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 9, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 10 to 60, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 61 to 72, inclusive, answered orally.

Garda Investigations

John McGuinness

Question:

73 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the total number of Garda personnel involved in the investigation into Anglo Irish Bank; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6573/12]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the investigations into Anglo Irish Bank by An Garda Síochána and the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) are ongoing with a full Investigation team employed at the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation. I am further informed that 26 members of An Garda Síochána are engaged in these investigations, comprising fifteen personnel at the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation, including fourteen Garda investigators and a forensic accountant as well as eleven members of An Garda Síochána seconded to ODCE.

The detailed deployment of Garda personnel is a matter for Garda management who inform me that they are satisfied there is sufficient personnel and technical expertise available to assist in the various aspects of ongoing investigations. I can assure the Deputy that this Government will continue to provide the necessary legislative and administrative supports for the investigations and that I attach the highest priority to the full investigation of white collar crime and bringing the perpetrators of such crime to justice. In particular, on taking office, this Government gave priority to satisfying itself that the necessary resources both personnel and legal were available to the investigation. Within eight weeks of taking up office, I moved urgently to draft and seek Government approval to the introduction of additional legislation. This new legislation, the Criminal Justice Act, 2011, was enacted on 2 August.

In the light of some misleading comments which have been made publicly, it is important that I make one point very clear: I have been advised by the Garda Commissioner that this investigation remains an absolute priority for An Garda Síochána, there has been no question of personnel changes being allowed to hamper in any way the investigation, nor will there be.

Proposed Legislation

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

74 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the recent Law Reform Commission report on mandatory sentencing; his plans to amend the policy of mandatory sentencing for certain offences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6524/12]

I should say at the outset that the recent Law Reform Commission document referred to by the Deputy is a consultation paper on mandatory sentences which invites submissions from interested parties and is not a final report. The Law Reform Commission was asked by the previous Attorney General to look at the general question of mandatory sentencing. This was done at the instigation of the then Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. The consultation paper recently published is a first step in that process. Among the issues raised are:

sentencing guidelines;

the possibility of a court when imposing the mandatory life sentence for murder, recommending a minimum term of imprisonment;

not extending the presumptive minimum mandatory sentences regime that currently applies to drugs and certain other offences pending a review to determine its effectiveness in reducing criminality.

I look forward to receiving the Commission's final recommendations in due course and those recommendations will be given full consideration. However, I do not want to pre-empt the work of the Commission in finalising its recommendations by making any detailed comment in advance of receiving concrete proposals.

Prisoner Welfare

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

75 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding the proposal for the Irish Prison Service to examine options for the development of prisoner welfare and resettlement functions generally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6525/12]

I can advise the Deputy that the Irish Prison Service is in the process of drafting a new Strategic Plan for 2012-2014 which will be presented to me, by the Director General, in the first week of April. The development of prisoner welfare and resettlement functions will form a central part of this Strategy, and will be considered by me in due course. In the meantime, the Irish Prison Service provides a range of rehabilitative programmes which have the dual purpose of providing prisoners with purposeful activity while serving their sentences and encouraging and equipping them to lead productive lives on release. Several programmes and services have a specific post-release focus. These include the Gate Service operated by Business in the Community Ireland (BITC) which provides a training, education, and employment placement programme for prisoners and ex-prisoners, and operates in seven of the country's fourteen institutions. The BITC Linkage Programme provides a similar service in the remaining institutions and operates in partnership with the Probation Service.

The BITC Mentoring Service which is jointly funded by the Prison Service and Dormant Accounts Funding is in place in Castlerea, Cork and the Training Unit. Mentoring has been shown internationally to have a positive impact on the resettlement and desistance of ex-prisoners. Focus Ireland operates a pilot homeless service in Cloverhill Prison which supports remand prisoners in accessing appropriate services and accommodation on the pathway to independent living. The project is supported by the Irish Prison Service, the Probation Service and the Health Service Executive (HSE). Homelessness support services are also provided in Cork and Limerick prisons.

A weekly clinic service is provided in ten prisons by the HSE Community Welfare Service through the Homeless Persons Unit (HPU). Referrals generally are at the pre-release stage and Community Welfare Officers provide information and clinic services, and arrange emergency and other accommodation options, supplementary benefits and fast tracked medical cards. The Prison Education Centres provide pre-release and post-release programmes aimed at assisting prisoner resettlement. Prisoner resettlement is also an objective of the Prison Service's integrated sentence management system and focuses on the prisoner's resettlement from the moment of committal to release. The Probation Service also works with prisoners assisting in coping with imprisonment, maintaining contact with family and dealing with areas of difficulty such as addiction. Probation Officers work with prison based teams to help offenders manage their sentence and to resettle back into the community without committing crime.

Legal Aid Service

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

76 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will indicate the number of applications for legal aid, in both a civil and criminal context, in each of the past three years to date in 2012; the number of applications pending; his future plans, if any, to improve the legal aid service with particular reference to meet the needs of those currently on waiting lists notwithstanding the current economic climate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6516/12]

As the Deputy is aware, the provision of legal aid within this State is split into two separate categories, namely civil legal aid and criminal legal aid. Under the Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Act 1962, the courts, through the Judiciary, are responsible for the granting of legal aid. An applicant for legal aid must establish to the satisfaction of the court that his/her means are insufficient to enable him/her to pay for legal representation him/herself. The assignment of lawyers or the granting of aid are matters for the Court and, as such, are handled by the Judiciary. Civil Legal Aid on the other hand is provided by the Legal Aid Board. Under the terms of the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995, as passed by the Oireachtas, the Legal Aid Board is entirely independent in the operation of its functions and decisions on individual cases are a matter for the Board.

