Written Answers

The following are questions tabled by Members for written response and the ministerial replies as received on the day from the Departments [unrevised].
Questions Nos. 1 to 14, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 15 to 37, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 38 to 46, inclusive, answered orally.

Garda Vetting of Personnel

Michael McGrath

Question:

47 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of applicants on the current waiting list for Garda vetting approval; the year-on-year increase in applicants from 2008, 2009, 2010 and to date in 2011; the average waiting time and the measures he has taken to address this problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31105/11]

I am informed by the Garda Authorities that at present, there are around 50,000 applications in the course of being processed and that the average processing time for vetting applications received at the Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU) is approximately 9 weeks. While there can be seasonal fluctuations, the average processing time of 9 weeks is a significant improvement on the average processing time of 12 weeks at the end of last year.

There has been a substantial increase in the volume of vetting applications received by the GCVU over recent years. The year on year increase since 2008 is as follows:

2008

2009

2010

2011 (to 30/09/11)

218,404

246,194

291,938

228,454

I am very conscious of the need to keep the time required to obtain a vetting to the minimum possible. Since taking office I have taken a number of initiatives with a view to achieving this objective.

In that regard, the sanction of the Department of Finance was obtained to retain the services of 10 temporary employees working in the GCVU. A further sanction was obtained to engage an additional 10 temporary employees and these have recently commenced work in the GCVU. That brings the staffing levels in the GCVU to 102. This is composed of 5 Gardaí, 76 full-time Garda civilian personnel and 20 temporary civilian personnel. The Unit is headed by a Garda Superintendent. This represents a very significant increase in the level of personnel assigned to the unit, which stood at only 13 before the current process of development in Garda vetting began in 2005. All of this should have a positive impact on processing times. I am looking at other options which may assist further in reducing processing times.

Prison Accommodation

Barry Cowen

Question:

48 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide an individual breakdown of the recommended capacity of each prison; the current number of inmates incarcerated in them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31110/11]

I am informed by the Irish Prison Service that there were 4,275 prisoners in custody on 20 October, 2011 against a bed capacity of 4,510. This represents an occupancy level of 95%. The information requested with the breakdown per prison is set out in the attached table.

As the Deputy may be aware, there has been a consistent increase in the total prisoner population in Ireland over recent years, with dramatic increases in the number of sentenced prisoners, those being committed on remand and a trend towards longer sentences. The problem of prison overcrowding therefore remains a challenging issue which unfortunately cannot be resolved overnight.

I share the view of the Thornton Hall Review Group that decisive action is required on a number of fronts in order to address the problem of overcrowding and poor physical conditions particularly in Mountjoy and Cork Prisons. As the Deputy will know, the Government has decided in principle to proceed with the construction of new prison facilities at Thornton Hall and also at Kilworth, County Cork, albeit on a much smaller scale and design to that previously envisaged. The timeframe for this project is currently being discussed in the context of the Government's discussions on capital spending priorities for 2012.

The State has also been engaged in an ongoing capital programme with almost 600 additional prisoner spaces constructed and brought into use since January 2008. There are a number of ongoing projects, most notably the construction of a new accommodation block at the Midlands prison. This will provide a potential 300 spaces, a new kitchen and work training/education block, and an extension to the visits/reception areas. It is planned to have the new block fully commissioned by mid 2012. An administrative building on the Dóchas site has also just been converted into a new accommodation block which will provide 70 spaces. These will become operational next month.

Institution

Bed Capacity

Number in Custody

% of Bed Capacity

Mountjoy (m)

590

588

100%

Mountjoy (f)

105

117

111%

St. Patrick’s

217

186

86%

Cork

272

281

103%

Limerick (m)

290

293

101%

Limerick (f)

34

27

79%

Castlerea

351

356

101%

Cloverhill

431

418

97%

Wheatfield

700

679

97%

Portlaoise

359

256

71%

Arbour Hill

148

149

101%

Midlands

616

598

97%

Training Unit

127

113

89%

Loughan House

160

110

69%

Shelton Abbey

110

104

95%

Total

4,510

4,275

95%

Restorative Justice

Pearse Doherty

Question:

49 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when he expects to expand the community restorative projects in Tallaght, Dublin 24, and Nenagh, County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31241/11]

Following examination of the final report provided by the National Commission on Restorative Justice my Department, through the Probation Service, introduced a scheme to test a range of restorative interventions for adult offenders based on the recommendations contained in the report.

The scheme involves the expansion of both the Nenagh and the Tallaght projects. The Nenagh Community Reparation project has been expanded into Districts Courts in Tipperary Town, Borrisokane and Roscrea. The Tallaght based project has been expanded to the Criminal Courts of Justice and to Courts in South Co. Dublin.

The objective of the scheme is to build the foundation for the implementation of a robust restorative justice model of practice providing an alternative to a prison sentence of less than 12 months duration. This will test the model's ability to manage up to 100 adult offenders by Community Reparation and up to 300 by the Restorative Justice Service.

The Probation Service will monitor, oversee, and evaluate the implementation of the scheme and will provide a report on the effectiveness and value for money of the model after a 12 month operational period. The Deputy can be assured that my focus is to encourage the use, to the greatest extent possible, of the menu of non-custodial options available to the courts. I believe the restorative justice concept has a place in that range of available options.

Traveller Community

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

50 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will give details of his proposals, revealed in Geneva, Switzerland, on 6 October 2011, to confer ethnic status on Irish Travellers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31130/11]

During the course of the examination by a working group of the UN Human Rights Council of Ireland's report to that Council, prepared under the Universal Periodic Review procedures of the Council, I was asked, among many other matters, about the position of Travellers in Irish society.

One delegation specifically recommended that Ireland should recognise Travellers as an ethnic minority while other interventions were of a more general nature. I replied that serious consideration is being given to granting such recognition.

I am aware of the long-standing wish of some Travellers that such status be granted but equally that there is no unanimity among Travellers about this issue. The previous Government was of the view that Travellers are not an ethnic minority.

I am aware that dialogue between staff of my Department and representatives of Traveller organisations has taken place on the issue, most recently on 11 November 2010 during the course of a seminar on the third State report under the Council of Europe Convention on National Minorities. Consideration is ongoing and I intend that the question will be before the Government for decision as soon as possible.

Judicial Appointments

Timmy Dooley

Question:

51 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the current status of the judicial council; if it will have a role in judicial appointments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31114/11]

As indicated in the Government Legislation Programme announced by the Chief Whip on 14 September 2011, the Judicial Council Bill is in the course of being drafted with a view to being published in early 2012. As well as providing for the establishment of a Judicial Council which will promote excellence and high standards of conduct by judges, the proposed Bill is aimed at providing a means of investigating allegations of Judicial misconduct supported by the establishment of a Judicial Conduct Committee. Both the Council and the Committee are to include lay representation.

The appointment of judges is, and in my view should remain, a separate matter. Judges are appointed by the President on the advice of the Government. At present, such appointments are dealt with by the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board which was established pursuant to the Court and Courts Officers Act 1995. Under Section 16 of the Act, where a judicial office stands vacant or before a vacancy in a judicial office arises, the Advisory Board submits to me, as Minister for Justice and Equality, the names of all persons who have informed the Advisory Board of their wish to be considered for appointment to that vacancy and the names of at least seven persons whom it recommends for appointment. I then bring the names to Government. Section 17 of the same Act provides that these procedures shall not apply where the Government propose to advise the President to appoint a serving judge. I have asked officials at my Department to undertake a review of the current process of judicial appointment, with particular reference to the practice in other jurisdictions. That review is ongoing and I do not wish to prejudge its outcome — I will be returning to the matter when the review is complete.

Garda Complaints Procedures

Luke 'Ming' Flanagan

Question:

52 Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason the Garda has failed to investigate an allegation made against a person (details supplied) in County Clare. [30796/11]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that, following a formal complaint made to An Garda Síochána, investigating gardaí searched the home of the person referred to by the Deputy under warrant in June 2010 and seized a number of items as part of their investigation. The person was subsequently arrested on suspicion of having committed an offence of harassment under section 10 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997. An investigation file was forwarded for directions to the Director of Public Prosecutions. In April 2011, the DPP directed no prosecution against the person at that stage. The person subsequently contacted investigating Gardaí seeking to have his property returned. Following review of the matter by An Garda Síochána, the property was returned in September 2011.

The person subsequently complained to the responsible Chief Superintendent in respect of the complaint originally made against him. He declined to refer his complaint to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission. He requested that it be dealt with by the Chief Superintendent, who explained the nature of the complaint against him that was the subject of the Garda investigation. The Chief Superintendent responded in writing to the person on 5 October, 2011.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that local Garda management is satisfied that there is no basis for the complaints being made by the person. It remains open to the person to contact the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission.

Prison Inspections

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

53 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when he expects to get a full report on the extent to which those aspects of the recommendations of the Inspector of Prisons and Places of Detention have been implemented; any information he may have about the implementation of these recommendations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31240/11]

I receive regular updates on the implementation of the Inspector's recommendations. The Inspector himself recognised that in certain areas prisons will not be able to comply with all the recommendations in the short term. As long as there is overcrowding and limitations on resources there will be difficulties in achieving full implementation.

However, progress is being made. To give examples, issues raised by the Inspector regarding the general cleanliness of prisons including the need for broken fittings to be replaced are being addressed by the Governors of each institution. A programme for painting and cleaning is in place in each prison and those programmes are sufficient to meet the needs of that prison.

Areas mentioned by the Inspector include the use of special cells, prisoners' complaints and the procedure to be followed following deaths of persons in custody. New procedures have been adopted and will be supported by changes to the Prison Rules which have been drafted. These are being finalised in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General.

The Inspector also referred to minimum standards for prison accommodation and the regimes and services that should be provided. The Government, as you know, is committed to the elimination of slopping out in prisons. The upgrade of more than 100 cells at Mountjoy Prison, including the installation of in-cell sanitation, will be completed by the end of this month. The Irish Prison Service will then consider the feasibility of installing in-cell sanitation in the remaining cells of Mountjoy and to other facilities elsewhere. The completion of the Midlands Prison extension and the provision of 70 extra dormitory style spaces in the Dóchas Centre will mean that 80% of the prisons estate will have in-cell sanitation by mid 2012.

The Inspector also recommended the creation of dedicated committal areas and vulnerable persons units in each closed prison. The Irish Prison Service is looking at all options available to implement these recommendations where they are not already in place.

In relation to the Inspector's recommendation that drug free units be established in each closed prison to accommodate drug free prisoners, I can advise that Arbour hill, St. Patrick's Institution, the Training Unit and Wheatfield Prison already have drug free wing/landings or areas within their prisons. A drug free unit in Mountjoy Prison will become operational before the end of the year. The template developed for the operation of this unit should have application across many of the closed prisons where the development of a drug free unit is warranted. To this end, the Health Care Directorate, working in conjunction with prison management, is looking at the options for the development of drug free areas in closed prisons.

Crime Levels

Gerry Adams

Question:

54 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide information on the Garda clearing rates for crime on a divisional basis, broken up into types of crime; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31233/11]

Following the submission in 2004 of a report and recommendations by an expert group on crime statistics, it was decided that the compilation and publication of crime statistics should be taken over by the Central Statistics Office, as the national statistical agency, from An Garda Síochána. The Garda Síochána Act 2005 consequently makes provision for this and the CSO has established a dedicated unit for this purpose. Following the setting up of the necessary technical systems and auditing of the data from which the statistics are compiled, the CSO is now compiling, publishing and responding to queries regarding recorded crime statistics. I have requested the CSO to provide the detailed statistics which he has sought directly to the Deputy.

Detection rates vary, depending on the types of offences involved, with, for example, an 83% rate for homicides in 2010. I fully support the efforts of An Garda Síochána to maintain detections at as high a level as possible.

Michael Colreavy

Question:

55 Deputy Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of information letters issued to victims of crime utilising the Pulse computer system, broken up into divisional areas and based on the year of sending; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31238/11]

The Garda Computer system, PULSE, has the capacity to generate automated letters to victims of crime. PULSE letters are sent when a crime is reported to An Garda Síochána. It contains the name of the investigating Garda, how to contact the Garda, details of the PULSE incident number and the number of the National Crime Victims Helpline or Irish Tourist Assistance Service as appropriate. A second PULSE letter is sent to an injured party where a person has been made amenable for the crime, including where a person has been charged, summonsed, dealt with by Adult caution or under the Juvenile Diversion Programme.

PULSE letters improve communications with victims of crime through the provision of information and by providing reassurance that their report is being dealt with by An Garda Síochána. The general feedback from victims and victim support organisation has been positive to the PULSE letters.

It can be seen from the table circulated that the number of letters issued in the first two quarters of 2011 was pro rata 11% greater than the number of letters issued in 2010, and was 26% greater than in the first two quarters of 2009.

I am circulating a table containing the information requested.

Pulse Letters to Victims for 2009-2011

Division

Year

2009Quarter 3 & 4*

2010

2011Quarter 1 & 2

Cavan/Monaghan

1,041

2,123

1,086

Clare

520

1,656

655

Cork City

1,700

3,883

2,101

Cork North

589

1,417

896

Cork West

463

981

663

D.M.R. East

1,931

4,016

1,882

D.M.R. North Central

3,261

5,764

3,151

D.M.R. North

3,535

6,777

3,627

D.M.R. South Central

2,254

5,603

4,078

D.M.R. South

3,055

7,236

3,874

D.M.R. West

4,015

8,349

5,118

Donegal

1,022

2,358

1,271

Galway

1,607

3,006

1,155

Kerry

764

1,689

779

Kildare

572

1,964

1507

Kilkenny/Carlow

750

3,553

1915

Laois/Offaly

977

2,200

1,267

Limerick

2,759

6,080

3,307

Louth

1,495

3,009

1,430

Mayo

420

1,746

897

Meath

1,473

3,408

1,912

Roscommon/Longford

627

1,650

910

Sligo/Leitrim

618

1,434

859

Tipperary

971

2,216

1281

Waterford

1,637

3,767

1,774

Westmeath

843

1,529

788

Wexford

1,139

2,676

1,605

Wicklow

1,125

3,026

2,079

National Total

41,163

93,116

51,867

*Garda Síochána Crime Victims Office, established in Third Quarter 2009

Garda Stations

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

56 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to close any Garda stations here; the timeframes associated with either decisions on closures or actual closures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31239/11]

As with every other public sector organisation, the reality is that the Garda Síochána is going to have to manage with reduced resources. The Garda Commissioner is therefore quite properly reviewing all aspects of the Garda Síochána's policing model, so as to ensure that Garda resources are managed and deployed in the most appropriate manner to meet existing and emerging policing requirements.

The Garda Commissioner's review will examine all aspects of current policing, including the deployment of personnel, the utilisation of modern technologies and the operation of Garda stations.

While no decision has been taken, clearly the reduction in public opening hours in some Garda stations, and the closure of other Garda stations, will be issues that the Garda Commissioner will have to address as part of the review. He may well have to consider whether, in appropriate cases, a better policing service could be delivered to a local community by having Garda members out on patrol rather than in a station.

I will very carefully consider the outcome of this review and the Commissioner's policing plan for next year with the objective of ensuring that priority is given to the maintenance of front-line services.

Crime Strategy

Dessie Ellis

Question:

57 Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide an update on the formulation of a new State anti-crime strategy; the timeline and any possible initiatives to be contained within; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31231/11]

Work on the development of a White Paper on Crime is at an advanced stage, following an extensive consultation process. The intention is that this will incorporate a framework National Anti-Crime Strategy which will reflect and respond to the issues raised during the White Paper on Crime consultation process.

Drug Seizures

Robert Dowds

Question:

58 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which crystal methamphetamine has become a problem for the Garda; if he regards crystal methamphetamine as having the potential to cause widespread social damage as witnessed in the United States of America; the number of seizures of crystal methamphetamine in each of the last five years; and the steps the Garda and his Department are taking to proactively tackle the potential emergence of this drug here. [31049/11]

Methamphetamine is a controlled drug under the Misuse of Drugs Acts 1977 and 1984. Recorded seizures of methamphetamine by An Garda Síochána and the Revenue Customs Service, as recorded by the Forensic Science Laboratory, for the years 2007-2011 (up to 30 September, 2011) are set out below.

I am further informed by the Garda authorities that a recent seizure of methamphetamine at Dublin Airport was found to be in crystal form. However, the Garda National Drugs Union is of the opinion that this was an isolated seizure and is not indicative of a new or developing phenomenon with regard to this drug.

The Health Service Executive has also advised that the number of persons currently presenting for drug treatment services who report any use of crystal methamphetamine remains very small. That said, as the Deputy has highlighted, misuse of methamphetamine remains a significant part of the international drug problem and its abuse can result in extremely harmful medical and social consequences. We must therefore continue to monitor the drugs situation as it occurs so as to identify any emerging trends.

As the Deputy may be aware an Early Warning Emerging Trends Sub-Committee, under the auspices of the National Advisory Committee on Drugs (NACD), is in place to monitor emerging trends in problem drug use in this jurisdiction. Representation on this Committee includes a range of State departments and agencies including my own Department and An Garda Síochána.

I am informed that An Garda Síochána is acutely aware of the dangers associated with this drug. In 2007 the Garda National Drugs Unit hosted an international seminar, under the EU-funded AGIS Programme, to examine the potential threat posed by methamphetamine within the European Union.

An Garda Síochána remains committed to tackling the supply of all drugs at all levels in keeping with its commitment to the National Drugs Strategy. An Garda Síochána in liaison with the Customs authorities and its European counterparts, will continue to closely monitor the availability of drugs including methamphetamine within this jurisdiction, based on an on-going analysis of intelligence and drug-seizure data.

Seizures of Methamphetamine recorded by the Forensic Science Laboratory for each year 2007-2011

Year

Quantity

2011*

1.378 kg (34 cases)

2010

404 g (20 cases)

2009

1.213 kg (27 cases)

2008

4.7k gs (26 cases)

2007

10 g (5 cases)

*(up to 30 September 2011)

Human Trafficking

David Stanton

Question:

59 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide details of his review of the current legislation on human trafficking and prostitution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31265/11]

I assume the Deputy is referring to the announcement I made last week concerning a consultation process to help inform the future direction of legislation on prostitution. For ease of reference, I am appending the text of the relevant press release and trust that it explains the position in this matter.

Minister Shatter announces publication of his Department's report on Sweden's legislation to combat prostitution and human trafficking

17 October 2011

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Mr. Alan Shatter T.D., today announced publication of a report of the Department of Justice and Equality on Sweden's legislation criminalising the purchase of sexual services — often referred to as the "Swedish model".

In July, 2010 Sweden published the findings from the first formal evaluation of its 1999 ban on the purchase of sexual services. In September last year, the Dignity Project arranged a visit to Sweden by a group which included representatives of what was then the Department of Justice and Law Reform and An Garda Síochána to meet officials and experts in this area and to discuss the Swedish legislation and its operation. Following the visit, a report was prepared by the Department for the then Minister, and after consideration by him it was submitted to the Attorney General's Office.

Since then Minister Shatter has carefully examined the report and the advice subsequently received from the Attorney General.

Announcing publication of the report, Minister Shatter stated "I am determined to ensure that everything that can possibly be done to combat prostitution and human trafficking will be done. However, it will be recognised that any proposal to criminalise the purchase of sex within our legal and constitutional framework raises complex issues and would have to be considered very carefully. Also, it is inevitable that there will be conflicting views about such a proposal and representations made to me in this matter reflect different and genuinely held views. There has been much media coverage on these matters and, in order to help inform public debate, I have decided to put my Department's report into the public domain."

Minister Shatter also said:

"I am concerned to ensure that public debate on this issue is open to the widest possible audience. I therefore intend to arrange a consultation process to help inform the future direction of legislation on prostitution". A consultation document to facilitate this process is being prepared and the Minister will make a further announcement shortly.

The report is available on the Department's websitewww.justice.ie.

Ends

Note to Editors

The Dignity Project was an EU funded, inter-agency and inter-jurisdictional research project which examined services provided for victims of human trafficking with a view to replicating best practice models in partner countries. Led by the Dublin Employment Pact and the Immigrant Council of Ireland, Dignity concluded its work at a final conference held in February, 2011.

Legislation introduced in Sweden in 1999 provides that a person who obtains or attempts to obtain a casual sexual relation, in any place, in return for payment commits the offence of purchase of sexual service.

In Ireland, traditionally the law has had two objectives. Firstly, it is aimed at protecting society from the more intrusive aspects of such activity from a public order perspective. For that reason, under the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1993, which codified the law relating to prostitution, it is an offence to solicit in a street or public place for the purposes of prostitution. The offence can be committed by the client, the prostitute or a third party — a pimp, for example. The second objective of the law on prostitution is to protect prostitutes from exploitation. Accordingly, under the 1993 legislation, it is an offence to organise prostitution, coerce or compel a person to be a prostitute, knowingly live off the earnings of a prostitute, or keep or manage a brothel.

In this jurisdiction, it is not an offence, in itself, to sell sex. In general, it is not an offence to purchase sex either. However, the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 made it an offence to knowingly solicit or importune a trafficked person, in any place, for the purpose of prostitution.

Courts Service

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

60 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the timeframe for the proposed upgrade of the ICT system for the courts as well as the appointment of approved persons as receivers in order to introduce the remaining sections of the Fines Act; when he expects to receive this report, including implementation proposals, from the Courts Service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31229/11]

As I have previously informed the House, the majority of the Fines Act 2010 has been commenced. It is particularly important to note the commencement of Section 14 of the Act, which for the first time placed an obligation on the court to take account of a person's financial circumstances before the amount of a fine, if any, to be imposed.

Implementation work is continuing on two key sections of the Act. Section 15 provides for the payment of fines by instalment. There are a number of practical and technical issues required to commence this provision. As the Deputy will appreciate, the current system of payment allows only for a single payment in respect of each fine to be made within a specified period and this payment is recorded on the Courts Service IT system, the Criminal Case Tracking System (CCTS). In order to allow for a fine to be paid by instalments over a year or in certain circumstances longer as the Act provides, it is necessary for the system to be substantially modified to allow for the payment of instalments and to ensure that such instalments are accurately recorded and tracked.

In that regard, I met with the Courts Service management and informed them of this Government's commitment to ensuring that payment by instalments is introduced as speedily as possible. I requested the Courts Service to consider the matter and to report back with implementation proposals before the end of October 2011. The Courts Service has now reported that work has commenced on the development of the specifications of the necessary changes required to the CCTS to facilitate implementation. The Service is also in the course of establishing a Project Board, which will be representative of the relevant business units, to oversee the development of the CCTS enhancements. Subject to funding availability, it will take approximately 12 months to complete the administrative and technical modifications required.

Section 16 of the 2010 Act will require a judge, consequent on determining that a fine is to be imposed, to make an order appointing an "approved person", commonly referred to as a receiver, to recover the fine in the event of default.

The Courts Service is engaged in discussions with the Revenue Sheriffs, who have relevant experience through their work in the recovery of outstanding tax liabilities on behalf of the State, with a view to Sheriffs being nominated as approved persons. Again, some IT enhancements will be necessary in order to allow for the electronic transfer of recovery orders and data exchange with the receivers. This work will take approximately six months to complete and will be done concurrently with the other enhancement works already mentioned.

I should also point out that my Department is currently examining a number of proposed amendments to the 2010 Act which may be necessary to address some practical issues in terms of implementation. The Government remains committed to implementing the remaining provisions of the Fines Act 2010 as speedily as possible.

Legislative Programme

Denis Naughten

Question:

61 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to reform the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30800/11]

I have no plans at present to reform the legislation on citizenship and naturalisation beyond those changes contained in the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011.

My primary objective for legislative reform in the immigration area is to progress the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2010 through the Oireachtas. I will, of course, continue to keep the Act in question under review.

Drug Dealing

Gerry Adams

Question:

62 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans or initiatives to deal with low and mid-level drug dealers, not only to arrest and convict, but to disrupt their operations and to ensure they do not profit from their business; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31234/11]

Tackling serious crime including drug trafficking remains a key ongoing priority both for the Government and for An Garda Síochána.

These priorities are clearly reflected in the Garda Policing Plan for 2011. A key action in the Plan is the proactive targeting by An Garda Síochána of drug trafficking, including low-level drug dealing.

Under the direction of the Assistant Commissioner at An Garda Síochána's National Support Services, the Garda National Drugs Unit and the Criminal Assets Bureau are pursuing their respective remits.

As part of this structure, a strategic partnership has been established between the Garda National Drugs Unit and the Criminal Assets Bureau to particularly target those criminals and criminal groups believed to be deriving profits and assets from drug-related criminal activity.

In addition, the Criminal Assets Bureau continues to utilise the services of criminal assets profilers located in Garda Divisions throughout the country. The Bureau uses the valuable local knowledge supplied to them by these profilers to target the assets of known drug dealers in local communities.

The role of the Criminal Assets Bureau in tackling those involved in drug dealing, and the Bureau's focus on middle and lower ranking criminals, was acknowledged during the public consultation process which informed the development of the National Drugs Strategy 2009-2016.

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

In this regard, an Expert Group, has been established under the auspices of my Department, to review the operation of the Proceeds of Crime legislation with a view to identifying possible improvements which would serve to enhance the powers of the Bureau. When that work concludes I will bring forward my proposals in the normal way.

Magdalene Laundries

Michael Colreavy

Question:

63 Deputy Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when he expects receipt of the interim report from the group assessing the State’s responsibilities regarding the victims of the Magdalene laundries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31237/11]

I can advise the Deputy that the Committee, under the independent chairmanship of Senator Martin McAleese, has submitted an interim progress report. The report was considered by Cabinet this morning and arrangements are being made for its publication.

Cash for Gold Industry

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

64 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide an update on the progress made and a timeframe for the report of the group within his Department that is looking into the cash for gold industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31236/11]

My Department is currently finalising a report on criminal justice aspects of the "Cash for Gold" trade and I can inform the Deputy that this report will be submitted to me shortly for consideration. Following consideration of the report I will make an assessment as to what, if any, action, legislative or otherwise, may be required. I will, in due course, make known the report's findings and any proposals which may arise.

Drug Trafficking

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

65 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the relationship between this State and other EU countries in the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre — Narcotics (MAOC-N); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25090/11]

The Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre, Narcotics (MAOC-N) was established pursuant to an international agreement concluded on 30 September 2007 between Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Portugal, France and the United Kingdom.

The impetus for this regional initiative was a concern that the analysis of dug imports, in particular cocaine imports from South America into Western Europe, had shown an increase in illicit drug trafficking by sea and air across the Atlantic to Europe and the West African Seaboard. Furthermore, there was a concern about the difficulty in obtaining timely information for actions in this field.

The purpose of the Centre, which is based in Lisbon, is to facilitate cooperation in the suppression of illicit drug trafficking across the Atlantic towards Europe and the West African Seaboard, with the possibility of extending its operations, inter alia, into the Western Mediterranean basin. The functions of the Centre are collecting and analysing operational information, enhancing intelligence through better information exchange, and ascertaining the availability of assets to facilitate interdictions in accordance with the national laws of the Parties.

The Centre's work is primarily focused on intelligence exchange and cooperation between the Parties leading to the interdiction of large maritime and aviation drug shipments and the severing of links between transportation networks and the shore based command and control personnel.

All Parties to the Agreement are members of the Centre. The Executive Board of the Centre is comprised of a representative from each of the Parties. In addition, all of the Parties have national drug liaison officers stationed in the Centre who can assist in the exchange of intelligence with the other State Parties and in the development of international multi-agency operations.

Ireland is represented at the Centre by Liaison Officers from An Garda Síochána and the Revenue Commissioners (Customs Service). While significant funding contributions towards the centre are made by the European Commission, additional costs are borne equally by the Parties to the Agreement.

The Centre has played a significant role in assisting the interception of narcotic shipments destined for the European Union arriving from the Americas. Since the Centre was set up it has assisted in 47 maritime interdictions, which resulted in the seizure of over 52 tonnes of cocaine and over 47 tonnes of cannabis.

Question No. 66 answered with Question No. 44.

Asylum Support Services

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

67 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to improve the living conditions of asylum seekers living in direct provision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31226/11]

In response to this question, I will firstly explain the direct provision system, how it came about, why it remains a necessary feature of the State's asylum and immigration system.

The accommodation of asylum seekers through the direct provision system is the responsibility of the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) of my Department. Direct Provision means that the State, through RIA, assumes responsibility for providing for asylum seekers suitable accommodation and certain other services on a full board basis. All accommodation costs, together with the costs of meals, heat, light, laundry and maintenance are paid directly by the State. Asylum seekers in direct provision accommodation also receive a weekly cash allowance which takes account of board and lodgings and other ancillary benefits provided through the direct provision system. Asylum seekers can also apply to Community Welfare Officers (CWO) for assistance to meet a particular once-off need by way of an exceptional needs payment under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme. Payments under this category cover once-off costs such as back-to-school clothing and footwear.

In addition to full board accommodation, RIA coordinates, through other Government bodies, a number of ancillary services to asylum seekers in direct provision accommodation. All asylum seekers are offered free medical screening on arrival in the State and are allowed access to health services on the same basis as for Irish citizens. Asylum seekers in direct provision accommodation will generally qualify for a medical card whereby they are eligible to receive a wide range of health services free-of-charge including GP services and prescribed medicines. Other HSE-provided supports include Public Health Nurse (PHN) service as well as a dedicated asylum seeker psychological service in Dublin.

Asylum seeker children are entitled to access free Primary and Post-Primary education on the same basis as an Irish citizen. In addition, English language supports are made available to adult asylum seekers; in some cases facilities are provided on-site in RIA accommodation centres for such classes. At a number of centres, RIA has provided facilities for on-site preschool services.

As of today, RIA has 39 asylum seeker accommodation centres throughout the country. The system is a constantly evolving one, taking account of the ebb and flow of residents and of the financial resources available to RIA. Overall demand for RIA services is declining. At the beginning of 2009, RIA was accommodating an overall number of 7,002 asylum seekers. Today, it is accommodating just over 5,500 persons, a reduction of over 21% during this period.

The direct provision system was a necessary response to the large numbers of asylum seekers who arrived into the State from the late 90's. Before 1999, these asylum seekers were treated as homeless under the structures then in place. These structures were entirely unsuited to the situation facing Ireland and the homeless service of the then Eastern Health Board could not cope and there was a serious prospect of widespread homelessness among asylum seekers.

In response to this serious and unprecedented challenge, the organisation which was subsequently named the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) was established to coordinate the scheme of dispersal and direct provision for asylum seekers

The direct provision system is only one element of the State's response to its international obligations on the asylum issue. As well as educational, health and welfare costs there is the asylum determination system itself, as well as the downstream judicial and policing costs. In the period 2005 to 2009 inclusive, the total amount spent across the whole of Government on asylum seekers was €1,275.31 million of which €424.43 million was spent on the direct provision system. Quite clearly, meeting our international obligations in this respect consumes very considerable public monies. But Ireland is not unique in this respect. All countries which take their responsibilities in this area seriously are faced with similar calls on their financial resources. There are no cheaper alternatives to the direct provision system. This was a key finding in the recent Value for Money Report on the direct provision system which was published in 2010 and is on the RIA website —www.ria.gov.ie. In fact, if we were operating a system which facilitated asylum seekers in living independent lives in individual housing with social welfare support and payments, the cost to the Exchequer would be double what is currently paid under the direct provision system.

In relation to the standard of accommodation provided in direct provision, the deputy may wish to note that all accommodation providers are required under contract to ensure that accommodation centres comply and operate in accordance with all statutory requirements of local authorities and state agencies in relation to bedroom capacity, food, food-hygiene, water supply, fire safety and general safety.

In addition, all operators are required to offer menus which reflect the reasonable ethnic dietary customs of asylum seekers. There are 96 nationalities with hugely divergent food and ethnic needs accommodated by RIA at present and in all the large centres, 56-day menu cycles are in place. Other centres, depending on their size, operate 28-day and 14-day menu cycles. In addition, particular emphasis is placed on meeting, to the greatest extent possible, specific needs of asylum seekers. For example, special arrangements are made to cater for the needs of Muslims observing Ramadan.

RIA independent external assessors to conduct comprehensive inspections of all centres on at least an annual basis. These inspections are always unannounced and the inspectors look at all aspects of the accommodation centres in relation to the proprietors' obligations under the contract. These inspections cover such areas as reception, staff cover, menus, facilities being provided, maintenance of the property and fire and safety issues. In addition, RIA has an internal Inspections Unit which conducts inspections of each of the properties used to accommodate asylum seekers at least on a twice yearly basis. Further unannounced visits are made to accommodation centres throughout the State on a regular basis by senior management to ensure that standards are being maintained. Staff from the Agency hold information clinics on a regular basis in accommodation centres which afford asylum seekers an opportunity to comment on accommodation and operating standards and to discuss other general issues.

Any diminution in standards which comes to the attention of the RIA is immediately followed up and proprietors are instructed to make any changes and improvements deemed necessary. Follow-up inspections are also arranged as appropriate. In cases where standards stipulated in the contract have not been met and the proprietor has not made sufficient efforts to remedy the situation, the contract may be terminated.

A number of asylum seeker accommodation centres have received the Excellence Ireland Quality Association mark (or equivalent) and each year, a number of them qualify as finalists and also feature as winners in the overall National Q Mark Awards. In the most recent award ceremonies (held on 14/10/2011) two centres — Balseskin and Clonakilty — received overall national awards for excellence. RIA welcomes the recognition of standards shown by the EIQA award and the commitment shown by staff and management at the various centres towards achieving and retaining the relevant standards required. The Deputy should note that, notwithstanding the stringency of its own contractual requirements, RIA does not oblige operators to obtain Q Marks (or equivalent).

RIA staff liaise with providers of accommodation in other European countries and have visited centres elsewhere in the EU. While no two countries accommodate asylum seekers in exactly the same way, RIA strongly contends that the treatment of asylum seekers in this country is, at a minimum, on a par with the best on offer in this context anywhere in the EU. The direct provision system delivers a high standard of service, a consistent standard of service and value for money to the taxpayer through coordinated service delivery to asylum seekers.

I do not believe that any alternative model would deliver the same level and consistency of service to asylum seekers. While the operation of direct provision is being constantly monitored, and is kept under continuous review in my Department, I have no intention of seeking a change in direct provision policy at this time.

Deportation Orders

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

68 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the role of a company (details supplied) in deportation flights from Ireland; the way this company is operating here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31225/11]

Frontex (European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union) is the European Union agency for external border security. It is responsible for coordinating the activities of the national border guards in ensuring the security of the EU's borders with non-member states. Frontex is headquartered in Warsaw, Poland.

Frontex was established by Council Regulation (EC) 2007/2004. The agency started to be operational on 3 October 2005 and was the first EU agency to be based in one of the new EU states.

Frontex's mission is to help EU Member States implement EU rules on external border controls and to coordinate operational cooperation between Member States in the field of external border management. While it remains the task of each member state to control its own borders, the Agency is vested with the function to ensure that they all do so with the same high standard of efficiency.

Frontex also assists EU Member States and Schengen-associated countries in the co-ordination of return flights. In the event that somebody is determined by a Member State government to be staying in that country illegally, they may be asked to leave. Most do so voluntarily, but those who do not may be returned to their country of origin by the Member State concerned. In these cases, it is Frontex's role to coordinate repatriation activities between those countries to ensure that humanitarian standards are met and to maximise efficiency and cost-effectiveness in joint return operations. Together with the experts from the Member States and refugee and asylum organisations, Frontex is also involved in identifying best practices in this area.

The Deputy will appreciate that in light of the above clarification, Frontex is not a company and its operations in Ireland are subject to Council Regulation (EC) 2007/2004.

Courts Service

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

69 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding an admission by the Courts Service that an error was made by backdating a High Court order in the case of a person (details supplied); the modalities to correct such an acknowledged error and to ensure that the person’s rights, which could have been negatively impacted by such a mistake, were restored; how he will facilitate same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31228/11]

I understand that the individual concerned has commenced proceedings in the High Court in relation to this matter and in the circumstances it would be inappropriate for me as Minister for Justice and Equality to comment on a matter before the Courts. Furthermore, the Courts are, subject to the Constitution and the law, independent in the exercise of their judicial functions. Accordingly, I cannot intervene in any way in relation to a particular case.

Prison Accommodation

Clare Daly

Question:

70 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on whether, when prisoners have flushable toilets in their cells, having to perform toilet functions in front of others amounts to inhuman and degrading treatment. [30802/11]

I can advise the Deputy that all cells with flushable toilets have a modesty screen. A programme to fit improved modesty screens in these cells to provide further privacy from other occupants is currently under way. Such screens have been fitted in Castlerea Prison, Cloverhill Prison and all doubled-up cells in Wheatfield. This programme will continue to be rolled out where necessary and will be completed in 2012.

David Stanton

Question:

71 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the actions he is taking to address overcrowding in prisons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31264/11]

There has been a consistent increase in the total prisoner population in Ireland over recent years, with dramatic increases in the number of sentenced prisoners, those being committed on remand and a trend towards longer sentences. As of 20 October, 2011, there were 4,275 prisoners in custody and 755 on temporary release. The number on temporary release equates to 15% of the total prisoner population.

While measures are being taken to upgrade prison facilities and increase the range of non-custodial options available to the courts, the problem of prison overcrowding remains a challenging issue which unfortunately cannot be resolved overnight.

