Written Answers

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

Land Ownership in Africa

Denis Naughten

Question:

12 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the steps he is taking to address the issue of land grabs in Africa; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33491/11]

The question of land ownership in Africa is a deeply emotive one given its centrality to issues of national identity and of food security.

There has been a trend in recent years of large-scale land acquisitions in Africa by foreign private sector and state-owned companies. Certain wealthy countries, concerned about the stability of food supplies, have been promoting the acquisition of farmland in developing countries as an alternative to purchasing food from international markets. Some developing countries have welcomed this new wave of foreign investment, and have been implementing policy and legislative reforms to attract investors.

If properly regulated and implemented, there are enormous benefits for developing countries from foreign direct investment in land. Africa needs such investment to provide the stimulus for economic growth, for employment creation and infrastructure development and to guarantee food security. However, this must be balanced against the rights of the poor and most vulnerable, such as smallholder farmers and minority groups. Genuine local consultation is essential, as is sustainable land management and the enforcement of investor commitments. Otherwise, there is a clear danger that land acquisition will lead to increased exploitation of poor rural communities.

Ireland supports equitable land reform programmes throughout our aid programme, both in our Programme Countries and in our engagement in multilateral institutions. For instance, in Tanzania, our work with rural communities includes assistance with land ownership issues and access to land. In Uganda, we are financing the translation of land ownership laws into native languages to inform the population of their land rights and promote security of tenure.

Through our engagement in UN agencies, including the Food and Agriculture Organisation, we are working to increase the transparency of land acquisitions in developing countries.

We will maintain this focus on land issues so that Governments, civil society and the private sector in Africa can prioritise measures to build inclusive economic growth and fight poverty and hunger.

Human Rights Issues

Pearse Doherty

Question:

13 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his position on the tragic circumstances of the landless peasant communities in the Bajo Aguán region of northern Honduras where peasant communities who fight for access to land in order to exercise their right to feed themselves are faced with a situation of permanent harassment and abuse by public security forces, as well as by members of private security companies, and where between January 2010 and March 2011 25 deaths — 23 peasants, a journalist and his partner — have been registered relating to conflicts over land in Bajo Aguán. [33715/11]

I share the Deputy's concern at reports of human rights related deaths in northern Honduras. We have worked closely with our European partners to ensure that our concerns relating to human rights abuses are conveyed to President Porfirio Lobo and his Government. Honduras was reviewed under the UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism in November 2010. At the UPR, Ireland made several recommendations. We specifically expressed our ongoing concern about restrictions on freedom in Honduras, and recommended that Honduras adopt measures to end threats against, and harassment of, human rights defenders and journalists, as well as the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community, and made a number of recommendations in the area of women's rights.

Officials from my Department met with representatives of the United Peasants Movement of Aguan (MUCA) organisation when they visited Ireland in March.

Irish Aid has provided €1.4 million since 2009 to Trocaire for their work in Honduras in the areas of food security, environment, and protection and mitigation against HIV/AIDS. I know that Honduras was the country of focus for Trocaire's Lenten Appeal in 2011, specifically focused on the plight of dispossessed farmers in the Aguan valley region, to which the Deputy has referred.

Ireland also continues to provide support for human rights in the region. Funding of €100,000 was approved in April this year for an Inter-American Commission on Human Rights project which seeks to protect the rights of human rights defenders in Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador. Ireland provided €50,000 of funding in May 2011 for the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). In 2010 Ireland provided €50,000 in funding for a security sector reform project, Certipol, through which an independent civil society organisation, the Institute for Security and Democracy, seeks to further the ongoing process of police reform in that country.

Honduras experienced a turbulent period after the military coup which took place in June 2009. However, I am encouraged that Honduras was readmitted to the Organisation of American States (OAS) in June. Relations with the EU have been normalised under President Porfirio Lobo's administration. Ireland, along with EU partners, remains committed to supporting the process of national reconciliation in Honduras.

Overseas Development Aid

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

14 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his submission to the comprehensive spending review of his Department in relation to overseas development; if he intends to meet the commitment to attain the UN goal of spending, by 2015 at the latest, of 0.7% of GNI on official development assistance; if he will progress towards that target in budget 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33630/11]

Ireland's overseas development programme, managed by my Department, has an enviable international reputation and is rightly recognised as one of the best in the world. The programme's primary objective is the fight against extreme poverty and hunger. It is concentrated in some of the poorest countries of sub-Saharan Africa, has a rigorous focus on achieving results and provides strong international leadership in making aid more effective. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)recentlyundertook amid-term review of our aid programme, and in its review report published last month, it found that Ireland is one of the best performing members in relation to aid effectiveness. In this House, Ireland's aid programme enjoys strong cross party support and consistently attracts high levels of public support. We, in this Government, are strongly committed to the programme, which is central to our foreign policy, and are proud of its achievements. The Programme for Government underlines our commitment to the UN target of spending 0.7% of GNP on Overseas Development Assistance (ODA). We remain focussed on this 0.7% target and are working towards its attainment.

The Government will publish the outcome of comprehensive expenditure review in the first week of December. This review, which was initiated by the Government in order to identify expenditure savings and efficiencies across the public service, is now before the Government for consideration and will inform decision making in the annual Budget and Estimates process across public expenditure.

Decisions on the allocation for the aid programme in 2012 will be taken within the overall budgetary framework and the fiscal constraints facing the Government. The 2012 estimates process in now at an advanced stage, and I can assure you that I will continue to make the strongest possible case for funding for development cooperation. However, final budget allocations for next year will ultimately be a matter for the Minister for Finance.

I am committed to maintaining the high international reputation of our aid programme in order to ensure that we continue to deliver real and sustainable improvements to the lives of the world's poorest citizens.

Foreign Conflicts

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

15 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on reports of moves and possible preparations by states such as the US, Britain and Israel to militarily assault Iran; if the recent decision to close the Iranian embassy is linked to these developments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33711/11]

Joan Collins

Question:

19 Deputy Joan Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the reports of possible air assaults on Iran; if the recent decision to close the Irish embassy in Iran is linked to this possibility; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33708/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 15 and 19 together.

The decision to close the Irish Embassy in Iran was taken following a review of overseas missions carried out by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade which gave particular attention to the economic return from bilateral missions. Trade volumes with Iran have fallen short of expectations with merchandise trade between the two countries in 2010 amounting to €87m. In light of the current pressures on public finances, the Government has decided that such a low volume of trade did not justify maintaining a full diplomatic Mission in Tehran. Ireland will continue to have full diplomatic relations with Iran and the Government intends to seek the appointment of a non-resident Ambassador. I can confirm that there were absolutely no other factors taken into consideration in the Government's decision to close overseas missions.

While I am aware of unconfirmed media reports concerning contingency planning for potential military action against key Iranian nuclear facilities, the closure of our Embassy in Tehran is entirely unrelated to such reports.

Ireland's position on Iran's nuclear activities remains unchanged. We continue to urge the Iranian government to comply fully with all relevant UN Security Council and International Atomic Energy Agency Resolutions and to address openly and transparently all the many major concerns which exist within the international community about their nuclear programme.

We fully support the continuing efforts of EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, on behalf of the EU3+3 (France, Germany, UK, US, Russia, China), to engage in meaningful dialogue with Iran about these matters and to pursue the twin track of negotiations and application of sanctions until such time as there is full compliance. The Government also remains steadfast in its view and will continue to express this at EU and international level that concerns over Iran's nuclear activities require a diplomatic resolution.

Trade Missions

Michael McGrath

Question:

16 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has a list of proposed trade missions scheduled to be undertaken by the Government in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33639/11]

A programme of Minister-led trade missions, organised in association with Enterprise Ireland to develop and expand Ireland's exports to existing and new markets abroad, is planned for next year. The full range of destinations is still being finalised at this stage. Once this has been done, I will be discussing the allocation of leadership responsibility for individual missions with my colleague, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. Trade Missions provide an opportunity for Enterprise Ireland client companies to develop links in a market, to win export sales, to engage in international partnerships and joint ventures and establish in-market presences. A focus on exporting underpins all missions, ranging from export opportunities identified in the mission market, market opportunities for specific firms or sectors and future growth opportunities.

Over the coming years, the potential of trade missions will be maximised by integrating trade, tourism and investment promotion activities, in line with the Government's strong commitment to export led growth and the development of new markets .

Human Rights Issues

Pearse Doherty

Question:

17 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views that women in post-earthquake Haiti have been failed by the international community in recovery efforts and that the needs and rights of women and girls, particularly their rights to health and security, have been neglected as evidenced in a report by Human Rights Watch which describes the way hunger has led women to trade sex for food and the way poor camp conditions exacerbate the impact of sexual violence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33714/11]

The devastating earthquake which struck Haiti on 12 January 2010 killed more than 230,000 people and injured 300,000 others. The earthquake, which destroyed much of the capital city, Port-au-Prince, and surrounding areas, also left approximately 1.5 million people homeless and caused losses and damage estimated at approximately €5.9 billion. Over 550,000 people remain homeless, living in temporary camps or with host families. The earthquake decimated the Haitian health sector which, as the Human Rights Watch report points out, was already extremely weak. Sixty percent of health facilities were damaged and ten percent of health professionals were killed or emigrated in the aftermath of the earthquake. The headquarters of the Ministry of Health and Population Services (MSPP) was completely destroyed. This damage was not only devastating for the health of Haitians living in the capital, but to the country as a whole since the bulk of Haiti's health system was concentrated in Port-au-Prince. As a consequence, women in Haiti continue to face considerable challenges in accessing sexual and reproductive health care, including safe ante and post-natal care.

Sexual violence and other forms of gender-based violence were also, unfortunately, widespread in Haiti prior to the earthquake. In the 1990s, Human Rights Watch (HRW) documented the use of rape as a form of oppression during the regime of Raoul Cédras. From 2004 to 2006, the UN Security Council estimated that 35,000 women and girls were subjected to rape and sexual violence in Haiti.

Ireland, through the Government's programme of official overseas assistance, Irish Aid, attaches considerable priority to supporting efforts to combat Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV). Irish Aid works in partnership with, among others, UN organisations, Non-Governmental Organisations, and the International Red Cross movement to provide safe and accessible Sexual and Gender based violence response and prevention services. Irish Aid is also one of the founders and an active member of the Irish Consortium on Gender-Based Violence. The Consortium has invested in considerable research aimed at strengthening programming in this area and is currently conducting research on Gender-Based Violence in so-called fragile states like Haiti. Irish Aid's focus on SGBV informs our funding support in response to humanitarian emergencies and this has been the approach in our interventions in Haiti since the earthquake.

Irish Aid's initial assessment mission in the days following the earthquake recommended a focus for humanitarian aid on the issues of clean water and sanitation, shelter, protection, and early recovery. These recommendations and the importance of protecting the most vulnerable, including expectant and new mothers, have guided our assistance to date.

As regards Ireland's funding response to the humanitarian needs in Haiti following the earthquake, Ireland pledged funding of €13 million for the period 2010-2012 at the Haiti Donor Conference which took place in March 2010. To date, Ireland has provided total funding support of €11.25 million to Haiti since the earthquake. We continue to pay close attention to the protection needs of those affected by the earthquake and to play our part in strengthening the protection of the most vulnerable populations, including expectant and new mothers.

Diplomatic Representation

Derek Keating

Question:

18 Deputy Derek Keating asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the justification of expenditure to decorate the Irish Embassy in Ottawa, Canada; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the initial estimate was €3 million and that tenders were signed off for this figure and that the current cost is in excess of €9 million and is not completed after initially commencing four years ago; the person who agreed this initial contract; if he will stop any further expenditure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28146/11]

The Ambassador's Residence in Ottawa was acquired by the State in 1960. Only modest investments were made in its upkeep over the years and it had long been in need of substantial refurbishment. In 2006, my Department was advised that total renovation was required to address a wide range of serious structural and maintenance issues. Some of these problems were aggravated by the long term cumulative impact of the severe local climate. A number of extensions to the property were found to be structurally flawed and had to be demolished and replaced. Large quantities of asbestos were discovered in the building and all services including electrical, heating and air conditioning had to be renewed or upgraded to conform to contemporary local legal codes.

The alternatives, including relocation, were examined. However, the necessary renovations mitigated against the sale of the property. At the time, before the onset of the current budgetary pressures, it was concluded that refurbishment and retention was the most cost- effective option.

The decision was taken to renovate and upgrade the property so it could serve as a multi- purpose "Ireland House" type amenity to enhance the Embassy's capacity to promote all aspects of Ireland especially trade and culture and provide conference and presentation facilities for use by State Agencies, Irish companies and artists.

The renovated premises represent a valuable asset for the State and a platform for the consolidation and enhancement of our important relationship with Canada. Canada is the world's seventh largest economy and a member of the G8. It is one of Ireland's top 20 trading partners with total trade of over €1.5 billion and it has been identified as a high-potential market under the Strategy and Action Plan for Irish Trade, Tourism and Investment to 2015. Some 4 million Canadians (12% of the population) claim Irish descent.

I am advised that the project was rigorously monitored and all tender and approval procedures were strictly adhered to. Tenders were sought locally on an open competitive basis and the contract was awarded to the lowest bidder in accordance with normal procedures.

The cost of the project was estimated at €5.2 million in 2008, including preliminary investigations, professional fees, excavation, demolition and construction work. The project was properly authorised by the then Secretary General my Department in 2008 and all expenditure was duly sanctioned by my Department in accordance with prescribed procedures. Work commenced that year and was completed in 2009. The final total demolition and construction cost (including fees) was €6.2 million. The increase in cost over estimate was due to technical problems which arose during the construction related to the poor condition of the house.

I understand that the refurbishment is fully complete and that no further work is outstanding.

Question No. 19 answered with Question No. 15.

Human Rights Issues

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

20 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the Freedom Waves initiative and the efforts of the Irish ship MV Saoirse to bring aid and solidarity to the besieged persons of Gaza; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33710/11]

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

23 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the communications he has made with the Israeli authorities to protect the safety of Irish citizens and human rights activists aboard the MV Saoirse; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33723/11]

Joan Collins

Question:

25 Deputy Joan Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the Freedom Waves initiative and the participation of the Irish ship MV Saoirse; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33709/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 20, 23 and 25 together.

I fully respect the motives, intentions and objectives of those seeking to campaign against the Israeli blockade of Gaza, both through engaging in peaceful protest and through seeking to send humanitarian aid there. However, as I have stated in the House previously, I could not support a venture whereby citizens intended to place themselves at risk by attempting to break an armed naval blockade. This view has increasingly been taken also by the Governments in the region from which the ships were sailing, and by the UN Secretary General.

The primary objective of the voyage of the MV Saoirse and the Canadian ship the Tahrir was to draw political attention to the blockade itself, but I believe that a small consignment of medical supplies for Gaza may also have been carried.

On this occasion and prior to the original intended sailing in July, I have been in constant contact with the Israeli authorities, both personally and through my Department's officials, to reiterate my insistence that any military interception which Israel chose to conduct must ensure the safety of Irish citizens on board.

My primary reaction to the reports of the interception on Friday was therefore that I was relieved that nobody on board was injured, bearing in mind of course the dreadful events of last year. Fourteen Irish citizens in total were detained on the Saoirse, and brought to the Israeli port of Ashdod. Officials from the Irish Embassy have visited them on a daily basis, and have been engaged with the Israeli authorities to ensure their prompt repatriation. They have reported no injuries or physical harm, although it appears there was damage to the boat during the interception.

I and my Department have been consistently pressing the Israeli authorities for the earliest possible release of our citizens, following the interception of the MV Saoirse. While the Israeli authorities were willing to deport them immediately, the persons themselves chose not to waive their right to appeal deportation. I respect this decision as they clearly did not wish to give credence to the assertion that they had entered Israel illegally. I myself met with the Israeli Ambassador last evening to impress upon him the importance which I attach to the earliest possible release of the detainees. Arrangements are now being made for seven of those detained to fly home later today while the remaining seven detainees are due to fly home tomorrow morning.

On the broader issue, while I would once again condemn the ongoing rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel, I have made clear many times my insistence that the overall blockade of Gaza, as it is practiced, is illegal and counterproductive, and must be ended. While Israel has a right to prevent smuggling of weapons to Gaza, and therefore to search cargoes, it has no general right to prevent other materials or persons entering or leaving. Boats sailing to Gaza can never carry more than a symbolic fraction of the needs of the territory, and so the only real answer is the full opening to normal business of the land crossing points from Israel. This is the key issue on which I will continue to focus, at EU level and internationally.

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

21 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the legitimate concerns for the safety of Mr. René Ganzález Sehwerert’s who is on probation for three years in the United States after finishing a brutal 13 year sentence, and is resident in an area which he has been forbidden to frequent under the terms of his release, rather than be allowed to return to his homeland of Cuba. [33722/11]

I am aware of the case of Mr. René Ganzález Sehwerert, who was one of five Cuban nationals known as the "Miami five", who were convicted on charges ranging from espionage to first degree murder in 2001 in the United States. I am also aware that Mr Ganzález, who was accused of conspiracy to commit espionage, was released on probation on 7 October. The Irish Government has no standing in this matter. This is a bilateral consular question between the United States and the Cuban authorities.

International Agreements

Denis Naughten

Question:

22 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the progress being made on bilateral economic partnership agreements between the EU and third countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33492/11]

Since 2002, the EU has been negotiating a series of new trade and development agreements with the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of States. The negotiations for these Economic Partnership Agreements are being carried out by the European Commission, on behalf of the European Community and the Member States. They were necessitated by rulings by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that the unilateral trade preferences which the EU had previously granted to the ACP countries established unfair discrimination between developing countries.

The original aim had been to conclude comprehensive Agreements with six regional groupings of the ACP States by the end of 2007, the deadline set by the WTO. However, following a process of protracted and difficult negotiations, only one of the ACP regional groups, representing Caribbean States, was ready to initial an Economic Partnership Agreement by that date. In order to avoid trade disruption, interim Agreements were agreed and initialled at the end of 2007 with 21 other ACP States, either individually or in regional groupings. These interim Agreements provide for full duty and quota-free access to the European Union market but allow the ACP countries a flexible and asymmetric trade liberalisation schedule.

In recent years, there have been well-founded concerns that momentum in the negotiations was being lost. It was also clear there was a need to revitalise the original shared commitment to the achievement of strong Agreements which serve the development needs of the ACP countries, promoting inclusive economic growth and regional integration. Political leaders from both sides agreed at the EU-Africa Summit in November 2010 "to conclude Economic Partnership Agreements that support socio-economic development, regional integration and the integration of Africa into the global economy". As a result, the European Commission has this year engaged actively and flexibly in renewed negotiations at the regional level. In tandem with this approach, at the end of September the Commission adopted a proposal, for submission to the Council, which would set a deadline of 1 January 2014 for the conclusion of the negotiations.

As Minister of State for Trade and Development, I am following the negotiations for these trade agreements closely and we are considering the Commission's September proposal. I believe it is essential that all such agreements clearly support the development needs of developing countries, and specifically their programmes to reduce poverty. I am working with our partners to help ensure that the EU's negotiating approach is as flexible as possible under WTO law and that the negotiations being led by the European Commission serve to strengthen the EU's partnership with developing countries.

Question No. 23 answered with Question No. 20.
Question No. 24 answered with Question No. 10.
Question No. 25 answered with Question No. 20.

Diplomatic Representation

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

26 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the total number and location of Irish embassies, permanent trade or other delegations throughout the world; the ratio of costs to diplomatic trade or other traffic measured on an annual basis; the savings likely and accruable to the State in the context of any economies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33724/11]

Ireland has 58 Embassies, 7 multilateral missions and 11 Consulates General and other offices overseas. In addition to their country of primary accreditation, many Ambassadors are also accredited to additional countries on a non-resident basis. Ireland's missions abroad perform a wide range of functions in pursuit of Ireland's foreign policy interests. These include representing and advancing government policies with other States and in international organisations, in particular the EU and the UN; economic and cultural promotion; frontline consular and passport services to Irish citizens overseas; engaging with Irish communities and harnessing the resource they offer in assisting economic recovery; and programme management, particularly in Irish Aid priority countries. It will be noted, for example, that missions to international organisations have no direct trade promotional function.

The influence that a diplomatic mission can bring on trade volumes is just one of many factors that determine the overall level of business being conducted. Our diplomatic missions have particular strengths in relation to facilitating access to key economic and business decision-makers; ensuring, in cooperation with the relevant State Agencies, that a cohesive message about the fundamentals of the Irish economy is conveyed to major opinion-formers internationally; targeted promotion and, in some locations, in dealing with regulatory issues.

Since assuming office, I have directed that all embassies and consulates should redouble their efforts in promoting trade, in supporting Irish business and in seeking out new markets. Ireland's network of Embassies and Consulates is also playing a frontline role in the drive to restore Ireland's international reputation.

The Embassy network works very closely with the State Agencies with a remit for the promotion of Irish trade, tourism and inward investment — Enterprise Ireland, Bord Bia, Tourism Ireland and IDA Ireland — and other relevant Departments in assisting Irish producers to find and access new markets. Where possible, overseas offices of State Agencies are co-located with Irish Embassies and Consulates on the ground in an ‘Ireland House' arrangement.

Local market teams, chaired by the local Ambassador and including representatives of State Agencies, have been established in all of the priority markets under the Trading and Investing in a Smart Economy Strategy. These teams prepare annual market development plans and report to the Export Trade Council which I chair.

Below is a table listing all Irish Missions abroad, their operating budgets and the level of merchandise trade in 2010 in countries where Ireland has resident representation. However, the variety of functions performed by diplomatic missions and the range of factors that affect trade volumes make it very difficult to establish any meaningful correlation between diplomatic costs and trade volumes. The budgets of missions that manage significant programmes on behalf of Irish Aid (Vote 29) reflect the additional management and oversight required for the effective implementation of those important programmes.

2010 Operating Costs of Missions and Bilateral Merchandise Trade figures

Destination

Bilateral Merchandising Trade

Operating Costs

€000

€000

United States (including 5 Consulates)

27,177,192

4,220

United Kingdom (including CG Edinburgh)

28,355,746

3,678

Belgium

13,898,610

564

Germany

10,713,703

907

France

6,324,626

1,698

The Netherlands

5,304,545

741

China (including CG Shanghai)

5,249,744

1,281

Switzerland

4,404,197

429

Spain

4,028,579

1,073

Italy

3,480,060

1,187

*Holy See

435

Japan

2,553,943

1,581

Norway

1,709,747

551

Denmark

1,185,680

400

Singapore

1,057,836

821

Sweden

1,009,805

474

Poland

907,476

782

Malaysia

897,967

362

Australia (including CG Sydney)

894,919

1,326

Canada

812,264

555

Mexico

697,640

441

Turkey

685,386

394

Czech Republic

624,341

566

South Korea

600,529

677

Russia

532,543

758

Portugal

520,813

347

Saudi Arabia

510,303

344

Finland

480,799

526

Austria

474,271

654

India

462,153

743

Brazil

425,087

554

United Arab Emirates

379,361

545

South Africa

370,293

684

Hungary

362,634

453

Romania

360,041

433

Greece

335,762

489

Israel

322,521

585

Nigeria

206,478

278

Argentina

165,321

438

Egypt

148,987

382

Vietnam (V 29 Mission)

122,310

644

Slovakia

110,040

358

Luxembourg

103,487

687

Iran

86,753

449

Lithuania

74,084

426

Latvia

65,256

341

Slovenia

58,836

421

Bulgaria

52,580

367

Malta

40,792

324

Cyprus

35,907

397

Estonia

24,324

412

Palestine

3,058

348

Irish Aid Priority Countries

Ethiopia

21,164

986

Zambia

14,203

1,201

Tanzania

13,514

934

Uganda

7,768

1,212

Malawi

4,036

571

Lesotho

255

590

Sierra Leone

2,107

311

Mozambique

4,350

1,080

Lesotho

255

590

Timor-Leste

2

208

*Trade figures for the Holy See are included in the trade figures for Italy

Human Rights Issues

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

27 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his policy on both the Cambodian and Malaysian governments’ failure to regulate recruiters and employers which leaves Cambodian migrant domestic workers exposed to a wide range of abuses, in which tens of thousands of Cambodian women and girls who migrate to Malaysia have little protection against forced confinement in training centres, heavy debt burdens, and exploitative working conditions. [33713/11]

I share the Deputy's concerns about the plight of Cambodian migrant domestic workers. I understand from our Embassies in the region that discussions are going on at the highest political level between the two governments involved regarding this problem. I welcome this and hope that the discussions will bring an end to the exploitation of these migrant domestic workers.

I note that Cambodia and Malaysia have each ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). As parties to these treaties, both countries have particular obligations in this regard. A number of UN agencies are working to protect the rights of domestic workers globally, a group often neglected by national labour laws. In particular, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has a number of projects to address risks of vulnerable migrants in the greater Mekong region.

New global standards address the specific obligations of governments to protect domestic workers. In June 2011, the International Labour Organization (ILO) adopted Convention No. 189 Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers.

Although, like Ireland, both Cambodia and Malaysia have yet to ratify this new ILO Convention, it provides valuable guidance on the minimum standards that countries could implement. These include equivalent labour protections provided to other workers, accessible complaints mechanisms, substantial penalties for agencies that violate standards, and prohibitions on salary deductions for recruitment fees.

Ireland, through the Irish Aid programme of overseas development assistance, has supported a partnership programme with ILO for the past nine years. This partnership has, among other issues, provided funding support to activities aimed at ending forced labour practices. Gender equality is a priority issue in Ireland's overseas development programme.

State Visits

Derek Keating

Question:

28 Deputy Derek Keating asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade further to the Taoiseach’s speech on 20 July 2011 following the publication of the Cloyne report, if he has been notified of any intention of the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, to make a pastoral or Head of State visit to Ireland in the coming 12 months; if he will consider inviting the Holy Father with a view to addressing the outstanding issues in relation to the issues raised in the Taoiseach’s speech on that day; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28193/11]

There is no outstanding invitation to Pope Benedict XVI to visit Ireland, nor have the Government been made aware of any desire on the part of the Pope to visit Ireland in the coming twelve months. I am sure, however, that should the Government be made aware of the Pope's interest in coming to Ireland at any time, an official invitation would be forthcoming. As to the other matters raised in the question, I would refer the Deputy to the Statement of 8 September by the Government of Ireland on the response of the Holy See regarding the report of the Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Diocese of Cloyne, which states:

"The Government of Ireland thanks the Holy See for its response of 3 September regarding the report of the Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Diocese of Cloyne (the Cloyne Report) and the representations made to it by the Tánaiste in this regard in his meeting with the Apostolic Nuncio on 14 July 2011.

The Government acknowledges and welcomes the statement in the response that the Holy See is sorry and ashamed for the terrible sufferings which the victims of abuse and their families have endured. The victims of abuse and their families must remain foremost in our considerations.

Having considered carefully the Cloyne Report and the response of the Holy See, the Government of Ireland remains of the view that the content of the confidential letter in 1997 from the then Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Storero, to the Irish Bishops, regardless of whether or not it was intended to do so, provided a pretext for some members of the clergy to evade full cooperation with the Irish civil authorities in regard to the abuse of minors. This is a matter of great concern to the Irish Government.

The Government of Ireland notes the comments in the Holy See's response on the political debate which ensued in Ireland after the publication of the Cloyne Report and in particular the statements made by the Taoiseach and other political leaders. The Government of Ireland must point out that the comments made by the Taoiseach and other political leaders accurately reflect the public anger of the overwhelming majority of Irish people at the failure of the Catholic Church in Ireland and the Holy See to deal adequately with clerical child sexual abuse and those who committed such appalling acts.

It is the Government of Ireland's hope that, in spite of outstanding differences, lessons have been learned from appalling past failures. In this regard, it welcomes the commitment in the concluding remarks of the Holy See's response to a constructive dialogue and cooperation with the Government. In welcoming this commitment, the Government expects the fullest cooperation from the Holy See, the Catholic Church in Ireland and all other relevant bodies with a view to ensuing that Ireland is a society fully safe for children and minors and that all of those with responsibility for the welfare and care of children in this country are fully subject to Irish laws and requirements."

In this context, I look forward to an early exchange of Ambassadors between Ireland and the Holy See and to our close cooperation in dealing with the scourge of child sexual abuse.

Human Rights Issues

Clare Daly

Question:

29 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views regarding the humanitarian concerns used to justify UN Resolution 1973 which enabled the bombing of Libya and in view of the daily routine violations of international humanitarian law during the NATO campaign; and his further views that, far from humanitarian concerns, the NATO bombing was supporting one side in a civil war and that the bombing campaign was part of an offensive to capture Africa’s vast natural resources and in no sense different to the imperialist scramble for Africa at the end of the 19 century. [33644/11]

Clare Daly

Question:

36 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade noting his policy, Ireland and Africa Our Partnership with a Changing Continent — An Africa Strategy, for his Department which states that Africans are rightly committed to African solutions for African problems and that the African Union has become an increasingly important player in conflict resolution, mediation, peacekeeping and governance, his views regarding the refusal of NATO, to halt its military campaign to enable negotiation and arbitration which the AU had agreed with Colonel Ghadaffi on 10 April 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33643/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 29 and 36 together.

The Government welcomed the adoption by the United Nations Security Council of Resolution 1973 on 17 March which demanded the immediate establishment of a cease-fire, a complete end to violence and all attacks against, and abuse of, civilians and which decided to establish a no fly zone over Libya in order to help protect civilians. I have no doubt that, had resolution 1973 not been passed, thousands of people in Benghazi — and elsewhere in Libya — would have suffered the ‘merciless' retaliation which Gaddafi himself promised as his forces massed on the edge of that city. Indeed, in the months that followed, despite NATO efforts, civilians in Libya remained under attack by pro-Gaddafi forces, including through indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas and the use of cluster munitions.

At any point, Colonel Gaddafi could have brought the conflict to an immediate end by ordering his forces to cease their attacks on civilians and enabling a transition process to begin. Intensive political efforts largely conducted under the auspices of UN Secretary General Ban's Special Envoy, Mr. al-Khatib, continued throughout the conflict to try and bring about such an agreed ceasefire. The role of regional organisations, including the African Union as well as the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Conferences, was extremely valuable and supportive of such peace initiatives which were, however, consistently thwarted by the Gaddafi regime's unwillingness to comply fully with the relevant Security Council resolutions and halt attacks against the civilian population. It is worth noting that it was the Arab League which initially called for a no-fly zone to be implemented over Libya. Ireland and the EU strongly supported and advocated a leading role by the relevant regional organisations in seeking to resolve the Libyan conflict.

NATO's Operation Unified Protector ceased its operations on 31 October 2011, following adoption of Security Council Resolution 2016 terminating the no fly zone over Libya. On the basis of the monthly reports submitted by the NATO Secretary General to the Security Council, it would appear that NATO made every effort to comply fully with its mandate of civilian protection, to avoid civilian casualties and to honour its obligations under Resolution 1973 and international humanitarian law.

There is no doubt that very major human rights violations did occur during the recent conflict in Libya, including cases of extra-judicial killings, which according to reports were perpetrated by both sides to the conflict. Respect for human rights and the rule of law will be crucial in the new Libya and must be a key priority for the National Transitional Council and its international partners. I welcome the commitment of the NTC and its leaders to protect and promote human rights, to fully investigate allegations of human rights violations, and to fully cooperate with the Commission of Inquiry established by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law in Libya. I also welcome that the NTC has extended an open invitation to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Special Rapporteurs of the Human Rights Council to visit Libya.

The ending of impunity in Libya and accountability for any violations committed during the conflict must also entail a full, impartial and credible investigation into the circumstances surrounding Colonel Gaddafi's death. I welcome the NTC's commitment to conduct such an investigation which is essential if Libya is to move forward on a path towards full democracy in which the rule of law and basic human rights are fully respected.

Departmental Expenditure

Mick Wallace

Question:

30 Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide a detailed breakdown of the annual cost to the State of running the Irish embassies in Iran and the Vatican; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33706/11]

Mick Wallace

Question:

31 Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide a breakdown of the cost per annum of running the Irish embassies in Iran and the Vatican; if he is contemplating closing other overseas missions aside from the three announced last week; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33707/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 30 and 31 together.

The operating budgets for the Embassies in Iran and the Holy See for 2011 amount to €420,987 and €348,049 respectively. These allocations cover items such as local staff salary costs, premises expenses, office machinery, official travel and post and telecommunications. By moving the Embassy to Italy into the building currently occupied by the Embassy to the Holy See further savings on rent amounting to €445,000 in a full year will be made.

