurement process. EBS selected BNP Paribas as dealer manager for the execution of the Tier 2 transaction. Having previously executed a buyback transaction for INBS, BNP Paribas had valuable knowledge of the Irish subordinated debt market. When conducting an offering of this sort, an institution is required to hire a dealer manager with sufficient market expertise and knowledge in order to aid in structuring, pricing and execution of the transaction. No financial advisor was used on the Tier 1 transaction as this did not involve the same level of financial structuring and execution.

EBS used Arthur Cox to advise on Irish legal aspects of the transactions. EBS did not seek quotes from other firms as Arthur Cox had acted for EBS in the previous buyback transaction which was only completed in February 2011. In particular, the Tier 1 redemption was complex and it was considered most efficient in terms of time, cost and potential litigation risk to use lawyers that understood the detail of the original deal. It was likewise considered most economic to use the same legal firm for the Tier 2 transaction to avoid duplication of time and cost. I should add that lawyers from the UK and Luxembourg also provided advice given the nature of the transaction and were appointed on a similar basis.

Banking Sector Staff

Joe Costello

Question:

122 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Finance the number of persons employed in Allied Irish Bank, Bank of Ireland, Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society in each of the past five years; the amount of financial business which has been outsourced by them in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19918/11]

I will ask the institutions to write to the Deputy to provide the information on the numbers employed in each over the past five years. Regarding the outsourcing of business, outsourcing of services is a normal part of commercial business life. Details on the amount of financial business which has been outsourced by these institutions is not an issue on which this Department has compiled data.

State Savings Products

Gerald Nash

Question:

123 Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider a scheme to issue national recovery bonds aimed at the Irish diaspora; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19958/11]

There are possibilities already in place for people interested in investing in government bonds. Irish sovereign bonds are available for purchase through sixteen Primary Dealers recognised by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA). The NTMA has published information on their website (www.ntma.ie) which gives the names and contact details for institutions which sell bonds to the public, and the fees they charge.

The Agency maintains a comprehensive marketing campaign to encourage overseas investors to buy a range of Irish Government Bonds. In the last two months, the Agency met with potential investors in the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore, as part of the ongoing strategy of encouraging overseas investment in Irish Government Bonds. At home, there are possibilities already in place for people to support the Exchequer through their savings, by placing them in the State Savings products offered by the NTMA to personal savers. These are the National Solidarity Bonds, Savings Bonds, Savings Certificates, Prize Bonds and Instalment Savings, which are available for purchase through any Post Office.

Banking Sector Staff

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

124 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance the pay rises that have been awarded to staff of Anglo Irish Bank since nationalisation; if he will provide the list of pay rises awarded broken down by year, by operational region and by staff member; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20004/11]

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

125 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance the sum total of bonuses that have been awarded to staff of Anglo Irish Bank, whether paid, deferred or waived since nationalisation; if he will provide the list of bonuses awarded broken down by year, by operational region and by staff member; if each individual bonus awarded was paid, deferred or waived; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20005/11]

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

126 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance the total liabilities that arise from bonuses awarded to staff in Anglo Irish Bank whether waived or deferred since nationalisation of the bank; if provision has been made for the liabilities that may arise from deferred bonuses; the total provision that has been made for these liabilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20006/11]

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

127 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance the number of staff at Anglo Irish Bank earning over €200,000; the number of staff earning over €250,000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20007/11]

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

128 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance the pay rises that have been awarded to staff of Irish Nationwide Building Society since nationalisation; if he will provide the list of pay rises awarded broken down by year, by operational region and by staff member; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20010/11]

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

129 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance the sum total of bonuses that have been awarded to staff whether paid, deferred or waived of Irish Nationwide Building Society since nationalisation; if he will provide the list of bonuses awarded broken down by year, by operational region and by staff member; if each individual bonus awarded was paid, deferred or waived; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20011/11]

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

130 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance the total liabilities that arise, from bonuses awarded to staff of Irish Nationwide Building Society whether waived or deferred since nationalisation of the bank; if any provision has been made for the liabilities that may arise from deferred bonuses; the total provision that has been made for these liabilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20012/11]

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

131 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance the number of staff in Irish Nationwide Building Society earning over €200,000; the number of staff earning over €250,000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20013/11]

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

132 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance the pay rises that have been awarded to staff of Allied Irish Banks since 2010; if he will provide the list of pay rises awarded broken down by year, by operational region and by staff member; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20021/11]

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

133 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance the sum total of bonuses that have been awarded to staff whether paid, deferred or waived of Allied Irish Banks since 2010; if he will provide the list of bonuses awarded broken down by year, by operational region and by staff member; if each individual bonus awarded was paid, deferred or waived; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20022/11]

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

134 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance the total liabilities that arise, from bonuses awarded to staff of Allied Irish Banks, whether waived or deferred, since 2010; if provision has been made for the liabilities that may arise from deferred bonuses; the total provision that has been made for these liabilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20023/11]

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

135 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance the number of staff in Allied Irish Banks earning over €200,000; the number of staff earning over €250,000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20024/11]

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

136 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance the pay rises that have been awarded to staff of Bank of Ireland since 2010; if he will provide the list of pay rises awarded broken down by year, by operational region and by staff member; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20030/11]

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

137 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance the sum total of bonuses that have been awarded to staff, whether paid, deferred or waived, of Bank of Ireland since 2010; if he will provide the list of bonuses awarded broken down by year, by operational region and by staff member; if each individual bonus awarded was paid, deferred or waived; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20031/11]

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

138 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance the total liabilities arising, if any, from bonuses awarded to staff of Bank of Ireland, if waived or deferred, since 2010; if any provision has been made for the liabilities that may arise from deferred bonuses; the total provision that has been made for these liabilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20032/11]

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

139 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance the number of staff in Bank of Ireland earning over €200,000; the number of staff earning over €250,000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20033/11]

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

140 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance the pay rises that have been awarded to staff of Permanent TSB since 2010; if he will provide the list of pay rises awarded broken down by year, by operational region and by staff member; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20034/11]

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

141 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance the sum total of bonuses that have been awarded to staff, if paid, deferred or waived, of Permanent TSB since 2010; if he will provide the list of bonuses awarded broken down by year, by operational region and by staff member; if each individual bonus awarded was paid, deferred and waived; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20035/11]

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

142 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance the total liabilities that arise, if any, from bonuses awarded to staff of Permanent TSB, whether waived or deferred, since 2010; if any provision has been made for the liabilities that may arise from deferred bonuses; the total provision that has been made for these liabilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20036/11]

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

143 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance the number of staff in Permanent TSB earning over €200,000; the number of staff earning over €250,000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20037/11]

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

144 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance the pay rises that have been awarded to staff of EBS since 2010; if he will provide the list of pay rises awarded broken down by year, by operational region and by staff member; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20048/11]

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

145 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance the sum total of bonuses that have been awarded to staff whether paid, deferred or waived of EBS since 2010; if he will provide the list of bonuses awarded broken down by year, by operational region and by staff member; if each individual bonus awarded was paid, deferred or waived; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20049/11]

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

146 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance the total liabilities that arise, from bonuses awarded to staff of EBS, whether waived or deferred, since 2010; if any provision has been made for the liabilities that may arise from deferred bonuses; the total provision that has been made for these liabilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20050/11]

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

147 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance the number of staff in EBS earning over €200,000; the number of staff earning over €250,000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20051/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 124 to 147, inclusive, together.

The Deputy has asked a number of specific questions in relation to particular aspects of the remuneration of staff members in various financial institutions. These institutions continue to be managed at arm's length basis, notwithstanding the large shareholding the Government holds. This is important from the point of view of ensuring that their operations are managed by their respective boards and management on a commercial basis with a view to securing the maximum return to the taxpayer. The Deputy should note that four of the institutions have been merged earlier this month. I do not therefore intend to compile the data sought by the Deputy at the level of detail he is seeking, and to do so in response to a large volume of parliamentary questions each with its own variation on the information sought will involve an undue burden on official time.

However, I fully recognise that there is a real public interest in the levels of remuneration at the covered institutions and I have indicated, in answers to other questions today, that I am asking the institutions to compile data on staff numbers and remuneration practices and details with a view, as part of the remuneration review presently being conducted by the institutions at the request of my Department, to improving transparency on the issue. I will forward the information in due course to the Deputy, when it has been supplied and examined by my Department. As part of the review underway, the Deputy will also be aware, that 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.

Tax Code

Paschal Donohoe

Question:

148 Deputy Paschal Donohoe asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the universal social charge (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20052/11]

The Universal Social Charge (USC) has replaced the Income Levy and the Health Levy. The USC is designed to apply across income levels in a smoother progression. It was a necessary measure to widen the tax base, remove poverty traps and raise revenue to reduce the budget deficit. It is a more sustainable charge than those it replaced. It should be noted that there are certain exemptions and reliefs from the USC. Persons in receipt of a payment from the Department of Social Protection such as the widowed person's contributory State pension are exempt from the USC. In addition, there are also concessions for medical card holders and persons aged 70 or over who are not liable to the top rate of charge.

It is not possible to properly analyse and compare individual cases without knowing the details of the income and circumstances of the individuals being compared. However, it is true to say that after Budget 2011 a widowed person will still pay less tax than a single individual on the same income. As the Deputy is aware, there is a commitment in the Programme for Government to carry out a review of the USC. This review has already commenced. It is anticipated that the review will be completed in time for Budget 2012. The review will examine a broad range of issues which will include the USC treatment of widows/ widowers.

Terence Flanagan

Question:

149 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the VAT reduction rate in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20062/11]

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 all goods and services that had been 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.

Credit Availability

Brendan Griffin

Question:

150 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance if he will direct State assisted financial institutions to provide invoice discounting facilities to smaller and medium sized enterprises; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20065/11]

The Deputy will be aware that the banking system restructuring plan creates capacity for the two Pillar Banks, Bank of Ireland and AIB, to provide lending in excess of €30 billion in the next three years. SME and new mortgage lending for these banks is expected to be in the range of €16-20bn over this period. In each bank, a team of senior managers will be dedicated to the task of ensuring lending continues to grow to support economic growth. This lending capacity is incorporated into the banks' deleveraging plans which allow for repayment of Central Bank funding through asset run-off and disposals over the period to 2013.

Both pillar banks provide my Department with monthly figures on balance sheet volumes, sanctioned facilities and geographic and industrial breakdowns of their SME lending. The Deputy may also be aware that under the terms of the government recapitalisation, both banks also produce a quarterly report which incorporates figures for sanctions and drawdowns by SMEs. The data contained in these reports will continue to be reviewed and analysed by my Department and the Credit Review Office to ensure that the banks are compliant with the terms of the Government recapitalisation as it relates to the provision of credit for SMEs. I expect the pillar banks which have received considerable Government support to develop and offer a range of products to support SMEs and to ensure that lending targets are met.

As I have said before the Credit Review Office will, on application from the borrower, carry out an independent and impartial review of a bank's decision to refuse or reduce credit. Invoice discounting is included in the definition of credit facility which can be reviewed. I would strongly advise anyone who has unsuccessfully appealed through the bank's own internal appeals process to seek a review by the Credit Review Office. Just last week, I raised the threshold for reviews by the Credit Review Office from €250,000 to €500,000.

School Patronage

Clare Daly

Question:

151 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the publication of the recent Irish Human Rights Commission’s report on education and religion, Education: A Human Rights Perspective; and the implications he sees coming out of this report in relation to the Irish education system. [19533/11]

I welcome the publication of the recent Irish Human Rights Commission's report on "Religion and Education — A Human Rights Perspective". Its publication last May is very timely as it will feed directly into the debate of the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector which I launched in mid-April. Professor John Coolahan, Chairperson of the Advisory Group to the Forum, at its recent three day session in mid June, noted that "It is also fortunate that a number of reports have been available at this time which deal with relevant and cognate issues". He cited the Irish Human Rights Commission report as one of these reports. The Advisory Group has met with officials from the IHRC and discussed the report with them. The IHRC report sets out thirteen recommendations and these will be considered as part of the evidence available to the Forum.

Teacher Training

Seán Crowe

Question:

152 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a detailed breakdown of costs involved in training a second level teacher, including primary degree and postgraduate diploma in education or four-year concurrent degree in education (Bachelor in Education). [19535/11]

The Higher Education Authority manages and disburses recurrent funds to the universities, institutes of technology and other designated colleges. These recurrent funds include core recurrent grants, grants in respect of the "Free Fees" Scheme, funding in respect of increased student intake, supplementary funding requirements, and other miscellaneous initiatives that may require funding.

The majority of post-primary teachers qualify through the institute of technology/university route, by completion of a suitable undergraduate degree, and the Postgraduate Diploma in Education. Undergraduate degrees for this purpose are generally of 3 or 4 years duration. The cost of providing undergraduate degrees varies from programme to programme. However, I am advised by the HEA that the approximate annual cost of providing a Bachelor of Arts degree would be in the region of €7,000 per student. Concurrent Bachelor of Education courses are generally of 4 years duration. The approximate annual cost of providing the B.Ed. is in the region of €9,000-€10,000 per student.

Costs for both primary degrees and concurrent degrees are met through the student fee (paid through the Free Fees scheme), core grant funding and the student contribution. The cost of providing a 1 year postgraduate diploma in education for post-primary teaching is estimated to be in the region of €8,000. This is met through a combination of student fees and recurrent funding from the HEA.

Irish Language

Seán Crowe

Question:

153 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Skills the initiatives which are being taken by him to ensure pre-service and in-service training for teachers who are or who may be employed to teach second level subjects through the medium of Gaeilge. [19539/11]

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 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. The Strategy also envisages the provision of short-cycle and on-line professional development for serving teachers.

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.

In relation to the current provision of professional development, it is policy to provide services through the medium of Irish to teachers in Irish-medium schools. Every effort is made by the teacher support services including the PDST, Project Maths to provide a high quality service to those teachers within the resources provided. An tSeirbhís Tacaíochta Dara Leibhéal don Ghaeilge is a full time team dedicated to providing support to teachers of Irish in all post primary schools. Other supports include summer courses and online resources, as well as a wide range of supports provided by the Professional Development Service for Teachers.

Seán Crowe

Question:

154 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he provides in-service training for second level teachers specific to content language integrated learning which will support teachers in the Irish medium sector. [19540/11]

The generally accepted definition of Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) refers to the teaching of a curricular subject through the medium of a language other than that normally used for instruction. As Irish is the language of instruction for all subjects in Irish-medium schools, teaching through a language which may not be the normal language of communication of the student is a permanent feature of the teaching approach in these schools.

While there is a wide range of supports available for teachers in the Irish medium sector, the post-primary teacher support services do not currently provide specific CLIL in-service training. An tSeirbhís Tacaíochta don Dara Leibheáil (STDL) don Gaeilge is primarily engaged in an intensive phase of support related to assessment changes, however, it also offers support which is specific to the needs of Irish-medium schools and into which elements of CLIL are incorporated. An Chomhairle Um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta (COGG) has also been very active in recent years in commissioning materials in the Irish language to support the teaching of subjects in second-level schools. Such textbooks and ancillary resources are integral to the CLIL approach. In addition, in 2010 my Department supported a National University of Ireland, Galway conference on CLIL which was aimed at looking at new methods for teaching Irish, and for teaching subjects through Irish. The conference was open to both primary and post-primary teachers.

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 is a recommendation that from as early as possible in Phase II, it is proposed to move towards a situation, beginning in the infant classes in the primary sector, where partial Irish language immersion will be offered to all children.

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.

State Examinations

Seán Crowe

Question:

155 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the optional béalscrúdú for junior certificate Gaeilge; his views that this is an important element in the learning of Gaeilge; the steps that have been taken by him to support the provision of this option; and his plans to ensure that all students avail of a béalscrúdú worth 40% of junior certificate Gaeilge. [19541/11]

This Government is committed to supporting the overall thrust of 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030, and to the delivery of the goals and targets proposed. As part of this, a thorough reform of the Irish curriculum and the way Irish is taught at primary and second level will be undertaken. The priority is to take steps to improve the quality and effectiveness of the teaching of Irish.

Circular 0042/2007 announced that the proportion of marks available for oral assessment in the certificate examinations would be increased to 40% with effect from 2010 in the optional oral test in the junior certificate, and this change will take effect from 2012 in the Leaving Certificate examination. The intention of the increase in marks for oral assessment is to promote a significant shift in emphasis towards Irish as a spoken language, where students can communicate and interact in a spontaneous way, and where Irish is spoken every day in schools.

The Leaving Certificate model of oral examination is not replicable at junior cycle level due to factors of examiner supply and school disruption. However, as part of the junior certificate review, the overall assessment arrangements are also being reviewed. I expect the advice of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment on the direction of reform in the autumn.

School Staffing

Seán Crowe

Question:

156 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will clarify matters relating to the teacher education section which advertises posts with the Professional Development Services for Teachers and An tSéirbhís Tacaíochta Dara Leibhéal don Ghaeilge; if he will make a commitment to ensure successful candidates are post holders in their schools and that these posts will be filled during their secondment. [19542/11]

An open competition is currently underway to fill posts in the named programmes and the salary will be set in accordance with the criteria outlined in the 2003 Report of the Teachers Arbitration Board. The requirements for the posts have been published. It would not be appropriate to make any commitment in relation to whether the successful candidates should be post holders or not. The conditions for the replacement of successful candidates in schools will be in line with current Government policy in terms of the moratorium on recruitment and promotion in the public sector. In this context, the situation with replacement of posts of responsibility varies from school to school.

State Examinations

Seán Crowe

Question:

157 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views that the State examination papers should be a model for promotion of gender equality in their content and his further views that this year’s examination papers carried texts and imagery that showed gender equality. [19543/11]

The State Examinations Commission has statutory responsibility for operational matters relating to the certificate examinations including preparing examination papers and other examination materials, organising the holding of examinations, determining procedures in places where examinations are conducted including the supervision of examinations and making arrangements for the marking of work presented for examination. In view of this I have forwarded your query to the State Examinations Commission for direct reply to you.

School Inspection Reports

Seán Crowe

Question:

158 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views that resources and professional supports be made available to address matters which are being noted in subject inspections and whole school evaluations. [19544/11]

Whole-school evaluation and subject inspection provide an external perspective on the quality of key aspects of a school's work including its management, leadership, curriculum provision, teaching and learning. Following these inspection processes the inspectors facilitate feedback meetings during which the strengths of the school or subject department are acknowledged and clear recommendations are communicated in relation to the further improvement of educational provision in the school. A draft report issues to the school for factual verification and, following completion of this stage, the school is invited to respond to the report, in writing. The report is subsequently published on my Department's website.

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. Schools take action to progress the recommendations for improvement noted in evaluation reports through the school's management structures and procedures including its school development planning and review arrangements. The great majority of schools have the capacity and expertise to devise specific action plans and to coordinate initiatives by the board, the management and teaching staff to address any recommendations or shortcomings identified through external inspection or indeed through internal school self-evaluation.

My Department has made a significant investment over the last decade in supporting schools to engage in school development planning and school self-review and the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) continues to provide high quality continuous professional development and support for teachers, at primary and post-primary levels. Schools may seek support, in specific circumstances, from the PDST for assistance with school improvement following inspection.

In a very small number of schools, the weaknesses identified through external inspection are so significant that intervention is required to assist the school improvement agenda. In these cases officials from my Department engage with the school to ensure that actions and interventions are tailored to the particular circumstances and context of the school. I am pleased to advise the Deputy that further materials to support school self-evaluation and school improvement in all schools will be issued, by the Inspectorate of my Department, early in the new school year. These resources for schools will complement the existing Looking at Our School guidelines on school self-evaluation in primary and post-primary schools.

Schools Refurbishment

Tom Hayes

Question:

159 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an appeal for the summer works scheme in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19561/11]

I can confirm that the school referred to by the Deputy was one of 453 successful schools who received funding under the 2011 Summer Works Scheme, which was announced on 30 March 2011. The school subsequently contacted my Department seeking clarification about the grant and a response was conveyed to the school on the 6th April 2011.

Special Educational Needs

Robert Dowds

Question:

160 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Education and Skills the role undertaken by special educational needs organisers. [19567/11]

Robert Dowds

Question:

161 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the job being performed by special educational needs organisers might be more suitably undertaken by the inspectorate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19568/11]

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

I wish to advise the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), which was established as a result of the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act, 2004 (EPSEN Act), is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for co-ordinating special needs education provision at local level and arranging for the delivery of special educational services.

One of the roles of the SENO is the processing of applications from schools for special educational needs supports, within my Department's criteria. Another specific function of the SENO is to identify appropriate educational placements for children with special educational needs. Each SENO works in an assigned local area with parents, schools, teachers, psychologists, health professionals and other staff who are involved in the provision of services in that area for children with special educational needs. SENOs act as single points of contact for parents of students with special educational needs. The SENOs are a valuable local resource to parents in this context.

The Inspectorate of my Department is responsible for the evaluation of primary and post-primary schools and centres for education and for the provision of advice to the educational system and policy makers. The inspectorate works to improve learning outcomes for students in schools and centres for education. I do not intend to revisit or combine the separate roles and functions of the inspectorate or the SENOS.

Soláthar Pinsin

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

162 D’fhiafraigh Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna cén uair a dhéanfar cinneadh ar iarratas ar phinsean tinnis do dhuine (sonraí tugtha); agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [19581/11]

Sholáthraigh Rannóg na bPinsean i mo Roinnse eolas maidir le roghanna scoir, ina measc scor mar gheall ar dhrochshláinte bhuan, don duine atá i gceist i mí na Nollag anuraidh. Níl aon taifead i mo Roinnse faoi iarratas ar bith ina dhiaidh sin ón duine céanna ar scor mar gheall ar dhrochshláinte. Más rud é gur mian leis an duine sin anois cur isteach ar scor mar gheall ar dhrochshláinte is ceart di dul i dteagmháil le Rannóg na bPinsean i mo Roinnse agus cuirfidh an rannóg sin na foirmeacha iarratais is gá ar fáil di agus cuirfear comhairle uirthi maidir leis an bpróiseas a bhaineann.

Foirne Scoile

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

163 D’fhiafraigh Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna an bhfágfar cúntóir riachtanas speisialta ag mac léinn bunscoile (sonraí tugtha) do na scoilbhlianta 2011/2012 agus 2012/2013; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [19582/11]

Is mian liom a chur in iúl don Teachta go bhfuil An Chomhairle Náisiúnta um Oideachas Speisialta (An Chomhairle) freagrach as múinteoirí acmhainne agus Cúntóirí Riachtanas Speisialta a leithdháileadh ar scoileanna chun tacú le páistí a bhfuil riachtanais speisialta oideachais acu trína gréasán d'Eagraithe Riachtanas Speisialta Oideachais áitiúla. Feidhmíonn an Chomhairle laistigh de chritéir mo Roinne agus í ag leithdháileadh tacaíochta den saghas sin. Áiríonn siad sin anois riachtanas go dtabharfadh an Chomhairle aird ar theorainn fhoriomlán ar líon na bpost do Chúntóirí Riachtanas Speisialta. Tá ciorclán eisithe ag an gComhairle chuig na scoileanna go léir ag cur in iúl dóibh an próiseas leithdháilte don scoilbhliain 2011/2012. Gné lárnach den scéim leasaithe is ea soláthar a dhéanamh do leithdháileadh bliantúil de thacaíocht ó Chúntóirí Riachtanas Speisialta do scoileanna intofa.