I share the view of the Thornton Hall Review Group that decisive action is required on a number of fronts in order to address the problem of overcrowding and poor physical conditions particularly in Mountjoy and Cork Prisons. As the Deputy will know, the Government has decided in principle to proceed with the construction of new prison facilities at Thornton Hall and also at Kilworth, County Cork, albeit on a much smaller scale and design to that previously envisaged. The timeframe for this project is currently being discussed in the context of the Government's discussions on capital spending priorities for 2012.

The State has also been engaged in an ongoing capital programme with almost 600 additional prisoner spaces constructed and brought into use since January 2008. There are a number of ongoing projects, most notably the construction of a new accommodation block at the Midlands prison. This will provide a potential 300 spaces, a new kitchen and work training/education block, and an extension to the visits/reception areas. It is planned to have the new block fully commissioned by mid 2012. An administrative building on the Dóchas site has also just been converted into a new accommodation block which will provide 70 spaces. These will become operational next month.

I am also pursuing alternatives to custody and progress is being made. The recently enacted Criminal Justice (Community Service) (Amendment) Act 2011 requires the sentencing judge to consider the imposition of community service where a custodial sentence of 12 months or less is being considered. My officials are also working on the roll-out of a pilot community service scheme under which offenders who pose no threat to the community are offered earned earlier release in return for community service. In addition, I intend to give new guidelines to the Parole Board for the application of a similar scheme to long-term prisoners. It may take time but I expect to make further announcements about the implementation of these reforms later in the year.

The Fines Act 2010 introduced measures to prevent the automatic imprisonment of fine defaulters. I intend to bring forward new legislative proposals to introduce a system of “attachment orders” allowing a small amount of money to be taken from wages or social welfare facilitating the payment of the debt or fine over time. The concept of restorative justice also has a place in the range of non-custodial options which are available for use by the courts. The Deputy can be assured that my focus is to encourage the use of such options to the greatest extent possible.

Question No. 72 answered with Question No. 44.

International Time Zones

Noel Harrington

Question:

73 Deputy Noel Harrington asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 10 and 16 of 23 June 2011, if he will report any developments or discussions that have occurred since with either his British or European counterparts; if so, and arising from same if he will seek submissions from the public and organisations and State departments on the implications, benefits or disadvantages to Ireland if such a change was made of changing our time zone to European Time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31261/11]

I wish to refer the Deputy to my reply to Question Nos. 10 and 16 of 23 June, 2011 below.

The position remains unchanged.

10. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if he had any discussions with either his British counterpart or his European colleagues regarding the possibility of changing our time zone to European Time; his views on the benefits or disadvantages to Ireland if such a change was made; and if he will make a statement on the matter.—Noel Harrington.

16. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to conduct a cross Departmental analysis of the potential costs and benefits of advancing time by one hour all year round for Ireland; if his attention has been drawn to the passage of a Bill in the House of Commons undertaking a similar study; and if he will make a statement on the matter. — Noel Harrington For ORAL answer on Thursday, 23rd June, 2011.

I can inform the Deputy that I am aware of the Bill to which he refers. The Daylight Saving Bill 2010/11 passed its second reading in the House of Commons on 3 December, 2010. I understand that, if it became law, this Private Members' Bill would require the British Government to conduct a cross-departmental analysis of the potential costs and benefits of the advancing time by one hour for all, or part of, the year. I further understand that such analysis would include a breakdown, so far as possible, of the costs and benefits for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. In light of this, I would expect that each of the devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland would ensure that their views and concerns would be fully reflected in any analysis that might be conducted.

Were this cost benefit analysis to be conducted, the Bill requires that an independent Commission would be established to assess it. If that Commission were to conclude that the advancing of time by one hour for all, or part of, the year would be beneficial to England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland then an Order bringing the Commission's recommendations into effect for a three-year trial period would need to be made. Given that European Union Directive 2000/84/EC results in all EU member states starting and ending summer time simultaneously in order that time differences between member states remain constant throughout the year, this would impose a limitation on the discretion available in this area.

At present Ireland and the United Kingdom operate in the same time zone. Each year summer time begins at 1:00 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) on the last Sunday in March when clocks are put forward one hour and ends at 1:00 a.m. GMT on the last Sunday in October when clocks are put back one hour. During summer time our clocks are set at GMT plus one hour and at GMT during winter time. Were clocks to be put forward for an hour for all of the year, clocks would be set at GMT plus two hours during summer time and at GMT plus one hour during winter time. To illustrate this point I wish to inform the Deputy that today in Belfast sunrise was at 4:48 a.m. and sunset will be at 10:04 p.m. If clocks were put forward by one hour sunrise in Belfast would have been at 5:48 a.m. and sunset would be at 11:04 p.m. Six months from now, if clocks were put forward by one hour, sunrise would be at 9:45 a.m. and sunset at 5 p.m. instead of 8:45 a.m. and 4 p.m.

I can also inform the Deputy that in advance of the second reading of the Bill Mr. Edward Davey, Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills sought a meeting with our Ambassador in London to discuss issues concerning daylight hours. The meeting took place in November 2010.

I can further inform the Deputy that in February 2011 officials from my Department and our London Embassy met with the Bill's Sponsor, Rebecca Harris, M.P. in order to find out more about the background to her Bill as well as registering our interest in its passage and the potential implications for this country. While there has been contact with the British no discussions have been held with our European colleagues in relation to this matter as the matter is not at a sufficiently advanced stage.

I have no plans at this time to change the present time zone arrangements or to conduct a cross-departmental cost benefit analysis of advancing time by one hour all year round for Ireland. However, officials of my Department and the Department of Foreign Affairs are keeping a close watch on the issue and should the position I have outlined change I will review the situation.

Joint Policing Committees

Dessie Ellis

Question:

74 Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide an update on the review of joint policing committees; when this will be finalised and any findings thus far; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31230/11]

The functions and powers of Joint Policing Committees (JPCs) are set out in the Garda Síochána Act 2005, which provides for a Committee in each local authority area. The Act provides that JPCs operate under guidelines issued by the Minister for Justice and Equality after consultation with the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government. The current guidelines were issued in September, 2008.

The Programme for Government makes a commitment to build on existing community policing partnerships and forums to enhance trust between local communities and their Gardaí. I am aware that some JPCs are working better than others, depending on the local authority. As I have already informed the House, I intend shortly to communicate with local authorities to get an overview of how the JPCs are operating and the extent to which their activities are constructive and beneficial to the community and the Gardaí. My Department, the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government and An Garda Síochána have commenced work on reviewing the operation of the Committees. My intention is that a document will be prepared, on the basis of which consultations will take place with the local authorities on how the operation of the Committees might be improved, with a view to updating the guidelines. I envisage that this process will be substantially complete in the early part of next year.

In addition, my Department has been engaged in a major consultative exercise leading to the production of a White Paper on crime. One of the issues addressed in this exercise has been the role of the JPCs. The White Paper will set out a policy framework for future strategies to combat and prevent crime. The intention is that this process will lead ultimately to a national anti-crime strategy, in which the JPCs will have a role to play.

Sexual Offences

Denis Naughten

Question:

75 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he is satisfied with the level of compliance by persons who are subject to the requirements of Part 2 of the Sex Offenders Act 2001; the number of notifications received from other jurisdictions or from Interpol regarding the travel of convicted sex offenders to Ireland between 2009 and 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30799/11]

The Sex Offenders Act 2001 contains a comprehensive series of provisions aimed at protecting children and other persons. Part 2 of the Act makes persons convicted of a range of sexual offences subject to notification requirements. The provisions of the Act also extend to any offenders convicted abroad of the same range of sexual offences who enter the State. I am informed by the Garda authorities that as of 19 October, 2011 there were 1,175 persons subject to the requirements of Part 2 of the Act.

All offenders subject to the notification requirements are monitored by the Sex Offender Management and Intelligence Unit (SOMIU) at the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation. The Unit is supported by Garda Inspectors nominated in each Garda Division throughout the State. I am informed that the nominated Inspector in each Division has access to all necessary resources within his/her Division to assist him/her in carrying out his/her duties. Where An Garda Síochána becomes aware that an offender subject to the notification requirements has breached those requirements, appropriate action is taken. I am confident that the appropriate level of monitoring is carried out by An Garda Síochána and all breaches of the requirements which come to notice are pursued.

An Garda Síochána receive on a regular basis notifications regarding convicted sex offenders who travel to this country. When SOMIU receives such a notification, it is recorded on the Garda PULSE system and the relevant nominated Divisional Inspector is notified immediately. I am informed that the information requested regarding the number of such notifications received is not readily available and would require a disproportionate amount of time and resources to collate.

My Department is conducting a wide ranging examination of the law on sexual offences, including an evaluation of the Sex Offenders Act 2001. The review is close to completion, and I expect to bring legislative proposals to Government in the coming months.

Garda Stations

Alan Farrell

Question:

76 Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the funding available to keep Garda stations open; the number of stations in the greater Dublin area; the opening and closing hours of same and the staffing levels available in same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31099/11]

The Budget of An Garda Síochána is under constant review and Garda Management closely monitors the allocation of resources, including transfers and retirements, in the context of crime trends, policing needs and other operational strategies in place on a District, Divisional and Regional level, to ensure optimum use is made of Garda resources, and the best possible Garda service is provided to the public. Senior Garda Management is satisfied that a full and comprehensive policing service continues to be delivered and that current structures in place meet the requirement to deliver an effective and efficient policing service to the community.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the personnel strength of the Dublin Metropolitan Region, as of 30 September, the latest date for which figures are readily available, was as set out in the table attached.

All Garda Stations in the DMR are open on a 24 hour basis with the exception of 5 Stations, the opening hours of those Garda stations are as in the following table:

Division

Strength

DMR South Central

Donnybrook

130

Irishtown

50

Kevin Street

153

Kilmainham

75

Harcourt Terrace

80

Pearse Street

256

DMR Southern

Crumlin

105

Sundrive

72

Rathmines

64

Terenure

102

Rathfarnham

73

Tallaght

198

DMR Northern

Balbriggan

71

Garristown

3

Lusk

7

Rush

4

Skerries

10

Ballymun

117

Dublin Airport

26

Santry

82

Whitehall

47

Coolock

119

Malahide

36

Swords

81

Clontarf

78

Howth

40

Raheny

68

DMR West

Blanchardstown

195

Cabra

68

Finglas

122

Ballyfermot

97

Clondalkin

98

Rathcoole

27

Lucan

78

Ronanstown

98

DMR North Central

Bridewell

170

Fitzgibbon Street

114

Mountjoy

100

Immigration D/Docks

8

Store Street

278

DMR Eastern

Blackrock

94

Dundrum

74

Stepaside

30

Cabinteely

38

Dalkey

31

Dun Laoghaire

105

Kill-O-Grange

29

Shankill

60

Station

Mon-Fri

Sat

Sun

Skerries

10.00 — 18.00

10.00 — 18.00

11.00 — 14.00

Lusk

10.00 — 14.00

10.00 — 14.00

10.00 — 14.00

Rush

10.00 — 14.00

10.00 — 14.00

12.00 — 14.00

Garristown

10.00 — 14.00

10.00 — 14.00

12.00 — 14.00

Rathcoole

10.00 — 13.00 & 14.00 — 17.00

10.00 — 13.00 &14.00 — 17.00

10.00 — 13.00 &14.00 — 17.00

Fuel Smuggling

Derek Keating

Question:

77 Deputy Derek Keating asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the steps being taken by the Garda to deal with the problem of illegal diesel being sold to reputable outlets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30795/11]

The collection of Mineral Oil Tax and tackling the illicit trade in fuel products are primarily matters for the Revenue Commissioners.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that they are very aware of the threat to the Exchequer posed by the laundering of markers from mineral oil and the onward sale and supply of the laundered product as auto diesel.

In response, the Revenue Commissioners employ a broad range of compliance and enforcement strategies to detect and counteract illegal practices involving mineral oils.

I am further advised that these strategies continue to be successful in tackling this form of criminal activity with the ongoing detection of oil laundering plants, the seizure of laundered oil and the detection of retailers found dealing in laundered oil, as well as the detection of haulage companies who are using it in their vehicles.

The Revenue Commissioners are also aware of the existence of a number of unlicensed or suspect retail outlets offering low price diesel. In this regard, Revenue has embarked on a vigorous campaign targeting specific locations nationwide. This action has resulted in a number of these outlets closing down. Evidence regarding the sale of illegal diesel through reputable outlets has not yet been established.

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, at the behest of the Customs authorities as part of intelligence-led operations led by Customs, which have resulted in a number of significant seizures of diesel and the closure of diesel-laundering plants, particularly in Border counties.

As an example of this co-operation, a recent multi-agency operation involving An Garda Síochána and the Revenue Commissioners resulted in the seizure of approximately 110,000 litres of diesel, the search and closure of a sophisticated diesel laundering plant, the arrest of four persons, and the search and closure of five filling stations at locations in Dublin and the Midlands.

Furthermore, a Cross Border Task Force, comprising representatives from the Police Service of Northern Ireland, HM Revenue Customs, the UK Serious Organised Crime Agency, An Garda Síochána and the Criminal Assets Bureau and the Revenue Commissioners (Customs Service) has been established.

Arising from the work of this Task Force, a number of groups involved in the laundering and distribution of illegal fuels, operating in both jurisdictions, have been identified and are now being specifically targeted for investigation by all law enforcement agencies concerned.

I can assure the Deputy that our law enforcement agencies continue to tackle, within their respective remits, the problem of illegal diesel .

Question No. 78 answered with Question No. 44.

Garda Strength

Seán Crowe

Question:

79 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide an update on the proposed civilianisation policy being discussed between himself and the Garda Commissioner and any necessary discussions between him and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform in this regard; the likely outcomes and the timeline for implementation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31235/11]

There are currently over 2,000 full-time-equivalent civilian support staff in the Garda Síochána.

These staff provide vital support services in a wide range of areas, such as human resources, training and development, IT and telecommunications, finance and procurement, internal audit, research and analysis, accommodation and fleet management, scene-of-crime support and medical services. In doing so, they release highly trained Gardaí from administrative tasks to operational policing.

While the current number of civilian support staff is an increase on previous years the level of civilian support staff in the Garda Síochána is still significantly lower than in many comparable police forces. This is reflected in the 2009 Garda Inspectorate report on Resource Allocation, which called for the numbers of Gardaí available for operational duty to be maximised through a structured programme of civilianisation.

However, in seeking to increase the number of civilian support staff, we must face the reality of the need to reduce overall numbers in the public service. The answer may lie in the more effective use of resources across the public service, including in particular more flexibility in redeployment of staff to priority areas. Indeed, the Garda reform agenda under the Croke Park Agreement contains a specific commitment, agreed by Garda management and the Garda Associations, to augment civilian support staff in the Force through appropriate redeployment of staff from elsewhere in the public service.

Crime Levels

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

80 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which all levels of crime have been committed by persons while on bail in each of the past ten years to date; the way these figures compare with those in other jurisdictions; the number of cases in respect of which serious crime is involved; the nature of these cases; the number of crimes documented as being carried out by those in respect of whom warrants have been issued for previous crimes; if he intends to introduce the necessary legislation to ensure that persons remanded on bail are not in the position to commit further crimes, intimidate witnesses or interact with colleagues in the criminal world; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31224/11]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

441 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the action taken or likely to be taken to prevent recidivism with particular reference to prevention while on bail; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31570/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 80 and 441 together.

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

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

The criminal law takes a serious view of offences committed by persons on bail. Section 11 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984 provides that any sentence of imprisonment passed on a person for an offence committed while on bail must be consecutive on any sentence passed on him or her for a previous offence, or on the sentence last due to expire, if more than one is being served. It also provides that the fact that an offence was committed while on bail must be treated as an aggravating factor at sentencing and that the court shall impose a sentence that is greater than that which would have been imposed otherwise, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

The Bail Act 1997, which gave effect to the terms of the Sixteenth Amendment of the Constitution, provides for the refusal of bail to a person charged with a serious offence where it is reasonably considered necessary to prevent the commission of a serious offence by that person. In addition, section 6 of that Act, as amended by section 9 of the Criminal Justice Act 2007, provides that every bail recognisance is subject to the condition that the accused person shall not commit an offence while on bail.

I am conscious of public concern about the extent to which offences continue to be committed by persons on bail. I share that concern. I believe that bail law must be continually reviewed to ensure that all possible avenues are taken to protect the public against the commission of crime, particularly serious crime, by persons on bail. In doing this, we have to take account of the restrictions which exist in the provisions of our Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights on the extent to which the right to bail can be limited.

My Department has been engaged in work to consolidate and update bail law with a view to presenting a clear, accessible and modern statement of the law. In the context of that modernisation of the law, I will be seeking to restructure the law so that it has a focus on the protection of the individual and of the public. My intention is that the new proposals will provide better guidance to the courts on how such protection might be provided. I am also taking the opportunity to introduce some general improvements to bail law to improve the overall working of the bail system.

I will bring proposals to Government on the matter shortly.

Departmental Agencies

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

81 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach if he will provide the following information regarding the agencies operating under his aegis (details supplied) namely, the total number of whole-time equivalent staff, the total number of board members, the chairperson and board members respective remuneration packages, the total annual wage bill and the total amount of central funding provided to the agency inclusive of wage bill. [30918/11]

The details sought by the Deputy in respect of the two bodies she mentions are as follows.

The Chief State Solicitor's Office has a whole-time staff equivalent of 230. The Office is part of the civil service and like other Departments and Offices is managed by a Management Advisory Committee, headed by the Chief State Solicitor.

The Office is entirely funded by the Exchequer and has its own Vote (Vote 13). The net total voted allocation for 2011 is €34.188m, of which €14.995m is allocated to payroll.

The Law Reform Commission has a whole-time staff equivalent of 23.

The Commission does not have board members or a Chairperson, but rather a President and four Commissioners. The position of President is currently vacant. The remuneration of the President of the Commission would depend on the circumstances. Appointees to the office of President of the Commission to date have been holders of judicial office. If a serving judge were President they would not receive any remuneration over and above their judge's salary. A retired judge may receive an amount not exceeding the difference between their pension and the salary they would receive as a serving judge.

The remuneration of the Commissioners is as follows:

One full-time Commissioner: annual salary €184,187.

Two part-time Commissioners: annual salary €23,750 each.

One part-time Commissioner not in receipt of any salary (serving judge).

The Commission is entirely funded by the Exchequer. The total allocation to the Commission in 2011 is €2.301m, of which €1.153m is allocated to payroll.

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

82 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach if he will provide a list of all non-commercial State agencies under the aegis of his Department. [30790/11]

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

84 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach if all non-commercial State agency employees under his Department’s aegis are paid directly from the Exchequer. [30895/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 82 and 84 together.

The National Economic and Social Development Office NESDO is the only agency under the aegis of my Department. NESDO's staff are paid from my Department's vote.

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

83 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Taoiseach the number of State agencies, independent statutory bodies, State boards or other quangos established by his Department since February 2011; the number which have been abolished; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30805/11]

No State agencies, independent statutory bodies, State boards, or other quangos were established or abolished by my Department since February 2011.

Question No. 84 answered with Question No. 82.

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

85 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach if he will provide the following information regarding the agencies operating under his aegis (details supplied) namely, the total number of whole-time equivalent staff, the total number of board members, the chairperson and board members respective remuneration packages, the total annual wage bill and the total amount of central funding provided to the agency inclusive of wage bill. [30919/11]

The National Economic and Social Development Office (NESDO), which includes the National Economic and Social Council (NESC), comes under the aegis of my Department. The total number of whole time equivalent staff is 19.2.

There are currently 33 members on the NESC Council, which is chaired by the Secretary General of my Department. No remuneration is paid to persons in relation to their membership of the Council.

The grant-in-aid for NESDO for this year, which is paid out of my Department's Vote, is €2.325m, of which €1.8m has been allocated for salaries.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) is an Independent Office and is not under the aegis of my Department. Similarly, the National Statistics Board (NSB) which is established under the Statistics Act 1993 is not a board under the aegis of my Department. However to be helpful to the Deputy I am providing the information requested in relation to both the CSO and the NSB.

Central Statistics Office

The Central Statistics Office allocation in 2011 is €80.067m, compared with spending of €50.762m in 2010. The increase this year relates to the Census of Population. The total number of whole time equivalent staff serving in the CSO at 30 September 2011 was 828. The peak number of staff was in April, during collection of the census, when more than 5,000 field staff were employed. The total annual wages and salaries bill for the CSO amounted to €35.866m in 2010. The corresponding allocation for 2011 is €38.997m for office-based staff and €22.246m for staff engaged in the collection of statistics.

National Statistics Board

Under the Statistics Act 1993, the National Statistics Board comprises a Chairperson and seven Board members.

One position on the board is unfilled at present. The Chairperson receives an annual stipend of €8,978 and four of the seven Board members are paid an annual stipend of €5,985. The other members are serving Civil Servants and receive no additional remuneration for serving on the Board. The costs of the Board are met from the CSO Vote.

Departmental Expenditure

Anne Ferris

Question:

86 Deputy Anne Ferris asked the Taoiseach if he will provide details for the years 2006 to 2011, inclusive, of the arrangements entered into by him, by any body under his aegis or State agency for which he has responsibility for the obtaining of advice from a senior or junior counsel and-or a firm of solicitors; the subject matter for which advice was sought; the names of the barristers and solicitors firms concerned and the fees paid; the nature of the work concerned; if in each case the matter was advertised for competitive tender and if not, the reason; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30975/11]

My Department did not obtain legal advice from a firm of solicitors or from Senior or Junior Counsel, other than through the Office of the Attorney General, during the period in question.

In 2006, the National Economic and Social Development Office (NESDO), following a competitive tendering process for the provision of legal advice services, awarded the contract to Mason, Hayes and Curran. Details of the legal advice sought under this contract is contained in the following table.

Date

Subject Matter

Fees Paid

2006

Nil

January 2007

Presentation to NESDO staff on the National Economic and Social Development Office Act 2006

€8,288

February 2007

Legal advice on employment law

€7,773

March 2007

Legal advice on public procurement

€3,574

May 2007

Legal advice relating to mental health employment law for the National Economic and Social Forum Report Mental Health and Social Inclusion

€4,447

November 2007

Legal advice on procurement in relation to the FuturesIreland project

€2,627

February 2008

Legal advice in relation to NESDO IT contract

€336

August 2008

Legal advice on a recruitment issue

€7,196

September 2008

Further legal advice on a recruitment issue

€1,885

March 2008

Legal advice on a Memorandum of Understanding with the Korean Economic and Social Development Commission

€841

August 2008

Legal advice on National Workplace Survey contracts

€2,221

September 2008

Legal advice on National Workplace Survey contracts

€3,398

September 2008

Legal advice on National Workplace Survey contracts

€1,888

November 2008

Legal advice on National Workplace Survey contracts

€236

2009

Nil

2010

Nil

2011

Nil

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

87 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach the annual cost of the licensed payroll system, Corepay, to his Department. [31064/11]

My Department's payroll is administered by the Department of Justice and Equality's Financial Shared Services Centre.

I understand that the Minister for Justice and Equality's reply to an identical question asked by the Deputy will include the information requested in relation to my Department.

Departmental Agencies

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

88 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach if he will provide a list of all commercial semi-State companies under his aegis. [31400/11]

There are no commercial semi-State agencies under the aegis of my Department.

Departmental Expenditure

Billy Kelleher

Question:

89 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Taoiseach the total expenditure in 2010 on ICT, including staff costs, support and maintenance services, hardware, software, and external resources, including consultancies, contractors and service providers, and all agencies under the aegis of his Department. [31525/11]

Total expenditure by my Department in 2010 on ICT including staff costs, support and maintenance services, hardware, software, and external resources including consultancies, contractors and external service-providers was €1,329,279.

The corresponding figure for the National Economic and Social Development Office (NESDO), the only agency under the aegis of my Department was €178,811.

Departmental Funding

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

90 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the position regarding the United Nations Relief and Works Agency funding shortfall; its effects on the agency’s works in Gaza and the urgent need for sufficient funding to be made available to the agency next year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30734/11]

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is the UN agency which has responsibility for the provision of assistance and services to five million Palestinian refugees in five areas of operation, the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. The agency manages a budget of €450 million annually to deliver the range of assistance and services to its target population. These include basic education, health services, community employment schemes and food aid for vulnerable families.

Ireland has been, and continues to be, a strong supporter of UNRWA and its vital work. In the past five years, funding of €21.2 million has been provided by Ireland to assist UNRWA in helping vulnerable Palestinians. In 2011 alone, funding of €4 million in core programme support has been provided by Ireland to UNRWA.

It has come to my attention in recent weeks that UNRWA's funding situation in Gaza at this point in 2011 is in serious crisis. A number of activities including job creation, agriculture and fisheries programmes have already been cut back significantly and, in some cases, ceased in June. Of particular concern to me is a funding gap of more than €12 million in the food aid programme which, if not met by donors in the coming weeks, will see the food aid supply to vulnerable refugees in Gaza, including children, breaking down. If this happens, 600,000 refugees will no longer receive vital food rations and 200,000 schoolchildren will no longer receive school feeding supplements. In response to UNRWA's urgent request for further assistance, I have now approved further emergency funding of €500,000 to be delivered to the agency at the earliest opportunity.

It is my earnest hope that other governments will respond with similar speed and flexibility in response to this urgent situation. It is vital that the supply of essential humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian refugee population in Gaza is not interrupted over the coming period.

Departmental Agencies

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

91 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide the following information regarding the agencies operating under the aegis of his Department (details supplied); the number of whole-time equipment staff; the number of board members, the chairperson and board members respective remuneration packages; the annual wage bill; and the amount of central funding provided to the agency inclusive of wage bill. [30764/11]

There are no agencies operating under the aegis of my Department. Below are the details requested for the two bodies that operate under the auspices of my Department: the Development Education Advisory Committee (DEAC) and Emigrant Services Advisory Committee (ESAC). The membership of the Committee was renewed for a further two-year term in April 2010. Members serve in a voluntary capacity and are not remunerated. Travel expenses relating to the work of the Committee are reimbursed on a vouched basis.

The administration of the DEAC is serviced by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade from the Department's overall budget.

The current membership of the Committee is as follows:

Ms Moira Leydon, Assistant General Secretary, Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (Chairperson).

Mr. Kevin J. McCarthy, Department of Education and Skills Inspectorate.

Ms Annette Honan, National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA).

Dr. Claire Lyons, Mary I College, Limerick.

Ms Maria Barry, Trócaire.

Mr. Patsy Toland, Self Help Africa.

Dr. Paul Conway, University College Cork.

The primary role of the Emigrant Services Advisory Committee (ESAC) is to advise me on the welfare of and the allocation of grants to Irish community organisations in Britain under the Emigrant Support Programme.

The Committee consists of thirteen members, including two officers from our Embassy in London who act as Chair and Secretary to the Committee. The other eleven members of the Committee serve in a voluntary capacity.

In April of this year, after consultation with our Embassy in London and the Irish Abroad Unit in the Department, I made the following appointments to the Committee:

Mr. Michael Forde — Chairman of the Irish Diaspora Foundation.

Mr. Séamus McGarry — Member of the Ireland Fund of Great Britain; Board of Irish Cultural Centre, Hammersmith.

Mr. Jim O'Hara — Vice Chair, Irish Youth Foundation UK, Chair of Irish Cultural Centre, Hammersmith.

Cllr. Sally Mulready — Councillor in the London Borough of Hackney; Irish Elderly Advice Network.

Mr. Tony Cusack — Manager of Irish Centre in Leicester.

Ms Breege McDaid — Chief Executive, Irish Community Care Merseyside.

Mr. Tony Corcoran — Tyneside Irish Festival and Secretary of the Tyneside Irish Centre.

Mr. Des Hurley — Chief Executive, Irish Arts Foundation.

Ms Bridie Nugent — Board Member of the Irish Welfare and Information Centre in Birmingham.

Mr. John Gormley Former President of the GAA in Britain.

Mr. Joe Brown Chair of the Irish Travellers Movement.

The Chairperson is Ms Jane Connolly and the Secretary is Michael Keavaney. The Ireland-United States Commission for Educational Exchange (The Fulbright Commission) and the North/South Ministerial Council (NSMC) do not operate under my direct authority. The Ireland-United States Commission for Educational Exchange enjoys autonomy of management and administration in accordance with section 2(5) of the Educational Exchange (Ireland and the United States of America) Act, 1991. Under section 3(1) of the 1991 Act, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade is responsible for the appointment of four members of the eight - member Commission.

The Commission's accounts are available in the Oireachtas library. The Good Friday Agreement provides for the establishment of the North/South Ministerial Council and the NSMC Joint Secretariat, which was established in Armagh to support and facilitate the North/South Ministerial Council. It is jointly-staffed by personnel from the Irish and Northern Irish civil services. The NSMC, and each of the North/South Bodies which operate on an all-island basis under the auspices of the NSMC, are accountable to the Oireachtas and the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

92 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide a list of all non-commercial State agencies under the aegis of his Department. [30784/11]

There are no State agencies under the aegis of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Ministerial Responsibilities

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

93 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if the trade function has moved under his remit, if not when will this occur, if it has happened, to what extent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30847/11]

Following a Government decision on 24 May last, the transfer of trade promotion functions from the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade took place on 1 June. The transfer gives my Department an enhanced role in trade promotion.

On a practical level, my Department now has responsibility for the management of the Export Trade Council and of our Joint Economic Commissions which Ireland maintains with a number of countries. I chaired the first meeting of the Export Trade Council, on Thursday 29 September 2011. In line with the commitment in the Programme for Government the new Council will strengthen cooperation and coordination across all Government Departments and State Agencies involved in the promotion and development of trade and exports and will oversee the progressive implementation of the recommendations set out inTrading and Investing in a Smart Economy published last autumn.

I will lead the Irish delegation at the forthcoming meeting of our Joint Economic Commission with the Russian Federation scheduled to take place on 7 November next in Moscow.

The transfer of trade functions has resulted in a closer working relationship with Enterprise Ireland, particularly in relation overseas trade missions which they organise and which are led by myself or my colleague the Minister for State for Trade and Development. Minister O'Sullivan has recently led trade missions to London, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and will shortly lead one to South Africa. I attended the annual meeting of Asia Pacific Ireland Business Forum (APIBF) in Seoul, on 14 October 2011 and while in the region, took the opportunity to travel to Tokyo to have a number of meetings there focussed on trade and economic issues.

The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation retains lead responsibility for trade policy, which includes representing Ireland's trade interests in the context of the EU Common Commercial Policy and at the World Trade Organisation.

Passport Applications

Micheál Martin

Question:

94 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if passports or travel documents will issue to a person (details supplied) who was born outside Ireland but whose parentage is proved to be Irish; and if not his plans to bring forward urgent legislation to allow them to do so. [30853/11]

Before issuing a passport to a minor the Passports Act 2008 requires that the Minister must be satisfied, amongst other matters, that the child is an Irish citizen, and that the passport application has been submitted by either a parent or guardian of the child. On 8 June the family sought and were refused a declaration of parentage from the Circuit Court. I can confirm that the Attorney General was on notice of the case and did not offer any objection to the order being made. The consequences of this order are that the Irish citizen male has been found not to be the father of the child and accordingly the child is not entitled to Irish citizenship. In light of this ruling, which is binding on the State, the Department is not able to issue a passport or other travel document under the Act. I along with my officials fully understand and appreciate the depth of frustration and disappointment experienced by the parents as a result of the difficult and complex situation which they are now in. Nevertheless, it is important to re-state the legal position in regard to that court decision which I have put on record in the House in our debate on 18 October last, that, there is no administrative procedure available to the State to overrule or ignore the determination made by Circuit Court in this case that would allow for the issue of a passport to this person at this stage. That ruling can only be reversed on appeal by the High Court.

The couple's solicitor has lodged an appeal with the High Court and has been informed that the Attorney General will not oppose the appeal nor seek any costs in this matter. I have informed the couple of this. There is no legislation specifically dealing with surrogacy in Ireland, but existing laws with regard to issues such as citizenship, parentage, guardianship and passports apply. It is clear that legislation is needed to deal specifically with this important and sensitive issue. As provided for in the Programme for Government, it is the Government's intention to bring forward such legislation. This matter is being dealt with by the Minister for Justice and Equality. However, given the complexity of the issue and the policy involvement of various other Government Departments, including Health, Children, Social Protection and my own, this will take time. In the short term, officials in my Department in conjunction with officials from the Attorney General's Office, the Department of Justice and Equality and others are currently working on guidelines on dealing with such cases pending the enactment of legislation in this area. Work on the guidelines is at an advanced stage. The aim of the process is to produce guidelines for the public that would bring a degree of clarity on the law applicable to this complex area. It is also hoped to put people on notice in regard to the issues, requirements and difficulties which may arise.

Departmental Agencies

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

95 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if all non-commercial State agency employees under his Department’s aegis are paid directly from the Exchequer. [30889/11]

There are no State agencies under the aegis of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Departmental Expenditure

Anne Ferris

Question:

96 Deputy Anne Ferris asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide details for the years 2006 to 2011, inclusive, of the arrangements that he, any body under his aegis or State agency for which he has responsibility entered into for the obtaining of advice from a senior or junior counsel and or a firm of solicitors; the subject matter for which advice was sought; the names of the barristers and solicitors’ firms concerned and the fees paid; the nature of the work concerned; if in each case the matter was advertised for competitive tender and if not, the reason; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30969/11]

My Department has a Legal Division, staffed by qualified legal professionals who provide legal advice on a wide range of international legal issues. Having such "in-house" legal experts reduces the costs which would be incurred if the Department was to engage externally for similar services. The majority of other instances where legal advice and services have been required by my Department in the State during the period in question have been handled either by the Attorney General's Office or the Chief State Solicitor's Office, or have related to cases processed by the State Claims Agency. As the Deputy will be aware, Government Departments do not directly pay for the legal services provided by the Office of the Attorney General and or the Chief State Solicitor's Office or for advice from Counsel briefed by them.

Nevertheless, there are from time to time occasions where a need to engage external legal services in the State arises, where the necessary specialised expertise is not available within my Department and cannot be accessed from the AGO or the CSSO. In the period in question this occurred on three occasions, the details of which are included in the table below.

The Department's Missions abroad may have occasional requirements for legal services and these are sourced from local legal practitioners as and when required.

Year

Subject matter

Solicitor/Barrister

Fee

Nature of the work

Tendering

2006

Passport biometrics

Mason, Hayes & Curran

€39,351.75

Legal advice and associated services

Standard tendering using etenders

2006

Preparation of tender for transport provision

Ronan Daly Jermyn Solicitors

€10,315.25

Legal advice

Assigned by the CSSO

2007

EPassport

Matheson Ormsby Prentice

€1,473.78

Oversight of EPassport certification

Recommended by the CSSO

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

97 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the annual cost of the licensed payroll system, CorePay, to his Department. [31058/11]

Core International license their CorePay payroll system by way of an annual maintenance and support charge on installed elements. For 2011 the charge is €20,728. New functionality has been implemented during 2011 for which additional licensing is required at a cost of €31,460. There will also be an associated additional support and maintenance charge of €3,680.

Election Monitoring

Finian McGrath

Question:

98 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will list persons in tabular form sent abroad since May 2010 to monitor elections and referendums; the process by which election observers are appointed to the observer panel; the number of male and female observers on the panel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31134/11]

The Government believes that international election monitoring missions have an important role to play in the promotion of human rights and democracy. Irish Aid in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade maintains a roster of observers for election monitoring missions. There are currently some 300 people on the roster, 104 women and 196 men.

The main requirements for inclusion on the roster are overseas or domestic experience in the administration of elections, or significant overseas development expertise. Members should also be Irish citizens, be in good health and have an ability to adapt to difficult conditions. Knowledge of foreign languages is also an advantage. Candidates who fulfil the requirements are placed on the roster following an interview. The election observation programme is subject to continuous monitoring to ensure that it operates efficiently and effectively and provides the best possible value for money.

The Government aims to ensure that, when requested, Ireland is represented at an appropriate level in international observation missions for elections and constitutional referendums. Irish observers participate primarily on missions organised by the European Union and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), but have also been involved in missions organised by the Council of Europe, the United Nations and the Carter Centre.

A list in tabular form of persons sent abroad between May 2010 and October 2011 to monitor elections and referendums is set out below.

Election observation missions, May 2010 to October 2010

Irish observers act on observation missions as core team members, long term observers (LTOs) and short term observers (STOs).