The regrettable, but necessary, decision to close these Missions, and the Irish Representative Office in Dili, Timor Leste, followed a thorough review carried out by my Department in which particular weight was given to the promotion of Irish economic interests abroad. There are no plans to close any further Missions. Nevertheless, the scale and presence of the Irish diplomatic network is kept under ongoing review in the light of changing circumstances and needs. Given the current budgetary situation, and recognising the role that our diplomatic network is playing in Ireland's economic recovery, any further adjustments to our diplomatic network will continue to be strategically focused.

Middle East Peace Process

Martin Ferris

Question:

32 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the cosmetic firm (details supplied) which is the recipient of €1 million of innovation funds from the EU extended until 2013 is based in the illegal settlement of Mitzpe Shalem; and his views that the EU is thereby facilitating breaches of international law. [33721/11]

I am aware of this case. I set out the general principles relating to EU innovation funds in my reply to a Question on this issue from Deputy MacLochlainn on 18 October. As stated in that reply, I agree that EU research funding should be consistent with wider EU policies, and the EU has a clear position that the Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory are illegal, and are a barrier to peace.

The rules for grants under the next Horizon 2020 programme should be drawn up with this in mind.

Human Rights Issues

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

33 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has to date, made any steps in pressuring the Sri Lankan authorities on the lack of progress on investigations into the attack on the editor of the Uthayan newspaper. [33719/11]

I understand from reports that Gnanasundaram Kuhanathan, the editor of the Tamil language daily "Uthayan" newspaper in Sri Lanka, was attacked and brutally beaten in July of this year. I understand that no progress has been made to date on prosecuting the perpetrators of this attack. As the Deputy may be aware, Ireland does not have a resident mission in Sri Lanka. Our Embassy in New Delhi is accredited to Sri Lanka. The Ambassador is due to travel to Sri Lanka later this month. I have asked him make enquiries on this case, in addition to the other issues he will be pursuing during his stay in Sri Lanka.

I am aware that there have been four murders of journalists in Sri Lanka since 2008. In addition, a well-known cartoonist, Prageeth Eknaligoda, has been missing since January 2010.

Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, enshrined in article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Ireland strongly condemns any efforts to intimidate, censor or silence the media and we fully support the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Free, independent media will always be a cornerstone of democracy and respect for human rights and conditions for independent and pluralist journalism can only aid social and economic development.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

34 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to the deteriorating situation in Zambia in which Chinese-run copper mines are dangerously unsafe and owners routinely flout the rights of workers, when miners routinely work 12 to 18 hour shifts often in fume-filled tunnels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33712/11]

I am aware of recent reports, produced by international organisations such as Human Rights Watch, that allege mines in Zambia, in particular those operated by Chinese firms, are dangerously unsafe, with poor health and safety conditions in contravention of labour laws and regulations. China is a very significant investor in the Zambian economy particularly in the critically important mining industry which accounts for over seventy percent of Zambia's foreign earnings. I am concerned about the nature of the allegations made in these reports and I will closely follow the response of the Government of the Republic of Zambia.

The recently elected President of Zambia, Michael Sata, has been very strong in his commitment to improving workers' rights and labour conditions. The new Government has announced its intention to review the minimum wage in Zambia and also its labour laws and regulations to ensure stiffer penalties are in place for those employers found guilty of exploitation of workers. I understand that tripartite discussions have already commenced in this respect involving representatives of Government, employers and workers.

Ireland has the opportunity to regularly raise issues of concern with the Government of Zambia, through our Embassy in Lusaka and together with the European Union.

Ireland has also supported improved labour conditions in Zambia through our support to the International Labour Organisation. One element of that support has been to address the issue of forced labour. With Irish Aid support, the International Labour Organisation has worked with the Ministry of Labour in Zambia to strengthen the capacity of labour inspectors to detect and act on possible cases of forced labour and severe exploitation.

Global Irish Forum

Joe Higgins

Question:

35 Deputy Joe Higgins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will report on his attendance at the Global Irish Forum. [29812/11]

The second Global Irish Economic Forum was held in Dublin Castle on the 7th and 8th of October. The primary purposes of the Forum were to engage fully with the Irish Diaspora in developing Ireland's global business and trade relations; to discuss face-to-face the Government's priorities for economic renewal with key members of the international business community; and to strengthen ties with the Irish Diaspora as a key part of the Government's efforts to restore Ireland's international reputation abroad. There was an exceptional uptake on the Taoiseach's invitation from among members of the Global Irish Network. In addition to the members of the Network, attendees also included members of the Government, Secretaries General of Government Departments, CEOs of State Agencies and members of the Opposition and leading members of the Irish business and cultural sectors.

Over the course of the two days, I made an address at the opening session and took part in the opening plenary debate which discussed "Ireland: the road to recovery". I was also a panellist for other debates including "Ireland’s image abroad: communicating the message” and the closing plenary discussion, alongside the Taoiseach and President Clinton.

In response to requests from participants at the 2009 Forum, a considerable amount of time was devoted to small breakout working groups. Each working group focussed on a topic of relevance to the Programme for Government and, in most cases, involved the participation of the relevant Minister, Minister of State and/or representatives from appropriate Departments or State Agencies. I took part in two working groups, "Ireland's reputation abroad" on 7 October and the "Job Creation" group on 8 October. I also delivered the closing address to the Forum.

The Forum was marked by a high level of enthusiasm among the participants, with candour and frankness characterising the discussions. The feedback to date from all who attended has been extremely positive with participants expressing significant satisfaction with the quality of the discussions and the management of the event.

The Report of the Forum, including the outcomes, is being finalised by my Department and will be published shortly.

Question No. 36 answered with Question No. 29.
Questions Nos. 37 to 40, inclusive, answered with Question No. 10.

Diplomatic Representation

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

41 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which trade volume has increased as measured with the various embassies or missions abroad; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33796/11]

As a small trading country increasing the volume of our exports is vital to ensure sustainable growth for our economy. Despite the difficult trading conditions Irish exports have proved resilient in recent years. The total value of merchandise exports in 2010 was €162.7 billion, the highest ever total, representing growth of 8% on the 2009 figure. Services exports have also seen growth in that period, increasing from €67.1 billion in 2009 to €73.8 billion in 2010. My Department is focused on achieving maximum growth in exports for Ireland through progressively implementing, with other Departments and State Agencies, the recommendations in the Strategy and Action Plan for Irish Trade, Tourism and Investment to 2015. In this context I was pleased to chair the first meeting of the Export Trade Council recently. The Council will strengthen co-operation and co-ordination across all Government Departments and State Agencies involved in the promotion and development of trade and exports.

Ireland has 58 Embassies, 7 multilateral missions and 11 Consulates General and other offices overseas. In addition to their country of primary accreditation, many Ambassadors are also accredited to additional countries on a non-resident basis.

Ireland's missions abroad perform a wide range of functions in pursuit of Ireland's foreign policy interests. An important focus, among these, is working actively to restore Ireland's international reputation and to support export led growth. Local market teams, chaired by the local Ambassador and including representatives of State Agencies have been established in all of the priority markets under the Trading and Investing in a Smart Economy Strategy. These teams prepare annual market development plans and report to the Export Trade Council.

The State Agencies with a remit for the promotion of Irish Trade, Tourism and Investment, Enterprise Ireland, Bord Bia, Tourism Ireland and IDA Ireland, also have offices overseas. Where possible they are co-located with Irish Embassies and Consulates on the ground in an ‘Ireland House' arrangement. However, even where the Ireland House concept does not apply, the Embassy network works closely with the State Agencies and other relevant Departments in assisting Irish producers to overcome barriers to export and find new markets.

Emigrant Support Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

42 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if any progress has taken place with a view to regularising the position of undocumented Irish in the United States; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33797/11]

Addressing the situation of the undocumented Irish and reforming our migration arrangements with the United States remain important priorities for the Government in its relationship with the US Administration and Congress. The Taoiseach and I discussed these issues with President Obama when we met with him on 23 May in Dublin. Responding to our concerns, the President expressed his interest in achieving progress.

I also discussed the issue of Irish immigration with Secretary of State Clinton during our meeting on 18 March and with Senator Patrick Leahy, Chair of the Senate Judiciary committee when I met him in Dublin on 3 June. I met with the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform and the Coalition of Irish Centres in New York on 23 September. The Government has provided almost $365,000 to support that organisation since 2006, including $40,000 this year.

Acting on my behalf, our Embassy in Washington continues to engage on an ongoing basis with the US Administration at various levels and with both parties in the US Congress.

The introduction of a new Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill in the Senate on 22 June last is a welcome development. This Bill which has been brought by senior Democrats including Senators Harry Reid, Charles Schumer, and Robert Menendez is similar to that introduced in the previous Congress and, once again, includes provision for a new E-3 visa for Ireland. While Senator Menendez has indicated that in circulating the bill he aimed to provide a framework for debate and negotiations, the continued inclusion of the E-3 for Ireland in the Bill represents an important achievement for the Government and the Irish community.

The successful passage of E3 visa legislation would strengthen the human bridge between the two countries, which underpins our excellent existing bilateral relations, and provide a mechanism for Irish nationals seeking to work in the USA in the future. However, and while we continue to press for such a scheme, including with members of Congress, any efforts to pass immigration-related legislation in the current US domestic political climate would face considerable challenges.

I am also conscious that the E3 would not provide a solution to the difficulties faced by the undocumented Irish in the US and their families here in Ireland.

I wish to assure the Deputy that I and my Department, particularly the Embassy in Washington, will continue to work very actively on highlighting the situation of the undocumented Irish in the US in our contacts with the US Administration, Congressional leaders and Irish immigration reform advocates, and work towards identifying positive outcomes on their behalf.

Humanitarian Aid

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

43 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number and location of countries on the continent of Africa now facing serious difficulty arising from starvation, war and or human rights abuse; the extent to which he can influence the international community with a view to maximising the impact of aid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33798/11]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

44 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which he directly and together with the international community has managed to avert some of the hardship arising from war, hunger and starvation from the Horn of Africa; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33799/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 43 and 44 together.

Since its inception in 1974, Ireland's programme of official development assistance has had a particular focus on the continent of Africa. Both historically, and in many cases up to and including the present day, African countries have been obliged to face enormous difficulties, including food insecurity, poverty, protracted conflict, environmental degradation, weak government capacity, unequal global trading relationships, severe infrastructural weaknesses, poor governance, debt and the effects of HIV/AIDS.

In an effort to help the countries of the continent confront these far-reaching challenges, approximately eighty percent of Ireland's development assistance continues to be channelled to Africa, with Irish Aid operating intensive and wide-ranging country programmes in Lesotho, Mozambique, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Zambia, Uganda and Malawi. Thanks in part to this support, many of these countries have made significant progress with regard to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including in relation to the fight against extreme poverty, work to improve school enrolment and child health, and activities aimed at expanding access to HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment. In addition to this bilateral support, Irish Aid also provides development assistance to these and other countries in Africa, through our partnerships with the United Nations, the Red Cross family and NGOs such as Concern, Goal and Trócaire.

As the Deputy notes, some countries in Africa continue to face particularly acute challenges in terms of conflict and food insecurity. Irish Aid's emergency humanitarian budget allows us to respond quickly and effectively to needs arising from such emergencies as well as to the effects of natural disasters across the continent.

Most recently, this budget has helped to form the central component in the Government's response to the increasingly dire situation in the Horn of Africa. With almost €11 million in emergency assistance allocated to date and a pledge to provide a total of €20 million in humanitarian assistance to the poorest and most vulnerable in the region before the end of 2012 , this means that Ireland's contribution is one of the most significant and generous responses to the crisis on a per capita basis. In addition to this financial help, Irish Aid has also carried out two airlifts of humanitarian supplies from its pre-positioned stockpiles in Dubai and deployed 24 members of its highly skilled Rapid Response Corps to directly assist in humanitarian operations on the ground.

The Government has also been actively involved at EU and international level in pushing for a strongly coordinated approach to the humanitarian crisis in the Horn. In this context, the Tánaiste and I look forward to addressing the issues involved, including the ongoing conflict and instability in Somalia, at next week's meeting of EU foreign and development ministers in Brussels. We have also led the way in discussions on the issues involved in a variety of fora in Geneva and New York where we have stressed the need to move beyond the trauma of the present and towards a vision of sustainable long-term food security across the region. In spite of the enormous challenges faced both in the Horn and elsewhere across the continent, progress is undoubtedly being made right across Africa. Indeed, many countries, previously mired in poverty, are experiencing rapid economic growth and developing faster than ever before. While remaining committed to helping to tackle poverty and inequality and to make a real and lasting difference to the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable communities in Africa, the Government is therefore eager to strengthen our overall engagement in the continent and to take a fresh look at ways in which both we and our African partners can benefit from the opportunities involved. In recognition of these new and exciting opportunities, the Tánaiste and I recently launched the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's new Africa Strategy at the first ever Africa-Ireland Economic Forum at the Smurfit School of Business in Dublin.

International Agreements

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

45 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which he and his colleagues within the EU and UN continue to monitor the situation in the western Balkans with particular reference to the need to ensure continued stability in the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33800/11]

Ireland, together with our EU partners, is committed to enhancing stability in the Western Balkans region. The EU perspective for the countries in the region, agreed at the June 2003 Thessaloniki European Council, is essential in helping to build and maintain this stability. The EU will remain engaged in assisting the countries in the region to undertake the reforms necessary to move forward in their path to the EU. While there remain issues of serious concern, and much remains to be achieved at national level, the regional dynamic is more encouraging. The expected signature of Croatia's Accession Treaty at the European Council in December is particularly welcome evidence of this.

The arrests this summer of Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic and their swift transfer to the Tribunal in The Hague marked an important milestone for reconciliation in the Western Balkans. The arrests demonstrated the commitment of President Tadiæ and the Serbian Government to fulfilling their obligations with regard to International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) cooperation.

These arrests were preceded by a number of important initiatives by the governments of the region to deal with the legacy of the Balkan Wars. In March 2010, Serbia's parliament passed a declaration condemning the Srebrenica massacre and apologising to the families of the victims. In the same month, Bosnia and Herzegovina appointed an Ambassador to Serbia after a three-year hiatus. This was followed by a joint visit by the Serbian and Croatian Presidents to Bosnia and Herzegovina in July 2010 to attend a commemoration to mark the 15th anniversary the Srebrenica massacre. In November 2010, the Serbian and Croatian Presidents paid a joint visit to Vukovar in Croatia, where the Serbian President laid a wreath to commemorate the victims of the three-month siege in 1991.

Over the past two years, the region has also received a boost in its relations with the EU through the extension of a visa waiver scheme for entry to the Schengen Zone to almost all countries of the Western Balkans.

Following on from a joint EU-Serbia resolution at the UN General Assembly last year, Serbia and Kosovo have been engaged in an EU-facilitated dialogue since March 2011. The talks are focused on practical matters such as land registry, customs stamps, telecoms and electricity. It is hoped that the parties will reach agreement on some of these matters soon, even if higher level talks have been delayed because of the continuing tension in northern Kosovo, where members of the local Serb population have resisted the location of Kosovo police and customs officials at the northern border between Kosovo and Serbia.

Elections took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia in the past year. In all cases, the elections passed off peacefully and marked an improvement on past elections.

However, more than a year after the elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina, government formation has yet to be completed and the political atmosphere remains difficult. In May, EU High Representative Ashton achieved a notable success in the EU's efforts to stabilise the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina when she persuaded President Dodik of the Republika Srpska to repeal a planned referendum which could have questioned the state-level judiciary and the international presence in the country.

Montenegro, which was granted candidate status last December, was the subject of a broadly positive assessment in October by the Commission, which is now proposing that a date be agreed to open negotiations on accession.

While the Council of Ministers has already agreed that accession negotiations should begin with Macedonia, the "name" issue remains a stumbling block.

Overseas Development Aid

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

46 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which he continues to engage with non-governmental organisations with a view to ensuring that aid is strategically directed to ensure maximum benefit to those for whom it was intended; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33801/11]

The Government's aid programme, which is managed by Irish Aid in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, is sharply focused on the fight against global poverty and hunger. It is recognised internationally for its effectiveness, and for its concentration on some of the poorest countries and communities in sub-Saharan Africa.

Irish Aid channels a higher proportion of overall assistance through development Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) than other international donors, reflecting the strong support of the Irish people for the work of NGOs and missionaries. This assistance is provided to support the long term development work of NGOs, in accordance with the objectives of the Government's aid programme, the work of NGOs on emergency and humanitarian assistance, and development education programmes.

Irish Aid has established strict eligibility criteria to determine which NGOs are eligible to apply for significant grant funding. The main eligibility criteria include a proven organisational capacity for the effective use of funding, a solid track record of delivery and a sound compliance record.

The partnership between Irish Aid and NGOs is focused on the achievement of real and long term development results in the lives of some the most vulnerable people in the world. This is achieved through the targeting of assistance to some of the most remote and disadvantaged communities in sub-Saharan Africa. Aid interventions are prioritised to reach the poorest and most vulnerable members of those communities who are further disadvantaged on grounds of gender, disability or minority status.

Irish Aid assesses and evaluates the NGO programmes against specific objectives and expected results. Procedures to ensure funding is used for maximum benefit include regular field monitoring visits to programme partners, annual narrative and financial reporting against agreed objectives and budgets, end of programme evaluations and ongoing reviews of compliance.

In addition, the Evaluation and Audit Unit of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade periodically evaluates and audits NGO partners. Recently evaluations of Concern, Goal, Trócaire and Christian Aid have been completed and provide evidence that Ireland's funding to these NGOs has contributed to the alleviation of poverty and vulnerability in the communities where they work.

The Government is firmly committed to targeting our aid to ensure the alleviation of poverty among the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. Our NGO partners will continue to play a crucial role as we strive to achieve the maximum benefit from Ireland's development co-operation programme and its contribution to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

Human Rights Issues

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

47 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which he and the international community continue to monitor the situation in Iran with a view to preventing human rights abuses and persecution of academics; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33802/11]

As I have previously stated in my reply to PQ27601/11 of 4 October, the human rights situation in Iran is profoundly disturbing, and the period since the Presidential election of 2009 has been characterised by an intensification of human rights abuses on many fronts. I am greatly concerned about the targeting of the academic community and educators in Iran, amid a widespread and intentional erosion of political and civil freedoms in Iran. I deplore the jail sentences of four and five year terms which have been handed down in recent days to seven members of the Bahá'í community in Iran associated with the Bahá'í Institute for Higher Education in Iran. I reiterate my call upon the government of Iran to respect fully its obligations under international human rights instruments. In this regard, I fully support the strong Conclusions on human rights in Iran issued by the Foreign Affairs Council on 10 October as well as the statements of EU High Representatives Catherine Ashton on this issue. The EU has repeatedly raised human rights issues in Iran with the Iranian authorities this year. In a further effort to increase the EU's impact on human rights in Iran, the Foreign Affairs Council on 10 October decided to add additional individuals to the travel ban and asset freeze it had adopted on 12 April 2011 against those responsible for grave human rights violations. This sends an important political signal to those in the judicial system and elsewhere in the Iranian regime who perpetrate human rights abuses. The EU has also introduced measures to enable it to respond in a more timely fashion to serious violations of human rights in Iran while also trying to keep some basic channels of communications open with the Iranian authorities. I welcome these steps which demonstrate the depth of our concern. Ireland will continue to be active at EU level in pressing for stronger EU action in relation to the human rights situation in Iran.

At UN level, Ireland was active in ensuring the successful adoption at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in March of a decision providing for appointment of a Special Rapporteur to examine Iran's human rights situation. I welcome the first report of Ahmed Shaheed as Special Rapporteur on 28 October and regret the fact that Mr Shaheed was not permitted to visit Iran. I call upon the Government of Iran to take immediate steps to address the serious violations of human rights highlighted in the report and which was based on first-hand testimonies from individuals and organisations, including the dramatic increase in executions in Iran, as well as the repression of opposition leaders Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi and their wives. I also call upon Iran to facilitate full and unhindered access to Iran for Mr Shaheed. A further resolution expressing the international community's deep concern at the human rights situation in Iran, and calling upon the Government of Iran to take a number of specific and urgent steps to improve the situation, is likely to be adopted by the UN General Assembly later this month. Ireland, together with EU member states, will co-sponsor this resolution.

At a bilateral level, my Department engages in ongoing dialogue with the Iranian Ambassador and his Embassy on these issues. My officials have already held a number of meetings with the Ambassador since the start of this year to convey our grave concerns at the human rights situation in Iran. Ireland will continue to raise human rights in Iran, including the rights of academics and other detainees, bilaterally and at the EU and UN, at all appropriate occasions.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

48 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which he and his EU and UN colleagues continue to monitor the persecution of citizens attempting to promote democracy at various locations throughout the globe; the extent if any of an agreed strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33803/11]

Human Rights are, and have always been, a priority of successive Irish Governments and a central part of our foreign policy. Together with our EU partners, Ireland closely monitors the human rights situations in many countries throughout the world, on the basis of information obtained from a variety of sources, including both official channels and non-governmental/civil society organisations. Where and when the situation warrants, we make known our concerns about human rights violations to the Governments in question. We do this bilaterally, through the EU, or through action at the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council. We fully support the use of the full UN human rights machinery in responding to human rights abuses, including supporting the role of UN Human Rights Treaty Monitoring Bodies, Special Procedures and Mandate Holders and the convening, where appropriate, of Special Sessions of the UN Human Rights Council. The EU regularly makes statements at these UN bodies on the human rights situations in a number of countries from all regions. Ireland is fully associated with these statements. The EU also introduces or supports resolutions dealing with specific countries.

Since its creation in March 2006 Ireland has proactively engaged with the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism. The UPR mechanism allows for the review of the domestic human rights records of all 192 UN Member States every four years, based on human rights obligations under UN human rights and other instruments. Any UN Member State can take part in the interactive dialogue (i.e. the actual examination of the State under review) and submit written questions in advance. Ireland was examined under the UPR process on 6 October 2011. We welcome the opportunity provided by the UPR mechanism to help us to examine the issues and recommendations raised by UN Member States some of which would have been identified by members of the public and civil society, and consider how we can improve the protection and promotion of human rights. Ireland has also made numerous interventions at the UPR sessions during the examination of other states, raising issues of concern such as gender based violence, freedom of expression, religious freedom, freedom of assembly and the protection of human rights defenders within the States under review.

The EU has adopted Common Positions on certain countries, which attach priority to promoting human rights, democracy, good governance and the rule of law. In addition, the EU conducts human rights dialogues with a number of countries and also raises human rights concerns as part of political dialogue meetings.

Together with our EU partners, we have been a consistent and strong supporter of the International Criminal Court, recognising it as an essential means of combating impunity for the most serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law. The Court's Prosecutor has opened investigations into a number of country situations and we will continue to monitor this work closely.

Ireland has also consistently taken the lead in negotiating resolutions at the United Nations General Assembly and Human Rights Council on the promotion and protection of human rights defenders, as well as in the implementation plan of EU Guidelines on human rights defenders in third countries, to ensure human rights defenders can operate in an environment free from hindrance and insecurity.

Mindful that the risk of human rights violations is greater where political, economic and administrative systems are weak, Irish Aid supports concrete actions designed to promote human rights, including strengthening government systems and in-country human rights institutions, in particular through legal training. Legal aid programmes targeted at victims of human rights abuses is also supported and Irish Aid has a specific focus on governance in several programme countries.

The Government will continue to avail of all the above-mentioned mechanisms and instruments as a means of highlighting violations of human rights and furthering their protection.

Foreign Conflicts

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

49 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent if any to which the international community can encourage the installation of democratic structures in Libya and or other locations that have been the subject of regime change in the past two years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33804/11]

Democratic transition in any country must first and foremost be led by the country itself if the budding democracy is to have deep and enduring roots. However, there are important practical and political ways in which the international community can assist. With this in mind, the international community has extended significant help — and will continue to do so — to Europe's neighbours who have recently embarked upon a democratic transition: Libya, Egypt and Tunisia. With regard to Libya, for example, the High-level Meeting on Libya in New York on 20 September en marge of the 66th session of the UNGA, which I attended, made clear the international community's political support for the National Transitional Council as the interim authorities in Libya as well as providing for formal acceptance into the United Nations of the new Libya. The Security Council also authorised on 16 September a United Nations Support Mission for Libya (UNSMIL) which will lead the international community's practical assistance during the transition period to Libyan national efforts in a range of areas, including the restoration of public security and order, the promotion of rule of law, the restoration of public services and support for human rights.

In Tunisia and Egypt, too, the international community has rallied to offer support to the interim authorities. In addition to substantial financial assistance, there has also been assistance directly aimed at building a democratic culture. For example, at Tunisia's request, the EU deployed an EU Electoral Observation Mission to assess and offer recommendations on Tunisia's first democratic elections on 23 October and has offered similar assistance to the Egyptian authorities. Another example of practical assistance was the first meeting of the EU-Tunisia Taskforce on 21 and 22 September which sought to galvanise private sector development in Tunisia. Economic development will be a key factor in the successful democratisation of these countries, and must be considered as an integral part of the democratisation effort.

Ireland and the EU's overall approach to the Southern Neighbourhood during this transition period is guided by the reformulated European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) which was partly shaped by events in North Africa and which Heads of State and Government broadly endorsed at the European Council in June 2011. One principle outlined in the ENP is the concept of positive conditionality or "more for more". This concept allows for greater political association, economic integration, mobility and financial support for neighbouring partners in return for progress on democratic reforms and closer alignment with the EU's core values. The revised ENP also allows for greater cooperation with civil society. The ENP is complemented by regional and multilateral co-operation through the Union for Mediterranean (UfM). The UfM is an intergovernmental process which emphasises economic and social cooperation.

Ireland and the EU will continue to seek ways to assist Libya, Tunisia and Egypt in their nascent democratic transitions which have the potential to bring greater economic growth and stability to this neighbouring region.

Diplomatic Representation

Terence Flanagan

Question:

50 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide the background for the decision made to close the Irish Embassy in the Vatican; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33899/11]

As outlined in my statement on Thursday last, it was with the greatest regret and reluctance that a decision had to be made to close Ireland's Embassies to the Holy See and Iran and its representative office in Timor Leste. This decision is in line with the tough choices that the Government must make to address the current economic challenges that face the country.

Our targets under the EU/IMF programme and our need to reduce public expenditure mean that cuts to public expenditure must be made across a wide range of public services, including our diplomatic service.

The decision to close the three Missions followed a thorough review of the overseas diplomatic network in which particular attention was paid to the promotion of Irish economic interests and the economic return from missions abroad.

Diplomatic relations will be maintained with these three States and I can assure the Deputy that we intend to continue our active engagement with the Holy See, Iran and Timor Leste. However, our diplomatic network needs to be flexible and responsive to changing circumstances. The Government believes that our relations can be sufficiently dealt with by a non-resident Ambassador to each of the States concerned. As regards the Embassy to the Holy See, the Government is of the view that our interests can be sufficiently secured by a non-resident Ambassador. The Government has nominated a senior Dublin-based diplomat to this position.

The intention is to relocate the offices of the Embassy to Italy and the residence of the Ambassador to Italy to the Villa Spada, the present premises of the Embassy to the Holy See. Given that the Villa Spada is owned by the State, this will allow a considerable saving in annual rental costs. It will also retain a useful asset for the State as the platform from which the Embassy to Italy can promote Irish interests in that country.

Overseas Development Aid

Catherine Murphy

Question:

51 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide figures for the State’s contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees for the year to date and for 2010; the projected contribution in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33929/11]

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 operates essential programmes for its target population in areas such as basic education, health care, community employment and food aid for vulnerable families and delivers an annual budget of some €450 million.

Ireland has been, and continues to be, a strong supporter of UNRWA and its vital work. In 2010, Ireland pledged a commitment of €12 million over the three year period 2010-2012 to UNRWA's general fund and remains on target to meet this pledge. As a result, programme funding of €4 million has been provided in each of 2010 and 2011, including €2 million earmarked for use to assist the particularly vulnerable Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.

In addition, a further €550,000 in humanitarian assistance was made available to UNRWA in 2011. This included €500,000 in response to the agency's emergency funding appeal in Gaza last month to address shortfalls in funding which represented a considerable threat to food supplies for vulnerable Palestinian families. Further support of €50,000 was provided for UNRWA's summer games programme for children in Gaza. This assistance brings total support to date in 2011 to €4.55 million. Over the past five years, funding of €21.7 million has been provided to assist UNRWA in helping vulnerable Palestinians.

Ireland's position as a key donor to UNRWA and the significant levels of funding provided over recent years to assist vulnerable populations have also resulted in Ireland's appointment to UNRWA's Advisory Commission in 2008, following a resolution of the UN General Assembly. The Advisory Commission provides guidance to UNRWA on key issues relating to the agency's management and organisation.

Pension Provisions

Terence Flanagan

Question:

52 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance if he will respond to correspondence (details supplied) regarding the pensions levy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33737/11]

Terence Flanagan

Question:

56 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance if he will respond to correspondence (details supplied) regarding jobs and taxes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33873/11]

Terence Flanagan

Question:

58 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance if he will respond to correspondence (details supplied) regarding the pensions levy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33877/11]

Terence Flanagan

Question:

61 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding the pensions levy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33898/11]

Terence Flanagan

Question:

62 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding the pensions levy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33900/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 52, 56, 58, 61 and 62 together.

I would very much hope that individuals already saving for their retirement and those considering doing so would not be unduly influenced in a negative way by the pension fund levy. The levy is a charge for a temporary period on the significant assets of pension funds, much of which are represented by investments outside of Ireland. The Finance (No. 2) Act 2011 legislation which gives effect to the pension fund levy provisions makes clear that it is to apply for a four year period only.

The moneys raised from the pension fund levy is being used to pay for the tax reductions, including VAT and PRSI reductions, and the additional expenditure measures announced in the Jobs Initiative in May last. There are timing differences as between the receipt of moneys from the levy and the measures which the levy will fund but the Jobs Initiative is designed to be budgetary neutral over the 4 year period 2011-2014.

The various measures in the Initiative represent the first steps by this Government towards improving the competitiveness of important sectors of the economy and facilitating the return to work of people currently unemployed. The levy is a reasonable and targeted tax measure being introduced to fund the various measures set out in the Jobs Initiative. The country is facing an economic and unemployment crisis and the Jobs Initiative will help tackle that crisis and applying a temporary levy to pension funds is less damaging economically than raising other taxes.

As regards speculation that the Government would now proceed to "raid" investment funds or deposit accounts, I want to assure you that the Government has no plans whatsoever in this regard. The Government regards it as its top priority to safeguard the security of savings and would not wish to consider any step that would impact negatively upon confidence in this area. Other savings or investment products have not benefited from the generous tax reliefs that pension savings have historically been granted and continue to receive. Deposit accounts and savings products have already been subjected to additional taxation in recent budgets, via the increase in the rate of DIRT and exit taxes, neither of which impacted on pension funds. There is the view that tax relief on contributions to pension saving is simply tax deferred and that such reliefs are balanced by the eventual taxation of pension benefits over the period of payment of the pension.

While I understand this view to a point, these matters are not always so clear cut. For example, while individuals will get tax relief at the marginal rate on their pension contributions out of pre-retirement income, the tax liability on their retirement benefits will be impacted by issues such as the tax-free retirement lump sum and the level of post-retirement income.

Individuals may be affected in different ways by the pension fund levy. However, I am not in a position to comment on what the precise impact of the levy will be in all cases on individuals or individual funds, schemes, members or retired members as this depends on whether and to what extent pension fund trustees and Life Offices decide to pass on the levy to individual members, given the particular circumstances of the pension funds or pension plans that they are responsible for.

I can say that the Finance (No. 2) Act 2011 provisions include certain safeguards in this area. The payment of the levy is treated as a necessary expense of a scheme and the trustees or insurer, as appropriate, will be entitled where needed to adjust current or prospective benefits payable under a scheme to take account of the levy. However, should the option of reducing scheme benefits be taken, it must essentially be applied in an equitable fashion across the different classes of scheme members that could include active, deferred and retired members. In no case may the reduction in an individual member's or class of member's benefits exceed the member's or class of member's share of the levy.

The Revenue Commissioners are given authority to review any case where assets are disposed of by administrators or trustees in order to pay the levy so as to ensure that any such disposals are in keeping with or needed to pay the levy.