I wish to inform the Deputy that in 2009 there were 16,371 applications granted for civil legal aid and 55,664 criminal legal aid certificates granted by the District Courts. The equivalent figures for 2010 are 18,623 and 55,412 respectively and for 2011, the equivalent figures are 19,706 and 54,092 respectively. There are no figures yet available for 2012. I am informed that as of 1 January 2012, there are 4,443 civil legal aid applications waiting to be processed. There are no appointments or waiting lists associated with criminal legal aid.

I am very conscious of the challengers facing the Legal Aid Board as a result of rising demand and limited resources and have actively worked to mitigate the challenges they are facing. I have ensured that the Board's grant-in-aid for general civil matters, which accounts for the vast majority of its funding, has effectively been maintained for 2012 at its 2011 level. I have also now incorporated the grant for asylum services into the grant-in-aid which should give the Board greater flexibility in using its resources. There are a number of other measures taken or being taken by the Board which I believe can have a positive impact for persons seeking services including:

The Board assuming responsibility for the Family Mediation Service;

The arrangements on foot of which barristers are retained have been in place since 1998 and are currently under review;

The Board is working with individual law centres with a view to trying to deliver greater efficiencies in a number of its centres;

The Board will be piloting a ‘triage' service commencing next month;

The Board is involved with the Courts Service and the Family Mediation Service in a pilot integrated mediation initiative in Dublin;

The Board is developing a new legal case management system that is likely to improve the efficiency of service delivery and the management of risk in the organisation;

The Board has utilised to a significant extent the National Internship Scheme;

The Board is examining the scope of the civil legal aid services that come within the ambit of the Civil Legal Aid Scheme and how those services can be further prioritised to ensure that those most in need of its services can access them effectively.

I am confident that both the Board and management of the Legal Aid Board are very focussed on deploying their resources in a manner designed to ensure the continued availability of quality front line services and I expect that some of the changes now being introduced will, over a period of time, have a significant positive impact on service delivery.

Garda Operations

Derek Keating

Question:

77 Deputy Derek Keating asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will give details of the plan of action of An Garda Síochána to deal with the problem of cross-Border fuel smuggling; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6511/12]

The House will appreciate that it is the Revenue Commissioners who take the lead role in investigating fuel laundering and smuggling in this jurisdiction and are supported in that role by An Garda Síochána. An Garda Síochána remains fully committed to providing the necessary support to the Revenue Commissioners. Searches are regularly undertaken by members of An Garda Síochána, at the behest of the Revenue Commissioners as part of intelligence-led operations led by Customs. These searches have resulted in the arrest of persons involved in such activities, significant seizures of diesel and the closure of diesel-laundering plants, particularly in border counties. These operations also target individuals involved in the dumping of illegal waste products associated with the laundering of diesel. Furthermore, the Criminal Assets Bureau has and will continue to deploy all the resources at its disposal in countering such criminal activity. The Bureau has seized properties and cash belonging to those involved in such crime and continues to assist other national units in the preparation of criminal prosecution files against some of the major players involved in this trade.

In addition to this, arising from a Cross Border Organised Crime Co-operation initiative established under the auspices of the Department of Justice, Northern Ireland, and my own Department, a multi-agency Cross Border Fuel Fraud Enforcement Group has been in place since 2008 to specifically deal with the illicit trade in mineral oil. This group, which meets on a regular basis, is comprised of representatives from a wide range of Departments and Agencies from both jurisdictions, including An Garda Síochána. Since its establishment, this group has continued to successfully target a number of groups involved in the laundering and distribution of illegal fuels operating in both jurisdictions and will continue to introduce and implement new targeted initiatives to further tackle such criminality. I can assure the Deputy that all of the agencies involved will continue to have the full support and backing of the Government in tackling criminality in this area.

Departmental Expenditure

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

78 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the cost to him of the Garda presence at Bellanaboy Shell refinery, County Mayo, each year since 2006; the cost to date with a breakdown of the Garda ranks, the salaries paid including basic salary, overtime, transfer allowance and so on; the projected costs of this exercise; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6541/12]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the additional costs arising for the Gardaí from the policing operation of the Shell Refinery project at Bellanaboy from 2006 to December 2011 is €14,566,262. I am enclosing a detailed breakdown of the figures as a tabular statement with this reply. The figures do not include the basic salaries as these are incurred in the normal course as part of Garda rostered hours. It is not possible to further break down the figures into the various ranks without the disproportionate expenditure of Garda time and resources relative to the information sought.

I am further advised by the Garda authorities that they are not in a position to provide projected costs in relation to future policing operations at the Shell Refinery. Those operations arise from the need for the Gardaí to respond to protest action in the vicinity of the gas terminal in order to prevent public order offences, to enable persons to go unimpeded to and from their place of work and to enable the construction of the refinery and pipeline to be completed. The level of protest activity fluctuates and as such a projection of likely costs is not possible.