Election Observation Missions May-December 2010)

(52 observers on 12 missions)

COUNTRY

ORGANISATION

ROLE

FORENAME

SURNAME

May

Ethiopia

EU

LTO

Donal

Blake

Ethiopia

EU

STO

Terry

Duffy

Ethiopia

EU

LTO

Edward

Horgan

Ethiopia

EU

STO

Michael

McNamara

Ethiopia

EU

STO

Mary

O’Shea

Ethiopia

EU

LTO

Marion

Roche

Georgia

OSCE

STO

Colm

Burke

Georgia

OSCE

STO

Marian

Cadogan

Georgia

OSCE

STO

Geraldine

Cusack

Georgia

OSCE

STO

Seamus

Duffy

Georgia

OSCE

STO

Brian

Flynn

Georgia

OSCE

STO

Eimear

Friel

Georgia

OSCE

STO

Fergus

Gleeson

Georgia

OSCE

STO

Michael

Lanigan

Georgia

OSCE

LTO

Sean

O’Callaghan

June

Guinea

EU

STO

Mary

Boland

Guinea

EU

STO

Michael

Humphreys

Guinea

EU

STO

Aidan

O’Shea

July

Burundi

EU

STO

Peter

Ballagh

October

Bosnia

OSCE

STO

Killian

Forde

Bosnia

OSCE

STO

Niall

Gormley

Bosnia

OSCE

STO

Patrick

Houlihan

Bosnia

OSCE

STO

Paul

McGrath

Bosnia

OSCE

STO

Caoimhe

Ní Chonchuir

Bosnia

OSCE

STO

Chiara

Popplewell

Bosnia

OSCE

STO

Audrey

Ryan

Bosnia

OSCE

STO

Eamonn

Walsh

Bosnia

OSCE

STO

Carole

Ward

Côte d’Ivoire

EU

STO

Peter

Ballagh

Côte d’Ivoire

EU

STO

Patricia

Kearns

Côte d’Ivoire

EU

LTO

Traolach

Sweeney

Kyrgyzstan

OSCE

STO

Gerard

Buckley

Kyrgyzstan

OSCE

STO

Karen

McCormack

Tanzania

EU

STO

Wendy

Dorman-Smith

Tanzania

EU

STO

Terry

Duffy

November

Azerbaijan

OSCE

STO

John

Jefferies

Azerbaijan

OSCE

STO

Padraig

MacCoscair

Azerbaijan

OSCE

STO

Fidelma

MacHale

Azerbaijan

OSCE

STO

Mary

O’Connor

Moldova

OSCE

STO

Gabrielle

Brocklesby

Moldova

OSCE

STO

Terence

O’Brien

Moldova

OSCE

STO

Eric

Byrne

Moldova

OSCE

STO

Robin

Henry

December

Belarus

OSCE

STO

Larry

O’Loughlin

Belarus

OSCE

STO

Geraldine

Cusack

Belarus

OSCE

STO

Michael

Lanigan

Belarus

OSCE

STO

James

O’Shea

Belarus

OSCE

STO

Caoimhe

Ni Chonchuire

Belarus

OSCE

STO

Noel

Brennan

Belarus

OSCE

LTO

Eithne

MacDermott

Kosovo

EU SR

STO

Dermot

McGauran

Kosovo

EU SR

STO

Brian

Flynn

Election Observation Missions (01 January-October 2011)

(51 Observers on 14 Missions)

COUNTRY

ORGANISATION

ROLE

FORENAME

SURNAME

January

Niger

EU

LTO

Dorcha

Lee

Niger

EU

STO

Grattan

Lynch

Sudan

EU

LTO

Maeve

Murphy

Sudan

EU

STO

Michael

Kavanagh

February

Uganda

EU

LTO

Frank

Scott

Uganda

EU

STO

Helen

Keogh

Uganda

EU

STO

Michael

Kennedy

Chad

EU

LTO

Marion

Roche

Chad

EU

LTO

Traoloch

Sweeney

Chad

EU

STO

Michael

Humphreys

April

Nigeria

EU

LTO

Diarmuid

Peavoy

Nigeria

EU

LTO

Sandra

Conway

Nigeria

EU

STO

Adrienne

Boyle

Nigeria

EU

STO

Jimmy

Somers

Kazakhstan

OSCE

STO

Robin

Henry

Kazakhstan

OSCE

STO

Joy

Kanter

Kazakhstan

OSCE

STO

Philippe

Carr

Kazakhstan

OSCE

STO

Raymond

Murphy

Kazakhstan

OSCE

STO

Paul

O’Shea

May

Albania

OSCE

STO

Eric

Byrne

Albania

OSCE

STO

Abdi Hassan

Ibrahim

Albania

OSCE

STO

Maurice

O’Donnell

Albania

OSCE

STO

Simon

Deignan

June

FYROM

OSCE

STO

Maurice

Canavam

FYROM

OSCE

STO

Michael

Smith

FYROM

OSCE

STO

Paul

Lindsay

FYROM

OSCE

STO

Siobhan

Coyne

Peru

EU

LTO

Marion

Roche

Peru

EU

STO

Patrick

Maher

September

Zambia

EU

STO

James

Doody

October

Tunisia

EU

LTO

Sandra

Conway

Tunisia

EU

LTO

Traoloch

Sweeney

Tunisia

EU

LTO

Diarmuid

Peavoy

Tunisia

EU

STO

Mary

O’Shea

Tunisia

EU

STO

Philippe

Carr

Tunisia

EU

STO

Mary

Boland

Kyrgyzstan

OSCE

LTO

Eithne

MacDermott

Kyrgyzstan

OSCE

STO

Caroline

Brennan

Kyrgyzstan

OSCE

STO

Peter

McMahon

Kyrgyzstan

OSCE

STO

John

Lynch

Kyrgyzstan

OSCE

STO

Mary

Dowling

Kyrgyzstan

OSCE

STO

Tom

Kitt

Kyrgyzstan

OSCE

STO

Michael

Coyne

Kyrgyzstan

OSCE

STO

Patricia

Donnelly

Kyrgyzstan

OSCE

STO

Eric

Byrne

Kyrgyzstan

OSCE

STO

Mathew

Quinn

Kyrgyzstan

OSCE

STO

Robin

Henry

Kyrgyzstan

OSCE

STO

Fiona

Devlin

Nicaragua

EU

LTO

Donal

Blake

DRC

EU

LTO

Dorcha

Lee

DRC

EU

LTO

Marion

Roche

Human Rights Issues

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

99 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he supports the exclusion from the EU of produce from Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31208/11]

The Government's firm views on the establishment and continued expansion of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are clear and well known. I would support any move at EU level to exclude settlement products from entry to the EU. However, it is clear that such a proposal would not at this point have any prospect of commanding sufficiently wide support.

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

100 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade when he will meet representatives of the Irish Ship to Gaza campaign to receive their evidence on the reason they believe their boat, the MV Saoirse, was sabotaged by Israeli agents while docked in Turkey; the efforts he has made to establish the facts about this incident that endangered the lives of Irish citizens while on a humanitarian aid mission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31278/11]

When the reports of the damage to the Saoirse were received, the Irish Embassy in Ankara made inquiries with the Turkish police and customs authorities in the port to ascertain their assessment of what had occurred, and the contention of the crew that this had involved sabotage. I have explained, in reply to previous questions from the Deputy, the reasons why the Turkish authorities did not consider that sabotage had taken place. I would be happy to have the views of the Irish Ship to Gaza group examined. I met with them in June prior to these events, and I am of course already familiar with the case they have made in public, and to the Turkish authorities, in relation to their view that the Saoirse was sabotaged. I would invite them in the first instance to meet with officials of my Department, to determine if they have further evidence beyond this to impart.

The investigation of what happened in a port in Turkey is of course, and will remain, primarily the responsibility of the Turkish authorities.

Passport Applications

Catherine Byrne

Question:

101 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if passport application forms have been amended to show the €65 fee for passports for citizens aged over 65 years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31377/11]

In December 2010 the previous Government decided that the free facility, which provided those citizens who were aged 65 and over with a 10 year passport free of charge, would be withdrawn. Since 11 April 2011, these citizens must pay the standard adult fees for their selected passport service. Notice of this and other fee changes were published on the Department's websitewww.passport.ie and in advertisements in the national press. Current fee information is also available from public notices which are generally displayed in Garda Stations, Post Offices and Passport Offices.

A new print run of application forms and information form notes was issued this summer. The information form notes advise applicants to check the amount of the fee for their requested passport service from these notices when they are applying for passports. This is important as the payment of the wrong fee will delay the processing of their application.

The newly amended information form notes do not include passport fee details. The decision to omit this was based on the following considerations:

(1) The levels of passport fees are reviewed on a regular basis and it would not represent good value for money to have to destroy the existing stock of unused and widely distributed application form notes and replace them with a new version any time there is a fee change.

(2) There is no effective way of updating fee information on the stocks that are in use all over the world at the time of a fee change. Outdated information on these forms has resulted at times in delayed passport delivery.

Applicants are advised to first check the current fees on the Passport Office website or at the Post Office or Garda Station.

It should be noted that the current adult fee for a regular passport is €80 for Passport Express, which is the passport service that is jointly operated by the Department with An Post, and €95 for those applications that are made at a Passport Office or submitted through regular postal services, including registered post.

Departmental Agencies

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

102 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide a list of all commercial semi-State companies under his aegis. [31394/11]

There are no commercial semi-State companies under the aegis of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Pension Provisions

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

103 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the position regarding staff who have moved from southern Departments to the all-island bodies in terms of their pension entitlements; if they are a part of the North-South pension scheme and if their years of service have been transferred to that scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31496/11]

My Department does not have direct responsibility for the all island bodies established under the British Irish Agreement. Questions relating to these bodies and particularly all aspects of the terms of employment and pension entitlements relating to staff who have moved from Departments to the all island bodies should be taken up with the relevant Departments.

The Departments and the bodies for which they are responsible are as follows:

Department

All Island Body

Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

Waterways Ireland and the Language Body

Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

InterTrade Ireland

Communications, Energy and Natural Resources

Foyle, Carlingford and Irish Lights Commission

Public Expenditure and Reform

Special EU Programmes Body

Health

Food Safety Promotion Board

The same applies to the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport in regard to Tourism Ireland.

Departmental Expenditure

Billy Kelleher

Question:

104 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the total expenditure in 2010 on ICT, including staff costs, support and maintenance services, hardware, software, and external resources, including consultancies, contractors and service providers and all agencies under the aegis of his Department. [31519/11]

The total expenditure in my Department on ICT in respect of Votes 28 (Foreign Affairs and Trade) and 29 (International Cooperation) in 2010 was €15,837,705. This includes staff costs, support and maintenance services, hardware, software, telecommunications and external resources including consultancies, contractors and external service providers. There are no State agencies under the aegis of my Department.

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

105 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Finance if he will confirm the cost to the State for the legal costs incurred by the National Asset Management Agency in 2010 and to date 2011. [30848/11]

Fees and expenses incurred by NAMA are recovered through the operating activities of the agency. They are published in the quarterly reports of NAMA, which are laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas and published on the NAMA website. The second quarterly report for the period ending 30 June 2011, accompanied by financial statements for the second quarter, was submitted to me as required by the end of September 2011 and I will lay the report before each House of the Oireachtas shortly.

The aggregate legal costs for the year 2010 and the first quarter of 2011 are as follows:

2010 €m

Q1 2011 €m

Legal Fees

3.31

0.88

The figures in the table above do not include legal fees incurred by NAMA as part of the loan due diligence process, which are recovered from the five participating institutions through a reduction in the consideration paid for acquired loans.

Proposed Legislation

Finian McGrath

Question:

106 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance his views on a proposal to create 500 new jobs (details supplied). [31431/11]

This question relates to a submission by the Irish Bookmakers Association. The issues raised are being examined in the context of the proposed Betting (Amendment) Bill, which is being drafted at present. The Bill will amend the 1931 Betting Act tointer alia establish the regulatory framework for the licensing of remote bookmakers and betting exchanges, including measures to enforce the regulatory framework. The extension of the opening hours of retail betting shops over the winter period is also being considered in that context. The drafting of the Bill, which is fairly complex, is well advanced. The Finance Act 2011 provided measures for the extension of the 1% betting duty to remote bookmakers and a 15% gross profits tax to betting exchanges, subject to a Ministerial Commencement order that can only be commenced when the Betting (Amendment) Bill is enacted.

Pension Provisions

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

107 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Finance the saving that could be made to the Exchequer from reducing the earnings cap on pension contributions from €115,000 per annum to €80,000. [30742/11]

The current annual earnings cap of €115,000 acts, in conjunction with age-related percentage limits of annual earnings, to put a ceiling on the annual amount of tax relief an individual taxpayer can obtain on employee or personal pension contributions. I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the full year yield to the Exchequer arising from reducing the earnings cap to the amount mentioned in the question is currently estimated to be of the order of €95 million. This figure is provisional and subject to revision. A breakdown of the figures by reference to income levels is available only in respect of the tax relief for contributions to Retirement Annuity Contracts (RACs) and Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs) and to the extent that these contributions are included in the personal tax returns of tax payers. With regard to occupational pension schemes (schemes set up by employers), the figures in respect of employee contributions are available only in aggregate form. Information on such contributions is not captured in such a way as to make it possible to associate contributions with individual income levels. For that reason the estimated yield to the Exchequer in respect of these contributions is extremely tentative. The estimated yield is based on assuming that tax relief which would be affected by the changes mentioned in the question is currently allowed at the top income tax rate of 41% and at the maximum age-related percentage limit of earnings. The figure provided could therefore be regarded as the maximum Exchequer yield in respect of those taxpayers.

Public Service Contracts

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

108 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance if it is his policy to check the tax compliance of companies and persons before they are awarded State contracts; if he will consider directing the Revenue Commissioners to investigate the tax compliance of all contractors and sub-contractors currently working on State contracts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30750/11]

The policy of my Department, as set out in Circular 43/2006 "Tax Clearance Procedures, Public Sector Contracts" is that, in the case of all public sector contracts of a value of €10,000 (inclusive of VAT) or more within any 12-month period, the contractor (and agent as appropriate) is required to produce either a valid tax clearance certificate or a C2 certificate. The public sector includes all Government Departments and Offices, Local Authorities, the Health Service Executive and other Health Agencies, Educational Bodies and all State Bodies whether commercial or non-commercial (statutory or otherwise) and in general all authorities (agencies/entities/bodies) who finance contracts out of public funds. The Circular is to be interpreted to cover situations where public sector bodies are buying, hiring or leasing goods, services or property or generally expending public monies including, for example, contracts. It is not necessary that a contract be the subject of formal documentation or a tendering process for the tax clearance procedures to apply. Contracts awarded and payments made by public sector bodies to other public sector bodies are excluded from the scope of these procedures.

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the tax compliance of all contractors and sub contractors currently working on State contracts has been verified through the tax clearance or C2 process as outlined above. Further monitoring on sub-contractors' compliance is carried out through the payments cards application process when the compliance status is reviewed before payments in excess of approved amounts can be made without deduction of Relevant Contracts Tax.

In addition, State Bodies, principal and sub contractors are all subject to Revenue's various compliance programmes which range from unannounced visits to sites to fully comprehensive audits. In that context they may be selected for intervention based on the presence of various risk indicators and other information available to Revenue.

In the future the new Relevant Contracts Tax system that is being introduced by Revenue from 1 January 2012 will ensure that Revenue has access to up to date real time information on-line which they can monitor, review and respond to immediately. The rate of RCT to be applied will change depending on the ongoing tax compliance of the sub contractors. In effect it introduces a system of real time and ongoing tax clearance.

Section 101 of the Minister and Secretaries (Amendment) Act 2011 has placed on a statutory basis the independence of the Revenue Commissioners in the exercise by the Commissioners of their statutory functions under the various taxation and customs enactments, including decisions relating to investigation. This has given effect to the recommendation of the Report of the Tribunal into Payments to Politicians and Related Matters (that is, the report of Mr. Justice Moriarty), that the principle or convention of the independence of the Revenue Commissioners be elevated to the more robust status of a legislative provision.

Tax Yield

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

109 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance the amount he expects to raise through the domicile levy otherwise known as the tax exile levy, by the filing date of 31 October; the amount that has been paid to date; his views that the rules of the levy should be adapted on an ongoing basis to ensure that the largest number of high net worth persons are subject to the levy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30765/11]

The Domicile Levy can be paid at any time up to 31 October in the year following the valuation date, which is 31 December of each year. The first valuation date for the levy was 31 December 2010 and the tax return and payment of the levy for 2010 is not due until 31 October 2011. The yield figure will not be available until after that date. As with other areas of taxation, the rules are constantly kept under review and any changes will be determined in the context of Budget and Finance Bill.

Tax Code

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

110 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance the rate of VAT that applies to bicycle helmets; his views that it is appropriate to levy VAT on such a critical piece of safety equipment and in view of the fact that VAT does not apply to helmets in the UK; if he will consider changing the rules here so that no VAT rate applies to safety helmets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30769/11]

The supply of safety equipment including bicycle helmets for children up to 10 years of age is liable to VAT at the zero rate in accordance with paragraph 10(1) of Schedule 2 of the Value-Added Tax Consolidation Act 2010. The supply of safety equipment for adults and children older than 10 years is liable to VAT at the standard rate of 21% as provided for in Section 46(1)(a) of the VAT Consolidation Act. The application of a reduced rate on safety equipment for adults and older children is prohibited by the EU VAT Directive, with which Irish VAT law must comply. In general, Member States must apply the standard VAT rate to all safety equipment. Under Article 110 of the VAT Directive, where a Member State applied a zero rate of VAT to any item on 1 January 1991, they could continue to apply the zero rate. It is under this provision that clothing and safety equipment for children is zero rated in Ireland. As the standard rate applied to safety equipment for adults and older children on 1 January 1991, it is not possible for Ireland to apply a VAT rate lower than the standard rate to these items. With regard to the VAT rate applying to safety equipment including bicycle helmets in the UK, the same VAT Directive provision (Article 110), allows the UK to zero rate safety equipment and bicycle helmets for adults as well as children. This is because the UK applied such a rate to safety equipment on 1 January 1991.

Departmental Agencies

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

111 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a list of all non-commercial State agencies under the aegis of his Department. [30783/11]

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

115 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Finance if all non-commercial State agency employees under his Department’s aegis are paid directly from the Exchequer. [30888/11]

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

137 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a list of all commercial semi-State companies under his aegis. [31393/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 111, 115 and 137 together.

In response to the Deputy's questions there are 2 bodies which are classed as commercial agencies and one body classed as non-commercial State agency which come under the aegis of my Department.

The commercial bodies are Anglo Irish Bank and The National Asset Management Agency.

The non-commercial State agency which comes under the aegis of my Department is The National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA). The NTMA is responsible for borrowing on behalf of the Government and managing the National Debt. It also acts as the State Claims Agency, the Manager of the National Pensions Reserve Fund and is the body through which the National Development Finance Agency performs its functions. NewERA has been established in the NTMA, initially on a non-statutory basis. The NTMA assigns staff to the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) and also provides NAMA with business and support services and systems.

The expenses of the NTMA, including staff costs, are paid directly from the Central Fund. NAMA reimburses the NTMA the costs of staff assigned to NAMA and the costs of business and support services provided to NAMA from its own resources.

Tax Code

Robert Dowds

Question:

112 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Finance the action being taken to address the issue of the use of transfer pricing to reduce tax paid here by multinational corporations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30811/11]

With effect from the start of this year, codified provisions in relation to transfer pricing address any understatement of profits for Irish tax purposes. These provisions confirm that, for trading transactions between associated persons, the OECD "arm's-length" standard of pricing must apply. Arm's length prices are those that would be agreed by independent parties. If the amount payable under the terms of a transaction between associated persons is greater than the arm's length amount and reduces the profit, then the arm's length amount will be deemed to be the amount payable in substitution for the actual amount. If the amount receivable under a transaction is less than the arm's length amount and reduces the profits, then the arm's length amount will be deemed to be the amount receivable in substitution for the actual amount. Media reports have incorrectly suggested that highly profitable companies make arrangements using transfer pricing to reduce their payment of Irish corporation tax, effectively bringing the Irish tax rate below 12.5%.

Arm's-length payments incurred, for the use of assets owned outside the State by an associated foreign company, will reduce the profits of the Irish company concerned. The reports mistakenly attribute to Ireland profits that, in fact, represent the return due to assets owned in other jurisdictions by group companies resident in those jurisdictions. Group companies resident in Ireland pay 12.5% corporation tax on their profits arising here. However, by relating this corporation tax not only to the profits of the Irish-resident companies but, instead, to both those profitsand the profits of foreign-resident companies (which are not profits chargeable to Irish corporation tax), these reports produce an average tax rate for the companies concerned that is lower than 12.5% and an inference that Irish profits are not being charged.

Multinational groups, with subsidiaries in other countries as well as in Ireland, incurbona fide expenditures that are paid to foreign group members and reduce Irish profits. This may reduce the average rate of tax for the total profits of the Irish and foreign-resident subsidiaries taken together. Nevertheless, the Irish profits are being charged and the rate of tax actually paid on the profits of Irish-resident subsidiaries is the full 12.5%.

Tax Reliefs

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

113 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Finance when he is due to report on the section 23 consultation process. [30842/11]

The public consultation on Section 23-type reliefs and other "legacy" property-based tax reliefs, undertaken by my Department concluded at the end of July. Over 700 submissions were made during the consultation, which forms part of an impact assessment process to assess the potential effects of amending, curtailing and/or abolishing such reliefs, in keeping with the commitment in the Programme for Government to curtail tax shelters which benefit very high income earners. Submissions were received from a wide range of organisations and from individuals, and varied in length and scope. These submissions are currently being examined and are adding to our understanding of the dynamic of these reliefs and providing a valuable source of information on the possible impacts on the State and investor groups of potential changes to the treatment of property-based legacy reliefs.

It is anticipated that the analysis of the submissions along with the results of the impact assessment process will be available for consideration in the context of the forthcoming budget.

As the Deputy is aware it is not customary to comment in advance of the Budget on any matters that might be the subject of Budget decisions.

Tax Code

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

114 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance if he will examine ways of reducing the VAT rate on domestic energy, to alleviate fears and hardship that energy costs are having on persons with low incomes. [30867/11]

I would point out that domestic fuels, namely electricity and gas, are already subject to VAT at the reduced rate of 13.5% in Ireland. The majority of EU Member States, nineteen of the 27 States, apply higher VAT rates to domestic energy than Ireland. Ireland can avail of this reduced rate because of a provision, under Article 118 of the EU VAT Directive that provides that where a reduced rate applied to a good or service on 1 January 1991, Member States can continue to avail of that reduced rate. However, this provision is restricted in that only a rate of 12% or more may apply to domestic fuels.

The level and timeframe of any changes to the Irish VAT rates will be determined in the context of the annual Budget cycle.

Question No. 115 answered with Question No. 111.

Departmental Agencies

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

116 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide the following information regarding the agencies operating under his aegis (details supplied) namely, the total number of whole time equivalent staff, the total number of board members, the chairperson’s and board members’ respective remuneration packages, the total annual wage bill and the total amount of central funding provided to the agency inclusive of wage bill. [30915/11]

In response to the Deputy's question information in relation to bodies listed and which come under the aegis of my Department is as follows: Details requested in respect of the Office of the Appeals Commissioners and Office of the Revenue Commissioners are available in the revised estimates for 2011.

The National Development Finance Agency (NDFA) performs its functions through the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA). The NTMA had 39 members of staff directly assigned to the NDFA at end-September 2011.

There are eight members of the NDFA Board. The Chairman and Chief Executive of the NDFA (the CEO and a director of the NTMA respectively) receive no fee. The remaining 6 ordinary board members receive a fee of €12,600 per annum, which takes into account a 10% reduction in fees agreed by the Board at the request of the Minister for Finance in 2009. Board fees are charged to the Central Fund.

The National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF) is controlled and managed by the NPRF Commission. The NTMA is the Manager of the National Pensions Reserve Fund and the Commission performs its functions through the Manager. The NTMA had 13 members of staff directly assigned to the NPRF at end-September 2011.

There are seven members of the National Pensions Reserve Fund Commission. The Chairperson is paid €51,424 per annum and ordinary members of the Commission (other than the Chief Executive of the NTMA who is an ex-officio member of the Commission and does not receive a fee) are paid €34,283. These fees take into account a 10% reduction in fees agreed by the Board at the request of the Minister for Finance in 2009). The fees paid to the Commission are charged to the National Pensions Reserve Fund.

The NTMA's shared services (Finance, HR, IT, etc.) provide support to all of the Agency's business functions, including the NDFA and the NPRF.

The expenses of the NTMA, including staff costs, are paid directly from the Central Fund. NAMA reimburses the NTMA the costs of staff assigned to NAMA and the costs of business and support services provided to NAMA from its own resources. The costs incurred by the NTMA in its role as Manager of the NPRF are set out in the accounts of the National Pensions Reserve Fund. These costs amounted to €4.5 million in 2010. The costs incurred by the NTMA in relation to the NDFA are set out in the accounts of the NDFA. These costs amounted to €7.1 million in 2010.

Fees and expenses incurred by the NPRF Commission, other than the expenses of the NTMA as outlined above, are charged to the NPRF.

Amounts are advanced from the Central Fund to fund the payment of external advisory fees and expenses incurred by the NDFA in the performance of its financing and advisory functions in relation to specific investment projects. These fees and expenses are reclaimed from State authorities and the amounts advanced are then repaid to the Exchequer.

State Banking Sector

Jim Daly

Question:

117 Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to an internal memo circulated recently within AIB instructing all account managers not to pay standing order claims from accounts that exceed the authorised limit even by the slightest amount and not regarding paired accounts that may be in surplus cash; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30927/11]

As the Deputy will be aware, notwithstanding the fact that the State is a 99.8% shareholder in AIB, the bank is run on a commercial basis and the Government does not interfere in the day to day commercial decisions taken by the board and management of the bank. The matter referred to in the Deputy's question would clearly fall into this category and I would have no function in the matter.

Tax Collection

Michael McCarthy

Question:

118 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Finance the reason for the delay in processing an appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork to the Revenue Commissioners; when a decision on the matter will be forthcoming; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30930/11]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that there has been no delay in dealing with this matter. The person concerned wrote to the Office of the Appeal Commissioners on 5th October to make an appeal. The Appeal Commissioners replied on 14th October advising him that, in accordance with the relevant legislation, he should make his appeal through the Revenue Commissioners. In writing to Revenue he should address his letter to Mr. Michael Duggan, Assistant Principal, Revenue Commissioners, Revenue House, Blackpool, Cork, who will ensure that it receives prompt attention.

The person concerned also wrote to the Revenue Commissioners on 5th October seeking an internal review of his tax affairs. Revenue's Internal Review Unit will ensure that the review is completed as soon as possible.

Tax Code

Catherine Murphy

Question:

119 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider amending clauses (1) and (111) of paragraph a(11) of the Stamp Duties Consolidation Act 1999; if he agrees the time limit can be a problem when divorce or separation is protracted; if changes to the act are planned; the time frame involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30959/11]

The Deputy appears to be referring to Section 92B Stamp Duties Consolidation Act 1999, which relates to first time buyer relief from Stamp Duty on the purchase of residential property. Finance Act 2011 abolished first time buyer relief, along with a number of other reliefs from Stamp Duty on residential property transfers, as part of the process in which the Stamp Duty rate was reduced to 1% on properties valued up to €1 million and 2% on any balance over €1 million. I have no plans at this time to reintroduce this relief so the question of amending the provision does not arise.

Departmental Expenditure

Anne Ferris

Question:

120 Deputy Anne Ferris asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details for the years 2006 to 2011, inclusive, of the arrangements entered into by him, any body under his aegis or State agency for which he has responsibility, for the obtaining of advice from a senior or junior counsel and or a firm of solicitors; the subject matter for which advice was sought; the names of the barristers and solicitors firms concerned and the fees paid; the nature of the work concerned; if in each case the matter was advertised for competitive tender and if not, the reason; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30968/11]

In general, my Department uses the services of the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Chief State Solicitor. However, it also seeks outside legal advisors in circumstances requiring legal services of a specific nature. The costs associated with the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Chief State Solicitor are borne by their respective Votes. The following tables set out the detail sought by the Deputy in relation to the legal fees paid by my Department and by the Offices under the aegis of my Department for the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and to date in 2011.

The Deputy should note, that information in respect of my Department covers some activities for which responsibility transferred to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform from July 2011.

Both the National Treasury Management Agency and the Central Bank were unable to provide the information requested by the Deputy in the time available, however this information is being collated and will be issued to the Deputy.

Department of Finance

Advisor

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011 (to date)

Reason

Tender Yes/No

Philip Lee Solicitors

18,501

0

0

0

0

0

Advice in relation to the drafting of construction contracts

Yes

McCann Fitzgerald

0

0

48,400

0

0

0

Advice relating to procurement of air/transport agency services

Yes

McCann Fitzgerald

39,325

14,664

0

0

0

Advice relating to Public Sector Standard Conditions of engagement for construction consultants

Yes

Matheson Ormsby Prentice

5,608

25,549

0

0

0

0

Advice relating to general supplies and services contracts

Yes

Max Abrahamson

18,150

12,100

0

0

0

0

Advice relating to Public Sector Standard Conditions and amendments to Arbitration and Conciliation regulations

Yes

Arthur Cox

0

1,628,024

5,875,869

4,804,884

962,579

Advice relating to bank guarantee scheme

No*

A&L Goodbody

440,556

137,090

182,007

0

0

0

Advice relating to Standard Public Works Contracts for works contractors

Yes

A&L Goodbody

29,310

66,657

0

0

0

0

Advice relating to Public Private Partnership, terms and conditions

Yes

A&L Goodbody

92,130

112,050

0

0

0

0

Advice relating to sale of ACC bank

Yes

Paul O’Higgins S.C.

0

0

0

15,125

0

Advice provided to Messrs Regling and Watson as part of their preliminary investigation into the banking sector

Yes

David Barniville SC

0

0

0

0

0

36,402

Advice in relation to Credit Institutions Stabilisation Act

No. SC Engaged by AG’s office

Niamh Hyland BL

0

0

0

0

0

24,657

Advice in relation to Credit Institutions Stabilisation Act

No. BL engaged by AG’s office

Lúan Ó Braonáin S.C.

0

0

0

0

0

2,226

Advice in relation to Outside Appointments Board

No. Nominated by Gen Counsel Bar of Ireland

Office of the Appeal Commissioners

Nil reply

Office of the C&AG

The C&AG's role as auditor of the accounts of all Government Departments, other Funds controlled by the State and many State Sponsored Bodies can lead to situations where the Office has to obtain independent legal advice as a conflict of interest could arise for the Attorney General as the legal adviser representing the body the Office requires legal advice on. The Office procures all legal services for a period of three years at a time, using a competitive open tendering process. It is not possible to set out the individual subject matter of advice sought over each three-year period. Indicatively, the Office seeks a firm of solicitors which can offer the following types of advice; Litigation, Contract Law, Defamation, Employment Law, Administrative Law and Legislation.

Legal advice was sought on a case-by-case basis, where the primary provider of legal services during the period concerned suffered from a conflict of interest. Where the Office procures legal advice separately to this draw down arrangement, the subject of the advice is given in the table below.

Office of C&AG

Advisor

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011 (to date)

Reason

Tender Yes/No

Matheson Ormsby Prentice

14,621

37,842

0

0

6,007

0

Variety of issues relating to day-to-day work of the Office

Yes

William Fry

0

2,315

0

0

0

0

Work relating to chapter in Annual Report

No— specialist single issue.

Maurice G Collins

0

3,025

0

0

0

0

Advice in relation to an audit

No— specialist single issue.

Mason Hayes Curran

13,078

16,568

8,030

Variety of issues relating to day-to-day work of the Office

Yes

Philip Lee Solicitors

0

0

0

0

0

10,568

Variety of issues relating to day-to-day work of the Office

Yes

Philip Lee Solicitors

0

0

0

0

0

48,599

NAMA due diligence advice

No. Firms approached to participate in tendering process all had a conflict of interest.

Revenue

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the Revenue Solicitor provides legal services for Revenue and in that capacity engages external barristers in circumstances that require specific legal advices and legal opinions on issues in Tax, Customs and general litigation, for advising proofs for Court and Administrative Tribunal cases and for providing full advocacy services in the conduct of Tax, Customs and general litigation (both civil and criminal) before the District, Circuit, High and Supreme Courts, Appeal Commissioners and other administrative tribunals. The use of a competitive tendering process for these services is not feasible.

Virtually all the fees paid to Counsel relate to tax and customs compliance, including tax avoidance. The requirement for legal advice arises in the context of individual tax and customs cases, which cannot be detailed for reasons of taxpayer confidentiality, where Revenue is challenging, or being challenged. Other than the figures in Table 2 below, it is not possible to disaggregate the fees paid for advice from those paid for litigation and advocacy services.

For completeness, I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that following competitive tender they entered into contracts with firms of solicitors to provide legal services associated with debt collection and recovery. These are essentially outsourcing contracts and the expenditure is set out in Table 3 below.

Table 1: Total fees paid to Counsel in respect of services provided to Revenue Commissioners, including VAT.

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011 (To 30/09/2011)

1,346,003

1,315,252

1,949,170

1,660,464

1,489,762

889,130

Table 2: Fees paid to Solicitors firms for advice, including VAT

Year

Firm

Fees

Purpose

2009

Philip Lee

€10,518.42

Procurement and contract advice for the provision of Legal Services associated with Debt Collection and Recovery.

2009

Arthur Cox

€12,413.93

Advice — Employment Law

2010

Philip Lee

€2,099.81

Procurement and contract advice for the provision of security services.

2010

Philip Lee

€15,447.40

Contracts relating to ICT External Resource procurement

2010

Arthur Cox

€656.80

Advice — Employment Law

2011

Arthur Cox

€2,922.15

Procurement Advice

2011

Arthur Cox

€14,345.18

Advice — Employment Law

Table 3: Expenditure on Debt Collection and Recovery, including VAT and outlay.

Firm

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011 (to date)

Holmes O’Malley Sexton, Limerick

€587,967

€714,860

€838,145

€738,295

€716,246

€604,758

Ivor Fitzpatrick & Co, Dublin

€563,640

€643,981

€615,345

€1,155,081

€1,095,244

€827,894

Lavelle Coleman & Co, Dublin

Nil

Nil

Nil

Nil

€239,378

€434,590

Mason Hayes & Curran, Dublin

€750,780

€633,535

€773,212

€662,173

€615,068

€537,168

Matheson Ormsby Prentice, Dublin

€1,083,020

€916,064

€794,517

€746,975

€712,810

€780,719

Pierse & Fitzgibbon, Listowel

€773,524

€741,625

€846,706

€837,688

€730,065

€649,925

George V. Maloney, Cavan

€943,669

€686,751

€471,984

€598,573

€639,838

€111,745

Barristers Fees 2006

Name

Gross Fee + VAT

Aston, Anthony

€104,302.00

Barron, Robert

€7,925.50

Bourke, Conor

€51,773.88

Butler, Nuala

€17,000.50

Cahill, Dermot

€11,253.00

Clifford, Eoin

€1,996.50

Clohessy, Grainne

€90,852.85

Collins, Anthony M.

€61,014.25

Connolly, James

€26,015.00

Conway, Brendan

€73,592.20

Dillon, Justin

€28,737.50

Dwyer, James

€6,594.50

Farrelly, Marjorie

€11,446.60

Fennelly, Will

€5,445.00

Finn, Eileen

€14,025.11

Fitzsimons, Eoghan

€135,399.00

Fullam, His Honour, Raymond

€114,284.50

Gallagher, Lorna

€13,612.50

Gallagher, Paul

€19,844.00

Gilvarry, David F.

€701.80

Goodman, Aoife

€14,399.00

Grehan, Brendan

€1,875.50

Heneghan, Margaret

€3,569.50

J. Travers, Noel

€14,580.50

Kierse, Alison

€3,872.00

Lyons, Richard

€6,171.00

McBratney, R. John

€7,925.50

McDermott, Paul Anthony

€13,410.43

McDonagh, Feichin

€2,420.00

McDonagh, Sunniva

€3,012.90

McDonald, Denis

€27,184.66

McDonough, Donough M.

€1,028.50

McGarry, Paul

€8,530.50

McGinn, Dominic

€8,954.00

McGovern, Jeananne

€1,694.00

Murray, Brian

€21,810.25

O’Higgins, Paul

€20,691.00

Ó hOisín, Colm

€1,815.00

O’Keeffe, Daniel

€56,144.00

O’Mara, Helen

€1,391.50

O’Connor, Caoilte

€1,877.92

O’Donnell, Michael

€17,787.00

O’Hanlon, Niall

€30,262.10

O’Mahony, Mark

€113,810.59

Ramsay, Ciaran

€23,050.50

Smith, Kelley

€1,210.00

Spierin, Brian

€45,980.00

Tighe, Una

€95,729.15

€1,346,003.19

Barristers Fees 2007

Name

Gross Fee + VAT

Aston, Anthony

€97,545.80

Barron, Robert

€12,100.00

Bourke, Conor

€49,065.50

Cahill, Dermot

€17,061.00

Clarke, Douglas

€28,919.00

Clohessy, Grainne

€133,402.50

Collins, Anthony M.

€52,332.50

Collins, Michael

€2,601.50

Conway, Brendan

€66,138.60

Coughlan, Stephen

€6,534.00

Dillon, Justin

€10,587.50

Dwyer, James

€4,235.00

Farrelly, Marjorie

€10,369.70

Finn, Eileen

€25,601.18

Fitzsimons, Eoghan

€45,496.00

Fullam, His Honour, Raymond

€189,970.00

Gaffney, Brian

€5,687.00

Goodman, Aoife

€16,335.00

Gormley, Paul

€6,836.50

J. Travers, Noel

€23,312.47

Kierse, Alison

€23,776.50

Lyons, Richard

€1,815.00

McBratney, R. John

€3,025.00

McDermott, Paul Anthony

€21,780.00

McDonald, Denis

€61,226.00

McGinn, Dominic

€21,356.50

McGovern, Jeananne

€6,050.00

McGowan, Fiona

€1,089.00

Murray, Brian

€7,720.38

Naidoo, Kerida

€3,690.50

O’Keeffe, Daniel

€21,417.00

O’Hanlon, Niall

€107,861.65

O’Mahony, Mark

€102,335.75

O’Reilly, Patrick

€1,270.50

Ramsay, Ciaran

€98,212.07

Smith, Kelley

€10,950.50

Sreenan, Pearse

€2,420.00

Tighe, Una

€15,125.00

€1,315,252.10

Barristers Fees 2008

Name

Gross Fee + VAT

Aston, Anthony

€155,313.00

Barniville, David

€4,598.00

Barron, Robert

€12,221.00

Bourke, Conor

€79,375.40

Cahill, Dermot

€37,510.00

Clifford, Eoin

€17,605.50

Clohessy, Grainne

€288,803.50

Collins, Anthony M.