The Revenue Commissioners are also afforded oversight authority to review, where they consider it appropriate, instances where benefits are adjusted as a result of the payment of the levy to ensure that any such adjustment is in keeping with the requirements of the levy legislation. In undertaking any such review Revenue may consult with appropriate experts as they see fit. However, before Revenue could act in that regard, instances of concern on foot of actual adjustments made would first have to be brought to their attention.

Tax and Social Welfare Codes

Ann Phelan

Question:

53 Deputy Ann Phelan asked the Minister for Finance the reason persons (details supplied) are assessed as a couple in relation to social welfare and cannot be accessed as a couple in relation to their tax affairs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33752/11]

In the particular circumstances outlined, where a couple is cohabiting rather than married, they are treated as separate and unconnected individuals for the purpose of Income Tax. Each partner is a separate entity for tax purposes and, accordingly, credits, bands and reliefs cannot be transferred from one partner to the other. Cohabitating couples are expressly recognised for the purpose of social welfare law but are not recognised for the purposes of Income Tax law. Although this may appear contradictory, the main aim of both the welfare code and the tax code is to uphold the constitutional right of married couples not to be treated less favourably than unmarried couples.

The basis for the current tax treatment of married couples derives from the Supreme Court decision in Murphy v the Attorney General (1980) which held that it was contrary to the Constitution for a married couple to pay more tax than two single people living together and having the same income.

The treatment of cohabiting couples for the purposes of social welfare is primarily a matter for the Minister for Social Protection. However, it is also based on the principle that married couples should not be treated less favourably than cohabiting couples. This was given a constitutional underpinning following the Supreme Court decision in Hyland v Minister for Social Welfare (1989) which ruled that it was unconstitutional for the total income a married couple received in social welfare benefits to be less than the couple would have received if they were unmarried and cohabiting.

Tax Code

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

54 Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor asked the Minister for Finance if he has yet received costings from the Revenue Commissioners regarding the exemption from benefit-in-kind tax for employer provided child care which was abolished by the last Government; his views whether the costings justify the abolition of the exemption; if he will consider overturning the decision to abolish the exemption in view of the fact that attempts are being made to encourage persons back into the workplace; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33778/11]

The provision of certain free or subsidised childcare facilities by employers were exempt from a benefit-in-kind charge on the employees that availed of such facilities. This exemption was abolished in Budget and Finance Act 2011. With a view to keeping the scheme simple and reducing administration on the part of employers, there was no notification procedure for employers involved. Accordingly, the Revenue Commissioners do not have separately identifiable costs or statistics for the scheme. It was estimated at the time of Budget 2011 that its abolition would yield €3 million to the Exchequer in 2011 and €6 million in a full year.

The relief was introduced in 1999 to encourage employers to invest in childcare facilities and thus increase the overall supply of childcare places. At the time of its introduction, there was a scarcity of childcare places and the costs associated with childcare were increasing. The aim of the exemption was to encourage employers who were not traditionally associated with the provision of childcare to provide such facilities for their employees.

Cost was not the only factor that was taken into account when the decision was taken to abolish the exemption. Indeed, the Commission on Taxation recommended the abolition of this exemption, citing equity, due to the likelihood that only large employers would have the ability to make the necessary investments.

Notwithstanding the abolition of this relief, a number of other support measures are in place to ease the burden on working parents. These include the Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) programme, which funds community childcare services to enable them to charge reduced childcare fees to qualifying parents, the Childcare Education and Training Support (CETS) programme which provides free childcare places to qualifying FAS and VEC trainees and the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme which provides for a free pre-school year for children in the year before commencing primary school. Generous entitlements to paid and unpaid maternity leave as well as child benefit payments are also provided.

In addition to the above supports, an exemption from income tax for individuals who mind children in their own home is also available. To avail of this scheme, the childminder concerned may not mind more than 3 children, excluding their own. This income exemption is subject to a limit of €15,000 per annum.

In view of the availability of all of the above-mentioned supports, I have no plans to re-introduce the benefit-in-kind exemption.

Banking Sector

Terence Flanagan

Question:

55 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance if he will respond to correspondence (details supplied) regarding negative equity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33872/11]

The Central Bank has advised me that they wrote to all mortgage lenders to ascertain whether they were offering, or intended to offer, a mortgage product that would allow home owners to sell their existing home and transfer the negative equity portion of the original loan to the new loan. The Central Bank was concerned as to whether such products were in the long term interest of consumers as it could lead to indebtedness at a time when there was no certainty over the direction of future property values. In addition consumers would be moving to a new product and consequently those on tracker mortgages would move to fixed or standard variable rates which were generally higher than existing tracker rates. The higher rates would impact on the continued affordability of such mortgages and there would also be an increase in the loan to value ratios of many mortgages. In response to the Central Bank's letter, only a small number of mortgage lenders said that they would consider offering such a facility, but it would be on an exceptional basis, would only be considered following an approach from an existing customer and would be subject to strict criteria in relation to debt service ratio, net disposable income, loan to value ratios, income multiples, credit history, transparency and suitability. A trial period commenced in mid-2011 and was due to be assessed by the Central Bank and the institutions involved before the end of the year. However, the low level of activity makes it difficult to conduct a meaningful review at this time and the proposed review will not take place until the first half of 2012. Any institution offering such a facility may only do so in accordance with criteria agreed in advance with the Central Bank and subject to a trial period. Consequently any arrangement that might be agreed with a customer would have to be in the context of the parameters set out above and not as a result of the introduction of a negative equity type product.

Question No. 56 answered with Question No. 52.

European Financial Stability Fund

Terence Flanagan

Question:

57 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance if he will respond to correspondence (details supplied) regarding funding from the troika; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33876/11]

As the Deputy will be aware when the Programme of Financial Support was initially agreed in late 2010, the average interest rate on the €67.5 billion available to drawdown from the external sources was estimated to be 5.82% on the basis of market rates at the time of the agreement. The average life of the borrowings, which will involve a combination of longer and shorter dated maturities, under each of the sources was initially set at 7.5 years. The Euro Area Heads of State or Government (HOSG) agreed on 21 July 2011 to reduce the cost of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) to lending rates equivalent to those of the Balance of Payments facility close to, without going below, the EFSF funding cost.

In addition, further amendments to the EFSF framework have removed the interest rate margin on EFSF funds and were incorporated into a new legal agreement on the 27th of October in which the interest rate margin is now defined as zero. The agreement incorporates a guarantee commitment fee of 0.1% per annum and a service fee to cover the cost of operations of the EFSF. It is now estimated that the overall net reduction in Ireland's EFSF interest rate margin and other changes will be in the range of 2.7% to 2.8%. It should be noted that the EFSF's cost of funds depends on the interest rate it pays for its market issuance when raising funds for programme countries.

In October, the EU Council of Ministers approved an EU Commission proposal to eliminate the margin of 2.925% on the EFSM facility. This change was incorporated into an amendment to the existing legal agreement on 28th of October and the margin is now defined as zero. This will apply to EFSM borrowings back to the date upon which they were issued. The actual cost of funding depends on the prevailing market rates at the time of each drawdown.

Lengthening of maturities provides benefits in terms of phasing of loans and ensuring that the profile of redemptions is more orderly — avoiding as far as possible exceptionally large amounts in particular years. By contrast, money borrowed at longer maturities is generally more expensive. However, on balance, savings arising from maturity extension are significant though complex to calculate.

Given these changes, figures provided by the NTMA show that the total savings on the original EU facilities with an average life of 7.5 years is some €9 billion, or approximately 5.7% of 2011 estimated GDP. This reduces the annual repayment on these loans by an average of €1.2 billion per year over 7.5 years or by an approximate average margin reduction of 2.80 percentage points.

In addition, the cost of our IMF loans will reduce as a result of recent and forthcoming increases in our IMF quota. The NTMA has calculated the overall benefit of this interest rate reduction at some €1.9 billion. Some €30 million of this arises in 2012. In the case of the IMF loans, the estimated savings take account of a quota increase which will not come into effect before autumn 2012 at the earliest. These expected savings may change either upwards or downwards in the light of future quota revisions.

For 2012, the interest rate margin reductions in the EU and bilateral loans amount to some €875 million. When the impact of the IMF changes are taken into account, the savings amount to some €900 million on a General Government basis or a reduction of our interest repayment in 2012 of 0.57% of the current 2012 GDP estimate.

Question No. 58 answered with Question No. 52.

Fiscal Policy

Terence Flanagan

Question:

59 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance his views on the bailout agreement with the troika; his further views on his attempts to renegotiate our debt burden; if he expects cuts over the next four years in moneys owing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33891/11]

The EU-IMF Programme of Financial Support provides the funding we need for essential public services. The Government has repeatedly stated its commitment to the Programme targets. Meeting these conditions on time and on target, is the best way to ensure that we emerge successfully from this programme. That will mean that we can return safely to the financial markets for funding in as timely a manner as possible. This is one of the principal objectives of the programme. The Government's commitment to the Programme does not stop us from seeking and agreeing changes to aspects of the programme. We have already done this successfully. The Government will continue to do so at the appropriate time. In this context I am pleased to note the successful outcome of 4th quarterly review mission in October, and look forward to the successful completion of the overall review process. The Government will continue to explore ways to reduce our debt with colleagues in Europe as the State had been expected to bear a disproportionate amount to protect the European banking system. We have already had significant success in this regard. The reduction in the cost of our EU and IMF funds, which is now in place, will reduce the cost of programme funds by over €10 billion over the initially envisaged 7.5 year average maturity. In addition the liability management exercise in relation to bank subordinated debt has saved a further €5.2 billion.

We are committed to pay what we owe, but we will also continue to look creatively at existing financing commitments and structures to reduce as far as possible the debt burden on the state by refinancing payment obligations at the lowest possible cost. Work, including with our EU partners, continues in this respect.

National Debt

Terence Flanagan

Question:

60 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide the breakdown of our national debt for the years 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33892/11]

Ireland's National Debt stood at €116.2 billion at the end of October 2011, up from €93.4 billion at the end of 2010. The National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) publishes a breakdown of the instruments comprising national debt and the breakdown as at end-December 2010 is set out as follows.

Instrument (€ billions)

31 December 2010

Medium/Long Term Liabilities

90.8

Short Term Liabilities

6.2

Less Liquid Assets

-16.2

Net Short Term Liabilities

-10.0

Retail debt

12.6

Total National Debt

93.4

Based on the Exchequer deficits as per the recently published Medium-Term Fiscal Statement, the National Debt is projected to increase to stand at approximately €120 billion by the end of 2011 and to reach some €168 billion by the end of the current forecast period in 2015. A breakdown of these National Debt forecasts is not available.

€ billions

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

Forecast National Debt

120

137

151

161

168

Questions Nos. 61 and 62 answered with Question No. 52.

Tax Yield

Michael McGrath

Question:

63 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the amount of money which would be raised in a full year by increasing the top rate of income tax by 1% for persons with income in excess of €100,000 and couples with income in excess of €200,000; the amount of money which would be raised in a full year by increasing the top rate of income tax by 1% for persons with income in excess of €125,000 and couples with income in excess of €250,000; the amount of money which would be raised in a full year by increasing the top rate of income tax by 1% for persons with income in excess of €150,000 and couples with income in excess of €300,000. [33909/11]

It is assumed that the threshold for the proposed new tax bands mentioned by the Deputy would not alter the existing standard rate band structure applying to single and widowed persons, to lone parents and married couples. I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the estimated full year yield to the Exchequer, estimated by reference to 2012 incomes, of the introduction of each of the proposed new rates and bands would be of the order of €55 million, €45 million and €35 million respectively. However, given the current band structures, major issues would need to be resolved as to how, in practice, such new rates could be integrated into the current system and how this would affect the relative position of different types of income earners.

These figures are estimates from the Revenue tax-forecasting model using actual data for the year 2009 adjusted as necessary for income and employment trends for the year 2012. They are, therefore, provisional and likely to be revised.

Michael McGrath

Question:

64 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the amount of money which would be raised in a full year by a combination of increasing the capital acquisitions tax rate to 30% and reducing the exemption thresholds by 10%. [33910/11]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the estimated full year yield to the Exchequer from increasing the Capital Acquisitions Tax rate by 5%, based on the expected outturn in 2011, could be in the region of €55 million, assuming no change in the existing thresholds. The additional full year yield from existing taxpayers from reducing the existing thresholds by 10% and applying the proposed rate of 30% to the additional amounts thus brought into charge is estimated at €17 million. Revenue do not receive information on gifts and inheritances which currently do not have to be declared so it is not possible to estimate the potential yield if such benefits were brought into the tax net. These estimates are based on transactions recorded in 2010, the latest year for which the necessary detailed information is available. It should be noted that these estimates are based upon an assumption that there would be no behavioural impact of these changes, which could lead to a less than expected impact on Exchequer yield. In addition, the realization of any estimated yield from an increase in taxation on assets relating to property is subject to movements in the value of such assets, which are currently occurring in the economy.

Michael McGrath

Question:

65 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the amount of money which would be raised in a full year by raising the deemed annual distribution of assets in approved retirement funds from 5% to 10% per annum. [33911/11]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that some €10.3m in tax was paid for the year 2010 by managers of approved retirement funds (ARFs) in respect of deemed or imputed distributions of assets in ARFs. This amount would have been generally based on a deemed distribution rate of 5%. On this basis, the full year yield from an increase in the deemed distribution rate to 10% could be of the order of €10m, assuming no change in asset values or behavioural changes on the part of ARF owners. It is important to note that the deemed or imputed distribution measure is designed to encourage draw downs from ARFs so that they are used, as intended, to fund a stream of income in retirement in the same way as a retirement annuity, for which ARFs are supposed to operate as a more flexible alternative.

The measure, in itself, does not give rise to significant tax revenues as it does not apply to actual draw-downs from ARFs, which are taxed in the normal way. The level of the imputed distribution was increased from 3% to 5% in Budget and Finance Act 2011 and was estimated to yield an additional €5 million in a full year. Increasing the percentage notional distribution from ARFs generally, and for ARFs of modest value in particular, to a level 10% of ARF assets would increase the risk that such ARF owners' funds could be depleted during retirement and before death.

Michael McGrath

Question:

66 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the amount of money which would be saved in a full year by reducing income tax relief on pension contributions to the standard income tax rate. [33912/11]

Michael McGrath

Question:

67 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the amount of money which would be saved in a full year by reducing income tax relief on pension contributions, for those who pay income tax at the marginal rate, to 30% as opposed to the current 41%. [33913/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 66 and 67 together.

I assume the Deputy is referring to individual pension contributions, the tax relief on which is allowed at the taxpayer's marginal tax rate — the standard or higher rate of income tax as appropriate in each case. A breakdown of the cost of tax relief on employee contributions to occupational pension schemes is not available by income tax rate, as tax returns by employers to the Revenue Commissioners of employee contributions to such schemes are aggregated at employer level. An historical breakdown is available by tax rate of the tax relief claimed on contributions to personal pension plans — retirement annuity contracts and personal retirement savings accounts — by the self-employed and others, to the extent that the contributions have been included in the personal tax returns of those taxpayers.

There is, therefore, no statistical basis for providing definitive figures. However, by making certain assumptions about the available information, it is estimated that the full-year yield to the Exchequer from confining tax relief to the standard rate of 20% in respect of individual contributions to occupational pension schemes, retirement annuity contracts and personal retirement savings accounts would be approximately €500 million.

The estimated full-year yield to the Exchequer from confining tax relief to a rate of 30% for individuals who can obtain relief at the 41% rate in respect of individual contributions to occupational pension schemes, retirement annuity contracts and personal retirement savings accounts would be approximately €260 million. It is assumed that tax relief at the flat rate of 30% would not be available to claimants who are currently confined to tax relief at the standard rate of 20%.

National Debt

Michael McGrath

Question:

68 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the average expected interest rate and total interest payable on the national debt and general government debt in 2012 and 2013. [33917/11]

National debt interest expenditure in 2012 and 2013 was forecast in the recently published Medium-Term Fiscal Statement (MTFS) at €6.8 billion and €7.2 billion respectively. General Government debt interest expenditure in 2012 and 2013 was forecast in the MTFS at €7.2 billion and €9.5 billion respectively. The large increase in General Government debt interest expenditure in 2013 over 2012 is due primarily to the Promissory Note interest. This is because the interest holiday on the Promissory Notes applies only for the years 2011 and 2012.

The National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) advises that the National debt interest expenditure equates to an average interest rate of 5.3 per cent and 5 per cent respectively in 2012 and 2013. The implied average General Government debt interest rate was estimated at 4.4 per cent and 5.2 per cent respectively in 2012 and 2013 in the MTFS.

Fiscal Advisory Council

Michael McGrath

Question:

69 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance his views on the work to date of the Fiscal Advisory Council; and if he is satisfied that its composition is sufficiently broad in terms of background and expertise to enable it to fulfil its mandate. [33919/11]

I announced the establishment of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council on 7 July 2011. The Council is part of a wider agenda of reform of Ireland's budgetary architecture which is envisaged in the Programme for Government. The Council is an independent non-statutory body. It will be put on a statutory basis underpinned by legislation to be brought forward by Government in the coming months in the proposed Fiscal Responsibility Bill. Its role is to provide an assessment of, and comment publicly on, whether the Government is meeting its own stated budgetary targets and objectives. It will also be charged with assessing the appropriateness and soundness of the Government's fiscal stance and macroeconomic projections as well as an assessment of the extent of compliance with the Government's fiscal rules. The latter are also to be brought forward in the proposed Fiscal Responsibility Bill.

The five members of the Council are: Mr Sebastian Barnes, OECD, Professor Alan Barrett, TCD (on secondment from the ESRI), Dr Donal Donovan, University of Limerick (formerly IMF staff), Professor John McHale, Head of Economics, NUI Galway and Chair of the Council, and Dr Róisín O'Sullivan, Associate Professor, Smith College, Massachusetts.

I appointed the members having regard to a number of criteria including the desirability of having a mix of appropriate backgrounds (academia, the financial sector/financial markets and public finance), macroeconomic/microeconomic expertise, a strong international dimension as well as the need to take gender considerations into account. I am satisfied with the composition of the Council and I am pleased that individuals of such high calibre have agreed to serve on the Council.

The Council recently published its first assessment report which was generally well received. Their advice, along with advice from other bodies, domestic and international continues to inform Government thinking in the development of fiscal policy. As I said at the outset, the Council is an important element in the reforms we are making to improve Ireland's fiscal framework.

Tax Yield

Michael McGrath

Question:

70 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide the breakdown by category of the €600 million carry forward of tax measures for the 2012 budget consolidation process highlighted in the medium term fiscal statement. [33920/11]

The main area which is expected to benefit in terms of additional revenues in 2012 from measures introduced in 2011 is income tax. As with all new income tax measures, the first year yield is expected to be significantly below the full-year yield for a number of reasons including the fact that a portion of the tax collected in the year in which a measure is introduced relates to earnings in the previous year and therefore does not benefit from the changes to the tax system.

The reductions to the tax credits, the reductions in the standard rate bands and the reductions in the age exemption limits implemented in 2011 are expected to generate an additional €0.3 billion in revenues in 2012 over the amounts these measures were estimated to generate in 2011. The tax revenue benefit in 2012 compared to 2011 from the abolition and restriction of various tax reliefs such as Rent Relief, Trade Union subscriptions relief, the relief on loans to acquire an interest in certain companies and the introduction of a ceiling on the tax exempt earnings of artists is estimated to be over €0.1 billion.

Changes to PRSI including the abolition of the €75,036 ceiling and the increase in the Class S rate are expected to generate close to another €0.1 billion in revenues in 2012 over 2011. Pensions related measures are also expected to generate approximately €0.1 billion more in receipts in 2012 than in 2011.

Other measures such as the increase in the rate of Deposit Interest Retention Tax (DIRT) and reduction in the group tax free Capital Acquisitions Tax thresholds are also expected to deliver a small amount of increased revenues in 2012 over 2011. The estimates of the sums that are expected to be realised from the carry-forward of measures introduced in 2011 will be updated further in the coming weeks in the run-up to Budget 2012.

Departmental Agencies

Michael McGrath

Question:

71 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance in view of the recent issue highlighted in regard to the accounting for the national debt, if the Housing Finance Agency is now entirely funded by the National Treasury Management Agency and does not undertake any short-term debt issuance. [33922/11]

I am informed by the Housing Finance Agency that while some 96% of the Agency's short-term debt is now borrowed from the NTMA (as an agent of the Minister), the Agency raises some short-term debt from other parties. It borrows cash which local authorities and the Environment Fund have available for short-term investment, and also uses a note issuance facility from an Irish bank to manage its short-term cash requirements which arise in the normal course of its day-to-day business. The Agency also has an overdraft facility from an Irish bank, the usage of which currently is minimal. The Agency's overall debt position as at 31 October 2011 is set out in the table.

€million

Short-term debt

Guaranteed Notes funded by the NTMA

3,831

Guaranteed Notes funded by local authorities/the Environment Fund

140

Note issuance facility from a domestic bank

40

4,011

Longer-term debt

Index linked bond

191

Fixed rate stock

95

Loans from supranational banks

83

(European Investment Bank and Council of Europe Bank)

369

Total debt

4,380

Tax Code

Michael McGrath

Question:

72 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the estimated annual saving to the Exchequer from reducing the maximum tax free retirement lump sum from €200,000 to €150,000. [33923/11]

The following arrangements currently apply to retirement lump sums paid under pension arrangements approved by the Revenue Commissioners. Lump sum amounts up to €200,000 are paid free of tax. They are also paid free of USC. The portion of a lump sum between €200,001 and €575,000 is taxed on a ring-fenced basis at 20%. This means that no tax credits or other tax reliefs can be set against this portion of the lump sum. No USC is chargeable. Any amount of a lump sum in excess of €575,000 is taxed at the individual's marginal rate of tax (credits and other tax reliefs are available). In this instance, USC is chargeable on the excess. These amounts are lifetime amounts with prior lump sums aggregating with later lump sums.

I assume from the Deputy's question that he is proposing that retirement lump sums in excess of €150,000 be taxed as outlined above. As there is no general requirement for data on the number of persons who are receiving payments of retirement lump sums of less than €200,000 to be returned to my Department or to the Revenue Commissioners, I am not in a position to provide definitive figures on the Exchequer impact of reducing the tax-free retirement lump sum amount from €200,000 to €150,000

As an exercise that might provide some indication of the scale of the savings involved, it is estimated that just over 3,000 individuals in the public service would be on salaries of over €100,000 and less than €133,500 which, under existing pension scheme arrangements generally applying across the public service, would deliver retirement lump sums of between €150,000 and €200,000. If it is assumed that these individuals would retire in line with retirement trends from the public service in a normal year (about 2.5%), then the additional tax yield from taxing lump sums in excess of €150,000 at 20% could be less than €0.5 m in a full year.

I have no data on which to provide a similar estimate in relation to the private sector. I should point out, however, that one significant difference between public sector and private sector pension schemes is that private sector schemes invariably allow scheme members the option of commuting part of their pension fund for a tax-free lump sum. This option is not available to members of public sector schemes. Depending on the impact of any tax charge on retirement lump sums, the option to commute part of a pension fund may no longer be exercised by private sector pension scheme members or may be exercised in a manner that reduces the value of the lump sum taken to minimise or avoid any immediate tax charge.

Higher Education Grants

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

73 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a determination will be made on an appeal regarding a special rate of maintenance grant in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [33734/11]

My Department understands that the student in question appealed the decision of the grant awarding authority on his student grant application to its appeals officer on 25 October 2011. The grant awarding authority advises that the appeal is currently under consideration and a reply will issue as soon as possible.

Third Level Awards

Terence Flanagan

Question:

74 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will respond to correspondence (details supplied) regarding diplomas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33738/11]

The National Diploma made by DIT Bolton St is a legacy award and is no longer made since the introduction of the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) in 2003, but has been placed at Level 7 of the NFQ. I understand from the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI), which is responsible for the Framework, that the placement of an existing or former award in the framework does not imply that someone holding such an award has achieved all of the outcomes associated with a new, framework-based award-type at the same level. Therefore, while the Ordinary Bachelor Degree is also at Level 7 of the Framework, holders of the National Diploma may not call their award an Ordinary Bachelor Degree. The Qualifications Recognition Service of the NQAI provides advice to individuals, on request, on the comparability of qualifications and their relationship to the NFQ.

The development of more flexible learning opportunities, which would allow adults in the workforce better engage with higher education, is a point that is emphasised in the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030. It recommends realigning the funding model for higher education institutions so that it is neutral in respect of mode of programme delivery (full-time, part-time, on-campus, off-campus). The process of implementing the recommendations in the Strategy has commenced and the implementation Plan for the Strategy is published on my Department's website.

School Staffing

Michael McCarthy

Question:

75 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the adverse consequences that have arisen for several pupils in a school (details supplied) as a result of a decision to suppress two teaching posts there on 25 August; if he will undertake a review of the decision in view the school’s special status as the only stand-alone school which caters exclusively for a unique sub-category of disability; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33740/11]

Michael McGrath

Question:

80 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the reinstatement of two special needs assistant posts withdrawn from a special needs school (details supplied) in County Cork. [33762/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 75 and 80 together.

The Deputy will be aware the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating 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, which now includes a requirement for the NCSE to have regard to an overall cap on the number of SNA posts.

As set out in my Departments Circular 0042/2011, in order for the NCSE to complete the processing of applications for mainstream schools in the first instance, the existing 2010/11 level of SNA supports have been maintained in special schools for the coming school year, other than for schools with declining enrolments, with a review to take place in Autumn of the 11/12 school year. The school referred to by the Deputy has therefore not received a reduction in its SNA staff levels over those applying at the end of the last school year. The review of SNA support at special schools is currently ongoing and I understand that the review of SNA provision at the school referred to by the Deputy will take place in the coming weeks.

In relation to teaching posts, Circular 0042/11 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/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 7 approved class teaching posts, 3 surplus teaching posts and 28 SNAs. The enrolment is 38 pupils, including 9 new children 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 1 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 of SNA support at the school, that 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.

OECD Report

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

76 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the way he responded to a request for data in connection with the OECD education report At a Glance in 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33744/11]

Most of the indicators presented in the OECD's annual publication, Education at a Glance are based on detailed information provided through the "UOE" (UNESCO, OECD and Eurostat) data collection. The UOE data collection consists of a series of detailed questionnaires and data tables covering education expenditure, enrolments, entrants, personnel and graduates and is completed by all OECD countries on an annual basis. My Department is responsible for completing and submitting the Irish questionnaires. This data required is sourced from both within the Department and from external bodies such as FETAC, the HEA and FAS. Some indicators are based on other sources such as the OECD-INES Network for the Collection and Adjudication of System-level descriptive Information on Educational Structures, Policies and Practices (NESLI) and the OECD-INES Network on Labour Market, Economic and Social Outcomes of Learning (LSO) which are also provided by my Department. Other indicators are based on the Labour Force Survey (the Quarterly National Household Survey in the case of Ireland) and the EU-Survey on Income and Living Conditions both of which are provided to the OECD both directly by the Central Statistics Office and via Eurostat.

Special Educational Needs

Martin Ferris

Question:

77 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Education and Skills if home tuition will be granted to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33754/11]

The Deputy will be aware that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible for the provision of a range of educational services at local and national level for students with special educational needs. In particular, its network of Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) coordinates special needs education provision at local level and arranges for the delivery of special educational services. The SENOs act as single points of contact for parents of students with special educational needs.

Another specific function of the SENO is to identify available educational placements for children with special educational needs. SENOs are a valuable source of support to parents who are actively sourcing a placement for their children. The NCSE have been fully engaged in identifying placement options for the child in question. The NCSE has advised my Department that there is a school placement available for this child.

The purpose of the Home Tuition Scheme is to provide a compensatory educational service for children who, for a number of reasons such as chronic illness, are unable to attend school. The scheme was extended in recent years to facilitate tuition for children awaiting a suitable educational placement and also to provide early educational intervention for pre-school children with autism.

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department approved home tuition from the commencement of the current school year until the 28th October 2011 for the child concerned in order to facilitate transitional arrangements for the child to take up a school placement.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

78 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a person (details supplied) in Dublin 13 will receive a home tuition grant or school placement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33760/11]

The Deputy will be aware that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) have been fully engaged in identifying placement options for the child in question. The NCSE has advised my Department that, irrespective of the assessed levels of ability of the child, there are schools placements available for this child. I also understand from my officials that the parents of this child have been advised of their placement options by the NCSE. It is now a matter for the parents of the child concerned to engage with the schools in question and to apply to have their child enrolled to a school.

The purpose of the Home Tuition Scheme is to provide a compensatory educational service for children who are unable to attend school for a number of reasons such as chronic illness, or for whom there are no available placements.

Home tuition was approved for the child in question by my Department from the start of the school year until the end of September 2011 as there was no available placement. Home Tuition was subsequently extended until 14th October 2011, for the purpose of completing the enrolment process. My Department may consider whether there is a requirement to extending this period further to facilitate transitional arrangements, as an exceptional measure, once a school based placement has been accepted by the parents.

Departmental Properties

Robert Troy

Question:

79 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 85 of 2 November 2011, if he has any property leased from the private sector in County Westmeath; if so, the type of property; and the annual rent payable. [33761/11]

I wish to advise the Deputy that I do not have any property leased directly from the private sector in County Westmeath.

Question No. 80 answered with No. 75.

Departmental Funding

Paschal Donohoe

Question:

81 Deputy Paschal Donohoe asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will review the decision taken by the previous Administration to withdraw support grants from Church of Ireland secondary schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33764/11]

The particular funding for the schools referred to by the Deputy was withdrawn with effect from 1 January 2009 due to real concerns about the constitutionality of making grants available to fee-charging schools of one ethos and not to those of another. The Constitution specifically states that the State shall not discriminate against one religion in favour of another.

There are 26 distinctively Protestant schools, of which 20 charge fees. Many of the schools have a boarding facility, reflecting the dispersed nature of the communities across the country. The six Protestant schools within the free education scheme receive the same funding as all other schools within the free education system.

This Government recognises the importance of ensuring that students from a Protestant or reformed church background can attend a school that reflects their denominational ethos while at the same time ensuring that funding arrangements are in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

With regard to the fee-charging Protestant schools, an arrangement exists whereby funding is paid to the Secondary Education Committee, an organisation run by the churches involved in managing the schools. The Secondary Education Committee then disburses funds to the Protestant fee-charging schools on behalf of pupils who would otherwise have difficulty with the cost of boarding fees and who, in the absence of such financial support, would be unable to attend a second level school of a reformed church or Protestant ethos. Funding amounts to €6.5 million annually. In addition to this funding, teachers employed within the approved annual staffing allocation granted by my Department in fee-charging schools are paid by the State; an arrangement that pre-dates the introduction of free education arrangements and which has existed since the foundation of the State. The estimated cost of these posts in 2011 is in the order of €100 million. I am already on record as saying that this is not a simple matter as these arrangements, which are historic and of long standing impact upon a substantial number of schools which cater for religious minorities.

Training Programmes

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

82 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a training centre (details supplied) in Dublin 17; if training courses will only now be available for participants at a centre in Tallaght, Dublin 24; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33770/11]

The centre referred to is a Senior Traveller Training Centre (STTC) managed by County Dublin Vocational Education Committee (VEC). In line with the Traveller Education Strategy and the 2008 Value for Money (VFM) Review of Youthreach and STTCs, it was announced in Budget 2011 that an integrated further education provision for Travellers would be implemented through the phasing out of STTCs by June 2012.

I understand that County Dublin VEC has decided to close this centre as part of the implementation of the phasing out process and that the learners are being given the opportunity of continuing their education at another STTC in Tallaght which is also managed by County Dublin VEC. It should be noted that all Further Education programmes have always been, and will continue to be, open to Travellers.

Third Level Charges

Terence Flanagan

Question:

83 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will respond to correspondence regarding the student contribution charge and the maintenance grant from an organisation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33771/11]

As the Deputy will be aware, the reality of our economic situation presents significant challenges that have to be reconciled with limitations on public resources. Ireland must adhere to its agreed economic recovery programme in order to reduce the budget deficit to 3% of GDP by 2015 and to restore our independence. This will mean that forthcoming budgets will involve further adjustments in taxation and public spending. Regrettably, education cannot be spared from this adjustment as the size of the challenge is so large. This is the unfortunate legacy caused by the reckless economic management of the previous Fianna Fáil — Green Party Government.

I am very conscious of the fundamental role played by the free fees and student grant schemes in supporting families who are putting their children through further and higher education and I understand their concerns at the measures announced in Budget 2011 by the previous government.