It is deeply regrettable that so much Garda resources have to be tied up at the North Mayo site. However this is absolutely necessary in view of the actions of some of the protestors — many of whom are not from the area and who engage in a form of protest tourism — who have engaged in acts of public disorder as well as damage to property. Such action cannot be tolerated and the Garda presence is there to prevent it.

The House will appreciate that, at a time when many people are under severe financial pressure because of our very difficult economic circumstances, it is scandalous that some protesters behave in a self indulgent way that has no regard for the rights of others. In turn, this requires the expenditure of a substantial amount of taxpayers' money which could be devoted to far better purposes if it was not for the actions of many of those involved in the protests. In addition, this type of behaviour runs completely contrary to the public and national interest and furthermore will act as a disincentive to inward investment and the development of our national resources. An Garda Síochána have my full support in taking all necessary action within the law to deal with their activities.

Tabular Statement for PQ 6541/12

Subhead description

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

Total

Overtime and Allowances

923,574

2,693,706

2,206,333

2,539,352

315,400

449,084

9,127,449

Travel and subsistence

410,857

1,999,970

846,851

737,031

246,279

416,403

4,657,391

Employers PRSI

47,842

127,401

106,181

144,716

18,748

29,091

473,979

Miscellaneous Expenses

57,219

84,400

31,663

75,111

39,899

19,151

307,443

Total

1,439,492

4,905,477

3,191,028

3,496,210

620,326

913,729

14,566,262

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

79 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the amount of the 2012 capital allocation to the Irish Prison Service that will be spent specifically on improving conditions at Cork prison; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6538/12]

I can advise the Deputy that the Irish Prison Service is in the process of drafting a new Strategic Plan 2012-2014 which will be presented to me, by the Director General, in the first week of April. The Irish Prison Service is also preparing a 40 month Capital Expenditure Plan which will form a central part of this Strategic Plan.While it is not possible at this time to be specific on the funding for use in respect of Cork prison, I can advise the Deputy that as part of this process, a plan has been drafted by the Irish Prison Service to address the issues of lack of in cell sanitation and inadequate physical infrastructure in the prison. That plan is currently being considered and an announcement will be made in due course.

Garda Disciplinary Proceedings

Pearse Doherty

Question:

80 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he has completed a review of the discipline regulations within An Garda Síochána; the date on which he will introduce new regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6544/12]

A review of the Garda Síochána (Discipline) Regulations 2007, involving all parties to the process, is under way. It is anticipated that the review will be completed in 2012 and new regulations introduced thereafter.

Courts Service

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

81 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the limited number of registrars due to the public sector recruitment embargo is having a negative impact on the number of cases that can be heard in the High Court; if he is monitoring the delays that this is causing; and his plans to rectify this matter. [6540/12]

Under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, the management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions. To be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made. The Courts Service has informed me that, in allocating resources, the Courts Service is prioritising the provision of its front line services, including court sittings. The full complement of High Court registrars is 28 and there are three vacancies. These posts have been identified as key operational posts. Discussions are under way with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to fill these vacancies. I am informed that every effort is being made, in conjunction with the President and the judges of the High Court, to limit the impact of these vacancies on court hearings. A contingency plan has been implemented with the agreement of the President of the High Court whereby temporary provisions have been made in respect of two of the three current vacancies. I am informed that due to this contingency plan and the continued efforts of management and serving registrars. the impact on waiting times for trials has so far been minimised. The service will continue to work with the President of the High Court in keeping waiting times under review and supporting court hearings.

Garda Inspectorate

Sandra McLellan

Question:

82 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he has brought a report, Responding to Child Sexual Abuse, by the Garda inspectorate to the Cabinet; the date on which he will lay the report and addendum before the Houses of the Oireachtas; the date on which he will publish a response to the recommendations contained in the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6546/12]

I can inform the Deputy that the Government has taken note of the Garda Inspectorate report, Responding to Child Sexual Abuse, and that the report and a document responding to the report's recommendations were laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas on 1 February 2012. The report and the response document were also published on my Department's website,www.justice.ie, on that date. I am grateful to the inspectorate for its analysis and recommendations which are focused on improving the investigation of child sexual abuse and better protecting children. The Government and I are determined to ensure an effective collaborative response to child sexual abuse is in place and the substantial progress being made in this regard is set out in the response document.

Prison Deaths

Gerry Adams

Question:

83 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will establish an office of prisoner ombudsman to investigate all deaths in the custody of the Irish Prison Service to ensure equivalency of human rights guarantees as part of the State’s obligations under the Good Friday Agreement. [6532/12]

All deaths of prisoners are subject to independent investigation. Every case of a death in prison custody is the subject of a Garda investigation and an inquest held in a Coroner's Court. The cause of death is determined by a jury on the basis of the information presented to the court. There are procedures in place within the Irish Prison Service for the investigation of all deaths in custody. New procedures were drawn up by the Irish Prison Service to provide for the investigation of all deaths in prison to be conducted by independent people. In addition, a number of statutory measures are available for investigating deaths and are used as appropriate. In particular, the office of the Inspector of Prisons has been established on a statutory basis since 2007 by virtue of Part 5 of the Prisons Act 2007 and is independent. The inspector has an important role in ensuring there is effective independent oversight of our prison system and has my full support in carrying out his remit, which includes the investigation of deaths in appropriate cases. He and my Department are in discussions as to how best to address the issue.