€121,910.75

Collins, Dorothy

€7,986.00

Comyn, Edward

€4,900.50

Connolly, James

€34,969.00

Conway, Brendan

€114,734.30

Dillon, Justin

€4,295.50

Farrelly, Marjorie

€10,043.00

Finn, Eileen

€27,406.50

Fitzsimons, Eoghan

€156,271.50

Fullam, His Honour, Raymond

€14,520.00

Gaffney, Brian

€18,694.50

Gallagher, Lorna

€2,178.00

Gallagher, Paul

€2,117.50

Goodman, Aoife

€11,162.57

Heneghan, Margaret

€3,388.00

Kelly, Kieran

€3,267.00

Kerr, Anthony

€31,157.50

Kierse, Alison

€35,150.50

Kilfeather, Jonathan

€1,893.65

McDermott, Paul Anthony

€8,414.50

McDonagh, Sunniva

€5,868.50

McDonald, Denis

€76,000.10

McGinn, Dominic

€18,210.50

McGovern, Jeananne

€3,085.50

McGowan, Fiona

€302.50

McGuinness, Diarmuid

€3,811.50

Murray, Brian

€2,541.00

O Drisceoil, Mr. Ross

€15,584.80

O’Donnell, Michael

€14,278.00

O’Hanlon, Niall

€38,296.50

O’Higgins, Michael

€1,210.00

O’Mahony, Mark

€178,838.29

O’Reilly, Patrick

€980.10

Ramsay, Ciaran

€197,149.94

Sheehan, Lisa

€250.00

Smith, Kelley

€98,198.00

Tighe, Una

€84,678.22

€1,949,170.62

Barristers Fees 2009

Name

Gross Fee + VAT

Aston, Anthony

€80,170.56

Barron, Robert

€33,881.49

Boland, Ray

€1,285.47

Bourke, Conor

€156,719.45

Cahill, Dermot

€29,266.92

Clifford, Eoin

€4,587.84

Clohessy, Grainne

€239,485.49

Collins, Anthony M.

€234,903.24

Conway, Brendan

€19,916.28

Finn, Eileen

€36,366.65

Fitzsimons, Eoghan

€64,108.26

Fullam, His Honour, Raymond

€2,642.63

Goodman, Aoife

€34,202.25

Heneghan, Margaret

€2,012.04

Kerr, Anthony

€3,632.85

Kierse, Alison

€53,948.43

Lucey, John

€1,397.25

McDonagh, Sunniva

€7,654.50

McDonald, Denis

€12,424.59

McGinn, Dominic

€21,990.29

McGovern, Jeananne

€3,688.74

McGuinness, Diarmuid

€21,900.38

Miller, Mary Geraldine

€2,126.25

Murphy, Shane

€17,437.68

O Mara,, Helen

€5,868.45

O’Doherty, Warren & Associates

€2,209.70

O’Donnell, Donal

€1,822.50

O’Hanlon, Niall

€36,430.56

O’Mahony, Mark

€115,688.66

Quinn, Patrick

€52,854.93

Ramsay, Ciaran

€161,026.04

Ramsey, Michael

€10,244.88

Shanahan, Rudi Newman

€2,346.00

Smith, Kelley

€128,159.42

Tighe, Una

€58,063.64

€1,660,464.31

Barristers Fees 2010

Name

Gross Fee + VAT

Aston, Anthony

€74,889.32

Barron, Robert

€834.90

Binchy, Kieran

€552.00

Bourke, Conor

€43,405.85

Byrne, John

€4,397.14

Cahill, Dermot

€53,940.74

Clifford, Eoin

€10,464.08

Clohessy, Grainne

€338,936.49

Cogan, Elizabeth

€1,753.29

Collins, Anthony M.

€113,701.28

Conway, Brendan

€6,062.10

Cush, Michael

€38,962.00

Dignam, Conor

€194.81

Dunford, Mr. Craig

€1,011.54

Dwyer, James

€4,230.16

Farrelly, Marjorie

€12,634.82

Fennelly, Will

€11,813.72

Ferriter, Cian

€6,066.94

Finn, Eileen

€34,166.04

Fitzsimons, Eoghan

€1,948.10

Foley, Sarah-Kate

€552.00

Gallagher, Lorna

€1,227.51

Gillane, Sean

€929.28

Goodman, Aoife

€49,426.08

Healy-Rae, Rosemary

€4,731.10

Kearney, Brian

€8,642.94

Kelly, Kieran

€8,111.84

Kerr, Anthony

€6,044.43

Kierse, Alison

€32,402.40

Lucey, John

€10,464.08

McDermott, Paul Anthony

€946.22

McDonald, Denis

€23,321.54

McGinn, Dominic

€72,822.64

McGovern, Jeananne

€17,995.20

O Floinn, Benedict

€3,347.81

O’Connell, Jennifer

€9,907.48

O’Hanlon, Niall

€67,394.82

O’Mahony, Mark

€93,197.98

O’Reilly, Alice Mary

€10,000.00

Quinn, Patrick

€3,673.56

Ramsay, Ciaran

€109,037.94

Ramsey, Michael

€2,417.58

Smith, Kelley

€107,100.01

Spierin, Brian

€12,021.35

Tighe, Una

€72,367.68

Travers, Noel

€1,713.84

€1,489,762.63

Barristers Fees 2011

Name

Gross Fee + VAT

Aston, Anthony

€21,651.74

Barron, Robert

€13,915.00

Beck, Andrew

€7,792.40

Binchy, Kieran

€2,070.00

Bourke, Conor

€52,487.38

Byrne, John

€17,757.96

Cahill, Dermot

€50,567.11

Clarke, Seamus

€1,029.71

Clifford, Eoin

€3,005.64

Clohessy, Grainne

€142,530.74

Cogan, Elizabeth

€11,298.98

Collins, Anthony M.

€64,398.62

Connolly, Lorcan

€1,463.86

Conway, Brendan

€3,228.28

Cunningham, Arthur

€3,395.26

Dillon, Justin

€723.58

Farrelly, Marjorie

€8,349.00

Fennelly, Will

€2,170.74

Finn, Eileen

€17,054.95

Fitzsimons, Eoghan

€19,703.64

Gallagher, Lorna

€9,642.54

Goodman, Aoife

€26,772.46

Grant, Maddie

€445.28

Healy-Rae, Rosemary

€2,783.00

Kearney, Brian

€5,399.02

Kerr, Anthony

€4,843.39

Kierse, Alison

€8,738.62

Lucey, John

€7,263.63

McDermott, Paul Anthony

€2,783.00

McDonald, Denis

€5,677.32

McGinn, Dominic

€15,167.35

McGovern, Jeananne

€11,132.00

Mulloy, Eanna

€16,113.57

Murray, Brian

€21,335.93

O Mara,, Helen

€1,335.84

O’Connell, Jennifer

€9,684.84

O’Hanlon, Niall

€890.56

O’Mahony, Mark

€70,465.56

Quinn, Patrick

€17,978.18

Ramsay, Ciaran

€129,975.78

Shanahan, Rudi Newman

€1,168.86

Smith, Kelley

€60,022.05

Tighe, Una

€14,916.88

€889,130.25

Tax Code

Jack Wall

Question:

121 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance the reason a person (details supplied) in County Kildare has not received a P45; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30977/11]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they have contacted the employer and that a P45 will issue to the person concerned today.

Mortgage Debt

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

122 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Finance his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding mortgage debt issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31003/11]

I would like to thank the Deputy for bringing to my attention the proposals for dealing with the mortgage arrears situation. As the Deputy is aware a lot of discussion has taken place to deal with the mortgage arrears situation and a lot of suggestions have been put forward. In November 2010, the Expert Group on Mortgage Arrears and Personal Debt published its report. All of the Group's recommendations are listed in Chapter 2 of the Report which can be accessed on my Department's website:www.finance.gov.ie.

More recently, the Economic Management Council, of which I am a member, requested an Inter-Departmental Mortgage Arrears Working Group to consider further necessary actions to alleviate the increasing problem of mortgage over-indebtedness. The Group's report was published on 12 October 2011 and is also available on my Department's website. The report was debated in the Dáil this week. This debate gave all sides of the House the opportunity to contribute in a constructive and realistic manner to the deliberations on this important issue. As I stated in the House, all of us recognise that the problem is a complex one. Neither the work of the Group nor the report were designed to offer the complete solution to the mortgage arrears problem. As is recommended in the report, further solutions need to be developed by the mortgage lenders and these need to be assessed by the Central Bank. The report sets out some very important recommendations on where the State should play its part by supporting mortgage to rent schemes, establishing a mortgage advisory function and introducing more appropriate bankruptcy legislation. Its sets out a clear framework for assessing individual situations and a range of suggested solutions.

I have instructed the Banking Division of my Department to begin discussions with the banks to ensure implementation of the measures set out in the report.

Departmental Expenditure

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

123 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Finance the annual cost of the licensed payroll system, Corepay, to his Department. [31057/11]

My Department is a shared services payroll provider and, in addition to paying Finance staff, uses its licensed Corepay system to provide a service for a number of other Government Department/Offices per annum. The annual maintenance and support costs in respect of this service are €49,200.

The Revenue Commissioners, which is under the aegis of my Department, is not part of my Department's shared services payroll. However, I am informed the annual Corepay costs for that body were, €81,070 in 2010.

Financial Services Regulation

Peter Mathews

Question:

124 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Finance if financial institutions are obliged to lower the interest on a mortgage (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31145/11]

As Minister for Finance, I do not get involved in or comment on negotiations/discussions between a borrower with his/her lender. I note that the borrower in question is engaging with the lender. As the Deputy is aware the Central Bank's Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears (the Code) applies to mortgage lending activities with borrowers in respect of their principal private residence in the State. Under the Code, lenders must establish a Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process known as a MARP and use this framework when dealing with borrowers who are in arrears or in pre-arrears situations. Under rule16 of the Code, a lender must establish a dedicated Arrears Support Unit (ASU) to manage cases under the MARP. If a borrower is not satisfied with a decision of the ASU, then he or she can appeal the matter to the lender's internal appeals board which the lender is obliged to establish under rule 42 of the Code. A copy of the Code is available on the Central Bank's website:www.centralbank.ie.

Luke 'Ming' Flanagan

Question:

125 Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance his views that it is unfair for lending institutions to raise variable mortgage rates in order to offset losses on tracker mortgages; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31152/11]

Brendan Griffin

Question:

130 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance his views on a matter (details supplied); the steps he will take in this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31178/11]

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

134 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance if he will review a matter (details supplied) regarding interest rates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31271/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 125, 130 and 134 together.

As Minister for Finance, I have no statutory role in the setting of interest rates charged by financial institutions regulated by the Central Bank.

The Central Bank has responsibility for the regulation and supervision of financial institutions in terms of consumer protection and prudential requirements and for ensuring ongoing compliance with applicable statutory obligations. Interest rates and financial products are not regulated. Each institution determines the rate it charges its customers, depending on a number of factors, such as cost of funds and commercial considerations (such as competition in the market, risk pricing and the impact on deposit rates).

Despite the Central Bank not having a statutory role in the matter, I have been advised by the Bank that a decision has been taken to require any bank that has received Government capital support to provide an impact analysis of any proposed standard variable mortgage rate increase in terms of the implications for its arrears portfolio and for future capital requirements. The Central Bank has also indicated that the Board of Directors of such a bank must, in future, review and approve this analysis to ensure that proper attention is given to the costs of such actions The Deputies may wish to refer to the address given by Mr Matthew Elderfield, Deputy Governor of the Central Bank to the Association of Compliance Officers in Ireland at University College Cork on 14 October 2011. This can be accessed on the Central Bank's websitewww.centralbank.ie.

The Financial Services Ombudsman is a statutory officer who deals independently with complaints from consumers about their individual dealings with financial service providers that have not been resolved by the providers after they have been through the internal complaints resolution systems of the providers. Because of the independence of the Ombudsman, it would not be appropriate for me to comment on his work or on how long it takes him to carry out his investigations.

National Asset Management Agency

Pearse Doherty

Question:

126 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he will release NAMA Q2, 2011 accounts in advance of meeting of the Committee of Public Accounts on 26 October 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31163/11]

The second quarterly report for the period ending 30 June 2011, accompanied by financial statements for the second quarter, was submitted to me by NAMA as required by the end of September 2011 and I will lay the report before each House of the Oireachtas shortly.

Banks Recapitalisation

Peter Mathews

Question:

127 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Finance the amount of Government bonds that were assets of Allied Irish Bank immediately prior to the 31 July recapitalisation; the amount of Government bonds that are assets of Allied Irish Bank currently; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31171/11]

The latest publicly available figures on the amount of Eurozone Government bonds, including Irish government bonds, held by AIB were published as part of the EU wide bank stress tests on 15 July 2011. A link to the main release on the Central Bank of Ireland's website is below.http://www.centralbank.ie/press-area/press-releases/Pages/2011EU-WideBankStressTestResultsforIrishBanksPublished.aspx

The results published by the Central Bank contain an individual PDF report for AIB detailing the various Eurozone and other Sovereign exposures, including Ireland, as of 31 December 2010. The Sovereign debt exposures are shown starting on page 7 of the PDF report.

Additionally, AIB provided updated partial disclosure on their sovereign exposures as part of their 30 June 2011 half year results, the full detail of which can be found on page 27 of the document at the link below on the AIB website.http://www.aib.ie/servlet/ContentServer?pagename= AIBInvestorRelations/AIBDownload/aibddownload&c=AIBDownload&cid=1314616620712&channel=IRFP

I am informed by the bank that an up-to-date disclosure of its Irish Government bond holdings is not currently available on the grounds of commercial sensitivity and would only ordinarily be updated at accounting period ends or as part of other market announcements

Brendan Griffin

Question:

128 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance his views on a matter (details supplied); if he intends to deliver on this commitment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31173/11]

The Programme for Government commits the Government to examining a proposal to increase mortgage interest relief to 30% for first time buyers who bought between 2004 and 2008 to be financed in part by the abolition of mortgage interest relief for new buyers from mid 2011. This proposal was considered by the Inter-Departmental Group on Mortgage Arrears but was not recommended by the 0Group. However, all tax matters remain for consideration in the context of the annual Budget and this remains the position.

Tax Code

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

129 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance the reason medical expenses involving hair transplant for female patients suffering from alopecia are not allowable for tax relief; if he will consider allowing same for this condition; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31174/11]

Income Tax relief in respect of health expenses is allowable in accordance with section 469 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997. The section provides for tax relief for health expenses incurred in the provision of health care. "Health Care" is defined as the prevention, diagnosis, alleviation or treatment of an ailment, injury, infirmity, defect or disability but does not include cosmetic surgery or similar procedures, unless the surgery or procedure is necessary to ameliorate a physical deformity arising from, or directly related to, a congenital abnormality, a personal injury or a disfiguring disease. Hair transplant treatment for androgenetic alopecia (known as female and male pattern baldness) is not regarded as the provision of "health care" and, accordingly, tax relief is not due in respect of expenditure incurred for hair transplant treatment in such cases. However, other forms of alopecia, such as scarring alopecia, are different from androgenetic alopecia and are considered separately by the Revenue Commissioners.

Scarring alopecia, for example, arises because of inflammation or infection of the hair follicles, which results in hair loss. Where ailments such as scarring alopecia are treated with medications to heal the scarring, tax relief would be allowed for the expenses incurred for the medications and the services of a medical practitioner. Hair transplant treatment for scarring alopecia, may also qualify as the provision of health care, if it can be shown that the transplant treatment was not cosmetic and was undertaken for the treatment of a congenital abnormality, a personal injury or a disfiguring disease.

If a person is not satisfied with a decision of the Revenue Commissioners to refuse tax relief under section 469, it is open to the person to appeal to the tax Appeal Commissioners to have the matter reviewed.

Having regard to the approach adopted by the Revenue Commissioners as respects tax relief for non-androgenetic alopecia suffers and the fact that an appeal is available against the Commissioners decision I do not propose to make any changes in this area.

Question No. 130 answered with Question No. 125.

Bank Staffing

Pearse Doherty

Question:

131 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a list of all the current members of the senior management team of Anglo Irish Bank. [31191/11]

Pearse Doherty

Question:

132 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 24 of 5 October 2011, if he will name the 22 persons who remain at Anglo Irish Bank from the 50 most senior persons employed pre-nationalisation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31192/11]

Pearse Doherty

Question:

133 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he will confirm that a person (details supplied) is currently an employee at Anglo Irish Bank; if he will detail the positions held by this person on the night of the nationalisation of Anglo Irish Bank, the day after the nationalisation of the bank and and currently within the bank; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31193/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 131 to 133, inclusive, together.

As the Deputy is aware the Board of the bank is responsible for the day to day operation of the bank, including the appointment of and assignment of staff within the bank. I have no direct function in this regard. The bank has informed me that it is constrained under the provisions of the Data Protection Acts from disclosing the personal details of employees of the bank when a question or series of questions would require the disclosure of personal data of individual employees.

As already indicated my approval, as Minister, is required in relation to the appointment of and terms and conditions of employment of senior management at the bank. I can confirm, in the interests of clarity, that no member of the current senior management team reported directly to the former CEO at the bank prior to nationalisation.

The current members of the senior management team of IBRC are:

Mike Aynsley — Group Chief Executive Officer;

Jim Bradley — Chief Financial Officer;

Gary Marshall — Chief Operating Officer;

Peter Rossiter — Chief Risk Officer;

Lizanne White — Chief Legal Officer;

Tom Hunersen — Group Executive — Corporate and Institutional Recovery;

Richard Woodhouse — Specialised Asset Management;

Mark Layther — Recovery Management Ireland;

Jim Brydie — Recovery Management UK;

John McGloughlin — Group Executive — Investment and Loan Servicing.

Question No. 134 answered with Question No. 125.

Tax Collection

Seán Kenny

Question:

135 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Finance the number of licensed premises that were audited for tax compliance annually since 2006; the number found to be non-compliant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31308/11]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the number of audits carried out in relation to licensed premises in each of the years 2007 to 2011 (to August), and the related yield across all tax heads, business and personal, is as follows:

2007 — 314 — €11.5m [ 210 yielding/67%];

2008 — 327 — €11.5m [ 242 yielding/74%];

2009 — 307 — €15.7m [230 yielding/75%];

2010 — 285 — €7.6m [207 yielding/73%];

2011 (to August) — 194 — €4.7m. [143 yielding/74%].

Yielding cases includes cases where there was no cash yield but reliefs and losses were restricted. The proportion of yielding cases is in line with Revenue's risk based audit programme.

These statistics are compiled based on cases with a NACE Code of 5540. NACE Code 5540 is a classification that encompasses licensed bars, licensed premises and licensed vintners. The above statistics do not include audits carried out on hotels, restaurants and off-licences.

I am further advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the operators of licensed premises are controlled and monitored for tax compliance purposes in the same way as taxpayers in all other sectors. Operators of licensed premises, like all taxpayers, are obliged to make accurate returns under the self-assessment system and are liable to Revenue audit in the normal way. I am assured by Revenue that the audit of licensed premises is an ongoing aspect of their work.

The main focus of Revenue continues to be on selecting cases for intervention based on the presence of various risk indicators and other information available. This is the type of targeted intervention that gets best results and that is most likely to change the behaviour of the taxpayer into the future. The targeted approach is greatly enhanced by the computerised Risk Evaluation Analysis and Profiling System (REAP) developed by Revenue. This system categorises taxpayers in accordance with defined risk criteria. The system allows for the screening of all tax returns against sectoral and business norms and provides a selection basis for checks or audits. This effectively means that 100% of self-assessed taxpayers are risk-assessed a number of times a year. REAP contains considerable information on all self-assessed taxpayers, including operators of licensed premises.

Tax Code

Shane Ross

Question:

136 Deputy Shane Ross asked the Minister for Finance his views on whether the curtailment of property reliefs will have a detrimental effect on those who have invested in properties; his plans to support those persons who were encouraged to invest under the promise of such reliefs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31310/11]

As the Deputy is aware my Department is carrying out an impact assessment of the potential effects of amending, curtailing and/or abolishing property-based "legacy" tax reliefs in line with the commitment in the Programme for Government. The impact assessment process is examining 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 these reliefs. The assessment process included a public consultation, which afforded all interested parties an opportunity to present their views and, resulted in the submission of over 700 individual responses.

The response to the consultation is currently being appraised in tandem with research conducted as part of the overall impact assessment. It is anticipated that the analysis of the submissions along with the results of the impact assessment process will be available for consideration in the context of the forthcoming budget.

As is customary, I do not propose to comment in advance of the Budget on any matters that might be the subject of Budget decisions.

Question No. 137 answered with Question No. 111.

Bank Assets

Peter Mathews

Question:

138 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 39 of 13 October 2011, the reasons the courts could refuse to approve the transfer of an asset or liability of a relevant institution to another institution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31460/11]

Part 5 of the Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Act 2010 ("CIS Act") provides power to the Minister for Finance to transfer assets and/or liabilities of a "relevant institution" i.e., an institution within the scope of the CIS Act to another institution subject to the approval of the Court. Part 5 of the Central Bank and Credit Institutions (Resolution) Act 2011 provides similar powers to the Central Bank in relation to the assets and/or liabilities of an "authorised credit institution" i.e., an institution within the scope of the 2011 Act to another institution subject to the approval of the Court. The Court would of course consider each case on its merits. It is not the role of the Minister to speculate on the way in which the Court would exercise its statutory functions. However I can highlight a number of provisions of the legislation that are pertinent, which may be of assistance to the Deputy. Section 34 of the CIS Act provides that once the procedures in section 33 of the Act in relation to a proposed transfer order have been completed, the Minister shall apply to the High Court for a transfer order. Section 34 (2) provides that if the Court is satisfied that the requirements of section 33 have been complied with and that the opinion of the Minister under section 33(2) was reasonable and not vitiated by any error of law, it shall make a transfer order on the terms of the proposed transfer order. Section 34 (5) provides that the Court may make a transfer order on terms varied or amended from those in the Minister’s proposed order where the Court is satisfied that (a) there has been non-compliance with any of the requirements of section 33 or that the opinion of the Minister under section 33(2) was unreasonable or vitiated by an error of law, (b) it would be appropriate to do so, and (c) to do so is necessary for any purpose of the Act.

Subsection 33(2) stipulates that the Minister may make a proposed transfer order only if, having consulted with the Governor of the Central Bank, the Minister is of the opinion that, having regard to any adverse consequences that may arise as a result of the transfer order, in relation to the interests generally of the creditors of the transferor or, where the transferor is a subsidiary or holding company, in relation to the interests generally of the creditors of the transferor or the relevant institution concerned, making a transfer order in the terms of the proposed transfer order is necessary to secure the achievement of a purpose of the Act specified in the transfer order. Subsection 33(2A) provides that nothing in subsection 33(2) requires the Minister to consider the possible adverse consequences of the transfer order concerned on the interests of a particular creditor or class of creditors of the transferor or relevant institution, as the case may be, or to consider any submission made by a creditor on behalf of that creditor, a class of creditor or creditors generally. The Deputy may also wish to note that section 36(1) of the CIS Act provides that the relevant institution which is the subject of a transfer order, or a member of it, may apply to the High Court, within a specified period, to have a transfer order set aside. Sections 36(3) and 36(4) provide that, on an application under section 36(1), if it is satisfied that there has been non-compliance with any of the requirements of section 33 (proposed transfer orders) or that the opinion of the Minister under section 33(2) was unreasonable or vitiated by an error of law the Court will set aside the transfer order or, if the Court is satisfied that it would be appropriate to do so, having regard to any report referred to in section 34(3) [i.e., a report prepared by the Central Bank] and that to do so is necessary to achieve any purpose of the Act, make an order varying or amending that order in the manner it considers appropriate.

Part 5 of the Central Bank and Credit Institutions (Resolution) Act 2011 contains similar provisions to those outlined above.

Tax Collection

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

139 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance if a person (details supplied) will be entitled to a refund of the universal social charge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31486/11]

The Universal Social Charge (USC), which came into effect on 1 January 2011, is a tax payable on gross income (after any relief for certain trading losses and capital allowances, but before pension contributions). An individual is liable to pay the USC if his/her gross income exceeds the threshold of €4,004 per annum. USC is not levied on payments from the Department of Social Protection. For 2011, the rates are:

2% on the first €10,036;

4% on the next €5,980;

7% on the balance.

Currently, the USC is calculated on a pay period by pay period basis. This means that, where an individual's income from employment exceeds €77 per week, the employer will compute and deduct USC from the gross income due to the employee. The rate at which it is deducted will depend on the gross income payable for that week.

Where USC has been deducted and, either, the individual's gross income is below the threshold amount, or, the USC should have been charged at a lower rate, an overpayment will arise.

If after the end of the year the taxpayer, who is the subject of the question, believes they have overpaid USC, they should contact their local Revenue office for a review of their USC deductions. Following such review, any amount overpaid will be refunded to the taxpayer.

Tax Code

John Lyons

Question:

140 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Finance following the publishing of a report (details supplied), his plans to increase the tax on cigarettes in budget 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31500/11]

As the Deputy will be aware, taxes are considered in the context of the Budget process. It is the usual practice for the Minister for Finance not to speculate in advance of a Budget on what it will contain; and I do not propose to deviate from that practice.

Departmental Expenditure

Billy Kelleher

Question:

141 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Finance the total expenditure in 2010 on ICT, including staff costs, support and maintenance services, hardware, software and external resources such as consultancies, contractors and external service providers and all agencies under the aegis of his Department. [31518/11]

The total expenditure in 2010 on ICT including staff costs, support and maintenance services, hardware, software, and external resources including consultancies, contractors and external service-providers was €1,557,473. The cost breakdown was as follows:

Staff Costs €745,075;

Support and Maintenance €164,058;

Hardware €351,520;

Software €62,360;

Contractors and External Service-Providers €234,460.

There was no expenditure on external resources (including consultancies).

It has not been possible to collate the data on the agencies as requested in the time available. I will however supply the data to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Budget Submissions

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

142 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance his views on a pre-budget submission regarding an increase in the price of cigarettes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31529/11]

As the Deputy will be aware, taxes are considered in the context of the Budget process. It is the usual practice for the Minister for Finance not to speculate in advance of a Budget on what it will contain; and I do not propose to deviate from that practice.

Question No. 143 withdrawn.

Departmental Agencies

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

144 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide the following information regarding the agencies operating under the aegis of his Department (details supplied); the number of whole time equivalent staff; the number of board members; the chairperson and board members respective remuneration packages; the annual wage bill; and the amount of central funding provided to the agency inclusive of wage bill [30743/11]

Information is provided in the table that follows this reply in respect of certain bodies currently under the aegis of my Department. The information relates to WTE Staff (as of 3rd Quarter 2011); Number Board Members (current); Board Members Remuneration Fees (per annum); Annual Wage Bill (2010); and Funding either provided through the Department (2010). In relation to a number of the bodies listed by the Deputy that have been excluded from the attached table she should note that both the Inspectorate and the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) are integral parts of my Department and are not separate bodies; the National Education Welfare Board (NEWB) is now under the aegis of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs; from September 2011, the National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE) is no longer an aegis body of the Department but is within the remit of Dublin West Education Centre alongside the Department's largest support service, the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST); the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, the Royal Irish Academy and the Royal Irish Academy of Music are not considered to be bodies under the aegis of my Department but instead are deemed to have the same ‘status' as the universities and ITs and as such are considered part of the Higher Education sector; and the Commission on School Accommodation Needs has been abolished and the staff retired. Any work it did is now done by the Department.

Agency Name

WTE Staff (3rd Qtr 2011)

Number Board Members (current)

Board Members Remuneration Fees (per annum)

Annual Wage Bill (2010) (€000s)

Funding provided through the Department (2010) (€000s)

Chomhairle um Oideachais Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta (COGG)

3

21

Nil

214

1,715

Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (CICA)

6.8 (see note 1)

6

SeeNote 1

419

2,261

Education Finance Board

3.8 (see note 2)

9

Nil

SeeNote 2

SeeNote 2

FÁS

1,897.48

11

Chairperson: €20,520 Ordinary Members: €11,970

108,811

666,8981

Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC)

36

14

Nil

2,799

5,200

Grangegorman Development Agency

7

15

Chairperson: €8,978 Ordinary Members: Nil

482

1,357,055

Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC)

27.8

15

Nil

2,221

1,3002

Higher Education Authority

52.2

19

Chairperson: €11,970 Ordinary Members: €7,695

3,157

5,5003

Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (IRCSET)

5

14

Nil

303

21,8004

Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Science (IRCHSS)

4.6

11

Nil

321

11,200

Léargas Ltd — The Exchange Bureau

31.4

5

Nil

2,239

1,195

National Centre for Guidance in Education (NCGE)

6

11

Nil

365

659

National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA)

22.8

25

Nil

1,862

3,837

National Council for Special Education (NCSE)

108.6

13

Nil

6,031

8,216

National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI)

22.8

11

Nil

1,496

2,438

Residential Institutions Redress Board (RIRB)

28.5 (See note 3)

11

SeeNote 3

1,374

43,193

Residential Institutions Review Committee (RIRC)

SeeNote 3

6

SeeNote 3

Incorporated into RIRB figures above

Skillnets Ltd.

19

12

Chairperson: €8,978 Ordinary Members: €5,985

1,494

14,3305

State Examinations Commission (SEC)

196.896

5

Chairperson: €11,970 Ordinary Members: €7,695

45,579

54,2867

The Teaching Council8

30.5

37

Nil

1,900

Not Applicable

1Funding provided from 1 May 2010, when responsibility transferred to the Department of Education and Skills.

2While HETAC’s allocation from the Exchequer in 2010 came to €1.3m they also received approximately €1.9m in fee income. They receive fees from their providers (e.g. ITs, private providers etc) in respect of the wide range of services they provide, such as validation of programmes, certification etc.

3This figure relates only to the administrative costs of running the Higher Education Authority.

4Figures provided for both of the Irish Research Councils (IRCSET & IRCHSS) relate primarily for research scholarships.

5Skillnets Ltd is funded through the National Training Fund.

6SEC WTE figure includes 45 temporary staff as of 30/09/2011.

7This figure for the SEC is net of income from fees.

8The Teaching Council has been self-financing since March 2009.

Note 1: Staffing in the Commission comprises of 6.8 WTE, 3 are full-time civil servants and 3.8 whole time equivalents are on temporary contracts.

Note 2: Staffing of the EFB comprises 3.8, 1.8 of which are secondments from the City of Dublin VEC and 2 are on fixed-term contracts. The operation of the Education Finance Board is funded by €12.7 million of the original contribution made by the religious congregations under the Indemnity Agreement for educational support for former residents and their families. The only financial contribution that the Department has made to the EFB relates to monies paid in respect of Travel and Subsistence due to some Board Members.

Note 3: Ordinary board members of both the RIRB and RIRC are paid a per diem rate which is currently €668 per day (with pension abatement rules applying were appropriate). The Chairperson of the RIRC is in receipt of a Supreme Court judge's pension. His salary by the Department taking into account pension abatement has been voluntarily reduced. The chairperson of the RIRB who is a member of the Judiciary retains his judicial salary. The Redress Board avails of the services of an additional legal secretary up to one WTE per annum via an employment agency. Her salary is not included in the annual wage bill. The Review Committee has the services of an administrative assistant via an employment agency and also has the services of 0.7 WTE registrar post involving two staff.

Schools Refurbishment

Question:

145 Deputy Michael P. Kitt asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding grants on minor works in first level and second level schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30753/11]

No decisions have yet been taken regarding the payment of the primary school minor works grant in the current school year. Payment last issued in November 2010 in respect to the school year 2010-11. Since its inception, the minor works grant issued only to primary schools.

Departmental Agencies

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

146 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a list of all non-commercial State agencies under the aegis of his Department. [30781/11]

The following non-commercial State agencies are under the aegis of my Department: FÁS, the Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC), the Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC), the Higher Education Authority (HEA), the Grangegorman Development Agency, Léargas Limited (the Exchange Bureau), the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI), Skillnets Limited, State Examinations Commission (SEC) and the Teaching Council. The NCCA, the NCSE and the SEC are classified as Civil Service agencies.

FÁS Training Programmes

Robert Dowds

Question:

147 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Education and Skills the measures FÁS has put in place to enable person (details supplied) in Dublin 22 and approximately 20 young persons currently receiving work experience with Dublin City Council to finish their carpentry apprenticeships after the period covered by FÁS, which ends on 1 December 2011, which will leave them short of the work experience period needed for qualification by between ten and 20 weeks. [30812/11]

My Department contacted FÁS about the apprenticeship status of the person in question. FÁS has advised that this person is a redundant Carpentry and Joinery apprentice. In order to qualify as a craftsperson, a Carpentry and Joinery apprentice must be employed by a FÁS-approved employer and complete all seven alternating on-the-job and off-the-job phases of his/her apprenticeship, which is a minimum of four years (208 weeks) in duration from the date of registration, as well as achieving the qualifying standard throughout their apprenticeship. The economic downturn has resulted in many apprentices being unable to complete their apprenticeships in the normal manner. However, FÁS has introduced a range of initiatives to allow apprentices complete their apprenticeships without undermining the integrity of the apprenticeship system. The Redundant Apprentice Scheme (RAPS) and the Competency Determination Mechanism (CDM) are two such initiatives. The RAPS allows redundant apprentices to complete the on-the-job phases of their apprenticeship. The CDM has been introduced by FÁS to enable eligible redundant apprentices to complete their apprenticeships, if they are short of the minimum time requirements.

I understand that FÁS placed the person in question on the RAPS with Dublin City Council. I understand he has successfully completed the equivalent Phase 5 (26 weeks) of his apprenticeship with Dublin City Council and is currently on the equivalent Phase 7 (12 weeks) of his apprenticeship with Dublin City Council. He is scheduled to complete his participation on RAPS on 2 December 2011. The person requires an additional 11 weeks of employment to officially complete his apprenticeship. He will be eligible to participate in the CDM. FÁS has advised that in order to progress apprentices through CDM, it is imperative to operate a transparent and equitable scheduling system for eligible apprentices. The FÁS CDM scheduling system is designed to call eligible apprentices on a longest waiting basis. FÁS directly contacts eligible apprentices when their participation on RAPS is successfully completed and their apprenticeship status returns to ‘Redundant'. FÁS will offer the person in question an opportunity to participate in CDM when he successfully completes RAPS and his apprenticeship status returns to ‘Redundant' on a longest waiting basis.

Schools Refurbishment

Paudie Coffey

Question:

148 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a devolved grant application in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Waterford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30816/11]

My Department is currently reconsidering an application for funding from the school referred to by the Deputy for the works in question. A decision will be conveyed to the school authority as soon as this process has been completed.

Schools Building Projects

Paudie Coffey

Question:

149 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reasons a school building project has not been advanced in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Waterford despite being included in the school building programme 2009, 2010 and 2011 as being in the category of being ready to go for tender; the progress being made in relation to this application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30817/11]

The Deputy may be aware that the project to which he refers was tendered in 2009 and a preferred bidder (contractor) was identified to do the works. Unfortunately, a number of issues outside my Department's control delayed the progression of this project. However, I am pleased to inform the Deputy that most of these issues have now been resolved. Provided there are no further issues, it is intended that the project will be re-tendered in the coming months and could therefore be in a position to progress to construction in late 2012.

Site Acquisitions

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

150 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application for regularisation of land at a location (details supplied) in County Limerick. [30820/11]

My Department is aware of the proposed land swap which will facilitate the future development of new changing rooms for the school referred to by the Deputy. My officials will make contact with the relevant legal personnel with a view to progressing the matter further.

School Staffing

Jim Daly

Question:

151 Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding teaching posts at a school (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30827/11]

As the Deputy will be aware, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers, for allocating teaching staff and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to special schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Departments criteria in allocating such support. My Department's Circular 0042/2011 was issued in June this year to notify school management authorities of the staffing arrangements which would apply in special schools in the 2011-12 school year. The circular states that there are a small number of special schools which have significant excess teacher posts and that the NCSE may therefore contact such schools to review the individual circumstances in these schools. The circular indicated that the NCSE may suppress a post in schools which have excess teaching posts in order to create a post in a school which does not have excess posts and which has growing pupil numbers.

The special school referred to by the Deputy caters for pupils with severe or profound disability and ASD. The correct teacher allocation ratio for schools catering for children with severe and profound disability is 6:1. In 2010-11, the school had seven approved class teaching posts, three surplus teaching posts and 28 SNAs. The enrolment is 38 pupils, including nine children newly enrolled for September 2011. One of the surplus teachers retired at the end of the last school year and the school is not eligible for a replacement. A further surplus post has been withdrawn leaving the school with one surplus post above recommended staffing allocation levels. It is the position of both my Department and the NCSE that given the exceptionally high levels of teaching and support staff which have been allocated to the school, that notwithstanding the outcome of any review, the school has sufficient support within its overall allocation to enable it to provide for the teaching and care support requirements of all of the children enrolled to the school.