I will take account of those concerns in considering any future changes to the schemes as part of the budgetary process for 2012 and beyond, having regard to the position of the public finances. A sustainability study is currently being undertaken by the Higher Education Authority which will make recommendations to the Minister for Education and Skills shortly. I expect that the final report will be available in the next few weeks and will help inform the Government's decision-making as to the range of decisions that will be announced in December's Budget.

The Deputy will also be aware that 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 funding allocations for the coming years. In this context, the Deputy will appreciate that in line with normal practice I am unable to comment on future savings options during the budgetary deliberative process.

School Enrolments

Finian McGrath

Question:

84 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason pupils attending a school (details supplied) in Dublin 9 are not allowed to attend the local secondary school next door; and if he will assist these pupils and their families as a matter of urgency. [33809/11]

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

Under section 15(2)(d) of the Education Act, 1998, each school is legally obliged to disclose its enrolment policy and to ensure that as regards that policy that principles of equality and the right of parents to send their children to a school of the parents choice are respected. Section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 provides for an appeal by a parent or guardian to the Secretary General of my Department, or in the case of a Vocational Educational Committee (VEC) school to the VEC in the first instance, where a Board of Management of a school, or a person acting on behalf of the Board, refuses to enrol a student in a school, expels a student or suspends a student for 20 or more days in any school year. My Department has no authority to compel a school to admit a pupil, except in the case of an appeal under section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 being upheld.

The parents/guardians of the pupils in question may wish to contact my Department at the Section 29 Unit Friars Mill Road, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, (phone 044 9337008) if they wish to take an appeal under section 29 of the Education Act, 1998.

The National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) is the statutory agency which can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child. The NEWB may be able to offer assistance and advice on securing a school placement within the pupil's area. The contact details for the NEWB in your area is National Educational Welfare Board, Block 3 Floor 1, Grove Court, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15, phone number 01-8103260.

Schools Building Projects

Catherine Byrne

Question:

85 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a school building project (details supplied) which stalled due to the builder going into receivership; when building will recommence; the persons contracted to complete these works; the current completion date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33831/11]

Officials in my Department are liaising with the relevant stakeholders in relation to the appointment of a completion contractor. Subject to no issues arising, it is envisaged that construction will re-commence before the end of this year.

School Staffing

Brendan Smith

Question:

86 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of special needs assistants employed in 1997; the number employed in February 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33837/11]

The Deputy will be aware of this Government's commitment to the protection of frontline services for pupils with special educational needs. 10,575 whole time equivalent (WTE) Special Needs Assistant (SNA) posts are being provided for primary, post-primary and special schools for the coming school year in order to support the care needs of pupils with disabilities.

The specific information requested by the Deputy in relation to the number of SNAs employed as at February 2011 is not readily available, however, the most recent available figures show that as at January 2011 there were 10,543 WTE SNA posts in place, compared with just 300 posts in 1997.

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 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 advised all mainstream schools of their SNA allocations for the 2011/12 school year and 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 at www.ncse.ie.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Brendan Smith

Question:

87 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the average class size in 1997; the average class size in February 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33838/11]

The average class size at primary level in the 1997/98 school year was 26.1. The latest available class size data refers to the 2010/11 school year and was 23.9. The source of this data is the Annual Census of Primary Schools. Average class size is not available at post-primary level.

School Staffing

Brendan Smith

Question:

88 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of teachers employed in 1997; the number employed in February 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33839/11]

The Statistics Section of my Department's website contains extensive information relating to the number of teaching posts in schools. The figures for the 1996-1997 school year show that there were 44,273 teaching posts in primary and post primary schools. The comparative figure for the 2010-2011 school year is 58,674 teaching posts.

State Examinations

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

89 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the programme for Government commitment to make science compulsory for the junior certificate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33843/11]

I have endorsed the broad thrust of the proposals on junior cycle reform submitted to me by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment in October 2011 following an extensive consultation process. They are underpinned by 24 statements of learning which all students will be expected to achieve, either through the study of subjects or short courses. I have asked my officials to begin discussions on implementation with the partners in education.

What is proposed is a general framework which is a first step in the reform process, and the detailed implications have yet to be considered. The question of whether science will be compulsory will be discussed by my officials with the partners in education as part of consideration of the implementation issues.

At present science is studied by 90% of the cohort in junior cycle. While the importance of science in the knowledge society is fully appreciated, other factors have also to be considered such as the importance of curriculum choice in encouraging increased retention rates, the need to cater for a diverse range of interests in schools, and to avoid an erosion of the practical subjects, particularly for weaker students.

Schools Refurbishment

Jack Wall

Question:

90 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a restoration project (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33860/11]

My Department has requested the assistance of the Office of Public Works (OPW) in relation to the proposed restoration of the property referred to by the Deputy. I am advised that the OPW has tendered for the services of a conservation architect and this appointment will be made soon. The brief for the restoration of the building will take account of a number of relevant factors including architectural and heritage considerations and any likely future use of the property after restoration.

FÁS Training Programmes

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

91 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the provision FÁS has for including or compensating private training firms which lose pupils to FÁS when FÁS starts to offer a competing training course in an area for free over their own course; if such a scheme exists; the way FÁS ensures that a training course is not already available in an area before it develops a training course in that area; if it would be more financially viable for FÁS to pay for pupils to be enrolled in the private course as opposed to developing new courses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33880/11]

Over the past three years Government policy has re-focussed the resources and work of FÁS from training for the employed to training for the many newly unemployed persons and jobseekers who come to FÁS seeking assistance. Consequently, the primary client group of FÁS Training Services are unemployed persons, many of whom cannot afford the costs associated with taking up a place on a private training course. In this regard it is not and never has been the intention of FÁS to compete with private training providers. I understand that FÁS Training Services Division has contracted with many private sector training providers to deliver a substantial volume of training to a diverse range of FÁS clients. FÁS Training Services Division is constantly developing new employment-led training programmes and services to address the career and employment aspirations of a range of unemployed persons. These new training initiatives are often piloted by private training providers. Private training providers who are on the FÁS Contracted Training List are available to be invited to tender for the provision of contracted training courses as the need for particular courses arise.

In addition, on occasions, where a FÁS training course is not deemed to be a suitable option, the Technical Employment Support Grant (TESG) may be available to fund clients to undertake training not provided by FÁS or another state body, in the context of an agreed Career Action Plan.

School Staffing

Terence Flanagan

Question:

92 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will outline the teacher cuts he plans for the next four years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33901/11]

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

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

Departmental Expenditure

Brendan Smith

Question:

93 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the total level of funding to be provided this year to fee-paying second level schools, itemising current and capital expenditure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33931/11]

As the Deputy may be aware, there are 55 fee-charging schools in the State. Fee-charging schools do not receive capitation grants or related supports.

The only current funding provided to fee-charging schools by my Department in 2011 is the Assistive Technology grant for students with particular special educational needs. Almost €16,000 was paid to fee-charging schools in respect of this grant to date this year (as at 9 November 2011).

The total amount of capital funding provided to fee-charging schools this year, up to 9 November, is €1.9m. It must be noted that this is less than 0.4% of the entire 491m capital budget for education in 2011.

In addition to this funding, teachers employed within the approved annual staffing allocation granted by my Department in fee-charging schools are paid by the State; an arrangement that pre-dates the introduction of free education arrangements and which has existed since the foundation of the state. The estimated cost of these posts in 2011 is in the order of €100m. I am already on record as saying that this is not a simple matter as these arrangements, which are historic and of long standing, impact upon a substantial number of schools which cater for religious minorities.

Riachtanais Teanga

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

94 D’fhiafraigh Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Caiteachais Phoiblí agus Athchóirithe cé na riachtanais teanga a bhain le post sealadach a fháil mar threoraí nó oibrí in Ionaid Oidhreachta Gaeltachta, Ghallarais, Dhún Aonghasa agus Theach an Phiarsaigh i mbliana; an raibh cumas sa Ghaeilge riachtanach; an bhfuil sé i gceist polasaí teanga a bheith ann an bhliain seo chugainn; má tá, an dtabharfaidh sé sonraí an pholasaí; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [33727/11]

I 2011, chuir an tSeirbhís Oidhreachta den OOP Seirbhísí Treoracha ar fáil trí mheán na Gaeilge ag na trí láithreacha — Gallaras, Dún Aonghasa agus Teach an Phiarsaigh. Is í an Ghaeilge an teanga oibre laethúil sna h-ionaid sin agus mar sin tá cumas sa teanga chun déileáil le haon riachtanais Ghaeilge a tharlaíonn riachtanach do na treoraithe.

Flood Relief

Tom Fleming

Question:

95 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will investigate the Collawa river, Rathmore, County Kerry, a tributary of the River Blackwater, as it is subject to intermittent flooding affecting adjacent landowners on its banks and households on the Railway Road; and if he will make emergency funding available to dredge the section of river from the Bridge Bar to where it enters the Blackwater. [33779/11]

The Office of Public Works has no maintenance responsibility for the channel in question. However, the OPW advised Kerry County Council earlier this year that it was open to the Council to identify feasible mitigation proposals to address the problem and submit a funding application to this Office under the Minor Flood Mitigation Works Scheme. Any application received would be considered having regard to the scheme criteria and the overall availability of resources for flood risk management. This remains the position.

Civil Service Staff

John Lyons

Question:

96 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the arrangements in place regarding established civil servants wishing to take career breaks; the periods when these career breaks may be taken; his plans to amend this scheme or introduce an incentivised career break scheme; his plans to reintroduce the early retirement scheme making it available to those under the age of 50 years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33849/11]

The current arrangements in place regarding established civil servants wishing to take a career break are set out in civil service circular no. 18/98 — Special leave without pay for career breaks — and were amended in a letter to Personnel Officers of 3 March 2008 — available on www.personnelcode.gov.ie. This scheme allows for established civil servants, who have satisfactorily completed two years’ continuous service, to apply for special leave without pay for a career break, provided they have not reached retirement age and the duration of a career break may not extend beyond retirement age.

A career break consists of special leave without pay for a period of not less than six months and not more than five years. A career break may be extended by periods of six months or more up to a period of five years.

Eligible staff may, in general, avail of two career breaks in the Civil Service. The maximum limit of two career breaks may be waived at the discretion of the head of Department, provided the total period of special leave does not exceed ten years in total.

In relation to the Special Civil Service Incentive Career Break Scheme, this scheme was introduced as a once-off measure in the Supplementary Budget on 7 April 2009. The measure was extended to staff in different areas of the public service, including the local government sector and the HSE. The closing date for participation in this scheme has expired and I have no plans to extend the scheme at this time.

I have no plans to introduce a general exit package such as early retirement.

Expenditure Reviews

Michael McGrath

Question:

97 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the estimated carry forward from 2011 of current expenditure reductions and the way that this will impact the requirement for €1.45 billion in new current expenditure reductions highlighted in the medium term fiscal statement. [33921/11]

The programme measures announced in Budget 2011 were designed to yield an additional level of savings in 2012 of just over €80 million. The 2011 Budget also included a multi-annual Employment Control Framework through which public pay bill savings can be achieved over a number of years by reducing public sector staffing numbers. Achievement of savings is predicated on numerous further policy decisions at Departmental and Agency level to adhere to the agreed aggregate ceilings.

Public Service Remuneration

Terence Flanagan

Question:

98 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding December’s budget; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33889/11]

As the Deputy is aware my colleague, the Minister for Finance will introduce the Budget in early December, and I am not in a position to pre-empt what will be contained in that Budget.

Pay rates in the public service have already been reduced by up to 15% and a progressive pension related reduction applied through the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Acts of 2009. More recently, the Government accepted my proposals to introduce a general pay ceiling of €200,000 for future appointments to higher positions across the public service, a general pay ceiling of €250,000 forfuture 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.

Under the Joint Programme of Assistance the Government is committed to continued falls in the overall cost of the public service pay bill. This will be achieved through planned reductions in the numbers of public servants as set out in the Programme for Government and through greater efficiencies in the way in which public services are delivered.

Michael McGrath

Question:

99 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the cost in 2011 of payment of public service pay increments. [33916/11]

Increments within the Public Service vary in terms of timing, cost and application both within and across the various sectors of the Public Service and estimates of cost are of necessity, tentative.

It has been estimated that the annual cost in a full year of increments would be around €250 million. However, significantly reduced recruitment and higher numbers on the maxima of scales will mean that this cost will reduce in the coming years and will be affected by other factors. These include retirements, voluntary redundancies, number reductions, recruitment rates and the numbers of employees reaching the maximum of the scale, which cannot be quantified.

No specific provision is made in the financial allocations to public service bodies as they are required to meet the cost within their allocations.

Suspending increments would affect some public servants but would have no effect on others. Generally, incremental scales are longer for lower paid than for higher. Accordingly a higher proportion of lower paid including front line staff would be affected by a suspension of increments.

Trade Missions

Willie O'Dea

Question:

100 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will provide a list of trade missions undertaken by him from 1 January 2010 to date in 2011; the number of jobs secured on each mission; the total investment secured on each mission; the total cost to the Exchequer of each mission in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33731/11]

Since being appointed Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in March last, to date I have undertaken a total of 5 Missions abroad. These have been either Trade Missions, leading client companies of Enterprise Ireland in support of their export drive in foreign markets, or Investment Missions, in support of IDA Ireland's work in attracting Foreign Direct Investment to this country. In addition, the Minister for Small Business, Deputy John Perry T.D., led one Trade Mission, to Australia.

The details requested are set out in the table. In the case of the Investment Missions, it is not possible to establish a direct relationship between the number of jobs created or investment secured in any one year to discussions/marketing undertaken in that year. The business of FDI generation is a complex process that takes place over a period of time and is not necessarily completed immediately following the Investment Mission.

The issue of jobs secured or total investment secured does not arise at all in the case of Trade Missions. These are intended to open opportunities to generate exporter connections in the case of new exporters or to help established exporters build on existing export success and so the benefits flowing from such missions are realised over time. The continued strong interest from companies in participating demonstrates clearly the value they place on trade missions.

Date

Location

Type of Mission

Net Cost to Exchequer

14-15 April

London

Trade

€450

16-21 April

India/Saudi Arabia

Trade

€60,389

12-17 June

USA (West Coast)

Investment

€15,116

10- 17 Sept.

Australia

Trade

€46,800

18-23 Sept.

USA (Southern States)

Trade

€64,312

30 Oct.-4 Nov.

USA (East Coast)

Investment

Exact cost not yet finalised

Industrial Relations

Willie O'Dea

Question:

101 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will provide an update on negotiations between management and unions at a company (details supplied); if contingency measures are being put in place in view of threatened strike action; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33732/11]

On 19 October last, Aviva announced its proposal to combine Aviva Ireland with Aviva UK to form a new UK and Ireland Region. In addition, Aviva announced its intention to restructure its European regional operations to strengthen the business and create a leaner cost base.

According to Aviva, both these proposed initiatives could result in a total reduction of up to 950 posts in Ireland over two years, subject to consultation, comprising 180 posts from Aviva Europe and 770 from Aviva Ireland.

However, the company has also said that it would investigate the feasibility of establishing additional centres of excellence in Ireland and as other elements of its business grow, job losses could be mitigated by some 200.

Aviva has stated that any proposed structural changes in the Irish business are not expected to begin to take effect before March 2012 and the company anticipates that it could take up to two years for a new structure to come into full effect. I understand no announcements on Irish job numbers will be made in 2011.

Arising from a number of complaints that I have received from Aviva workers, I wrote to the Chief Executive of Aviva Ireland to ascertain the steps being taken by the company with regard to engagement with staff on their restructuring proposals. I have been informed by Aviva that it is committed to providing weekly updates to all employees regarding the progress the company is making on the business transformation proposals. The first update was communicated last week and the company will continue to provide updates in the coming weeks and provide employee support through its line management and HR department.

I have also been informed that the company has entered into formal consultation with the trade union Unite regarding the pan-European dimension of the proposed restructuring of its European regional operations and that it will continue to engage with employees and their representatives in this regard.

The company has indicated that it will endeavour to achieve as many of the potential redundancies as possible through voluntary means. However, I understand that workers at Aviva have recently voted to take industrial action if the company moves to implement its proposals before agreement is reached with staff.

The services of the industrial relations machinery of the State are available to assist both sides in their negotiations, if required.

Registry of Friendly Societies

Thomas Pringle

Question:

102 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will list the name and address of each society registered by the Registry of Friendly Societies under the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts 1893-1978 which have failed to file an annual return for the year 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33784/11]

I am aware a number of Industrial and Provident societies have failed to file an annual return to the Registry of Friendly Societies for the year 2010.

The initiation of enforcement action for failing to file an annual return is a matter for the Registrar of Friendly Societies, and I am aware 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.

Employment Rights

Patrick Deering

Question:

103 Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of inspections that have been carried out by the National Employment Rights Authority on public sector contract work in 2010 and to date in 2011; the number of cases of non-compliance of REA conditions that were found; and the action taken against the contractors and sub contractors who were found to be non compliant. [33788/11]

The table gives details of NERA inspections and their outcomes for the Construction and Electrical REA's for 2010 and 2011 to date. It should be noted that the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) records details in respect of employers inspected in various sectors, including construction and electrical but it does not record details in respect of individual employers who may, as part of their overall business, have also been engaged in public contract work.

Legislation

Cases

Compliance Level %

Unpaid Wages Recovered

2010

Construction

407

56%

213,297

Electrical

40

60%

51,946

Totals

447

56%

265,243

To October 2011

Construction

348

59%

257,706

Electrical

45

53%

17,156

Totals

393

58%

274,862

NERA aims to achieve voluntary compliance. However, some employers either refuse or fail to rectify the breaches identified and/or pay money due to their employees. These employers are referred for prosecution.

To date in 2011 NERA has taken 1 prosecution under the REA for the electrical sector. In 2010 NERA took 4 prosecutions under the REA for the electrical sector and 11 under the REA for the construction sector. In the course of 2010 NERA established a dedicated team to carry out inspections on major capital public construction projects.

Community Employment Schemes

Simon Harris

Question:

104 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Social Protection the eligibility criteria for community employment scheme places for persons under 25 years of age; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33735/11]

The purpose of Community Employment is primarily about developing the skills base and work readiness of individuals who are unemployed for long periods so that they can re-enter the workforce or pursue other training opportunities. The criteria for participating on community employment, and similar initiatives, have not, in general, encompassed young people and those still attending places of education. Persons aged 18 and older are eligible for community employment where they are in receipt of certain Social Protection payments such as Disability Allowance, Blind Pension and Invalidity Pension or if they are Travellers, refugees, residents of off-shore islands, ex-offenders or referred by the Probation Service or Drugs Task Force.

As with all programmes and schemes, Community Employment will be considered in the context of the Comprehensive Expenditure Review which is currently being finalised and may be affected by decisions made by the Government in its determination of the conclusion of that review. Additionally, I have already indicated that I will be looking at all programmes and schemes supporting those who are unemployed to see if they can be made more responsive to the needs of people who are unemployed.

I would like to draw the Deputy's attention to JobBridge, the national internship scheme, that was announced as part of the Jobs Initiative, which is open to any person aged 18 or over meeting the eligibility criteria.

Redundancy Payments

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

105 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a redundancy claim in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wexford; if she will expedite the claim; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33745/11]

A Redundancy Lump sum claim in respect of the person concerned was received on 27 September, 2011. Redundancy Lump sum claims received at the end of April 2011 are currently being processed.

Social Welfare Benefits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

106 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will issue in respect of an application for invalidity pension in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33748/11]

Invalidity pension is a payment for people who are permanently incapable of work because of illness or incapacity and who satisfy the contribution conditions. This Department received an application for invalidity pension for the person concerned. While he satisfies the contribution conditions for invalidity pension, his suitability on medical grounds has yet to be decided. The medical evidence is currently being examined by a medical assessor. Entitlement to invalidity pension will be considered further in light of the medical assessor's report and he will be notified shortly of the decision.

Redundancy Payments

Willie O'Dea

Question:

107 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 80 of 3 November 2011, in which she states that no claim appears to have been submitted regarding redundancy payments in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick, this Deputy can confirm that forms RP50 were indeed received by the relevant Department; if she will advise when this statutory payment will be issued; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33769/11]

A claim in respect of the person concerned was received on 2 August 2011. I apologise for the incorrect information provided in my earlier reply to the Deputy. Claims received at the end of April 2011 are now being processed.

Social Welfare Benefits

Jack Wall

Question:

108 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for carer’s allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33781/11]

I confirm that an application for carer's allowance has been received from the person concerned. On completion of the necessary investigations relating to all aspect of her claim a decision will be made and the person in question 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.

Redundancy Payments

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

109 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Social Protection when staff of a company (details supplied) can expect to receive redundancy payment from the social insurance fund; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33783/11]

Redundancy Lump sum claims in respect of the people concerned were received in my Department on 3 August, 2011. Redundancy Lump sum claims received at the end of April 2011 are currently being processed.

Question No. 110 withdrawn.

Alan Farrell

Question:

111 Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Dublin can expect to receive their statutory redundancy payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33834/11]

A Redundancy Lump sum claim in respect of the person concerned was received in my Department on 26 May, 2011. Redundancy Lump sum claims received at the end of April 2011 are currently being processed.

Pension Provisions

Barry Cowen

Question:

112 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection the payment rates of all State pensions in 1997; the rate at the start of 2011; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33836/11]

There are three categories of State pension: State pension (transition) (SPT); State pension (contributory) (SPC); and State pension (non-contributory) (SPNC).

Maximum Rates of Payment — State Pensions 1997 and 2011

Year

State Pension (Transition) and State Pension (Contributory)

State Pension (Non-Contributory)

1997

99.06

85.73

2011

230.30

219.00

In 1997 these schemes were known as retirement pension, old age (contributory) pension and old age (non-contributory) pension respectively. From 1997 to 2009 (the last year in which the pension rates increased) the rate of pensions increased by 232%. The State pension (contributory) rate is 35% of average weekly earnings.

Community Services Programme

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

113 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Social Protection if, in view of the large number of excellent community facilities built in the country between 1997 and 2010, and the need to ensure these are used to the best advantage of communities and the large number of persons on the live register, if she intends expanding the community services programme in the near future; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33871/11]

The Community Services Programme is designed to address locally identified gaps in the provision of services and to exploit the potential of community assets and resources to improve community well-being. The programme co-funds the services delivered by some 430 community based not-for-profit enterprises across the State. The financial allocation for the programme in 2011 is €47.4m. It is estimated that 2,800 people are directly supported in full and part-time employment with funding provided by the programme. A key requirement of the programme is that service providers must generate a significant element of their funding requirement from non-public sources. My Department continues to accept expressions of interest from service providers where they consider the programme has a role in supporting their operations. Consideration of an open call for new proposals can only be made when the funding position for the programme for 2012 is determined in the context of the forthcoming budget.

Community Schemes

Terence Flanagan

Question:

114 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Social Protection his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding clean up of communities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33905/11]

My Department currently provides funding for inter alia, the rural social scheme (RSS), Tús and community employment (CE). The nature of the work that can be undertaken varies depending on specific locally, and can include town, village and countryside enhancement projects and environmental maintenance work. Practically all types of community based work can be undertaken, provided it does not displace or duplicate existing public or private sector employment or service delivery. The relevant local Implementing Body has responsibility for the day-to-day operation of each scheme and the co-ordination of works of an environmental nature with local authorities.

It is open to all interested community groups to approach their local Implementing Body with viable proposals for projects within their area of interest and to make a case for the provision of participants to carry out identified tasks.

Pension Provisions

Barry Cowen

Question:

115 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection the payment rates of all State pensions in 1997; the rate at the start of 2011; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33908/11]

The following tabular statement includes welfare rates in 2011 for State Pension schemes, with increases for qualified children and adults, and the same in 1997. Retirement Pension was renamed State Pension (Transition) in 2006, with recipients aged over 66 automatically moving to State Pension (Contributory).

Rates of Payment of State Pension Schemes, 1997 and 2011

Rates of Payment 1997

Increase for Qualified Adult

Increase for Qualified Child

Scheme

Personal Rate

Aged under 66

Aged over 66

Full Rate

Half Rate

£

£

£

£

£

State Pension (Contributory)

78.00

51.00

55.40

15.20

7.60

Retirement Pension

78.00

51.00

55.40

15.20

7.60

Pre-Retirement Allowance*

67.50

40.00

13.20

6.60

State pension (Non-Contributory)

67.50

40.00

13.20

6.60

*Pre-Retirement Allowance was abolished for all new customers from 4th July 2007

Rates of Payment 2011

Increase for Qualified Adult

Increase for Qualified Child

Scheme

Personal Rate

Aged under 66

Aged over 66

Full Rate

Half Rate

£

£

£

£

£

State Pension (Contributory)

230.30

153.50

206.30

29.80

14.90

State Pension (Transition)

230.30

153.50

206.30

29.80

14.90

State pension (Non-Contributory)

219.00

144.70

29.80

14.90

Pre-Retirement Allowance*

188.00

124.80

29.80

14.90

*Pre-Retirement Allowance was abolished for all new customers from 4th July 2007

Social Welfare Benefits

Michael McGrath

Question:

116 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of households on cumulative welfare support payments of greater than €30,000, €40,000 and €50,000 respectively. [33915/11]

The information requested by the Deputy is not available.

Conservation and Heritage Areas

Thomas Pringle

Question:

117 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if a compulsory purchase order overrides a special area of conservation, special protection area, EU habitats and bird directives making them null and void; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33756/11]

I am advised that the transfer of the ownership of a property, whether by compulsory purchase order or other means, would not alter its status as a Special Area of Conservation or as a Special Protection Area under the Birds and Habitats Directives.

Finian McGrath

Question:

118 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if a statutory instrument has been put in place for each of the 413 Irish sites contained in Commission decision of 7 December 2004 which designated each of these sites as sites of community importance and to give the timeframe during which these statutory instruments were put in place. [33766/11]

Finian McGrath

Question:

120 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if any further sites have been designated as sites of community importance since 2004; if so, the dates of these decisions, the location of the sites and the details of the statutory instruments implementing the designations. [33768/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 118 and 120 together.

Ireland's suite of Sites of Community Importance, as adopted by the European Commission, extends to 423 sites. Four sites were proposed for designation since 2004 and this occurred in June 2006. These marine sites, off the west coast, are listed as follows:

002327Belgica Mound ProvincecSAC

002328Hovland Mound ProvincecSAC

002329South-West Porcupine BankcSAC

002330North-West Porcupine BankcSAC

Following adoption of a Site of Community Importance by the Commission, Member States must proceed to complete the formal process designating the sites as Special Areas of Conservation. In Ireland, this will be done by making a statutory instrument for each site. This process is due to commence shortly and to be completed by the end of next year. It does not affect the legal protection afforded to the sites.

Finian McGrath

Question:

119 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will give the timeframe during which the designation of special protection areas and natural heritage areas in Ireland were finalised. [33767/11]

The designation of Ireland's suite of Special Protection Areas (SPAs) is almost complete. Some 152 SPAs, of an eventual network of 153 sites, have already been classified in accordance with the terms of the Birds Directive, as clarified by the European Court of Justice in its judgment against Ireland in case 418/04. The remaining site will be classified in the coming weeks. The designation process for our suite of SPAs will be completed with the making of a Statutory Instrument for each site and I expect this task to be completed next year.

In addition, between 2003 and 2005, some 155 sites throughout the country were designated by Statutory Instrument as Natural Heritage Areas. When the designation of our suite of SPAs and Special Areas of Conservation is complete, my Department will begin a review of previously proposed Natural Heritage Areas to consider their designation, as appropriate, under the Wildlife Acts.

Question No. 120 answered with Question No. 118.

Telecommunications Services

Sandra McLellan

Question:

121 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the efforts he has made in conjunction with other Departments to ensure the provision of appropriate broadband services for small and medium tourist businesses, particularly in rural areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33412/11]

The electronic communications market is, and has been since its liberalisation, a commercial competitive market. Thus, the provision of services, including broadband, is a matter for those private sector service providers, regulated by the independent regulator, the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg). The Government only intervenes in cases of market failure.

Between the significant private and public sector investments over recent years all areas of the country now have access to at least a basic broadband service.

The Government accepts that the widespread availability of next generation broadband is a key requirement in delivering future economic and social development.

Under the NewERA proposals in the Programme for Government, there is a commitment to co-invest with the private sector and commercial Semi State sector to provide Next Generation Broadband customer access to every home and business in the State.

In June of this year I established the Next Generation Broadband Taskforce, which I chair and which also comprises the CEOs of all of the major telecommunications companies currently operating in the Irish market and the CEOs of some Internet Service Provider companies. The purpose of the Taskforce is to discuss the optimal policy environment required to facilitate the investment in and provision of high speed broadband across Ireland.

The Taskforce, and four Working Groups reporting to it, are considering issues such as appropriate targets in terms of speed and service, potential barriers to investment, spectrum policy issues and possible demand stimulation measures aimed at increasing overall Internet usage.

The Taskforce is scheduled to complete its work in December next and I hope to be in a position to bring forward proposals to Government in early 2012 aimed at ensuring the timely investment in next generation broadband networks.

Offshore Exploration

Terence Flanagan

Question:

122 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will respond to correspondence (details supplied) regarding gas fields; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33736/11]

A finding from a research study sponsored by my Department estimated that there could be a total reserve potential in the order of ten billion barrels of oil equivalent in the frontier basins west of Ireland. This figure is simply an estimate of unproven potential, derived from an assessment of the scale of acreage, the state of knowledge of offshore geology and experience elsewhere. It is not a detailed estimate based on comprehensive survey and exploration drilling of Ireland's Atlantic offshore. Actual reserve figures are likely to vary widely from these estimates and will not be known without a dramatic increase in the level of exploration activity. In fact, Ireland's proven commercial reserves to date are estimated at 0.5 billion barrels and more than half of this has already been exploited.

The only commercial discoveries of hydrocarbons made in the Irish offshore to date are the three producing gas fields in the Kinsale area, along with the Corrib gas field, which is currently being developed off the coast of Mayo. There have been no commercial discoveries of oil.

In relation to the onshore, my Department in February of this year granted Licensing Options to two companies over parts of the North West Carboniferous or Lough Allen Basin. The Licensing Options are designed to allow the companies assess the natural gas potential of the acreage largely based on desktop studies of existing seismic and well data. This potential had been identified in earlier exploration, but was not considered to be commercially viable. It is too early to conclude whether or not these authorisations will proceed to the exploration licence stage let alone to anticipate a commercial discovery that would potentially lead to a petroleum production project.

In relation to royalties, Ireland followed the lead of other countries such as the UK and Norway and moved away from a royalty based payments system to a tax based system in 1987. Under a tax based system the return to the State is linked directly to the profitability of the oil or gas field compared to a royalty based system where payments are linked to the volume of production and take no account of differences in development cost or actual profitability.

A comprehensive review of Ireland fiscal terms for oil and gas exploration and development was carried out in 2007. The review, which was underpinned by independent economic analysis, considered the appropriateness of Ireland's licensing terms in comparison to other European countries that Ireland competes with for exploration investment. The outcome of that review was the introduction of a profit resource rent tax, of between 5% and 15% that will apply in the case of more profitable fields. The profit resource rent tax would be payable in addition to the standard petroleum corporate tax of 25%.

Ireland competes with other countries, both in Europe and much further afield, to attract mobile international exploration investment. To that end, it is important that Ireland maintains a licensing regime that appropriately reflects both the risks and rewards of investing in petroleum exploration in the Irish offshore, relative to investing in exploration in other jurisdictions. Ireland's petroleum taxation rate is deliberately pitched at a level that is consistent with countries such as France, Portugal and Spain, who, like Ireland, have limited petroleum production, rather than with major petroleum producers such as Norway or the UK.

Cyber Security

Clare Daly

Question:

123 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if there exists a national cyber strategy; and if so, will a copy be made available to the public under freedom of information. [33782/11]

I assume that the Deputy is referring to a National Cyber Security Strategy. My Department is in the process of developing strategies in relation to cyber security and it my intention to publish a high level cyber strategy document in 2012.

Energy Conservation

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

124 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his policy regarding reversible tariffs or smart meters for households and other micro generators of wind power; if he intends instructing the Commission for Energy Regulation to ensure such a facility is available to micro-producers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33870/11]

Smart meters facilitate energy efficiency by providing consumers with more detailed, accurate and timely information regarding their energy consumption and costs, thus helping consumers reduce any unnecessary energy usage and shift any discretionary electricity usage away from peak consumption times.