Prison Accommodation

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

84 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if a meeting of governors and doctors has been held advising of new procedures that govern the use of safety observation cells and close supervision cells as set out in the action plan on Limerick prison. [6526/12]

I wish to advise the Deputy that meetings have taken place with the Governors and prison doctors regarding the new procedures for the operation of safety observation cells and close supervision cells. The Irish Prison Service is finalising the policies and procedures which will underpin the future operation of these cells. When this is completed, further meetings will be arranged with all relevant stakeholders operating in prison settings to ensure the new arrangements are uniformly applied.

Proposed Legislation

Seán Crowe

Question:

85 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding the work of the expert group looking at the Criminal Assets Bureau who are reviewing the proceeds of crime legislation and the date in early 2012 that their paper will be published; the details of the membership of this group; and the details of the costs of running same. [6548/12]

As the Deputy is aware, an expert group, established under the auspices of my Department, is engaged in a comprehensive review of the Proceeds of Crime legislation with a view to identifying possible improvements that would serve to strengthen the operation of the Criminal Assets Bureau. A number of matters are being reviewed by the group, including decreasing the amount of time which must elapse before criminal assets which have been frozen become the property of the State; increasing the powers of receivers over properties to immediately deprive criminals of the use of those properties; short-term seizure of assets believed to be the proceeds of crime pending determination by the courts; and further improving measures supporting international co-operation. The expert group comprises representatives of the Crime and Criminal Law Reform Divisions of my Department, the Chief Bureau Officer and Bureau Legal Officer of the Criminal Assets Bureau and a representative of the Office of the Attorney General. I expect the group to have concluded its work early this year. When that happens, I intend to make available, in due course, the outcome of that review and to bring forward my proposals in the normal way. It is not possible to provide the Deputy with a particular date for when the outcome of the group's work will be made available. The work of the expert group has not given rise to any additional costs.

Garda Vetting of Personnel

Michael McNamara

Question:

86 Deputy Michael McNamara asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason Garda clearance documents are only given to companies or organisations which have registered with the Garda clearance centre and documents are not issued to persons living here or organisations or individuals located abroad despite the fact that many Irish persons require such clearance to take up jobs with foreign companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6198/12]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that Garda vetting certificates for employment purposes are only provided for those seeking employment in Ireland with registered organisations where the employment involves substantial unsupervised access to children or vulnerable adults. The service is provided by the Garda Central Vetting Unit. A phased roll-out of employment vetting is being carried out to ensure the most critical sectors are covered initially while not overburdening the system that is being developed. Unfortunately, this means that criminal history vetting for general employment purposes, here or abroad, is not available on demand. The Garda vetting certificate is also non-transferable. It is important to emphasise that it is a disclosure to the requesting, registered organisation of the position at the time when it is issued. Furthermore, non-transferability protects against the risk of fraud or forgery of such certificates and is a guarantee of the integrity of the vetting system.I am further advised that Police Certificates of Character are provided for the purposes of foreign consular and immigration requirements and for foreign business establishment. An individual may apply to the Garda Síochána for a disclosure under section 4 of the Data Protection Act 1988 (as amended) for a copy of the personal data which is maintained by An Garda Síochána. Such a disclosure is made to the individual to whom the data relates.

Garda Deployment

Michael Colreavy

Question:

87 Deputy Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the manner in which, under section 30(4) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the Garda Commissioner decides the fees to charge for police services on a non-public duty basis for commercial events such as sports fixtures and concerts; if the fees charged cover the total costs of Garda involvement in such events; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6536/12]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the cost to the event holder is determined by the number of gardaí deployed at a particular event. The operational policing plan for a particular event is formulated by local operational management. I am further informed that An Garda Síochána does not recover the full cost of policing such events.

White Papers

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

88 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the increases in supports, both in staffing and resources, he will give to the Probation Service to enable it to work with more offenders in the context of his initiatives which attempt to reduce prison numbers coupled with the public sector recruitment embargo. [6523/12]

I understand the Deputy is referring to the introduction of a pilot project, the Community Return scheme, in October, 2011 under which offenders who pose no threat to the community are offered earned early temporary release in return for supervised community service. I understand that the Probation Service has sufficient resources to support the scheme at present. Should additional resources be required, that will of course be considered in due course.

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

89 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the civil society organisations or other organisations he has engaged with in the context of the White Paper on Crime process; and the date on which this paper will be published. [6537/12]

I can inform the Deputy that consultation has been central to the development of the White Paper on Crime and was principally structured around four discussion documents. As part of this process my Department has consulted extensively across Government, non-Governmental and community sectors, as well as with individual members of the public. Consultation has taken place both through seminars and written submissions in response to advertisements for submissions. Over the course of the White Paper process, some 650 people attended consultation meetings and 182 submissions were received. Documents summarising the outcomes of each of the four consultation stages of the process are published on the Department's websitewww.justice.ie and include lists of those organisation and individuals who made written submissions.

I can confirm that work on the development of a White Paper on Crime is at an advanced stage and is expected to be completed this year.

Proposed Legislation

Brian Stanley

Question:

90 Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will bring forward the date of publication of the inspection of places of detention Bill. [6527/12]

The General Scheme of a Bill relating to inspections of places of detention is being prepared in my Department. This is intended, inter alia, to enable ratification of the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OP-CAT).

When the General Scheme has been completed, I will be seeking Government approval for its publication to facilitate a consultation exercise in advance of drafting and publication of the Bill. At this stage, it is not possible to indicate when the Bill will be published.