D'iarr an Chomhairle ar scoileanna gach iarratas ar thacaíocht ó Chúntóirí Riachtanas Speisialta a chur faoina bráid faoi 18ú Márta, 2011 agus tá siad faoi láthair i mbun scoileanna a chur ar an eolas faoina leithdháileadh bliantúil de Chúntóirí Riachtanas Speisialta don scoilbhliain seo chugainn.

Residential Institutions Redress Scheme

Finian McGrath

Question:

164 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will support the survivors of abuse in their opposition to the statutory trust fund. [19588/11]

The Government has agreed to the drafting of the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Bill to provide for the establishment of a Statutory Fund to support the needs of victims of residential institutional abuse, as endorsed by Dáil Éireann in the aftermath of the publication of the Ryan Report in 2009. The legislative proposals followed extensive consultations with survivors of residential abuse and the groups which support them, together with a public consultation process.

While some former residents advocated a simple distribution of the available money others support the establishment of the Fund. I believe that the Fund should target resources at services to support the needs of former residents that suffered abuse. The report on the consultation process and the General Scheme of the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Bill are available on my Department's website and I believe that the availability of the detailed arrangements proposed for the Fund will remove any misconceptions regarding the scope of the Fund. I will be meeting with groups representing survivors of residential institutional abuse to discuss the proposals later this month and I am confident that the proposals will receive broad support.

Special Educational Needs

Finian McGrath

Question:

165 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding special needs assistant hours in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Meath. [19589/11]

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. It should be noted that 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 qualifying criteria for the allocation of Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support is outlined in my Department's Circular 07/02. The recruitment and deployment of SNAs within schools are matters for the individual Principal/Board of Management. SNAs should be deployed by the school in a manner which best meets the care support requirements of the children enrolled in the school for whom SNA support has been allocated. It is a matter for schools to allocate support as required, and on the basis of individual need, which allows schools flexibility in how the SNA support is utilised.

School Transport

Timmy Dooley

Question:

166 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will review the school transport scheme to ensure that those students who would ordinarily have attended a closed school (details supplied) in County Clare will continue to be exempt from charges; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19595/11]

Changes in the School Transport Scheme were announced by the previous Fianna Fáil-Green Party Government and derive from recommendations in the Value for Money Review of the scheme. The decisions announced included the uniform application of the distance requirement, cessation of the Closed/Central School Rule (CSR), the minimum number of eligible children required to establish and retain services and the introduction of charges for eligible primary pupils.

In the case of the cessation of the Closed/Central School Rule (CSR) there are broadly two aspects to this change. The first of these, which will be implemented from September 2011, involves the application of the distance eligibility criterion to all children travelling under the primary school transport scheme, including those travelling under the CSR. This change to school transport provision means that the distance eligibility criterion will be applied uniformly and equitably on a national basis.

The practical impact is that children categorised for transport under the CSR who reside less than 3.2 kilometres from their school of attendance and who are availing of free transport to that school will lose their transport eligibility. In such cases, these children may apply for concessionary transport at an annual charge, currently €200 per pupil, subject to a family maximum of €650 per annum. There is no exemption from this charge. An annual charge for eligible primary pupils will be introduced from the commencement of the 2011/12 school year. This charge is set at €50 per pupil with a maximum family charge of €110 for primary pupils. Eligible pupils who hold valid medical cards will be exempt from this charge. Eligible children with special educational needs will continue to travel free.

Special Educational Needs

Pearse Doherty

Question:

167 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills the numbers of special needs assistants employed at each school in County Donegal for the school year beginning September 2010, the corresponding figure for each of the years 2007, 2008 and 2009; the expected figures for 2011 in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19599/11]

Pearse Doherty

Question:

168 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills the numbers of special needs assistants employed at each school in Dublin 22 for the school year beginning September 2010, the corresponding figure for each of the years 2007, 2008 and 2009; the expected figures for 2011 in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19600/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 167 and 168 together.

The information requested on the number of special needs assistants employed in County Donegal or in Dublin 22 is not readily available. The number of Special Needs Assistants employed nationally from 2007 to 2010 is available in the table. The details for each year are the December figures for the year in question. The primary schools information is inclusive of the special schools details.

SNAs are recruited specifically to assist in the care of pupils with disabilities in an educational context. The class teacher is responsible for educating all pupils in their class, including any pupil with a special educational need. In this task, the teacher may be supported by a learning support teacher and/or resource teacher. I wish to clarify for the Deputy that 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. The allocation of SNAs in each school can therefore alter from year to year.

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 special needs resources to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. The NCSE will continue to support schools, parents, children and teachers and special needs assistants will continue to be deployed to schools to meet children's needs in line with my Department's policy.

Number of Special Needs Assistants

Year

Number of Special Needs Assistants in Primary schools

Number of Special Needs Assistants in Post Primary Schools, including VECs.

2007

8,038

1,786

2008

8,440

2,002

2009

8,392

1,950

2010

8,401

2,142

School Transport

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

169 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the total proportion, in percentage and amount, of the school transport budget spent by Bus Éireann and/or his Department and vocational education committees on administration. [19611/11]

The overall School Transport Budget for 2011 is nearly €180 million and includes provision for the direct payment of grants and escort costs of some €21 million. No element of this budget is used to meet costs of this Department or Vocational Education Committees in relation to the school transport scheme.

The balance of €160 million is broadly divided under two broad headings. The first relates to direct costs and includes payments to contractors, drivers, fuel, maintenance, inspection etc. Payments under this heading are in the order of €142 million. The second heading relates to indirect costs and, in reality, this covers items such as pensions, insurance, IT costs, finance, property used by schools services etc. Payments under this heading in 2010 were €18.2 million and are expected to be €16.7 million in 2011. I should add that the Bus Éireann independently audited accounts for the school transport scheme are now available on my Department's website.

FÁS Training Programmes

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

170 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of persons who are doing FÁS courses in County Meath who already have a qualification on the level of the course they are currently taking; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19626/11]

I understand from FÁS that it does not routinely report on the statistics in the format requested by the Deputy. However, the following information has been provided by FÁS.

FÁS currently has approximately 194 learners attending a variety of training programmes throughout Co. Meath. There are approximately139 learners participating on FÁS direct contracted training programmes with a variety of FETAC Certification level awards. These include the following: Manual & Computerised/Accounts (FETAC Minor Award Level 5); Office Administration (FETAC Award Level 5); Computer Basics (FETAC Level 3 Minor Award); Security Personnel (FETAC Level 4 & 5 Level Award Minor); Medical Secretary (FETAC Major Award Level 5); and European Driving Licence (ECDL) (ECDL Standard).

FÁS also runs a number of community based and specialist training initiatives throughout the county. There are currently 55 learners participating on a variety of programmes which are delivered by a number of FÁS funded organisations which include the NLN (National Learning Network) and community based organisations. Other community initiatives include Job Club Training Programmes which run at various locations throughout the county (Navan, Trim, and Kells). These programmes are designed to assist participants find work, evaluate their training needs and to develop strategies in order to assist them re-enter the workforce.

Should the Deputy require further information, he may contact the FÁS Training Services Manager North East, FÁS Training Centre, Coes Rd. Industrial Estate, Dundalk, Co. Louth (Tel: 042 9355700).

Special Educational Needs

Martin Ferris

Question:

171 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Education and Skills the numbers of special needs assistants employed at each school in County Kerry for the school year beginning September 2010 in tabular form; the corresponding figure for each of the years 2007, 2008 and 2009; the expected figures for 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19641/11]

The information requested by the Deputy on the number of special needs assistants employed in County Kerry is not readily available. The number of Special Needs Assistants employed nationally from 2007 to 2010 is available in the table. The details for each year are the December figures for the year in question. The primary schools information is inclusive of the special schools details.

SNAs are recruited specifically to assist in the care of pupils with disabilities in an educational context. The class teacher is responsible for educating all pupils in their class, including any pupil with a special educational need. In this task, the teacher may be supported by a learning support teacher and/or resource teacher. I wish to clarify for the Deputy that 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. The allocation of SNAs in each school can therefore alter from year to year.

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 special needs resources to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. The NCSE will continue to support schools, parents, children and teachers and special needs assistants will continue to be deployed to schools to meet children's needs in line with my Department's policy.

Number of Special Needs Assistants

Year

Number of Special Needs Assistants in Primary schools

Number of Special Needs Assistants in Post Primary Schools, including VECs.

2007

8,038

1,786

2008

8,440

2,002

2009

8,392

1,950

2010

8,401

2,142

Sandra McLellan

Question:

172 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of special needs assistants employed at each school in County Cork for the school year beginning September 2010 in tabular form; the corresponding figure for the years 2007, 2008 and 2009; the expected figures for 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19644/11]

The information requested by the Deputy on the number of special needs assistants employed in County Cork is not readily available. The number of Special Needs Assistants employed nationally from 2007 to 2010 is available in the table. The details for each year are the December figures for the year in question. The primary schools information is inclusive of the special schools details.

SNAs are recruited specifically to assist in the care of pupils with disabilities in an educational context. The class teacher is responsible for educating all pupils in their class, including any pupil with a special educational need. In this task, the teacher may be supported by a learning support teacher and/or resource teacher. I wish to clarify for the Deputy that 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. The allocation of SNAs in each school can therefore alter from year to year.

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 special needs resources to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. The NCSE will continue to support schools, parents, children and teachers and special needs assistants will continue to be deployed to schools to meet children's needs in line with my Department's policy.

Number of Special Needs Assistants

Year

Number of Special Needs Assistants in Primary schools

Number of Special Needs Assistants in Post Primary Schools, including VECs.

2007

8,038

1,786

2008

8,440

2,002

2009

8,392

1,950

2010

8,401

2,142

Brian Stanley

Question:

173 Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of special needs assistants employed at each school in each county of Laois and Offaly for the school year beginning September 2010 in tabular form; the corresponding figure for each of the years 2007, 2008 and 2009; the expected figures for 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19645/11]

The information requested by the Deputy on the number of special needs assistants employed in Counties Laois and Offaly is not readily available. The number of Special Needs Assistants employed nationally from 2007 to 2010 is available in the table. The details for each year are the December figures for the year in question. The primary schools information is inclusive of the special schools details.

SNAs are recruited specifically to assist in the care of pupils with disabilities in an educational context. The class teacher is responsible for educating all pupils in their class, including any pupil with a special educational need. In this task, the teacher may be supported by a learning support teacher and/or resource teacher. I wish to clarify for the Deputy that 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. The allocation of SNAs in each school can therefore alter from year to year.

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 special needs resources to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. The NCSE will continue to support schools, parents, children and teachers and special needs assistants will continue to be deployed to schools to meet children's needs in line with my Department's policy.

Number of Special Needs Assistants

Year

Number of Special Needs Assistants in Primary schools

Number of Special Needs Assistants in Post Primary Schools, including VECs.

2007

8,038

1,786

2008

8,440

2,002

2009

8,392

1,950

2010

8,401

2,142

Gerry Adams

Question:

174 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of special needs assistants employed at each school in County Louth and in east Meath for the school year beginning September 2010 in tabular form; the corresponding figure for each of the years 2007, 2008 and 2009; the expected figures for 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19649/11]

The information requested by the Deputy on the number of special needs assistants employed in County Louth and in East Meath is not readily available. The number of Special Needs Assistants employed nationally from 2007 to 2010 is available in the table. The details for each year are the December figures for the year in question. The primary schools information is inclusive of the special schools details.

SNAs are recruited specifically to assist in the care of pupils with disabilities in an educational context. The class teacher is responsible for educating all pupils in their class, including any pupil with a special educational need. In this task, the teacher may be supported by a learning support teacher and/or resource teacher. I wish to clarify for the Deputy that 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. The allocation of SNAs in each school can therefore alter from year to year.

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 special needs resources to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. The NCSE will continue to support schools, parents, children and teachers and special needs assistants will continue to be deployed to schools to meet children's needs in line with my Department's policy.

Number of Special Needs Assistants

Year

Number of Special Needs Assistants in Primary schools

Number of Special Needs Assistants in Post Primary Schools, including VECs.

2007

8,038

1,786

2008

8,440

2,002

2009

8,392

1,950

2010

8,401

2,142

Higher Education Grants

Dessie Ellis

Question:

175 Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of students in County Cavan that will be affected by the changes to the qualification criteria for non-adjacent student grants; the number of continuing students in County Cavan that this will affect; the number of mature students this will affect; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19663/11]

The statistical information requested by the Deputy is not available. However on a national basis, 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.

School Transport

Dessie Ellis

Question:

176 Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of routes that will be affected by changes in the primary school transport by the failure to retain or keep a service in County Cavan; the number of students that will be affected by the failure to retain or keep a service in County Cavan because of the lack of numbers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19664/11]

Bus Éireann, which operates the School Transport Schemes, on behalf of my Department, has identified 3 services (11 pupils) in County Cavan where the number of eligible pupils has fallen below the minimum number required to retain a school transport service. Bus Éireann is monitoring the situation and this figure may change if late applications are received or current applicants do not purchase tickets.

Special Educational Needs

Patrick Deering

Question:

177 Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount of special needs assistant hours that have been allocated in County Carlow for the school year 2011-12; and the way this compares to 2010-11. [19682/11]

The information requested by the Deputy on the allocation of special needs assistants hours to schools in County Carlow in the 2010/11 school year compared with the allocation for the 2011/12 school year is not readily available.

SNAs are recruited specifically to assist in the care of pupils with disabilities in an educational context. The class teacher is responsible for educating all pupils in their class, including any pupil with a special educational need. In this task, the teacher may be supported by a learning support teacher and/or resource teacher. I wish to clarify for the Deputy that 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. The allocation of SNAs in each school can therefore alter from year to year.

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 special needs resources to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. The NCSE will continue to support schools, parents, children and teachers and special needs assistants will continue to be deployed to schools to meet children's needs in line with my Department's policy.

School Transport

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

178 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of bus routes and students that will be affected by the proposed increase in the minimum number of students needed to provide a school bus service under the primary school transportation scheme from seven to ten; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19703/11]

Bus Éireann, which operates the School Transport Schemes, on behalf of my Department, has advised that there are currently 124 primary school services, with some 550 eligible pupils, where the number of eligible pupils has fallen below the minimum number required to retain a school transport service. Bus Éireann is monitoring the situation and this figure may change if late applications are received or current applicants do not purchase tickets.

It should be noted that over 123,000 pupils on 6,000 routes availed of school transport services in the 2010/11 school year. As is currently the position, families of eligible pupils, for whom there is no school transport service available, may apply for the remote area grant towards the cost of making private transport arrangements.

Residential Institutions Redress Scheme

Finian McGrath

Question:

179 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding the Ryan report. [19717/11]

The correspondence referred to by the Deputy quotes my speech from the Dáil Debate on the Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse on 11th June 2009. I can assure the Deputy that the ongoing response by my Department to the Ryan Report is receiving my full attention. The Deputy may be aware that I have recently outlined the Government's plans to progress issues raised in the follow up to the Ryan Report.

The final cost of the response to residential institutional child abuse is estimated to be in the region of €1.36 billion. The Government believes that this cost should be shared on a 50:50 basis, between the taxpayer and those responsible for managing the institutions where horrendous child abuse took place. I will be meeting shortly with groups representing survivors of residential institutional abuse and representatives of the religious congregations in relation to the measures announced and to further the stated wish of the Government that an equitable settlement is reached.

Special Educational Needs

Finian McGrath

Question:

180 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding special education needs in respect of a person (details supplied). [19720/11]

The child, referred to by the Deputy, is not eligible for school transport under the terms of the School Transport Scheme for Children with Special Needs. My Department is finalising arrangements to introduce concessionary transport, in certain circumstances, for ineligible children with special educational needs from the beginning of the 2011/12 school year. Detailed information on the updated scheme will be available on my Department's website shortly.

Third Level Courses

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

181 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the connections currently active between the third level sector here and the third level sector in Canada; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19759/11]

In 2010/11 there were 876 Canadian students in Irish higher education institutions, making Canada the 8th largest source country for international students in Ireland. I understand that most of the Irish universities, as well as a number of the Institutes of Technology, also have student exchange agreements with Canadian universities. The Canadian Embassy supports a number of programmes for Irish academics to encourage curriculum development and research on Canadian or Irish Canadian issues. The Ireland Canada University Foundation operates the Dobbin Scholarship Programme of visiting research scholarships to Irish and Canadian scholars and its Irish Language Programme supports the teaching of Gaeilge in Canadian universities. UCD hosts the "Craig Dobbin Chair of Canadian Studies" which enables a visiting Canadian professor to work in UCD for a 2 year period. Other organisations that contribute to academic exchange include the Association for Canadian Studies in Ireland, the Canadian Association for Irish Studies and the Ireland-Newfoundland Partnership.

School Transport

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

182 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of schools in County Donegal and across the State that are affected by the decision to renege on the historical commitment by his Department to small rural communities across this State, known as the closed school rule. [19761/11]

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

185 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of schools in County Donegal and across this State affected by the decision in the last budget to cut school transport on certain routes, increase the mileage or kilometres from school eligibility criterion for school transport and introduce new charges to families for school transport in rural communities. [19774/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 182 and 185 together.

Changes to the Primary School Transport Scheme were announced by the previous Fianna Fáil-Green Party Government and derive from recommendations in the Value for Money review of the scheme. The decisions announced include the uniform application of the distance eligibility criterion, the cessation of the Closed/Central School Rule (CSR), an increase in the minimum number of eligible children required to establish or retain a service and the introduction of charges for eligible primary pupils.

In the case of the CSR there are broadly two aspects to this change. The first of these, which will be implemented from September 2011, involves the uniform application of the distance eligibility criterion to all children travelling under the Primary School Transport Scheme, including those travelling under the CSR. The practical impact is that children categorised for transport under the CSR who reside less than 3.2 kilometres from their school of attendance and who are availing of free transport to that school will lose their transport eligibility. In such cases, these children may apply for concessionary transport subject to the terms of the scheme. Bus Éireann, which operates the School Transport Schemes on behalf of my Department, has advised that 63 schools in Donegal and 410 nationally will be affected by this change.

The second element of the change is scheduled to take effect in September 2012 and will apply only in the case of children commencing their primary education from that date. This second element will restrict school transport eligibility to children who meet the distance eligibility criterion and who are travelling to their nearest school. A sample survey undertaken as part of the Value for Money Review showed that the majority of pupils are in fact attending their nearest open school, so this change will not have any practical impact on these pupils.

A further change which will take effect in September 2011 is the increase from 7 to 10 in the number of eligible pupils, residing in a distinct locality, required to retain or establish a school transport service. In general, this means that the minimum number required to establish or retain a service broadly represents a return to 2002 levels. As is currently the position, a Remote Area Grant is payable for eligible children for whom no transport service is available. This change will affect 7 schools in Donegal and over 120 schools nationally.

An annual charge for eligible primary pupils will be introduced from the commencement of the 2011/12 school year. This charge is set at €50 per pupil with a maximum family charge of €110 for primary pupils. The charge of €50 represents some 5% recoupment of the actual cost. Pupils with valid medical cards will be exempt from this charge. This charge is being introduced to ensure that school transport services are fully utilised in an efficient and cost effective manner.

It is essential to stress that the wider context within which all these changes are taking place, is a situation of the most serious financial difficulties. Under the four year recovery plan, there is a requirement to deliver savings of €17 million on the school transport budget and these measures are an integral part of this.

Higher Education Grants

Niall Collins

Question:

183 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills if any grant aid assistance is available to students attending third level education whose parents’ status in the State is governed by a work permit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19766/11]

The decision on eligibility for a grant is a matter for a student's local grant awarding body — the relevant local authority or VEC. The Deputy will appreciate that in the absence of all of the relevant details that would be contained in an individual's application form, including those relating to nationality and/or immigration status, it would not be possible for me to say whether or not a student would qualify for a grant. However, it is the student's own nationality and his/her immigration status in the State that determines whether or not he/she meets the nationality requirements for a grant under the Student Support Act, 2011. Accordingly, the student in question is advised to apply to his/her grant awarding authority to have his/her eligibility for a grant assessed.

Post-Leaving Certificate Courses

Michelle Mulherin

Question:

184 Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a school (details supplied) in County Mayo has not been approved by him for any of the post-leaving certificate courses for which it has applied and the additional requirements of the school to meet the Department’s requirements. [19769/11]

The school referred to by the Deputy is a voluntary secondary school in County Mayo that applied, for the first time, in 2010 and again in 2011 for sanction to operate PLC courses. The school was advised by my Department that the 31,688 approved places were fully utilised and that no additional PLC places were available.

Each application is examined by my Department on its merits, taking into account current and previous allocations, current and previous demand and uptake, the overall places available and the overall demand from providers generally. Regard is also had in this context to ensuring appropriate provision on a geographic basis and the necessary critical mass for delivery of a quality education service.

County Mayo has an allocation of 725 PLC places for the 2011/2012 academic year. There are currently 13 PLC providers in Co. Mayo, 7 schools managed by Co. Mayo VEC, including one in the same town as the school referred to by the Deputy, 4 voluntary secondary schools and 2 community and comprehensive schools. Given the number of providers offering PLC courses in County Mayo my Department considers that sanction for an additional provider is not warranted.

Question No.185 answered with Question No. 182.

Schools Refurbishment

Tom Fleming

Question:

186 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide the necessary funding to carry out emergency roof refurbishment to the gym and sports hall of a school (details supplied) in County Kerry under the summer work programme or any funding programme that may be available as occasionally basketball events and other sports activities have to be cancelled during inclement weather conditions. [19784/11]

The school to which the Deputy refers applied for a Summer Works Scheme grant in 2011 to carry out roof works. Due to the scale of demand for funding under the scheme, it was not possible to fund all applications. The school was advised accordingly.

In relation to the Deputy's reference to funding for emergency works, it is open to the school concerned to submit an application for such funding under my Department's Emergency Works Scheme. The purpose of this Scheme is solely for unforeseen emergencies or to provide funding to facilitate inclusion and access for special needs pupils. An emergency is deemed to be a situation which poses an immediate risk to health, life, property or the environment which is sudden, unforeseen and requires immediate action and in the case of a school if not corrected would prevent the school or part thereof from opening. Details of the Scheme concerned, together with an application form for grant assistance, can be accessed on the Department's website atwww.education.ie.

Special Educational Needs

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

187 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will sanction full-time home tutor service in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry. [19826/11]

The Deputy will be aware that my Department's home tuition scheme provides funding to parents to provide education at home for children who, for a number of reasons such as chronic illness, are unable to attend school. The scheme was extended in recent years to facilitate tuition for children awaiting a suitable educational placement and also to provide early educational intervention for pre-school children with autism.

The child to whom the Deputy refers is currently in receipt of home tuition. Allocation of home tuition for the next school year will be subject to applicants meeting the eligibility criteria. The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has advised that a school placement is available for the child in question from September and the parent should liaise with the NCSE in this regard.

The Deputy will be aware that the NCSE is responsible for the provision of a range of educational services at local and national level for students with special educational needs. In particular, its network of Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) co-ordinates special needs education provision at local level and arranges for the delivery of special educational services. The SENOs act as single points of contact for parents of students with special educational needs. Another specific function of the SENO is to identify appropriate educational placements for children with special educational needs and SENOs are a valuable source of support to parents who are actively sourcing a placement for their children.

Education Funding

Martin Ferris

Question:

188 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount the Catholic Church contributes to the annual budget for Irish schools. [19857/11]

At one time the churches, including the catholic church, were required to make a local contribution to the national schools under their patronage to meet the day to day running costs, essentially capitation. There was no requirement for a local contribution to capitation at second level.