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

152 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of primary schools that are in line to lose a development school teacher in this academic year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30828/11]

The criteria used for the allocation of teachers to schools is published annually on my Department's website. The key factor for determining the level of staffing resources provided at individual school level is the staffing schedule for the relevant school year and pupil enrolments on the previous 30 September. The staffing schedule for the 2011-12 school year was published on my Department's website in March 2011. While mainstream staffing for any school year is based on the previous September's enrolment, there is a provision whereby schools experiencing rapid increases in enrolment can apply for additional mainstream posts on developing grounds, using projected enrolment. The retention of such posts in the current school year is subject to schools having achieved their projected enrolment on 30 September. If the enrolment is not achieved, the post allocated on developing grounds is suppressed. The staffing schedule includes an appeals mechanism for schools to submit an appeal under certain criteria to an independent appeals board. Details of the criteria for appeal are contained in the staffing schedule, Circular 0019/2011. The primary staffing appeals board will consider appeals shortly, including those against the suppression of posts that were allocated on developing grounds. At that stage, the allocation process will be fully completed for all mainstream classroom teaching posts and those allocated on developing grounds. The appeals board operates independently of the Department and its decision is final.

Third Level Courses

Seán Crowe

Question:

153 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Skills if staff at University College Dublin were aware of the plans to downgrade the postgraduate diploma in education from level 9 to level 8 when students were applying for entry to the course through the postgraduate applications centre in 2010 for entry in 2011. [30829/11]

Seán Crowe

Question:

154 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the views of students who believe they have been misled when enrolling in the level 9 postgraduate diploma in education in University College Dublin when plans were in place to downgrade the exam to level 8; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30830/11]

Seán Crowe

Question:

158 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason the decision was taken to downgrade the postgraduate diploma in education at University College Dublin from level 9 to level 8; the reason this decision imposed on students after they had enrolled in the course and paid registration fees; and his views on students affected by this decision and who feel the course they are studying has been badly devalued. [30925/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 153, 154 and 158 together.

Universities are autonomous institutions within the meaning of the Universities Act 1997. My Department does not have any function in relation to their academic affairs, including decisions concerning course provision or consultation processes with students or staff members. I understand that following detailed consultation between the Irish universities and the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland in the context of the ongoing process of implementing the National Framework of Qualifications, the universities have agreed that the initial post-primary teaching qualification, hitherto known as the Higher Diploma in Education and latterly as the Graduate or Postgraduate Diploma in Education, is to be formally included in the National Framework of Qualifications at Level 8 with immediate effect. The universities and the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland have issued a joint communication with further information on the context for the decision. That statement is available atwww.nqai.ie/documents/ProfessionalDiplomainEducationcommunication.pdf.

Departmental Agencies

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

155 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills if all non-commercial State agency employees under his Department’s aegis are paid directly from the Exchequer. [30886/11]

Employees of all non-commercial State agencies under the aegis of my Department are paid directly from the Exchequer with the exception of the Teaching Council and Skillnets Ltd.

The Teaching Council has been self-financing since March 2008 while Skillnets Ltd staff members are paid from an annual financial allocation made by my Department from the National Training Fund (NTF).

Vocational Education Committees

Dara Calleary

Question:

156 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills when higher education grants in respect of persons (details supplied) currently with County Mayo Vocational Education Committee will be processed; and the amount that each applicant will be awarded. [30900/11]

The processing of student grants is carried out by local grant awarding authorities — VECs and local authorities.

In this case, the students in question should contact County Mayo VEC to ascertain the position with their applications. As the processing of grant applications is carried out by local grant awarding authorities, the Deputy will appreciate that it would not be possible for me to say if a student would qualify for a grant or what level of grant they might be entitled to.

Community Development

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

157 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on whether there are impediments to national schools being used by communities for local events. [30903/11]

I can confirm to the Deputy that my Department has a general policy of encouraging the use of school facilities by community and other groups. In 2005, my Department issued a circular letter to all primary school authorities urging them to make their facilities available, where possible, for community and recreation purposes. Any proposal for the use of school facilities outside of normal school hours must be approved by the local school management authority in the first instance and where appropriate, arrangements are put in place to reimburse the school for any additional expenditure incurred by the school associated with such usage.

Question No. 158 answered with Question No. 153.

Vocational Education Committees

Robert Troy

Question:

159 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will advise of his future proposals for the vocational education committee offices in County Longford; and if he will consider opening a sub-office for the new amalgamated Longford Westmeath VEC at this location. [30945/11]

Robert Troy

Question:

160 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will be seeking any redundancies following the amalgamating of Longford and Westmeath vocational education committees. [30946/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 159 and 160 together.

In determining Mullingar as a headquarter location, I was aware that both Co. Westmeath and Co. Longford VECs are very closely matched. However, I am satisfied that geographically Mullingar is the most favourable location for the headquarters. I expect that headquarters staff of Co. Longford VEC will move to the designated headquarters location in Mullingar as soon as feasible, although, a sub-office will be maintained in Longford for the immediate term in order to facilitate an orderly merger. The detail in relation to the use or disposal of existing property interests in Longford, following the move of staff to the newly designated headquarters in Mullingar, will be worked through by my Department in conjunction with the VECs involved and the new merged body when established.

Staff employed in the VEC headquarters are public servants and under the terms of the Croke Park agreement, such staff employed in a permanent capacity cannot be made compulsorily redundant. However, surplus staff may be redeployed. In common with all areas of the public service, VECs are subject to an Employment Control Framework (ECF). This places an upper limit on the number of staff which a public service organisation can have. Both VECs have each been set ECF targets to be achieved by the end of 2011. Redeployment arrangements to bring about the staffing reductions required to meet ECF limits will be agreed in accordance with the principles of the Croke Park agreement and will involve the unions representative of the grades concerned.

Departmental Bodies

Brendan Griffin

Question:

161 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will confirm that the establishment of Qualifications and Quality Assurance Ireland under the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Bill 2011 will result in significant savings both to the colleges in comparison to their previous financial outlays to the IQUB, Higher Education and Training Awards Council and Further Education Training and Awards Council and to the State in terms of previous commitments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30953/11]

Many education and training providers currently incur fees in the course of their interactions with IUQB, HETAC, FETAC and the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI). For example, HETAC and FETAC both charge award fees and HETAC charges providers a fee for programme validation and for agreement of quality assurance procedures. Universities, together with the Higher Education Authority, currently fund the IUQB, and so contribute to the cost of their external quality assurance. NQAI, through ACELS, charges an annual fee for recognition/renewal of recognition for English Language Schools and fees for inspections.

The Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Bill enables fees be charged in relation to the following functions of the Qualifications and Quality Assurance Authority of Ireland (QQAAI):

Submission and review of quality assurance procedures;

Application for, and review of, validation by QQAAI of a programme;

The making of an award;

Request for, and review of, delegation of authority;

Submission and review of procedures for access, transfer and progression of learners;

Authorisation to use the International Education Mark;

Review of compliance with the Code of Practice on international education, and use of the International Education Mark;

Lodging an appeal.

The services for which fees will be charged and the level of those fees have not yet been determined. The payment of fees to qualifications and quality assurance bodies is part of broader overall compliance and service costs to providers. There will be savings for providers who currently deal with more than one of the existing bodies and incur costs in complying with currently divergent policies and procedures.

The establishment of QQAAI will result in savings to the Exchequer. It should be noted that NQAI, HETAC and FETAC have already delivered very significant savings since the announcement of the amalgamation in October 2008 through implementation of the moratorium and through expenditure reduction across their range of activities. The bodies' exchequer allocation for current expenditure in 2011 (€8.823m) is approximately 30% lower than outturn in 2008. Further savings to the Exchequer of €1 million per annum will be achieved over time through further staff reductions in accordance with the Employment Control Framework, through rationalised corporate structures and supports and through integration of services.

Departmental Expenditure

Anne Ferris

Question:

162 Deputy Anne Ferris asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide details for the years 2006 to 2011, inclusive, of the arrangements entered into by him, any body under his aegis or State agency for which he has responsibility for the obtaining of advice from a senior or junior counsel and or a firm of solicitors; the subject matter for which advice was sought; the names of the barristers and solicitors firms concerned and the fees paid; the nature of the work concerned; if in each case the matter was advertised for competitive tender and if not, the reason; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30966/11]

It is not possible to provide the information requested in the time available. A reply will issue to the Deputy as soon as the information is to hand.

Schools Building Projects

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

163 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application for funding made by a school (details supplied) in County Limerick. [30981/11]

The major building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is currently at an early stage of architectural planning. The Design Team are currently working on the Stage 2a submission (Developed Sketch Design). When this submission is received, it will be reviewed in my Department and my officials will then be in contact with the Board of Management of the school with regard to the further progression of the project.

School Accommodation

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

164 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application for funding in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30995/11]

The school referred to by the Deputy was allocated devolved funding for the provision of a mainstream classroom under my Department's Additional Accommodation Scheme in 2010. The school authorities recently sought additional funding towards this building project. My Department's Planning and Building Unit has sought further clarification from the school authority and this information is currently awaited. As soon as the information is received a final decision will be communicated to the school authority.

Departmental Funding

Brendan Smith

Question:

165 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has received the report on funding requirements for the higher education sector from the Higher Education Authority; if he will commit to publishing this report ahead of the budget in December; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30997/11]

Brendan Smith

Question:

166 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills when he will make a decision on the recommendations in the Higher Education Authority report on third level funding; if any of these recommendations will be included in Budget 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30998/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 165 and 166 together.

The Higher Education Authority is finalising a report on the sustainability of the existing funding framework for higher education, and I expect to receive it shortly. It is intended that this report will inform consideration by Government of policy options in relation to future funding of the sector. However, I am unable to comment further until I have received and considered the report's findings.

Third Level Fees

Brendan Smith

Question:

167 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will commit to no further increases in the student contribution fee in budget 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30999/11]

As the Deputy will be aware, my colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, is undertaking a Comprehensive Expenditure Review across all areas of Government spending. This process will inform budgetary allocations for the coming years. In this context, the Deputy will appreciate that I am not presently in a position to comment on specific areas of expenditure within my Department.

Schools Building Projects

John Halligan

Question:

168 Deputy John Halligan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the time frame regarding the construction of permanent structures for schools when the project has been moved on to the architectural planning stage; the position regarding a school (details supplied) in County Waterford that was informed that the project has been moved on to the architectural planning stage early in 2011 and which was subsequently visited by his Department in May 2011 and assured at the time that its development would be put forward for tender within weeks, the school is still awaiting a response; the reason for the delay in the architectural department; if there are procedures now in place to streamline the process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31011/11]

The school referred to by the Deputy was included in the School Building Works Programme announced early in 2011, for completion of the brief and subsequent appointment of a design team. The brief for the project was concluded earlier this month and the project is now ready for the commencement of a tender process for the appointment of a design team.

The tender process for appointment of a design team usually takes between 4 to 6 months following publication of the invitation to tender. My Department will shortly be in touch with the school regarding the commencement of this process.

Departmental Expenditure

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

169 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills the annual cost of the licensed payroll system, CorePay annual, to his Department. [31055/11]

In 2010, payments by my Department in respect of the Corepay system amounted to €209,474. This system is used to pay school employees and pensioners, staff working in my Department, the State Examinations Commission, the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, the Residential Institutions Redress Board and Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta.

Special Educational Needs

Patrick Deering

Question:

170 Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a school (details supplied) in County Kilkenny will be allocated sufficient funding to facilitate the needs and rights of a person in County Carlow. [31079/11]

I have arranged for the information provided by the Deputy to be forwarded to the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) for their attention and direct reply. The Deputy may be aware that the NCSE through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is responsible for processing applications from schools for special educational needs supports. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support.

The SENOs co-ordinate special needs education provision at local level and arrange for the delivery of special educational services. They act as single points of contact for parents of students with special educational needs. All schools have the names and contact details of their local SENO. Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available onwww.ncse.ie.

Site Acquisitions

Gerald Nash

Question:

171 Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding planning for the development of a new primary school (details supplied) in the Ardee area of County Louth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31156/11]

My Department has recently received an application for a permanent school building from the school referred to by the Deputy. The school is currently in temporary accommodation and the acquisition of a new site is required to construct a new school.

The draft Local Area Plan for the town in which the school is located includes provision for the reservation of a site for a new primary school in the town. The suitability of this site will need to be assessed and my Department has made initial contact with the relevant land owner regarding this site.

The acquisition of a suitable site and the provision of a new school will be considered in the context of existing commitments and other competing demands on the Department's capital budget.

School Accommodation

Gerald Nash

Question:

172 Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Education and Skills the details of the number of schools who are housed in rented accommodation who received summer works grants and emergency works grants in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31157/11]

My Department is not generally a party to individual leases for rented accommodation and would not have the details of how repair and maintenance works are carried out to accommodation rented by individual Boards of Management. It is normally envisaged that landlords would be responsible for the repair and upkeep of rented school accommodation. Therefore schools in rented accommodation do not qualify for funding under my Department's Summer Works Scheme or Emergency Works Scheme and this is outlined in these schemes.My Department is currently developing a template contract to ensure that these type of issues will be clearly agreed in future leases.

If an application for funding is received from a school housed in rented accommodation that application would be considered based on the lease in place between the landlord and the school authority.

Bullying in Schools

Ann Phelan

Question:

173 Deputy Ann Phelan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will give a written report on the way a formal complaint made by a parent about a teacher bullying a child will be resolved in view of the fact that a person has spent three years and has made contact with the school, board of management, the Ombudsman for Children, Health Service Executive social work department, Five Rivers Ireland and has received no satisfactory result; and the way he proposes to deal with these cases. [31172/11]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the 1998 Education Act provides the legal framework for the delivery of education to children through recognised schools. All recognised schools are legally owned by the school patrons or trustees and managed by a school's Board of Management which is also the employer of teachers in a school.

While the Minister for Education and Skills provides funding and policy direction for schools, neither I nor officials of my Department have powers to investigate individual complaints, except where the complaint involves a refused enrolment, expulsion or suspension, in accordance with Section 29 of the 1998 Education Act.

If a parent wishes to make a complaint against a teacher or school they should contact the relevant school authorities. The complaint procedures adopted by most schools are those that have been agreed between the teacher unions and school management bodies. If a parent has a complaint about a teacher or about the school, the first step is to speak to the class teacher, if the complaint is not resolved, the parent should then speak to the school principal. If the complaint is not resolved at this stage the parent can lodge the complaint in writing with the chairperson of the school's Board of Management/Single Manager/VEC.

If the parent has exhausted the school's complaints procedure and the complaint has not been resolved, the parent can make an appeal to the Ombudsman for Children. The Office of the Ombudsman for Children may independently investigate complaints about schools recognised with the Department of Education and Skills, provided the parent has firstly and fully followed the school's complaints procedures. The key criterion for any intervention by the Ombudsman for Children is that the action of the School has had a negative affect on a child.

I understand that the complaint in question has been referred to the Ombudsman for Children's office. Further guidance to parents on progressing a concern in relation their child's school is available on the Guide to Services Page of my Department's website atwww.education.ie

Higher Education Grants

John O'Mahony

Question:

174 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of applications received for higher education grants in Galway Vocational Education Committee for 2011-12; the number of applications processed to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31253/11]

John O'Mahony

Question:

175 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of applications received for higher education grants in County Leitrim Vocational Education Committee for 2011-12; the number of applications processed to date [31254/11]

John O'Mahony

Question:

176 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of applications received for higher education grants in County Mayo Vocational Education Committee for 2011-12; the number of applications processed to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31255/11]

John O'Mahony

Question:

177 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of applications received for higher education grants in County Roscommon Vocational Education Committee for 2011-12; the number of applications processed to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31256/11]

John O'Mahony

Question:

178 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of applications received for higher education grants in County Sligo Vocational Education Committee for 2011-12; the number of applications processed to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31257/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 174 to 178, inclusive, together.

The details requested by the Deputy are contained in the following table:

Awarding Body

Number of new applications received

*Total number of applications processed

Sligo VEC

1,050

820

Co Galway VEC

1,873

995

City of Galway VEC

533

363

Leitrim VEC

412

364

Mayo VEC

1,489

493

Roscommon VEC

736

736

The information has been supplied to the Department by the Vocational Education Committees concerned and refers to week ending 7.10.11. Information from Leitrim refers to week ending 21.10.11

* This includes the number of grants awarded, refused, cancelled, transferred to another awarding authority or where further information or documentation has been requested from the student.

Higher Education Grants

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

179 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a decision will be given on an appeal regarding the refusal of a third level grant to a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31280/11]

The appeal to which the Deputy refers was received in my Department on 7th October 2011. The outcome will issue as soon as a review of the case has been completed.

Home-School Liaison Scheme

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

180 Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will review a case regarding an overpayment of a home tuition grant calculated and paid by his Department in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31298/11]

Applications under the Home Tuition scheme are made to my Department by the person in whose care the child is at the time of application through their local office of the National Educational Welfare Board. In this case the National Educational Welfare Board informed my Department that home tuition was being sought for a child at primary level. My Department approved the home tuition as sought. The tutor is engaged by the person whose application has been approved. The grant is claimed in arrears by the approved person. The level of the grant is based on the number of hours of tuition provided and a rate of pay which is based on the tutor's registration status with the Teaching Council and their qualifications. Two rates of pay apply a standard rate where the tutor is both registered with the Teaching Council and qualified at the level at which the application for tuition has been made, i.e. primary or post-primary. A lower modified rate applies where the tutor does not satisfy both of these requirements. My Department inadvertently paid the home tuition grant at the post-primary standard rate and not at the modified rate. When this administrative error was identified my Department wrote to the person in whose care the child was at the time to notify them of what had happened and advising them of the arrangements for this overpayment to be recovered by offsetting it against subsequent grant payments in this case. A copy of this letter was also circulated to the tutor. My Department is satisfied that at this stage there is no overpayment or underpayment of the total amount of grant payment for this child's home tuition.

School Accommodation

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

Question:

181 Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the tenancy entitlements in respect of a club (details supplied) in Dublin 5 and in view of the reality of the club’s position and impasse with the vocational education committee if he will provide a letter of comfort to the club regarding its future use of the sports facility. [31323/11]

Following the closure of the school occupying the site referred to by the Deputy in 2007, the City of Dublin VEC was requested by my Department to oversee and manage, on a caretaker basis, the entire site. It is my intention to lease this former community school site, including the sports complex referred to by the Deputy, to the City of Dublin VEC. My Department has requested the VEC to ensure that the club referred to by the Deputy continues to have use of the sports facility following execution of the lease. I am advised that the VEC has provided a draft user agreement to the club for their consideration in anticipation of concluding legal formalities with my Department in the near future. I understand that this draft user agreement recognises the club's current position as a user of the sports facility outside of school hours. I am advised that the VEC and the club will meet this week to discuss the draft user agreement further. In relation to providing a letter of comfort in relation to future use of the sports facility, given that a user agreement, providing for use of the sports facility by the club, has already been drafted, it is my Department's view that this is no longer considered necessary.

Schools Building Projects

Regina Doherty

Question:

182 Deputy Regina Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills the schools in County Meath in which prefabricated buildings are in use at primary and second level; the position of each school on the school building project in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31368/11]

A list of the primary and post primary schools in County Meath that have rented temporary accommodation is attached for the Deputy's information. The Deputy may wish to note that in cases where schools have been approved for additional accommodation, schools generally have the option of building permanent classrooms or of purchasing prefabricated buildings. The current status of all projects on the school building programme may be viewed on my Department's website atwww.education.ie and this will be updated regularly throughout the year.

School

County

Building/Pre-fab

00883P

St Annes

Fairgreen

Navan

Meath

Pre-fab

01309L

St Patricks NS

Stackallen

Navan

Meath

Pre-fab

02905J

SN Naomh Padraig

Baconstown

Meath

Pre-fab

04210H

St Josephs NS (Kilmessan Mxd NS)

Kilmessan

Meath

Pre-fab

04210H

St Josephs NS (Kilmessan Mxd NS)

Kilmessan

Meath

Pre-fab

05630L

St Michaels NS Trim

Patrick Street

Trim

Meath

Pre-fab

11039O

Kilbeg NS

Kilbeg

Carlonstown, Kells

Meath

Pre-fab

12488C

Gilson NS

Chapel Street

Oldcastle

Meath

Pre-fab

12488C

Gilson NS

Chapel Street

Oldcastle

Meath

Pre-fab

15104T

Scoil Bhride

Canninstown

Navan

Meath

Pre-fab

15104T

Scoil Bhride

Canninstown

Navan

Meath

Pre-fab

16100Q

St Josephs Mercy P.S

Railway Street

Navan

Meath

Pre-fab

16100Q

St Josephs Mercy P.S

Railway Street

Navan

Meath

Pre-fab

16100Q

St Josephs Mercy P.S

Railway Street

Navan

Meath

Pre-fab

16100Q

St Josephs Mercy P.S

Railway Street

Navan

Meath

Pre-fab

16100Q

St Josephs Mercy P.S

Railway Street

Navan

Meath

Pre-fab

16100Q

St Josephs Mercy P.S

Railway Street

Navan

Meath

Pre-fab

16549Q

Scoil Naoimh Pio

Knockcommon

Beauparc

Meath

Pre-fab

17203I

Scoil Ultain Naofa

Baile Ghib

Meath

Pre-fab

17520U

Robinstown NS

Robinstown

Navan

Meath

Pre-fab

17520U

Robinstown NS

Robinstown

Navan

Meath

Pre-fab

17623H

O’Growney NS

O’Growney Street

Athboy

Meath

Pre-fab

17623H

O’Growney NS

O’Growney Street

Athboy

Meath

Pre-fab

17623H

O’Growney NS

O’Growney Street

Athboy

Meath

Pre-fab

17623H

O’Growney NS

O’Growney Street

Athboy

Meath

Pre-fab

17705J

Whitecross Primary School

Julianstown

Meath

Pre-fab

17705J

Whitecross Primary School

Julianstown

Meath

Pre-fab

17705J

Whitecross Primary School

Julianstown

Meath

Pre-fab

17705J

Whitecross Primary School

Julianstown

Meath

Pre-fab

17705J

Whitecross Primary School

Julianstown

Meath

Pre-fab

17705J

Whitecross Primary School

Julianstown

Meath

Pre-fab

17821L

St Marys, Enfield

Johnstown

Enfield

Meath

Pre-fab

17821L

St Marys, Enfield

Johnstown

Enfield

Meath

Pre-fab

17821L

St Marys, Enfield

Johnstown

Enfield

Meath

Pre-fab

17821L

St Marys, Enfield

Johnstown

Enfield

Meath

Pre-fab

17821L

St Marys, Enfield

Johnstown

Enfield

Meath

Pre-fab

17821L

St Marys, Enfield

Johnstown

Enfield

Meath

Pre-fab

17821L

St Marys, Enfield

Johnstown

Enfield

Meath

Pre-fab

17821L

St Marys, Enfield

Johnstown

Enfield

Meath

Pre-fab

17821L

St Marys, Enfield

Johnstown

Enfield

Meath

Pre-fab

17821L

St Marys, Enfield

Johnstown

Enfield

Meath

Pre-fab

17821L

St Marys, Enfield

Johnstown

Enfield

Meath

Pre-fab

17821L

St Marys, Enfield

Johnstown

Enfield

Meath

Pre-fab

17821L

St Marys, Enfield

Johnstown

Enfield

Meath

Pre-fab

17839H

Duleek BNS

Duleek

Meath

Pre-fab

17839H

Duleek BNS

Duleek

Meath

Pre-fab

17840P

Scoil Bhainin Naofa/Duleek GNS

Duleek

Meath

Pre-fab

17840P

Scoil Bhainin Naofa/Duleek GNS

Duleek

Meath

Pre-fab

18106P

Lismullen NS

Garlow Cross

Navan

Meath

Pre-fab

18106P

Lismullen NS

Garlow Cross

Navan

Meath

Pre-fab

18106P

Lismullen NS

Garlow Cross

Navan

Meath

Pre-fab

18132Q

Scoil Mhuire

Carlanstown

Kells

Meath

Pre-fab

18448U

Rathbeggan NS

Dunshaughlin

Meath

Pre-fab

18762D

Realt na Mara BNS

Donacarney

Meath

Pre-fab

18762D

Realt na Mara BNS

Donacarney

Meath

Pre-fab

18762D

Realt na Mara BNS

Donacarney

Meath

Pre-fab

18767N

Realt na Mara GNS

Donacarney

Mornington

Meath

Pre-fab

18767N

Realt na Mara GNS

Donacarney

Mornington

Meath

Pre-fab

18767N

Realt na Mara GNS

Donacarney

Mornington

Meath

Pre-fab

18767N

Realt na Mara GNS

Donacarney

Mornington

Meath

Pre-fab

18767N

Realt na Mara GNS

Donacarney

Mornington

Meath

Pre-fab

18767N

Realt na Mara GNS

Donacarney

Mornington

Meath

Pre-fab

18767N

Realt na Mara GNS

Donacarney

Mornington

Meath

Pre-fab

18767N

Realt na Mara GNS

Donacarney

Mornington

Meath

Pre-fab

18767N

Realt na Mara GNS

Donacarney

Mornington

Meath

Pre-fab

18767N

Realt na Mara GNS

Donacarney

Mornington

Meath

Pre-fab

19560T

Saint Marys Special School

Johnstown

Navan

Meath

Pre-fab

19560T

Saint Marys Special School

Johnstown

Navan

Meath

Pre-fab

19768U

St Marys NS

Asbourne

Meath

Pre-fab

20032B

Dunboyne Junior School

Dunboyne

Meath

Pre-fab

20032B

Dunboyne Junior School

Dunboyne

Meath

Pre-fab

20033D

Dunboyne Senior Primary School

Main Street

Dunboyne

Meath

Pre-fab

20033D

Dunboyne Senior Primary School

Main Street

Dunboyne

Meath

Pre-fab

20033D

Dunboyne Senior Primary School

Main Street

Dunboyne

Meath

Pre-fab

20051F

Gaelscoil na Boinne

Dublin Road

Trim

Meath

Building

20082Q

Gaelscoil Thulach na nOg

Br. Ruisc

Dun Buinne

Meath

Pre-fab

20082Q

Gaelscoil Thulach na nOg

Br. Ruisc

Dun Buinne

Meath

Building

20164S

Navan Educate Together NS

Carriage Road

Navan

Meath

Pre-fab

20164S

Navan Educate Together NS

Carriage Road

Navan

Meath

Pre-fab

20164S

Navan Educate Together NS

Carriage Road

Navan

Meath

Pre-fab

20164S

Navan Educate Together NS

Carriage Road

Navan

Meath

Pre-fab

20164S

Navan Educate Together NS

Carriage Road

Navan

Meath

Building

20179I

St Stephens NS

Johnstown

Navan

Meath

Building

20191V

St Peters National School, Church Of Ireland

Maynooth Road

Dunboyne

Meath

Pre-fab

20191V

St Peters National School, Church Of Ireland

Maynooth Road

Dunboyne

Meath

Pre-fab

20191V

St Peters National School, Church Of Ireland

Maynooth Road

Dunboyne

Meath

Pre-fab

20191V

St Peters National School, Church Of Ireland

Maynooth Road

Dunboyne

Meath

Pre-fab

20191V

St Peters National School, Church Of Ireland

Maynooth Road

Dunboyne

Meath

Pre-fab

20191V

St Peters National School, Church Of Ireland

Maynooth Road

Dunboyne

Meath

Pre-fab

20191V

St Peters National School, Church Of Ireland

Maynooth Road

Dunboyne

Meath

Pre-fab

20200T

Ratoath Senior NS

Ratoath

Meath

Pre-fab

20200T

Ratoath Senior NS

Ratoath

Meath

Pre-fab

20258E

Gaelscoil Bhradain Feasa

Bothar Piltown

Bettystown

Meath

Land

20352T

Ard Ri Community NS

Navan

Meath

Building

91508C

Boyne Community School

Trim

Meath

Pre-fab

School Transport

Paschal Donohoe

Question:

183 Deputy Paschal Donohoe asked the Minister for Education and Skills when school transport will be put in place for a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31376/11]

Bus Éireann, which operates the School Transport Scheme on behalf of my Department, has advised that a service is scheduled to commence on Monday 7th November.

Departmental Staff

Brendan Smith

Question:

184 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will commit to appointing a new dedicated national co-ordinator for the leaving certificate applied programme following the recent retirement of the national co-ordinator for this programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31381/11]

The Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) National Coordinator post for support for the Leaving Cert Applied (LCA) programme in post-primary schools was vacated at the start of this school year. Given recent changing priorities and developments in relation to continuing professional development (CPD), notably the Department's literacy and numeracy strategy, as well as pressure on personnel numbers, it is not intended to fill the National Coordinator vacancy at the present time. However, the levels of resources including personnel available to the PDST are being increased for the 2011/2012 school year. The PDST was established to provide the organisational structures and the flexibility necessary to respond to changing need. The key task of the PDST is to build capacity at all levels within the organisation and among teachers but in particular at advisor and associate level to ensure that CPD needs can be identified and responded to in an effective way within the resources provided. It is proposed to continue to provide for service in the LCA area, with the co-ordination of activities taken over by other personnel within the PDST and with the professional side (i.e course content/delivery/training of facilitators etc) handled by the 2 PDST advisors who are currently working in this area. The PDST have prepared a comprehensive programme of support for schools engaged in the LCA programme in the current year which includes sessions for new schools and new LCA coordinators and a number of workshops, whole staff supports and web based supports amongst other items. They are also actively looking at further developing their network of part time personnel to further expand the proposed provision.

Special Educational Needs

Simon Harris

Question:

185 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a school’s (details supplied) applications and appeals in respect of special needs assistants and resource hours will be decided by the National Council for Special Education; if he will provide a timeframe for when parents, teachers and pupils can expect to hear the result of their applications and appeals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31385/11]

The Deputy will be aware that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. This now includes a requirement for the NCSE to have regard to an overall cap on the number of SNA posts. The NCSE has now advised all mainstream schools of their SNA allocation for the current school year, taking into account the care needs of qualifying pupils attending the school. The school in question has currently been allocated 1 full time SNA post and 86.4 Resource Teacher hours The NCSE has recently published statistical information in relation to the allocation of SNA posts and resource teaching hours to Primary Special and Post Primary Schools. The information is provided on a county by county and school by school basis on its website atwww.ncse.ie. The NCSE has a retained capacity to respond to emergency cases, or where additional care needs arise for schools as a result of new school enrolments, injuries or diagnoses, during the school year, in the context of existing SNA provision in the school. The NCSE will advise schools in the near future of a 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. In relation to the allocation of individual Resource Teaching hours, the position is that for the 2011/12 school year, an allocation of 90% of valid identified resource teaching allocations has been made by the NCSE to schools, including the school referred to by the Deputy, in the first instance, to provide schools with the majority of their allocation, while also preserving enough capacity to deal with late applications and ensure that my Department remains within Employment Control Framework obligations. Schools have now been asked to forward any outstanding applications, or additional outstanding materials to support incomplete applications, to the NCSE for consideration. Consideration is currently being given as to whether there is potential to revise the 90% allocation previously given to schools, and also the extent to which new Resource Teaching allocations can be made, taking into account the number of valid new applications received and in the context of my Departments Employment Control Framework obligations.

Departmental Agencies

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

186 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a list of all commercial semi-State companies under his aegis. [31391/11]

There are no commercial semi state companies/agencies under the aegis of my Department.

Special Educational Needs

Regina Doherty

Question:

187 Deputy Regina Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a copy of the criteria within which the National Council for Special Education operates when allocating resources to schools to support children with special needs. [31416/11]

The Deputy will be aware that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. My Departments criteria in relation to the allocation of SNA support is set out in Circular 07/02. Special Needs Assistants are allocated to schools to cater for the care needs of children who have an assessed special educational need. Schools then manage and deploy the SNA resources which have been allocated to them to provide for the care needs of designated pupils. Circular 0006/2011 which was issued by my Department in January of this year sets out the revised arrangements for the allocation by the NCSE of SNA posts with reference to the cap on the number of posts. In considering applications for SNA support, or any review of the level of SNA support which has been provided to schools, SENOs actively engage with both schools and parents to consider the level of SNA support which may be required to meet the care needs of the children concerned, taking into account the level of SNA support currently available to the school. The NCSE also has a retained capacity to respond to emergency cases, or where additional care needs arise for schools as a result of new school enrolments, injuries or diagnoses, during the school year, in the context of existing SNA provision in the school. The NCSE will advise schools in the near future of a 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. My Department's Circular 37/2011 sets out the arrangements for the 2011/12 school year for the allocation of Resource Teaching hours for children with assessed special educational needs. Finally, the NCSE has issued circulars 01/11 and 02/11 setting out details regarding criteria surrounding allocations and the timeframes for applying for supports for pupils for the 2011/12 school year.

National Internship Scheme

Brendan Griffin

Question:

188 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills, further to Parliamentary Question No. 88 of 28 September 2011, when a circular for the national internship scheme will be prepared for national schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31430/11]

My Department issued Circular 46/2011 earlier this month for schools wishing to participate in JobBridge, the National Internship Scheme. Schools or VECs who identify a potential internship opportunity will need to identify a mentor, apply online to advertise that internship and, once approved, the National Employment Service will place the advertisement on the Jobbridge website. Further details on the scheme may be obtained atwww.jobbridge.ie.

Brendan Griffin

Question:

189 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if an inspector will be provided to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry who has applied for the national internship scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31433/11]

Brendan Griffin

Question:

197 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if an inspector will be provided to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry who has applied for the national internship scheme at a national school in County Kerry to complete their diploma in teaching; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31489/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 189 and 197 together.

Teachers participating in JobBridge, the National Internship Scheme, are eligible to participate in the probationary process subject to the provisions of circular 0047/2011 "Probationary Requirements for Registration Purposes for Primary Teachers". Teachers who secure an internship placement should apply to Limerick Education Centre using the OP1 form. They will then be placed on the list for inspection visits.

Higher Education Grants

Paschal Donohoe

Question:

190 Deputy Paschal Donohoe asked the Minister for Education and Skills when persons (details supplied) will be approved student grants from Mayo Vocational Education Committee. [31439/11]

The processing of student grants is carried out by local grant awarding authorities — VECs and local authorities. The students in question should, therefore, contact Mayo VEC to ascertain the position regarding their grant applications.

Schools Building Projects

Denis Naughten

Question:

191 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will review the technical guidance document TGD-008 amended last March which specifically prohibits qualified and competent professionals other than architects to supervise school repairs-building works exceeding €200,000 when there is not a substantive element of architectural design; his views that it is appropriate to exclude professionals who have been approved by the Department to bring developments to the construction stage; his reason for this restriction; if he has evaluated the additional costs due to a reduction in competition as a result of this restriction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31441/11]

Technical Guidance Document (TGD) 008 (Engaging Professional Consultants for Small Works)" which is available on my Department's website is one of a large suite of guidance documents published by my Department. This particular document is provided to assist school authorities with the engagement of consultants and to ensure that any consultants employed are competent and qualified in the appropriate disciplines to carry out the works that they are appointed to do. This document also provides for the appointment of other consultants depending on the nature of the works to be grant aided. TGD 008 provide a balanced approach by allowing access for smaller firms while also ensuring that appropriate consultants are engaged for small works. I do not propose to make any changes.

Third Level Fees

Sean Fleming

Question:

192 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consider putting arrangements in place through the Higher Education Authority to enable third level students to pay students’ contributions in instalments in view of the fact that the lump sum payments are causing severe financial difficulties for many families; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31455/11]

A new student contribution of €2,000 was introduced in higher education institutions by the previous Government with effect from the 2011/12 academic year. The student contribution replaces the Student Services Charge and applies to all students who benefit under the free fees scheme. In recognition of the financial pressures that the student contribution may place on families, my Department requested higher education institutions to consider putting in place arrangements under which a student may opt to pay the student contribution in two instalments in a given academic year. I have again asked the Higher Education Authority to request institutions to allow the payment of the contribution in two moieties. While a few institutions do not have this facility at present due to technical/systems limitations and administrative issues that make it impractical to allow for payment by instalments, all institutions have been requested to accommodate students who present with financial difficulties on a case by case basis and, from the academic year 2012/13 onwards, to have systems in place that allow for the payment of the student contribution in two instalments.

Higher Education Grants

Sean Fleming

Question:

193 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consider a reversal or amendments to modify the changes in criteria to qualify for the non-adjacent rate for third level students in view of the financial hardship it is causing for some persons who are caught by the change of distance rule; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31456/11]

The economic circumstances of the country are such that I regret that I am not in a position to reverse or vary any of the changes to the student grant scheme introduced by the Deputy's Government under Budget 2011. However, students in exceptional financial circumstances can apply for assistance under the Student Assistance Fund. Information on the Fund is available through the access offices of third-level institutions.

Schools Building Projects

John McGuinness

Question:

194 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a school building project (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; the stage it is now at; the timeframe to complete all stages up to construction; the funding granted to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31476/11]

The Major Building Project referred to by the Deputy is currently at an early stage of Architectural Planning. The Design Team are currently working on finalising the Stage 2a submission (Developed Sketch Design) which is expected to be submitted to my Department shortly. When this submission is received, it will be reviewed by my Department and my officials will then be in contact with the Board of Management of the school with regard to the further progression of the project.