Question No. 91 answered with Question No. 66.

Organised Crime

Sandra McLellan

Question:

92 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to the fact that no person to date has been convicted under gangland legislation, specifically of the provisions contained in the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009 in regard to organised criminal activity; and if he plans to introduce any new initiatives to tackle organised crime. [6545/12]

I have previously indicated to the House my intention to keep under review the legislative framework underpinning the State's response to organised crime to see whether any further improvements could be made to render it more effective.

Further to this, my Department is currently undertaking a specific review of the provisions of the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009, to which the Deputy refers, to see if its provisions can be strengthened.

Figures available with regard to the operation of the 2009 Act up to 31st January 2012 indicate that, although no convictions have been recorded, the legislation has been used on 160 occasions where arrests have been made relating to organised crime activity and eight individuals have been charged under the provisions.

Two persons had been charged under Section 71A of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 as inserted by section 5 of the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009 (directing a criminal organisation) and six persons charged under Section 72 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 as inserted by section 6 of the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009 (participating etc in organised crime).

I can assure the Deputy that An Garda Síochána continues to vigorously tackle organised crime through undertaking a range of activities designed to disrupt and dismantle the operations of criminal organisations.

The Garda Síochána Policing Plan 2012 sets out the key actions in tackling organised crime for the year ahead, which includes a focus on drug trafficking, e-crime, financial crime, and the targeting of organised gangs through a number of measures, including the use of intelligence and analysis to inform operations against organised crime groups.

With regard to forthcoming legislative proposals, I shall be bringing forward proposals for changes in the Proceeds of Crime legislation to increase the powers available to the Criminal Assets Bureau. Financial gain will always be a focus of organised criminal activity and measures that target the proceeds of such activity are key to tackling such operations.

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

Proposed Legislation

Denis Naughten

Question:

93 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the establishment of an independent debt resolution agency as proposed by the free legal advice centres; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5520/12]

The Deputy will be aware that, having obtained Government approval for urgent drafting by the Office of the Attorney General and Parliamentary Counsel, I published the text of the General Scheme of the Personal Insolvency Bill on 25 January last.

There is a requirement under the EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support for Ireland to publish the Bill in Quarter 1 of 2012 — since extended to end of April. The Bill will also fulfil the relevant commitment in the Programme for Government.

The Bill will provide for a new framework for settlement of debt and for personal insolvency. The proposed reform will consist of following main elements:

a revised judicial process (bankruptcy) to provide for a 3 year period for automatic discharge from bankruptcy from the current 12 years.

the introduction of a new non-judicial debt settlement process for unsecured debt only amounting to over €20,000 (Debt Settlement Arrangement).

the introduction of a new non-judicial debt settlement process for both secured and unsecured debt amounting to over €20,000 (Personal Insolvency Arrangement) (secured debt will primarily relate to property debt, be it residential, commercial and investment).

the introduction of a new debt forgiveness process (Debt Relief Certificates) for low level indebtedness where the debtor has effectively no income and no assets and has unsecured debts amounting to up to €20,000.

Critical to the operation of the new debt settlement processes will be the establishment of an Insolvency Service. This will be an independent statutory agency.

Prison Conditions

Gerry Adams

Question:

94 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he is satisfied that the current procedures regarding deaths in prison custody comply with the terms of the European Convention on Human Rights. [6531/12]

I am satisfied that the current procedures regarding deaths in prison custody fully comply with the European Convention on Human Rights. The jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights requires that there should be some form of an effective official investigation when individuals have been killed as a result of the use of force and this includes the death of a prisoner even if that prisoner died from acts of violence of another prisoner. The Court also stated that the form of investigation may vary in different circumstances. The suite of investigations available to inquire into the killing of a prisoner can include:

(i) an inquest under Coroner's Act 1962;

(ii) a Garda criminal investigation possibly leading to a criminal trial;

(iii) civil proceedings;

(iv) an investigation by the Inspector of Prisons pursuant to section 31 of the Prisons Act 2007;

(v) a commission of investigation under the Commission of Investigation Act 2004;

(vi) a tribunal of inquiry under the Tribunal of Inquiry (Evidence) Acts.

All prisoner deaths are automatically the subject of a Garda investigation and an inquest held in a Coroner's Court. The cause of death is determined by a jury on the basis of the information presented to the Court. The bringing into play of the other measures can depend on the circumstances of the death. For example a commission of investigation was established to look into the circumstances surrounding the death of Gary Douch and the Inspector of Prisons is looking into the death of Shane Rogers.

We are currently reviewing the procedures for the investigation of prisoner deaths to determine if procedures can be further improved.

Garda Strength

Martin Ferris

Question:

95 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he has directed the Garda Commissioner on the issue of the reduction of personnel in the Garda Síochána; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6534/12]

The strength of the Garda Síochána at the end of 2011 was just under 13,900, along with over 2,000 civilian support staff and over 800 Garda Reserve members.

I am informed by the Garda Authorities that the total number of Garda retirements from the Force in the first two months of this year is expected to be around 300. To put that figure into context, in 2009 the number of retirements was 722, in 2010 it was 362, and last year it was 436.