The requirement to provide a local contribution was discontinued in 2001 in respect of capitation funding. Prior to 1999 a local contribution of 15% for primary schools and 10% for post-primary schools was sought for capital projects built on land not owned by the State. In 1999 the then Government announced a significant change in the way local contribution was levied, introduced a ceiling on the local contribution and reduced the percentage to be paid locally on school capital projects.

In recent years, a number of measures were taken to reduce further the local contribution burden, these were:

No local contributions were sought for special education projects in mainstream schools, even where the land was not owned by the State.

No local contributions were sought for projects delivered under the Small Schools Scheme or Permanent Accommodation Scheme, a single all inclusive grant was paid under these schemes.

A rolling five year period was used to reduce local contributions for Summer Works Scheme projects.

In October 2010, the previous Government approved the discontinuation of the policy of seeking a local contribution for all new primary and post-primary projects commencing construction and the rental of temporary accommodation. Under an arrangement dating back to the introduction of the Free Education scheme in 1967, the Boards of Management of voluntary secondary schools are required to pay a portion of the salaries of teachers they employ. This is known as the Teachers' Salary Grant and amounts to €562 per teacher. This sum is deducted by my Department from the capitation grants due to voluntary secondary schools who do not charge fees. The Teachers' Salary Grant is repaid directly to my Department by voluntary secondary schools that charge fees, as they do not receive any capitation funding from my Department. This grant amounted to €4.98 million in 2010.

Special Educational Needs

Noel Harrington

Question:

189 Deputy Noel Harrington asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will appoint a senior official from his Department to liaise with the parents of a child (details supplied ) and the different sections of his Department and the school concerned with a view to securing a school place for the child for the forthcoming academic year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19864/11]

The Deputy will be aware that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible for the provision of a range of educational services at local and national level for students with special educational needs. In particular, its network of Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) co-ordinates special needs education provision at local level and arranges for the delivery of special educational services. The SENOs act as single points of contact for parents of students with special educational needs. Another specific function of the SENO is to identify appropriate educational placements for children with special educational needs. SENOs are a valuable source of support to parents who are actively sourcing a placement for their children.

All schools have the names and contact details of their local SENO. Parents can contact SENOs directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available onwww.ncse.ie. The Deputy will also be aware that the National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) is the statutory agency which assists parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child. The NEWB will try to help parents to find an alternative school placement if their child has been unable to secure a placement to date. From the details supplied by the Deputy it appears that the NEWB and the NCSE are involved in the case and should liaise with officials in my Department as appropriate or if necessary to progress securing a placement for the child in question.

European Globalisation Adjustment Fund

Willie O'Dea

Question:

190 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress made on the application by a company (details supplied) for European Globalisation Fund expenses; and when a decision will be finalised. [19917/11]

In its letter to the Dell Redundant Workers Association of 28 June 2011, the Department repeated the requirements originally set out in the letter dated 23 December 2010 for reimbursement of expenses claimed in relation to European Globalisation Adjustment Fund activities. A comprehensive response to this recent letter is awaited from the Association before the matter can be progressed further.

Schools Building Projects

Noel Coonan

Question:

191 Deputy Noel Coonan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a school building project (details supplied) in County Tipperary; the timeframe for completion of works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19925/11]

The building project at the School referred to by the Deputy is included in the 2011 School Building Programme to formulate a project brief and commence the process of appointing a design team. I can inform the Deputy that the formulation of the project brief has been completed and that the tendering process for the appointment of a design team will commence over the school summer holiday period. At this very early stage of the architectural planning process, it is not possible to give a timeframe for the completion of works.

Brendan Ryan

Question:

192 Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills his engagement with a committee (details supplied) in reference to a proposed new secondary school in Balbriggan, north County Dublin. [19939/11]

I recently announced that 20 new primary and 20 new post-primary schools are to be established in the next six years. Of the 40 new schools, one new post-primary school will be located in the North County Dublin/South County Louth area. I also announced the introduction of new arrangements for the recognition of both primary and post-primary schools that will provide an opportunity for all patrons to seek to apply for patronage of these schools. My Department will shortly inform patron bodies of the details of the first schools that are to be established. Applications for patronage of the new schools will then be sought. Officials from my Department's Forward Planning Section met last September with members of the committee referred to by the Deputy.

European Globalisation Adjustment Fund

Joe Costello

Question:

193 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Education and Skills, further to Parliamentary Question No. 77 of 16 June 2011, if he will provide the figures requested (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19944/11]

The Irish application for European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) co-financing assistance in support of workers made redundant at the S R Technics aircraft maintenance facility at Dublin Airport in 2009 was for a total of €11,455,174, of which the approved EU contribution is €7,445,863.

The only expenditure data available to my Department at this stage related to the monies actually paid out directly by the Department itself. To date, the Department has paid out a total of €538,626 for enterprise supports and third level programmes under the SR Technics EGF programme. The EGF programme allocation not yet drawn down is therefore €10,916,548. Activity on the ground continues to be delivered under a range of headings. As stated in my previous reply to Parliamentary Question 15079/11 of 14 June 2011, it is not yet possible to provide a detailed breakdown of incurred or committed expenditure on the EGF programme while new or additional claims from various service providers are still awaited or are being processed.

We still have some months left to run during which eligible interventions can be undertaken in the SR Technics programme. The Irish authorities have until 9 March 2012 to submit a final report for the execution of the EGF financial contribution including a statement justifying EGF programme expenditure to the European Commission. An independent administrative and technical support group was contracted by the Department on 9 June 2011 to assist in the collection and collation of all relevant financial and management information data that will further inform progress on the ground and that is required for the production of the final report on the implementation of this EGF programme to the European Commission.

School Accommodation

Mattie McGrath

Question:

194 Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of schools in south Tipperary that have temporary accommodation and are awaiting permanent accommodation and the breakdown of same, that is, secondary/primary schools; the length of time that each one has had temporary accommodation; when it is expected to have permanent accommodation provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19952/11]

I wish to advise the Deputy that there are 11 schools in South Tipperary that have temporary accommodation, one of which is a post primary school. Following is a list of the schools containing the information requested for the Deputy's convenience.

All large scale building projects, including proposed projects for South Tipperary will be considered within the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. In light of current competing demands on the capital budget of my Department, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the provision of permanent accommodation for these schools at this time. The current status of all projects on the school building programme, including those in South Tipperary, may be viewed on my Department's website atwww.education.ie and this will be updated regularly throughout the year.

School Type

Roll No

School Name

Address

County

Major Application Submitted

Start Date

Primary

10120P

Our Lady of Mercy NS

Cahir

Tipperary South

Yes

01/09/07

Primary

11872V

Presentation Primary School

Carrick-on-Suir

Tipperary South

No

01/09/01

Primary

16077B

Ardfinnan NS

Clonmel

Tipperary South

No

01/09/07

Primary

17779P

Powerstown NS

Clonmel

Tipperary South

Yes

21/09/01

Primary

18062V

Grange NS

Clonmel

Tipperary South

Yes

01/12/06

Primary

18716T

Cahir BNS

Cahir

Tipperary South

Yes

01/03/00

Primary

19230V

Scoil Chormaic

Cashel

Tipperary South

Yes

01/05/06

Primary

19615S

Scoil Aonghusa

Cashel

Tipperary South

Yes

02/06/06

Primary

20007C

GS Chluain Meala

Clonmel

Tipperary South

Yes

01/06/04

Primary

20085W

GS Charraig Na Siuire

Carrick-on-Suir

Tipperary South

No

01/09/98

Post-Primary

72400V

Comeragh College

Clonmel

Tipperary South

Yes

01/08/07

Special Educational Needs

Micheál Martin

Question:

195 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will continue to provide a full-time special needs assistant in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [19959/11]

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. 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 Transport

Michael McNamara

Question:

196 Deputy Michael McNamara asked the Minister for Education and Skills, further to Parliamentary Questions No. 243 of 5 July and No. 93 of 9 June 2011, if he will make available to the board of management the records of the 1969 closure of a school (details supplied), in order that it can confirm the agreement given to parents in relation to the new arrangement for school bus transportation of children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19967/11]

School Transport services under the ‘Closed School Rule (CSR)' have their origin in the amalgamation of primary schools in the late 1960s. It was the practice in the case of such amalgamations to provide transport to the amalgamated schools and it is likely that this was conveyed as part of the overall process. Given that there were in excess of 800 schools covered by such amalgamations, and given the time remove since the date of many of these amalgamations, it is not feasible to source individual school records.

School Accommodation

Jack Wall

Question:

197 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding schools (details supplied) in County Kildare; if a decision will be made prior to the commencement of the autumn term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19984/11]

The school to which the Deputy refers is currently located on a temporary basis in a former VEC school building in Naas which must be vacated. However, it will be available to the school for the commencement of the 2011-12 school year. The Department has secured the use of a building in Kildare town which was previously occupied by a former Vocational School. It is intended that this premises will provide permanent accommodation for the school in the long term.

The school has indicated its preference to relocate to another premises in Kildare town, but the Department is satisfied that the long term needs of the school can be met through the upgrade of the VEC building in Kildare town which will be available to the Department at a nominal figure. In a recent meeting the Department outlined to the school's representatives its plans for the long-term accommodation needs of the school in Kildare town. Both parties agreed to maintain ongoing contact on this matter.

Higher Education Grants

Brendan Griffin

Question:

198 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a dependent of a non-EU national who is married to an EU national is eligible for higher education fees and grant assistance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19985/11]

Under my Department's Free Fees Schemes, the Exchequer meets the cost of tuition fees in respect of students who are entering approved courses for the first time and where they satisfy the relevant conditions as to residence, nationality and previous academic attainment. One of the nationality criteria is where a student has been granted permission to remain in the State as a family member of a Union citizen under the provisions of the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2006 and 2008 and Directive 2004/38/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council. Where such family members are given permission to reside in the State by the Department of Justice and Equality, they will be issued with a residence card bearing the title ‘4EUFam'.

The decision on eligibility for a student grant is a matter for a student's local grant awarding body — the relevant local authority or VEC. The Deputy will appreciate that in the absence of all of the relevant details contained in an individual's application form, including those relating to residence, means, nationality and previous academic attainment, it would not be possible for me to say whether or not a student would qualify for a grant.

However, the nationality requirements for a grant are set out in Section 14 of the Student Support Act 2011 and in Article 5 of the Student Support Regulations 2011. It is the student's own nationality or his/her immigration status in the State that determines whether or not the nationality requirements are met. The student in question is advised to apply to his/her grant awarding authority for assessment of eligibility or otherwise for a grant taking the totality of the provisions of the governing legislation into account.

Schools Building Projects

Jack Wall

Question:

199 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Skills in relation to the design of the proposed 40 new schools recently announced, if the design team will consider methods for the protection of water (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19986/11]

Jack Wall

Question:

200 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Skills if consideration is given to the reduction of the use of public water supplies by using a method (details supplied) in regard to school extensions, refurbishment or new schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19987/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 199 and 200 together.

I wish to advise the Deputy that rainwater harvesting systems were first introduced for major school building projects in 2008. Since then all major school building projects, where site conditions and circumstances allow and where economically viable to do so, can incorporate a rainwater harvesting system into their accommodation brief. While fitting the systems in new schools during construction is relatively straightforward, retrofitting them in existing schools is much more difficult and expensive because of the various dedicated pipe work systems both within the building and externally underground and the amount of making good work that is required in each instance.

For existing buildings it is more cost effective to minimise the demand for water firstly through installing measures to reduce water usage such as push type spray taps, low flushing toilets, urinal controls, repairing leaks etc. To this end, as part of the Summer Works Scheme 2010, schools were invited to apply for Water Conservation measures and funding of almost €10m was made available to promote water conservation measures as part of this initiative.

Departmental Funding

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

201 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will restore funding to a local agency (details supplied) which assists students from low income backgrounds in Dublin 17, Dublin 13 and Dublin 5 to access third level education and to complete second and first level education; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20000/11]

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

202 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will meet with a local agency (details supplied) in relation to the impact of cuts to the agency’s pioneering first, second and third level education supports for children from low income backgrounds. [20001/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 201 and 202 together.

The Deputy is referring to the Millennium Partnership Fund which was discontinued by the previous Government. As I regret that I am not in a position to reverse this decision, I have no plans to meet the organisation in question.

State Examinations

Michael McCarthy

Question:

203 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the total amount paid to persons who supervised the leaving certificate and junior certificate examinations in each of the years 2009, 2010 and 2011; the total number of persons who were engaged to provide this service each year; if he will provide a breakdown in the rates of pay which applied to persons charged with supervision services each year separately in tabular form; if these rates varied according to one’s experience and or occupation; the process involved in recruiting persons to these positions; if training on procedural matters is provided prior to the examinations taking place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20071/11]

The State Examinations Commission has statutory responsibility for operational matters relating to the certificate examinations including organising the holding of examinations, determining procedures in places where examinations are conducted including the supervision of examinations and making arrangements for the marking of work presented for examination. In view of this I have forwarded your query to the State Examinations Commission for direct reply to you.

Michael McCarthy

Question:

204 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the total amount spent on payments to persons responsible for marking leaving certificate and junior certificate papers in 2009 and 2010 separately; the total number of persons engaged to provide this service each year; the average number of papers marked by each person per year; the amount of persons each year who were assigned both leaving certificate and junior certificate papers to mark, in tabular form; the qualification criteria necessary to obtain such a role; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20101/11]

The State Examinations Commission has statutory responsibility for operational matters relating to the certificate examinations including organising the holding of examinations, determining procedures in places where examinations are conducted including the supervision of examinations and making arrangements for the marking of work presented for examination. In view of this I have forwarded your query to the State Examinations Commission for direct reply to you.

Departmental Properties

Dara Murphy

Question:

205 Deputy Dara Murphy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if his attention has been drawn to the fact that his Department is duplicating payment of rent both on the burnt down premises (details supplied) and also on the temporary portacabins for the past two to three years; if so, the reason this is the case; the amount that has been paid to both parties; the length of time this will continue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19518/11]

Blarney Garda Station suffered fire damage in 2008. Annual rent of €26,750 is paid to the landlord of Blarney Garda Station in accordance with the terms of the lease. The portacabin in which the temporary station is housed is owned by the Office of Public Works and rent of €7,800 is paid annually for the site on which this is located. Negotiations regarding the purchase of the Garda Station are at an advanced stage and the Office of Public Works is progressing plans for the refurbishment and extension of the Station with a view to tendering the project as soon as possible. The award of a contract will be subject to the availability of funding.

Job Creation

John McGuinness

Question:

206 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if any additional analysis has been done by him in relation to replacement rates and unemployment here since the completion of replacement rates and unemployment document of the same name was completed by his Department in 2009; if there has, if he will make the analysis available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20027/11]

The Department of Finance prepared a follow-on paper on this subject entitled "Replacement Rates 2010" which was submitted to the Tax Strategy Group to assist its deliberations in advance of Budget 2011. The paper is available on the Department of Finance website and I have asked my officials to supply you a copy of the paper.

John McGuinness

Question:

207 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will provide an analysis of current replacement rates based on the methodology outlined in his Department’s document published in 2009, Replacement Rates and Unemployment based on the most current data; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20028/11]

My Department will, as part of the process of informing expenditure decisions for Budget 2012, prepare a further analysis of replacement rates and this will be made available in due course.

Public Sector Pay

Catherine Murphy

Question:

208 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the review of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009 (No. 2) 2009 has commenced; when it is likely to be completed; when it is likely to be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19522/11]

The Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No.2) Act, 2009 provided for the reduction in remuneration of public servants with effect from 1 January 2010. Section 7 of the Act required that the Minister for Finance undertake a review of the operation, effectiveness and impact of this Act, having regard to the overall economic conditions in the State and national competitiveness before 30 June 2011. The review was completed and a report laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas on the 30 June. The report is available on the website of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform athttp://per.gov.ie/public-service-pay-policy/

Public Procurement

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

209 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to increase the €50,000 threshold for public procurement in view of the fact that there is an inordinate cost associated with complying with the e-tender conditions for projects over €50,000 for small community based projects under €200,000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19614/11]

The Deputy will be aware that late last year my Department issued guidelines addressed to public bodies and aimed at facilitating small and medium-sized enterprises in competing for public procurement opportunities. These guidelines maintained the existing threshold for advertising public works contracts in excess of €50,000 on the e-tenders website. The main reasons for setting the threshold at this level is to open up public procurement opportunities to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and to achieve value for taxpayer's money through a competitive and transparent tendering process. It is a basic principle of public procurement that a competitive process should be used.

It is worth noting that there are a number of guidance documents and model form contracts aimed at facilitating public bodies in carrying out public works contracts. This information can be found on the construction procurement websitewww.constructionprocurement.gov.ie These new public procurement guidelines will be kept under review in light of the impact on operational efficiency, value for money and accessibility to business opportunities.

Public Sector Pay

Shane Ross

Question:

210 Deputy Shane Ross asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the figure of €289 million stated as the reduction in payroll costs detailed in the review report on the Croke Park agreement is in fact the same figure for savings to the State, in view of the fact that some of those personnel who left are now receiving a State pension; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19634/11]

The Implementation Body for thePublic Service Agreement 2010 — 2014 published its first progress report on 15th June last. The Body found that, over the twelve months to end March 2011, sustainable Exchequer pay bill savings in the order of €289 million had been achieved, driven primarily by a reduction in public service staff numbers of 5,349 over the period. It is assumed the Deputy is referring to public service pension costs and not costs relating to the State Pension (either contributory or means-tested) paid by the Department of Social Protection. Public service pension costs have increased over the period. However, this is not a direct function of or causally linked to the Croke Park Agreement but, rather, represents costs which would arise in any event. The cost increase is not due to the Croke Park Agreement but is essentially caused by increased longevity (i.e. fewer pensioners dying) and more people retiring normally.

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

As regards the payments to those who left under the most recent exit mechanisms, i.e. the HSE scheme and the Incentivised Scheme of Early Retirement (ISER), the total amounts paid out in terms of lump sum and severance, including statutory redundancy, was of the order of €106 million. The associated ongoing annual pension cost is of the order of €46 million. Increased pension costs associated with the schemes decline over time as early retirees reach the age at which they would have retired in any event. In addition, some of those who retired under these schemes did so outside the relevant period within which the Croke Park Agreement was in operation, i.e. before March 2010.

Commercial Rates

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

211 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the date the Valuation Office will be commencing its review of the commercial rates in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19661/11]

The Valuation Act 2001, which came into effect on 2nd May, 2002, provides for the revaluation of all commercial and industrial property. The Commissioner of Valuation has sole responsibility for all valuation matters under the Valuation Act 2001 which includes the implementation of the revaluation programme on a nationwide basis.

The revaluation programme began in November 2005 in the South Dublin County Council area and has since been rolled out to the areas covered by Fingal and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Councils. The revaluation of South Dublin was completed in December 2007, Fingal was completed in 2009 and Dún Laoghaire- Rathdown was completed in 2010. The revaluation of the Dublin City Council area commenced with the signing of the valuation order on 5th May, 2011. This will entail the valuation of circa 25,000 properties and the new list will be published in December 2013.

It is intended to roll out the programme to further local authority areas as soon as possible. The necessary process of consultation, as provided for under the Act, is underway with the local authorities of Waterford, i.e. Waterford City and County Council and Dungarvan Town Council. Preliminary work is also underway on the revaluation of Limerick City. It is not possible to say at present when revaluation will commence in County Meath. While progress has been affected by the difficult conditions in the property market in recent years, nevertheless, the launch of the Dublin City revaluation is a significant advance and the Commissioner has indicated that he is actively reviewing options which might hold potential for accelerating the delivery of the revaluation programme.

Departmental Expenditure

Peter Mathews

Question:

212 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his views on the fact that Deutsche Bank estimates the total cost, including wages, of processing a single invoice is €17.60, that private companies can take over this process, move suppliers to an e-invoicing system and only charge 24 cent per invoice, that the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation confirms that Government Departments processed 228,773 invoices in 2010 and that this indicates that there is a potential to save almost €4 million annually by switching to e-invoicing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19862/11]

The National Procurement Service (NPS) in the Office of Public Works is tasked with supporting procurement-related savings across the public service. An area with potential for achieving savings for buyers and suppliers in the whole procure-to-pay process is the widespread adoption of electronic invoicing for public sector bodies and for business to business transactions in Ireland.

In examining the potential for the implementation of electronic invoicing, the NPS has met with a number of public sector bodies which are considering implementing this technology, or which have already commenced pilot projects. The NPS has also met with a number of service providers in the marketplace and looked at the implementation in other EU Member states (Denmark) and has been in contact with the European Commission in relation to the current projects under way in this area. Savings are achieved by reducing the administrative overhead involved when dealing with paper invoices; this applies to both the public and private sectors.

While progressing developments on the initiative the NPS was requested by the European Commission to establish aNational Multi-Stakeholder Forum on eInvoicing. This has been done. Standards in e-invoicing are due to be agreed at European level later this year. At this time the NPS will be in a better position to decide on the appropriate approach to acquiring this service for the wider public sector. It is vital that the systems offered, by the various service providers, are interoperable so that suppliers can use one system to send invoices to all the public sector bodies with which they have dealings. It is hoped that the Forum will allow for consultation and can provide agreement and direction on eInvoicing initiatives.

Consultancy Contracts

Michael McGrath

Question:

213 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will provide details of the consultants who have been hired to assist him with the work of public sector reform; the length of any such contract; the terms of reference given to the consultants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20055/11]

Three consultants from Deloitte Ireland and Accenture Ireland have been retained on a contract basis to assist my Department in relation to the development of a public sector reform plan. Under the contract, the companies are reimbursed the costs for the consultants on a cost recovery basis. The total cost per month is a maximum of €24,195 plus VAT and the contract will last for no more than 3 months.

Public Sector Pay

Peter Mathews

Question:

214 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will ensure that non-teaching staff in a private school whose wages are not paid by the Exchequer are excluded in the reduction in public sector wages; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20105/11]

Recognised schools, whether public or private, are defined as public service bodies within the meaning of, and for the purposes of, the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No 2) Act 2009. Once staff are employed by a public service body they must be subject to the provision of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Act 2009 irrespective of the sourcing of the funds from which they are paid. In summary, it is the nature of the employing body, not the source of the funding, which determines the application of the provisions of the Act.

Employment Rights

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

215 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he is reviewing the procedures that are in place to ensure that all contractors and sub-contractors who have been awarded public contracts fully comply with all legislation on revenue and on pay and conditions for employees; his views regarding the self-certification process under local authority framework agreements; if he has been briefed by the National Employment Rights Authority on this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19702/11]

Matters to do with public procurement procedures fall to be considered by my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform who has overall responsibility for the Government's public procurement procedures. Matters concerned with the implementation of public procurement procedures in respect of particular contracts fall to be taken up with the relevant Government Departments in respect of the various contracting authorities operating under their aegis, including matters related to the self-certification process under local authority framework agreements which are a matter for my colleague the Minster for the Environment, Community and Local Government.

All construction related projects involving public expenditure must conform to Department of Finance Public Procurement procedures. These procedures state that contracting firms including subcontractors must be compliant with all employment rights legislation in respect of pay and conditions of employment when engaged on public works contracts thereby creating a level playing field for competing tenders. Issues concerned with compliance regarding taxation are matters for the Revenue Commissioners.