The traditional electricity meter is not capable of operating in reverse and as a result is incapable of giving credit for electricity exported to the grid. A smart meter can measure the consumption of energy, and can transmit data using a form of electronic communication. A key feature of a smart meter is the ability to provide bidirectional communication between the consumer and the supplier/operator.

The Commission for Energy Regulation (CER), is overseeing the national programme to develop smart meters working with my Department, ESB Networks and Bord Gáis Éireann. Pilot trials are under way and a comprehensive cost benefit analysis has been completed, which quantifies the benefits for consumers and the energy system.

Micro-scale electricity generators seeking to export excess generation to the grid would require smart meters. ESB has been operating a micro-generation feed-in-tariff scheme under certain conditions for the domestic sector for a number of years, with 387 signed up to date. The available tariff is 19c Kwh, made up of a 10cent Kwh tariff offered by ESB Networks and a 9cent Kwh tariff offered by ESB Customer Supply. No other supply companies have chosen to introduce a tariff to date, although it is open to them to do so.

A number of years ago, when the scheme was announced, ESB Networks announced that an import/export meter would be provided to the first 4000 micro-generation installations countrywide over 3 years. To date, the take-up rate is under 10%.

The Programme for Government commits to the introduction of a microgeneration feed-in-tariff at a tariff rate that will not be significantly above single energy market (SEM) price for electricity. The experience from the ESB tariff (at 19c Kwh) as well as from studies undertaken by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) are that a tariff not significantly above the SEM price (currently around €7.2 Kwh) would be unlikely to stimulate take-up of microgeneration.

I will shortly be considering advice from SEAI and my Department on the costed options for encouraging microgeneration with a view to determining appropriate directions not least in the present budgetary circumstances. In the meantime, with regard to smart meters, I understand that the CER is shortly due to issue a public consultation seeking views on smart metering and a potential national rollout. There will be an opportunity for all those interested, including microgenerators, to make the case as part of that consultation as to their views on any future rollout programme.

Energy Prices

Michael McCarthy

Question:

125 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his policy in respect of micro-generation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33927/11]

The Programme for Government commits to the provision of a feed in tariff for micro-generators producing electricity for their own homes, farms and businesses and selling surplus electricity to the grid. The programme also states that the tariff will not be significantly above the single energy market price for electricity.

A number of activities in recent years have supported microgeneration. These have been the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) pilot microgeneration programme instigated in 2009 and comprising 42 installations and the microgeneration feed-in-tariff programme introduced by ESB in 2009.

The SEAI pilot microgeneration programme has now been operational for a number of years and I expect to shortly receive a report from SEAI on its findings.

The ESB scheme has been operational for almost 3 years — it is a limited feed-in-tariff available under certain conditions to the domestic sector. Under 400 microgenerators have set up under this scheme to date. The scheme offers 10c Kwh from ESB networks and an additional 9c Kwh from ESB Electric Ireland (formerly ESB Customer Supply.)

At the time ESB introduced the microgeneration scheme, the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) wrote to all suppliers in the market inviting them to introduce microgeneration support schemes, however no other suppliers chose to enter the market. The tariff offered by ESB, comprising a total of 19c Kwh, has had limited success with under 400 availing of it to date.

The lack of interest of all suppliers in voluntarily introducing microgeneration schemes is indicative of market failure and the need to offer price supports in this area, should we wish to see it develop. The experience with the ESB tariff would seem to indicate that a tariff not significantly above the market price for microgeneration, as stated in the Programme for Government would be unlikely to have much success. This is backed up by research that SEAI has carried out in the area, which points to significant costs for relatively modest output, when compared with large scale generation.

Should a scheme be introduced, if this is to be funded from the PSO levy, increased electricity costs would have to be borne by all consumers to fund it. It is my intention to consider the options available on microgeneration with a view to a submission to Government in the matter.

Water Charges

Terence Flanagan

Question:

126 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will respond to correspondence (details supplied) regarding taxes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33739/11]

The Memorandum of Understanding between Ireland and the EU/IMF includes a commitment to introduce water charges for households. The Programme for Government provides for the introduction of a fair funding model to deliver clean and reliable water. The Programme for Government envisages that charges will apply to usage above a free allowance. My Department is currently preparing a strategy to implement these proposals, including consideration of support for low income households. Further details will be announced following the Government's consideration of the proposals.

The Memorandum with the EU/IMF also commits the Government to the introduction of a property tax for 2012. This reflects the need, in the context of the State's overall financial position, to put the funding of locally delivered services on a sound financial footing, improve accountability and better align the cost of providing services with the demand for such services.

In light of the complex issues involved, a property tax, requiring a comprehensive property valuation system, would take time to introduce and accordingly, to meet the requirements in the EU/IMF Programme, the Government has decided to introduce a household charge in 2012. The household charge is an interim measure and proposals for a full property tax will be considered by the Government in due course. The legislation to underpin the household charge will contain the precise details of the charge and will be published and brought before the Houses of the Oireachtas shortly.

Similar to the charge on non-principal private residences, it is intended that the household charge will be administered on a self assessment basis and it will be a matter for owners of residential property to register and pay the charge by the due date. In the event of non payment, penalties will apply and unpaid household charges will remain as a charge against the property concerned.

Pyrite Contamination

Terence Flanagan

Question:

127 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will respond to correspondence (details supplied) regarding pyrite; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33741/11]

I have recently established an independent panel with the remit of seeking to facilitate a resolution of pyrite contamination in private housing. The panel has commenced its work and is meeting with various groups and individuals who can assist it in completing its task. They have been asked to complete their work as quickly as possible and to report to me early in the New Year.

Local Authority Charges

Catherine Byrne

Question:

128 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if the non-principal private residence charge must be paid by persons living outside the State who own a property here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33827/11]

The Local Government (Charges) Act 2009 broadened the revenue base of local authorities through the introduction of the charge on non-principal private residences (NPPR). The charge is set at €200 and is being levied and collected by local authorities. The Act places the onus on an owner of a residential property which is situated in the State to assess his or her liability for the charge in the first instance, irrespective of where the person is domiciled.

There is no obligation on local authorities to issue notifications or invoices regarding the charge. Nationwide advertising took place in both 2009 and 2010, and again this year, to ensure general awareness of the charge and the liability dates. In tandem, local authorities have undertaken their own advertising campaigns locally. Some advertising on the charge was also placed in publications/newsletters circulating in areas in which large Irish populations are residing abroad. Communications have also been issued to persons who paid the charge in respect of previous years reminding them of their possible liability for the charge.

Significant efforts are being made to ensure that property owners are aware of the charge and the liability dates. However, the charge is based on self assessment principles and it is a matter for persons with a liability to pay the charge by the due date to avoid late payment fees.

Waste Disposal

Catherine Byrne

Question:

129 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the position regarding the forthcoming changes to local household waste collection services in the Dublin city area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33828/11]

Dublin City Council's intentions in relation to its household waste collection services are a matter for the City Council itself. As regards policy concerning household waste collection generally, the Programme for Government includes a commitment to introduce competitive tendering for household waste collection, whereby service providers will bid to provide waste collection services in a given area, for a given period of time and to a guaranteed level of service. A public consultation designed to inform the policy development process concluded in September. The responses received are currently being examined and I intend to bring policy proposals to Government before the end of the year.

Social and Affordable Housing

Jack Wall

Question:

130 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if an actuarial assessment has been or is proposed to be carried out in respect of the 4.5% annual increase on the loan, known as rent section, aspect of the shared ownership scheme held by each local authority, as to the effect of this increase in regard to the value of the scheme and to the overall total cost of the loan to the applicant; if not, if he will have such an evaluation completed to determine if the scheme is a benefit to such applicants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33845/11]

The Government's housing policy statement announced the standing down of all affordable housing schemes, including the shared ownership scheme, in the context of a full review of Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000. The detailed workings of this review have not been determined to date, however, it is likely that it will include detailed analysis of the rental portion of the shared ownership scheme. While it is open to local authorities to enter into new shared ownership loans if applicants apply for this scheme, as the legislation is still in place, it is recommended that both parties fully inform themselves of the details of the scheme.

The rent charged on the local authority's equity in a shared ownership transaction is to cover the funding costs to the Housing Finance Agency which are based on borrowings at the prevailing interest rates. Any difference between the rent and prevailing interest rate is reflected in the capital outstanding on the property i.e. if the rent charged in any period is greater than the prevailing mortgage interest due on the local authority's share, the purchase price of the outstanding equity will be reduced accordingly.

In addition, an annual subsidy towards rent payments under the Shared Ownership Scheme is available, through the Rental Subsidy Scheme, to households with a gross household income of up to €28,000 per annum in the preceding tax year. The level of subsidy ranges between €2,550 for incomes up to €13,000 and €1,050 for incomes up to €28,000.

Building Regulations

Terence Flanagan

Question:

131 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will respond to correspondence (details supplied) regarding architects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33874/11]

Terence Flanagan

Question:

134 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding architects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33893/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 131 and 134 together.

I have no plans to amend the Building Control Act 2007 along the lines suggested and there is no question of non-registered persons being allowed to use the title of architect. Section 22 of the Act makes specific provision for a category of practically trained persons who had already been providing architectural services in Ireland commensurate with those understood as being provided by Architects for the purpose of the Building Control Act 2007 for a period of ten years at the time the Act became law. This provision is transitional in nature and enables this category of persons to become registered once they have been assessed as eligible for registration by the Technical Assessment Board in accordance with the practical experience assessment procedure. Thus the Act does recognise and provide an exclusive route to registration for those persons in the circumstances described.

The assertion referred to in the Question that an applicant would have to have sat a five year degree course in order to be successful under the technical assessment route is incorrect. The technical assessment route is specifically provided for practitioners who are not academically qualified. The Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland (RIAI) is designated as the registration body for the purposes of Part 3 of the Act and has advised my Department that eight applications for technical assessment have been received to date. Of these, seven applications have been fully considered by the Technical Assessment Board with five applicants being deemed eligible for registration and two applicants being deemed unsuccessful. A further application is currently being assessed.

Departmental Funding

Terence Flanagan

Question:

132 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if there is grant aid for an organisation (details supplied) which wishes to produce a community newsletter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33878/11]

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

The Programme is delivered in the catchment area referred to in the question by Northside Partnership, who can be contacted at—

Coolock Development Centre

Bunratty Drive

Coolock

Dublin 17

Telephone: +353 1 8485630

Fax: +353 1 8485661 E Mail: info@northsidepartnership.ie.

Health and Safety Issues

Terence Flanagan

Question:

133 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he has changed his views regarding the harmful effects on citizens of RF-MW radiation from mobile technology; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33888/11]

The issue of potential health effects of electromagnetic fields was the subject of an Expert Group Report published by Government in March 2007 entitled Health Effects of Electromagnetic Fields. This report is available for download on my Department's website (www.environ.ie/en/publications). The Expert Group examined a wide range of issues in relation to the potential health effects of electromagnetic fields and their report answers many of the health risk questions raised by the public. The report and its recommendations were accepted by the Government and form the basis for current policy in this area.

In May this year the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) which is part of the World Health Organisation (WHO) published a report which stated that the electromagnetic fields generated by mobile phones were possibly carcinogenic to humans. It is important to note that the new research did not establish a direct link between mobile phone use and cancer. Rather, the IARC concluded that there could be some risk, and indicated that they therefore need to keep a close watch for a link between cell phones and cancer risk.

This Department will continue to monitor this and other scientific evidence as it is made available, and will consider any policy implications in this context.

Question No. 134 answered with Question No. 131.

Local Authority Charges

Terence Flanagan

Question:

135 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if residents living in multi-unit developments will be exempt from the household charge (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33895/11]

The EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support for Ireland commits the Government to the introduction of a property tax for 2012. The Programme reflects the need, in the context of the State's overall financial position, to put the funding of locally delivered services on a sound financial footing, improve accountability and better align the cost of providing services with the demand for such services. In light of the complex issues involved, a property tax, requiring a comprehensive property valuation system, would take time to introduce and accordingly, to meet the requirements in the EU/IMF Programme, the Government has decided to introduce a household charge in 2012. The household charge is an interim measure and proposals for a full property tax will be considered by the Government in due course. The legislation to underpin the household charge will contain the precise details of the charge and will be published and brought before the Houses of the Oireachtas shortly. There are no proposals to provide an exemption in the legislation for residential property in respect of which management fees are payable.

Social and Affordable Housing

Terence Flanagan

Question:

136 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding affordable housing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33897/11]

Affordable housing is privately owned housing and, as such, is subject to the fluctuations of the market. Affordable purchasers are therefore in the same position as other private purchasers in this regard. The terms and conditions of the various affordable housing schemes and the regulations governing local authority loans do not prohibit an affordable home owner from renting a spare room in his/her home though a local authority is likely for good reason to attach conditions to the contract with the purchaser in relation to subletting of the entire unit and its use by the purchaser as his/her normal place of residence. However, where a person is selling an affordable home and the clawback amount payable would reduce the proceeds of resale below the initial price actually paid, the legislation provides for the amount of the clawback payable to be reduced to the extent necessary to avoid that result. A range of supports are available where a household is facing difficulties in meeting mortgage repayments, whether from a local authority or private lender. It is important to make early contact with the lender when these difficulties emerge.

Building Regulations

Terence Flanagan

Question:

137 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide emergency funds to Dublin City Council to ensure that the remedial works needed at the Priory Hall apartment complex take place straight away; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33902/11]

Terence Flanagan

Question:

138 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the steps he is taking to help the Priory Hall residents, Dublin, who need to be properly housed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33903/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 137 and 138 together.

Following an application by Dublin City Council, the High Court ordered that the unsafe development at Priory Hall be evacuated on 20 October 2011 and that the developer carry out an agreed schedule of necessary remedial works to be reviewed by the Court on a weekly basis. In response to a report from Dublin City Council stating that the works were below acceptable standards, the High Court ordered the developer to cease work on the site on 4 November 2011. A motion by Dublin City Council to have an alternative contractor appointed by the Court was refused. The developer has now vacated the site which has been secured by Dublin City Council at its own expense. The case will again come before the High Court on, 11 November 2011. Dublin City Council in bringing proceedings against the developer is fulfilling its statutory function as fire authority under the Fire Services Act 1981.

My Department is being been kept informed by Dublin City Council of developments with regard to the resolution of issues at Priory Hall, including in respect of Court proceedings. My Department has assisted the Council, in consultation with NAMA, in securing alternative housing for many of the residents. The overriding priority is to ensure the optimum outcome for the households concerned and to facilitate as early as possible a return to their homes. In this respect it will be necessary to ensure that these homes are made fit for purpose and that the costs of so doing fall where they should. I have asked Dublin City Council to do all within its powers to achieve this objective and have asked my Department to continue to liaise closely with Dublin City Council in this regard.

The legal proceedings are continuing and it would be entirely inappropriate to anticipate their conclusion.

Motor Vehicle Registration

Michael McGrath

Question:

139 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the number of registered cars in each category based on CO2 emissions; and the number of cars registered in each category based on engine size. [33918/11]

The following tables set out the information requested:

No. of private vehicles taxed on the basis of CO2 emissions at 30 September 2011

CO2 emissions category (grams per km)

No. of vehicles

A (under 120)

82,235

B (12-140)

152,669

C (141-155)

57,730

D (156-170)

24,221

E (171-190)

9,672

F (191-255)

3,890

G (over 255)

645

Total

331,062

No. of private vehicles taxed on the basis of engine capacity at 30 September 2011

Engine capacity category

No. of vehicles

Not over 1,000

130,996

1,001-1,100

6,431

1,101-1,200

90,175

1,201-1,300

111,914

1,301-1,400

418,199

1,401-1,500

55,328

1,501-1,600

249,817

1,601-1,700

6,221

1,701-1,800

99,342

1,801-1,900

127,473

1,901-2,000

175,619

2,001-2,100

457

2,101-2,200

21,779

2,201-2,300

6,993

2,301-2,400

3,880

2,401-2,500

20,224

2,501-2,600

1,632

2,601-2,700

3,996

2,701-2,800

4,481

2,801-2,900

466

2,901-3,000

18,062

3,001 or more

11,289

Total

1,564,774

Visa Applications

John Deasy

Question:

140 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to change the visa requirements for Chinese nationals entering the country for tourism purposes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33885/11]

John Deasy

Question:

141 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of Chinese nationals entering the country on a UK granted holiday visa; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33886/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 140 and 141 together.

There are no plans at the present time to change existing visa requirements for Chinese nationals seeking to visit Ireland for holiday purposes. However, the Deputy may be aware of the Visa Waiver Programme for the holders of certain Short Stay UK Visas which commenced operation as recently as 1 July, 2011. Under this programme, which was announced as part of the Government's Jobs Initiative and is aimed at promoting tourism and other economic activity, the holders of the appropriate UK Visas who have first landed in the UK and have permission to be in the UK may also travel to Ireland without the need to also obtain an Irish visa. The programme covers the citizens of a total of 16 countries in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia, including China. In conjunction with the announcement of the Visa Waiver Programme and in order that nationals of the 16 countries in question who are permanently resident in the UK who may wish to visit Ireland are not placed at a disadvantage, my department has put arrangements in place for visas to be issued free of charge through the Visa Office in the Irish Embassy in London.

Many Chinese nationals travelling to Ireland will be Approved Destination Status (ADS) tourists — the approval comes from the Chinese authorities. As has been the case for several years now, ADS tourists who are in possession of a UK visa and who apply for an Irish visa are issued with that visa free of charge. While is not possible at this time to state definitively how many additional Chinese tourists have arrived as a result of the Visa Waiver Programme, the initial indications of the impact of the Programme are very positive. I am committed also, as stated at the launch of the Programme, to carry out a formal review of the Programme and I hope to have this review completed as early as possible in 2012. In this context, I will be seeking the input and cooperation of the tourism industry and carriers in order to assess the overall impact of the scheme.

Child Protection

Michael McCarthy

Question:

142 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the alleged increasing incidence of false child sexual abuse allegations against fathers in the family courts here; the total number of these allegations which have been established as false by the family courts in 2009, 2010 and 2011 separately; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33750/11]

I would draw the Deputy's attention to my response to Question No. 93 on 26 October last in which I stated that under the law as it stands the giving of false evidence in any court proceedings, including family law proceedings, is an offence punishable by imprisonment. I also indicated that while I have no specific proposals for reform at present, I will keep operation of the law in family cases under review.

The Deputy will be aware that, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service. The Act provides that the Service is independent in performance of its functions, which includes the provision of statistics. However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has informed me that it does not compile statistics on allegations as such that are made in the course of any court proceedings. But I am informed that where an allegation arises in the course of a custody or access case, a court may direct the health authorities to undertake an investigation of the matter.

Criminal Prosecutions

Robert Dowds

Question:

143 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of prosecutions for white collar crime that have been brought by the Garda for each of the past ten years. [33765/11]

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

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

Garda Strength

John McGuinness

Question:

144 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide additional resources to Tallaght gardaí, Dublin, to allow them to respond in an effective way to the issues raised at the recent meeting of the Tallaght Local Policing Forum; if he will appreciate the importance of these community concerns being addressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33807/11]

I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that the personnel strength of Tallaght Garda Station on 30 September 2011, the latest date for which figures are readily available, was 198.

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

Garda Stations

Dara Calleary

Question:

145 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of Garda stations open in 1997; the number open in February 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33840/11]

Dara Calleary

Question:

146 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of gardaí employed in 1997; the number employed in February 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33841/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 145 and 146 together.

I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that the number of Garda Stations in 1997 and February 2011 was 703.

I have been further informed by the Garda Commissioner that the personnel strength of An Garda Síochána on 31 December 1997 and 28 February 2011 was 10,968 and 14,343, respectively.

The Deputy will be aware that the Commissioner, in consultation with his senior management team, is responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, throughout the organisation.

Citizenship Applications

Seán Kenny

Question:

147 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when a decision will issue on an application for citizenship in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 13. [33867/11]

I am advised by the Citizenship Division of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that valid applications for a certificate of naturalisation were received from the persons referred to by the Deputy in October 2010.

The applications are currently being processed with a view to establishing whether the applicants meet the statutory conditions for the granting of naturalisation and will be submitted to me for decision as expeditiously as possible.

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

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to INIS by e-mail using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. This service enables up to date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek information by way of the Parliamentary Questions process. The Deputy may consider using the e-mail service except in cases where the response from INIS is, in the Deputy's view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Garda Vetting of Personnel

Frank Feighan

Question:

148 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to the fact that persons are waiting 15 weeks for Garda vetting clearance; and the action he will take to deal with this problem. [33883/11]

I am informed that the current average processing time for Garda vetting applications at the Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU) is 9 weeks. This is a significant improvement on the average processing time of 12 weeks at the end of last year. All organisations registered for Garda Vetting are aware of the processing time frames for the receipt of Garda vetting and have been advised to factor this into their recruitment and selection process.

This processing time can, nevertheless, be affected by seasonal fluctuations or the necessity to seek further information on particular applications.

Notwithstanding the above, 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. The sanction of the Department of Finance was obtained to retain the services of 10 temporary employees working in the GCVU. Sanction was also obtained to engage an additional 10 temporary employees and these have recently commenced work in the GCVU. A further initiative to provide internships through the National Internship Scheme, "Job Bridge", under the aegis of the Department of Social Protection, is also currently under way.

All of this should have a further positive impact on processing times.

In relation to the person referred to in the Deputy's question I am advised that a vetting application was received by the GCVU on 11 July 2011 on behalf of the person concerned. However, the application was incomplete and returned to the registered organisation for completion. The completed application was resubmitted to the Vetting Unit on 5 October 2011 and a response issued to the registered organisation on 4 November 2011.

Bankruptcy Legislation

Terence Flanagan

Question:

149 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the current period of time that a person remains bankrupt; his plan to change this period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33896/11]

Under the Bankruptcy Act 1988 the period of application to court for discharge of a bankruptcy was 12 years. The conditions of discharge were full realisation of the estate of the bankrupt, payment of fees and expenses and of preferential debts. There was no provision for automatic discharge of a bankruptcy and it meant that where liabilities were not discharged the bankruptcy could last indefinitely. I made provision in the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011 for discharge of a bankruptcy after 5 years subject to the conditions for discharge specified in the Act of 1988. I introduced for the first time provision for automatic discharge of a bankruptcy after 12 years have elapsed since the adjudication of bankruptcy. The new provisions commenced on 10 October 2011.

The question of further reductions in the period for discharge of a bankruptcy, including automatic discharge, is being considered in the context of my Department's development of proposals for the Personal Insolvency Bill that is a commitment in the Government Legislation Programme and under the EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support for the State.

Garda Deployment

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

150 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of gardaí per Garda district; the number and location of each Garda station in each district and their opening hours including the number of gardaí stationed at each station; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33926/11]

I am informed by the Garda authorities, that as of 30 September 2011, the latest date for which figures are readily available, the personnel strength of each Garda Station, Garda District and Garda Division and station opening hours was as set out in the following table.

Opening Hours if not a 24-hour Station

Strength>

24 hour Y/N

Monday to Friday

Saturday

Sunday

P.A.C.B.

Call Diversion to

D.M.R. South Central

District “A”

Kevin St.

153

Yes

Kilmainham

75

Yes

District “B”

Pearse St

256

Yes

Harcourt Tce.

80

Yes

District “E”

Donnybrook

130

Yes

Irishtown

50

Yes

D.M.R. North Central

District “C”

Store St.

278

Yes

District “D”

Bridewell

170

Yes

District “U”

Fitzgibbon St.

114

Yes

Mountjoy

100

Yes

D.M.R.South

District “G”

Crumlin

105

Yes

Sundrive Rd.

72

Yes

District “M”

Rathfarnham

73

Yes

Tallaght

198

Yes

District “P”

Rathmines

64

Yes

Terenure

102

Yes

D.M.R.North

District “H”

Santry

82

Yes

Whitehall

47

Yes

Ballymun

117

Yes

Dublin Airport

26

Yes

District “R”

Coolock

119

Yes

Malahide

36

Yes

Swords

81

Yes

District “J”

Raheny

68

Yes

Clontarf

78

Yes

Howth

40

Yes

District: “Y”

Balbriggan

71

Yes

Skerries

10

No

10am -6pm

10am - 6pm

11am - 2pm

Yes

Balbriggan

Lusk

7

No

10am - 2pm

10am - 2pm

10am - 2pm

Yes

Balbriggan

Rush

4

No

10am - 2pm

10am - 2pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Balbriggan

Garristown

3

No

10am - 2pm

10am - 2pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Balbriggan

D.M.R.West

District “K”

Blanchardstown

195

Yes

Cabra

68

Yes

Finglas

122

Yes

District “Q”

Lucan

78

Yes

Ronanstown

98

Yes

District “L”

Ballyfermot

97

Yes

Clondalkin

98

Yes

Rathcoole

27

No

10am - 1pm, 2pm - 5pm

10am - 1pm, 2pm - 5pm

10am - 1pm, 2pm - 5pm

Yes

Clondalkin

D.M.R.East

District “F”

Dún Laoghaire

105

Yes

Dalkey

31

Yes

Kill-O-Grange

29

Yes

Cabinteely

38

Yes

Shankill

60

Yes

District “W”

Blackrock

94

Yes

Dundrum

74

Yes

Stepaside

30

Yes

Eastern Region

Meath

Division: Meath

District: Kells

Kells

53

Yes

Crossakeel

1

No

10am - 1pm (2 days per week)

8pm-9pm or 10am-11am

8pm-9pm or 10am-11am

Yes

Kells

Athboy

5

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 12md

10am - 1pm

Yes

Kells

Oldcastle

4

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 12md

10am - 1pm

Yes

Kells

District: Trim

Trim

31

Yes

Kilmessan (subject to manpower)

1

No

12pm - 2pm

12pm - 2pm

12pm - 2pm

Yes

Trim

Summerhill (subject to manpower)

3

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Trim

Longwood (subject to manpower)

2

No

10am-12pm 2pm-4pm 7pm-9pm

10am-12pm 2pm-4pm 7pm-9pm

10am-12pm 2pm-4pm 7pm-9pm

Yes

Trim

Enfield (subject to manpower)

7

No

10am-12pm 2pm-4pm 7pm-9pm

10am-12pm 2pm-4pm 7pm-9pm

10am-12pm 2pm-4pm 7pm-9pm

Yes

Trim

Ballivor (subject to manpower)

3

No

10am - 2pm

10am - 12pm

10am - 12pm

Yes

Trim

District: Ashbourne

Ashbourne

47

Yes

Dunboyne

13

No

10am - 1pm (Manpower permitting)

10am - 1pm (Manpower permitting)

12pm - 1pm (Manpower permitting)

Yes

Ashbourne

Dunshaughlin

23

No

10am - 1pm (Manpower permitting)

10am - 1pm (Manpower permitting)

12pm - 1pm (Manpower permitting)

Yes

Ashbourne

District: Navan

Navan

78

Yes

Slane

4

No

10am - 1pm & 6pm - 9pm

10am - 1pm, 2pm - 6pm

11am - 1pm

Yes

Navan

Nobber

4

No

10am - 1pm & 6pm - 9pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 1pm

Yes

Navan

District: Laytown

Laytown

25

No

10am - 12md, 5pm - 8pm (Manpower permitting)

10am - 12md, 5pm - 8pm (Manpower Permitting)

12md - 1pm

Yes

Navan

Duleek

4

No

9am - 11am & 6pm - 8pm (Manpower Permitting)

9am - 11am (Manpower Permitting)

12md - 1pm (Manpower Permitting)

Yes

Navan

Division Kildare

District: Naas

Naas

102

Yes

Kill

2

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Naas

Clane

11

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Naas

Robertstown

5

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Naas

Kilcullen

2

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Naas

Ballymore Eustace

2

No

2pm - 4pm

2pm - 4pm

Closed

No

Naas

District: Kildare

Kildare

28

Yes

Athy

32

No

9am - 10pm

9am - 10pm

9am - 10pm

Yes

Kildare

Ballytore

2

No

mon, wed, fri 7pm - 9pm.

7pm - 9pm

Closed

No

Kildare

Castledermot

3

No

10am - 1pm, 6pm - 7.30pm

10am - 1pm, 6pm - 7.30pm

10am - 1pm, 6pm - 7.30pm

Yes

Kildare

Monasterevin

4

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Kildare

Newbridge

47

Yes

Rathangan

3

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Kildare

District: Leixlip

Leixlip

34

Yes

Celbridge

17

No

10am - 6pm, 7pm - 9pm

10am - 6pm, 7pm - 9pm

12md - 2pm

No

Leixlip

Maynooth

13

No

10am - 1pm, 7pm - 9pm

10am - 1pm, 7pm - 9pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Leixlip

Carbury

4

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Leixlip

Kilcock

9

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12pm - 1pm

Yes

Leixlip

Laois/Offaly

District: Portlaoise

Portlaoise

104

Yes

Mountmellick

6

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 1pm

Yes

Portlaoise

Mountrath

3

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 1pm

Yes

Portlaoise

Portarlington

14

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

8pm - 9pm

Yes

Portlaoise

Stradbally

2

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Opening hours subject to manpower availibility

Yes

Portlaoise

Clonaslee

2

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Opening hours subject to manpower availibility

Yes

Portlaoise

District: Abbeyleix

Abbeyleix

26

Yes

Ballacolla

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm, alternate saturdays

10am - 1pm alternate sundays

Yes

Abbeyleix

Durrow

2

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 12md

Yes

Abbeyleix

Rathdowney

4

No

9am - 5pm

subject to manpower

subject to manpower

Yes

Abbeyleix

Ballylinan

3

No

9am - 5pm

subject to manpower

subject to manpower

Yes

Abbeyleix

Arles

2

No

10am - 1pm

subject to manpower

subject to manpower

Yes

Abbeyleix

Ballinakill

1

No

10am - 11am

subject to manpower

subject to manpower

Yes

Abbeyleix

Borris-In-Ossory

1

No

7pm - 8pm

subject to manpower

subject to manpower

Yes

Abbeyleix

District: Birr

Birr

29

Yes

Banagher

5

No

2pm - 5pm

2pm - 5pm

2pm - 5pm

Yes

Birr

Cloghan

1

No

3pm - 5pm

3pm - 5pm

Closed

Yes

Birr

Ferbane

5

No

3pm - 5pm

3pm - 5pm

Closed

Yes

Birr

Kilcormac

2

No

3pm - 5pm

3pm - 5pm

Closed

Yes

Birr

Kinnitty

1

No

3pm - 5pm

3pm - 5pm

Closed

Yes

Birr

Shinrone

2

No

3pm - 5pm

3pm - 5pm

Closed

Yes

Birr

Shannonbridge

1

No

3pm - 5pm

3pm - 5pm

Closed

Yes

Birr

District: Tullamore

Tullamore

73

Yes

Clara

5

No

10am - 12md, 2pm - 4pm

10am - 12md

10am - 1pm, alternate Sundays

Yes

Tullamore

Clonbologue

1

No

tues, fri 3pm - 5pm

subject to manpower

subject to manpower

Yes

Tullamore

Daingean

2

No

10am - 1pm

subject to manpower

subject to manpower

Yes

Tullamore

Edenderry

13

No

10am - 1pm, 3pm - 5pm Tue and Thurs.

subject to manpower

subject to manpower

Yes

Tullamore

Rhode

2

No

10am - 1pm subject to manpower

10am - 1pm, alternate Saturdays

10am - 1pm, alternate Sundays

Yes

Tullamore

Geashill

0

No

subject to manpower

subject to manpower

subject to manpower

Yes

Tullamore

Westmeath

District: Mullingar

Mullingar

125

Yes

Ballynacargy

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Mullingar

Castlepollard

4

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Mullingar

Castletown Geoghegan

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Mullingar

Delvin

15

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am -1pm

Yes

Mullingar

Finea

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Mullingar

Killucan

5

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 12md

Yes

Mullingar

Kinnegad

6

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 12md

Yes

Mullingar

Multyfarnham

1

No

10am - 1pm

8pm-10pm 1 Sat / 10am-1pm 1 Sat / 2pm-6pm 1 Sat.

8pm-10pm 1Sun/ 10am-1pm 1 Sun/ 2pm-6pm 1 Sun.

Yes

Mullingar

Rathowen

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am-1pm 1 Sat,2pm-4pm 1 Sat ,8pm-10pm 1 Sat

10am-1pm 1 Sun / 8pm-10pm 1 Sun.