John McGuinness

Question:

195 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a school building project (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; if all planning issues relative to the project have now been resolved; if funding for the project will be approved; the timeframe for completion of all aspects of the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31477/11]

The Deputy will be aware that a major building project is being advanced for the school in question. The accommodation brief for the project is currently being finalised and the next step, following completion of this process, involves the appointment of a Design Team. There are certain constraints relating to the site in terms of a protected structure and associated conservation issues. Any substantial issues relating to these constraints will be addressed at the design and planning stages as the project proceeds through the architectural planning process. The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, from initial design stage through to construction phase will be considered in the context of the Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. However, in light of current competing demands on the Department's capital budget, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the completion of all aspects of the project at this time. The current status of all projects on the school building programme may be viewed on my Department's website atwww.education.ie and this will be updated regularly throughout the year. In the meantime, my Department has approved funding for emergency works to the existing protected structure. These works commenced during summer 2011.

School Staffing

John Browne

Question:

196 Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will arrange much needed services to a school (details supplied) in County Wexford. [31487/11]

The Deputy may be aware of the decision of the previous Government to implement a recruitment and promotion moratorium in the public sector, which is binding upon all Government departments, non-commercial state bodies and agencies. In respect of Vocational Education Committees, including Co Wexford VEC, positions other than teacher and SNA posts in schools, and teacher equivalents that are directly providing tuition to pupils in schools, in special programmes or in adult and further education, are comprehended by this decision. It is a matter for each VEC to implement work prioritisation across different functions, and to deploy available staff to execute those functions. My Department received correspondence in June 2011 from Co Wexford VEC requesting sanction to fill an additional caretaker post and increase the number of cleaning hours at Enniscorthy Vocational College. In response my Department informed the Chief Executive Officer that under the terms of the moratorium those posts could not be filled and recommended that Co Wexford VEC reallocate or reorganises work or staff according to its priorities.

Question No. 197 answered with Question No. 189.

Higher Education Grants

John Lyons

Question:

198 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of mature independent students awarded a full maintenance grant in 2010 and 2011; the cost of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31497/11]

I regret that the grant awarding authorities do not collate information on the number of independent mature students in receipt of the various rates of student grant. The rates of grant effective from January 2011 are:

Non-Adjacent Rate

Adjacent Rate

Full Maintenance

€3,120

€1,250

Part Maintenance (75%)

€2,340

€ 940

Part Maintenance (50%)

€1,560

€ 625

Part Maintenance (25%)

€ 780

€ 315

The special rate of grant effective from January 2011 is:

Non-Adjacent Rate

Adjacent Rate

Full Special Rate

€6,100

€2,445

Of which top-up represents

€2,980

€1,195

All eligible students, including mature students, receive a grant in the range outlined above depending on their particular circumstances. Their fees and/or student contribution are also paid on their behalf.

John Lyons

Question:

199 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to address the disparity between the back to education allowance recipients and low income mature independent students who have had their full maintenance grant cut from €3,120 to €1,250 in budget 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31498/11]

Eligibility for the Back to Education Allowance and associated payments is determined and administered by the Department of Social Protection. The BTEA scheme was established to assist people who have been out of the workforce for some time and whose opportunities of obtaining employment would be enhanced by participation in the scheme. In this regard, I understand that there is a requirement to be in receipt of a relevant social welfare payment for a minimum period of time. Effectively, the BTEA scheme enables continued payment of the full rate of social protection benefit or allowance so that, for example, an unemployed person will continue to be supported to enable him/her to upskill and move back into employment. The student grant scheme has a different target group, for example, school leavers and mature learners who wish to return to education and the maintenance portion of the grant represents a contribution towards the living costs of the student. While there have been changes in the eligibility criteria for certain rates of maintenance grant, student grant recipients continue to have their tuition fees and/or student contribution paid in addition to any maintenance payment. Students within this group on particularly low incomes may also qualify for a top-up in the higher, special rate of maintenance grant. Independent mature students who have been unemployed or who qualify for a relevant social protection payment may opt to hold the BTEA, but may also apply for additional support for their tuition fees and/or student contribution under the student grant scheme.

Departmental Expenditure

Billy Kelleher

Question:

200 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Education and Skills the total expenditure in 2010 on ICT, including staff costs, support and maintenance services, hardware, software, and external resources, including consultancies, contractors and service providers; and all agencies under the aegis of his Department. [31516/11]

The total expenditure in 2010 incurred by my Department on ICT, including staff costs was €8,246,061. This figure represents expenditure by my Department only. The information sought in relation to all agencies under the aegis of the Department is not readily available and would involve an inordinate amount of administrative time to compile. However, if the Deputy has any particular agency in mind I would be happy to have my officials obtain the relevant details and communicate them to the Deputy.

School Accommodation

Brendan Smith

Question:

201 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will ensure the views and request of a local community are acceded to in the designation of an area as part of the catchment area for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31581/11]

Catchment boundaries have their origins in the establishment of free post-primary education in the late 1960's and were determined following consultation with local educational interests. For planning purposes the country was divided into geographic districts each with several primary schools feeding into a post-primary centre with one or more post-primary schools. The intention was and continues to be that these defined districts facilitate the orderly planning of school provision and accommodation needs. Enrolment in individual post-primary schools is the responsibility of the managerial authority of those schools and my Department does not seek to intervene in decisions made by schools in such matters. My Department's main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking places. This may result, however, in some pupils not obtaining a place in the school of their first choice.

Presidential Remuneration

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

202 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if 70% of the President’s remuneration package is tax free; and if he will clarify the total worth of the President’s remuneration package. [30843/11]

Luke 'Ming' Flanagan

Question:

204 Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will examine the remuneration of the President; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31155/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 202 and 204 together.

Under the Presidential Establishment (Amendment) Act, 1973, the personal remuneration of the President is set at the rate paid to the Chief Justice plus ten per cent. In accordance with the Act, the personal remuneration of the current President is €325,507 p.a. and is subject to the normal income tax code including the Universal Social Charge. The remuneration of the current President is protected under the Constitution by virtue of Article 12.11.3 which provides that the emoluments and allowances of the President shall not be reduced while in Office.

In line with its stated intention to provide for reduced salary rates for new members of the judiciary, the Government has provided for a revised rate of pay of €249,014 to apply to the person who takes up the office of President following the enactment and commencement of the Single Pension Scheme and Remuneration Bill, 2011. That Bill is currently before the Oireachtas.

Under the legislation the President also receives an allowance related to the Office of €317,434 p.a. which meets the expenses incurred in providing for state functions etc.

I acknowledge that notwithstanding the Constitutional protection afforded to the emoluments of the President while in Office, the current President has voluntarily waived sums due in respect of her entitlements under the legislation. A similar facility will be open to the new President on election.

Departmental Bodies

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

203 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if there will be any provisions in budget 2012 to reduce the number of quangos. [30845/11]

The question of rationalisation and the reduction in the number of State bodies is being considered in the context of the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure and the overall budgetary and estimates process for 2012, and decisions on such matters will be made by the Government over the coming weeks.

The priorities set out in the Programme for Government for the rationalisation of State Agencies states that rationalisation must be cost effective and lead to a more transparent, accountable and efficient public service. The overriding imperative is the absolute requirement to achieve major savings in all areas of expenditure and to reduce staff numbers and administrative overheads. This underscores the need for radical streamlining of bodies, abolishing those bodies whose remit is no longer essential and amalgamation of other agencies or sharing of services between bodies, so that public services and functions can be delivered more cost-effectively.

Question No. 204 answered with Question No. 202.

Consultancy Contracts

Seán Kenny

Question:

205 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the nationality of the firms which were successful in applying for public contracts in the years 2008, 2009, 2010 and to date in 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31309/11]

The statistics compiled here relate to the years 2008 and 2009. Statistics for 2010 and 2011 are not yet available as they are compiled a year in arrears. The statistics for 2010 are currently being collated and will be available later in the year. Statistics for 2011 will not be collected until 2012.

The statistics below are only for above threshold tenders that were advertised onwww.eTenders.gov.ie and for which an award notice was published by the contracting authority. They do not reflect below threshold tenders, the majority of which go to Irish companies.

Year

Nationality

Number of Contracts

2008

Ireland

956

United Kingdom incl. Northern Ireland

214

France

20

Germany

21

USA

19

Netherlands

6

Spain

5

Belgium

3

Canada

3

Denmark

3

Finland

3

Japan

3

Africa

2

Australia

2

Iceland

1

Austria

1

Hungary

1

India

1

Italy

1

Luxembourg

1

New Zealand

1

Norway

1

Singapore

1

Sweden

1

Turkey

1

2009

Ireland

796

United Kingdom incl. Northern Ireland

175

Germany

14

USA

11

France

10

Spain

6

Denmark

5

Switzerland

3

Finland

2

Belgium

2

Australia

2

Sweden

2

China

2

Turkey

1

Norway

1

New Zealand

1

Italy

1

Austria

1

Greece

1

Poland

1

Zambia

1

Portugal

1

Electronic Invoicing

Peter Mathews

Question:

206 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the pilot programme for the introduction of electronic invoicing will be put out to tender; the details of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31473/11]

The National Procurement Service (NPS) in the Office of Public Works is progressing eInvoicing and is preparing the way for pilot projects to take place.

A number of issues have arisen in regard to VAT compliance and EU auditing, which must be resolved before pilot projects can take place. The NPS is in discussions with both the Revenue Commissioners and the EU Commission to resolve these issues. Once these issues have been resolved, pilot projects will commence as soon as possible thereafter.

Plans for the implementation of these pilot projects will be drafted by the NPS and presented to the Forum on eInvoicing for their approval.

Pension Provisions

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

207 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the position regarding staff who have moved from southern Departments to the all-island bodies in terms of their pension entitlements; if they are a part of the North-South pension scheme and if their years of service have been transferred to that scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31495/11]

The North-South Implementation Bodies were set up in 1999 under the Good Friday Agreement. There are six bodies in total, comprising Waterways Ireland, the Food Safety Promotion Board, the Trade and Business Development Body, the Special EU Programmes Body, the North/South Language Body and the Foyle, Carlingford and Irish Lights Commission (Loughs Agency).

Five of the six bodies are affiliated to the North/South Pension Scheme (NSPS), with membership being compulsory for southern-based staff. The exception is the Foyle, Carlingford and Irish Lights Commission (Loughs Agency), which has stayed outside the NSPS, and whose staff have other pension arrangements. Tourism Ireland is also affiliated to the scheme.

Much of the original staffing of the North/South bodies was provided by way of compulsory transfer of persons already employed in the Irish public service. Under the Implementation Bodies agreement between the Irish and British Governments, the pension terms of such staff were protected insofar as those terms were to be not less favourable than the terms they held just before their transfer, for example, Irish civil service pension terms.

Persons who benefitted from this pension protection and who have not opted to switch to other pension terms are categorized as Reserved Rights members of the NSPS. This means that their pension terms are as applying in the prior public service employment at the date of transfer; this reflects the wider guarantee of "no less favourable" treatment for transferees. This effectively means, among other things, that their years of service for pension purposes are transferred.

Certain transferred persons in NSPS-affiliated Implementation Bodies who benefitted from this pension protection have since opted to avail of a once-off option to switch from Reserved Rights NSPS membership to the mainstream membership category in the NSPS, which is known as Core Terms. This is the default scheme variant for directly-hired employees of NSPS-affiliated Bodies; it provides non-co-ordinated pensions, which means that the occupational pension is not reduced by reference to the State Pension, along with inflation-linkage for post-retirement increases.

Departmental Staff

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

208 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the saving to the State if all overtime paid to Secretaries General, deputy Secretaries General, assistant secretaries, principal officers higher, principal officers, assistant principal officers higher and assistant principal officers was not paid in 2010. [30741/11]

The particular civil service grades concerned do not receive overtime payments under their terms and conditions of employment. Accordingly, no such payments were paid to these grades in 2010.

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

209 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his views that it is best practice to have his Department’s Secretary General, the Secretary General to the Government and two other senior public servants on the top level appointments committee, TLAC, particularly in view of the exorbitant pay and pension payouts awarded to the said civil servants by TLAC’s generous exit terms. [30744/11]

It is my view that it is best practice to have senior managers in the civil service to be involved in the selection process for Assistant Secretaries and Secretary General posts.

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

210 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the person responsible for the performance reviews of Secretaries General; if it is the Minister, to whom the Secretary General is appointed; his views that this be best practice in view of the fact that the Minister and his or her Secretary General are equally reliant on one another to present a positive outlook on the work of the Department. [30745/11]

The Secretary General is the Civil Service Head of a Government Department. The duties and responsibilities of a Secretary General are set out in the Public Service Management Act 1997. Secretaries General are responsible for managing their Department subject to the policy direction of their Minister. Their responsibilities include producing a Strategy Statement in respect of the Department for the Minister, reporting on its implementation, providing advice to the Minister and ensuring the resources of the Department are used appropriately and effectively. The Secretary General supports the Minister in the carrying out of the latter's duties and responsibilities as a member of the Government and as political head of the Department.

The Minister's key conduit of contact with the overall organisational arrangements for the Department should be through the Secretary General.

While Secretaries General are responsible for implementing the Performance Management and Development System (PMDS) within their Departments they, in their own posts, are not formally part of the process. However, there is a body of procedures against which the performance of the Secretary General can be assessed.

The principal framework for assessing the performance of Secretaries General is the Departmental Strategy Statement which is submitted to the Minister. This, in conjunction with the Annual Output Statements which are submitted to the Minister each year, provide information to allow for an assessment of the organisation's performance in meeting objectives. The Annual Output Statements make explicit what the public can expect to see delivered, in terms of public service outputs and outcomes, from the public moneys that are voted to them by the Dáil each year. These Output Statements are considered by the relevant Dáil Select Committees alongside their consideration of the Annual Estimates. For the 2011 Estimates, the Annual Output Statements were superseded with a new ‘performance budgeting' initiative, involving the integration of the key output/outcome information alongside the financial allocations within the Departmental Estimate itself. This approach, which was piloted for the Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform and Agriculture Groups of Votes, is being rolled out more generally for the 2012 Estimates. The overall intention, in line with Government Programme commitments, is to heighten the focus upon overall performance and delivery by Departments and Offices, and improve accountability by office-holders for the achievement of results.

In most cases, the Secretary General is also the Accounting Officer for the Department with statutory responsibility for preparing the Appropriation Accounts for the Department and giving evidence before the Public Accounts Committee in relation to the management of public funds.

As regards the Secretary General's Accounting Officer function there is a rigorous independent examination of regularity, propriety and value for money by the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee. The Comptroller and Auditor General also carries out individual VFM examinations on the economy and efficiency with which a Department uses its resources.

These review and evaluation processes are critical in promoting a culture of continuous performance improvement.

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

211 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his views on whether it is appropriate to have appointed the Secretary General to the Department of Finance to the European Court of Auditors, a position that requires deep technical competence and moral courage, in view of the fact that several international reports have revealed that the Department of Finance in the years prior to and following the financial crisis lacked the technical skills to do its job and was guilty of timidity and deference. [30746/11]

I support the appointment of the Secretary General of the Department of Finance to the European Court of Auditors. Any specific matter relating to the appointment should be addressed to the Minister for Finance.

Public Sector Pay

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

212 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the numbers of public sector workers earning less than €20,000, €30,000, €40,000, €50,000, €60,000, €70,000, €80,000, €90,000 and €100,000 per annum and earning more than €100,000 per annum in tabular form. [30747/11]

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

213 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of public servants earning more than €100,000, €120,000, €150,000, €200,000, €250,000, €300,000, €350,000, €400,000, €450,000 and €500,000 per annum; and if he will provide the information in tabular form. [30748/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 212 and 213 together.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the latest relevant sector-based information available on employees taxed under the PAYE system is derived from income tax returns filed for the income tax year 2009 and represents about 96 per cent of all returns expected at the time the data were compiled for analytical purposes. The figures include PAYE taxpayers who are required to return an income tax return Form 11 where non-PAYE income is greater than €3,174, and do not segregate earnings from public sources and those from other sources. Therefore, the earnings figures shown may include income from non public-sector sources.

The data also include various forms of income from public sources to groups that would not normally be regarded as being employed within the public service, e.g. those receiving fees, those on State Boards etc. On the basis of the available tax-based data it is not possible to identify and exclude income from public sources to groups that would not normally be regarded as employed within the public service or to distinguish the earnings of employees associated with atypical work patterns. Accordingly, it is likely that the number of lower paid public servants is overstated. On this basis the total numbers of public sector employees, and the breakdown of those numbers by income ranges, is set out as follows.

Income Tax Year 2009 Range of Gross income

Public Sector EmployeesTotal Number

€0 — €20,000

105,745

€20,001 — €30,000

68,202

€30,001 — €40,000

75,717

€40,001 — €50,000

63,026

€50,001 — €60,000

39,650

€60,001 — €70,000

24,294

€70,001 — €80,000

16,647

€80,001 — €90,000

10,822

€90,001 — €100,000

7,295

€100,001 — €120,000

8,472

€120,001 — €150,000

5,194

€150,001 — €200,000

2,026

€200,001 — €250,000

704

€250,001 — €300,000

419

€300,001 — €350,000

277

€350,001 — €400,000

146

€400,001 — €500,000

132

Over €500,000

77

Totals

428,845

The earnings data in the table relate to 2009 which does not reflect the pay reduction introduced for public servants from January 2010 (ranging from 5% to 20%) or the subsequent measures introduced by the current Government further reducing the pay of Office Holders and introducing a general pay ceiling of €200,000 for future appointments to higher positions across the public service, a general pay ceiling of €250,000 for future appointments to CEO posts within Commercial State Companies and a voluntary waiver system of up to 15% for current post holders who have salaries in excess of the relevant pay ceiling.

Departmental Agencies

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

214 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will provide a list of all non-commercial State agencies under the aegis of his Department. [30788/11]

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

215 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if all non-commercial State agency employees under his Department’s aegis are paid directly from the Exchequer. [30893/11]

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

219 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will provide a list of all commercial semi-State companies under his aegis. [31398/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 214, 215 and 219 together.

In response to the Deputy's question the only State Agency that comes under the remit of my Department is An Post National Lottery. An Post national Lottery is classed as a commercial semi-State company.

Departmental Expenditure

Anne Ferris

Question:

216 Deputy Anne Ferris asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will provide details for the years 2006 to 2011, inclusive, of the arrangements entered into by him, any body under his aegis or State agency for which he has responsibility for the obtaining of advice from a senior or junior counsel and or a firm of solicitors; the subject matter for which advice was sought; the names of the barristers’ and solicitors’ firms concerned and the fees paid; the nature of the work concerned; if in each case the matter was advertised for competitive tender and if not, the reason; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30973/11]

In general, my Department uses the services of the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Chief State Solicitor. However, it also seeks outside legal advisors in circumstances requiring legal services of a specific nature. The costs associated with the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Chief State Solicitor are borne by their respective Votes.

Since its establishment in July 2011 my Department has had no expenditure on legal services. The Deputy should note, that expenditure in relation to legal services, from 2006 to July 2011 for my Department is covered by material provided by the Department of Finance, given that the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform was not officially established until last July.

The following tables set out the expenditure on legal services by agencies under the aegis of my Department from 2006 to date.

Office of the Information Commissioner/Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information

Year

Name

Fees paid

Advice sought

Tender Y/N (if not why)

2006

Mason, Hayes & Curran

258,079

See below

Y

2006

Emily Egan

43,230

N*

2006

Brian Murray

4,519

N*

2006

Brian O Moore

30,038

N*

2006

Niamh Hyland

28,237

N*

2007

Mason, Hayes & Curran

298,189

Y

2007

Emily Egan

1,270

N*

2007

Brian Murray

2,841

N*

2007

Niamh Hyland

1936

N*

2008

Mason, Hayes & Curran

305,823

Y

2008

Emily Egan

147,802

N*

2008

Nuala Butler

45,980

N*

2008

Brian Murray

5,505

N*

2008

Tom Flynn

1,815

N*

2008

Declan McGrath

2,541

N*

2009

Mason, Hayes & Curran

103,308

Y

2009

Emily Egan

67,295

N*

2009

Nuala Butler

49,804

N*

2010

Mason, Hayes & Curran

136,295

Y

2010

Emily Egan

27,742

N*

2011

Mason, Hayes & Curran

63,748

Y

2011

Emily Egan

1,119

N*

2011

Catherine Donnelly

11,096

N*

2011

Niamh Hyland

1,725

N*

2011

Nuala Butler

4,007

N*

The Office of the Information Commissioner engages legal advisors for the following purposes; to act for the Commissioner in relation to appeals to the High Court of review decisions of the Commissioner and in relation to any subsequent appeal to the Supreme Court, to advise generally on procedural matters arising under the FOI Acts; to provide legal advice on the interpretation of the FOI Acts or of other statutes, or on other legal questions; to assist, where appropriate, in the drafting of decisions by the Information Commissioner or her staff under the FOI Acts and to advise, where appropriate, on referring questions of law to the High Court under subsection 42(5) of the FOI Acts.

The Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information engages legal advisors for the following purposes; to act for the Commissioner in relation to appeals to the High Court, made under Article 13 of the Regulations and in relation to any subsequent appeal to the Supreme Court; to advise generally on matters arising from the Commissioner's role in the Regulation or the Directive, including matters of European law; to assist, where appropriate, in the drafting of decisions by the Commissioner or her staff and to advise, where appropriate, on referring questions of law to the High Court under Article 11(9) of the Regulations.

Office of the Ombudsman

Year

Name

Fees paid

Advice sought

Tender Y/N (if not why)

2006

Mason, Hayes & Curran

699

See below

Y

2006

Garrett Simons

303

N*

2006

Eileen Barrington

1090

N*

2007

Mason, Hayes & Curran

21,653

Y

2007

Bairbre O’Neill

968

N*

2008

Mason, Hayes & Curran

18,633

Y

2008

Berna Grist

3,230

N*

2008

Nuala Butler

1,032

N*

2009

Mason, Hayes & Curran

32,040

Y

2009

Gerard Durcan

13972

N*

2009

Siobhan Phelan

1,215

N*

2009

Niamh Hyland

8,246

N*

2010

Mason, Hayes & Curran

28,655

Y

2010

Nuala Butler

835

N*

2011

Berna Grist

2,500

N*

2011

Eamonn Galligan

907

N*

2011

Nuala Butler

2,783

N*

The Office of the Ombudsman engages legal advisors to provide legal advice on the interpretation of the Ombudsman Act, other statutes, statutory instruments, regulations etc. as applying to bodies within remit or on other legal questions and to represent the Ombudsman in any legal proceedings in which the Office is involved.

Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPO)

Year

Name

Fees paid

Advice sought

Tender Y/N (if not why)

2006

A & L Goodbody

11,326

See below

Y

2007

A & L Goodbody

96,251

Y

2007

Malone & Co.

8,558

N*

2008

A & L Goodbody

30,118

Y

2009

A & L Goodbody

6,014

Y

2010

A & L Goodbody

75,639

Y

2011

A & L Goodbody

54,562

Y

2011

Berna Grist

2,500

N*

2011

Oliver P. Morahan & Sons

14,074

N*

The Standards in Public Office Commission engages legal advisors for the following purposes; to advise on matters arising relating to the functions of the Standards Commission under the Ethics in Public Office Acts 1995 and 2001, the Electoral Act 1997, as amended, and the Oireachtas (Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices) (Amendment) Act 2001, including procedural matters; interpretation of the legislation; specific requests for advice received under the legislation, investigations under the Ethics in Public Office Acts 1995 and 2001; enquiries conducted under the Electoral Acts 1997, as amended, and the Oireachtas (Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices) (Amendment) Act 2001.

*The Offices of the Ombudsman/Information Commissioner/Commissioner for Environmental Information and the Standards in Public Office Commission engage legal advisors following the completion of formal tender processes. On occasion, Counsel is required to represent one of the Offices in the Courts. In such cases, Counsel is generally engaged on the recommendation of the relevant Office's legal advisors, having regard to the nature of the court case, the relevant expertise required and the availability of Counsel. Furthermore, the Offices are approved bodies under the Direct Professional Access (DPA) Scheme of the Bar Council. Occasionally, legal advice is urgently required from a person who is known to have expertise in a particular area and is familiar with the work of the Office. In such cases, Counsel is directly engaged under the DPA arrangements.

Public Appointments Service (PAS)

PAS uses the services of the CSSO and the AG's office in the significant majority of cases (if counsel are required they are retained by those Offices on PAS's behalf). Other expenditure on legal advice during this period is set out in the following table:

Year

Name

Fees paid

Advice sought

Tender Y/N (if not why)

2008

Matheson Ormsby Prentice

€17,000

Legal advice on a commercial contract of a particularly complex nature

NEmergency situation and therefore normal procurement rules were not followed

2010

Mason, Hayes and Curran

€990 + VAT

Legal advice on the drafting of a disciplinary process for dealing with absenteeism

Y

Commission for Public Service Appointments (CPSA)

Year

Name

Fees paid

Advice sought

Tender Y/N (if not why)

2006

Matheson, Ormsby, Prentice (MOP)

63,000

See below

Y

2007

Matheson, Ormsby, Prentice (MOP)

13,0000

Y

2008

Matheson, Ormsby, Prentice (MOP)

115,000

Y

2009

Matheson, Ormsby, Prentice (MOP)

88,000

Y

2010

Matheson, Ormsby, Prentice (MOP)

26,000

Y

2011

Matheson, Ormsby, Prentice (MOP)

21,000

Y

The Commission for Public Service Appointments engages legal advisors for the following purposes; provision of legal advice on the interpretation of the Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act 2004, other statutes, statutory instruments, regulations as applying to Government Departments and Offices, Local Authorities, An Garda Síochána, the Health Information and Quality Authority, the Health Service Executive and any other Public Service body that may come within the Commission's remit; to provide advice on the conduct of investigations into allegations of breaches of the Commission's Codes of Practice; to review the findings and offer advice on reports of such investigations; to advise generally on procedural, implementation and related ancillary matters (to include but not be restricted to advices on matters relating to court proceedings) whether arising under the Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act 2004 or otherwise.

State Laboratory

The State Laboratory did not directly seek legal advice from solicitors, Senior or Junior Counsel in the years 2006-2011. Any legal advice obtained was done through the offices of the Chief State Solicitor or the State Claims Agency and related to Fixed Term Contracts (2008) and compensation claims in connection with the issue of incorrect results (2009).

Office of Public Works (OPW)

Advisor

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

Advice Sought

Tender Yes/No

McCann Fitzgerald Sols

125,120

274,934

175,195

133,572

5,639

39,495

Decentralisation

*

McCann Fitzgerald Sols

441,109

483,6177

14,860

112,403

65,711

51,457

Nat Conference Centre

*

McCann Fitzgerald Sols

12,529

605

2,673

Engineering Services

*

McCann Fitzgerald Sols

5,536

Health & Safety

*

McCann Fitzgerald Sols

38,415

5,750

18,267

27,975

12,411

Project advice

*

McCann Fitzgerald Sols

1,071

Legal services Advice

*

Matheson Ormsby Prentice

3,054

4,362

Legal services Advice

*

Beauchamp Sols

865

Projects Advice

*

Beauchamp Sols

7,674

2,398

Procurement Advice

*

Beauchamp Sols

2,590

Personnel Advice

*

Beauchamp Sols

1,197

Heritage Advice

*

Beauchamp Sols

2,970

4,963

Historic Properties

*

William Fry Sols

18,966

571

11,885

Project & Property

*

William Fry Sols

2,782

Decentralisation

*

A&L Goodbody

18,336

2,391

4,554

Framework Agreement & Project Advice

*

A&L Goodbody

26,053

18,878

Project Advice

*

Arthur Cox

1,840

2,880

9,980

Procurement & Property Advice

*

Arthur Cox

10,902

Engineering Services-Contractors Conciliation

*

Brendan Walsh & Partners

80,000

Property Mgt Advice

*

Snr & Jnr Counsel

103,723

6,436

External Counsel

*

McKeever Rowan Sols

4,153

Property Advice

*

LK Shields Sols

47,365

Property Advice

*

Patrick F O’Reilly & Co Sols

32,972

Property Advice

*

Maxwells

7,584

Property Advice

*

Clifford Chance LLP

27,503

Property Advice

*

Mulcahy McDonagh

13,721

Engineering Services

*

Brian Lynch & Assoc

113,014

Property Mgt — Augustine House

*

Nael G Bunni

6,670

Engineering Services

*

O’Keeffe Moore & Woodstock

2,258

Property Mgt

*

Patrick F O’Reilly & Co Sols

12,221

Engineering Services

*

Simon J Kelly Ltd

1,283

Property Mgt

*

JF Goold & Co

1,078

Nat Monuments advice

*

Kieran T Flynn

1,110

Mins Office Advice

*

*The OPW have advised my Department, that in relation to the tendering process it will require more time to collate the information requested and it will revert directly to the Deputy when this is completed.

Valuation Office

The Valuation Office had no expenditure on legal services in the period in question.

Public Service Contracts

Sean Fleming

Question:

217 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will confirm if public servants’ contracts of employment, in general, only require one month’s notice of a person’s intention to retire or resign; if his well intentioned request for three months’ notice has no legal effect; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31190/11]

The notice period required in contracts of employment can vary across the Public Service.

The three month notice period was introduced across the Public Service in light of the particular circumstances that we now face. It is anticipated that there could be a large increase in the number of retirements of staff in the run up to the end of the "grace period" i.e. the period during which the calculation of pension is unaffected by the pay reductions applied under theFinancial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No 2) Act 2009 . In order to protect public services it is critical that management in each of the sectors have knowledge of the numbers of staff retiring and the business areas that will be affected by potentially large scale departures.

We are also required under the terms of our Memorandum of Understanding with the EU/ECB/IMF to make quarterly returns on the progress being made in relation to reductions in numbers. Accurate and early information on intended retirements will be an important part of this reporting requirement. It will provide information on whether the reduction in the public service pay bill arising from impending retirements is sufficient to meet our commitments under the Memorandum of Understanding.

In light of the potential demands on HR and pensions sections across the Public Service, the three month notice period will also allow time to process applications for retirement. While the three month notice period has no direct legal force, where staff fail to give the full three months notice it may result in a delay in the payment of their pension benefit.

The three month notice period was introduced specifically to deal with retirements coming up to February 2012 and further instructions will issue in relation to the notice period for retirements which take place after 29 February 2012.

Departmental Expenditure

Dara Calleary

Question:

218 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will outline the status of his negotiations with the Department of Justice and Equality regarding the overrun on Garda costs for the visits of Queen Elizabeth II and President Obama; and the measures that have been proposed by the Department of Justice and Equality to make up overspend. [31206/11]

My Department has been engaged with the Department of Justice about the matter of cost management on expenditure in connection with these events, and we expect shortly to receive a report from that Department in this regard.

Question No. 219 answered with Question No. 214.

Departmental Agencies

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

220 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will provide the following information regarding the agencies operating under the aegis of his Department (details supplied): the number of whole time equivalent staff, the number of board members, the chairpersons’ and board members’ respective remuneration packages; and the annual wage bill and the amount of central funding provided to each agency inclusive of wage bill. [30775/11]

The list provided by the Deputy refers to a variety of organisations and groups, including Expert Groups, Councils, two Agencies and two Offices of the Department. The information requested by the Deputy in respect of those Agencies that have a Board structure and separate staff complement is set out in Table 1.

In relation to the two Offices of the Department, the Office of the Registrar of Friendly Societies and the Patents Office, their staffing requirements are met from within the overall staff allocation for my Department. As regards the other organisations listed, namely:

Advisory Council for Science, Technology and Innovation,

Expert Group on Future Skills Needs,

Irish National Accreditation Board,

Management Development Council,

National Competitiveness Council,

Office of the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government,

these are representative advisory Groups and Councils for which the Department or one of its Agencies provides secretariat support. The Department may, where appropriate, be represented on these bodies. The costs associated with these bodies are, in general, met from the resource allocations of the Department or of the Agency that hosts the Groups. However, the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) reports jointly to me and to the Minister for Education and Skills. The costs of the EGFSN are met from the National Training Fund, which is administered by the Minister for Education and Skills.

Information in relation to the Irish Takeover Panel is being collated and I will arrange to forward it to the Deputy at the earliest opportunity.

Finally, I can advise the Deputy that, in March 2010, in light of the recommendations in the "McCarthy Report", a decision was taken that transferred the funding allocation previously made available by this Department in respect of the Irish Council for Bioethics (ICB) to the Department of Health and Children. Subsequently, as part of the programme for agency rationalisation and in line with the Government decision taken last year to dissolve the Council, I understand that an application seeking voluntary strike-off of the company was lodged with the Companies Registration Office in February of this year.

Table 1:

Agency

No. of WTE Staff

No. of Board Members

Remuneration Packages

Agency Wage Bill (2011 Est)

Total Agency Exchequer Funding (2011 Est)

InterTradeIreland1

47.11

12

Chairman — £8,570 Board Member — €8,100

€1,341,000

€8,041,000

National Standards Authority of Ireland2

163.55

13 (currently 9 with 4 vacancies)

Chairman — €11,970Board Member — €7,695

€13,237,068

€6,336,000 (excluding Capital of €500k)

Note 1: InterTradeIreland is one of the six North/South Implementation Bodies established under the Belfast Agreement (the ‘Good Friday Agreement') in 1998. It is jointly funded on a 2:1 ratio, respectively, by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation in Dublin and the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Investment in Northern Ireland. Its total annual budget from both Departments in 2011 is €12m and the figures quoted in the table reflect my Department's contribution towards its wage bill and total running costs. The Board is made up of 6 representatives each from the South and the North of Ireland and the current Chairman is a representative from the North.

Note 2: The National Standards Authority of Ireland generates income from fees for services that it provides, which reduces the Exchequer contribution required to deliver its services.

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

221 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will provide a list of all non-commercial State agencies under the aegis of his Department. [30786/11]

The information requested by the Deputy is as follows:

The Competition Authority

The County and City Enterprise Boards

Enterprise Ireland

Forfás

The Health and Safety Authority

IDA Ireland

InterTradeIreland

The Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority

The National Consumer Agency

The National Standards Authority of Ireland

The Personal Injuries Assessment Board

Science Foundation Ireland

Shannon Free Airport Development Co. Ltd.

Proposed Legislation

Clare Daly

Question:

222 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the date on which he will bring forward the legislation to re-establish joint labour committees in view of their importance to the lives of the workers they cover and the statement by the Government that their re-establishment would be given the highest priority. [30809/11]

On 26 July 2011 the Government agreed a package of radical reforms to the Joint Labour Committee and Registered Employment Agreement wage setting mechanisms. The reform proposals deal with recommendations made and issues raised in the Independent Report on the JLC/REA systems (Duffy/Walsh report) as well as the outcome of the recent High Court ruling in the Grace Fried Chicken constitutional challenge.

The proposed measures will provide for the retention of the JLC and REA systems, subject to the reforms that are required to place them on a more secure legal and constitutional footing. They will also reinstate a robust system of protection for workers in these sectors in the aftermath of the High Court ruling.

Heads of a Bill to give effect to the reform proposals have been prepared by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, agreed by Government, and communicated to the Attorney General, who has agreed to give the highest priority to drafting this legislation. It is my intention to have a Bill ready to introduce to the Oireachtas at the earliest possible opportunity this term.

Financial Services Regulation

Joan Collins

Question:

223 Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if his attention has been drawn to the fact that 93 industrial and provident societies have failed consecutively for the past five years to submit annual returns to the Registry of Friendly Societies; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the non-filing of annual returns constitutes an offence under the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts; the number of consecutive years a society may fail to submit such returns before the Registry of Friendly Societies decides to implement the law and cancel the registration of such societies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30877/11]

Joan Collins

Question:

239 Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if his attention has been drawn to the fact that societies registered by the Registrar of Friendly Societies are required by law to file an annual return with the Registry of Friendly Societies no later that the 31 March each year and that the non-filing of annual returns constitutes an offence under the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts; if he will list the name and address of each society registered by the Registrar of Friendly Societies under the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts which has failed to file an annual return for the years 2008, 2009 and 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31552/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 223 and 239 together.

As evidenced by previous replies to the Deputy in relation to this matter over the last 4 weeks (replies dated 20, 27 and 28 September and 11 October refer) I am aware that a number of Industrial and Provident societies have failed to file annual returns to the Registry of Friendly Societies, and of the legislative position with regard to same.

The initiation of enforcement action is a matter for the Registrar of Friendly Societies, and I have previously advised the Deputy that the Registrar is now considering such action in respect of Industrial and Provident societies, following on from targeted enforcement campaigns in 2010 and 2011 of Friendly Societies and Trade Unions.

It is not the practice of the Registrar to publish lists of societies in instances where enforcement action is under consideration. In the event that enforcement action is taken against a society notice is published in Iris Oifigiúil, and in the next subsequent Annual Report of the Registrar of Friendly Societies, which lists societies that are cancelled during that year. The Registry also holds the individual file of each society, the information on which is available for inspection by the public. It is open to the Deputy to make enquiries to the Registry of Friendly Societies regarding any individual named society.