The standard public works contract between a contractor and procuring authority requires the contractor to undertake to ensure that the wage rates and other terms and conditions for all workers, including employees of sub-contractors comply with statutory provisions in the area of employment law. Under current terms of public procurement contracts, the contractor is obliged, for the purposes of the reporting requirements during the course of the contract, to make a statement to the contracting authority, certifying compliance with the employment rights legislation in respect of each payment due under the contract.

If anyone is aware of specific instances where public contracts have been awarded to firms that are not complying with pay and or other terms and conditions of employment, there are a number of ways in which the matter can be investigated through either, the relevant public authority that awarded the contract, through the dispute settlement system in respect of vindication of an employees rights such as through the Rights Commissioner service, or directly with the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA). NERA has statutory authority to share information and carry-out joint investigations with the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Social Protection.

County Enterprise Boards

Robert Troy

Question:

216 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the funding available to the individual county enterprise boards; and his views on whether this level of funding is adequate for new enterprises and the current need for employment opportunities in the domestic market. [19708/11]

An annual Exchequer allocation is provided each year for the operation of the County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs). The Exchequer allocation is made in the context of the overall public finances and in 2011 amounts to €27.242m, of which €15m in Capital is available for direct grants and training, mentoring and advice services to micro-enterprise clients. The bulk of the non-capital allocation to each CEB pays the salaries of the Business Advisors and other staff who provide direct advice and mentoring to client companies. This represents a strong investment in the micro-enterprise sector, notwithstanding the additional level of demand on CEB services generated in the current difficult economic climate.

The CEB Central Coordination Unit (within Enterprise Ireland) works closely with the CEBs throughout the year reviewing individual expenditures to ensure that the funding allocated to the CEBs is utilised to the maximum extent possible. It is a matter in the first instance for individual CEBs to determine how they will use allocated funds. Some Boards may choose to commit all of their available funding as projects present themselves, even if this means that their funding is committed relatively early in the year, while others may choose to reserve some funding until later in the year so that they are in a position to support other high quality projects that emerge at that time. Should it arise during the year that some Boards are not in a position to spend all of their annual allocation, for example where an approved grant is decommitted late in the year if the project has not started, it is reallocated to any Boards that are in a position to spend additional funds within the year.

Substantial funds have been allocated to the CEBs in 2011 having due regard to the pressures on exchequer finances. While I accept that it is vital that CEBs continue to promote and support enterprise development there is undoubtedly a high level of demand on CEBs resources at present, and due to the finite nature of public finances, it is not always possible for a CEB to provide financial assistance to every eligible project that presents itself. This is an operating reality with which all CEBs are already familiar. The relevant data requested by the deputy is set out in the following tabular format.

County and City Enterprise Boards Exchequer Allocations 2011

CEB

2011 Current Budget Allocation

2011 Capital Budget Allocation

2011 Total Budget Allocation

Carlow

348,881

344,532

693,412

Cavan

398,290

358,658

756,948

Clare

295,577

407,230

702,807

Cork City

382,732

415,991

798,723

Cork North

176,998

376,032

553,029

Cork South

444,889

518,371

963,261

Cork West

381,355

357,320

738,674

Donegal

424,451

444,801

869,252

Dublin City

443,597

816,172

1,259,769

Dublin South

335,679

547,922

883,601

Dún Laoghaire/ Rathdown

440,489

493,194

933,683

Fingal

366,028

540,739

906,767

Galway

264,682

532,129

796,810

Kerry

345,829

437,115

782,944

Kildare

360,629

485,225

845,853

Kilkenny

350,394

383,029

733,423

Laois

288,322

361,820

650,142

Leitrim

324,211

322,392

646,603

Limerick City

365,488

346,798

712,286

Limerick County

336,571

428,508

765,079

Longford

277,743

328,021

605,764

Louth

429,700

407,558

837,259

Mayo

198,803

420,565

619,368

Meath

406,973

460,907

867,880

Monaghan

305,674

350,375

656,049

Offaly

354,870

365,761

720,631

Roscommon

199,479

353,242

552,721

Sligo

364,979

355,442

720,421

Tipperary North

353,844

360,748

714,592

Tipperary South

348,451

378,541

726,992

Waterford City

216,561

339,771

556,333

Waterford County

179,272

356,806

536,079

Westmeath

381,995

374,532

756,527

Wexford

299,985

428,749

728,734

Wicklow

413,743

423,002

836,745

Total

11,807,162

14,622,000

26,429,162

Foreign Direct Investment

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

217 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the work he and State agencies under his aegis are engaged in with companies from Canada; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19756/11]

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

218 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of employees of companies from Canada employed here; the number in each county in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19757/11]

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

219 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the marketing campaigns he or State agencies under his aegis are undertaking to attract investment from Canada; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19758/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 217 to 219, inclusive, together.

There are a total of 16 IDA supported Canadian companies located in Ireland employing 800 people. The names of those companies and their location in Ireland are set out in the tabular statement. The IDA's strategy includes winning as many new jobs as possible each year and giving equal priority to maintaining existing jobs. To address the need to maintain jobs in Ireland, IDA is actively encouraging its client companies to 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.

Make company operations more energy efficient.

The combined influence of Ireland's increased competitiveness in business costs, commitment to our 12.5% corporate tax rate, transformation of client operations and activities, national Infrastructure development, 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 in Ireland.

New and established multinationals continue to invest and re-invest in their operations making Ireland one of the global locations of choice for mobile investment projects from the world's leading companies. In 2009, IDA launched a major marketing campaign aimed at the North American market, which includes Canada. As part of the marketing campaign, television (CNBC & Bloomberg), internet, newspaper and airport advertisements were placed, highlighting Ireland as an innovation hub with a population famed for its ability to respond in a creative manner to unique challenges and requirements. This campaign has been well received and is continuing.

Table Showing the Names and Locations of Canadian IDA Supported Companies in Ireland

Company Name

County

Autolaunch ltd

Carlow

Celestica

Galway

Nortel Networks (Ireland) Limited

Galway

Alcan Packaging Dublin

Dublin

Canada Life Assurance Europe Ltd

Dublin

Scotiabank (Ireland) Limited

Dublin

TD Global Finance (Ireland)

Dublin

Dialogic

Dublin

Nspire Re Ltd

Dublin

Bank of Montreal Ireland plc

Dublin

Agfa Ltd

Dublin

IG International Management Ltd

Dublin

FinCad

Dublin

London Life & General Reinsurance Co Ltd

Dublin

Matrox Europe Ltd.

Cork

QC Data (Ireland) Limited

Cork

Employment Rights

John McGuinness

Question:

220 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the estimated annual cost to employers in complying with the administrative burdens of employment regulation orders and registered employment agreements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20026/11]

In 2010 my Department commissioned a study to measure the information obligations arising for employers under Company Law, Employment Law and Health & Safety Law. The companies that took part in the survey outlined a number of areas in which information obligations posed the greatest difficulty. These information obligations were then measured to identify the specific administrative burden cost of compliance.

The overall administrative cost to employers in the Employment Law area was estimated at €71.4m, of which €61.5m was attributed exclusively to the record-keeping requirements under the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997. This requirement would be expected to be even more onerous for employers operating in sectors regulated by EROs/REAs, as the hours worked in these sectors must be further identified if they occur on Sundays, during unsocial hours, during non-rostered times or overtime hours. My Department is currently working on proposals to alleviate the burden that the record-keeping requirement under the Organisation of Working Time Act presents for compliant businesses.

In addition, a number of the proposals contained in the Action Plan that I have proposed for radical reform of the JLC and REA mechanisms are aimed at simplifying the system in a way that would reduce the burden of supervision and compliance and also ensure a degree of coordination and oversight over the system so that necessary record-keeping requirements are kept reasonable and proportionate across all sectors.

Industrial Development

Sean Conlan

Question:

221 Deputy Seán Conlan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will account for the transactions of the Industrial Development Agency in relation to County Monaghan and provide figures for the following: the amount of funding that was granted by the IDA to companies in County Monaghan; the amount spent in foreign direct investment and research and development by the IDA in County Monaghan; the number of jobs that were directly created by the IDA in County Monaghan over the past 14 years with a yearly breakdown of figures and a quantification of the way this compares statistically to all other counties here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20060/11]

I am informed by IDA Ireland that in the time available it is only possible to provide grant payments for a five year period and job creation figures for a ten year period. The Agency informs me that in the 5-year period 2006 to 2010 it paid a total of €705,882 in grants to its client companies in Monaghan. Details of the amount paid in each of those years is set out in the tabular statement. The number of new jobs that were created in IDA supported companies in Monaghan in the ten year period 2001 to 2010 was 218.

Table showing the amount of grant payments to IDA supported companies in Monaghan in the period 2006 to 2010

Year

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

Amount

€0

€0

€0

€445,882

€260,000

Table showing the number of new IDA supported jobs created in Monaghan in each of the years 2001 to 2010

Year

New IDA supported jobs created in Monaghan

2001

30

2002

57

2003

10

2004

1

2005

4

2006

33

2007

21

2008

15

2009

19

2010

28

Sean Conlan

Question:

222 Deputy Seán Conlan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will account for the transactions of the Industrial Development Agency in relation to County Cavan and provide figures for the following: the amount of funding that was granted by the IDA to companies in County Cavan; the amount spent in foreign direct investment and research and development by the IDA in County Cavan; the number of jobs that were directly created by the IDA in County Cavan over the past 14 years with a yearly breakdown of figures and a quantification of the way this compares statistically to all other counties here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20061/11]

I am informed by IDA Ireland that in the time available it is only possible to provide grant payments for a five year period and job creation figures for a ten year period. The Agency informs me that in the 5-year period 2006 to 2010 it paid a total of €915,345 in grants to its client companies in Cavan. Details of the amount paid in each of those years is set out in the tabular statement. The number of new jobs that were created in IDA supported companies in Cavan in the ten year period 2001 to 2010 was 321. Details of the number of new jobs created each year in Cavan are set out in the tabular statement

Table showing the amount of grant payments to IDA supported companies in Cavan in the period 2006 to 2010

Year

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

Amount

€0

€0

€0

€143,000

€772,345

Table showing the number of new IDA supported jobs created in Cavan in each of the years 2001 to 2010

Year

New IDA supported jobs created in Cavan

2001

68

2002

52

2003

12

2004

31

2005

0

2006

2

2007

59

2008

32

2009

18

2010

47

Job Creation

Sean Conlan

Question:

223 Deputy Seán Conlan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will clarify and account for the transactions of Enterprise Ireland in relation to County Monaghan; if he will provide figures for the following: the amount of funding granted by Enterprise Ireland to companies in County Monaghan; the amount provided for research and development by Enterprise Ireland in County Monaghan; the number of jobs that were directly created by Enterprise Ireland in County Monaghan over the past 14 years with a yearly breakdown of figures and a quantification of the way this compares statistically to all other counties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20067/11]

Sean Conlan

Question:

224 Deputy Seán Conlan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will clarify and account for the transactions of Enterprise Ireland in relation to County Cavan; if he will provide figures for the following: the amount of funding granted by Enterprise Ireland to companies in County Cavan; the amount provided for research and development by Enterprise Ireland in County Cavan; the number of jobs that were directly created by Enterprise Ireland in County Cavan over the past 14 years with a yearly breakdown of figures and a quantification of the way this compares statistically to all other counties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20068/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 223 and 224 together.

The role of the Government is to create the conditions in which enterprise, entrepreneurship and innovation can flourish and in which quality employment opportunities can be grown and maintained. Enterprise Ireland monitors the employment trends in the companies it supports through the Annual Employment Survey, which is conducted in conjunction with Forfás. The results of this survey are released each January. Data is available for the last ten-year period only. Enterprise Ireland's client employment in County Monaghan over each of the past ten years is set out in Table 1a. Enterprise Ireland's client employment in County Cavan over each of the past ten years is set out in Table 1b. Table 2 outlines job trends in the country as a whole. Over the ten-year period in question, full-time employment fell by 25,151 and part-time or contract employment increased by 3,262 in Ireland as a whole. Due to the extensive amount of statistical information requested by the Deputy, it has not been possible to collate some of the information within the timeframe given. I will endeavour to provide the remainder of the information to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Table 1a: Employment in Enterprise Ireland-aided companies in County Monaghan 2001-2010*

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

Number Of Plants

152

153

147

145

143

138

138

137

141

135

Full Time Jobs

4,423

4,421

4,438

4,252

4,510

4,636

4,621

3,929

3,214

3,199

Gains

321

319

317

346

521

389

322

341

107

253

Losses

-588

-321

-300

-532

-263

-263

-337

-1,033

-822

-271

Net Change

-267

-2

17

-186

258

126

-15

-692

-715

-18

Contract/Part Time Jobs

400

331

197

146

207

220

241

228

247

318

(Source — Forfás Employment Survey 2010)

*(data is only available for a 10 year period)

Table 1b: Employment in Enterprise Ireland-aided companies in County Cavan 2001-2010*

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

Number Of Plants

124

119

116

110

105

100

97

93

94

92

Full Time Jobs

4,072

4,490

4,771

5,101

5,699

5,671

6,166

6,601

5,778

5,438

Gains

252

593

447

498

936

683

648

802

73

111

Losses

-223

-175

-166

-168

-338

-711

-153

-367

-896

-466

Net Change

29

418

281

330

598

-28

495

435

-823

-355

Contract/Part Time Jobs

563

514

418

411

190

160

327

391

381

459

(Source — Forfás Employment Survey 2010)

*(data is only available for a 10 year period)

Table 2: Employment in Enterprise Ireland-aided companies in Ireland 2001-2010

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

Number Of Plants

6,031

5,999

6,013

5,769

5,698

5,798

5,890

6,044

6,122

5,938

Full Time Jobs

162,392

158,656

155,149

152,861

153,946

163,041

166,879

160,941

142,596

137,241

Gains

14,782

14,470

13,570

12,613

14,619

21,705

17,993

13,717

8,721

8,193

Losses

-13,518

-18,206

-17,077

-14,901

-13,534

-12,610

-14,155

-19,655

-27,066

-13,548

Net Change

1,264

-3,736

-3,507

-2,288

1,085

9,095

3,838

-5,938

-18,345

-5,355

Contract/Part Time Jobs

16,074

16,142

14,828

14,323

13,565

15,467

15,599

16,210

17,707

19,336

Business Regulation

Seán Kyne

Question:

225 Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation when the next report of the high level group on business regulation is to be published; if he will outline the suggestions made by this group that have been implemented to date; if he will outline the savings to business that have been achieved by these suggestions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20103/11]

The High Level Group on Business Regulation was set up in 2007 to provide a fast-track mechanism for business to communicate specific, concrete red tape issues to the Government and follow through on their implementation. The Group works to identify the administrative burdens placed on businesses arising from regulation and to determine ways to reduce and simplify these burdens or eliminate them where they are unnecessary. The Group focuses mainly on the burdens on small and medium sized enterprises. To date, the Group has processed 48 red tape issues brought to its attention by business, and is continuing to seek practical solutions to a further 20 issues. Details of these 48 items at set out in Appendix A. In addition to this work, the High Level Group was involved in validating the administrative burdens identified with my Department in 2009 and 2010 as part of the target to reduce administrative burdens by 25% by 2012. My Department has already reduced measured burdens by 22%, or 90% of the target to be achieved, which represents an annual saving of almost €187 million for business. Details follow at Appendix B.

I expect I will be in a position to announce the initiatives that will make up the remaining 3% before the end of the year. Some of these reductions are as yet potential savings. Making them real savings requires businesses to adopt these newer, more simplified approaches that have been made available. All firms are encouraged to ensure they gain the full benefit of this work by reading the guidelines provided, and adopting the low cost options. There is no requirement for the High Level Group on Business Regulation to publish annual reports, although two reports have been published since 2007. In the future, updates on the work of the High Level Group will be published via the Department's website.

Appendix A

No

Suggestion

Status

Savings

1

CRO — Revenue — Electronic Signature

Processed — The CRO has made the ROS signature available on all electronic forms from the end of 2010.

€3.8m

2

D/ETI — Employment PermitsThe documentation required to be granted a work permit in the first place must also be sent each time that permit is being renewed. Reduce the administrative burden associated with this

Processed — The new back-office IT system has been completed. The significantly updated back office system was introduced on 1 November 2010.

Not measured

3

D/ETI — D/Justice- Employment Permits Applications and VisasThere is no communication between the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and the Department of Justice and therefore, employers must contact both Departments to check the validity of student visas or residency stamps

Processed — The working group was reactivated in 2010 to renew the examination of possible proposals for a single decision process, and to issue an interim report in 2011.

Not measured

4

CSO — Revenue —reduce duplicationMore use must be made of data content already submitted [to Revenue]

Processed — There is ongoing constructive engagement between Revenue and the CSO regarding the enhanced use of Revenue’s administrative data for statistical purposes.

Not measured

5

D/ETI — Redundancy rebates— processing difficulties.Application processing times unacceptable.

Processed — delays reduced — The treatment of Revenue offsets between the Department and Revenue have been standardized and Revenue has provided a standard form for completion on their website to facilitate offsets against redundancy rebates.

€1.2m

6

Consolidate CSO returns

Being processed — This process is part of a wider integration process, integrating both short-term and structural datasets.

Not measured

7

CSO — questionnairesCSO should amend questionnaires to align more closely with company accounts

Being processed — CSO is getting assistance from an accountant with this endeavour. When redesigned forms are complete it will seek the opinion of the High-level Group. It should be noted that in most cases the contents are not negotiable, in that CSO, on behalf of Ireland, is obliged to compile data (under EU law) to a strictly defined standard.

Not measured

8

Revenue — technical adjustmentsRevenue should develop the concept of “technical adjustments” whereby tax can be paid late without penalty or interest in the case where a transaction has been handled incorrectly in error

Processed — Revised Code of Practice published, effective from October 1st, 2010.A technical adjustment will not attract a penalty where Revenue is satisfied that due care has been taken by the taxpayer, and the treatment concerned was based on an interpretation of the law, which could reasonably have been considered to be correct.

Not measured

9

Revenue — D/Finance — Withholding taxAbolish [Professional Services] withholding tax

Processed — not possible

NIL

10

Revenue — D/Finance — D/Justice — Sales/Retail LicencesReduce the administrative burden associated with these.With regard to the licensing of mineral oil, off-licences, wine and video, every year at renewal date the licence must be reapplied for and must be signed by the Company Secretary or Director. It has been suggested that, in order to improve efficiency, the requirement to fill in new forms would only apply if some element of the licence changed. Furthermore, it has been suggested that licence periods should be increased to 3 or 5 years

Processed — Revenue’s role in relation to Excise Licenses is essentially administrative and, within the parameters of the existing law with effect from 29 June 2009, considerable streamlining has been applied to the Excise Licence application and renewal process. These developments reduce the administrative burden associated with Excise Licence obligations for up to 40,000 licence holders. All licence renewal forms have an automatic Tax Clearance facility applied to them and it is also possible for licence holders to renew and pay for their licence using the Revenue On-line Service facility. These developments have considerably improved excise license processing efficiencies. 67% of liquor licenses were renewed in October 2010, the peak period for liquor license processing, compared to 47% in October 2008.

Not measured

11

D/EHLG — Waste Collection PermitsNew regulations now allow waste collectors to apply for a single permit from one designated authority.

Processed — being measured

Being measured

12

D/EHLG — Business User ForumsSmall Business Forum Report recommended the establishment of a “Business Users Forum” in each Local Authority in order to improve consultation and responsiveness to businesses. Have these been established?

Processed — Each county/city council has established a Business Support Unit (or similar arrangement) to act as a point of contact for businesses to ensure co-ordinated response (e.g. planning, water and roads).County/City Councils have recently been asked to expand representation from the business sector (e.g. the local Chamber of Commerce, IBEC/Small Firms Association etc.) on the County/City Development Boards’ economic development subcommittees to enable them to act as Business Users Fora to improve consultation/responsiveness by local authorities and other relevant agencies to local businesses.

Not measured

13

D/SFA — PRSI classes and GuidanceCombine PRSI and Tax data for employees: PRSI classes should be simplified and clear guidance provided to employers; this should be combined with tax rates on the tax card.

Processed — During 2010 a Steering Group, led by the Department of Finance, examined the universal social contribution proposal. The Steering Group discussions were informed by issues such as simplification of PRSI. Any changes to the PRSI system would be a matter for Government to consider in a Budgetary context.

NIL

14

D/ETI — RBE and CBIExamine risk-based enforcement in HSA, ODCE, and NERA. Benchmark against Revenue

Processed — Report issued by Risk Based Enforcement Group

Not measured

15

D/ETI — Public Procurement(i) “Standardising tender documents across Departments and Local Authorities would reduce the administrative burden on businesses”;(ii) “Tenders should be acceptable in electronic format”;(iii) “Capping indemnity would reduce the cost of projects”;(iv) “Consider the sharing of Intellectual Property rights between public bodies and successful tenders”;(v) “Simplification of tendering procedures for SMEs”;(vi) “Stop increasing bureaucratisation of public service tendering, e.g. notarised documents are now being increasingly required at Expression of Interest stage and should only be required of someone who has actually won a tender and is about to sign a contract.”

Processed — New Guidelines and website launched by NPS on 14/4/2011

Not measured

16

CRO/XBRL

Collaboration with the CSO and CRO will continue to ensure optimum cross-regulator value can be obtained from the XBRL filings; Revenue will implement XBRL for ROS filing by 2012. Revenue is working closely with the CSO and other agencies to ensure overall compatibility

Not measured

17

Revenue — RCTThe process regarding Relevant Contracts Tax should be simplified and a Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) carried out

Revenue is implementing an eRCT facility, which will be available in 2012.

Not measured

18

CSO — Annual Services EnquiryThe detailed information which you require in this form could not be supplied by a small business person “Auditors services were hired to extract the relevant information from end of year accounts.Structures should be put in place to obtain data already held by Revenue and the CRO

CSO have taken sole traders off the ASI list — only 4 of the variables they require are available from Revenue data and they have introduced an ASI for small business which is quite basic in its request for information.

€2m reduction in all surveys since 2007

19

CRO-Revenue Annual ReturnsCRO and Revenue are working together to find ways of reducing duplication of data submitted

An information note has been produced by CRO to help companies who wish to change their Annual Return Date (ARD) and can be found at Paragraph 7 “How does a company alter its ARD” of Information Leaflet No. 22, “Filing an Annual Return in the CRO” which can be found athttp://www.cro.ie/en/downloads-information-leaflets.aspx.

€28m

20

D/ETE — Weekly Work MaximumConsideration to be given to averaging the weekly work maximum over 12 months

The European Commission, who first tabled proposals for an amending Directive, will reflect on the unsuccessful conclusion to Conciliation and consider the next steps.

NIL

21

D/ETE — HSA— Health and Safety Sectoral Codes and Step-by Step GuidesThe Health and Safety Authority should issue new sectoral codes in plain language for small companies, outlining a step-by-step guide to the safety statement and other H&S issues.

This is an area of ongoing work for the Health and Safety Authority. A number of guides and guidelines have already been produced — the various Safe Systems of Work Plans (SSWP); Codes of Practice under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005; further Guidelines, Checklists and a Toolkit for Small Business on the “Simple Safety” series.The BeSMART tool has also been produced which is likely to bring savings of at least €64m per annum

BeSMART and other initiatives to save business €106m per annum

22

CSO Point of ContactEach Department should have a liaison officer as a point of contact with the CSO.

The CSO DG has written to Government Departments. Nominations for Liaison Officers have been received.