As the Deputy will be aware, these reductions form part of a wider programme aimed at reducing the size of the public service, and will contribute to reducing expenditure and complying with the terms of the EU-IMF agreement. Of course, what will ultimately determine the sustainable level of Garda numbers is the level of budgetary provision that can be made for the Force, and the House will be conscious that difficult decisions will continue to have to be made, right across the public sector, in order to bring our public finances back into balance.

The Deputy will also 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.

Proposed Legislation

Catherine Murphy

Question:

96 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will outline the specific process he intends to propose for the appointment of approved intermediaries as mentioned in head 27 of the proposed draft scheme of the personal insolvency Bill 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6522/12]

The Personal Insolvency Bill, the Heads of which I published on 25 January 2012, introduces a number of new non-judicial debt settlement systems. One of those systems — the Debt Relief Certificate (DRC) — provides for the writing-off of debt where debtors with no assets and no income may be unable to meet qualifying debts totalling not more than €20,000. The purpose is to create an efficient non-judicial means, of allowing persons to resolve unmanageable unsecured debt problems.

The intention is that the approved intermediary will assist debtors at the application stages of the process and will submit the completed applications on their behalf to the Insolvency Service for decision. While it is not stated in the Heads of the Bill, organisations such as MABS could operate as the approved intermediary if they wish. In this regard I should mention that it remains to be determined, in consultation with the Department of Social Protection, how MABS might take on such a role (as recommended by the Law Reform Commission in their Report on Personal Debt).

Other organisations might also be involved in the processing of DRC applications. These would most likely be non-profit organisations as a viable business model for money advisors or personal insolvency trustees would not appear to apply in the context of a DRC.

Road Traffic Offences

Seán Crowe

Question:

97 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the revenue received in fixed charges paid by speeding drivers as a result of detections by cameras operated by an outsourced safety camera network since its contract concluded in November 2009. [6547/12]

Speed cameras save lives through the reduction of fatal and serious-injury speed-related collisions.

The outsourced safety camera network commenced operations in November 2010 and is currently providing 6,000 speed monitoring hours and 1,475 speed survey hours per month across the country. I am informed that up to the end of 2011 a total of €10.624m has been received on foot of fixed charge notices issued in relation to speeding detected by the service provider. The service provider is paid on the basis of enforcement and surveying hours conducted, and the rates are not linked in any way to the number of detections made.

Prison Visiting Committees

Martin Ferris

Question:

98 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding his plans to reform the prison visiting committees; and the way in which new members will be appointed to same. [6533/12]

I have previously stated my intention to strengthen the independent oversight of our prisons. Under new legislation to be prepared, I intend to make Visiting Committees more effective while they continue their role of visiting prisons, meeting with prisoners, and liaising on their behalf with prison authorities. The arrangements for membership of the Committees will be changed and a link will be established between the Visiting Committees and the Inspector of Prisons. As part of these plans, it is intended to expand the Inspector of Prison's role which I believe will greatly enhance his independent oversight of the prison system.

Under these proposed new arrangements, Visiting Committees will report regularly to the Inspector of Prisons on issues they may wish to bring to his attention. Any urgent or major issue may be reported to the Inspector at any time. Each Visiting Committee will comprise no more than six members, and only suitable people with appropriate qualifications and a genuine interest in prison issues will be appointed.

The current role of the Inspector of Prisons and the Prison Visiting Committees are set out in statute. My proposals for change will therefore require amending legislation and I will be bringing forward Heads of a Bill for Government approval in due course.

In the meantime I am presently in the process of making appointments to Visiting Committees and within the last few days have written to the people concerned informing them of their appointment.

Garda Stations

Clare Daly

Question:

99 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will explain the rationale behind the cutting of hours in which Malahide Garda station, County Dublin, will be open; and if he will reconsider this decision. [6383/12]

In reaching a decision on the closure and the reduction of public opening hours of Garda stations, the Commissioner reviewed all aspects of the Garda Síochána's policing model, including the deployment of personnel, the utilisation of modern technologies and the operation of Garda stations, both in terms of opening hours and possible closures. In addition, all Divisional Officers were asked to assess the level of activity in each Garda Station in their area.

It must be stressed that the key objective of the review is to promote the more efficient and effective deployment of resources rather than secure modest cash savings. In this context the Commissioner has concluded that Garda resources could be better deployed and more effectively used on the frontline if the public offices in some stations, including Malahide, no longer had to be staffed and maintained on a 24 hour basis. There are no plans to review that decision.

National Women’s Strategy

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

100 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the details of his review of the national women’s strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6550/12]

The National Women's Strategy was launched by the previous Government in 2007 as a policy document in relation to the advancement of women in all areas of Irish society for the period 2007-2016. Its three key themes of equalising socio-economic opportunity for women, ensuring the wellbeing of women and engaging women as equal and active citizens largely correspond with the aims of the Programme for Government for National Recovery in fostering gender equality.

Progress on the implementation of the Strategy is monitored by a committee chaired by my colleague, Minister of State Kathleen Lynch. An annual Progress Report is made available on my Department's website. The Strategy also contains a commitment to periodically undertake an evaluation of the Strategy to assess its effectiveness within the operating environment and in light of changing circumstances.

The first such review of the Strategy is currently ongoing in my Department. It is anticipated that this report will be finalised in Spring 2012 and may be submitted to Government prior to its publication.