Yes

Mullingar

Rochfortbridge

5

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 12md

Yes

Mullingar

District: Athlone

Athlone

69

Yes

Ballinahown

1

No

10am - 1pm, (Subject to manpower)

10am - 1pm, (Subject to manpower)

11am - 1pm, Subject to manpower

Yes

Athlone

Ballymore

1

No

10am - 1pm, (Subject to manpower)

10am - 1pm, (Subject to manpower)

11am - 1pm, 1 Subject to manpower

Yes

Athlone

Glasson

2

No

10am - 1pm, (Subject to manpower)

10am - 1pm, (Subject to manpower)

11am - 1pm, 1 Subject to manpower

Yes

Athlone

Kilbeggan

5

No

10am - 1pm, (Subject to manpower)

10am - 1pm, (Subject to manpower)

11am - 1pm, 1 Subject to manpower

Yes

Athlone

Moate

17

No

10am - 1pm, (Subject to manpower)

10am - 1pm, (Subject to manpower)

11am - 1pm, 1 Subject to manpower

Yes

Athlone

Wicklow

District: Wicklow

Wicklow

48

Yes

Arklow

34

Yes

Ashford

11

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm (Subject to Manpower)

10am - 1pm

Yes

Wicklow

Rathdrum

5

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm (Subject to Manpower)

10am - 1pm

Yes

Wicklow

Avoca

3

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm (Subject to Manpower)

10am - 1pm

Yes

Wicklow

Roundwood

4

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm (Subject to Manpower)

10am - 1pm

No

Wicklow

Aughrim

2

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm (Subject to Manpower)

10am - 1pm

No

Wicklow

District: Baltinglass

Baltinglass

36

Yes

Blessington

17

No

10am - 1pm, 7pm - 10pm

10am - 1pm, 7pm - 10pm

11am - 1pm

No

Baltinglass

Dunlavin

2

No

3pm - 5pm

3pm - 5pm (Subject to Manpower)

Closed

No

Baltinglass

Hollywood

1

No

8pm - 10pm

8pm - 10pm (Subject to Manpower)

Closed

No

Baltinglass

Donard

1

No

11am - 1pm

11am - 1pm (Subject to Manpower)

Closed

No

Baltinglass

Shillelagh

1

No

11am - 1pm

11am - 1pm (Subject to Manpower)

Closed

No

Baltinglass

Tinahely

2

No

3pm - 5pm

3pm - 5pm (Subject to Manpower)

Closed

No

Baltinglass

Carnew

4

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm (Subject to Manpower)

11am-1pm

No

Baltinglass

District Bray:

Bray

127

Yes

Bray

Enniskerry

6

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm (Subject to Manpower)

10am - 1pm

No

Bray

Greystones

35

Yes

Bray

Newtownmountkennedy

4

No

9am - 1pm

9am - 1pm (Subject to Manpower)

9am - 1pm

Yes

Bray

South Eastern Region

Wexford

District: Wexford

Wexford

95

Yes

Taghmon

3

No

10am - 6pm or 6pm to 2am

10am - 6pm or 6pm to 2am

10am - 6pm or 6pm to 2am

Yes

Wexford

Baldwinstown

1

No

10am - 6pm or 6pm to 2am

10am - 6pm or 6pm to 2am

10am - 6pm or 6pm to 2am

Yes

Wexford

Castlebridge

2

No

10am - 6pm or 6pm to 2am

10am - 6pm or 6pm to 2am

10am - 6pm or 6pm to 2am

Yes

Wexford

Kilmore Quay

2

No

10am - 6pm or 6pm to 2am

10am - 6pm or 6pm to 2am

10am - 6pm or 6pm to 2am

Yes

Wexford

Glynn

1

No

10am - 6pm or 6pm to 2am

10am - 6pm or 6pm to 2am

10am - 6pm or 6pm to 2am

Yes

Wexford

Rosslare

2

No

10am - 6pm or 6pm to 2am

10am - 6pm or 6pm to 2am

10am - 6pm or 6pm to 2am

Yes

Wexford

Rosslare Harbour

7

No

10am - 6pm or 6pm to 2am

10am - 6pm or 6pm to 2am

10am - 6pm or 6pm to 2am

Yes

Wexford

District: Gorey

Gorey

51

Yes

Bunclody

8

No

10am - 1pm, 6pm - 7pm

10am - 1pm, 6pm - 7pm

10am - 1pm, 6pm - 7pm

Yes

Gorey

Courtown Harbour

4

No

10am - 2pm

10am - 2pm

10am - 2pm

Yes

Gorey

District: Enniscorthy

Enniscorthy

39

Yes

Blackwater

3

No

2pm - 4pm

2pm - 4pm

2pm - 4pm

Yes

Enniscorthy

Ferns

3

No

10am - 11am

10am - 11am

Closed

Yes

Enniscorthy

Kiltealy

1

No

4pm - 5pm

4pm - 5pm

Closed

Yes

Enniscorthy

Oylegate

2

No

10am - 11am

10am - 11am

Closed

Yes

Enniscorthy

Oulart

1

No

4.30pm - 5.30pm

4.30pm - 5.30pm

Closed

Yes

Enniscorthy

Clonroche

2

No

2pm - 3pm

2pm - 3pm

Closed

Yes

Enniscorthy

District: New Ross

New Ross

39

Yes

Ballywilliam

0

No

Members attached to Newross deal with issues pertaining to Ballywilliam

No

New Ross

Ballycullane

2

No

7pm - 8pm (wed) 2pm - 3pm (fri)

Closed

Closed

Yes

New Ross

Carrick-On-Bannow

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Closed

Yes

New Ross

Duncannon

4

No

10am - 12pm, (mon, wed, thur, fri) 7pm -9pm (tues)

10am - 12md

Closed

Yes

New Ross

Carrickbyrne

2

No

7pm - 8pm (mon)

11am - 12pm

Closed

Yes

New Ross

Campile

1

No

10am - 11am (mon) 5pm - 6pm (thur)

Closed

Closed

Yes

New Ross

Kilkenny/Carlow

District: Kilkenny

Kilkenny

98

Yes

Freshford

1

No

10am - 11am or 6pm - 7pm, Mon-Thurs, Friday 10am -11am or 7pm - 8pm (if member working).

7pm - 8pm

Closed

Yes

Kilkenny

Callan

6

No

10am - 12pm or 6pm - 7pm

6pm - 7pm

Closed

Yes

Kilkenny

Castlecomer

14

No

10am - 1pm or 6pm - 7pm, Mon-Thurs, Friday 10am - 1pm or 7pm - 8pm

10am - 1pm

10am-11am

Yes

Kilkenny

Ballyragget

1

No

10am - 11am or 6pm - 7pm, Mon-Thurs, Friday 10am - 11am or 7pm - 8pm (if memebr working).

11am-12pm or 7pm - 8pm

Closed

Yes

Kilkenny

Johnstown

2

No

10am-11am or 2pm-3pm or 6pm-7pm or 8pm-9pm

10am - 11am or 6pm - 7pm

2pm - 3pm or 8pm - 9pm

Yes

Kilkenny

Urlingford

1

No

10am-11am or 2pm-3pm or 6pm-7pm or 8pm-9pm

10am - 11am or 6pm - 7pm

2pm - 3pm or 8pm - 9pm

Yes

Kilkenny

District: Thomastown

Thomastown

40

Yes

Ballyhale

1

No

16.30 - 17.30 except Tuesday 11.00 - 13.00

4.30pm - 5.30pm

Closed

Yes

Thomastown

Bennetsbridge

1

No

16.30 - 17.30 except Tuesday 11.00 - 13.00

4.30pm - 5.30pm

closed

Yes

Thomastown

Glenmore

1

No

12md - 1pm

12md - 1pm

Closed

Yes

Waterford

Goresbridge

2

No

16.30 - 17.30 except Tuesday 11.00 - 13.00

4.30pm - 5.30pm

Closed

Yes

Thomastown

Graiguenamanagh

6

No

11am - 1pm

11am - 1pm

12md - 1pm

Yes

Thomastown

Inistioge

1

No

16.30 - 17.30 except Tuesday 11.00 - 13.00

4.30pm - 5.30pm

Closed

Yes

Thomastown

Kilmacow

1

No

12md -1pm

12md -1pm

Closed

Yes

Waterford

Kilmoganny

1

No

16.30 - 17.30 except Tuesday 11.00 - 13.00

4.30pm - 5.30pm

Closed

Yes

Thomastown

Mooncoin

14

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12.30pm - 1.30pm

Yes

Waterford

Mullinavat

1

No

16.30 - 17.30 except Tuesday 11.00 - 13.00

4.30pm - 5.30pm

Closed

Yes

Thomastown

Piltown

1

No

10am - 12md

10am - 12md

10am - 12md

Yes

Clonmel

Stonyford

1

No

16.30 - 17.30 except Tuesday 11.00 - 13.00

4.30pm - 5.30pm

Closed

Yes

Thomastown

District: Carlow

Carlow

77

Yes

Ballon

1

No

10am - 1pm, 6pm - 7.30pm

10am - 1pm, 6pm - 7.30pm

10am - 1pm, 6pm - 7.30pm

Yes

Carlow

Borris

2

No

10am - 1pm, 6pm - 7.30pm

10am - 1pm, 6pm - 7.30pm

10am - 1pm, 6pm - 7.30pm

No

Thomastown

Hacketstown

1

No

11am - 1pm

11am - 1pm

Closed

No

Baltinglass

Leighlinbridge

2

No

10am - 1pm, 6pm - 7.30pm

10am - 1pm, 6pm - 7.30pm

10am - 1pm, 6pm - 7.30pm

No

Carlow

Muinebheag

12

No

10am - 1pm, 6pm - 7.30pm

10am - 1pm, 6pm - 7.30pm

10am - 1pm, 6pm - 7.30pm

Yes

Carlow

Myshall

1

No

10am - 1pm, 6pm - 7.30pm

10am - 1pm, 6pm - 7.30pm

10am - 1pm, 6pm - 7.30pm

No

Carlow

Rathvilly

1

No

3pm - 5pm

3pm - 5pm

Closed

No

Baltinglass

Tullow

18

No

10am - 1 pm

10am - 1pm

11am - 1pm

No

Baltinglass

Waterford

District: Waterford

Waterford

172

Yes

Dunmore East

3

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12pm - 1pm

Yes

Waterford

Ferrybank

7

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12pm - 1pm

Yes

Waterford

Passage East

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12pm - 1pm

Yes

Waterford

District: Dungarvan

Dungarvan

50

Yes

Aglish

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12pm - 1pm

Yes

Dungarvan

Ardmore

2

No

7.30pm - 9.30pm

7.30pm - 9.30pm

12md - 1pm

Yes

Dungarvan

Ballyduff

1

No

10am- 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 1pm

Yes

Dungarvan

Ballymacarberry

2

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12pm - 1.30pm

Yes

Dungarvan

Cappoquin

2

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12pm - 1pm

Yes

Dungarvan

Ring

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12pm - 1pm

Yes

Dungarvan

Lismore

5

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12pm - 1pm

Yes

Dungarvan

Tallow

3

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12pm - 1pm

Yes

Dungarvan

District: Tramore

Tramore

37

Yes

Kill

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12pm - 1pm

Yes

Tramore

Kilmacthomas

5

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12pm - 1pm

Yes

Tramore

Kilmeaden

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12pm - 1pm

Yes

Tramore

Portlaw

3

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12pm - 1pm

Yes

Tramore

Rathgormack

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12pm - 1pm

Yes

Tramore

Leamybrien

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12.30pm - 1pm

Yes

Tramore

Tipperary

District: Thurles

Thurles

75

Yes

Ballingarry South

2

No

10am-11am or 2pm-3pm or 6pm-7pm or 8pm-9pm

10am - 11am or 6pm - 7pm

2pm - 3pm or 6pm - 7pm

Yes

Thurles

Ballinure

0

No

Members attached to Thurles deal with issues pertaining to Ballinure

Yes

Thurles

Holycross

0

No

10am-11am or 2pm-3pm or 6pm-7pm or 8pm-9pm

10am - 11am or 6pm - 9pm

2pm - 3pm or 6pm - 7pm

Yes

Thurles

Killenaule

4

No

10am-11am or 2pm-3pm or 6pm-7pm or 8pm-9pm

10am - 11am or 6pm - 9pm

2pm - 3pm or 6pm - 7pm

Yes

Thurles

Littleton

1

No

10am-11am or 2pm-3pm or 6pm-7pm or 8pm-9pm

10am - 11am or 6pm - 9pm

2pm - 3pm or 6pm - 7pm

Yes

Thurles

District: Clonmel

Clonmel

52

Yes

Carrick-On-Suir

16

No

9am-1pm, 2pm-6pm, 7pm-10pm

9am-1pm, 2pm-6pm, 7pm-10pm

9am-1pm, 2pm-6pm, 7pm-10pm

Yes

Clonmel

Fethard

3

No

10am - 1pm or 2pm - 5pm

10am - 1pm or 2pm - 5pm

10am - 1pm or 2pm - 3pm

Yes

Clonmel

Grangemockler

1

No

10am - 1pm or 2pm - 5pm

10am - 1pm or 2pm - 5pm

10am - 1pm or 2pm - 3pm

Yes

Clonmel

Kilsheelan

1

No

10am - 1pm or 2pm - 5pm

10am - 1pm or 2pm - 5pm

10am - 1pm or 2pm - 5pm

Yes

Clonmel

Mullinahone

1

No

10am - 1pm or 2pm - 5pm

10am - 1pm or 2pm - 5pm

10am - 1pm or 2pm - 5pm

Yes

Clonmel

District: Cahir

Cahir

43

Yes

Ardfinnan

5

No

10am-1pm or 2pm-5pm or 6pm-9pm

10am-1pm or 2pm-5pm or 6pm-9pm

10am-1pm or 2pm-5pm or 6pm-9pm

Yes

Cahir

Ballyporeen

1

No

10am-1pm or 2pm-5pm or 6pm-9pm

10am-1pm or 2pm-5pm or 6pm-9pm

10am-1pm or 2pm-5pm or 6pm-9pm

Yes

Cahir

New Inn

1

No

10am - 1pm or 3pm - 5pm

Closed

Closed

Yes

Cahir

Cashel

14

No

9am - 5pm

9am - 5pm

9am - 5pm

Yes

Cahir

Clogheen

1

No

10am-1pm or 2pm-5pm or 6pm-9pm

10am-1pm or 2pm-5pm or 6pm-9pm

10am-1pm or 2pm-5pm or 6pm-9pm

Yes

Cahir

District: Nenagh

Nenagh

0

Yes

Ballingarry North

No

Members attached to Borrisokane deal with issues pertaining to Ballingarry North

Yes

Nenagh

Borrisokane

6

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Closed

Yes

Nenagh

Cloughjordan

1

No

10.30am - 11.30am

10.30am - 11.30am

Closed

Yes

Nenagh

Lorrha

1

No

3pm - 5pm

3pm - 5pm

Closed

Yes

Nenagh

Newport

11

No

9.30am - 10.30pm

9.30am - 10.30pm

Closed

Yes

Nenagh

Dolla

0

No

2pm - 3pm

2pm - 3pm

Closed

Yes

Nenagh

Portroe

1

No

3.30pm - 4.30pm

3.30pm - 4.30pm

Closed

Yes

Nenagh

Toomevara

2

No

10am - 11am

10am - 11am

Closed

Yes

Nenagh

Rearcross

1

No

No set time

No set time

Closed

Yes

Nenagh

Terryglass

0

3pm - 4pm

3pm - 4pm

Closed

yes

Nenagh

District: Templemore

Templemore

40

Yes

Borrisoleigh

2

No

10am - 11am or 2pm to 3pm, when manpower avail.

10am - 1pm or 2pm to 3pm

10am - 1pm

No

Templemore

Moyne

1

No

10am - 11am or 2pm to 3pm, when manpower avail.

10am - 1pm or 2pm to 3pm

Closed

No

Templemore

Roscrea

19

Yes

No

Templemore

Templederry

0

No

10am - 11am or 2pm to 3pm, when manpower avail.

10am - 1pm or 2pm to 3pm

Closed

No

Templemore

Templetuohy

1

No

10am - 11am or 2pm - 3pm, when manpower avail.

10am - 1pm or 2pm - 3pm

Closed

No

Templemore

Moneygall

1

No

10am - 11am or 2pm to 3pm, when manpower avail.

10am - 1pm or 2pm to 3pm

10am - 1pm

No

Templemore

Shevry

0

No

10am - 11am or 2pm to 3pm, when manpower avail.

10am - 1pm or 2pm to 3pm

10am - 1pm

No

Templemore

District: Tipperary Town

Tipperary Town

31

Yes

Bansha

1

No

10am-1pm or 2pm- 4pm or 7pm - 9pm

10am-1pm or 2pm- 4pm

10am-1pm

Yes

Tipperary

Cappawhite

0

No

10am-1pm or 2pm- 4pm or 7pm - 9pm

10am-1pm or 2pm- 4pm

10am-1pm

No

Tipperary

Dundrum

1

No

10am-1pm or 2pm- 4pm or 7pm - 9pm

10am-1pm or 2pm- 4pm

2pm-4pm

No

Tipperary

Emly

1

No

10am-1pm or 2pm- 4pm or 7pm - 9pm

10am-1pm or 2pm- 4pm

2pm-4pm

No

Tipperary

Golden

1

No

10am-1pm or 2pm- 4pm or 7pm - 9pm

10am-1pm or 2pm- 4pm

10am-1pm

Yes

Tipperary

Southern Region

Cork City

District: Anglesea Street

Anglesea Street

276

Yes

Yes

Anglesea St

Barrack Street

22

No

9am-1pm, 2pm-6pm, 7pm-10pm

9am-1pm, 2pm-6pm, 7pm-10pm

10am-1pm, 3pm-6pm

Yes

Anglesea St

Bridewell

24

Yes

Yes

Anglesea St

Blackrock

29

No

9am-1pm, 2pm-6pm, 7pm-10pm

9am-1pm, 2pm-6pm, 7pm-10pm

10am-1pm, 3pm-6pm

Yes

Anglesea St

District: Gurranabraher

Gurranabraher

56

Yes

Yes

Gurranabraher

Blarney

17

No

10am - 1pm, 2pm - 6pm, 7pm - 10pm

10am - 1pm, 2pm - 6pm, 7pm - 10pm

10am-1pm, 2pm-6pm

Yes

Gurranabraher

Ballincollig

26

No

9am-1pm, 2pm-6pm, 7pm-8pm

10am-1pm, 2pm-6pm

10am-1pm, 2pm-6pm

Yes

Gurranabraher

Rathduff

2

No

9am-1pm

9am-12md & 6pm-9pm

9am-12md & 6pm-9pm

No

Gurrahabraher

District: Mayfield

Mayfield

54

Yes

Yes

Mayfield

McCurtain Street

0

No

Members attached to Mayfield deal with issues pertaining to McCurtain Street

No

Mayfield

Watercourse Road

53

No

9am - 6pm, 7pm - 10pm

9am - 6pm, 7pm - 10pm

10am - 2pm, 7pm - 10pm

Yes

Mayfield

Mallow Road

4

No

Members attached to Mayfield District deal with issues pertaining to Mallow Road

No

Mayfield

District: Togher

Togher

57

Yes

Yes

Togher

Douglas

28

No

10am -6pm or 7pm - 10pm

10am -6pm or 7pm - 10pm

10am - 2pm

Yes

Togher

Bishopstown

21

No

9am - 1pm or 2pm - 8pm

9am - 1pm or 2pm - 8pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Togher

Carrigaline

20

No

10am - 6pm

10am - 6pm

11am - 2pm

Yes

Togher

Passage West

4

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Togher

Crosshaven

3

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Togher

Cork North

District: Fermoy

Fermoy

59

Yes

Mitchelstown

23

No

10am - 6pm

10am - 6pm

2pm - 5pm

Yes

Fermoy

Ballynoe

1

No

8pm - 9pm

8pm - 9pm

Closed

Yes

Fermoy

Kilworth

2

No

4pm - 5pm

4pm - 5pm

Closed

Yes

Fermoy

Kildorrery

1

No

6.30pm - 7.30pm

6.30pm - 7.30pm

Closed

Yes

Fermoy

Castletownroche

2

No

8pm - 9pm

8pm - 9pm

Closed

Yes

Fermoy

Rathcormack

1

No

6.30pm - 7.30pm

6.30pm - 7.30pm

Closed

Yes

Fermoy

District: Cobh

Cobh

39

Yes

Carrig na Bhfear

1

No

7 pm - 8 pm

7 pm - 8 pm

7 pm - 8 pm

Yes

Cobh

Carrigtowohill

3

No

10am - 12md

12md - 1pm

12md - 1pm

Yes

Cobh

Glanmire

21

No

9am - 6pm

9am - 6pm

12md - 1pm

Yes

Cobh

Watergrasshill

1

No

4pm - 5pm

4pm - 5pm

4pm - 5pm

Yes

Cobh

Glenville

1

No

2.30pm -3.30pm

2.30pm -3.30pm

Closed

No

Cobh

District: Midleton

Midleton

49

Yes

Youghal

24

No

8am - 10pm

8am - 10pm

8am - 10pm

No

Midleton

Cloyne

1

No

11am - 1pm

11am - 1pm

12md - 1pm

No

Midleton

Whitegate

1

No

11am - 1pm

11am - 1pm

12md - 1pm

No

Midleton

Killeagh

1

No

4pm - 6pm

4pm - 6pm

12md - 1pm

No

Midleton

Ballycotton

1

No

7pm - 9pm

7pm - 9pm

12md - 1pm

No

Midleton

District: Mallow

Mallow

48

Yes

No

Buttevant

2

No

Mon 6pm - 7pm, Tues - Fri 10am - 11am

11am - 1pm, 7pm - 8.30pm

12md - 1pm

No

Mallow

Doneraile

2

No

Mon 7.30pm - 8.30pm, Tues - Fri 11.30am - 12.30pm

11.30am - 12.30pm

11.30am - 12.30pm

No

Mallow

Milford

1

No

either morning or evening 1 hour daily when member is rosterd for duty. Notice on door

either morning or evening 1 hour daily when member is rosterd for duty. Notice on door

either morning or evening 1 hour daily when member is rosterd for duty. Notice on door

No

Mallow

Charleville

16

No

10am - 5pm, Lunch 1.15pm -2 pm

10am - 5pm, Lunch 1.15pm -2 pm

12md - 1pm

No

Mallow

Glantane

1

No

when resources avl, 1 hr daily, notice on door

when resources avl, 1 hr daily, notice on door

12md - 1pm

No

Mallow

Liscarroll

1

No

when resources avl, 1 hr daily, notice on door

when resources avl, 1 hr daily, notice on door

open 1 hour either morning or evening

No

Mallow

Cork West

District: Bandon

Bandon

87

Yes

Ballineen

2

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Bandon

Ballinhassig

2

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Bandon

Ballinspittle

0

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Bandon

Ballyfeard

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Bandon

Innishannon

0

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Bandon

Kilbrittan

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Bandon

Kinsale

15

No

10am - 6pm

10am - 6pm

10am - 6pm

No

Bandon

Timoleague

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Bandon

District: Bantry

Bantry

36

Yes

Adrigole

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Bantry

Ballydehob

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Bantry

Castletownbere

4

No

10am - 2pm

10am - 2pm

10am - 2pm

No

Bantry

Drimoleague

1

No

10am - 2pm

10am - 2pm

10am - 2pm

No

Bantry

Durrus

1

No

10am - 2pm

10am - 2pm

10am - 2pm

No

Bantry

Glengarrif

1

No

10am - 2pm

10am - 2pm

10am - 2pm

No

Bantry

Goleen

1

No

10am - 2pm

10am - 2pm

10am - 2pm

No

Bantry

Kealkil

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Bantry

Schull

4

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Bantry

District: Clonakilty

Clonakilty

29

Yes

Ballygurteen

0

No

Members attached to Baltimore deal with issues pertaining to Ballygurteen

No

Clonakilty

Baltimore

1

No

10am -1pm

10am -1pm

Closed

No

Clonakilty

Castletownsend

0

No

covered by Skibbereen

Closed

Closed

No

Clonakilty

Drinagh

1

No

10am -1pm

10am -1pm

Closed

No

Clonakilty

Dunmanway

9

No

10am -1pm

10am -1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Clonakilty

Roscarbery

2

No

10am -1pm

10am -1pm

Closed

No

Clonakilty

Skibereen

10

No

10am -1pm

10am -1pm

Closed

Yes

Clonakilty

District: Kanturk

Kanturk

34

Yes

Ballydesmond

0

No

6.30pm - 8.30pm

6.30 - 8.30pm

Closed

No

Kanturk

Boherbue

1

No

2.30pm - 4.30pm

2.30pm - 4.30pm

Closed

No

Kanturk

Knocknagree

1

No

3pm - 5pm

3pm - 5pm

Closed

No

Kanturk

Meelin

1

No

6.30pm - 8.30pm

6.30pm - 8.30pm

Closed

No

Kanturk

Millstreet

8

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am -1pm

No

Kanturk

Newmarket

3

No

10.30am - 12.30pm

10.30am - 12.30pm

Closed

No

Kanturk

Rathmore

1

No

2.30pm - 4.30pm

2.30pm - 4.30pm

Closed

No

Kanturk

District: Macroom

Macroom

42

Yes

Ballingeary

1

No

10am -1pm

10am -1pm

Closed

No

Macroom

Ballyvourney

3

No

10am -1pm

10am -1pm

Closed

No

Macroom

Coachford

2

No

10am -1pm

10am -1pm

Closed

No

Macroom

Crookstown

5

No

10am -1pm

10am -1pm

Closed

No

Macroom

Inchigeela

1

No

10am -1pm

10am -1pm

Closed

No

Macroom

Stuake

1

No

10am -1pm

10am -1pm

Closed

No

Macroom

Tarelton

1

No

10am -1pm

10am -1pm

Closed

No

Macroom

Kerry

District: Tralee

Tralee

112

Yes

Ardfert

2

No

4pm - 5pm

4pm - 5pm

Closed

Yes

Tralee

Fenit

1

No

11am - 12md

11am - 12md

Closed

Yes

Tralee

Abbeydorney

1

No

3pm - 4pm

3pm - 4pm

Closed

Yes

Tralee

Dingle

10

No

10am - 6pm

10am - 6pm

12md - 1pm

Yes

Tralee

Clochan

1

No

4pm - 5pm

4pm - 5pm

Closed

Yes

Tralee

Castlegregory

2

No

2.30 - 3.30pm

2.30 - 3.30pm

Closed

Yes

Tralee

Annascaul

1

No

10.30am - 11.30am

10.30am - 11.30am

Closed

Yes

Tralee

Ballyferiter

1

No

4.30pm - 5.30pm

4.30pm - 5.30pm

Closed

Yes

Tralee

Camp

1

No

12md - 1pm

12md - 1pm

Closed

Yes

Tralee

District: Caherciveen

Caherciveen

23

Yes

Ballinskelligs

1

No

10am - 12md

10am - 12md

Closed

Yes

Caherciveen

Valentia Island

1

No

10am - 12md

Closed

Closed

Yes

Caherciveen

Glenbeigh

1

No

10am - 12md

Closed

Closed

Yes

Caherciveen

Portmagee

1

No

10am - 12md

Closed

Closed

Yes

Caherciveen

Killorglin

13

No

9am - 5pm

9am - 5pm

9am - 5pm

Yes

Caherciveen

Waterville

1

No

9am - 1pm

9am - 1pm

Closed

Yes

Caherciveen

Sneem

2

No

10am - 12md

10am - 12md

Closed

Yes

Caherciveen

Castlemaine

1

No

10am - 12md

10am - 12md

Closed

Yes

Caherciveen

District: Killarney

Killarney

69

Yes

Kilgarvan

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm (when member is working)

10am - 1pm (when member is working)

Yes

Killarney

Kenmare

9

No

9.30am - 5.30pm

9.30am - 5.30pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Killarney

Castleisland

11

No

11am - 3pm & 8pm - 9.30pm

11am - 3pm & 8pm - 9.30pm

Closed

Yes

Killarney

Farranfore

2

No

10am - 11.30pm & 8pm - 9pm

10am - 11.30pm & 8pm - 9pm

11am - 12noon (when member is working)

Yes

Killarney

Barraduff

0

No

9am -11am & 3pm - 5pm (when member is working)

Closed

Closed

Yes

Killarney

Beaufort

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Killarney

Lauragh

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Killarney

District: Listowel

Listowel

38

Yes

Ballyheigue

2

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Listowel

Ballylongford

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Listowel

Ballybunion

9

No

9.30am - 5.30pm

9.30am - 5.30pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Listowel

Ballyduff

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Listowel

Brosna

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Listowel

Knocknagoshall

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Listowel

Lixnaw

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Listowel

Moyvane

2

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Listowel

Tarbert

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Listowel

Limerick

District: Henry Street

Henry St

256

Yes

Mary St

19

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 12md

Yes

Henry St

Castleconnell

5

No

10am - 1pm, 5pm - 7pm

10am - 1pm, 5pm - 7pm

10am - 12md, 5pm - 7pm

Yes

Henry St

Ardnacrusha

4

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Henry St

Mayorstone Pk.