Not measured

23

CSO Quarterly Earnings SurveysReduce the administrative burdens associated with this activity

The Earnings, Hours and Employment Costs Survey (EHECS) is the main quarterly survey on earnings and employment costs in businesses. The CSO plans to reduce the sample size of this survey. This will result in a reduction in the number of small enterprises included in the sample and will therefore reduce the overall burden on business. The reduced sample size came into effect from the Q2 2009 reference period.The CSO has worked with a number of payroll software providers in modifying their software to meet the requirements of the EHECS. The modified software enables businesses to automatically generate reports in response to the survey. Once the initial set-up has been done, use of this software should result in significant reductions in burden for businesses. The software is currently available from software providers.

Not measured

24

CSO— Vehicle Destinations FormCSO form on vehicle destinations very onerous

The EU largely determines the data required. Given the increasing demands for spatial-transport data in general and freight data in particular it is very difficult to see any way of cutting back in this area.

NIL

25

CSO — ASICSO: why is Annual Services Inquiry necessary in addition to quarterly surveys

ASI data collection is governed by a number of EU regulations.Further, a new overarching piece of legislation concerning structural business statistics has recently been passed by the European Council and should come into effect this year. This legislation will increase the data demands that Ireland is required to provide to the European Commission and the European Central Bank.

NIL

26

CSO — ProdcomProdCOM form does not take account of format in which data is held

Requirements of ProdCOM are defined by an EU Council Regulation.

NIL

27

Revenue-Revenue WebsiteTechnical guidance available on the Revenue website should be time-stamped and obsolete content removed

A new version of the website was launched in December 2008. The new website has been designed to make accessing information and services as easy and intuitive as possible. Information and services are now gathered in logical clusters under the primary headings: Personal Tax; Business & Self Assessment; Tax Practitioners; Customs; Taxes & Duties; and Online Services. The content is extensively cross-referenced and navigation and search facilities have been substantially improved. Work is ongoing on the updating of duty and tax manuals.

Not measured

28

Revenue-D/Finance-VAT Returns(i) Paying VAT on a monthly or two-monthly basis causes problems for firms’ cashflow.(ii) Revenue are the only people who always get paid; can Revenue allow more time;Dealing with this on a cash receipts basis is a simple solution(ii) Abolish VAT on an accruals basis

Revenue(i) In 2007, Revenue introduced less frequent filing of VAT3 returns for small traders. Cases whose annual VAT liability is €3,000 or less per annum, now file VAT3 returns twice a year. Cases whose annual VAT liability is between €3,001 and €14,400 per annum, file VAT3 returns three times a year. The changes currently benefit over 90,000 traders. Revenue regularly reviews the VAT liability of cases, examines its customer base and transfers traders to the less frequent filing programme where eligibility criteria are met.(ii) There are approximately 65% of traders currently accounting for VAT on the Cash Basis. A person or business applying for VAT registration who wishes to use the Cash Basis rather than the Invoice Basis must apply at the time of registration, in writing, for permission. Alternatively, application may be made to the local Revenue District subsequently, again in writing, to change from the Invoice Basis to the Cash Basis. If a trader is found to be eligible for the Cash Basis he/she will be notified of the date from which the accounting procedures have changed. The trader will be liable to account for VAT on all cash received on and after the approved date of change, but will not have to account for sales for which he/she had already accounted while on the Invoice Basis.Revenue has recently reiterated its long-standing message to business that there should be an early and full engagement with Revenue when problems start to emerge in meeting tax payment obligations. Revenue’s approach to individuals and businesses experiencing tax payment difficulties is set out on our websitewww.revenue.ie 1.D/Finance(ii) Many small businesses already avail of the cash receipts basis of accounting for VAT.Anything that improves firms cashflow situation in relation to the payment of tax, disimproves the Exchequer’s cashflow situation.The proposal is already in place for many SMEs. VAT is normally accounted for on the basis of invoices issued regardless of whether of not the trader has been paid for the supply in that period. However, SMEs with an annual turnover of €1million or less can avail of the cash basis of accounting which provides traders with the option to account for VAT on a cash receipts basis. This means that the trader is not required to pay VAT until payment for the supply is actually received. The VAT cash accounting option assists a significant number of firms and focuses in particular on small firms in the critical area of cash flow.The manner and frequency of VAT returns is determined by EU VAT law, with which Ireland must comply. In this context, cash-basis accounting arrangement cannot be used to replace the normal VAT arrangements across the board.

€5.4m

29

Revenue—VAT Issues (a)Existing compliance records should be recognised when VAT registration applications are made

• The customer service standard that applies to VAT registration is 100% within 10 working days.• The standard for other registrations is 100% within 5 working days.• Issues regarding delays experienced are examined when raised with Revenue.

Not measured

30

Revenue—VAT Issues (b)Simplification of the revenue system is necessary in some cases; e.g. S4A relief. This relates to delays with the VAT registration process and possible inability to avail of S4A shift

The Section 4A Relief referred to in the suggestion has been repealed.

Not measured

31

Revenue—VAT Issues (c) The process for handling requests for tax registration and VAT numbers should be improved. Registrations applied for by accounting firms should be fast-tracked; account should be taken of due diligence already undertaken under money-laundering regulations, etc

The e-registration project has been deferred due to budgetary constraints.

NIL

32

Revenue — Visits to Start-up BusinessesRevenue visits to start up businesses should be re-instated

Revenue cannot commit to visiting every new business. However Revenue is willing to support new start-ups with information sessions, etc. ROS marketing, District, and Collector General staff regularly attend conferences aimed at business groups (either organised by Irish Taxation Institute, Local Enterprise Groups, etc) in order to deliver our key message. Revenue also supports and liaises with IPASS/Payroll clerks, MABS, Citizens’ Information, etc.Revenue regularly attends conferences (e.g. ITI and Local Enterprise Group, meets with agents, payroll association etc. Further, it has a stand at the Ploughing Championships every year that deals with a significant volume of enquiries.

Not measured

33

Revenue — Reward for use of ROSCompanies should be rewarded for use of ROS. There should be incentives for using the on-line tax system; e.g., by way of a one month extension

• Phased implementation of mandatory e-filing commenced from 1 January 2009.• As an incentive to encourage the take up of ROS services, with effect from 1 January 2009 the dates for paying and filing RCT, PREM, VAT and CT via ROS have been extended to the 23rd day of the month (in comparison with paper filers which have filing dates of the 14th (RCT, PREM), 19th (VAT) and 21st (CT), respectively).

Not measurable

34

Revenue-TariffsOral information by Revenue in respect of tariffs should be prohibited; only written information should be permitted

Staff in Revenue’s Customs Division receive telephone queries on an ongoing basis and are generally in a position to give an opinion as to the correct classification based on the information provided by the trader. This is a valuable customer service and is of considerable assistance to traders despite the fact that on rare occasions an opinion delivered in this way and without sight of the goods may prove to have been incorrect. For this reason, it is standard practice to caution traders that this is not an appropriate mechanism where doubt exists or greater certainty is required.Where the classification is unclear or where a trader requires a greater degree of certainty as to their exposure to duty, there is a facility known as Binding Tariff Information (BTI). The BTI process is explained on their website2

NIL

35

D/Finance-Revenue—Tax Clearance Certs Ensure that all public sector organisations accept online TCCs

Revenue:In 2003, Revenue introduced a TCC on-line verification facility as a customer service initiative to expedite contract and payment processing by public bodies. The facility allows public bodies and applicants to view a current TCC on line, with the permission of the applicant, through the use of a tax number and PIN number supplied by Revenue to the applicant. Revenue issued a letter to all Government Departments in December 2007 to increase the awareness of the availability of the on-line TCC verification facility among public bodies. In addition the TCC on-line application and on-line verification facility is prominently positioned on the home page of Revenue’s redesigned website.The e-Tenders website guidelines have now been revised to include information on the online verification system.D/Finance: Will further promote this measure in public procurement guidance.

€300,000

36

D/EHLG—Risk-based Enforcement in the Waste SectorEnforcement should be risk-based.

Under the implementation of the RMCEI-EU recommendation on inspections-local authorities and the Office of Environmental Enforcement now carry out risk-based inspections.

Not measured

37

D/EHLG-Coordination between Waste Sector RegulatorsThere should be better co-ordination between regulators across the whole waste sector.

This is being done.

Not measured

38

D/EHLG-EPATarget for Reduction of Administrative BurdensThe EPA should consider setting an overall target for reducing the regulatory burden on businesses in Ireland; as in Denmark and the UK

To be pursued by the High-Level Group, Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and the EPA in the context of the overall Government 25% reduction target.

Not measured

39

D/Transport— HGV Cordon PermitsHGV cordon permits in Dublin city must be applied for daily. Can this not be made weekly, monthly or annually? Often the vehicles using the cordon are making regular and frequent known trips to city centre retail premises

The HGV Strategy has been very successful at reducing the number of HGVs in the city while still allowing city centre business to operate, at this point Dublin City Council would be reluctant to change the way the system operates, however, they are prepared to meet with any interested parties to discuss how the system could be made easier to use, while not compromising its effectiveness.Changes to the current system would undermine the policy objectives underpinning the HGV Cordon Permits system.Any further relaxation of administrative requirements in this area has the potential to run counter to the stated policy objectives of the HGV Management Strategy.

NIL

40

D/Taoiseach—Regulatory Impact Assessments & Administrative BurdensRIAs are very important; they need proper attentionDFurther progress needs to be made in relation to RIA, in particular in relation to the issues of quality and publication

Ongoing engagement with Departments through the RIA Network and through the RIA Helpdesk will help to address both quality and publication issues. Revised RIA Guidelines are available athttp://www.betterregulation.ie/eng/Revised_RIA_Guidelines.pdf. Comments made by business and other stakeholders on published RIAs and queries as to why RIAs have not been published should also be effective in driving improvements.

NIL

41

D/Transport—Road Haulage PermitsThe Road Safety Authority plans to introduce a centralised permit system for the movement of wide and long loads

The Minister for Transport made new Regulations that came into operation on 4th May 2009. These Regulations introduce a streamlined permit system to be administered by An Garda Siochana for the movement of wide and long vehicles on the major interurban routes and to Cork, Ringaskiddy and Rosslare Ports.

Not measured

42

D/SFA—Social Welfare(i) Claimants say they are being told not to take up jobs until social welfare paperwork, currently running 4 weeks behind schedule, is completed(ii) Form-filling around short-time is onerous; and employer normally ends up doing most of this work(iii) What are Directors’ rights as employees in cases of liquidation in regard to PRSI; can they claim redundancy?; this is a grey area; need a set of clear guidelines

(i) Those who take up work before their jobseekers’ claim is processed will be paid any outstanding payments up to the date of the commencement of any period of employment.(ii) The requirement that an employer individually stamp weekly payment dockets for customers working on a casual or short-term basis has been removed.The number of forms to be completed has also been reduced.(iii) In relation to redundancy payments only those directors who have been insurable at Class A, i.e. employees of the company, will have redundancy entitlements.

NIL

43

D/SFA—Short term working rulesShort-time working rules currently don’t allow people work 4 days; this should be allowed

The application of the jobseekers payment scheme conditions to workers who are not employed on a full-time basis is being kept under review.

NIL

44

D/ETE—Single WindowForfás and Jacobs & Associates have carried out a study of the administrative costs of importing and exporting in Ireland

The Forfas report concludes that the cost/benefit of proceeding with a single window does not support further action at present. The study found that businesses consider the administration around importing and exporting to be relatively straightforward.

NIL

45

D/EHLG—Widening the Scope of EnforcementThe scope of enforcement needs to be widened beyond regulated facilities and collection services if the perception of sham regulation or paper regulation is to be avoided

To be kept under review.

NIL

46

CSO—Reduction of EU requirementsNegotiate reduction in EU statistical requirements.

This is not a realistic objective. The CSO already does all it can, in a European context, to influence the reduction of burdens on business. Furthermore, national users are demanding the same broad data.

NIL

47

D/ETE-Revenue—Redundancy Rebates Offset against Tax LiabilityAny employer who has made staff redundant could offset the 60% refund due to them against any tax liability which arises, whether PAYEConsider the addition of a tick-box on the original RP50 form, to authorise DETE to pay Revenue directly

Under Redundancy legislation, a rebate is paid to the employer in instances where the employer has paid his employee(s) their statutory redundancy lump sum. It is very important therefore that the paying authority, tangible evidence that the employer is in agreement with having the rebate cheque made out instead in favour of the Revenue Commissioners. The only real evidence for this is a letter from the company. Even if, in IT investment terms a tick box solution was possible, it is unlikely that this would provide sufficient cover legally as anyone could tick a box on a form. There is also, quite apart from the issue of legal cover or that of IT investment involved, the fact that it is too late for the applications already in the system for which the offset option would be most at issue as these applications are already lodged. Overall, the requirement which was born out of a need to facilitate employers, of sending a letter and cc’ing this to Revenue, would not appear to be over-onerous. Any counter measure to be developed — be that IT related or otherwise — would potentially work to the detriment of employers in terms of imposing further delays in the Redundancy processing area. Revenue Update 2010 Where a business/individual is awaiting a statutory redundancy rebate and has particular difficulties in meeting their tax obligations because of a delay in receiving the payment, Revenue has put in place an arrangement where the business/individual provides authorization for payment of redundancy rebate direct to Revenue.The Redundancy Rebate arrangements are available on Revenue’s Website athttp://www.revenue.ie/en/about/foi/s16/collection/debt- management/redundancy-rebates.pdf.

€1.2m

48

CSO—Revenue — VIESReduce (EU) VIES (VAT) frequency of returns.

The VIES return has a critical part to play in the fight against VAT fraud. The EU Council adopted a Directive, effective from 1 January 2010, which increases the frequency of some VIES returns, i.e. monthly returns are now required from a trader whose intra-Community supplies of goods in any quarter exceeds €100,000 (threshold will be €50,000 from 1 January 2012). Over 1,700 traders have changed from quarterly to monthly filing and the majority file electronically using Revenue’s On-line System (ROS). Revenue is continuing to encourage those who file paper returns to file via ROS. In addition, there is a new requirement for a trader who supplies services to business customers in other Member States to file VIES returns on a quarterly basis from 1 January 2010. The implementation of this requirement is progressing on time with over 600 traders currently registered.

Not measured

EU Directives

Seán Kyne

Question:

226 Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the progress of the examination of the directive on casual trading by-Laws 2006/123/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on services in the Internal Market, the results of which are eagerly awaited by county councils to enable the drafting and implementation of new by-laws at council level. [20107/11]

Directive 2006/123/EC [the Services Directive] on services in the internal market was transposed into Irish law by way of S. I. No. 533 of 2010, (European Communities (Provision of Services) Regulations 2010) and S. I. No. 555, (European Communities (Court Orders for the Protection of Consumer Interests) Regulations, 2010). The Directive is not concerned specifically with casual trading but with the provision of services in general. The service in the context of the Deputy's question is the regulation of casual trading by local authorities which results in the provision of casual trading licences to traders to sell goods in public places.

On 17 December 2009, my Department issued a detailed notice to all 88 local authorities entitled to make by-laws under the Casual Trading Act 1995, outlining the obligations arising for them under the Services Directive. This notice was drawn up in my Department following consultations with the Office of the Attorney General. Arising from this notice, some local authorities raised issues in respect of their obligations under the Services Directive. My Department is engaging with the Office of the Attorney General in an attempt to clarify these issues. When these issues have been clarified, my Department will write to all 88 local authorities informing them of the position.

Social Welfare Benefits

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

227 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for carer’s allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [19507/11]

An application for carer's allowance from the person concerned was received on 22 March 2011. The medical evidence submitted with her application form was forwarded to the chief medical assessor for consideration and the care recipient has been passed as needing full-time care and attention. On completion of the necessary investigations on the remaining aspects of her case a decision will be made and she will be notified directly of the outcome.

Family Support Services

Tom Hayes

Question:

228 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Social Protection when payment will issue on the back to school clothing and footwear scheme in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19510/11]

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 are 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 that is available for download atwww.welfare.ie or by texting “Form BTSCFA”, followed by their name and address to 51909. Completed application forms should be returned to Department of Social Protection, PO Box 131, Letterkenny, County Donegal.

Sean Fleming

Question:

229 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection when the back to school clothing and footwear allowance will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Laois; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19532/11]

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 are 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 that is available for download atwww.welfare.ie or by texting “Form BTSCFA”, followed by their name and address to 51909. Completed application forms should be returned to Department of Social Protection, PO Box 131, Letterkenny, County Donegal.

Social Welfare Appeals

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

230 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an invalidity pension appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19554/11]

Payment of invalidity pension to the person concerned was disallowed by a Deciding Officer following an assessment by a Medical Assessor of the Department who expressed the opinion that she was capable of work. An appeal was registered on 14 June 2011 and the Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that, in accordance with statutory requirements, the Department was asked for the documentation in the case and the Deciding Officer's comments on the grounds of the appeal. 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

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

231 Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Social Protection when a carer’s allowance application will be processed in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Offaly; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19557/11]

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

260 Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Social Protection when a carer’s allowance application will be processed in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Offaly; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19789/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 231 and 260 together.

An application for carer's allowance from the person concerned was received on the 11 March 2011. The medical evidence submitted with her application form was forwarded to the chief medical assessor for consideration. The medical assessor expressed the opinion that the care recipient is not so disabled as to require full-time care and attention as prescribed in the regulations. A decision will be made shortly taking account of this assessment and the claimant will be notified directly of the outcome.

Social Welfare Appeals

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

232 Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Social Protection when a disability allowance appeal will be processed in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Offaly; if a medical assessment will be arranged before a decision is reached on this case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19558/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 12 May 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 7 July 2011 and the appeal will be referred to an Appeals Officer, in due course, who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

233 Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Social Protection when an appeal will be processed in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Offaly; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19559/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 29 March 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 9 May 2011 and the appeal will be referred to an Appeals Officer, in due course, who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

234 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding the carer’s allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wexford; when will a decision be made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19580/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 16 December 2010. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 18 April 2011 and the appeal will be referred to an Appeals Officer, in due course, who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Departmental Agencies

Paudie Coffey

Question:

235 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Social Protection with regard to agencies (details supplied) and their sub-agencies, the levels of office rental paid, the location of offices and their landlords for the years 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011; the length of the leases in each case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19585/11]

The three statutory bodies operating under the aegis of my Department are the Social Welfare Tribunal, the Citizens Information Board and the Pensions Board. In addition, the Office of the Pensions Ombudsman comes under the remit of the Department. On 1 July 2009, the Combat Poverty Agency merged with the Office for Social Inclusion to form the Department's Social Inclusion Division. The Social Welfare Tribunal deals with cases where entitlement to jobseeker's benefit or jobseeker's allowance is refused due to an involvement in a trade dispute. The Tribunal is convened as needed and as such does not require permanent office accommodation. The information requested by the Deputy is contained in the table.

Social Welfare Tribunal

Location of Premises

Lease Costs

Length of Lease

Landlord

2008

2009

2010

2011

Nil

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Pensions Board

Verschoyle House, 28/30 Lower Mount Street, Dublin 2

€554,343.00

€554,343.00

€554,343.00

€554,343.00

25 years

Czar Construction Limited, Century Business Park, Dublin Road, Cavan

The Office of the Pensions Ombudsman

Location of Premises

Lease Costs

Length of Lease

Landlord

2008

2009

2010

2011

36 Upper Mount Street, Dublin 2

€200,000.00

€200,000.00

€200,000.00

€200,000.00

25 years

Mr. Charles Kelly, Swinford, Co. Mayo

Citizens Information Board

Location of Premises

Lease Costs

Length of Lease

Landlord

2008

2009

2010

2011

4 The Parade, Kilkenny

€3,500

€5,534

€3,580

€3,500

56 years

The Office of Public Works

Hainault House, Tallaght

€94,495

€98,753

€121,731

€89,495

25 years

The First Partnership

4 Adelphi Court, Long Walk, Dundalk

€49,033

€51,016

€59,091

€53,780

35 years

Eastern Ballrooms

14 Gladstone Street, Waterford

€66,325

€62,500

€54,687

€62,500

35 years

Frank Wallace

Magnet House, Farnham Street, Cavan*

€24,727

€24,727

€56,018

€22,855

35 years

Cavan Cinema

2nd Floor Elm House Cavan

€9,903

€9,913

€9,903

€11,773

10 years

Cathal Brady

River Court Business Centre, Limerick

€28,333

€10,000

€10,000

€14,201

Monthly renewable

Rivercourt Business Centre

Anne Street, Dundalk

€10,793

€10,793

€12,291

€10,794

35 years

Dr Whately

The Manse, Castle Street, Mullingar

€ 11,970

€12,138

€12,188

€5,800

3 years

Ralph Waldron

Mill Lane, Castlebar

€12,348

€11,319

€13,377

€12,348

10 years

Tony McHugh

Unit 20, 4th Floor, Dockgate, Galway

€40,400

€40,400

€40,400

€39,400

20 years

Western Health Board

Harbour House Holborn St Sligo

€6,413

€3,530

€18,868

€12,500

2 years

Pobal

Hume House Ballsbridge**

€249,549

-

-

-

20 years

Irish Estates

Ground floor Townsend St

€533,603

€ 681,196

€713,783

€681,197

25 years

Cosgrove Brothers / Irish Estates

*Arrears paid in 2010

**Leased to June 2008

Combat Poverty Agency

Location of Premises

Lease Costs

Length of Lease

Landlord

2008

2009

2010

2011

Bridgewater House, Conygham Road, Dublin 8***

€228,000.00

€228,000.00

€228,000.00

€57,000.00

21 years

IBI Property Nominees

*** On 1 July 2009, the Combat Poverty Agency integrated with the Office for Social Inclusion. In accordance with the terms of the lease in place for the offices of the former Combat Poverty Agency, the Department exercised its rights to break out of the lease in March 2011. There was no penalty for exercising that option.

Social Welfare Benefits

Finian McGrath

Question:

236 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding rent allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 7. [19590/11]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that payment of rent supplement was refused in this case as the person concerned failed to supply the necessary supporting documentation in order that his entitlement to rent supplement could be determined. The person in question should contact his local Community Welfare Officer if he wishes to pursue his claim further.

Social Welfare Code

Barry Cowen

Question:

237 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection if she or her Department’s officials have had any discussions with Dublin Bus, Iarnród Éireann, Bus Éireann or Veolia Transport (the Luas operator) regarding the free travel scheme; if these discussions have included proposed changes to the scheme as facilitated by these companies; the changes that have been discussed to date; if any plans are being proposed by the companies that will impact on the scheme as currently administered; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19549/11]

Barry Cowen

Question:

241 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will retain, for 2012, in its existing form, the free travel scheme available to all persons aged 66 years and over living permanently here, and other persons in receipt of certain social welfare benefits; if she will detail any review of this scheme that may be under way; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19548/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 237 and 241 together.

The current free travel scheme operated by the Department provides free travel on the main public and private transport services for those eligible under the scheme. These include road, rail and ferry services provided by companies such as Bus Áth Cliath, Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann, as well as Luas and services provided by over 90 private transport operators. Funding for the scheme was frozen by the previous Government at 2010 levels of expenditure as outlined in the National Recovery Plan 2011-2014 and the 2011 Budget. The Department, therefore, is not in a position to make payments in excess of that level of expenditure during 2011.

The Department has written to all companies operating the free travel scheme and has had discussions with a number of them regarding the current position of the scheme and in order to try to minimise the impact of the cap on expenditure on our customers. The Department has not proposed any changes to the operation of the scheme. The Government is undertaking a Comprehensive Review of Expenditure for all Departments. All the schemes operated by the Department of Social Protection, including the free travel scheme, are being examined in that context. The outcome of this review will inform the Department's decisions in relation to expenditure on schemes in 2012 and into the future.