Prisoner Complaints Procedures

Brian Stanley

Question:

101 Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will introduce an independent complaints mechanism for prisoners here. [6528/12]

The Prisons (Visiting Committees) Act 1925 provides for a Visiting Committee to be constituted for every prison in the State and one of the statutory duties of such committees is to hear any complaints which may be made to them by a prisoner. Under new legislation to be prepared, I intend to make Visiting Committees more effective while they continue their role. The arrangements for membership of the Committees will be changed and a link will be established between the Visiting Committees and the Inspector of Prisons.

There are also procedures within the Irish Prison Service for the investigation of complaints by prisoners. I am not satisfied that the existing IPS procedures are sufficiently robust and independent of the local staff to meet best practice for the investigation of serious complaints. It is my intention to bring forward amendments to the Prison Rules 2007 which will introduce an independent element to the investigation. I have asked the Inspector of Prisons to give consideration to this matter and to advise me as to the most appropriate approach to be taken in an Irish context so as to ensure compliance with best international practice. The Inspector's views will then be taken into account in relation to the framing of the amended Rules in this regard.

The Deputy can be assured that every effort will be made to finalise this work as soon as possible.

Garda Stations

Denis Naughten

Question:

102 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will review the implementation of the plan to close rural Garda stations announced in December 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6201/12]

In reaching a decision on the closure of Garda stations, the Commissioner reviewed all aspects of the Garda Síochána's policing model, including the deployment of personnel, the utilisation of modern technologies and the operation of Garda stations, both in terms of opening hours and possible closures. In addition, all Divisional Officers were asked to assess the level of activity in each Garda Station in their area.

It must be stressed that the key objective of the station closures is to promote the more efficient and effective deployment of resources rather than secure modest cash savings. In this context the Commissioner has concluded that Garda resources could be better deployed and more effectively used on the frontline if these particular stations no longer had to be staffed and maintained. There are no plans to review those decisions.

The Garda Commissioner has reiterated the commitment of An Garda Síochána to providing a professional and effective service to the community. Each Divisional Officer with responsibility for a Division that will be affected by this decision has been tasked with developing a comprehensive consultation strategy together with a tailored implementation plan that will meet the particular needs of their Division. They will consult with the various stakeholders within their respective Divisions during this process.

The priority will remain, that an effective and professional policing service is provided to every part of the community, both rural and urban.

Official Travel

Terence Flanagan

Question:

103 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Taoiseach if a date regarding his trip to China has been agreed yet; the programme content; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6203/12]

The Government attaches great importance to developing our trade and bilateral links with our Asian partners and in particular with China.

I hope to travel to China later this year. Our Embassy is following the matter up with the authorities in Beijing with a view to agreeing mutually acceptable dates for the visit.

Job Losses

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

104 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Taoiseach the key sectors of the economy in which jobs have been lost since the first quarter of 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5798/12]

The Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) is the official source of estimates of employment in the State. It should be noted that the specific information regarding job losses requested by the deputy is not available as the QNHS is a measure of the level of employment only. Changes in the level of employment therefore are a function of both jobs lost and jobs created over the period in question. The most recent figures available for employment levels are for the third quarter of 2011.

Estimates of the level of employment by sector up to and including the third quarter of 2011 are presented in the following table. Given the seasonal nature of changes in employment across the year the estimates presented have been seasonally adjusted. Between the first and third quarters of 2011 there has been some level of fluctuation in numbers employed across all sectors of the economy with increases being recorded in some cases and decreases being recorded in others. As mentioned in the first paragraph above, a decline in employment in a sector is not a measure of the jobs lost within that sector. As the QNHS is a sample survey the CSO urges some caution in interpreting changes of relatively low orders of magnitude.

Seasonally Adjusted Series of persons aged 15 years and over in employment (ILO) classified by NACE Rev. 2 Economic Sector, Quarter 1 — Quarter 3 2011

Economic sector

(NACE Rev. 2)

Q1 2011

Q2 2011

Q3 2011

All persons

A

Agriculture, forestry and fishing

85.7

85.5

80.5

B-E

Industry

235.3

232.3

230.7

F

Construction

108.1

106.3

107.5

G

Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles

262.8

264.9

266.0

H

Transportation and storage

93.9

95.0

94.5

I

Accommodation and food service activities

103.6

108.3

109.7

J

Information and communication

70.5

73.5

73.7

K-L

Financial, insurance and real estate activities

100.6

102.7

98.1

M

Professional, scientific and technical activities

102.0

100.8

97.3

N

Administrative and support service activities

62.7

65.3

64.6

O

Public administration and defence; compulsory social security

107.0

99.9

100.7

P

Education

147.7

144.4

143.3

Q

Human health and social work activities

232.8

237.9

236.0

R-U

Other NACE activities

103.9

98.4

95.0

Total Employment

1,818.6

1,814.5

1,794.0

Reference period: q1=Jan-Mar, q2=Apr-Jun, q3=Jul-Sep;

Source: Quarterly National Household Survey, Central Statistics Office.

Departmental Bodies

Michael McCarthy

Question:

105 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Taoiseach if he will issue a breakdown of the remuneration packages in place for chief executive officers of all semi-State companies as of 27 January 2011, specifying in detail any bonus, pension, expenses arrangements or otherwise; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6457/12]

The National Economic and Social Development Office (NESDO) is the only State Agency under the aegis of my Department. The NESDO was established under the NESDO Act 2006 and is the body corporate for the National Economic and Social Council (NESC).