Departmental Agencies

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

224 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if all non-commercial State agency employees under his Department’s aegis are paid directly from the Exchequer. [30891/11]

The employees of the Personnel Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) and Shannon Development are not paid out of Exchequer funds but are paid from the own resource income of the agencies themselves. In the case of the remaining non-commercial State agencies coming under my Department's remit, the employees are paid out of Exchequer funds, subject to the following exceptions and clarifications:-

Forfás

Forfás has one fixed term contract position, located with the Discover Science & Engineering Programme, the funding for which is provided by the European Space Agency. The salary cost of three members of Forfás staff, based with the Irish National Accreditation Board (INAB) is met through fee income generated from accreditation activities. In addition, the partial cost of a small number of other staff, supporting the work of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs, (equivalent to approx 2.5 full time equivalents) is met from the National Training Fund.

Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority (IAASA):

Pursuant to section 14 of the Companies (Auditing and Accounting) Act 2003, a grant not exceeding 40% of IAASA's programme of expenditure is provided by the Exchequer. The remaining 60% is funded by a levy on each prescribed accountancy body that is subject to the supervision of IAASA. The exception to this framework is the funding for IAASA's functions under the Transparency (Directive 2004/109/EC) Regulations 2007 (S.I. 277 of 2007) which is provided solely by the Exchequer.

National Consumer Agency

The payroll of 20 staff on secondment to the National Consumer Agency from the Central Bank is funded by the financial services sector by means of a levy. The payroll is managed by the Central Bank on behalf of the National Consumer Agency. All other staff of the Agency are paid directly from the Exchequer.

InterTradeIreland

Two-thirds of InterTradeIreland's costs are paid from the Vote of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. One-third of the body's costs are paid by the Northern Ireland Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment

The National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI)

The Exchequer grant to the National Standards Authority of Ireland is solely for payroll purposes. However, the amount allocated equates to approximately 47% of the total payroll costs incurred by the organisation. The remainder is funded from own resourced income through fees charged for standards and certification services.

Employment Support Services

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

225 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the grants or funding available to a person (details supplied). [30926/11]

My Department does not provide direct funding or grants to businesses but rather provides funding to a number of State Agencies, including the County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) and Enterprise Ireland, through whom assistance is delivered directly to businesses. The role of the CEBs throughout the country is to provide a source of support for micro-enterprise in the start-up and expansion phases, to promote and develop indigenous micro-enterprise potential and to stimulate economic activity and entrepreneurship at local level. The CEBs unique role positions them as a first point of contact for persons wishing to set up in business. The Boards give priority to manufacturing and internationally traded services, and support micro-enterprise businesses through both financial (grants) and non-financial (advice, training and mentoring) "soft supports", subject to certain eligibility criteria and provided that the proposed projects have the capacity to achieve commercial viability.

CEBs can assist in the establishment, and/or development, of new and existing micro-enterprise businesses subject to the following main eligibility criteria:

the enterprise must be in the commercial sphere;

the enterprise must demonstrate a market for the product/service;

the enterprise must have a capacity for growth and new job creation;

the enterprise must not employ more than 10 people;

the enterprise must not give rise to deadweight or displacement.

It is considered inappropriate to support areas such as retail enterprises, personal services (e.g. hairdressers, gardeners, etc), professional services (accountants, solicitors, etc) lacking export potential, construction, etc, as it is considered that these generally give rise to unacceptable deadweight (where projects would have proceeded anyway) and/or displacement (where the projects simply displace business from other players in the market) concerns.

Longford CEB have advised me that the business promoter has availed of the soft supports offered by the CEB and, whilst not every business may be eligible for direct financial grant support, the services of the CEB remain available to the business as appropriate and the promoter is therefore advised to remain in contact with the CEB going forward. The Board may be contacted at: Longford County Enterprise Board, Longford Enterprise Centre, Templemichael, Ballinalee Road, Longford. Phone: 043 3342757, Email:info@longfordceb.ie.

Departmental Expenditure

Anne Ferris

Question:

226 Deputy Anne Ferris asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will provide details for the years 2006 to 2011, inclusive, of the arrangements entered into by him, any body under his aegis or any State agency for which he has responsibility for the obtaining of advice from a senior or junior counsel and or a firm of solicitors; the subject matter for which advice was sought; the names of the barristers and solicitors’ firms concerned and the fees paid; the nature of the work concerned; if, in each case, the matter was advertised for competitive tender and if not, the reason; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30971/11]

The information requested by the Deputy for the period from 2007 to the present date is set out in the following tables. The information from 2007 to end-October 2010 had already been collated in response to a previous Parliamentary Question that consumed considerable resources within my Department at the time. Information relating to the year 2006 is not readily available and the compilation of this information dating back more than five years would consume a disproportionate amount of resources in my Department at a time of significant work pressure. However, if the Deputy considers that the information relating to 2006 is particularly relevant and essential, I will arrange for the relevant data to be provided in due course.

In general, as with all Government Departments, my Department obtains most of its legal advice through the services of the Office of the Attorney General, although certain Offices of my Department, for example, the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement and the Companies Registration Office, employ dedicated legal expertise given the specialised nature of the work involved.

2011 Payments (to 21 October 2011)

Name of Company/ Payee

Purpose

Cost(€)

Was Competitive Tendering Process Held? (Yes/No)

Reason Competitive Tendering was not undertaken

Rosemary Healy-Rae, BL

Legal Advice to NERA

€968

Yes

Below threshold for public advertising of contract

Noel J. Travers BL.

Legal Settlement on Scrutiny of set of Regulations in connection with the transposition of Directives 2010/35/EU on transportable pressure equipment and 2010/61/EU on the carriage of dangerous goods by road

€2,247

Yes

Below threshold for public advertising of contract

Conor Feeney BL.

Legal Scrutiny and settlement of set of Regulations giving further effect to Regulation (EC) No. 1907/2006, as amended by Commission Regulation (EC) No. 552/2009 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), and establishing a European Chemicals Agency

€584

Yes

Below threshold for public advertising of contract

Remy Farrell

Counsel’s Opinion / Advices(ODCE)

€544

See Footnote 1

Drawn from Panel of Legal Professionals.

Úna Ní Raifeartaigh

Counsel’s Opinion / Advices(ODCE)

€29,645

See Footnote 1

Drawn from Panel of Legal Professionals.

2010 Payments

Name of Company/Payee

Purpose

Cost(€)

Was Competitive Tendering Process Held? (Yes/No)

Reason Competitive Tendering was not undertaken

Nessa Cahill

Counsel’s Opinion / Advice (ODCE)

€3,896

See Footnote 1

Drawn from Panel of Legal Professionals.

Declan Murphy

Counsel’s Opinion / Advice(ODCE)

€3,339

See Footnote 1

Drawn from Panel of Legal Professionals.

Remy Farrell

Counsel’s Opinion / Advice(ODCE)

€3,237

See Footnote 1

Drawn from Panel of Legal Professionals.

John Hennessy BL

Advice in relation to investigations under Section 19 of the Companies Act 1990.

€15,246

No

Nominated by the Chief State Solicitor’s Office (CSSO).

Conor Feeney BL.

Legal Settlement on Scrutiny of set of Regulations in connection with the transposition of Directive 2009/148/EC on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to asbestosat work

€605

Yes

Below threshold for public advertising of contract

Noel J. Travers BL.

Legal Settlement on Scrutiny of 5 sets of Regulations in connection with the transposition of Directive 2008/68/EC on inland transport of dangerous goods on behalf of the Department and Department of Transport

€ 5,150*(* €1,283 refunded from Dept. of Transport)

Yes

Below threshold for public advertising of contract

Brian Murray

Advices (ODCE)

€10,214

See Footnote 1

Drawn from Panel of Legal Professionals.

Caroline Costello

Advices (ODCE)

€424

See Footnote 1

Drawn from Panel of Legal Professionals.

Paul Anthony McDermott

Advices (ODCE)

€14,218

See Footnote 1

Drawn from Panel of Legal Professionals.

Paul O’Higgins

Advices (ODCE)

€5,143

See Footnote 1

Drawn from Panel of Legal Professionals.

Thomas C. Smyth

Advices (ODCE)

€32,670

See Footnote 1

Drawn from Panel of Legal Professionals.

Nessa Cahill

Advices (ODCE)

€1,892

See Footnote 1

Drawn from Panel of Legal Professionals.

Tom Mallon

Advices (ODCE)

€557

See Footnote 1

Drawn from Panel of Legal Professionals.

Remy Farrell

Advices (ODCE)

€756

See Footnote 1

Drawn from Panel of Legal Professionals.

Catherine Donnelly

Advices (ODCE)

€4,235

See Footnote 1

Drawn from Panel of Legal Professionals.

Kilroys Solicitors

Provision of legal advice on Export Credit Insurance issues

€7,213

No

Specialist expertise, where detailed knowledge of the specific individual policies is a prerequisite.

Rosemary Healy — Rae, BL

Legal Advice received by NERA forLabour Court Representation

€2,286

Yes

Below threshold for public advertising of contract.

2009 Payments

Name of Company/Payee

Purpose

Cost(€)

Was Competitive Tendering Process Held? (Yes/No)

Reason Competitive Tendering was not undertaken

John Hennessy BL

Advice in relation to investigations under Section 19 of the Companies Act 1990

€503

No

Nominated by the Chief State Solicitor’s Office (CSSO).

John Hennessy BL

Advice in relation to investigations under Section 19 of the Companies Act 1990

€1,823

No

Nominated by the Chief State Solicitor’s Office (CSSO).

Brian Murray

Representation in Court / Advices (ODCE)

€7,341

See Footnote 1

Drawn from Panel of Legal Professionals.

Maurice G Collins

Representation in Court / Advices (ODCE)

€121,840

See Footnote 1

Drawn from Panel of Legal Professionals.

Nessa Cahill

Advices (ODCE)

€3,130

See Footnote 1

Drawn from Panel of Legal Professionals.

Paul O’Higgins

Representation in Court / Advices (ODCE)

€35,235

See Footnote 1

Drawn from Panel of Legal Professionals.

Philip Rahn

Representation in Court / Advices (ODCE)

€8,602

See Footnote 1

Drawn from Panel of Legal Professionals.

Remy Farrell

Representation in Court / Advices (ODCE)

€18,740

See Footnote 1

Drawn from Panel of Legal Professionals.

Quinlan Dillon & Company

Representation in Court / Advices (ODCE)

€75

No

Below threshold for public advertising of contract

Kilroys Solicitors

Provision of legal advice on Export Credit Insurance issues

€32,336

No

Specialist expertise, where detailed knowledge of the specific individual policies is a prerequisite.

Mason Hayes Curran

Public Procurement Advice

€24,247

Yes

Below threshold for public advertising of contract.

2008 Payments

Name of Company/Payee

Purpose

Cost(€)

Was Competitive Tendering Process Held? (Yes/No)

If not, please indicate reason (for information of Minister and Secretary General)

Mason, Hayes & Curran

Legal Advice on Procurement Issues.

€8,534

Yes

Below threshold for public advertising of contract.

Kilroys Solicitors

The provision of legal advice on issues arising in the operation of the Export Credit Insurance Scheme as and when required.

€16,263

No

Specialist expertise, where detailed knowledge of the specific individual policies is a prerequisite.

Emily Gibson BL

Legal Services for the Advisory Group on Media Mergers

€5,596

No

Restricted tender, as below threshold for public advertising of contract

John Hennessy BL

Advices in relation to investigations Under Section 19 of the Companies Act 1990

€13,431

No

Nominated by the Chief State Solicitor’s Office (CSSO).

Mathias Kelly QC

Advice in connection with investigations under Section 19 of the Companies Act 1990

€167,171

No

Nominated by the Office of the Attorney General.

Mason Hayes Curran

Public Procurement Advice (CRO)

€57,540

Yes

Below threshold for public advertising of contract.

2007 Payments

Name of Company/Payee

Purpose

Cost(€)

Was Competitive Tendering Process Held? (Yes/No)

If not, please indicate reason (for information of Minister and Secretary General)

John Gleeson S.C.

Legal Services in connection with functions of the Labour Court

€960

No

Below threshold for public advertising of contract.

Mason Hayes & Curran

Legal Advice (NERA)

€16,611

Yes

Below threshold for public advertising of contract.

John Hennessy BL

Advices in relation to investigations under section 19 of the Companies Act 1990

€126,324

No

Nominated by the Chief State Solicitor’s Office (CSSO).

Matthias Kelly QC

Advice in connection with investigations under section 19 of the Companies Act 1990

€162,742

No

Nominated by the Office of the Attorney General.

Mason Hayes Curran

Public Procurement Advice (CRO)

€14,744

Yes

Below threshold for public advertising of contract.

McCann Fitzgerald

Legal advice in relation to the Industrial and Provident (I&P) Acts (CRO)

€18,184

No

Specialist knowledge of the issues.

Footnote 1 — The ODCE employs its own in-house solicitors and, accordingly, rarely engages external solicitors (though external solicitors are regularly used to witness the swearing of affidavits by ODCE staff). In accordance with general practice in this area, the solicitors employed by the ODCE identify, and engage Counsel to provide advice to, and represent, the ODCE. Counsel are selected on the basis of their knowledge and experience of the issues involved in the relevant cases with a view to achieving successful outcomes for the Office. The Office maintains a Panel of Legal Professionals who expressed an interest in being assigned work by the Office on foot of public advertisement. Inclusion on the Panel is open to all suitably qualified legal professionals.

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

227 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the annual cost of the licensed payroll system, CorePay, to his Department. [31060/11]

Core International license their CorePay payroll system by way of an annual maintenance and support charge on the elements installed. My Department's records indicate that for 2011 this charge amounts to €16,459.32. Additional Core licencing was required for new functionality modules implemented during 2011. My Department's records indicate that these licences cost €30,129 and attract a maintenance and support charge of €1,542.75 in 2011 and €6,534 per annum thereafter. All figures are inclusive of VAT.

Organised Crime

Mattie McGrath

Question:

228 Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of cash for gold companies that currently exist here; the number of new cash for gold companies that have been established in the past two years; the industry specific regulations by which these companies are regulated; his views on whether this industry requires some industry specific regulations; his plans to introduce industry specific regulations to address growing levels of crime involving the theft of jewellery; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31095/11]

My Department does not maintain official statistics on the number of cash for gold companies.

As regards the possible link between this trade and criminality I understand that my colleague the Minister for Justice and Equality is finalising a report on the "Cash for Gold" trade. I also understand from my colleague the Minister for Justice and Equality that his Department has been in contact with the Commissioner of An Garda Síochána with a view to monitoring the situation. The Commissioner has reported that all "Cash for Gold" premises have been visited by An Garda Síochána and the operators of these businesses have been made aware of their responsibilities and obligations with regard to purchasing gold and jewellery.

Mattie McGrath

Question:

229 Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of scrap, iron and metal yard companies that currently exist here; the number of new companies that have been established in the past two years; the industry specific regulations by which these companies are regulated; his views on whether this industry requires some industry specific regulations; his plans to introduce same to address growing levels of crime involving the theft of scrap metals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31096/11]

My Department does not maintain official statistics on the number of scrap, iron and metal yard companies. Neither does my Department have any sector specific regulations in relation to these companies. Insofar as there is a possible link between such companies and criminality the appropriate authority for dealing with such criminality would be An Garda Síochána to whom all thefts of scrap metals should be reported.

Departmental Agencies

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

230 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the services currently being provided through the Industrial Development Agency office in Letterkenny, County Donegal; the staff numbers currently based there; if there has been a reduction in the staff numbers operating from the office in recent times; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31274/11]

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

231 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if it is planned to continue to base the new north west regional manager of the Industrial Development Agency at the IDA office in Letterkenny, County Donegal, as has been the case in the past; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31276/11]

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

IDA is an autonomous agency set up by statute with a mandate to attract foreign direct investment from manufacturing and internationally-traded services companies into Ireland, and to support new and existing FDI operations so as to maximise the related industrial employment, output, exports, economy expenditures including wages, and corporation tax contributions.

The management and location of IDA staff is a day-to-day operational matter for the Agency and not one in which I have a function. IDA decides where it needs its resources in order that it can meet its strategic goals. IDA Ireland's strategy, "Horizon 2020” sets out the Agency’s targets for direct job creation in the FDI sector to 2014 of 62,000 direct jobs in 640 investment projects over the period, resulting in an additional 105,000 jobs overall in the economy. In implementing this ambitious strategy the Agency has also set specific regional goals of

Securing 50% of all investments into locations outside of Dublin and Cork.

Transforming the existing FDI base across the country to develop, retain and grow employment in client companies operating here.

In the context of achieving successful implementation of its strategy and challenging job creation targets, IDA is maximising efficiency through increasing the organisation's focus on business generation/client facing activities, which will ultimately benefit all regions. During 2010, a Business Transformation Process was carried out in IDA, which examined every job in the organisation. The outcome provided opportunities to free up staff resources for core business generation activities and needs to ensure that IDA meets its job targets.

The Agency informs me that the North West Region was in the unique position of having 2 offices; one in Letterkenny and one in Sligo. These have now been merged into one North West regional office in Sligo where the new North West Regional manager will be based, when appointed. IDA continues to have two people working out of the Letterkenny office and informs me that no staff cuts have taken place in Letterkenny.

Under the National Spatial Strategy, Letterkenny is one of 9 Gateway locations and will continue to be a key location of focus for the winning of foreign direct investments. The North West Region has 36 IDA client companies employing almost 5,000 people. Indeed, Letterkenny had 2 key client announcements in the past year with the 200 person expansion of United Health Group, who now employ over 400 people, and Zeus, who expanded their manufacturing facility and will create 75 additional jobs. Examples of other client companies in Letterkenny are Pramerica with 800 employees; Sita, 90 employees; Medisize, 140 employees and Abbot with 140 employees.

Health and Safety Regulations

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

232 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if regulation 30 of SI 299 of 2007, Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007, is the only regulation governing the testing of local exhaust ventilation; his views on whether this regulation is insufficient to protect workers from equipment which might cause exposure to substances that cause asthma and other health problems, including contaminants; if he will legislate for mandatory testing of local exhaust ventilation as in other European countries to protect workers from airborne contaminants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31277/11]

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 (No. 10 of 2005) requires every employer to ensure, in so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety health and welfare at work of his or her employees. The employer's duty extends to the design, provision and maintenance of plant and machinery or any other articles that are safe and without risk to health.

Regulation 30, of Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 (S.I. No. 299 of 2007), is concerned with inspection of work equipment both permanently installed and also equipment that is moved from place to place requiring assembly each time. Work equipment can be subject to a wide range of causes of deterioration which in turn can present workplace hazards. Regulation 30 provides that equipment should not go into use until it has been inspected by a competent person to ensure that it has been properly installed and is safe for operation. Inspection relates to a wide range of hazards. Evidence of such inspections must be recorded and kept available for inspection by the Health and Safety Authority. Regulation 30 (b) (i) provides for periodic testing where appropriate.

In addition in relation to chemical agents, Regulation 6(1)(b) of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Chemical Agents) Regulations 2001 (S.I. No. 619 of 2001) places a duty on employers to ensure that any engineering control measure, which can include local exhaust ventilation (LEV) systems, is properly maintained and used. It requires the employer to ensure that adequate inspection, testing and maintenance of plant and equipment occurs. As LEV systems vary in complexity, the frequency of maintenance and testing specified by the manufacturer, supplier or European Standard should be observed as a minimum.

The above regulations derive in the main from EU law which has been formulated taking into account the wide range of hazards which can arise in workplaces. In relation,inter alia, to equipment which might cause exposure to substances that cause asthma and other health problems, including contaminants, the 2005 Act provides that it is the duty of employers in all workplaces to identify hazards and to put in place measures to control exposure to such hazards. Compliance with this general duty, in addition to the specific duties set out above, should provide adequate protection for workers.

Departmental Agencies

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

233 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will provide a list of all commercial semi-State companies under his aegis. [31396/11]

I can advise the Deputy that none of the agencies under the aegis of my Department are commercial semi-State companies.

Proposed Legislation

Clare Daly

Question:

234 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will bring forward legislation to criminalise the problem of forced labour, which is necessary for Ireland to become compliant with Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights; the date for bringing forward this legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31437/11]

Forced labour in the context of trafficking is currently criminalised by the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 which is legislation that falls within the remit of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence. As regards the act of forced labour without trafficking, I would point out that international instruments such as those of the International Labour Office draw a clear distinction between employment i.e. voluntary labour, on the one hand, and forced labour, on the other.

Employment rights and industrial relations legislation, which falls within my remit, regulates matters arising during, or on termination of, a contract of employment and is concerned with matters relating to voluntary employment. While it can and does make provision for criminal offences, it is almost unheard of in practice and the vast majority of issues arising are dealt with by quasi-judicial tribunals or by arbitration e.g. Rights Commissioners.

Forced labour or slavery can embrace activities that are much more serious than the mere failure to respect labour laws and working conditions and which by definition are not based on contracts of employment. I understand that other jurisdictions, such as is the case in the United Kingdom, have made provision with regard to slavery, servitude and forced labour under their respective criminal codes. I have no plans to bring forward legislation on forced labour that might be most appropriately achieved within the criminal law code.

Consumer Protection

Peter Mathews

Question:

235 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if mortgages from local authorities fall under the remit of the European Communities (Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts) Regulations 1995; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31458/11]

The European Communities (Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts) Regulations, which gave effect to the corresponding European Council Directive on Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts, applies to any term in a contract concluded between a seller of goods or supplier of services and a consumer which has not been individually negotiated. Whilst contracts for financial services such as mortgages may indeed come within the scope of the Regulations, certain terms within such contracts are excluded from the scope of the Regulations. It is ultimately a matter for the courts to determine whether a specific term of a contract is unfair having regard to the features of the contract and the particular provisions of the regulations.

Departmental Correspondence

John McGuinness

Question:

236 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation his response to a submission made to him dated 9 August 2011 from an organisation (details supplied); if the issues raised have been sorted or resolved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31479/11]

A comprehensive response to the submission from the Electro-Technical Council of Ireland (ETCI) was sent to Mr Hanly on 5 October. In relation to the issues raised in the submission, in particular, international memberships, the position is that the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) took the view that, given the extent of the public funding, both direct and indirect, provided by it for the work of the ETCI, a private company, that it would be more appropriate and transparent if NSAI took over the international memberships directly. As Ireland's National Standards Body, set up under the NSAI Act of 1996, it is entirely appropriate that NSAI is the member of these organisations while the ETCI functions as the sectoral committee. This shift in membership secures Ireland's membership of these international institutions for the future. I understand that the NSAI and the ETCI have concluded a Memorandum of Agreement under which NSAI has taken over as the Irish member of the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

The submission also raised concerns about the enforcement of Health and Safety legislation and I am informed that senior executives of ETCI recently met with the Health and Safety Authority to discuss this matter. As the issues concerning the Commission for Energy Regulation fall within the remit of the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, the submission was forwarded to that Department for consideration and direct reply to the Deputy's correspondent.

Enterprise Support Services

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

237 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the position regarding a start-up grant in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31485/11]

My Department does not provide direct funding or grants to businesses but provides funding to a number of State Agencies, including the County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) and Enterprise Ireland, through whom assistance is delivered directly to businesses. The role of the CEBs throughout the country is to provide a source of both financial and non-financial assistance support for eligible micro-enterprises in the start-up and expansion phases, to promote and develop indigenous micro-enterprise potential and to stimulate economic activity and entrepreneurship at local level.

The CEBs unique role positions them as a first point of contact for persons wishing to set up in business. I am advised that Kerry CEB has not had contact with the promoter to initiate a grant application. The project promoter may therefore in the first instance wish to contact Kerry CEB to discuss what options may be available to him. Kerry CEB may be contacted directly at Kerry County Enterprise Board, County Buildings, Rathass, Tralee, Co. Kerry, Phone: 066-7183522 Email: kerryceb@kerrycoco.ie. Alternatively, contact details for the CEB network are available through their national website www.enterpriseboards.ie.

Departmental Expenditure

Billy Kelleher

Question:

238 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the total expenditure in 2010 on information and communications technology, ICT, including staff costs, support and maintenance services, hardware, software and external resources, including consultancies, contractors and service providers and that of all agencies under the aegis of his Department. [31521/11]

My Department's ICT End of Year Statement for 2010, as submitted to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, indicates that total expenditure on ICT costs in that year, exclusive of staff costs, was €6,857,783. My Department's ICT Start of Year Statement for 2010 estimates ICT staff costs for the period, on the basis of staff complement and the mid-point salary per grade excluding overheads, at €1,497,680. The ICT costs of agencies under the remit of my Department is a day-to-day operational matter for those agencies.

Question No. 239 taken with question No. 223.

Social Welfare Benefits

Paudie Coffey

Question:

240 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding rent supplement in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Waterford; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30815/11]

The community welfare service (CWS), and the community welfare officers providing it, transferred formally to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) from 1 October 2011. The service and the staff are now part of the DSP. The person concerned has been awarded rent supplement from 1st August 2011. The first payment including arrears was made on 24th October.

Social Welfare Code

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

241 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to the fact that approved retirement funds are liable to PRSI at class S and those with an annuity of an equal amount are exempt from paying PRSI; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30844/11]

Under social welfare legislation any payments received by way of pension are not regarded as reckonable emoluments for the purposes of self-employed Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI). Pension annuities provide a secure means of converting savings into pension income to be paid over the span of the individual's life and thereby avoid the danger that pensioners could exhaust their pension savings in their lifetime. Annuities payable under a retirement annuity contract are, therefore, regarded as a payment by way of pension and not subject to PRSI.

Approved retirement funds or ARFs are funds managed by a qualifying fund manager into which an individual may invest the proceeds of their pension fund when they retire. The income and gains of such funds are exempt from tax within the fund. Any amounts withdrawn from an ARF are referred to as a distribution. A distribution is treated as income from an employment and accordingly subject to income tax within the PAYE system. Unlike annuity products, ARFs are not pensions but are treated as assets. As such, distributions from ARFs fall within the charge to self-employed PRSI. It should however be noted that only distributions made before pension age will attract the charge to PRSI as social insurance only applies to individuals between the ages of 16 and 66. Once the individual reaches pension age, PRSI will not be charged.

Social Welfare Appeals

Billy Timmins

Question:

242 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding mortgage interest supplement appeals which are taking more than six months for a decision; if they will be expedited; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31435/11]

Following on from the transfer of the Community Welfare Service from the Health Services Executive (HSE) to the Department of Social Protection, with effect from Saturday 1st October, legislation was commenced which provides that appeals for supplementary welfare allowance (SWA), which includes Mortgage Interest Supplement, are now made to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. Up to now, the legislation provided for a 2 step process, first to the Health Services Executive (HSE) and, if still dissatisfied, to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.

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

Pension Provisions

Nicky McFadden

Question:

243 Deputy Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will consider the possibility of allowing unemployed persons who intend to emigrate to encash their accumulated funds in the private pension scheme to fund their travel and upkeep while abroad; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31445/11]

As you are aware, pensions are a long-term investment aimed at ensuring that a person has an adequate income in retirement. Government policy supports this aspiration. However, under the provisions of the Pensions Act 1990, if a person with less than two years qualifying service leaves a pension scheme, they are entitled to a refund to the value of their own contributions less tax at the basic rate. The Pensions Act also provides that a person can transfer their pension rights to a scheme operated by their new employer or to a vehicle which is capable of accruing pension benefits. There are no proposals at present to amend the legislation to provide for further access to pension funds.

Employment Support Services

Sean Fleming

Question:

244 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will consider a reduction in the JobBridge criteria from 12 weeks to four weeks to facilitate students who wish to participate in this scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31454/11]

In order for an individual to be eligible to participate in JobBridge, the National Internship Scheme, an individual must:

be currently in receipt of a live claim (Jobseekers Allowance/Jobseekers Benefit/Signing for Credits) on the Live Register;

have been in receipt of Jobseekers Benefit, Jobseekers Allowance or signing for Social Insurance Contribution Credits for a total of 78 days or more in the last 6 months.

Time spent on Back to Education Allowance, VTOS, FÁS/Fáilte Ireland Training courses, Youthreach, FIT, Community Employment Schemes, TÚS, the Rural Social Scheme, Back to Work Scheme, FÁS Job Initiative or Job Assist may now count towards the 78 day qualifying period. However, individuals must still have signed back on to the Live Register and be in receipt of JobSeekers Benefit/Allowance or Jobseeker credits immediately before commencing on JobBridge.

The policy objective of the Scheme is to prioritise scarce resources on those on the Live Register so as to increase their chances of leaving it thereby ensuring a reduction in Exchequer costs over time. The optimum time for interventions of this nature is at three months and, therefore, the 3 month eligibility criteria for the scheme will remain in place.

Redundancy Payments

Pat Breen

Question:

245 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) has not been facilitated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31549/11]

There is no record in the Department of a redundancy claim having been received from the person referenced by the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits

Brendan Griffin

Question:

246 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection if a person (details supplied) in County Kerry is eligible for participation in a community employment scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30754/11]

Under the current community employment eligibility guidelines, the person concerned is not eligible to apply for a position on the programme as he is not in receipt of any payment from the Department of Social Protection. He would need to be in receipt of one of the qualifying payments to be eligible or be in receipt of Jobseekers Benefit/Assistance for at least 12 months prior to participation. A full listing of the eligibility criteria for community employment is available at: http://www.fas.ie/en/Communities/Community+Employment/Eligibility+-+Participant/default.htm

Social Welfare Code

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

247 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Social Protection about the recommendations the advisory group on tax and social welfare has made to date; the date on which she expects the group to advise on PRSI rates and social welfare entitlements for the self-employed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30757/11]

Creating jobs and tackling poverty are two of the key challenges that we face. It is essential that our tax and social protection systems play their part in addressing these issues and ensure that work is worthwhile. To this end, I established an Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare last June. The main rationale for setting up the Advisory Group is to harness expert opinion and experience in order to address a number of specific issues and to make cost-effective proposals for improving employment incentives and achieving better poverty outcomes, particularly child poverty outcomes.

The Advisory Group has been asked to examine a number of specific issues and make recommendations on these, including child and family income supports, working age income supports, the appropriate unit of assessment in both the tax and social welfare codes, the interaction of the tax and social welfare codes, issues concerning social insurance for self-employed people and any other issues that may be referred to it.

The Group's method of working is based on producing modular reports on the priority areas identified in the terms of reference. Where possible, the aim is to provide recommendations that can be acted upon in time for the annual budget/estimates and legislative cycle and to allow the Government to best address its commitments under the EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support.

I understand that the Group is currently prioritising the area of family and child income supports so that it can make a contribution in time for the 2012 Budget and I expect to receive recommendations in this regard in the near future. Thereafter, I expect that the Group will address the other issues provided for in its work programme including that of social welfare entitlements for the self-employed.

Employment Support Services

Brendan Griffin

Question:

248 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection if there are circumstances under which a person may have an extension granted to the duration of their participation in a community employment scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30758/11]

In general, the maximum participation limit for community employment is one year with the opportunity to extend for a further year if this is considered by FÁS as the most suitable and cost effective measure to assist the CE participant in gaining employment. A participant may be eligible for different periods of engagement and extensions on CE due to a range of circumstances, including their age, the nature of the qualifying payment and/or time already spent on CE. Extensions of a CE placement have to be requested a minimum of eight weeks before the proposed finish date by the CE Project Supervisor. Once an extension application is received by the local FÁS office, a determination is made as to whether the placement is the most suitable and cost effective measure to assist the client in gaining employment. Participants who are deemed job-ready by the Supervisor are not extended in order to free up the place for another client. If no request for an extension is requested then the person must leave the scheme and re-qualify under the published eligibility rules for any further participation on the CE scheme. The local FÁS employment office will be able to give advice on individual circumstances and the opportunities to extend participation on CE.

As Minister for Social Protection I do not have a role in the administration of individual cases in regard to the operation of the Community Employment (CE) programme. The administration of individual cases under CE is a day-to-day matter for FÁS as part of its responsibility under the Labour Services Act, 1987, as amended by Part 3 of the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2010.

Departmental Agencies

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

249 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide a list of all non-commercial State agencies under the aegis of her Department. [30789/11]

The three statutory bodies operating under the aegis of the 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. Additional information in relation to these bodies is available on the Department's website at www.welfare.ie/EN/AboutUs/Pages/stateagencies.aspx

Social Welfare Benefits

Michelle Mulherin

Question:

250 Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for carer’s allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if the application will be expedited. [30806/11]

I confirm that an application for carer's allowance has been received from the person in question. On completion of the necessary investigations relating to all aspects of her claim a decision will be made and the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome. The average time taken to process a claim to completion, including assessment of the claimant's means and the entitlement of the care recipient to full time care and attention on medical grounds is approximately 19 weeks.

Pension Provisions

Dessie Ellis

Question:

251 Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Social Protection the measures she is undertaking to ensure she can afford to pay the State pension. [30823/11]

Dessie Ellis

Question:

273 Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Social Protection the measures she is undertaking to ensure she can afford to pay the State pension into the future. [31015/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 251 and 273 together.

The challenges facing the Irish pension system are significant. The fundamental principle is that people need to participate in the workforce for longer and they need to contribute more towards their pensions if they are to achieve the income they expect or would like to have in retirement.

The population share of those aged 65 and over is expected to more than double between now and 2050, from 11% to 26%. People are living longer and healthier lives with average life expectancy set to rise even further in the future, up to 88 years for women and 83.9 for men. In contrast, the share of the working age population is projected to decline gradually from 68% to 58%. There are currently six people of working age for every pensioner and this ratio is expected to decrease to less than two to one by mid-century. These changes are taking place and therefore, the task of financing increasing pension spending will fall to a diminishing share of the population who are at work. Spending on public pensions that is, social welfare pensions and public service occupational pensions, is projected to increase from approximately 5 % of GDP in 2008, to almost 15% by 2050.

Therefore, as announced in the National Pensions Framework and as provided for in recent legislation State pension age will be increased gradually to 68 years. This will begin in 2014 with the standardisation of State pension age at 66. State pension age will be increased to 67 years in 2021 and to 68 in 2028. It is worth noting that, until the early 1970s, the qualifying age for SPC was 70 years of age. The recent legislative changes in this regard also fulfil one of the commitments in the EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support for Ireland.

By gradually increasing the qualifying age for State pension people will be further encouraged to remain in employment beyond 65 years of age and the option of deferring beyond pension age is currently being explored by my Department. The numbers currently at work drop dramatically at 65 years of age. The Quarterly National Household Survey Q4 2010 showed that 77.2% % of people aged 45-54 years were at work. This drops to 64.3% for 55-64 year-olds and to just 8.7% % for people aged 65 years or older.

As provided for in legislation since 1997, the minimum paid requirement for State pension (contributory) will increase to 520 next year. Changes outlined in the National Pensions Framework include a ‘total contributions' approach from 2020 to replace the current averaging system. This means that from 2020 a person will require 30 years' contributions and credits to qualify for maximum pension with 10 years' contributions required for a minimum pension. This system will be fairer as the level of pension payment will be proportionate to a person's working career e.g. a person with 25 years contributions will receive 25/30ths of a pension. Sustainable public finances are a prerequisite for maintaining an adequate system of social protection as well as achieving future economic stability and growth. The appropriate level of overall expenditure by my Department in the years ahead will be considered in the context of Budget 2012 and subsequent Budgets.

Social Welfare Code

Robert Dowds

Question:

252 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Social Protection her plans to reduce the maximum rates payable for rent supplement, either in general or in a number of specific local authority areas; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30839/11]

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

289 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Social Protection the flexibility there is for community welfare officers when giving rent allowance to allow persons who live on the borders between two county lines when the maximum amount that is permissible under the rent allowance scheme is different but this is not reflected in the house rental costs of the area; her plans to peg the highest amount of money available on rent allowance to the average house price in a given area as opposed to an arbitrary geographical line that house prices do not see; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31244/11]

Dessie Ellis

Question:

315 Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will guarantee that rates of rent supplement will be safeguarded at their current level. [30402/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 252, 289 and 315 together.

The purpose of rent supplement is to provide short-term support to eligible people living in private rented accommodation, whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs and who do not have accommodation available to them from any other source.

Rent supplement is subject to a limit on the amount of rent that an applicant may incur. Rent limits are set at levels that enable eligible households to secure and retain basic suitable rented accommodation, having regard to the different rental market conditions that prevail in various parts of the country. It is essential to ensure that state support for rent supplement tenants, who form a substantial section of the rental market, does not give rise to inflated rental prices with particular negative impact on those tenants on lower incomes, including those who are in low paid employment.

Staff administering rent supplement have the authority to set levels lower than those provided for in the regulations, in respect of sub-divisions of their functional areas, where this is appropriate. This allows for lower rent levels to apply in certain locations within counties reflecting local market conditions. Under normal circumstances rent supplement is not paid where the rent charged for the accommodation is above the relevant maximum rent limit. However, staff do have some flexibility around making payment above these limits.

The most recent rent limit review established new maximum rent limits from June 2010 and I am satisfied that the rent limits are sufficient to enable eligible households to secure and retain basic suitable rented accommodation.

The current rent limits will remain in force until December 2011 and will be reviewed later this year with a view to establishing new rent limits. The review will be based on analysis of data sets available to the Department on private rental prices within the state. This will include information supplied by the Central Statistics Office, the Private Residential Tenancies Board and other publicly available data sources.

Social Welfare Appeals

John O'Mahony

Question:

253 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive a decision regarding a disability allowance claim; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30841/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 01 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 14 October 2011 and the appeal will be assigned, in due course, 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.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

254 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if and when an decision will be made in respect of an appeal regarding jobseeker’s allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; if a supplementary welfare allowance payment can be made in the interim with particular regard to the need for financial help in this instance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30852/11]

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 29 August 2011 and the appeal was assigned to an Appeals Officer on 11 October 2011 who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing.