Employment Support Services

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

238 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Social Protection the amount of time it takes for a FÁS adviser to contact persons in County Meath who are on the live register; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19627/11]

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 three months on the Live Register, are identified by the Department of Social Protection and referred to a FÁS Employment Services Officer (ESO) for interview with the aim of assisting them to enter or re-enter the labour market. The number of interviews or 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. In addition, self-referred clients may also have a guidance interview with an ESO/LES Mediator, with subsequent meetings depending on individual needs and circumstances.

Questions Nos. 239 and 240 withdrawn.
Question No. 241 answered with Question No. 237.

Social Welfare Benefits

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

242 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of families, nationally and by region, in receipt of family income supplement; the estimated number of families who may be eligible but are not claiming and the number of children involved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19550/11]

Family income supplement (FIS) is designed to provide income for employees on low earnings with families. This preserves the incentive to remain in employment in circumstances where the employee might only be marginally better off than if he or she were unemployed and claiming other social welfare payments. To qualify for payment of FIS, a person must be engaged in full-time insurable employment which is expected to last for at least three months and be working for a minimum of 38 hours a fortnight or 19 hours a week. A couple may combine their hours of employment to meet the qualification criteria. The applicant must also have at least one qualified child who normally resides with them or is supported by them. Furthermore, the average family income must be below a specified amount which varies according to the number of qualified children in the family.

The current number of families in receipt of FIS is 28,223. A breakdown of this number by county is set out in the table that follows this reply. Current data on those who may qualify for FIS but do not claim is unavailable as it cannot be derived from administrative data sources. In the past, the ESRI has produced estimates that point to relatively low take-up of FIS, but it is not clear if this represents the up-to-date position. In recent years, there has been a growth in the FIS claimload. It is not apparent whether this reflects better take-up or simply a larger employment pool. Recent work commissioned by the Department suggests that the take-up problem may have improved, partially because of initiatives to improve information and make the payment more attractive.

County

Family Income SupplementRecipients

Carlow

509

Cavan

584

Clare

711

Cork

2,959

Donegal

1,383

Dublin

6,470

Galway

1,343

Kerry

883

Kildare

1,070

Kilkenny

430

Laois

527

Leitrim

187

Limerick

1,290

Longford

396

Louth

1,063

Mayo

914

Meath

928

Monaghan

513

Offaly

580

Roscommon

418

Sligo

423

Tipperary

1,227

Waterford

938

Westmeath

617

Wexford

1,172

Wicklow

628

Others

60

Total

28,223

Liúntais Ghaeltachta

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

243 D’fhiafraigh Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Coimirce Sóisialaí an bhfuil sé i gceist aici leanúint léi ag íoc an liúntais Ghaeltachta le feidhmeannaigh ó FSS ar ghrád Oifigigh Leasa Phobail atá lena n-aistriú isteach sa Roinn agus atá ag obair faoi láthair sa Roinn ar iasacht ó FSS; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [19583/11]

Baineann an cheist seo le roinnt míreanna i dtaobh aistriú na seirbhíse leasa shóisialaigh go dtí an Roinn Coimirce Sóisialaí, míreanna atá tarchurtha go dtí an Chúirt Oibreachais lena gcinneadh go ceangailteach. Bhí éisteacht ann sa Chúirt Oibreachais ar 11 Iúil 2011. Nuair a bheidh an cinneadh ar fáil in am trátha socróidh sé stádas an liúntais Ghaeltachta a íoctar i láthair na huaire le hoifigigh leasa phobail a aistríodh go dtí an Roinn Coimirce Sóisialaí ar 1 Deireadh Fómhair 2011.

Social Welfare Appeals

Ciara Conway

Question:

244 Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will review an appeal for jobseeker’s allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Waterford; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19601/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 22 June 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 28 June 2011 and the appeal will be referred to an Appeals Officer, in due course, who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Employment Support Services

Michelle Mulherin

Question:

245 Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Social Protection her plans for the Government funding of the EmployAbility service and the offices of the Supported Employment Network Mayo in the short and medium terms. [19603/11]

The FÁS Supported Employment Service is a labour market initiative which aims to assist people with a disability to secure and maintain a job in the open labour market. The programme provides a range of supports to employers and people with a disability through Job Coaches. The total actual expenditure on the programme in 2010 was €8.468 million. The budget for 2011 has been increased to €8.840 million.

FÁS contracts with EmployAbility Service Mayo, also known as the Supported Employment Network Mayo, to provide supported employment services in the area. FÁS had a contract with EmployAbility Service Mayo in the first two quarters of 2011 to a value of €170, 000 and are in negotiations with the organisation for a further contract for the last two quarter in 2011 for the same amount.

Social Welfare Appeals

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

246 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Social Protection the status regarding an appeal for supplementary welfare allowance and mortgage interest allowance in respect of a person (details supplied). [19643/11]

The Health Service Executive has advised that it has received an appeal from the person concerned against the decision to refuse a mortgage interest supplement. It has further advised that a decision on entitlement in this case will be made shortly.

Social Welfare Benefits

John McGuinness

Question:

247 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social Protection if rent allowance will be approved as a matter of urgency in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [19653/11]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that there is no record of an application for rent supplement from the person concerned. The HSE has further advised that the Community Welfare Officer has discussed the matter with the person concerned and has advised him to find private rented accommodation and then to make a formal application.

Employment Support Services

Gerry Adams

Question:

248 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Social Protection the organisations participating in the JobBridge programme; if vocational education committees and schemes under their remit will be involved in the programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19667/11]

JobBridge, the national internship scheme, is open to host organisations in the private, public and community and voluntary sectors. As such it is open to vocational education committees to offer internship(s) under the scheme. JobBridge is a work experience scheme designed to provide those seeking employment with the opportunity to gain valuable work experience, maintain close links with the labour market and to enhance their skills and competencies through a quality internship opportunity. There is no training or education element provided by the State for interns under the JobBridge scheme.

Social Welfare Benefits

Joe McHugh

Question:

249 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Social Protection the minimum payment that is issued to one person in the State per month; the average payment that is issued to one person in the State per month; the largest payment that is issued to one person in the State per month; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19705/11]

My Department operates a wide range of schemes under which a person may be entitled to receive a payment if they satisfy all of the various conditions for receipt of that payment. The conditions for receipt of a primary weekly payment, such as Disability Allowance or State Pension, typically include experiencing a prescribed contingency, such as unemployment, disability or old age, and satisfying either a means test or social insurance contribution test.

In cases where a person satisfies the general conditions for more than one type of primary weekly payment in general they will be entitled to receive only one primary weekly payment. For example if a person has a disability and is aged 66 years or more, they will not receive both a disability and an old-age payment. However, there are some exceptions to this. For example, a person who has a Widow's Pension and who becomes ill may be entitled to receive a reduced rate of Illness Benefit in addition to her Widow's Pension, if she also satisfies the conditions for receipt of Illness Benefit. Increases in primary weekly payments may be paid in respect of a qualified adult dependant and any qualified child dependants.

In addition to primary weekly payments, a person may be entitled to a monthly child benefit payment or an annual payment such as back to school clothing and footwear allowance, provided they satisfy the conditions for receipt of those payments. In the case of some couples, all payments may be made to one member of the couple while, in the case of others, each member may be personally in receipt some payments but not all (child benefit is normally paid to a mother).

In the light of this and the fact that individual payments are delivered across a range of computer systems, it is not possible to extract the data requested in respect of the largest payment issued to any one person in the State. The average payment varies across the various schemes operated by the Department. The most typical rate paid to people of working age is €188 per week, while the most typical rate paid to people aged 66 years or more is €230.30 per week.

The lowest rate of payment arises in cases where a person is in receipt of a means tested payment, such as Jobseeker's Allowance, and has means assessed against them, for example from part-time employment, spouse income or capital. The lowest rate of entitlement that can arise from the application of means test rules varies, depending on the particular payment type. For example, the lowest rate of payment made under the Jobseeker's Allowance scheme is €1 per week.

Social Welfare Appeals

Robert Troy

Question:

250 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will review a decision to refuse an application for supplementary welfare assistance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19711/11]

Under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme an exceptional needs payment may be made by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to help meet an essential, once-off cost which the applicant is unable to meet out of his/her own resources. The HSE has advised that an application from the person concerned for an exceptional needs payment to assist with funeral costs was refused as the need was deemed to have already been met. This decision was upheld by the HSE Appeals Office and the person concerned was informed of this in writing on 5 July 2011.

Robert Troy

Question:

251 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason appeals of social welfare decisions are taking up to six months and in excess of six months in some cases. [19713/11]

Brendan Griffin

Question:

261 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection the measures she is taking to address the unacceptably long waiting times for social welfare appeals; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19841/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 251 and 261 together.

I am informed by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that the overall average waiting time for an appeal dealt with by way of a summary decision in 2010 was 27.4 weeks, while the average time to process an oral hearing was 45.6 weeks. These processing times are calculated from the registration date of the appeal to the date of its finalisation and include all activities during this period including time spent in the Department for comments by the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal put forward by the appellant and any further investigation, examination or assessment by the Department's Inspectors and Medical Assessors that is deemed necessary. A considerable period of time is added to the process when an oral hearing is required because of the logistics involved in this process.

The annual intake of appeals has increased from 14,070 in 2007 to 32,432 in 2010, an increase of 18,362 (130.5%) and currently it appears that another 30,000 will be received in 2011. In an effort to reduce processing times, the Department has made 9 additional appointments to the office in recent weeks. These assignments will augment the 3 appointments made to the Office in 2010, bringing the total number of Appeals Officers serving in the office to 29. In addition, since July 2010, 8 retired Appeals Officers, equating to a 3 further full-time officers, have been assisting on a strictly part-time basis with the backlogs of appeals and it is intended that they will be employed until the end of the year

I am assured by the Chief Appeals Officer that she is keeping the methods of operation by which the Social Welfare Appeals conducts its business under constant ongoing review and the processes are continuously being enhanced to achieve better outputs, in particular to reduce the backlogs in the Office and, overall, to reduce the processing times for dealing with appeals.

In that regard some 3,000 cases, registered prior to 31/12/10, have been ring fenced and a team of 10 of the Office's most experienced Appeals Officers have been freed from all other work in the Office and will concentrate on clearing this backlog. This project commenced on July 1st.

Social Welfare Benefits

Dan Neville

Question:

252 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Social Protection her views on a matter with regard to supplementary welfare allowance payments in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19727/11]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that following a review of this case the person concerned has been awarded rent supplement of €29.30 per week which is her full entitlement based on her personal circumstances. The HSE has further advised that due to an error made at the last review of this case the person concerned was paid an amount of €91.40 per week for the period from 10 January 2011 until 2 July 2011. The correct rent supplement at that time was €37.20. This has led to a total overpayment amount of €1,355. The HSE has further advised that it will now seek to pursue recovery of this amount.

FÁS Training Programmes

Dan Neville

Question:

253 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will review a matter in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19733/11]

From 1 January 2011 policy and funding responsibility for FÁS functions in relation to employment and community employment services was transferred to the Department of Social Protection in accordance with the provisions of the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2010. Matters relating to training and skills development are proper to my colleague the Minister for Education and Skills. As Minister for Social Protection I do not have a role in the administration of individual cases and FÁS remains responsible for the day to day operation of both employment and training initiatives.

Social Welfare Benefits

Jack Wall

Question:

254 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare can obtain the details necessary for them to make an application for rent subsidy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19739/11]

Rent supplement application forms are available from local Community Welfare Officers in Health Centres, and are also available to download fromwww.communitywelfareservice.ie. Clients are also welcome to call the freephone number (1800 201 698) and request an application pack to be sent to them. The HSE has advised that an application pack has been posted to the person concerned at the address given.

Social Welfare Appeals

Sean Conlan

Question:

255 Deputy Seán Conlan asked the Minister for Social Protection the grounds on which a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan had illness benefit cancelled; when the person will be medically reassessed for entitlement; if she will expedite an appeal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19742/11]

Payment of illness benefit, to the person concerned, was disallowed by a Deciding Officer following an examination by a Medical Assessor of the Department who expressed the opinion that he was capable of work. An appeal was registered on 23 June 2011 and the Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that, in accordance with statutory requirements, the Department was asked for the documentation in the case and the Deciding Officer's comments on the grounds of the appeal. In that context, an examination by another Medical Assessor will be carried out. The person concerned will be notified when arrangements for the examination have been completed. 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.

Sean Conlan

Question:

256 Deputy Seán Conlan asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision on a farm assist application, received by her Department on 16 December 2009, will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19743/11]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an oral hearing of this case took place on 16 February 2011. Following the hearing the Appeals Officer referred the case to a Social Welfare Inspector for clarification of certain issues. When the case is referred back to the Appeals Officer, he will consider the appeal in the light of all the evidence submitted, including that adduced at the oral hearing. The person concerned will be notified of the Appeals Officer decision when the appeal has been determined. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Benefits

Terence Flanagan

Question:

257 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will deal with a matter (details supplied) regarding a hearing aid grant; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19746/11]

The Department's treatment benefit scheme is a PRSI-based scheme, available to customers who meet certain PRSI conditions, including having:

(a) at least 260 paid contributions (at Class A, E, H, or P) since first starting work; and

(b) for people aged 60 or over, 39 contributions paid (at Class A, E, H, or P) or credited in the governing contribution year at the time of either their 60th or 66th birthday.

While the person concerned has satisfied the first condition, he was self-employed from the age of 55, and so paid Class S PRSI which does not count towards treatment benefit. As a result, he does not satisfy the second condition and does not qualify for the treatment benefit scheme. As he is a medical card holder he may be entitled to assistance through the HSE's hearing aid scheme. Accordingly he should contact his local HSE office who will be able to advise him of his possible entitlement.

Michael Creed

Question:

258 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social Protection the consequences of the restriction to an annual examination on the dental treatment benefit scheme; if she will restore essential treatment such as scaling, cleaning and periodontal treatments as a matter of urgency; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19747/11]

As part of a range of cost-saving measures to ease the pressure on the Social Insurance Fund, the range of treatments available under the treatment benefit scheme was reduced in Budget 2010. As a result of these changes, savings of over €70m are projected on the expenditure in 2011 compared to 2009. The free dental examination is still available to all qualified customers to encourage them to continue attending for regular checkups which will assist in the early detection of dental-related health issues. While the treatments available under the scheme will be kept under periodic review, consideration of any changes to the scheme would have to reflect the economic realities of available funding and competing priorities.

Social Welfare Appeals

Anne Ferris

Question:

259 Deputy Anne Ferris asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will ensure that an appeal lodged on rent supplement is adjudicated on as soon as possible in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19760/11]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that the appeal by the person concerned was received on 15th June. The appeal is being processed and the outcome will be notified to the person concerned as soon as the appeal is decided.

Question No. 260 answered with Question No. 231.
Question No. 261 answered with Question No. 251.

Social Welfare Benefits

Barry Cowen

Question:

262 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to any over-payments as a result of the automated service of the back to school clothing and footwear allowance. [19854/11]

Barry Cowen

Question:

263 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection if she is satisfied that the automated service of the back to school clothing and footwear allowance is only making payments to those who are entitled to them. [19855/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 262 and 263 together.

The administrative arrangements for the 2011 back to school clothing and footwear allowance scheme are different 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. It is expected that in excess of 80% of customers entitled to the back to school clothing and footwear allowance in 2011 will automatically receive the allowance.

The back to school clothing and footwear allowance is paid in respect of eligible children between the ages of:

2 and 17 years of age, and

between the ages of 18 and 22, if in full time education.

In order to qualify for an automated payment the parent of the child must have been in receipt of a qualifying payment that included an increase in respect of a qualified child at the commencement of the scheme and the Department were satisfied that the household satisfied the means test for the scheme. The scheme commenced from the 1st June 2011 with the entitlement created based on the preceding weeks entitlement. If the Department establishes that any person received a payment to which they were not entitled, the Department will seek to recover that amount in full.

Social Welfare Appeals

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

264 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if and when an appeal in respect of rent support will be heard in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19873/11]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that the HSE appeals office received the appeal from the person concerned against the refusal to grant rent supplement on 29 April 2011. The HSE has further advised that no date for an appeal has yet been set.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

265 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will re-examine the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare with respect to basic social welfare payments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19876/11]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that the person concerned was refused a basic weekly payment under the supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme in 2010 as he was not considered habitually resident in the State. The decision was appealed to the HSE Appeals Office and to the Social Welfare Appeals Office but the decision was upheld. The HSE further advised that the person concerned has no current claim for SWA.

Employment Support Services

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

266 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding eligibility for Tús employment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry. [19905/11]

The purpose of Tús is to focus on those people who are long-term unemployed. For this reason, eligibility is at present confined to those on the live register for 12 months and in receipt of jobseeker's allowance. These provisions are to ensure a targeted approach to those currently affected by long-term unemployment. Persons already in employment or engaged in community employment are not eligible for these positions. Eligible persons will be identified by the Department of Social Protection by applying the following conditions:

A person must be unemployed and in receipt of a jobseeker's payment for at least 12 months, and

Currently be in receipt of jobseeker's allowance, and

Be fully unemployed.

This person (details supplied) does not meet the eligibility criteria at present. The operation of the scheme, including eligibility criteria, will be kept under review and will inform the evaluation process in due course.

Social Welfare Code

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

267 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection if new guidelines have been issued regarding the operation or the criteria for the habitual residency conditions for the purposes of qualifying for social protection payments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19923/11]

The reviewed habitual residence guidelines have been published and are available on the Department's website and can be found athttp://www.welfare.ie/EN/OperationalGuidelines/Pages/habres.aspx. The purpose of this review was to make the guidelines clearer and more user-friendly for deciding officers and customers alike, and improve consistency in decision making across the department. I am arranging to have a copy of the guidelines sent to the Deputy.

Social Welfare Appeals

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

268 Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Social Protection when a domiciliary care allowance appeal will be processed in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Offaly; the criteria used in deciding this case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19963/11]

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

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

269 Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Social Protection if the case of a person (details supplied) in County Offaly has been referred to the appeals officer and when an oral hearing will be arranged; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19964/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that a disability allowance appeal, by the person concerned, was registered in that office on 26th October 2010. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 7th July 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.

Billy Timmins

Question:

270 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20002/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeal from the person concerned was examined by a Medical Assessor of the Social Welfare Services who was of the opinion that she was capable of work. She appealed this decision and in that context she was examined by another Medical Assessor who also expressed the opinion that she was capable of work. In the light of this, it was decided to afford the person concerned an opportunity of setting out the complete and up to date grounds of her appeal and to furnish any further medical evidence that she wished to submit in support of her appeal. She did this and, at this stage, the Social Welfare Services have been requested to submit relevant documents to this office on her case. On receipt of their response her appeal will be referred to an Appeals Officer for consideration.

Community Welfare Service

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

271 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Social Protection her plans to move the delivery of community welfare services to local social protection offices from local Health Service Executive offices throughout the State and if so, the date of same. [20054/11]

The Community Welfare Service (CWS) transferred to the Department on secondment with effect from 1 January 2011 for a period of 9 months. During this time CWS staff remain employees of the HSE and retain their current terms and conditions of employment. The intention is to have the staff fully transferred and integrated into the Department by the end of September this year. Work is well in hand to give effect to this transfer.

Employment Support Services

Joe McHugh

Question:

272 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will consider a proposal to support and train in-company trainers in the service sector, that is, airports, security, retail and so on; if there is or would be relevant accreditation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20104/11]

From 1st January 2011 policy and funding responsibility for FÁS functions in relation to employment and community employment services was transferred to the Department of Social Protection in accordance with the provisions of the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2010. Matters relating to training and skills development are proper to my colleague the Minister for Education and Skills.

Social Welfare Benefits

Pat Breen

Question:

273 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding mortgage interest supplement in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; if this payment can be extended for an additional 12 months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20108/11]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) advised that the persons concerned were awarded mortgage interest supplement for a 12 month period in July 2010 as an exceptional measure as the amount of mortgage interest payable by the claimant was in excess of the amount the HSE consider reasonable to meet his or her residential needs. The HSE further advised that they will review the entitlement of the persons concerned.

Commemorative Events

Gerry Adams

Question:

274 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht when the 1916 centenary committee will have its first meeting. [18707/11]

Gerry Adams

Question:

275 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the arrangements that have been made to allow input from interested parties into the work of the 1916 centenary committee. [18708/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 274 and 275 together.

I am pleased to confirm that the nominations for the Oireachtas Consultation Group on Commemorations have been received and that the Group, which I will Chair, will comprise:—

Senator Mark Daly

Senator Mary White

Deputy Aonghus Ó Snodaigh

Senator Kathryn Reilly

Deputy Catherine Murphy

Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan

The agenda for the first meeting is being prepared and I will be contacting the members with a view to a meeting to take place shortly. I anticipate that the issue of arrangements to allow input from interested parties to the work of the Group will be addressed at that time.

Arts Funding

Robert Troy

Question:

276 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in view of the fact that many community arts organisations depend on local development agencies, local authorities or other State supports, the guarantees he will give that the level of funding for their activities provided to date will continue. [19692/11]

My Department has no statutory responsibility for funding of local development agencies or local authorities in respect of their support for community arts organisations. Primary responsibility for the promotion of the arts at all levels throughout the country is devolved to the Arts Council. The Council is statutorily funded by my Department and is independent in its day-to-day operations, including funding decisions. The allocation to the Arts Council for 2011 is €65.127m.

Architectural Heritage

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

277 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if consideration has been given by him to taking the Bank of Ireland building at College Green, Dublin into State ownership because of its historic significance to Ireland as the once home of the Irish Parliament. [19729/11]

I refer the Deputy to my replies on 24th May and 2nd June 2011 on this matter. I have met the Chair and Chief Executive of Bank of Ireland and we had a constructive engagement on the issues. That engagement will continue.

Údarás na Gaeltachta

Brendan Griffin

Question:

278 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the reason the Ceardlann business units at Dingle, County Kerry, were closed by Udarás na Gaeltachta in 2006/07; if there was a cost associated with this closure; if the units will be made available to interested tenants in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19790/11]

I have been informed by Údarás na Gaeltachta that a decision was taken to close the Ceardlann in An Daingean due to a general level of dissatisfaction with the facility as a retail centre. I understand that this dissatisfaction resulted from the lack of tourist footfall at the facility due to its location at a distance from the town centre.

Vacation of the Ceardlann, which was completed in December 2010, cost in the region of €102,000 which consisted of:

some €80,000 associated with obtaining vacant possession from tenants; and

some €22,000 associated with obtaining planning permission for the redevelopment of the Ceardlann as a mini-business park.

In light of significant budgetary constraints, Údarás na Gaeltachta is not in a position to undertake the redevelopment of the Ceardlann. However, the matter is being kept under review.

Appointments to State Boards

Gerald Nash

Question:

279 Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht when he will make appointments to fill the relevant vacancies on the board of the Arts Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19966/11]

Appointments to the Arts Council are still under consideration. I hope to be in position to make announcements on this issue in the near future.

Telecommunications Services

Michelle Mulherin

Question:

280 Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will report on the roll out of the national broadband scheme; and the way it is being measured and assessed. [19536/11]

My Department entered into a contract with "3", a Hutchison Whampoa company, for the delivery of the National Broadband Scheme (NBS) in late December 2008. In line with contractual obligations, services have been available in all of the 1,028 designated Electoral Divisions (ED) covered under the Scheme since October 2010.