82

No

10am - 6pm

10am - 6pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Henry St

District: Roxboro Road

Roxboro Rd

147

Yes

Patrickswell

0

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 12md

Yes

Roxboro Road

Ballyneety

0

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 12md

Yes

Roxboro Road

Caherconlish

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 12md

Yes

Roxboro Road

District: Askeaton

Askeaton

22

Yes

Adare

2

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 11am

10am - 11am

Yes

Askeaton

Pallaskenry

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 11am

10am - 11am

Yes

Askeaton

Croom

4

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 11am

10am - 11am

Yes

Askeaton

Foynes

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 11am

10am - 11am

Yes

Askeaton

Glin

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 11am

10am - 11am

Yes

Askeaton

Shanagolden

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 11am

10am - 11am

Yes

Askeaton

Rathkeale

7

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 11am

10am - 11am

Yes

Askeaton

District: Bruff

Bruff

23

Yes

Kilfinane

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 12md

Yes

Bruff

Ballylanders

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 12md

Yes

Bruff

Hospital

1

No

Closed

Closed

Closed

Yes

Bruff

Bruree

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 12md

Yes

Bruff

Kilmallock

7

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 12md

Yes

Bruff

Pallas

2

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 12md

Yes

Bruff

Cappamore

2

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 12md

Yes

Bruff

Oola

1

No

10am-1pm or 7pm-9pm

10am-1pm or 7pm-9pm

10am-1pm or 7pm - 9pm

Yes

Bruff

Doon

1

No

10am-1pm or 7pm-9pm

10am-1pm or 7pm-9pm

10am-1pm or 7pm - 9pm

No

Bruff

Galbally

1

No

10am-1pm or 7pm-9pm

10am-1pm or 7pm-9pm

10am-1pm or 7pm - 9pm

Yes

Bruff

Murroe

3

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 12md

Yes

Bruff

District: Newcastlewest

Newcastlewest

29

Yes

Dromcollogher

2

No

10am - 11.30am

10am- 11.30am

closed

Yes

Newcastle West

Abbeyfeale

10

No

10am - 12md

10am - 12md

closed

Yes

Newcastle West

Ballingarry

1

No

4pm - 5pm

4pm - 5pm

closed

Yes

Newcastle West

Tournafulla

1

No

4pm - 5pm

4pm - 5pm

closed

Yes

Newcastle West

Athea

1

No

2pm - 3pm

2pm - 3pm

closed

Yes

Newcastle West

Kilmeedy

1

No

12md - 1pm

12md - 1pm

closed

Yes

Newcastle West

Castletown

1

No

2.30pm - 3.30pm

2.30pm - 3.30pm

closed

Yes

Newcastle West

Western Region

Clare

District: Ennis

Ennis

121

Yes

Shannon

62

Yes

Yes

Ennis

Crusheen

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Ennis

Lissycasey

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12pm - 2pm

Yes

Ennis

Newmarket On Fergus

4

No

10am - 1pm, 2pm - 6pm

10am - 1pm, 6pm - 9pm

10am - 1pm, 6pm - 9pm

Yes

Ennis

Quin

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12pm - 2pm

Yes

Ennis

Sixmilebridge

4

No

10am - 1pm, 2pm - 6pm

10am - 1pm, 6pm - 9pm

10am - 1pm, 6pm - 9pm

Yes

Ennis

District: Kilrush

Kilrush

28

Yes

Carrigaholt

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Kilrush

Doonbeg

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Kilrush

Kilmihil

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Kilrush

Labasheeda

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Kilrush

Kildysart

2

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Kilrush

Kilkee

4

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Kilrush

District: Killaloe

Killaloe

34

Yes

Broadford

1

No

2.30pm - 4.30pm

2.30pm - 4.30pm

Closed

Yes

Killaloe

Scariff

5

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Killaloe

Mountshannon

1

No

7.30 pm - 8.30pm

7.30pm - 8.30pm

Closed

Yes

Killaloe

Tulla

2

No

2.30pm - 3.30pm

2.30pm - 3.30pm

Closed

Yes

Killaloe

District: Ennistymon

Ennistymon

25

Yes

Ballyvaughan

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 12pm

Closed

Yes

Ennistymon

Corofin

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 12pm

Closed

Yes

Ennistymon

Inagh

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 12pm

Closed

Yes

Ennistymon

Lahinch

2

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 12pm

Closed

Yes

Ennistymon

Lisdoonvarna

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 12pm

Closed

Yes

Ennistymon

Miltown Malbay

3

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 12pm

Closed

Yes

Ennistymon

Galway

District: Galway

Galway

212

Yes

Oranmore

35

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Galway

Carndolla

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Galway

Lough George

2

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Galway

Athenry

5

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Galway

Monivea

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Galway

Kiltullagh

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Galway

District: Ballinasloe

Ballinasloe

46

Yes

Ahascragh

0

No

1 hour daily - no set time

Closed

Closed

Yes

Ballinasloe

Kilconnel

1

No

1 hour daily - no set time

Closed

Closed

Yes

Ballinasloe

Kiltormer

0

No

Members attached to Ballinasloe deal with calls pertaining to Kiltormer

Yes

Ballinasloe

Menlough

0

No

1 hour daily - no set time

Closed

Closed

Yes

Ballinasloe

Mountbellew

7

No

10am - 1pm, 2pm - 5pm

10am - 11am

12md - 1pm

Yes

Ballinasloe

Moylough

1

No

1 hour daily - no set time

Closed

Closed

Yes

Ballinasloe

Ballygar

2

No

10am - 11am

6pm-7pm

10am - 11am

Yes

Ballinasloe

Creggs

1

No

10am - 11am

6pm-7pm

Closed

Yes

Ballinasloe

District: Clifden

Clifden

29

Yes

Recess

1

No

10am - 1pm

Closed

Closed

Yes

Clifden

Letterfrack

1

No

10am - 1pm

Closed

Closed

Yes

Clifden

Lennaun

1

No

10am - 1pm

Closed

Closed

Yes

Clifden

Carna

2

No

10am - 1pm

Closed

Closed

Yes

Clifden

Maam

2

No

10am - 1pm

Closed

Closed

Yes

Clifden

Roundstone

1

No

10am - 1pm

Closed

Closed

Yes

Clifden

District: Loughrea

Loughrea

41

Yes

Eyrecourt

1

No

4pm - 5pm

4pm - 5 pm

Closed

Yes

Loughrea

Killimor

0

No

2.30pm - 3.30pm

2.30pm - 3.30pm

Closed

Yes

Loughrea

Kilrickle

1

No

8pm - 9pm

8pm - 9pm

Closed

Yes

Loughrea

New Inn

1

No

7pm-8pm

7pm - 8pm

Closed

Yes

Loughrea

Portumna

8

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Loughrea

Tynagh

1

No

11.30am - 12.30am

11.30am - 12.30pm

Closed

Yes

Loughrea

Woodford

1

No

10am - 11am

10am - 11am

Closed

Yes

Loughrea

District: Salthill

Salthill

55

Yes

Moycullen

2

No

10am - 1pm

3pm - 6pm

Closed

Yes

Salthill

Carraroe

6

No

10am - 11am

Closed

Closed

Yes

Salthill

Ros Muc

1

No

10am - 1pm

Closed

Closed

Yes

Salthill

Inverin

1

No

10am - 1pm

Closed

Closed

Yes

Salthill

Spiddle

3

No

10am - 1pm

Closed

Closed

Yes

Salthill

Leitir Mor

1

No

10am - 1pm

Closed

Closed

Yes

Salthill

Uachtarard

6

No

10am - 1pm

Closed

Closed

Yes

Salthill

Cill Ronain

3

No

10am - 1pm

Closed

Closed

Yes

Salthill

District: Gort

Gort

31

Yes

Ardrahan

1

No

Mon 7.30pm - 8.30pm, Wed 7.30pm to 8.30pm, Fri 10am to 11am, Sat 2.30pm to 3.30pm.

2.30 pm - 3.30 pm

Closed

Yes

Gort

Craughwell

6

No

Mon 10 am to 12md, Tue 8pm - 10pm, Wed 2pm -4pm, Thu10 am - 12md, Fri 2pm - 4pm.

10am - 11am , 8pm - 10pm

Yes

Gort

Kinvara

2

No

Mon 7pm -8pm, Wed 7.30pm - 8.30pm.

11am - 12md

Closed

Yes

Gort

Kilchreest

1

No

Wed 10am - 1 pm, Fri 8.30pm - 9.30pm.

Closed

Closed

Yes

Gort

Kilcolgan

1

No

Tue 10am - 11am, Thur 8.30pm - 9.30 pm

Closed

Closed

Yes

Gort

Shanaglish

1

No

Tue 10am -11am Thu 7.30pm- 8.30pm

Closed

Closed

Yes

Gort

District: Tuam

Tuam

54

Yes

Barnadearg

1

No

Mon-Thur 10am-11am. Fri 5pm-6pm

5pm - 6pm

12md - 1pm

Yes

Tuam

Ballymoe

1

No

7pm - 8pm

7pm - 8pm

7pm - 8pm

Yes

Tuam

Corofin

2

No

Mon-Thur 10am-11am. Fri 5pm-6pm

5pm - 6pm

12md - 1pm

Yes

Tuam

Dunmore

6

No

Mon-Thur 10am-11am. Fri 5pm-6pm

5pm - 6pm

12md - 1pm

Yes

Tuam

Headford

5

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Tuam

Williamstown

1

No

Mon-Thur 10am-11am. Fri 5pm-6pm

10am - 11am

12md - 1pm

Yes

Tuam

Milltown

1

No

Mon-Thur 10am-11am. Fri 5pm-6pm

5pm - 6pm

12md - 1pm

Yes

Tuam

Kilconly

1

No

Mon-Thur 10am-11am. Fri 5pm-6pm

5pm - 6pm

12md - 1pm

Yes

Tuam

Glenamaddy

1

No

Mon-Thur 10am-11am. Fri 5pm-6pm

5pm - 6pm

12md - 1pm

Yes

Tuam

Roscommon/Longford

District: Roscommon

Roscommon

79

Yes

Athleague

2

No

10am - 11am

6pm - 7pm

Closed

Yes

Roscommon

Ballyforan

1

No

9am- 10am, 2pm -4pm, 8pm - 9pm.

9am- 10am, 2pm -4pm, 8pm - 9pm.

9am- 10am, 2pm -4pm, 8pm - 9pm.

Yes

Roscommon

Clonark

1

No

Awaiting refurbishment

No

Roscommon

Knockcroghery

6

No

10am - 11am

6pm - 7pm

Closed

Yes

Roscommon

Taughmaconnel

1

No

10am - 11am, 6pm - 7pm.

10am - 11am, 6pm - 7pm.

Closed

Yes

Roscommon

District: Boyle

Boyle

28

Yes

Cootehall

1

No

10am-11am, 2pm-3pm, 8pm-9pm

10am-11am, 2pm-3pm, 8pm-9pm

10am-11am, 8pm-9pm

Yes

Boyle

Elphin

1

No

10am - 12md

10am - 12md

10am - 12md

Yes

Boyle

Keadue

1

No

10am-11am, 2pm-3pm, 8pm-9pm

10am-11am, 2pm-3pm, 8pm-9pm

10am-11am, 8pm-9pm

No

Boyle

Roosky

3

No

10am - 1pm

2pm - 5pm

11am - 1pm

Yes

Boyle

Strokestown

3

No

10am - 11am

6pm - 7pm

Closed

No

Boyle

Tarmonbarry

2

No

3pm - 5pm

3pm - 5pm, 3 Saturdays per month

Closed

No

Boyle

District: Longford

Longford

60

Yes

Ballymahon

5

No

11am - 1pm

10am - 1pm, 2 Saturdays per month

11am - 1pm, 1 Sunday per month

Yes

Longford

Kenagh

1

No

3pm - 5pm, 2 days per week

2pm - 5pm, 3 Saturdays per month

Closed

No

Longford

Newtowncashel

1

No

11am - 1pm 3 days per week

11am - 1pm, 1 Saturday per month

2pm - 5pm 2 Sundays per month

No

Longford

Lanesboro

6

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Longford

District: Granard

Granard

29

Yes

Ardagh

1

No

7pm - 9pm

7pm - 9pm, 2 Saturdays per month

Closed

No

Granard

Drumlish

2

No

8pm - 10pm

6pm - 10pm, 1 Saturday per month

10am - 1pm, 2 Sundays per month

No

Granard

Ballinalee

1

No

10am - 1pm

8pm-10pm 1 Sat / 10am-1pm 1 Sat / 2pm-6pm 1 Sat.

8pm-10pm 1Sun/ 10am-1pm 1 Sun/ 2pm-6pm 1 Sun.

Yes

Granard

Edgeworthstown

8

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12pm - 1pm

Yes

Granard

Smear

1

No

10am - 1pm

8pm-10pm 1 Sat / 10am-1pm 1 Sat / 2pm-6pm 1 Sat.

8pm-10pm 1Sun/ 10am-1pm 1 Sun/ 2pm-6pm 1 Sun.

Yes

Granard

District: Castlerea

Castlerea

34

Yes

Ballaghadereen

8

No

10pm - 1pm

10pm - 1pm

11am - 1pm

No

Castlerea

Ballinlough

2

No

10pm - 1pm

10pm - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Castlerea

Ballintubber

1

No

10pm - 1pm

12pm - 2pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Castlerea

Frenchpark

3

No

10am-12pm, 8pm-10pm

10am-12md, 2 Sat/month 8pm -10pm 2 Sat/month

10am - 12md

Yes

Castlerea

Loughlynn

1

No

10pm - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Castlerea

Tulsk

1

No

10am-11am, 2pm-3pm, 8pm-9pm

10am-11am, 2pm-3pm, 8pm-9pm

10am-11am, 8pm-9pm

Yes

Castlerea

Mayo

District: Castlebar

Castlebar

Yes

Ballyvary

No

10am - 12md & 7pm - 9pm

10am - 12md & 7pm - 9pm

Closed

Castlebar

Ballyglass

No

11am - 1pm & 7pm - 9pm

11am - 1pm & 7pm - 9pm

Closed

No

Castlebar

Balla

No

11am - 1pm

11am - 1pm

Closed

No

Castlebar

Partry

No

10am - 12 md & 7pm - 9pm

10am - 12 md & 7pm - 9pm

Closed

No

Castlebar

Glenisland

No

Closed

Closed

Closed

No

Castlebar

Tourmakeady

No

10am - 12 md & 7pm - 9pm

10am - 12 md & 7pm - 9pm

Closed

No

Castlebar

District: Ballina

Ballina

50

Yes

Killala

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Closed

No

Ballina

Ballycastle

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Closed

No

Ballina

Bonnicconlon

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Closed

No

Ballina

Crossmolina

4

No

10am - 12 md & 7pm - 9pm

10am - 12 md & 7pm - 9pm

Closed

No

Ballina

Lahardane

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Closed

No

Ballina

District:Belmullet

Belmullet

22

Yes

Blacksod

0

No

Closed

Closed

Closed

No

Belmullet

Bellacorrick

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12pm - 2pm

No

Belmullet

Bangor Erris

2

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 12md

No

Belmullet

Ballycroy

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12pm - 2pm

No

Belmullet

Glenamoy

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12pm - 2pm

No

Belmullet

District: Claremorris

Claremorris

37

Yes

Kilmaine

0

No

2.30pm - 3.30pm

2.30pm - 3.30pm

Closed

No

Claremorris

Ballindine

1

No

11am - 12md

11am - 12md

Closed

No

Claremorris

Knock

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Closed

No

Claremorris

Ballinrobe

9

No

11am - 1pm, 8pm - 9pm

11am - 1pm, 8pm - 9pm

12pm - 1pm

No

Claremorris

Cong

1

No

11am - 12md

11am - 12md

Closed

No

Claremorris

Shrule

1

No

4pm - 5pm

4pm - 5pm

Closed

No

Claremorris

Hollymount

1

No

4pm - 5pm

4pm - 5pm

Closed

No

Claremorris

District: Swinford

Swinford

27

Yes

Kiltimagh

1

No

10am - 12md

10am - 12pm

Closed

No

Swinford

Charlestown

5

No

10am - 12md

10am - 12md

Closed

No

Swinford

Kilkelly

9

No

10am - 12md

10am - 12md

Closed

No

Swinford

Ballyhaunis

10

No

10am - 1pm & 8pm - 9pm

10am - 1pm & 8pm - 9pm

Closed

Yes

Swinford

Foxford

3

No

10am - 12md

10am - 12md

Closed

No

Swinford

District:Westport

Westport

29

Yes

Newport

2

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Westport

Achill Sound

3

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Westport

Mulranny

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Westport

Louisburgh

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Westport

Keel

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Westport

Northern Region

Sligo/Leitrim

District: Sligo

Sligo

154

Yes

Collooney

5

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Sligo

Skreen

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Sligo

Coolaney

0

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Sligo

Cliffoney

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Sligo

Rosses Point

2

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Sligo

Grange

5

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Sligo

District: Ballymote

Ballymote

29

Yes

Tubbercurry

7

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Ballymote

Gurteen

2

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Ballymote

Riverstown

2

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Ballymote

Aclare

2

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Ballymote

Bunnanadden

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Ballymote

Easkey

2

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Ballymote

Ballyfarnon

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Ballymote

Enniscrone

5

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Ballymote

District: Carrick-On-Shannon

Carrick-On-Shannon

44

Yes

Cloone

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Carrick -On-Shannon

Ballinamore

6

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Carrick -On-Shannon

Dromod

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Carrick -On-Shannon

Keshcarrigan

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Carrick -On-Shannon

Mohill

6

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Carrick -On-Shannon

Carrigallen

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Carrick -On-Shannon

District: Manorhamilton

Manorhamilton

21

Yes

Kiltyclogher

2

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12pm - 1pm

Yes

Manorhamilton

Drumkerrin

3

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12pm - 1pm

Yes

Manorhamilton

Kinlough

4

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12pm - 1pm

Yes

Manorhamilton

Glenfarne

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12pm - 1pm

Yes

Manorhamilton

Dromahair

3

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12pm - 1pm

Yes

Manorhamilton

Drumshambo

5

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12pm - 1pm

Yes

Manorhamilton

Donegal

District: Letterkenny

Letterkenny

108

Yes

Carrigans

5

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Letterkenny

Castlefin

4

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Letterkenny

Brocach

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Letterkenny

Newtowncunningham

3

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Letterkenny

Raphoe

3

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Letterkenny

Lifford

17

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Letterkenny

Ballybofey: This station has 24 hour mobile patrol. Opening hours to Public as stated

24

No

10am - 6pm

10am - 6pm

Closed

Yes

Letterkenny

Convoy

4

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Letterkenny

District: Buncrana

Buncrana

53

Yes

Burnfoot

6

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Buncrana

Carndonagh

4

No

9am - 3pm

10am - 1pm

Closed

No

Buncrana

Clonmanny

2

No

7pm - 8pm

Closed

Closed

Yes

Buncrana

Malin

4

No

6pm - 7pm

Closed

Closed

Yes

Buncrana

Culdaff

0

No

8pm - 9pm

Closed

Closed

Yes

Buncrana

Moville

7

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Buncrana

Muff

4

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Buncrana

District: Milford

Milford

28

Yes

Carrigart

3

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Milford

Kerrykeel

4

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Milford

Kilmacrennan

2

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Milford

Churchill

1

No

11am - 1pm

11am - 1pm

11am - 1pm

No

Milford

Dunfanaghy

3

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Milford

Craosloch

1

No

11am - 1pm

11am - 1pm

11am - 1pm

No

Milford

Falcarragh

9

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Milford

Ramelton

4

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Milford

Rathmullen

1

No

11am - 1pm

11am - 1pm

11am - 1pm

No

Milford

District: Glenties

Glenties

1

Yes

Annagry

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Glenties

Ardara

3

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Glenties

Bunbeag

2

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Glenties

Burtonport

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Glenties

Clougher

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Glenties

Doochary

0

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Glenties

Dungloe

9

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Glenties

Carrick

2

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Glenties

Gleann Cholmcille

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

No

Glenties

District: Ballyshannon

Ballyshannon

47

Yes

Ballintra

2

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Ballyshannon

Bundoran

6

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Ballyshannon

Donegal Town

34

Yes

Pettigo

0

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Ballyshannon

Dunkineely

0

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Ballyshannon

Na Cealla Beaga

6

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Ballyshannon

Mountcharles

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

Yes

Ballyshannon

Cavan/Monaghan

District: Monaghan

Monaghan

91

Yes

Clones

8

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Monaghan

Newbliss

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

No

Monaghan

Clontibret

0

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

No

Monaghan

Scotstown

3

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Monaghan

Emyvale

4

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Monaghan

Smithboro

0

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

No

Monaghan

District: Carrickmacross

Carrickmacross

47

Yes

Ballybay

5

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Carrickmacross

Castleblaney

24

Yes

Shantonagh

2

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Carrickmacross

Corrinshigagh

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Carrickmacross

Rockcorry

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Carrickmacross

District: Cavan

Cavan

68

Yes

Ballinagh

3

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Cavan

Arva

3

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Cavan

Stradone

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Cavan

Redhills

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Cavan

Kilnaleck

4

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Cavan

District: Baileboro

Baileboro

40

Yes

Kingscourt

6

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Baileboro

Mullagh

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Baileboro

Shercock

2

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Baileboro

Tullyvin

0

No

(Opening hours subject to manpower availability)

(Opening hours subject to manpower availability)

Yes

Baileboro

Virginia

5

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Baileboro

Cootehill

10

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Baileboro

Ballyjamesduff

4

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Baileboro

District: Ballyconnell

Ballyconnell

27

Yes

Belturbet

4

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Ballyconnell

Swanlinbar

2

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Ballyconnell

Killeshandra

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Ballyconnell

Bawnboy

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Ballyconnell

Dowra

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Ballyconnell

Blacklion

3

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 2pm

Yes

Ballyconnell

Louth

District: Drogheda

Drogheda

100

Yes

Clogherhead

4

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 1pm

Yes

Drogheda

Dunleer

5

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 1pm

Yes

Drogheda

District: Dundalk

Dundalk

131

Yes

Blackrock

5

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 1pm

Yes

Dundalk

Carlingford

6

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 1pm

Yes

Dundalk

Drumad

7

Yes

Hackballscross

7

No

5pm - 8pm

5pm - 8pm

5pm - 8pm

Yes

Dundalk

Omeath

5

No

6pm - 9pm

6pm - 9pm

6pm - 9pm

Yes

Dundalk

District: Ardee

Ardee (24hr Patrol)

28

No

9am - 2pm & 6pm- 10pm

9am - 2pm

Closed

Castlebellingham

4

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 1pm

No

Drogheda

Collon

7

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 1pm

Yes

Drogheda

Louth

1

No

10am - 1pm

10am - 1pm

12md - 1pm

Yes

Drogheda

Juvenile Offenders

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

151 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he has been furnished with a statement from Trinity House School, County Dublin, clearly defining the role of the board, its responsibilities, authority, monitoring function in accordance with standard 6.9, including in the statement the lines of accountability of the directors and the board’s relationship with the Irish Youth Justice Service as recommended in the Health Information and Quality Authority Inspection Report 393; the actions taken by him to follow up on the implementation of these recommendations by HIQA in terms of the board of management and the supervision structures in Trinity House School; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33928/11]

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has an important role in ensuring that proper standards are maintained in all 3 of the children detention schools on the Oberstown campus, Lusk, Co Dublin. These are Trinity House School, Oberstown Boys School and Oberstown Girls School. There is one Board of Management on the Oberstown campus, which has responsibility for all 3 children detention schools. The HIQA recommendation mentioned by the Deputy applies to the Board of Management of the Oberstown campus, and not Trinity House School. The roles of the Minister, the Board, and the Director are set out in Part 10 the Children Act, 2001.

The HIQA inspection report No. 393 on Trinity House School, published in November 2010, included a recommendation that the Board of Management should produce a statement in the terms outlined by the Deputy. This recommendation was reviewed by HIQA in a further inspection report (No. 453) published in August 2011 which noted that a draft statement had been prepared, but this had yet to be provided to HIQA inspectors. I understand that the Board has not, prior to its recent expiry, approved a statement which would implement this recommendation. A new Board is due to be appointed shortly and responsibility for this matter will transfer to my colleague the Minster for Children and Youth Affairs. I am advised that one of the its first priority tasks will be to draw up an implementation plan to address any outstanding recommendations made by HIQA. I expect that the recommendation outlined by the Deputy will be fully met at an early stage in the term of the new Board.

Departmental Funding

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

152 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the amount of funding that was given to the Meath Women’s Refuge and Support Services in the years 2008 to 2011, inclusive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33933/11]

The following tabular statement sets out the amounts paid by my Department to Meath Women's Refuge Support Services in the years 2008 to 2011, inclusive. I understand that state funding is also provided to domestic violence refuges by the Health Service Executive and by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government.

Payments to Meath Women's Refuge Support Services

Year

2008

2009

2010

2011

Amount

€24,000

€22,000

€28,250

€25,900

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

153 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the way COSC funding is being ring-fenced in view of the evidence that domestic and sexual abuse increases in times of recession; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33934/11]

As my Department's budget for 2012 has not yet been decided, funding arrangements for Cosc for the coming year have not been finalised. I can assure the Deputy that all reasonable efforts will be made by my Department to continue supporting the provision of services dealing with domestic and sexual abuse within available resources.

Military Medals

Nicky McFadden

Question:

154 Deputy Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Defence the reason for limiting the applicability of the Military Star to members of the Defence Forces killed outside the State; and if a person (details supplied) in County Leitrim will be considered for a posthumous award. [33884/11]

The Military Star was inaugurated on 10 September 1998. The Military Star is awarded posthumously to personnel of the Defence Forces who gave up their lives as a result of a hostile action or act in the course of service outside the State on approved military duties overseas. The Military Star was introduced 40 years after the first deployment overseas of Defence Forces personnel in 1958. Under the existing provisions of Defence Force Regulations, members of the Defence Forces who died in service in the course of service outside the State on approved military duties overseas on or after 28 June 1958 are eligible for the award of the medal. In 2008 a Medals Review Group, comprising representatives of both the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces, was established to conduct a comprehensive review of medals awarded to members of the Defence Forces, at home and overseas. One of the recommendations of the Report of this Group was "that the award of the Military Star medal be extended to members who died in service at home as a direct result of hostile action or act perpetrated by an enemy, opposing armed force, hostile belligerent or other party involving the use of firepower or other lethal weapon, while on approved military duties.

Work is ongoing in both the Department and the Defence Forces to draft the necessary amendments to Defence Force Regulations to give effect to the recommendations of the Report of the Medals Review Group, including that relating to the Military Star. Work in this regard is at an advanced stage and once it is complete consideration can be given to the specific case referred to by the Deputy.

Defence Forces Property

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

155 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Defence the activity that is happening on a yearly basis at Gormanston Barracks, County Dublin; the number of days and what was done on these days in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33930/11]

Gormanston Camp is the principal recruit training camp in the Eastern Brigade region and is used throughout the year by personnel from both the Permanent Defence Force and the Reserve Defence Force. To date in 2011, the Defence Forces have organised 15 courses of different types and duration. The Camp has also been used for five training camps, including three Reserve Defence Force training weekends. This level of activity is in line with what happened in 2010.

In more general terms, the Camp continues to be used extensively for weapons training by units of the Eastern Brigade as well as by the Air Corps and the Naval Service, whilst the Pistol Range is also used by An Garda Síochána for its training purposes. The Camp also facilitates the conduct of land to air, sea to air and air to sea firing practices and is the only such facility available to the Defence Forces for these purposes. It also has a number of aircraft hangers, one of which is used by the Air Accident Investigation Unit of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

The Camp also continues to be used as a base for one of the Defence Forces' Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams. Both An Garda Síochána and Civil Defence also use the Camp for courses, exercises and competitions. To date in 2011, these bodies have used the camp on seven occasions.

Grant Payments

John O'Mahony

Question:

156 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive their agri-environment options scheme payment. [33729/11]

The person named was approved for participation in the Agri-Environment Options Scheme with effect from 1st September 2010.

Under the EU Regulations governing the Scheme and other area-based payment schemes, a comprehensive administrative check, including cross-checks with the Land Parcel Identification System, must be completed before any payment can issue. During these checks a query arose in relation to the re-digitisation of land parcels for AEOS purposes. This particular problem is now being addressed and once completed the file will be further progressed for payment.

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

157 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the position regarding the single payment scheme and disadvantaged area scheme payments in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; the reason for any delays in processing these payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33763/11]

An application under the Single Payment Scheme/Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was received from the person named on the 19th April 2011.

This application was selected for and was the subject of a Ground Eligibility/Cross-Compliance Inspection.

During the course of the Cross Compliance inspection problems were noted with regard to the requirement to maintain land in Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition, specifically that there was a failure to maintain stockproof boundaries and a failure to prevent the proliferation of Noxious Weeds. These problems resulted in a 5% penalty being recorded.

The inspection is now processed and an advance SPS payment of 50% of the total due for 2011 issued on the 3rd of November. A balancing payment will issue in December. Payment under the Disadvantaged Area Scheme issued on the 4th of November.

Bovine Diseases

Patrick Deering

Question:

158 Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, further to Parliamentary Question No. 420 of 2 November 2011, the reason veterinary surgeons employed by him in the district veterinary offices do not carry out retests on herds that have had a reactor, after the reactor has been removed from the herd. [33789/11]

As stated in my reply to Question No 420 of 2 November, my Department's veterinary inspectors carry out some testing in reactor herds, where resources permit. However, my Department does not have the resources to conduct all ancillary testing and much of this work is outsourced to private veterinary practitioners. I should point out that, with a view to disease control and cost savings, my Department strategically manages its own veterinary staff resources to conduct as much of this testing as possible.

Grant Payments

Brendan Griffin

Question:

159 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a disadvantaged area payment will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33808/11]

An application under the 2011 Single Payment/Disadvantage Areas Scheme was received from the person named on 26 April 2011, the processing of which has recently been finalised, thereby allowing the 50% advance of the Single Payment and full payment under the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme to issue on 8 November 2011.

Brendan Griffin

Question:

160 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when single farm and disadvantaged area payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33812/11]

An application under the Single Payment Scheme/Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was received from the person named on the 15th April 2011. This application was selected for and was the subject of a Ground Eligibility/Cross Compliance Inspection. This inspection was completed and the results are now being processed.

In the vast majority of inspected cases amendments have had to be made to the maps in order that the Land Parcel Identification System that is used for making payments to farmers is kept up-to-date. Processing of these changes is continuing and priority is given to applicants who were the subject of a Ground Eligibility Inspection.

Michelle Mulherin

Question:

161 Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason for the delay in payment of disadvantaged scheme payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if he will expedite the processing of their application and the issue of their payment. [33842/11]

Applications under the Single Payment/Disadvantaged Areas Schemes were received from the person named on 6 May 2011, and the processing has recently been completed. Payments under the Single Payment Scheme (50% advance) and the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme were issued to the applicant on 3rd and 4th November respectively.

Fisheries Protection

Michael McCarthy

Question:

162 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when the report of the herring review group will be made available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33855/11]

There is currently no group producing a report on herring, however earlier this year I asked the fishing industry and other interested parties to make proposals on the future management arrangements for all Irish herring fisheries, including the Celtic Sea stock. In response to this a number of proposals were received, many offering conflicting views, particularly in regard to the need to ring fence the fisheries. Taking account of the views expressed I have asked my Department to prepare options for my consideration taking all issues into account and this document is nearing completion. When I have chosen a preferred option, I plan to make this available to Industry representatives for views before making a final decision on the management arrangements for 2012 herring fisheries.

Common Fisheries Policy

Michael McCarthy

Question:

163 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine in respect of reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, the strength of Ireland’s negotiating position; the timeline for the reform process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33856/11]

The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is the fisheries policy of the European Union which was first put in place in 1983 and has been subject to reviews every 10 years, the most recent was in 2002 and the next reform is scheduled for adoption in the latter half of 2012.

The CFP is scheduled for adoption in the latter half of 2012. This is an ambitious target and there is a strong possibility that the adoption of the new policy will be delayed and fall into 2013 during the Irish Presidency of the EU.

A reformed CFP is a critical policy issue for Ireland as it will shape the strategic blueprint for the European fishing industry for the next decade. The CFP impacts on the social, economic and environmental pillars of the wider seafood industry and the proposals will hold both opportunities and risks for Ireland.

My overarching goal for the new CFP is for a sustainable, profitable and self reliant industry that protects and enhances the social and economic fabric of rural coastal communities dependent on the seafood sector, while balancing these objectives with the need to deliver a sustainable and eco-centred fisheries landscape for future generations. I am pursuing initiatives that will deliver and sustain jobs in coastal communities rather than those that promote the concentration of wealth and delivery of excessive profits for a few big international businesses.

I broadly support the general thrust of the proposals put forward by the Commission in its proposal of 13th July on such key issues as enhanced conservation, rebuilding fish stocks, reducing discarding of fish, introducing more selective fishing gears to allow small fish and unwanted by catches to escape and the use of multi-annual plans as a primary tool to rebuild and manage fish stocks.

However I have differing views on some key points from an Irish perspective. Subject to further negotiation on important details in respect of those issues I would expect that by the conclusion of the negotiations, I would hope to be in a position to support these important elements of the Reform proposals. Within the package there are specific issues that are of critical importance to Ireland which I will address in more detail.

I have serious concerns about the implications of the Commissions intention to impose the mandatory introduction of individually transferable concessions (quotas). Under this system, fish quotas would be allocated as tradeable commodities to private individuals and companies for at least 15 years and those individuals would be permitted to sell on the quotas.

There is serious concern in Ireland that under the current set of proposals, which the Commission has published, there is a real risk that the economic benefit from our quotas will be increasingly lost to Ireland, despite the Commissions assurances. At this point, I can see no safeguards that could be built into the proposals which would prevent this happening.

In relation to discards, I fully support the objectives on addressing the unacceptable and wasteful practice of discarding as set in this proposal. The Commission proposal involves the introduction of a blanket ban on discarding of fish which would be applied incrementally over the period 2014 to 2016.

Ireland has been to the forefront in the debate on discards and as recently as Tuesday the 8th November published an Irish "atlas of discards" which details the level of discards by the Irish fleet and proposes potential solutions.

I believe that we need radical action to bring an end to this wasteful practice which is as abhorrent to fishermen as it is to the general public. In my opinion, the Commission proposal for a ban is too simplistic and is more likely to result in the concealment of the practice than a change in the behaviour. I am absolutely committed to addressing the problem in a practical and progressive manner working directly with fishermen and scientists.

The retention of the Hague Preferences is a key issue for Ireland as it gives Irish Fishermen a safety net of additional quotas when stock levels go below a certain point. In the Commission proposal, the Hague Preferences are recognised in the same manner as here to fore. Ireland sought their full integration into the CFP to avoid the current situation where there application each year is a matter for decision by the EU Fisheries Council. I will continue to pursue this approach but I am fully aware that we may face opposition for their inclusion, in any form, from those Member States who lose quota when they are invoked.

In terms of the process, there is a long road to take before the reform of the CFP is finalised, many Member States will have conflicting agendas on certain issues. Commissioner Damanaki has visited Ireland and I had a good opportunity to set out Ireland's priorities and to give her a full understanding of the situation of the sector in Ireland and the likely impacts of her proposals, both positive and negative.

I have been actively building alliances with like minded colleagues in Europe. I met with my French Counterpart Minister Le Maire on the 30th September and issued a joint communiqué which included a commitment to work closely on sustainability measures including discards, regionalisation and importantly on our opposition to the proposals on ITQs as they currently stand.

I also met my British and Scottish counterparts at the November Fisheries Council where we had a broad discussion on fisheries related issues including the reform of the CFP.