The person concerned claimed supplementary welfare allowance. However, the claim was subsequently closed as he failed to supply the required documentation and information. It is still open to the person concerned to supply the relevant information to his local Community Welfare Officer who will determine his entitlement.

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.

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

255 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Social Protection when an oral hearing will take place in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30858/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeal from the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer who proposes to hold an oral hearing in this case.

There has been a very significant increase in the number of appeals received by the Social Welfare Appeals Office since 2007 when the intake was 14,070 to 2010 when the intake rose to 32,432. This has significantly impacted on the processing time for appeals which require oral hearings and, in order to be fair to all appellants, they are dealt with in strict chronological order. In the context of dealing with the considerable number of appeals now on hand, the Department made 9 additional appointments to the office earlier this year.

While every effort is being made to deal with the large numbers awaiting oral hearing as quickly as possible, it is not possible to give a date when the person's oral hearing will be heard, but he will be informed when arrangements have been made.

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

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

256 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Social Protection when an appeal will be heard in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30859/11]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an oral hearing of the appeal of the person concerned took place on 14 September 2011 and the Appeals Officer is now considering the appeal in the light of all the evidence submitted, including that adduced at the 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.

Robert Troy

Question:

257 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will expedite a review regarding a decision to refuse domiciliary care allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath. [30874/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 21 September 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Social Welfare Services on the grounds of appeal be sought. When received, the appeal in question will be referred to an Appeals Officer in due course for consideration.

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

Departmental Agencies

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

258 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Social Protection if all non-commercial State agency employees under her Department’s aegis are paid directly from the Exchequer. [30894/11]

The three statutory bodies operating under the aegis of the Department of Social Protection 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.

Employees of the Social Welfare Tribunal, the Citizens Information Board and the Office of the Pensions Ombudsman are paid directly from the Exchequer.

Salaries of employees of the Pensions Board are paid from annual fees received by the Board from occupational pension schemes and from providers of Personal Retirement Savings Accounts and trust Retirement Annuity Contracts.

Social Welfare Benefits

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

259 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a domiciliary care allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30905/11]

An application for domiciliary care allowance was received on 22nd August 2011. This application has been forwarded to one of the Department's Medical Assessors for their medical opinion on the case. Upon receipt of this opinion, a decision will issue to the customer. It should be noted that it is currently taking up to ten weeks to process an application.

Departmental Agencies

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

260 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide the following information regarding the agencies operating under her aegis (details supplied) namely, the total number of whole time equivalent staff, the total number of board members, the chairperson and board members respective remuneration packages, the total annual wage bill and the total amount of central funding provided to the agency inclusive of wage bill. [30923/11]

There are no full-time staff allocated to the Social Welfare Tribunal. One member of staff from my Department acts as Secretary to the Tribunal as part of their normal duties.

The Tribunal consists of a Chairperson and four ordinary members, two nominated by ICTU and two nominated by IBEC. All are appointed by the Minister.

The Chairperson and members do not receive an annual salary but are paid appearance fees for attending hearings or meetings. The Tribunal holds hearings and meetings as required to deal with social welfare entitlement issues arising in the context of industrial disputes.

The chairperson is paid a set fee of €488.11 per sitting day at hearings and €73.44 for attending meetings. Members are paid a set fee of €136.71 per sitting day at hearings and €68.36 for attending meetings. They also have an entitlement to travel and subsistence expenses, where appropriate.

The Deputy mentions the Social Welfare Appeals Office and while the Appeals Office functions independently of the Department of Social Protection, it is none the less not a separate agency. It is managed by the Chief Appeals Officer, who is an official of the Minister.

Social Welfare Appeals

Jack Wall

Question:

261 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an appeal for carer’s allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30928/11]

I confirm that an application for carer's allowance has been received from the person in question. On completion of the necessary investigations relating to all aspects of his claim a decision will be made and the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome. The average time taken to process a claim to completion, including assessment of the claimant's means and the entitlement of the care recipient to full time care and attention on medical grounds is approximately 19 weeks.

Social Welfare Benefits

Paschal Donohoe

Question:

262 Deputy Paschal Donohoe asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for rent allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 7; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30938/11]

The community welfare service (CWS) and the community welfare officers providing it transferred formally to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) from 1 October 2011. The service and the staff are now part of the DSP.

The person concerned made an application for rent supplement on 19th September 2011. The person concerned has been requested to provide further documentation in order to process her application for rent supplement. When this information is received the persons entitlement can be decided.

Social Welfare Appeals

Dan Neville

Question:

263 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Social Protection when an oral hearing will be arranged in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [30942/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeal, from the person concerned, was referred to an Appeals Officer who proposes to hold an oral hearing in the case.

There has been a very significant increase in the number of appeals received by the Social Welfare Appeals Office since 2007 when the intake was 14,070 to 2010 when the intake rose to 32,432. This has significantly impacted on the processing time for appeals which require oral hearings and, in order to be fair to all appellants, they are dealt with in strict chronological order. In the context of dealing with the considerable number of appeals now on hand, the Department made 9 additional appointments to the office earlier this year.

While every effort is being made to deal with the large numbers awaiting oral hearing as quickly as possible, it is not possible to give a date when the person's oral hearing will be heard, but s/he will be informed when arrangements have been made.

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

Departmental Expenditure

Anne Ferris

Question:

264 Deputy Anne Ferris asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide details for the years 2006 to 2011, inclusive, of the arrangements entered into by her, any body under her aegis or State agency for which she has responsibility, for the obtaining of advice from a senior or junior counsel and or a firm of solicitors; the subject matter for which advice was sought; the names of the barristers and solicitors firms concerned and the fees paid; the nature of the work concerned; if in each case the matter was advertised for competitive tender and if not, the reason; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30974/11]

The information requested is currently being compiled within the Department and will be made available to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Mattie McGrath

Question:

265 Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection the total cost to the taxpayer of all works related to the name change of her Department from the Department of Social and Family Affairs to the Department of Social Protection; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30979/11]

The name of my Department was changed to the Department of Social Protection by the previous Government, following an announcement by the then Taoiseach, in March 2010 regarding a redistribution of Departmental responsibilities, affecting a number of Departments. Additional costs of €30,000 approx. were incurred by my Department in terms of website amendments, stationery costs, changes to signage and information leaflets. As is standard practice, my Department continues to use all remaining stationary, leaflets and other printed materials in the previous name of the Department until it has been exhausted.

The name of the Department was previously changed in 2002, again following a redistribution of responsibilities decided by the Government at that time.

Question No. 266 withdrawn.

Social Welfare Appeals

Finian McGrath

Question:

267 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an illness benefit appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9. [30991/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the illness benefit claim, of the person concerned, was disallowed 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 07 October 2011 and in accordance with the statutory procedures the relevant department papers and the comments of the Social Welfare Services on the matter raised in the appeal have been sought. In that context, an examination 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

Michael Creed

Question:

268 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social Protection if persons (details supplied) in County Meath are entitled to mortgage interest subsidy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30993/11]

The community welfare service (CWS), and the community welfare officers providing it, transferred formally to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) from 1 October 2011. The service and the staff are now part of the DSP.

There is no record of an application for mortgage interest supplement (MIS) from the persons concerned. If they wish to have their entitlement to MIS assessed, then they should visit the Department's representative who administers supplementary welfare allowance in Ashbourne Health Centre on Thursday mornings between 10am and 1pm where an assessment for entitlement to MIS can be carried out.

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

269 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Social Protection her views on the impact on post offices of having social welfare payments paid directly into a bank account rather than a post office account; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31001/11]

The range of payment options offered by my Department includes payment at a local post office via electronic information transfer (EIT), through a bank, building society or certain credit unions via electronic funds transfer (EFT) or payment by cheque.

At present, An Post can direct pension and child benefit payments transferred via EFT into An Post State Savings Accounts. Consideration is being given to extending this facility to customers in receipt of certain other scheme payments. An Post also currently provides front office services for AIB and National Irish Bank. In such cases although the account is not held by the post office, social welfare and other customers can access their accounts and manage their payments through the network of post offices around the country.

The current contract with An Post for the payment of welfare customers at Post Offices expires on the 31st December 2013. Public sector contracts for the supply of products and services are generally awarded following a publicly advertised, competitive tendering process. In line with public procurement guidelines and in the interests of economy, the Department is required to seek tenders for the delivery of social welfare payments before the current contract with An Post expires in 2013.

In addition, the award of public sector contracts with a significant financial value is subject to various EU Directives. This ensures that the taxpayer receives value for money and that all potential suppliers are given the opportunity to put forward for efficient, effective and competitive solutions for consideration and evaluation.

While it will of course be open to An Post to bid for the new contract, the development of the An Post network and services is a matter for An Post to consider in consultation with the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

Jack Wall

Question:

270 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) in County Kildare is now being requested to provide the up-to-date status of their housing needs when they have already submitted documentation and tenancy agreements showing that they have been in rented accommodation for ten months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31002/11]

The community welfare service (CWS) and the community welfare officers providing it transferred formally to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) from 1 October 2011. The service and the staff are now part of the DSP.

When the person concerned was awarded his rent supplement payment in June 2011 it was on the basis that he would have his housing needs assessed by the local authority. This assessment is still required in relation to his on-going entitlement and to date he has not provided the assessment of housing need.

Jerry Buttimer

Question:

271 Deputy Jerry Buttimer asked the Minister for Social Protection the option now available in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [31006/11]

The person concerned may make an application for domiciliary care allowance (DCA). In order to qualify for DCA, a child must have a disability so severe that it requires the child needing care and attention and/or supervision substantially in excess of another child of the same age. This care and attention must be given by another person, effectively full-time, so that the child can deal with the activities of daily living. The child must be likely to require this level of care and attention for at least 12 months. Each application is assessed on an individual basis taking account of the evidence submitted.

In addition, the person concerned can contact the information officer in their local Social Welfare Office or any Citizens Information Centre who will advise them of other forms of assistance that may be available to them.

Social Welfare Appeals

Mattie McGrath

Question:

272 Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will be made on a social welfare appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31010/11]

An application for domiciliary care allowance (DCA) was received on 10th February 2011. This application was referred to one of the Department's Medical Assessors who found that the child was not medically eligible for DCA. A letter issued on 7th April 2011 where the person concerned was advised of the decision to refuse the allowance. The person concerned subsequently lodged an appeal against this decision. She was informed by the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 3rd October 2011 that the appeal had not been allowed.

The decision/appeal process for this application is now complete. All the available information was provided to the appeals officer before the appeal was considered. However, if the person concerned has new or additional information, it is open to her to re-apply.

Question No. 273 answered with Question No. 251

Departmental Expenditure

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

274 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Social Protection the annual cost of the licensed payroll system, Corepay, to her Department. [31063/11]

The annual licence and maintenance costs for CorePay and related online products — Payslip online, online Overtime, online P60, PRD60 and Income Levy Cert for 2011 was €48,209.

Social Welfare Benefits

John McGuinness

Question:

275 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social Protection if an application for carer’s allowance will be expedited and approved in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow. [31066/11]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an oral hearing of the appeal of the person concerned took place on 18 October 2011 and the Appeals Officer is now considering the appeal in the light of all the evidence submitted, including that adduced at the 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 Appeals

John McGuinness

Question:

276 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social Protection if an application for disability allowance now under appeal will be expedited and approved in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow. [31067/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the disability allowance claim, of the person concerned, was disallowed following an assessment by a Medical Assessor of the Department who expressed the opinion that he was medically unsuitable for the allowance. An appeal was registered on 23 September 2011 and in accordance with the statutory procedures the relevant department papers and the comments of the Social Welfare Services on the matter raised in the appeal have been sought. In that context, an assessment by another Medical Assessor will be carried out.

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

Question No. 277 withdrawn.

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

278 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for jobseeker’s allowance and habitual residence in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wexford; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31074/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned were registered in that office on 12th September 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 5th October 2011 and the appeal was assigned to an Appeals Officer on 19th October 2011 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.

Internship Programme

Joe McHugh

Question:

279 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Social Protection her views on the case of an person (details supplied) in County Donegal who is in receipt of €40 weekly jobseeker’s, and who is being offered €50 per week to undertake a national internship scheme position at a premises which is 20km from home; her plans to amend the scheme so that there is a clear financial incentive taking into account distances to work for participants; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31086/11]

JobBridge — the national internship scheme is a voluntary scheme which provides internship opportunities of either 6 or 9 months for unemployed individuals on the live register, in organisations in the private, public and community voluntary sectors. The scheme is limited to individuals who are currently on the Live Register and have been in receipt of jobseekers allowance/benefit or are signing on for credits for at least 3 of the last 6 months.

Individuals participating on the scheme will maintain their existing social welfare entitlements and will also receive a weekly top up payment of €50. The weekly social welfare entitlement plus the top up payment will be paid in a single allowance known as the internship allowance.

It is considered that the €50 top-up payment represents a meaningful incentive to encourage eligible, unemployed individuals to avail themselves of the opportunity to gain valuable work experience and skills that will keep them close to the labour market and / or lead to employment.

FÁS Training Programmes

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

280 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to the impact that the FÁS funding cuts over the past four years have had on a youth centre (details supplied); the steps she will take secure funding at least at the current level for next year; and if she will take steps to reverse the recent cuts to ensure this vital community resource can continue delivering quality services. [31087/11]

Under the Local Training Initiative Juniors Programme (16-19 year olds), FÁS has funded 18 places with this youth centre for the last 10 years with a budget of €67,384 per year excluding training allowances. In 2009, FÁS approved an additional 16 placements for a Local Training Initiative Seniors Programme (18-25 year olds) in the youth centre with a budget of €59,896 per year excluding training allowances. I have been able to confirm that there has been no reduction in funding to the youth centre over that period of time.

All contractual arrangements are made on an annual basis by FÁS taking local requirements and circumstances into account and based on the annual allocation of funding provided for the Programme.

Social Welfare Benefits

Luke 'Ming' Flanagan

Question:

281 Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason the back to education allowance programme requires the applicants to be on jobseeker’s payment for more than nine months consecutively; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31140/11]

The back to education allowance (BTEA) scheme is a second chance education opportunities scheme. As such its function is to facilitate persons who, earlier in their life, could not fully avail of educational opportunities now access further education. Qualification criteria are required to ensure that the allowance does not, of itself, become a factor for signing-on the Live Register in the first place.

Currently the period for which a person is required to be on a qualifying social welfare payment before accessing the third level option is 9 months (234 days); this was reduced from 12 months in 2010. Persons in receipt of a statutory redundancy payment may be in a position to access BTEA more quickly.

Periods spent on qualifying social welfare payments, which are not broken by more than 12 months (52 weeks), may be used in determining if an applicant satisfies the qualifying period criteria. I believe an official from my Department has been in contact with you in relation to the specific query attached to your question.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

282 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of households in receipt of mortgage interest supplement, MIS, the number in positive equity; the number in negative equity; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31142/11]

Since 2005 mortgage interest supplement expenditure has increased from €6.3 million to €66 million in 2010. The budget for 2011 is €77m. The number of households claiming the allowance has increased from 3,200 at the end of 2005 to over 18,700 at the end of September 2011. This represents a 480% increase in the number of households receiving support.

My Department has no information on the number of households in receipt of mortgage interest supplement who are in positive or negative equity.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

283 Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Galway will receive compensation to help them re-locate after flooding damage to their house in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31168/11]

The Government has provided various types of support to people affected by the November 2009 flooding. Humanitarian Aid payments were made, both in the immediate aftermath of the flooding and subsequently to enable eligible households to resume living at their home. Flood relief works were also undertaken in some of the affected areas and other works are at an advanced state of preparation. Discussions also took place with representatives of the insurance industry regarding giving households access to appropriate house insurance at a reasonable cost.

Subject to certain conditions the Government also decided to provide support to a small number of families who are continuing to experience significant housing problems as a result of the November 2009 flooding and are considering the possibility of relocating rather than resuming living at their original home.

The household of the persons concerned has been visited by an official from the Department and a report of their circumstances has been completed. The Department has received a report from the Office of Public Works in relation to the house of the person concerned and expects to be in a position to make a decision on the case shortly.

Social Welfare Appeals

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

284 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if and when an oral hearing will take place with respect to an appeal for invalidity pension in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31169/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal, by the person concerned, was registered in that office on 9 August 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Social Welfare Services on the grounds of appeal be sought. When received, the appeal in question will be referred to an Appeals Officer for consideration. As part of this consideration, the Appeals Officer will decide if an oral hearing is appropriate in this case.

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.

Brendan Smith

Question:

285 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Social Protection when a domiciliary care allowance application will be approved in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cavan; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31176/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 21 September 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Social Welfare Services on the grounds of appeal be sought. When received, the appeal in question will be referred to an Appeals Officer in due course for consideration.

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

Social Welfare Benefits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

286 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons under the age of twenty five years who are currently in receipt of jobseeker’s allowance and or benefit payments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31180/11]

The information requested by the Deputy is in the attached tabular statement. There were 71,064 claimants aged under 25 on Jobseeker's Allowance and 9,424 on Jobseeker's Benefit

Number of Claimants aged under 25 on Jobseeker's Benefit and Jobseeker's Allowance

Age

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

Total

Jobseeker’s Benefit

23

171

554

1,253

2,004

2,519

2,900

9,424

Jobseeker’s Allowance

5,222

8,724

10,127

10,857

11,775

12,410

11,949

71,064

Total

5,245

8,895

10,681

12,110

13,779

14,929

14,849

80,488

Jack Wall

Question:

287 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) in County Kildare is only entitled to €100 supplementary welfare allowance while they are awaiting their illness claim in view of the fact that when they were in receipt of jobseeker’s allowance they were in receipt of the maximum rate; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31218/11]

Since January 2010 the maximum amount of supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) payable to a person less than 22 years of age is €100 per week. The person concerned has been awarded his maximum entitlement under the SWA scheme.

Social Welfare Code

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

288 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the policy grounds on which the eligibility criteria for the back to education allowance scheme was compiled, with particular reference to the need to be on jobseeker’s allowance or benefit for the nine months preceding the making of an application; her views that the eligibility criteria are sufficient to encourage persons to take opportunities for employment prior to returning to education; her plans to revise the eligibility criteria for the back to education allowance scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31243/11]

A person wishing to pursue back to education allowance (BTEA) scheme will have to satisfy a number of conditions such as being a certain age, in receipt of a prescribed social welfare payment for a specified time period, pursuing a full time course of study leading to a recognised qualification in a recognised college and progressing in the level of education held by the client with reference to the national framework of qualifications among others.

A waiting period is considered essential given that BTEA confers entitlement to income support for an extended period and avoids establishing a pull factor to the Live Register. It is also considered necessary as it reduces unnecessary provision, for those who will leave the Live Register in any event, in the context of targeting scarce resources at those who need it most.

The qualifying period for the second level option of the scheme has remained at 3 months in recognition of the need for more urgent intervention in the case of people who have not completed formal second level education. With effect from 19th July 2010, the period for which a person is required to be on a qualifying social welfare payment before accessing third level education under the BTEA was reduced from 12 months to 9 months (a 2 year qualifying period continues to apply to participants coming from Illness Benefit). Since 2007, people who are awarded statutory redundancy may access BTEA immediately, provided an entitlement to a relevant social welfare payment is established prior to commencing an approved course of study.

However, if a person wishes to pursue a part time education course they may be able to do so while still obtaining their jobseekers payment. They must apply at their local social welfare office and verify that participation on the course does not reduce their availability for work. In the case of jobseekers benefit, participation on a course does not grant any extension to the normal period for which jobseekers benefit is paid.

At present there are no plans to change the qualifying criteria for the BTEA scheme. However, all employment schemes will continue to be monitored in the context of the objectives of the scheme and the changing economic circumstances.

Question No. 289 answered with Question No. 252.

Departmental Records

Jack Wall

Question:

290 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare can be furnished with a statement of their rent allowance for 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31248/11]

The community welfare service (CWS) and the community welfare officers providing it transferred formally to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) from 1 October 2011. The service and the staff are now part of the DSP.

A statement of her rent supplement payments for 2010 will issue to the person concerned shortly.

Social Welfare Fraud

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

291 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of social welfare fraud inspectors in County Meath; the amount of social welfare fraud that has been detected; the amount that this has saved the Exchequer; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31284/11]

The prevention of fraud and abuse of the social welfare system is an integral part of the day-to-day work of my Department which processes in excess of 2 million claims each year and makes payments to some 1.4 million people every week. However, it is important to recognise that the vast majority of people are receiving the entitlement due to them.

Fraud control figures are compiled in the Department on a regional basis, not on a county basis. County Meath is included in the Dublin North Region. This region also includes parts of county Dublin and the Social Welfare Local and Branch Offices in Balbriggan, Ballymun, Blanchardstown, Coolock, Finglas, Kilbarrack, Navan Road, King's Inns Street, Swords, Navan, Kells and Trim.

The savings resulting from fraud control activity in the Dublin North region for the period January to end of September 2011, are over €11 million. These savings arise from a range of control activities including reviews on social welfare claims in payment, carried out in the Dublin North Region by the Social Welfare Local Offices and Social Welfare Inspectors.

This savings figure does not include details from the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) within the Dublin North region, as the SIU savings are compiled separately on a national basis. The savings resulting from fraud control activity by SIU on a national basis, to the end of September is €45.9 million.

In addition to these savings figures in the Dublin North region, additional control savings as a result of reviews carried out directly by headquarters offices on customers in Co Meath are not available and are not included here.

Control savings are an estimate of the savings from various control activities across the schemes in payment. Control savings are not actual monies recovered by the Department. If this control work did not take place, social welfare expenditure would increase by this level over time.

There are 89 inspectors are in the SIU whose exclusive function is fraud prevention, detection and deterrence. There are currently 47 Social Welfare Inspectors working in the Dublin North Region, which includes those who are assigned to the SIU. All Social Welfare Inspectors have a significant role to play in the control of abuse of the Department's schemes, by preventing fraudulent claims going into payment and by reviewing claims in payment, in addition to carrying out inspections on employers. In addition, all staff working in the Department, including those working in the social welfare local and branch offices in Co Meath, have a significant role in combating social welfare fraud and abuse.

The Deputy should also note that I recently launched a new Fraud Initiative (2011-2013) which is aimed at putting in place a range of actions to combat fraud and abuse of the social welfare system and to ensure that the public can have confidence and trust in the system. As Minister, I am very conscious of the need to protect public money and I am determined to ensure that abuse of the system is prevented and is dealt with effectively when detected.

Social Welfare Benefits

Jack Wall

Question:

292 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 252 of 18 October 2011, regarding an application for mortgage interest relief for a person (details supplied) in County Kildare, will the person be informed regarding the additional information requested in view of the fact that it is this person’s understanding that all information requested was provided; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31291/11]

The community welfare service (CWS), and the community welfare officers providing it, transferred formally to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) from 1 October 2011. The service and the staff are now part of the DSP.

The Department has advised the person in question what information is currently outstanding in order to process his application. The person concerned should contact his local supplementary welfare allowance administrative office if he needs any clarification in relation to the outstanding information requested.

Social Welfare Appeals

Jim Daly

Question:

293 Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a widow’s pension in respect of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31314/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeal, by the person concerned, was registered in that office on 20 October 2011 and will be referred, in due course, to an Appeals Officer who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing.

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

Social Welfare Benefits

John McGuinness

Question:

294 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social Protection if an application for rent allowance will be expedited and approved in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [31365/11]

The community welfare service (CWS), and the community welfare officers providing it, transferred formally to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) from 1 October 2011. The service and the staff are now part of the DSP.

The person concerned was refused a rent supplement on the grounds that she is living in private rented accommodation for less than 183 days prior to her application and she was not deemed as being in need of housing by her local authority.

Social Welfare Appeals

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

295 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a rent supplement appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wexford; when a decision will issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31367/11]

Following on from the transfer of the Community Welfare Service from the Health Services Executive (HSE) to the Department of Social Protection, with effect from Saturday 1st October, legislation was commenced which provides that appeals for supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) will be made to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. Up to now, the legislation provided for a 2 step process, first to the Health Services Executive (HSE) and, if still dissatisfied, to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.

As part of that process, any appeals that have been submitted in recent weeks to the HSE are being transferred to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. These appeals will be registered and acknowledged by the Social Welfare Appeals Office in due course. In this case, I am informed by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an appeal for SWA for the person concerned has not yet been registered. The Chief Appeals Officer has assured me that all appropriate measures are being taken to address the smooth transfer of SWA appeals to her office.

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.

Employment Support Services

Regina Doherty

Question:

296 Deputy Regina Doherty asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of community work places that have been allocated under the Tús scheme to Ashbourne, County Meath; the number of these places that currently remain unfilled; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31369/11]

Tús is a community work placement initiative which will provide up to 5,000 short-term, quality work opportunities for those who are unemployed for more than a year when fully operational. This initiative is being delivered through the network of local development companies and Údarás na Gaeltachta in Gaeltacht areas.

Meath has been allocated 100 participant placements plus 5 supervisory positions. Meath Community Rural and Social Development Partnership Limited has been tasked with the delivery of Tús in County Meath. To date, over 100 work placements in community and voluntary organisations have been identified in Meath with half of these currently available to be filled. Allocations are not made to specific towns; however, each local development company is required to have regard to the level of local service needs, and to achieve a balance of placements across their operation areas and sectors of activity. As part of the initial roll-out phase, the Partnership company is currently employing 21 people; 17 people have been assigned to other training or are not in a position to take up a work placement at this time. The remaining placements are due to be filled over the coming months with full delivery to be achieved by the end of March 2012.

Social Welfare Appeals

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

297 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the medical grounds on which the application for carer’s allowance was refused in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; if this parliamentary question will be taken as notice of an appeal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31371/11]

The person concerned was refused carer's allowance on the grounds that the care recipients are not so disabled as to require full- time care and attention as prescribed in regulations. On 12th October 2011, she was notified of this decision, the reason for it and of her right of review or appeal within 21 days.

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that a form for the opening of an appeal has been forwarded to the person concerned and requesting her to state the grounds for her appeal. On receipt of her reply the appeal will be opened and processed in the normal manner.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

298 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection, further to Parliamentary Question No 107 of the 13 October 2011, the full mortgage repayments, including interest, involved; if payments of mortgage or part thereof have been suspended; if the circumstances in the case will be further reviewed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31372/11]

The community welfare service (CWS), and the community welfare officers providing it, formally transferred to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) from 1 October 2011. The service and the staff are now part of the DSP. The purpose of mortgage interest supplement is to provide short term income support to eligible people who are unable to meet their mortgage interest repayments in respect of a house which is their sole place of residence. The supplement assists with the interest portion of the mortgage repayments only. The position remains as advised in question number 107 which I answered for the Deputy on 13th October 2011, which is that the person concerned was refused mortgage interest supplement as she has sufficient income to meet her mortgage interest costs.

Michelle Mulherin

Question:

299 Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for respite care grant in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo and if the processing of the application will be expedited. [31378/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned were registered in that office on 5th September 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 21st September 2011 and the appeal was assigned to an Appeals Officer on 12th October 2011 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

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

300 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide a list of all commercial semi-State companies under her aegis. [31399/11]

There are no commercial semi state companies under the aegis of the Department of Social Protection.

Employment Support Services

Regina Doherty

Question:

301 Deputy Regina Doherty asked the Minister for Social Protection, further to Parliamentary Question No. 137 of 5 October 2011, if she will direct this Deputy to the studies or qualifying research that proves the optimum times for interventions or assistance to jobseekers is three months. [31420/11]

There is significant ‘churn' on the Live Register, with, for example, over 530,000 claim closures in 2010 and 300,000 from January to August 2011. 35-40% of closures have under three months claim duration, 55-60% have under six months duration and 75-80% have under twelve months duration. Given this context, there is a tension between the desire for early intervention and efficiency in the process, including the need to avoid deadweight i.e. avoiding the allocation of scarce resources to interventions with people who would have left the Register without intervention. Against this background, three months on the Live Register has been identified as an appropriate point in time for unemployed people to be referred to or avail themselves of certain programmes that will provide work experience, guidance, training and/or education that will in turn support them in returning to the Labour Market. At that point, the person will have had the opportunity to search for work and, if unsuccessful, will be supported in avoiding a drift into long term unemployment. Studies carried out by bodies such as the OECD, ESRI, NESC would generally support this approach.

Social Welfare Appeals

Brendan Smith

Question:

302 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Social Protection when an application for farm assist will be processed and approved in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cavan; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31429/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 23 August 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 3 October 2011 and the appeal will be assigned, in due course, 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.

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

303 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an appeal against a decision to deny invalidity pension to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [31447/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 23 August 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 3 October 2011 and the appeal will be assigned, in due course, to an Appeals Officer who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Question No. 304 withdrawn.

Social Welfare Benefits

Paschal Donohoe

Question:

305 Deputy Paschal Donohoe asked the Minister for Social Protection the level of payments made to medical card holders or registered benefit recipients who were later found to be deceased during 2009 and 2010; if she will provide a full breakdown of the cost to the State; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31467/11]

Ensuring that the right person is paid the right amount of money at the right time is an integral part of the day-to-day work of the Department. In excess of 2 million claims each year are processed and over one million people receive a payment each week. It is important to note that the vast majority of people receiving those payments are fully entitled to them. Overpayments generally arise as a result of revised decisions on entitlement made by deciding officers. These officers decide the effective date of a revised decision having regard to the new facts or new evidence and the circumstances of the case. Payments made to customers of the Department who were later identified to be deceased during 2009 and 2010 amounted to some €7.8m, on a total of 9,850 cases.

This Department receives on-line notification of deaths from the General Registrar's Office (GRO) as soon as deaths are registered. The average value of overpaid benefits to deceased customers represents approximately one month's payment. This indicates that the Department is generally either notified of the pensioner's death by the next of kin within one month, or receives the information from the GRO. As claims are generally being terminated within one month of a recipient's death, any overpayments arising are assessed in a timely manner.

The Department is fully committed to recovering 100% of overpayments arising as a result of suspected fraud or error. Effective debt recovery is seen as an integral part of the deterrent to fraudulent claiming. Debt holders should be aware that a social welfare debt will remain on their records until fully recovered. This will result in a reduction of all future entitlements up to and including state pension. Following the death of a customer who owes a debt, the Department continues to have a claim on any estate remaining. In 2010, the Department recovered overpayments totalling over €7.8m from the estates of deceased pensioners.

The Deputy should note that I recently launched a new Fraud Initiative (2011-2013) which is aimed at putting in place a range of actions to combat fraud and abuse of the social welfare system and to ensure there is public confidence and trust in the system. Given this enhanced approach, the Department plans to increase the level of debt recovery by reviewing the overall approach, particularly in the context of overpayments that have arisen from suspected social welfare fraud. While the details, including in particular legal requirements, will have to be examined closely, a range of options will be explored under this initiative with a view to both minimising overpayments and increasing recoveries. The consideration of all options in these areas has, of course, to be balanced, clearly taking into account the core income support and social inclusion purpose of social protection payments.

Community Employment Schemes

Brendan Griffin

Question:

306 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection the date on which a person (details supplied) in County Kerry will be eligible for participation in a community employment, CE, scheme; if participation in any future CE schemes will be dependent on the person continuing to qualify for illness benefit or if their circumstances will allow CE scheme participation without qualifying for continued illness benefit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31490/11]

The person concerned has been in receipt of illness benefit from this Department since 18th May, 2011. Under current eligibility criteria, he will be eligible to apply for a community employment position after six months on illness benefit — i.e. 18th November, 2011, subject to receiving a letter of exemption from this Department.

Social Welfare Code

John Lyons

Question:

307 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Social Protection her plans to introduce a signing on policy for all qualified adults; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31501/11]

Most social welfare schemes provide for payment of an increase for a qualified adult. A qualified adult is normally defined as a spouse, civil partner or cohabitant who is wholly or mainly maintained by the claimant. For jobseeker schemes, the claimant is required to ‘sign on' at regular intervals to certify that he or she continues to satisfy the conditions of the scheme. As these conditions do not apply to qualified adults, there is no requirement for them to sign on and there are no plans to introduce this arrangement.

Employment Support Services

John Lyons

Question:

308 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of companies in County Sligo that have had or have any interns through JobBridge; the number of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31502/11]

As of 19 October, 2011, there are 43 organisations in County Sligo hosting internships under the JobBridge scheme.

Departmental Expenditure

Billy Kelleher

Question:

309 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Social Protection the total expenditure in 2010 on ICT, including staff costs, support and maintenance services, hardware, software, and external resources, including consultancies, contractors and service providers and all agencies under the aegis of her Department. [31524/11]

The total expenditure by my Department on ICT in 2010 was €46,579,390.00. Please see a breakdown of figures in the following table. In relation to the relevant State agencies, it has not proved possible in the time available to obtain the required information but I have arranged for the agencies to furnish the information requested for their respective organisations, and this will be passed on to you when received.

ICT Expenditure 2010

External Service

9,270,360.00

Consultancy

242,544.00

IT Training

175,896.00

Telecommunications

7,408,043.00

IT Hardware & Software

14,985,617.00

IT Subscriptions

167,948.00

E-Government Projects

1,875,901.00

Salaries (Including overtime and travel and subsistence)

12,453,081.00

Total

46,579,390.00

Social Welfare Appeals

John McGuinness

Question:

310 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social Protection further to a previously withdrawn parliamentary question if there is an outcome to this case and the claims for jobseeker’s allowance and back to education allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [31534/11]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an oral hearing of the jobseekers allowance appeal of the person concerned took place on 4 October 2011 and the Appeals Officer is now considering the appeal in the light of all the evidence submitted, including that adduced at the hearing. The person concerned will be notified of the Appeals Officer decision when the appeal has been determined. The back to education allowance (BTEA) is a non-statutory scheme and, consequently, decisions are not appellable to the Social Welfare Appeals Office. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Question No. 311 withdrawn.

Pat Breen

Question:

312 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31550/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal, by the person concerned, was registered in that office on 18 October 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Social Welfare Services on the grounds of appeal be sought. When received, the appeal in question will be referred to an Appeals Officer for consideration. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Pat Breen

Question:

313 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31553/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal, by the person concerned, was registered in that office on 19 September 2011 and was referred to an Appeals Officer on 20 October 2011 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.

Employment Support Services

Mattie McGrath

Question:

314 Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection if she has a timeframe set out for the review that she wishes to carry out of the operation of the programmes and initiatives funded by her to support persons who are unemployed to return to work, further training and or education; when she expects this review to commence and be completed; the format this review will take; if members of the public will have an opportunity to make submissions to this review; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31580/11]

My Department operates a wide range of supports and initiatives to support the unemployed and other recipients of social welfare payments. Schemes and programmes are monitored on an ongoing basis to ensure they remain fit for purpose. Initial work on the review has commenced. It will take a number of months to complete. The precise format of the review is currently being determined. Employment programmes which are run by FÁS and also training programmes run by FÁS were the subject of a review carried out by Forfas in February of last year. It should also be noted that it is my intention to evaluate the JobBridge Scheme which commenced in July, 2011, and my Department is currently working on a request for tender which will issue shortly.

Question No. 315 answered with Question No. 252.

Departmental Agencies

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

316 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will provide the following information regarding the agencies operating under the aegis of his Department, the number of whole time equivalent staff, the number of board members, the chairperson and board members respective remuneration packages; the annual wage bill and the amount of central funding provided to the agency inclusive of wage bill. [30772/11]

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

317 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will provide a list of all non-commercial State agencies under the aegis of his Department. [30777/11]

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

318 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if all non-commercial State agency employees under his Department’s aegis are paid directly from the Exchequer. [30882/11]

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

322 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will provide a list of all commercial semi-State companies under his aegis. [31387/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 316 to 318, inclusive, and 322 together.

The information sought by the Deputy concerning non-commercial bodies/agencies funded from my Department's Vote Group is set out in the following table. The bodies in question are as follows:

National Museum of Ireland

National Library of Ireland

National Gallery of Ireland

National Concert Hall

National Archives

Irish Film Board

An Coimisinéir Teanga

Údarás na Gaeltachta

Irish Museum of Modern Art

Chester Beatty Library

Crawford Gallery

Heritage Council

Arts Council

Foras na Gaeilge

Ulster-Scots Agency

Waterways Ireland

As reflected in the in the annual Revised Estimates Volume (REV), Exchequer funding for administrative purposes, including payment of wages and salaries, is provided to all of these bodies. In the case of the North/South Implementation bodies established under the British Irish Agreement — Foras na Gaeilge, the Ulster-Scots Agency and Waterways Ireland — it should be noted that funding is provided by both my Department and the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure in Northern Ireland.

Details of the expenditure allocations made available to the bodies in question are published each year in the annual REV and the Appropriation Account. The REV also includes Agency Statements, which provide details in relation to expenditure on administration and pay in the previous year. These publications are available on the website of Department of Public Expenditure and Reform atwww.per.gov.ie and on the website of the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General at www.audgen.gov.ie.

There are no commercial semi-Stage agencies or bodies operating within my Department's ambit.

Name of Agency

Number of whole time equivalent staff serving at 30/09/2011

Number of board members (including Chair)

Annual remuneration payable to Chairs and board members

Waterways Ireland

359.81

No board

N/A

Foras na Gaeilge

61

16

Chair: €12,600; Vice-Chair: of €