My Department has put in place robust monitoring arrangements to ensure that the NBS network delivers the minimum specified service or better to all users. Performance delivery data, which is submitted to my Department by 3 on a monthly basis or as required, is critically analysed by independent technical consultants, Analysys Mason Ltd.

The monitoring arrangements provide information on a wide range of key indicators including broadband availability in each cell of the network, actual contention and latency values. Utilisation thresholds are set for each element of the network and upgrades of the network and its capacity are automatically triggered at contractually agreed levels of traffic to ensure that the quality of the broadband service is maintained. In addition, a sample selection of customers is monitored for quality on a monthly basis. Download and upload speeds are sampled at a number of locations monthly to ensure that minimum speeds are met or exceeded. The NBS contract guarantees service levels and imposes a service credit regime on 3 with significant financial consequences in the event that minimum specification service levels are not met.

Prospecting Licences

Frank Feighan

Question:

281 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the steps he is taking to ensure that gas exploration in the upper Shannon catchment area is properly monitored for dangers in view of the exploration methods, particularly fracking, and that granting of licences should be conditional on the safest practices with regard to health and environment and his views on the present position as it applies to exploration in this area. [19552/11]

I can inform the Deputy that my Department has not licensed hydraulic fracturing in the Upper Shannon catchment area. In February of this year, following an open competition, my Department awarded two year onshore Petroleum Licensing Options to two companies over parts of the North West Carboniferous or Lough Allen Basin. The Licensing Options are designed to allow the companies assess the natural gas potential of the acreage largely based on desktop studies of existing data from previous petroleum exploration activity. This potential had been identified in earlier exploration, but was not considered commercially viable at that time. The Licensing Options specifically exclude exploration drilling but shallow geological sampling is permitted.

Exploration activity under these authorisations is at an early stage and there is no certainty that it will lead to an application for a follow-on exploration licences that would be required before exploration wells could be drilled. In the event that hydraulic fracturing was envisaged as part of a possible future exploration or production programme, then that activity would be subject to an environmental impact assessment, including an appropriate public consultation phase.

My Department requires drilling operators to comply with best international practice when carrying out drilling operations both on and offshore Ireland. This includes verification that all equipment, systems and procedures are in place to allow operations to proceed safely and without polluting the environment.

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

282 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his plans to put a moratorium in place on the issuing of further licences to explore for hydrocarbons in Irish waters to afford the relevant Oireachtas committee time to examine the terms of exploration in Irish waters and make recommendations on same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19616/11]

Ireland's fiscal and non fiscal licensing terms for oil and gas exploration and production were last reviewed in 2007. The review, which was underpinned by independent economic analysis, considered the appropriateness of Ireland's licensing terms in comparison to other European countries that Ireland competes with for exploration investment. The outcome of that review was the introduction of a profit resource rent tax of up to 15% on top of the 25% corporation tax rate that already applies. The revised terms apply to exploration licences issued since 1st January 2007.

While I will keep the licensing terms under review in light of relevant future developments, at this juncture I believe that my Department's focus should be on attracting a larger share of international exploration investment, to Ireland to increase the chances of new commercial discoveries being made. I would of course be happy to engage with any Oireachtas Committee that might decide to consider this issue. However, at this stage I have no plans for a moratorium on the issuing of petroleum exploration licences.

Natural Gas Grid

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

283 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if Bord Gáis Éireann has a contract in place with SEPIl for the delivery of Corrib gas to Irish consumers; the terms of this contract; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19617/11]

The negotiation of gas contracts is a day to day operational matter for Bord Gáis Éireann and not one in which I have a function. Bord Gáis Éireann has advised me that, as set out in its annual report, it has entered into Gas Supply Contracts with the Corrib partners with the aim of securing competitive supplies for Irish customers. The terms and conditions of commercially negotiated contracts in place between Bord Gáis Éireann and third parties are strictly operational matters for the company and not publicly available.

Broadcasting Services

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

284 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will provide a listing of RTE digital Saorview transmitters that are now operating at their full planned output and thereby transmitting to their fullest extent; the counties that are fully covered as is currently planned for Saorview; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19623/11]

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

285 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the dates the remaining RTE transmitters for Saorview will be transmitting at full power; if he will provide a list of all transmitters not transmitting at full power at present; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19624/11]

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

286 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his plans for satellite shadow areas which the Saorview transmitters cannot at present reach or will not be able to reach under present plans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19625/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 284 to 286, inclusive, together.

RTÉ is responsible for the rollout and operation of the Saorview TV network. Part 8 of the Broadcasting Act 2009, sets out RTÉ's powers and responsibilities in this regard. The Act provides that RTÉ must roll out a national digital TV network to the same extent as its existing analogue network. In this regard, I understand from RTÉ that the analogue network covers 98% of the population and the Saorview network will also provide 98% population coverage from 51 transmitter sites at or shortly after switch-off of the analogue signal, which is to take place in Quarter 4 of 2012.

Information on the Saorview transmitter sites is available from RTÉ and its website —www.saorview.ie. While I have no direct function in this matter, I have forwarded the Deputy’s query to RTÉ and have asked the company to send him the detailed information that he is looking for as soon as practicable. In addition, at this point, I can state that RTÉ has indicated that all 51 sites are now operational and currently provide coverage to 97% of the population. Some of the transmitters closest to Northern Ireland are operating at lower powers to prevent interference into the UK (Northern Ireland) analogue TV network. The power levels of these transmitters will be increased to full power at or shortly after analogue switch-off on the basis of a cross-Border co-ordinated approach agreed between the Irish and UK authorities.

In relation to those areas that cannot be served by Saorview transmitters, I understand that RTÉ proposes to offer a ‘free to air' satellite service and that this is designed to reach the last 2% of the population. The RTÉ decision to provide a satellite service is being made by RTÉ on a commercial basis. RTÉ has indicated that this service in conjunction with the DTT network will provide coverage to virtually 100% of the population. The satellite, which will be used to provide this service, launched in late 2010 and is currently undergoing tests.

Telecommunications Services

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

287 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the number of weeks on which he has had newspaper advertisements in newspapers in County Donegal to advertise the application process and closing date for the rural broadband scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19706/11]

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

288 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the efforts he has made to publicise nationally the process for applying for the rural broadband scheme and the end of July closing date. [19707/11]

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

289 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if any household or business currently unable to receive broadband speeds of higher than 0.3 megabytes per second will be eligible to apply for a broadband service under the rural broadband scheme. [19709/11]

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

290 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if there will be a minimum threshold set for broadband Internet speeds less than which households and businesses will become eligible to apply for the rural broadband scheme. [19710/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 287 to 290, inclusive, together.

The Rural Broadband Scheme (RBS) has been open for applications since 9th May last and will remain open until 29th July next. An official notice regarding the launch of the Scheme was placed in the Government Notices section of theIrish Independent on the morning of the launch. In addition, a Press Release was issued to all national and provincial newspapers and the launch of the scheme received prominent coverage on national and local radio.

Prior to the Scheme's launch my Department spent a considerable time liaising and meeting with the various Regional and Local Authorities with a view to harnessing their collective network of local and community contacts to promulgate the message about the RBS within their respective areas. I am happy to report that this approach has proven to be very positive with the various Authorities putting in place measures aimed at raising awareness in areas which they consider are most likely to benefit from the Scheme. The approach taken has included arranging information meetings at community level, coverage by local media, links on websites, notices distributed to libraries and other local public offices and information distributed in community notices. Representative bodies such as Irish Rural Link have also played an important role in raising public awareness of the scheme through their contacts at community and national level. My Department will shortly be again engaging with the Regional Authorities as well as all members of the Oireachtas to further promote the scheme in advance of the closing date of the 29th of this month.

With regard to the Deputy's questions concerning a minimum broadband speed threshold for applicants, the Scheme is open only to applicants in rural non-National Broadband Scheme areas who are unable to obtain a broadband service from a commercial operator. EU State Aid rules prohibit the Scheme from including members of the public, who already have, or are capable of having, a broadband service from a commercial operator.

There are procedures in place for situations where broadband subscribers have complaints or issues relating to the quality and/or consistency of the service they are receiving. They should raise these formally with their Service Provider in the first instance and, where this does not lead to a resolution of the problem, refer the matter to ComReg, the independent regulator for the sector.

Grant Payments

Robert Troy

Question:

291 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will review a decision to amend a grant approved under the warmer home scheme to a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath who had received confirmation that an application for central heating, wall and attic insulation were approved, and they have now been notified that their central heating will not be included; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19712/11]

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) administers the Better Energy programme on behalf of my Department. The energy poverty strand of Better Energy aims to provide energy efficiency improvements to low-income homes unable to afford the cost of implementing such measures. An additional €10 million was provided for low-income housing retrofits in the recent Jobs Initiative. This will enable over 20,000 low-income homes to benefit from energy efficiency retrofit measures this year.

There has been a significant uptake in applications and interest in the scheme over the last three years. The success of the scheme in 2010 has led to increased awareness and demand, and a subsequent increase in waiting times. This has resulted in SEAI having to prioritise lower cost measures in homes, in order to secure and address the maximum number of vulnerable homes this year.

Surveys were carried out on eligible homes and homeowners were informed of measures that their homes may be suitable to receive. Correspondence will issue shortly from the SEAI to clarify the measures currently available to applicants. The SEAI is currently working with community based organisations (CBOs) and private contractors to prioritise delivery in the coming months to those homes which have been waiting for the longest period, subject to budgetary availability. Queries in relation to individual applications can be addressed to the SEAI hot line — 1800 250 204 where all queries from scheme applicants and public representatives are dealt with immediately.

Inland Fisheries

Paudie Coffey

Question:

292 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will publish the statistics on salmon numbers recorded in the Suir Estuary over the past five years; his plans to reopen the Suir Estuary to salmon fishing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19849/11]

As the Deputy will be aware, the performance of salmon rivers is assessed on an annual basis by the Salmon Standing Scientific Committee (SSC). The estimated number of one-sea-winter adult salmon spawners in the River Suir from 2005 to 2010 is described in the annual assessments of the SSC. Copies of the annual reports are available on the Department's website. The estimate for 2005 was 9,000; 2006 — 9,900; 2007 — 17,400; 2008 — 17,500; and 2009 — 15,000. These annual estimates indicated that the average over 5 years was less than the conservation limit requirement of 15,771 and so no harvest was permissible. In 2010 the estimated number of spawners was 18,281, resulting in the specification of a total allowable catch for the current 2011 season of 1,473 fish for the River.

The Suir Estuary forms part of the Waterford Estuary, into which the Nore and Barrow Rivers also flow. I understand that stocks in the River Nore demonstrated a recovery with a growing surplus identified since 2009. The salmon stock in the River Barrow, I am informed however, continues to be below its conservation limit. Approval was given for the conduct of a survey, by inland Fisheries Ireland and the Waterford Estuary Fisherman's Association, in Waterford estuary in 2010. The main objectives of the survey were stated as:

1. To determine genetically the current extent of Irish river of origin salmon captured in Waterford estuary and to also determine the presence, if any, of salmon from other countries in the estuary.

2. To capture salmon over an extended period in summer and autumn to determine river of origin by genetic analysis within the Barrow / Nore / Suir river complex to provide a qualitative assessment of salmon stock abundance on the river Barrow where no stock estimate is currently available.

I await a report on the outcome of the survey.

In the future event that stocks are shown to recover in each of the rivers of the Waterford Estuary, and it is established from the results of Genetic Stock Identification that significant numbers of fish destined for other rivers are not intercepted within the rivers and estuary, it should be possible to exploit the identified surplus within the constraints permitted by the Habitats Directive as transposed by the European Communities (National Habitats) Regulations 1997 (S.I. 94 of 1997).

Semi-State Bodies

Seán Kenny

Question:

293 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if performance bonuses have been paid to the chief executive or senior management at Bord Gáis Éireann in respect of 2008, 2009 and 2010. [20015/11]

The Chief Executive of Bord Gáis Éireann has voluntarily waived any performance related pay for the year 2010 and for the following two years, 2011 and 2012. Details of performance related payments to the Chief Executive for 2008 and 2009 are published in the company's Annual Report and Accounts for each respective year and are available on the company's website. The payment of performance bonuses to senior management below the level of Chief Executive at Bord Gáis Éireann is an operational matter for the Board and Management of the company.

Paschal Donohoe

Question:

294 Deputy Paschal Donohoe asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he prevents customers of semi-State bodies (details supplied) from being more than €300 in credit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20053/11]

Bord Gáis Éireann's customer account management is a day to day operational matter for the company and not one in which I have a function.

Telecommunications Services

Sean Fleming

Question:

295 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his plans to improve broadband service throughout rural Ireland and especially in areas in County Laois in which there is a very poor service. [20066/11]

The telecommunications market in Ireland has been fully liberalised since 1999 and, since then, has seen the steady growth and development of vibrant well-regulated competition in the provision of the full range of telecommunications products and services. The Government is not a player in this market and can only intervene in cases of market failure. Such interventions, as in the case of the National Broadband Scheme (NBS) and the recently-launched Rural Broadband Scheme, are subject to State Aid clearance by the EU Commission. Accordingly, the State, when it does intervene in the competitive market, is prohibited from doing so in served areas where it would give rise to an unacceptable level of market distortion.

Between the significant private and public sector investments over recent years there is now a situation where all areas of the country have access to at least a basic broadband service. I am aware however, that there continues to be a small percentage of premises throughout the country that are not currently capable of receiving broadband services. This is primarily due to technical and other reasons (suitability of a telephone line, distance from an enabled exchange, no line of sight etc.).

The Rural Broadband Scheme, which is currently open for applications, aims to identify the remaining individual premises in rural Ireland, including county Laois, outside of the NBS areas that are unable to obtain a broadband service and to provide a basic broadband service to those premises, where requested. Information in relation to acceptance of applications and the process of qualification under the scheme is available on my Department's website (www.dcenr.ie) or through contacting my Department on lo-call 1850 678100. In addition, under the NewERA proposals in the Programme for Government, there is a commitment to co-invest with the private sector and commercial Semi State sector to provide Next Generation Broadband to every home and business in the State.

I recently convened a meeting of the Next Generation Broadband Taskforce (NGBT), which I chair. The Taskforce comprises the CEOs of all of the major telecommunications companies currently operating in the Irish market and CEOs of some Internet Service Provider companies. Its purpose is to discuss how best to deliver the optimal policy environment and to identify a road map for the speedy delivery of high speed broadband across Ireland. The Taskforce will consider issues such as appropriate targets, investment plans, and the role of Government policy and actions in driving and facilitating investment. I expect that the NGBT will be helpful in terms of identifying the optimal policy position to deliver wider customer access to high-speed broadband.

Election Management System

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

296 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will carry out a review of the district electoral divisions ahead of any constituency review in view of the confusion of many voters after the last constituency review; his plans to carry out a review of electoral areas before any constituency review takes place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19571/11]

Section 5 of the Electoral Act 1997 provides for the establishment of a Constituency Commission to review Dáil and European Parliament constituencies upon the publication by the Central Statistics Office of the preliminary results of a Census. Following the Census held in April 2011, the CSO published such a report on 30 June 2011. I have commenced the process for establishing a Constituency Commission by writing to the Chief Justice seeking the nomination of a judge to chair the Commission. I intend to establish the Commission once the Electoral (Amendment) Bill which is currently before the Dáil is enacted. I have no plans to review electoral divisions.

Rural Development

Niall Collins

Question:

297 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his plans to ensure sustainable rural communities across Ireland especially in view of the recent decision by An Post to close the post office in Bansha, County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19767/11]

The Government remains firm in its commitment to rural development. Strong, vibrant rural communities are essential to the well-being of the entire country. The Community Division within my Department was established to promote and support the sustainable and inclusive development of communities — both urban and rural.

It has responsibility for a range of programmes and schemes targeting community, local and rural development, designed to tackle issues such as depopulation, deprivation and social isolation. Details of all these schemes can be found on my Department's websitewww.environ.ie. In addition, Ireland’s Rural Development Programme 2007 -2013 represents substantial investment in our rural areas and the agriculture sector. This programme includes investment of €427m, which is 55% co-funded by the EU, towards improving the quality of life in rural areas and diversifying the rural economy. This investment is being rolled out through the network of local development companies who are implementing the various measures under the programme. General post office network issues, including the closure of post offices, are a matter for the management and board of An Post.

Local Authority Charges

Billy Timmins

Question:

298 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the position regarding an application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19920/11]

The Local Government (Charges) Act 2009 broadened the revenue base of local authorities through the introduction of the charge on non-principal private residences. The charge is set at €200 and is being levied and collected by local authorities. The charge is levied on a fixed liability date in each calendar year and payment becomes due two months after that date. There is then a further month's grace period to pay the charge, giving a total of three months during which the charge may be paid before penalties for late payment commence. Given this length of time and the relatively modest nature of the charge, it is not considered that an instalment payment plan is merited in this case.

The Act places collection of the charge under the care and management of the relevant local authority, and interpretation and implementation of the legislation is a matter for the local authorities in the first instance. I have no plans to amend the payment arrangements with regard to the charge on non-principal private residences at present.

Billy Timmins

Question:

299 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the position regarding the non-principal private residence charge (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19921/11]

The Local Government (Charges) Act 2009, which sets out the detail of the €200 charge on non-principal private residences, is premised on a universal liability for the charge in respect of residential property. It goes on to exempt certain properties and owners from the charge, the most significant exemption being where a property is occupied by the owner as his or her sole or main residence on the liability date.

In a case where a person owns a property in which he or she does not live and his or her sole or main residence is a rented property, there would be a liability for the charge in respect of the property owned by the person unless it is otherwise exempt under the provisions of the Act. The Act does not seek to differentiate between such residences left vacant by the owner or made available for rent as the case may be.

Local Authority Services

Anne Ferris

Question:

300 Deputy Anne Ferris asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that some local authorities are refusing to answer representations from public representatives on behalf of constituents; if his attention has further been drawn to the fact that the councils are using the Data Protection Act as the reason they are not responding to public representatives; his views that public representatives need to receive replies when they are acting on behalf of their constituents; if he will investigate the situation and report back; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19598/11]

I am not aware of the practice as outlined in the Question. Local authorities are committed to the delivery of a quality service to public representatives and the public in general, including in relation to access to information. It is a matter in the first instance for each local authority to keep under review its own systems and procedures with a view to improving standards of service and addressing any deficiencies which may come to light at local level.

In the context of the ending of the dual mandate, local authorities are required under the Local Government Act 2001 (Section 237A) Regulations 2003 to put in place arrangements to provide, inter alia, for the supply of specified documentation to Oireachtas members by the local authority such as the local authority budget, draft development plan, etc. Local authorities are also required to deal with requests for access to information by a parliamentary representative as expeditiously as possible and in accordance with a proper level of customer service. In this regard, local authorities are obliged to put in place arrangements to ensure that systems, procedures and time frames equivalent to those used by them in relation to correspondence from local authority members also apply in respect of parliamentary representatives.

My Department has gathered information from local authorities on a periodic basis, on the practical application of the arrangements established by the above Regulations. Based on the information received, I understand that local authorities are generally complying with these arrangements. I will, however, continue to monitor compliance by local authorities in this regard. In all of this, local authorities, as public bodies, are obliged to comply with the Data Protection Act 1988 as amended and any associated Regulations. Consequently great care must be taken in ensuring that personal information is not released in contravention of this legislation.

Community Development

Eric J. Byrne

Question:

301 Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his plans for future development of the RAPID programmes as administered nationally but with particular reference to the geographical area of Dublin City Council; his views on the RAPID programme; if he will commit sufficient resources to it to continue to develop its programme of action; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19604/11]

RAPID operates in 51 areas nationally of which nine are within or partially within the area administered by Dublin City Council. It is a matter for individual Departments to report on the provision of funding and progress on delivery with regard to projects under their responsibility within the different RAPID areas.

My Department administers the RAPID Leverage Schemes, which are designed to support small scale projects identified locally by Area Implementation Teams in each of the RAPID areas. These schemes are co-funded by relevant agencies and the schemes support projects that focus on estate enhancement, graffiti removal, traffic calming, community closed-circuit television, health and sports facilities and the provision of playgrounds.

Funding of €3.16m is being provided in my Department's Vote in 2011 to support a number of projects under the leverage schemes. This funding is being used to meet outstanding commitments, and new applications are therefore not being accepted at present. While I am continuing to give priority to social inclusion programmes administered by my Department, it will be necessary to ensure that there is enhanced coordination and efficiencies are achieved in relation to social inclusion initiatives into the future, including RAPID.

International Agreements

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

302 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government when the Aarhus Convention will be ratified and fully implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19622/11]

The Programme for Government contains a commitment to complete ratification of the Aarhus Convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters. Delivering on this commitment by addressing the remaining legislative requirements to allow ratification to proceed is a high priority for the Government.

The three pillars of the Convention are partially implemented in EU law by two Directives. The first of these deals with public access to environmental information and was transposed into Irish law through the European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations 2007. The second, known as the Public Participation Directive, deals with public participation in decision making and access to justice. Several pieces of legislation have been used to transpose the Public Participation Directive, including:

Section 33 of the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2010;

the European Communities (Public Participation) Regulations 2010;

the Environmental Protection Agency (Amendment) Regulations 2010;

the Waste Management (Licensing) (Amendment) Regulations 2010; and

the Aquaculture (Licence Application) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2010.

The effect of the measures taken to transpose these two Directives is that Ireland is largely compliant with the provisions of the Convention. The Office of the Attorney General has, however, advised that a number of further measures are still required before the ratification process can be completed. The drafting of the necessary legislation is at an advanced stage, in consultation with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel, and it is my intention to include these provisions in the Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, which is currently being progressed through the Oireachtas.

Planning Issues

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

303 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he has given instruction or made regulation or given guidance in respect of the siting of wind farms in special areas of conservation, natural heritage areas or special protection areas or the zoning of land in the above as being suitable for wind farms, subject to environmental assessment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19662/11]

I refer to the reply to Question No. 229 of 31 May 2011. My Department issued Wind Energy Development Guidelines in June 2006. A copy of the Guidelines is available on my Department's websitewww.environ.ie.

These Guidelines recommend an approach which seeks to identify, within the development plan process, key areas where wind energy resources are good and capable of being exploited. Chapter 6 in the Guidelines comprehensively addresses considerations relating to the siting and design of wind farms to ensure the highest standards are applied in particular where landscape sensitivity is high as in scenic areas, natural heritage areas or special protection areas.

Planning authorities are required to undertake a statutory public consultation process when making or varying a development plan. This allows all stakeholders and interested parties the opportunity to make submissions while plans are at draft stage and before their adoption by the relevant planning authority. It is also open to individuals to make an observation or lodge an objection in relation to an individual planning application for development, including a wind energy development. My Department's guidelines, in addition, recommend that planning authorities encourage wind farm developers to engage in active consultation and dialogue with local communities at an early stage in the development consent process.

Community Development

Niall Collins

Question:

304 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the reason he is withholding funding from a project (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19763/11]

In relation to the proposal to allocate additional funding for the proposed Dormant Accounts RAPID additionality measure for 5 new RAPID towns, projects nationally have been assessed and prioritised by Pobal, and these are currently being considered by my Department in the context of the reduced level of funding available in the current year, and also in the context of the review of expenditure that is being undertaken. Any decisions arising will be notified to all applicants as soon as possible.