In addition I am working very closely with the Irish industry to ensure an orchestrated and focussed message on Ireland's priorities for the reformed CFP is brought to as many fora as possible in Brussels.

I intend to continue this process and will take every opportunity to explain Ireland's priorities and seek support for our stance, in order to strengthen our negotiating position and deliver the best possible outcome for Ireland.

Grant Payments

Noel Harrington

Question:

164 Deputy Noel Harrington asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when an application for a single farm payment will be processed in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; when payment will issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33859/11]

An application under the 2011 Single Payment Scheme was received from the person named on 13 May 2011, processing of which has recently been finalised, thereby allowing the 50% advance of the Single Payment and the Disadvantaged Area Payment issue to the applicant in the coming days.

Food Safety Standards

Terence Flanagan

Question:

165 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding raw milk; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33894/11]

The proposed ban on the sale of raw milk for direct human consumption is not new. Sale of raw cows' milk was banned for many years (from 1997 till 2006) by my Department; and previously by most local authorities. The ban lapsed due to a change in EU legislation in 2006. In effect renewal of the ban will constitute a return to the status quo.

A public consultation process was held in 2008 in relation to the proposed extension of the ban to goats' and sheep milk. Seventeen submissions were received. The submissions were wide ranging and included requests to allow restricted sale of raw milk as well as a number of claims of perceived health benefits of drinking raw milk. All the submissions were carefully reviewed by my Department's experts in conjunction with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland. They were satisfied that the claimed benefits from drinking raw milk did not outweigh strong advice concerning the known health risks associated with drinking raw milk. These include diseases such as TB, Brucellosis, E. coli O157, Campylobacter and Salmonella. Illness associated with consumption of raw milk is thankfully rare, but this is precisely because of the fact that the vast bulk of liquid milk consumed in Ireland is pasteurised, partly due to the existence of the previous longstanding ban. International data show that outbreaks increase when the numbers consuming raw milk are allowed to increase.

The FSAI has therefore recommended that the sale of unpasteurised milk from all farm animals which is intended for direct human consumption should be prohibited; and advises that the most effective way to protect public health is to ensure that such milk is pasteurised. Pasteurisation is universally recognised as having been one of the greatest advances in public health and it is important that we do not create conditions in this country, by effectively opening up a new outlet for raw milk, which could undo some of that good.

The proposed ban will not apply to the consumption of raw milk — e.g. a dairy farmer drinking milk from his/her own cows. Such a ban is not possible under the law and in any event would be unenforceable. However, it is recommended to avoid this practice for health reasons. Home pasteurisation units are commercially available.

The proposed ban will not apply either to the use of raw milk to make cheese. The cheese making process takes time and this provides an opportunity (which does not exist with raw milk per se) to withdraw product from sale in the event of a problem arising with the source milk. The cheese making process also prevents growth of pathogens and in some cases encourages slow decline in numbers of some pathogens.

With regard to business opportunities, a number of artisan food producers are pasteurising raw whole milk and are licensed by my Department in this regard. These artisans are very successfully marketing liquid whole milk, ice cream, different flavoured yoghurts and artisan farmhouse cheeses. I am advised by the FSAI that meaningful differences in nutritional value between pasteurised and unpasteurised milk have not been demonstrated and these artisans clearly show that pasteurised whole milk can be used in the manufacture of safe and quality dairy products.

Any food scare associated with the sale of raw Irish milk for direct human consumption could have major implications for our dairy industry. Ireland exports over €2bn worth of dairy products each year; and is the leading producer of infant formula with about 15% of the world market. The recent E. coli outbreak in Germany, resulting in 46 deaths, 782 cases of HUS (haemolytic uraemic syndrome, a serious kidney condition) and 3,128 known cases of VTEC, indicates the scale of possible risks associated with raw food.

The prevalence of TB in herds in Ireland also puts us in a different position to most other Member States in the EU where the disease has been eradicated. It is inappropriate that Ireland should adopt the same approach to the consumption of raw milk as countries that do not have the same difficulty with TB and therefore have no associated risk.

Regulation allowing sale of raw milk for direct human consumption, on a restricted basis, would be difficult and costly to implement. Most important however such regulation would still not eliminate the serious health risks. Even under the best conditions, raw milk can contain low levels of human pathogens that can cause serious illness or rapidly increase to harmful levels. Labelling as a precaution would be least effective with some of the most at-risk groups i.e. the young and the elderly.

Other EU countries which ban the sale of raw milk for human consumption are Scotland, Denmark and Spain. Austria and Italy require that labels advise boiling before consumption. Further afield a number of countries ban the sale of raw milk, as do many of the States in the USA.

In all the circumstances I am satisfied that a renewal of the ban on the sale of raw milk for direct human consumption is justified.

Departmental Expenditure

Michael Moynihan

Question:

166 Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the total amount of funds available for capital programmes this year; and if he will outline the specific funding under each sub-heading and for each scheme. [33924/11]

The capital budget for 2011 is €269 million, comprising €3.39 administrative costs and €265.6m programme costs. The main items of expenditure are outlined as follows:

Significant Items of Capital Expenditure

Total

Forestry

€114m

Marketing and Processing

€37.5m

Farm Waste Management

€36m

TAMS

€19m

Fisheries

€17m

Development of Agriculture and Food — Other

€11.5m

Farm Improvement Scheme

€7m

Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund

€6m

Bord Iascaigh Mhara

€4.1m

Sea Fisheries Protection Authority

€2m

Marine Institute

€9.3m

Animal Welfare

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

167 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a national programme of neutering and spaying of cats will be introduced in view of the fact that this will have a direct effect on reducing the wild population of cats; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33932/11]

My Department's legislative responsibility in the area of animal welfare extends to farmed animals only, including animals normally bred or kept for the production of food. Accordingly, matters relating to feral cats do not come within the scope of my Department. Nevertheless, my Department provides in excess of €1million annually to animal welfare organisations involved in the provision of animal care. In awarding the funding, we remind organisations involved in the rehoming of cats of the absolute necessity to ensure that all such animals are neutered before rehoming as this will assist in controlling numbers.

With regard to cat welfare, the position is that my Department is drafting an Animal Health and Welfare Bill which aims to update existing legislation in the area of health and welfare to ensure that the welfare of all animals, including non-farm animals, is properly protected. Drafting of the Bill is ongoing with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel and it is my intention to publish the Bill at an early date.

Aquaculture Licences

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

168 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to develop aquaculture and deep sea farms off the north-east coast; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33936/11]

My Department has not received any applications for finfish aquaculture licences in respect of the North East Coast. In order to develop the production of finfish to levels that will provide increased long term sustainable jobs while continuing to protect our natural environment I have tasked Bord Iascaigh Mhara, working with the Marine Institute, to investigate suitable sites off the west coast where conditions are most suitable for this purpose.

Farm Waste Management

Michael Moynihan

Question:

169 Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he is continuing to lobby for a slurry spreading deadline extension; the steps he has taken to extend the slurry spreading deadline; and if not, the reasons he has ceased or scaled down his requests to the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government for an extension. [33937/11]

The Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government announced on 12 October 2011 an extension to the period during which slurry may be spread, up to 31 October 2011. I had sought this extension, as an exceptional once off measure, because of the abnormally high rainfall during the month of September in particular, which caused significant hardship for farmers and made it extremely difficult to carry out regular farming activity.

The Nitrates Regulations were reviewed in 2010 and amongst the wide range of submissions considered by an Expert Advisory Group established by my Department and the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, were a number seeking increased flexibility with regard to the commencement of the closed period for spreading organic fertiliser. The Expert Advisory Group concluded that the scientific evidence showed the application of organic fertiliser at this time of the year represents an unacceptable risk to the environment as well as a loss of a valuable fertiliser product as there is little or no take-up of nutrient by grass or other plants during the dormant season.

The Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government has stated that he is not prepared to consider a further extension to the period for spreading slurry.

Child Abduction

Terence Flanagan

Question:

170 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs when the missing children’s telephone line will be introduced; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33844/11]

Under EU telecoms rules agreed in 2009, the 116000 number is reserved in all EU member states for a missing children hotline. In a recent debate on this issue in Seanad Éireann, on 12 October last, I gave a commitment to work with relevant Departments and agencies to establish this Hotline in Ireland in 2012. I also announced my intention to establish a cross-sectoral Project Team to include representatives of my own Department, the Department of Justice and Equality, ComReg and an Garda Síochána. The final nominee to the project team has just been received and the team is now in a position to commence its work.

This team will examine how best to operate the Hotline, in the context of the demand for the service, and to establish the extent to which services, including Garda and victim support services, which are already in existence and receiving Government funding, can be mobilised to meet Ireland's commitments in relation to the Hotline.

In seeking to make progress on this issue, my Department has already had discussions with the Departments of Justice and Equality and of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, and with ComReg. Further discussions will be held in the context of the meetings of the Project Team.

I want to emphasise that the investigation of a child's disappearance is the responsibility of the Gardaí. Their structures in this regard include not only the local Gardaí, who will have primary responsibility for the investigation, but also the Missing Persons Bureau.

It is of paramount importance that any arrangements which are put in place to establish the 116000 Hotline in Ireland do not compromise the requirement that the first and most important contact to be made, is to notify the Gardaí of the fact that a child is missing, so the investigation can commence without delay.

However the implementation of a dedicated missing children hotline is intended to provide a further level of support in such situations.

Child Care Services

Terence Flanagan

Question:

171 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the position regarding the early childhood care and education scheme in respect of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33875/11]

The free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme was introduced in January 2010 with the objective of providing a free pre-school year to all eligible children. Children qualify for the free pre-school year where they are aged more than 3 years 2 months and less than 4 years 7 months on 1 September in the relevant year. This means that children born between 2 February 2007 and 30 June 2008 qualified for the free pre-school year in September 2011. There is no provision under the programme to enrol children who are below the qualifying age.

The objective of the ECCE programme is to make early learning in a formal setting available to eligible children in the year before they commence primary school. To achieve this, services participating in the pre-school year are expected to provide age-appropriate activities and programmes to children within a particular age cohort. For this reason, it is appropriate to set minimum and maximum limits to the age range within which children will qualify.

A number of parents have asked for the lower age range to be reduced on the grounds that they wish to send their children to school when they are 4 years and 2 months of age or less. The issue was referred by some of these parents to the Office of the Ombudsman for Children. That Office found no reason to remove or amend the lower age range, accepting it as reasonable having regard to the various factors which apply.

The new Childcare Education and Training Support (CETS) programme was introduced in September 2010 and is being implemented by my Department. The CETS programme replaces the previous childcare support schemes implemented by FÁS and the VECs under which qualifying students and trainees were given a weekly Childcare Allowance of up to €63.50 per child as a contribution to their childcare costs. Under the CETS programme, qualifying students and trainees can avail of childcare places free of charge. The eligibility criteria are unchanged and continue to be determined by FÁS and the VECs. Parents who consider that they are eligible under this programme should contact their local City and County Childcare Committee to establish if there are vacant CETS places available in their area.

I also have responsibility for implementing the Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) programme which provides funding to community childcare services to enable them to charge reduced childcare fees to disadvantaged and low income families. Parents can qualify for support with their childcare costs through the CCS programme which is provided through community not for profit childcare services. Some 950 services throughout the State are participating in the CCS programme and receive funding which is passed on to qualifying parents in the form of reduced childcare fees.

Parents who consider that they qualify for support under the CCS programme should also contact their local City and County Childcare Committee to establish what participating community childcare facilities are available in their area.

Terence Flanagan

Question:

172 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will respond to correspondence (details supplied) regarding grants for opening a crèche; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33879/11]

I have responsibility for the implementation of the National Childcare Investment Programme (NCIP) which included a capital grant programme to develop childcare facilities.

Under the NCIP capital funding was made available to community and commercial childcare providers for the development and refurbishment of childcare facilities. Due to the economic downturn, and following a review of capital expenditure, the previous Government decided to close the programme to new grant applications. There is therefore no capital funding currently available to my Department.

Commercial and community childcare providers, who fulfil certain criteria, can apply to participate in the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme, which was introduced in January 2010. This programme provides a free pre-school year to all qualifying children. A standard capitation payment of €2,450 per annum, and a higher capitation payment of €2,850 per annum for services with more highly qualified staff, is payable for each eligible child enrolled under this programme.

Services can also apply to participate in the Childcare Education and Training Support (CETS) programme which was introduced in September 2010. The CETS programme provides for payments of up to €170 per week for each child enrolled in participating services to cover the childcare costs for VEC students or FÁS trainees qualifying under the programme. Details of the ECCE and CETS programmes are available from the local City or County Childcare Committee.

Hospital Services

John McGuinness

Question:

173 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health the action he will take to deal with the reported funding crisis at Tallaght hospital, Dublin; if he will understand the serious concern of the local community in respect of the issue which is reported to centre on the 2011 deficit; if he will detail contacts he has had with the management of Tallaght hospital management; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33742/11]

The Deputy will be aware of the joint statement issued yesterday, (Wednesday, 9 November, 2011) by the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr. Michael Jackson (President of Tallaght Hospital), the Board of Tallaght Hospital and I. In this statement we announced a framework to implement a series of new initiatives to reform and modernise the governance structures of the Hospital. This announcement follows an intensive and positive series of discussions involving the Hospital Board and President, my officials, the HSE and myself.

The discussions took place against the challenging backdrop faced by the Hospital in the context of a significant budgetary overrun at the Hospital and the commencement of a HIQA investigation into practices in its Emergency Department.

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge publicly the success achieved by the current management and Board of Tallaght Hospital in bringing the budgetary overrun under strict control within agreed parameters, agreeing a further cost saving plan for 2012 and for voluntarily commencing the process of reforming the governance structure of the Hospital — all of which has been achieved since August 2011.

The unique history of Tallaght Hospital, combining as it does (in the form of a Charter) the identity of three separate foundations (the Meath Foundation, the Adelaide Hospital Society and the National Children's Hospital) has resulted in a governance structure which is ultimately no longer properly suited to the modern complexities of running an academic teaching hospital of such a scale.

It has been agreed to implement the reform of the governance structure over two phases with a further reduction in the size of the Hospital Board occurring imminently by the appointment of an interim board while in the longer term the Charter will be replaced by new legislation. The voluntary status of the Hospital will remain and the pluralist core values of the Hospital are assured and will be carried over into the replacement legislation. The values and principles of openness and inclusiveness in all aspects of health care provision, relating to medicine, nursing and research, shall be maintained by the President of the hospital as will the principles of pluralism, freedom of conscience and freedom to practise religion in the Hospital.

These changes, with the support of the foundations, the President and Board of the Hospital, and myself are considered essential for ongoing progress to be assured in the prudent and effective management of the Hospital in a manner that gives the greatest assurance that patients get the best possible service from the available resources.

I remain in close contact with the HSE and Tallaght Hospital in order to resolve this matter as soon as possible.

Hospitals Building Programme

John McGuinness

Question:

174 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health if he will furnish an updated report on plans for a new children’s hospital in Dublin; the status of the proposals; if the plan still provides for the location of the new facility to be sited at the Mater Hospital, Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33743/11]

As the Deputy will be aware I commissioned an independent Review around a number of issues relating to the location of the new hospital on the Mater Campus.

I announced the outcome of the Review on 6 July 2011. The independent experts who formed the Review Team, having examined all the issues in accordance with the Terms of Reference set by myself, came to the unanimous and unequivocal recommendation that the development of the new hospital should proceed on the Mater Campus.

I confirmed the Government's acceptance of the recommendation of the Review Team and requested the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDB) to proceed with a planning application to an Bord Pleanála. Planning permission has just completed the oral hearing stage but is unlikely to be ruled on before 2012. Today, I am delighted to welcome the Government's decision to maintain the existing levels of health capital investment. This confirms the Government's commitment to delivering quality services in modern facilities for the children of Ireland through the provision of the necessary funding for the delivery of the National Children's Hospital, and the associated ambulatory and urgent care centre in Tallaght.

Hospital Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

175 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health if an appointment regarding a hip replacement will be scheduled in the near future in Tallaght hospital, Dublin, in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33746/11]

I am determined to address the issues which cause unacceptable delays in patients receiving treatment in our hospitals. In this regard I have established the Special Delivery Unit (SDU), which will work to unblock access to acute services by dramatically improving the flow of patients through the system, and by streamlining waiting lists, including referrals from GPs. The SDU is working closely with its partner agencies — mainly the HSE and the NTPF.

As a priority, public hospitals have been instructed to ensure that, by the end of 2011, they have no patients waiting more than 12 months for treatment. Where they fail to do so, the NTPF will source the necessary treatments elsewhere and an appropriate budgetary adjustment will be made.

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply. Should the patient's general practitioner consider that the patient's condition warrants an earlier appointment, he/she would be in the best position to take the matter up with the consultant and facility involved.

Health Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

176 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health if the level of home help to the value of €1,516 per month awarded by the home care executive will be maintained in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33747/11]

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

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

177 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Health if he will examine the provision of physiotherapy in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33753/11]

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

Medical Cards

Thomas Pringle

Question:

178 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Health the reason for the delay in awarding a medical card to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33759/11]

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

Nursing Home Repayment Scheme

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

179 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health the position regarding the health repayment scheme and persons who paid long-stay charges and died before 9 December 1998; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33777/11]

The Health (Repayment Scheme) Act 2006 provided a clear legal framework to repay recoverable health charges for publicly funded long term residential care. e closing date for receipt of applications to the scheme was 31 December 2007. All living fully eligible persons who were wrongly charged were entitled to have their charges repaid in full. e estates of all those fully eligible persons who were wrongly charged for publicly funded long term residential care and had died since 9 December 1998 were also entitled to have the charges repaid in full. e scheme did not allow for repayments to the estates of those who died prior to that date.

The decision to limit repayments to the estates of those who died in the six years prior to 9 December 2004 reflects the then Government's decision to rely on the Statute of Limitations to limit the scale of the overall repayments which would otherwise fall to be made.

Ambulance Service

Thomas Pringle

Question:

180 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Health if he intends to recognise the ambulance service as a full member of the emergency services and provide for the same recognition for the service as the rest of the emergency services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33785/11]

In 1993, a review of ambulance services in Ireland, published by the then Minister for Health confirmed that the ambulance service is an emergency service, similar to An Garda Síochána and local authority fire services.

In 2006, the Government Major Emergency Management Framework confirmed that the HSE, An Garda Síochána and local authorities were to be designated as the state's principal response agencies and that emergency services delivered by each of these agencies would be designated as the principal emergency service of the state.

Today, the HSE National Ambulance Service is one of four designated emergency services in Ireland, the others being An Garda Síochána, local authority fire services, and the Irish Coast Guard.

Thomas Pringle

Question:

181 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Health when he will recognise the paramedics working in the ambulance services as a specific grade within the health services recognising their value in the service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33786/11]

The HSE National Ambulance Service (NAS) employs in excess of 1,400 staff who are practitioners registered with the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC), the professional regulator for Pre Hospital Emergency Care with the National Qualification in Emergency Medical Technology (NQEMT) at the level of competence of emergency medical technician, paramedic or advanced paramedic.

A number of grades of staff within the NAS, including Operational, Control, Education and Management personnel hold either Paramedic or Advanced Paramedic registration with PHECC. Registration as a Paramedic is not unique to any one grade and consequently the term represents a clinical level rather than an employment grade.

The principal current employment grades for operational staff in the National Ambulance Service are Emergency Medical Technician and Leading Emergency Medical Technician. The vast majority of those employed in these grades are qualified to at least Paramedic level. However, it remains the case that for a number of staff with long service, registration as a Paramedic remains a voluntary process. The Action Plan for the National Ambulance Service under the Public Service Agreement sets out a comprehensive reform agenda for this essential part of the health service. The Action Plan provides for the introduction of mandatory registration at PHECC Paramedic level or above for all staff working at EMT/LEMT grades. The possible re-titling of the employment grade to Paramedic will be considered by the HSE in that context.

Health Services

Thomas Pringle

Question:

182 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Health in the number of calls received by the NowDoc service in 2008, 2009 and 2010; the number that resulted in a visit by the patient to the centre; the number of in-house calls; the number that were told simply to visit their general practitioner at the next opportunity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33787/11]

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

Hospital Services

John McGuinness

Question:

183 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health If he will discuss with the board of Tallaght Hospital, Dublin, the implications for the hospital of the recent announcement of the Health Service Executive to close a nursing home (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33805/11]

I would like to reassure the Deputy that patients in Tallaght Hospital (or any other Acute Hospital) who require long term residential care can continue to apply for financial support under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme. Once a person receives approval for financial support they can choose to enter any nursing home that is participating in the scheme in any part of the country, subject to the nursing home having an available bed and being able to cater for the person's particular needs. This applies to public, private and voluntary nursing homes alike.

Patients at Tallaght Hospital requiring residential care will be able to avail of beds at the new purpose built Community Nursing Unit in Inchicore if and when they become available. They will also be able to avail of options from public beds that are reopened in other facilities or they may choose a bed in a private nursing home. If the Board of Tallaght Hospital wish to discuss this issue with Minister Reilly a representative should contact his Office directly and officials will be able to assist with such a request. In addition requests to meet my colleague can be made electronically to ministersoffice@health.gov.ie.

Health Services

John McGuinness

Question:

184 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health if he will respond to the campaign by the community drugs projects in Tallaght, Dublin 24, which have called on him to intervene with the Health Service Executive in respect of the decision to reduce funding to the projects by 5%; if he will appreciate that such a cut will affect front line services including counselling; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33806/11]

In the context of ensuring that service levels are managed within existing resources, the HSE has sought cost reductions in the Dublin Mid Leinster region across all hospital and community services for the remainder of the year, through in the first instance, additional efficiency measures. The specific effect of this in relation to the nine drugs projects in Tallaght is a reduction of 5% in funding for the 4th Quarter of 2011 totalling €11,536.

I recently met with the Tallaght Drugs Task Force to discuss this issue. I subsequently raised the issue with the HSE, and registered my dissatisfaction that my office was not consulted prior to cut-backs being imposed. I have also asked the HSE to examine alternative cost-saving measures as put forward by the Tallaght Drugs Task Force.

Finian McGrath

Question:

185 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health the position regarding a long-term plan in respect of a person (details supplied). [33810/11]

I have asked the HSE to reply directly to you on this matter as a matter of urgency.

Medical Cards

Finian McGrath

Question:

186 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health the position regarding a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3. [33811/11]

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

Hospital Accommodation

Gerry Adams

Question:

187 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Health his plans to reopen beds in med one in Louth County Hospital to deal with overcrowding in Drogheda Hospital; the number of beds that will be opened; when will this come into effect; and if the development is permanent or temporary. [33815/11]

Gerry Adams

Question:

188 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Health, further to Parliamentary Questions Nos 475, 476, 492, 510 and 524, the measures that have been identified by the special delivery unit that could be taken quickly in the hospital and or closely related community setting that would significantly relieve pressure on the emergency department; the amount of funding support that has been allocated to support the measures for Our Lady of Lourdes Drogheda, County Louth; when this will be implemented; and when will funding become available. [33816/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 187 and 188 together.

I have made it a priority to unblock access to acute services in our hospitals by improving the patient flow through the system. Access to services is not about bed numbers per se, it is about how the bed capacity in a hospital is managed to maximise throughput and provide safe and quality care to patients.

The Special Delivery Unit, which I established in June this year, is focussing on these issues. The SDU is establishing an infrastructure based on information collection and analysis, hospital by hospital, so that we will know what is actually happening in real time. It is providing information tools for hospital managers, including clinical managers, to map and measure bed capacity in their hospital depending on variations in for example the average length of stay of patients. This will allow us to begin to embed performance management in the system, to manage bed capacity and to sustain shorter waiting times.

As part of the process of forming the overall picture of the emergency departments situation nationally, the SDU has identified fifteen hospitals which between them account for 80% of the trolley wait problem in the hospital system. Eight Hospitals have been identified for very high support including Our Lady of Lourdes Drogheda. Liaison Officers from the SDU are working pro-actively to support these sites.

I have also agreed that some additional funding may be provided, on a strictly once off basis, based on specific proposals from the hospitals to reduce waiting times between now and the end of the year. Adherence to the agreed criteria will be closely monitored by the SDU.

In the case of Our Lady of Lourdes Drogheda, the hospital has requested a range of supports and the SDU has agreed to a set of proposals which will cost over €700,000 between now and the end of this year. The measures planned include extending the opening of the Medical Assessment Unit and the opening of eight medical beds at Our Lady of Lourdes. Other measures include facilitating early assisted discharge for medically fit patients and the provision of early access to intermediate care for prospective long term care discharges, as well as the opening of 28 low acuity beds in the Louth/Navan hospitals to provide an intermediate care discharge area.

The conditions and performance measures which Our Lady of Lourdes and other hospitals will have to meet are as follows; for the remainder of the year and throughout January 2012 no patient will wait more than 23 hours in the hospital's Emergency Department. In addition the trolley wait target must be maintained at least 70% below the maximum daily trolley count since January 2010. Other conditions/performance measures include: seven day ward/discharge rounds; achievement of all Acute Medicine Programme milestones; and implementation of approved measures to effectively stream elderly patients.

Medical Cards

Catherine Byrne

Question:

189 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Health the current waiting time for processing medical card renewal applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33829/11]

I have asked the Health Service Executive to confirm the current waiting time for processing medical card renewals. I will revert to the Deputy on the matter as soon as possible.

Catherine Byrne

Question:

190 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Health the purpose of requesting proof of house insurance from persons making applications for medical card renewals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33830/11]

The purpose of requesting proof of house insurance from persons making applications for medical card renewals is to assist in determining a person's net income, as per the medical card guidelines. Some housing costs such as house insurance costs, can be offset against an applicant's income and improve their chances of qualifying for a medical card.

Life Expectancy

Billy Kelleher

Question:

191 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health the life expectancy for Irish persons, Irish men, and Irish women in 1997; the life expectancy of each at the end of 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33851/11]

In 2010, the life expectancy at birth for men in Ireland was 78.7 years, and for women was 83.2 years. The corresponding figures for 1997 are 73.4 years for men and 78.7 years for women. This represents an increase of 5.3 years for men and 4.5 years for women. For the period 1997 to 2008 (the latest year comparable data is available) Ireland has gone from a position of nearly 1 year below average EU life expectancy to almost 1 year above during which time average EU life expectancy has also been increasing.

The most marked improvements in life expectancy in Ireland have occurred at ages 65 and over. In 2010, those aged 65 could expect to live almost 4 years longer than those aged 65 in 1997. This represents a significant change from earlier decades where gains in overall life expectancy were principally achieved through reduction in deaths from infectious diseases and in infant mortality. The recent improvements have resulted from improved health into older age and improved survival from conditions affecting older age groups such as heart disease and cancer. Advances in health care have contributed significantly to this achievement.

Medical Cards

Billy Kelleher

Question:

192 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health the number of persons covered by medical cards in 1997; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33852/11]

Records indicate that 1,219,852 people (32.94% of the population) had medical cards on 31st December 1997.

Patient Statistics

Billy Kelleher

Question:

193 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health the number of inpatients and day patients discharged in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33853/11]

Provisional data from the HSE Performance Management Reports shows that the number of inpatient discharges in 2010 was 588,860 while the number of day cases was 728,269.

Medical Cards

Jim Daly

Question:

194 Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Health the position regarding a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33858/11]

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

Health Services

Jack Wall

Question:

195 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health the position regarding an application for dental treatment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33861/11]

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

National Health Strategy

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

196 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Health the position regarding the development of a national nutrition policy; if he will provide details of a timeline for progressing work on same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33864/11]

My Department is currently involved in drafting a new Public Health Policy Framework which will explore among a range of other issues, the need for a National Nutrition Policy.

Earlier in the year I set up a Special Action Group on Obesity comprising key stakeholders, including a representative from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, to progress a number of issues to address the problem of obesity.

Alone no single initiative will reverse the trend, but a combination of measures should make a difference. The Group is concentrating on a specific range of actions including Healthy Eating Guidelines for the Irish Population, nutritional labelling, calorie posting on restaurant menus, the promotion of physical activity and the detection and treatment of obesity. The group will work with other Government departments in a cross-sectoral approach to help halt the rise in childhood obesity.

Medical Cards

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

197 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the problems with the processing of medical cards; if, in the case of County Kerry, he will allow the Health Service Executive in Tralee to process applications for County Kerry in view of the fact that they are not being processed in the same speedy fashion as they were in the past; his views on whether it is unfair to be telling persons that their applications have been mislaid and they have to reapply or that they never applied, despite the fact that their documentation was sent by registered post; if he will not refer this matter to the HSE as it is his responsibility; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33868/11]

I have asked the Health Service Executive (HSE) to respond to the complaints raised by the Deputy. I have asked them to report directly to me on this matter and will communicate with the Deputy directly.

Disabled Drivers

John O'Mahony

Question:

198 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive their payment for a motor transport grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33881/11]

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

Health Service Staff

Michael McCarthy

Question:

199 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Health the required period of notice for nurses who are wishing to retire; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33882/11]

The required period of notice for nurses who wish to retire varies depending on their contracts. I have therefore asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy in relation to this matter.

A three-month notice period for retirement was introduced for the public service in July this year. The purpose of this notice period is to allow management to have advance knowledge of the number of staff planning to retire in a particular service/area and to plan accordingly.

Failure of an individual to give sufficient notice of their intention to retire could result in a delay in the payment of pension benefits and any other payments due.

Vaccination Programme

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

200 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health if he will make it a mandatory requirement that the Health Service Executive doctors and nurses give parents the manufacturers’ patient information leaflet to read prior to giving consent for any State promoted vaccine for children, including Gardasil HPV vaccine. [33907/11]

The purpose of immunisation programmes is to provide population immunity and to protect children and the population generally from potentially serious disease. GPs with immunisation contracts and HSE staff involved in national immunisation programmes provide information prior to any immunisation, including possible side effects to parents/guardians and those receiving vaccinations.

With regard to the HPV vaccine, the HSE provides all parents/guardians with an information booklet prior to vaccination. The booklet includes information on possible side effects. The HSE also provides additional information sources at www.hpv.ie and www.immunisation.ie. Parents/Guardians may also contact Local Immunisation Teams or the HSE Information line for further information.

Road Network

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

201 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the nature of any contacts, he has had with the National Roads Authority or with Kildare County Council on to the proposed southern distributor road for Athy, County Kildare; if meetings are planned or foreseen on this project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33773/11]

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads, in its area, is a statutory function of each road authority in accordance with the provisions of section 13 of the Roads Act, 1993. Works on such roads are a matter for the relevant local authority to be funded from its own resources supplemented by State road grants. The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is also a matter for the Council.My Department received an application from Kildare County Council in November 2008 for 100% funding of the Athy Southern Distributor Road at an estimated cost of €42 million. A grant of €150,000 was allocated to the Council in 2011 to allow certain design and planning work on this project to be undertaken.

I have not had any requests for a meeting from the National Roads Authority or Kildare County Council in relation to this project and no meetings have taken place.

Rail Network

Gerry Adams

Question:

202 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to reopen the DART stations around Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, which were closed following recent flooding; and his plans to ensure that this problem does not reoccur. [33428/11]

The issue raised is an operational matter for Iarnród Éireann. I have referred the Deputy's question to the company for direct reply. He should inform my private office if he does not receive a reply within ten working days.

Road Haulage Licences

Joe Carey

Question:

203 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if an individual or company that acts as an agent or representative is exempt from the obligation of having a road haulage licence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33776/11]

In general, a Road Haulage Operator's Licence is required if a firm is itself actually carrying goods for hire or reward in large heavy goods vehicles belonging to that firm.

If an Individual or company is acting as an agent or representative, but are not themselves in the business of carrying goods for hire or reward in their own vehicles, then they are not obliged to have a licence. There are many such companies, usually known as freight forwarders, and they do not require a haulage licence for that work.

It is, however, illegal under the Road Transport Acts for any person to engage or use the services of a haulier unless that haulier has a road transport operator's licence. Freight forwarders are therefore obliged to only use properly licensed haulage operators, where the work requires that.

Sports Capital Programme

Michael McCarthy

Question:

204 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if there is support available for a community-based initiative (details supplied); if national lottery funding which was previously available through the sports capital programme is an option; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33819/11]

Under the Sports Capital Programme the Department provides funding at local, regional and national level to sporting clubs and organisations, voluntary and community organisations, local authorities and, in certain circumstances, schools/colleges towards the provision of sporting facilities and the purchase of sporting equipment. No decision has been made on the timing of the next round of the Sports Capital Programme.