Election Management System

Jim Daly

Question:

305 Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if British citizens will be able to vote in a presidential election and referendum if they have been living at least 25 years here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19924/11]

Subject to age and residency requirements, a registered elector's citizenship determines the polls at which he or she is entitled to vote. British Citizens may vote at Dáil, European Parliament and local elections. Irish Citizens alone are entitled to vote in Presidential elections and referendums. While electoral law is subject to ongoing review, I have no proposals at present to extend the current arrangements for voting by non-Irish citizens.

Waste Management

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

306 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will indicate the proposal to replace the current waste from electrical and electronic equipment, WEEE, legislation when it expires in 2013; if there are measures proposed to alleviate the financial burden imposed on the already weakened retail sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19936/11]

Regarding the reference to burdens on the retail sector, I assume that the Question is referring to the Environmental Management Costs (EMCs) that consumers have paid to producers when purchasing certain electrical items since the introduction of the WEEE Regulations in Ireland, and which will continue in place until they are discontinued in February 2013. This system of EMCs was put in place to provide funds for the recovery and recycling of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) that was placed on the market prior to the introduction of the WEEE Regulations. The recovery and recycling of EEE that was placed on the market after that time (August 2005) must be funded by producers as part of their normal business costs. Retailers were entitled to retain a percentage of all EMCs collected for producers at the point of sale of items to consumers, under a voluntary scheme agreed between all the parties, principally to compensate them for the costs of setting up the system initially.

The level of EMCs for each category of electrical items is set by the independent WEEE Register Society and there are currently EMCs remaining in just one category — large household appliances. Some of the factors that the WEEE Register Society takes account of when setting the EMCs are the costs of recovery and recycling and the levels of financial reserves which the approved WEEE schemes (WEEE Ireland and ERP Ireland) have in place; EMCs have been reduced year on year since 2005. It should be noted that retailers, through EMCs, have been compensated since 2005 for their participation in the WEEE regime. They have benefited from the receipt of these charges even though the return of WEEE to retailers was, in some case, presumably relatively low given the level of new apartments and houses which were being equipped in the years following the introduction of the Regulations.

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment regime in Ireland is underpinned by a legal framework which is very specific in relation to the obligations of retailers and they have played a very important role in ensuring that Ireland has met its WEEE recovery and recycling targets as set by the WEEE Directive, most importantly through their requirement to take back WEEE from consumers on a one for one, like for like basis.

While I am cognisant of the financial difficulties currently faced by retailers, I wish to make it clear that they must, like all sectors of society, comply with their legislative requirements even in these challenging economic times. Incidents of leakage of WEEE from retailers' premises have been brought to my Department's attention and the Environmental Protection Agency is currently investigating this matter; I hope, however, that these are isolated incidents. I understand that proposals for a new compensation scheme are being discussed by retailers with producers and my Department will continue to engage with all parties on this issue. I would expect, that any such proposal would improve the collection, reuse and recycling of WEEE in Ireland and should not merely be compensation for complying with what is already required under existing legislation.

Local Authority Charges

Joe Costello

Question:

307 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the amount of money collected in each of the years 2009, 2010 and to date in 2011 for the non-principal private residence property tax; the number of properties involved in each year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19946/11]

The information requested, as of 11 July 2011, is set out in the table.

Year

Amount

No. of Non-Principal Private Residences

2009

€68,919,400

323,560

2010

€67,149,080

321,152

2011

€51,964,600

259,326

Urban Renewal Schemes

Joan Collins

Question:

308 Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he has received submissions or proposals from Sligo Borough Council regarding the maisonettes at a location (details supplied) in County Sligo; the dates on which the submissions or proposals were received; the contents of the submissions or proposals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19949/11]

My Department advised Sligo Borough Council that no objection would be raised to the inclusion of proposals in respect of the maisonette complex in the regeneration project for the eastern quadrant of Sligo, and it understands that 23 of the 28 units in the complex are vacant at present and that discussions are taking place between the Council and the five remaining tenants with a view to rehousing these tenants at suitable locations within the Borough. To date, no proposals have been received in my Department in relation to the future use of the maisonettes.

Local Authority Charges

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

309 Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government in relation to non-principal private residence, NPPR, tax, if there is an exemption in the case of properties occupied by relatives who are not paying rent, for example, the granny-flat exemption; if the property is within 2 km of the family home is the property still liable under the NPPR; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19951/11]

The Local Government (Charges) Act 2009, which sets out the detail of the charge, is premised on a universal liability for residential property in respect of the charge. It exempts certain buildings and owners from this liability, the most important exemption being where a property is occupied by the owner as his or her sole or main residence on the liability date.

Section 4(6) of the Act includes an exemption for property in which a relative of the owner is living rent-free, as long as that residence is on the same property or within two kilometres of the owner's main residence. This provision was intended principally to cater for situations in which accommodation might be provided for an elderly parent by a son or daughter, and follows precedent from Revenue legislation dealing with the home carer tax credit.

Retail Sector Developments

John McGuinness

Question:

310 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if the report into retail planning guidelines as required under the EU-IMF deal has been completed; if it has, when it will be published; if it recommends increasing the cap on the size of retail area allowable; if it has not been completed, when is it due for completion and publication; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20029/11]

In response to the requirement in the EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support for Ireland for an economic analysis of the potential impact on competition and consumer prices of eliminating or relaxing the floorspace cap on retail premises, my Department and the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation commissioned Forfás to undertake an evidence-based and focused study to analyse the potential economic impacts of eliminating the cap on the size of retail premises.

The Forfás report has been completed and submitted to the commissioning Departments. Following detailed consideration of the analysis and findings, my Department will shortly be communicating further with the European Commission Services to discuss the matter. As the Forfás study is the subject of ongoing deliberation and consultation with the Commission Services, it would not be appropriate to detail its contents at this point. However, I intend to publish the report simultaneously with the publication of a consultation draft of revised Retail Planning Guidelines which is currently under preparation in my Department and is expected to be published in the Autumn.

Magdalene Laundries

Clare Daly

Question:

311 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will extend the remit of Senator Martin McAleese to include the Bethany Home in his review of State culpability in relation to the treatment of residents in the Magdalene Laundries. [19527/11]

The Government has charged the inter-departmental committee with establishing the facts of the State's involvement and clarifying any State interaction with the Magdalen Laundries and with producing a narrative detailing such interaction. There are no plans to expand its brief beyond those institutions.

Refugee Appeals Tribunal

Michael McNamara

Question:

312 Deputy Michael McNamara asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason the decisions archive of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal is only accessible by legal representatives and not academics and independent researchers despite the fact that such decisions are redacted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19547/11]

The Refugee Appeals Tribunal, which is a statutory independent body, operates an on-line system of access to previous decisions for applicants' legal representatives. I am informed by the Chairman of the Tribunal that the existing arrangements are designed to ensure that the confidentiality provisions of the Refugee Act 1996 are fully respected.

As the Deputy may be aware, I recently restored the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2010 to the Dáil Order Paper. I am currently considering a number of amendments to the Bill before commencing Committee Stage, and in that regard I intend to introduce an amendment to widen access to Tribunal decisions while at the same time ensuring that applicants can rely on their identities remaining confidential.

Garda Equipment

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

313 Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the insurance cover in place for An Garda Síochána patrol cars; if a patrol car is burned out as a result of vandalism, if the insurance policy covers the cost of replacement and, if not, the funding in place to cover such replacement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19556/11]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that Garda vehicles are covered by the State for insurance purposes. In that context, all claims involving Garda vehicles are handled by the State Claims Agency. The replacement of a vehicle in the circumstance outlined by the Deputy would fall to be funded from the budget of An Garda Síochána.

Criminal Prosecutions

Robert Dowds

Question:

314 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if there are any indications coming from the Director of Public Prosecutions regarding possible legal proceedings arising from the country’s banking scandals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19569/11]

Robert Dowds

Question:

315 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to the growing unease at the failure to bring anyone to court in relation to the banking scandals to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19570/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 314 and 315 together.

I attach the highest priority to the fullest investigation of white collar crime and making the perpetrators of such crime amenable for their crimes. I have expressed, both before and since my appointment as Minister, my unhappiness with the protracted nature of the investigations. In so doing, I am not criticising those carrying out the investigations. It is clear that the complexities of the matters being investigated create tough challenges for investigators and prosecutors.

There is extremely close co-operation between An Garda Síochána and the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) in the investigation of such crime. Immediately after I took up office, I sought and was given assurances that there are sufficient resources available to such investigations. I have made it clear to those involved that if at any stage they believe that additional resources are required that will be responded to immediately.

It was in the light of my concerns that, on taking office, I gave priority to the introduction of the Criminal Justice Bill 2011, currently at an advanced stage before the House. It is my intention that the Bill's provisions will speed up investigations and prosecutions in this area, both future investigations and those currently underway, by improving a number of important procedural matters and strengthening Garda investigative powers.

The Director of Public Prosecutions is, of course, independent in the performance of his duties. It would therefore be inappropriate for me to enquire as to the status of his consideration of investigation files submitted to him for decision. I note however that he has welcomed my decision to introduce the Criminal Justice Bill. In his view, until now it has been a surprising omission in Irish law that potential witnesses cannot be compelled to cooperate with an investigation, even where they themselves are not suspected of or accused of any wrongdoing. In this regard it is his view that the power of an Irish criminal investigator is considerably weaker than that of a tribunal of enquiry and that the new legislation would plug this gap.

Garda Reserve

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

316 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he is currently awaiting a report by the Garda Inspectorate on the Garda Reserve; if so, when this report will be published; the target implementation date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19587/11]

The Garda Inspectorate recommended a review of the role of the Garda Reserve in its report on Resource Allocation. The Garda Commissioner, who has responsibility for determining the range of powers and duties of the Garda Reserve under section 15(5) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, has established a review and I look forward to its outcome.

Telecommunications Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

317 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the steps he will take to address the issue of bullying through the Internet, mobile phones and social networks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20040/11]

The term cyberbullying refers to bullying carried out using the internet, mobile phones or other technological devices. Cyberbullying is a complex issue which transcends the home or school environment. Cyberbullying generally takes a psychological rather than physical form but is often part of a wider pattern of "traditional" bullying.

Specifically in relation to social networking websites, the first thing anyone should do if they have issues with content on a Social Networking Site is to report the matter to the website. A person can use the website reporting tools to do this and should also contact the service provider through its Customer Care or Report Abuse facility. In February 2009, the Safer Social Networking Principles for the EU were adopted on a voluntary basis by the major social networking website operators in the EU, in an initiative lead by the EU Commission. The Safer Social Networking Principles for the EU were developed to provide good practice recommendations for social networking providers to enhance the safety of children and young people using these services. The Principles provide that social networking services should, inter alia, provide a mechanism for reporting inappropriate content, respond to notifications of illegal or inappropriate content or conduct and should review their systems for examining and responding to such reports. The EU Commission has indicated that it will monitor the implementation of the Principles on an ongoing basis.

I should also inform the Deputy of the Safer Internet Ireland project, which is coordinated by the Office for Internet Safety (OIS) in my Department. This project, which is funded by the EU's Safer Internet Programme, comprises a consortium of industry, education, child welfare and government partners that acts as a Safer Internet Centre to provide Safer Internet awareness, hotline and helpline functions and activities for the Republic of Ireland. The main aim of the project is to develop national initiatives promoting the safer use of electronic media and enhance protection of the vulnerable, particularly children and young people, against the downside of the internet. The Office for Internet Safety has published a number of relevant information guides which have been widely disseminated, including "A Parents Guide to Social Networking Sites" and "A Guide to Cyberbullying".

As part of the Safer Internet Ireland project, the National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE), an Agency of the Department of Education and Skills, manages the Webwise initiative (www.webwise.ie) which is the Irish Internet Safety Awareness Centre. Webwise provides parents, teachers and children with educational resources, advice and information about potential dangers on the internet and empowers users to minimise or avoid these risks. The NCTE also operates the www.watchyourspace.ie website which provides advice for young people on how to manage their online activities to avoid problems. The ISPCC’s Childline service receives funding from the Safer Internet Ireland project to support it in responding to contact from young people who may have encountered difficulties in their use of the internet and other technologies, including issues such as cyberbullying. Another element of the Safer Internet Ireland project involves funding to the National Parents Council (Primary) which operates a national confidential helpline for parents providing information and support to parents if their children encounter issues on the internet, particularly cyberbullying.

Crime Prevention

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

318 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans for improved child protection with particular reference to the need to prevent child pornography and/or opportunities leading to such; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20044/11]

The Garda Síochána Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Investigation Unit, operating within the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, is responsible for the investigation of criminal offences involving child pornography. The Unit contains trained specialists and can be augmented by personnel from other units of the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation if required.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that any suspected offence involving the abuse of children through the internet or other technology, whether originating in this jurisdiction or coming to the attention of An Garda Síochána through international agencies or by any other means, is subject to thorough investigation and cooperation by An Garda Síochána. Specialist computer software is available to An Garda Síochána and is utilised to gather information and intelligence on possible suspects operating in this jurisdiction. The resources available for the investigation of this type of crime are continually monitored by the Garda authorities, and I am informed that they are currently considered to be sufficient.

The Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998 provides penalties for child pornography offences which I consider to be robust. The offence of knowingly possessing child pornography attracts a maximum prison sentence of five years or a maximum fine of €6,350 or both. The maximum penalty for knowingly producing, distributing, printing, publishing, importing, exporting, showing or selling child pornography is a maximum prison sentence of 14 years or an unlimited fine or both.

The internet is a worldwide phenomenon with no borders and no single organisation controlling it. There is, however, an existing self-regulatory framework for internet service providers (ISPs) in operation in Ireland which actively encourages the adoption of best practice procedures aimed at limiting the proliferation of illegal child pornography content online. Members of the public may report such material to thewww.hotline.ie service of the Internet Service Providers’ Association of Ireland (ISPAI). If the material is hosted here and deemed to be illegal and in contravention of Irish law, ISPAI members are obliged to remove such materials. If the material is hosted in another jurisdiction, it is notified to the internet hotline in that jurisdiction and/or to the relevant law enforcement agencies for follow up, with the aim of having illegal content taken down.

It might be noted that a draft proposal for a Directive on combating the sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of children and child pornography was published last year by the European Commission and is currently being negotiated by the EU institutions. Ireland's participation in the adoption and implementation of this measure has been approved by the Government and the Oireachtas.

Garda Vetting of Personnel

Terence Flanagan

Question:

319 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason for the delay in processing of Garda clearance in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19521/11]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that a vetting application in respect of the person referred to was received by the Vetting Unit. Clarification in respect of information was required, which has now been received. I am informed that the application will now be finalised and a response will issue shortly.

Garda Recruitment

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

320 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the circumstances in which the upper age limit for recruitment to An Garda Síochána is being considered; if members of the Garda Reserve who are over 35 years will be allowed to apply; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19586/11]

I refer the Deputy to my reply below to Parliamentary Question 15254/11 which was put down for answer on Wednesday 15 June 2011. The position remains unchanged and consideration is being given to the issue of the circumstances which may effect a change to the upper age limit for entry to An Garda Síochána.

Recruitment to An Garda Síochána is governed by Statutory Regulations, namely the Garda Síochána (Admission & Appointments) Regulations 1988/2005. The recruitment age was considered as recently as 2004 when, on the recommendation of the Garda Commissioner, the maximum recruitment age was increased from 26 to 35 years. This upper age limit of 35 was set having regard to equality legislation and also took into account the following criteria:

(1) The cost of training

(2) The need for recruits to serve for a sufficient period of time as full members of the service to recoup this cost.

(3) The operational requirements of the service in terms of having an age profile appropriate to the physical demands placed on members in the course of their duty. Consideration is being given to changing the upper age limit, in limited circumstances, in a way which would be beneficial to An Garda Síochána. The Deputy will be aware that the Garda Síochána (Admissions and Appointments) (Amendment) Regulations 2006 already allow the Public Appointments Service to give due recognition to any satisfactory service by a person as a reserve member of the Garda Síochána.

Garda Operations

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

321 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the cost of policing arrangements at Shannon Airport for 2009 and 2010 including salaries and allowances, overtime, travel and subsistence expenses, and other non-pay expenditure. [19650/11]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the cost of policing arrangements at Shannon Airport for 2009 and 2010 is set out in the table.

Subhead description

2009

2010

Salaries and Allowances

1,649,435

507,382

Overtime

394,364

322,591

Travel and Subsistence Expenses

42,526

23,897

Other non-pay expenditure

5,132

4,449

Total

2,091,457

858,319

Garda Vetting of Personnel

Jack Wall

Question:

322 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when a Garda clearance certificate will be issued to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare in view of the fact that the applicant needs such to ensure their placement on a course; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19665/11]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the Garda Central Vetting Unit has no record of a vetting application in respect of the person to whom the Deputy refers. In the circumstances, I can only suggest that the person seeks clarification from the organisation submitting the application.

Garda Deployment

Arthur Spring

Question:

323 Deputy Arthur Spring asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the criteria to ensure that the allocation of the number of gardaí to areas in rural Ireland is adhered to; and if there is a maximum response time or distance that a sub-station can be from a Garda station. [19749/11]

The allocation of Garda resources, including the distribution of personnel, is a matter for the Garda Commissioner, his senior managers and Divisional Officers. Garda management is aided in this by a distribution model known as the Garda Establishment Redistribution Model (GERM). I am advised by the Commissioner that this model provides a scientific, rational and pragmatic aid in the distribution on Garda personnel. The model indicates the most effective means to distribute Garda personnel and takes into account a number of factors including workload, population, response times, crime trends and the policing needs of each individual Division.

Citizenship Applications

Niall Collins

Question:

324 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding an application for citizenship in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19768/11]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's question was received in the Citizenship section of my Department in July 2008. My predecessor considered the application in February, 2011 and decided to defer making a final decision in this case until mid 2012. The person concerned was notified of this position and the reasons for it.

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.

Trade in Illicit Tobacco Products

Damien English

Question:

325 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the steps that An Garda Síochána is taking to counteract the sale of illicit or counterfeit tobacco products at markets here; the number of arrests made and prosecutions made relating to this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19773/11]

Law enforcement in relation to the smuggling of tobacco products and the sale of illicit or counterfeit tobacco products within the State is primarily a matter for the Revenue Commissioners. In tackling this trade, the strategy employed by Revenue Commissioners includes not only interception measures at points of importation, but also the targeting of this illicit trade at the post-importation level by carrying out intelligence-based operations and random checks at retail outlets, markets and private and commercial premises. Revenue enforcement officers also carry out regular multi-agency operations, particularly in relation to large maritime importations and in checks at inland markets.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that in 2010, 41 convictions were secured under the Finance Acts by the Revenue Commissioners for illegal selling of unstamped tobacco products with total fines of €107,750 and 7 custodial sentences and 2 community service orders imposed. A majority of the offences in question related to sales of illicit tobacco product at inland markets. Furthermore in 2011 to date, 19 convictions for illegal selling of unstamped tobacco products were secured by the Revenue Commissioners with total fines of €48,200 and 2 custodial sentences being imposed.

The Revenue Commissioners are fully supported in this area of work by An Garda Síochána. Searches are regularly undertaken by members of An Garda Síochána, as part of intelligence-led operations led by Revenue, which have resulted in significant seizures of cigarettes. Apart from the high profile seizures, An Garda Síochána also continue on a District and Divisional basis to target those involved in the sale and distribution of illegal products, at markets and via door-to-door sales. Finally I can assure the Deputy that tackling this form of criminality remains a priority for our law enforcement agencies.

Magdalene Laundries

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

326 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will immediately publish the Magdalene Laundries inter-departmental committee terms of reference; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19791/11]

I can advise the Deputy that the inter-departmental committee is charged with establishing the facts of the State's involvement and clarifying any State interaction with the Magdalen Laundries and with producing a narrative detailing such interaction. The working arrangements of the committee will be a matter for the chairperson of the committee, Senator Martin McAleese.

Control of Firearms

Joe Costello

Question:

327 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason a person (details supplied) in County Carlow has been deprived of a gun licence since 2001 resulting in the loss of their business; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19816/11]

The Garda authorities have informed my officials that in 2001 a decision was made to revoke two firearms certificates issued to this person. The local Superintendent considered the person could not, without danger to public safety and security, be permitted to have the firearms in his possession. Decisions regarding firearms licensing are an operational matter for the Gardai and I have no function in the matter. Section 15A of the Firearms Act 1925, as amended, provides for an appeal to the District Court to a decision to revoke a firearm certificate.

Garda Operations

Ray Butler

Question:

328 Deputy Ray Butler asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the changes to current legislation that are being considered to properly protect front-line gardaí from assaults in the wake of an alleged attack (details supplied), whilst also considering that assaults on gardaí have reached 800 in a year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19822/11]

It is worth noting that Section 19 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 as amended by Section 185 of the Criminal Justice Act of 20006 already provides that any person who assaults or threatens to assault a peace officer acting in the execution of his or her duty, knowing that he or she is, or being reckless as to whether he or she is, a peace officer so acting, shall be guilty of an offence. In this context, "Peace Officer" includes a member of An Garda Síochána as well as other emergency workers.

Persons found guilty of offences under that act are liable on summary conviction to a Class A fine (not exceeding €5,000) and/or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 12 months, or both. The penalty on conviction on indictment is a fine determined by the Court or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 7 years, or both. The situation will be kept under review and I will have no hesitation in bringing forward proposals for additional sanctions if the need arises. I am informed by the Garda Authorities that the number of reported assaults against Peace Officers was 249 in 2010 and 150 to date in 2011.

Garda Stations

Brendan Ryan

Question:

329 Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality in view of the recent census results and the population growth in Dublin North his plans to build a Garda station in Rush, County Dublin. [19851/11]

The location of Garda stations is primarily a matter for the Garda Commissioner. I have been informed by the Garda authorities that currently there are no plans to open a new station in Rush and that the existing policing arrangements for the area make the best use of Garda resources.

Brendan Ryan

Question:

330 Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality in view of the recent census results and the population growth in Dublin North his plans to build a Garda station in Donabate, County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19852/11]

The location of Garda stations is primarily a matter for the Garda Commissioner. I have been informed by the Garda authorities that currently there are no plans to open a new station in Donabate and that the existing policing arrangements for the area make the best use of Garda resources.

Temporary Travel Documents

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

331 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when temporary travel documents issued by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service will be in line with the current international standard set out in International Civil Aviation Organisation document 9303; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19863/11]

I am advised by the Immigration Division of the Irish Naturalisation & Immigration Service (INIS) that work on the project to introduce a new format of travel document which complies with the international standards set out in ICAO Document 9303 is at an advanced stage. It is envisaged that final testing of the system will take place later this month. Following the completion of the final testing, INIS will be in a position to advise of the date from which applications for the new travel document can be accepted. I can assure the Deputy that every effort is being made to ensure that the document will be available as soon as possible.

Residency Permits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

332 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the current or proposed residency status in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19874/11]

The person concerned applied for Asylum on 8th October, 2004. Her application was refused following consideration of her case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. On 9th August, 2007, the person concerned made an application for residency in the State on the basis of being the spouse of an EU National. However, following consideration of this application, under the provisions of the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations, a decision was made to refuse the application. The person concerned was notified of this decision by letter dated 30th September, 2008. This decision was upheld following an internal review of the application.

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

The person concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person concerned will be notified in writing of the outcome. In the event that the application for Subsidiary Protection is refused, the position in the State of the person concerned will then be decided by reference to the provisions of Section 3 (6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. All representations submitted will be considered before the file is passed to me for decision. Once a decision has been made, this decision and the consequences of the decision will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

I should remind the Deputy that queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be