The Chief Officer of the National Economic and Social Development Office (NESDO) is also the Director of the National Economic and Social Council (NESC). He is paid for his role as Director of NESC at Assistant Secretary level in accordance with the relevant Pay Circular issued by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. He receives no additional salary for his role as Chief Officer of NESDO.

In addition to his salary, the Director receives an allowance of 16.66% of salary in lieu of pension. The Director is entitled to claim travel and subsistence expenses in line with the relevant Department of Public Expenditure and Reform Circulars. No bonus arrangements apply.

Income Statistics

Sean Fleming

Question:

106 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Taoiseach the reason there was more than a two-year time lag when the Central Statistics Office issued county incomes and regional GDP for 2009 in view of the fact that this statistical release was issued on the 26 January 2012; if measures will be put in place to ensure that information on this basis is issued within 12 months of the end of the year to which it relates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6678/12]

The compilation of the Regional Accounts and County Incomes requires detailed accounting data at regional or county level. This is mainly provided through the structural business surveys conducted by the CSO e.g. the Census of Industrial Production and the Annual Services Inquiries. Final results of these inquiries only become available approximately eighteen months after the end of the year to which they relate. Account must be taken of the fact that, in order to facilitate businesses, data can be provided for the nearest accounting year in these surveys. The accounting years of some firms can relate to the year ending in May, for example, and in such cases an inquiry form may not even be issued to these companies until some months after the end of the year. The main delay is in the completion and return of the survey forms by enterprises.

It should be noted that Ireland meets its international deadlines for the completion of the Regional Accounts by transmitting data to the EU Commission within two years of the reference year. The fact that the Commission allows two years for the transmission of the data indicates that this is the earliest date by which most member states could provide the results. The results for Ireland are not unduly delayed therefore by comparison with other member states.

The CSO could not commit itself to produce the results within 12 months of the end of the reference year as the matter is not entirely within their control. However every effort is being made by the CSO to shorten the time limit within which results of its inquiries are published. Several initiatives have been taken in the survey areas such as the use of electronic versions of the forms etc. to improve the timeliness of response. CSO will continue with its endeavours in this regard and is mindful of users' requirements to obtain results of the Regional Accounts and County Incomes at the earliest possible date.

Constitutional Convention

Seán Kyne

Question:

107 Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Taoiseach if he would indicate when the constitutional convention will take place; and the form he envisages it will take. [6908/12]

Seán Kyne

Question:

108 Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Taoiseach the issues which will be examined and debated through the constitutional convention; and if civil marriage for citizens who are gay or lesbian will be on the agenda for debate and subsequent introduction to ensure equality among citizens. [6909/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 107 and 108 together.

The Programme for Government contains a commitment to establish a Constitutional Convention and indicates areas for it to examine, including the area of same sex marriage.

Work is proceeding on proposals to set up the Convention and these proposals will address, inter alia, the structure, membership and operation of the Convention. It is intended that they will be the subject of consultation with Opposition Parties before being finalised. It is my intention that the Convention will be set up in the Spring.

Constitutional Amendments

Stephen S. Donnelly

Question:

109 Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if officials or representatives involved in discussions leading to the new euro area treaty were given any instruction to seek that the treaty would not include a requirement for it to be given constitutional enactment in participating countries; if officials or representatives proposed any wording relating to the way in which the treaty would take effect in participating countries, and the text of same; if officials or representatives made any proposal for the wording of Article 3.2 of the treaty, and the text of same; and his input into this clause referred to by the Taoiseach in the Dáil. [6873/12]

In the negotiations on the ‘Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union' the Government's main objective was to secure a good deal for Ireland and for Europe. The Irish negotiating team — political and official — pursued a number of priorities, each of which was fully secured. These included ensuring that the position of countries in an EU/IMF Programme is fully reflected in the text — nothing in the new Treaty alters in any way the terms of the Programme; ensuring that the Treaty remains as close as possible to existing EU Treaties and to existing and proposed EU secondary legislation; ensuring that different legal traditions and practices are accommodated in the Treaty text; and ensuring that the new deficit brake can be applied in a way that makes sense in all Member States.

These objectives were advanced though active participation in negotiating sessions, including in offering suggestions on text, and through a number of written submissions on drafts as they evolved.

In offering views on the ‘deficit brake' set out in Article 3.2, the Irish team, while fully subscribing to the view that commitments in this area should be binding, successfully argued for the inclusion of a degree of flexibility to give appropriate recognition to the different legal and constitutional traditions and requirements that apply in different countries. We made it clear that, unlike many other participating countries, we do not have a tier of law between statute law and the Constitution, that the Houses of the Oireachtas take decisions by means of a simple majority (subject to specific exceptions set out in the Constitution) and we do not generally include detailed provisions in the Constitution.

A number of other countries joined with us in seeking this degree of flexibility, given their respective domestic legal circumstances. To meet those concerns, it was agreed to include the word ‘preferably' ahead of ‘Constitutional' in Article 3.2.

Accommodating such differences has always been a feature in the conduct of European business, and the final text is a balanced one that Ireland can accept.

As the Deputy will be aware, following last week's meeting of the Government, I have written to the Attorney General formally seeking her advice on whether a referendum will be required to allow Ireland ratify the new Treaty. The Attorney General is now studying the legal implications carefully, and will deliver her advice in due course. Once her advice is received, the Government will consider it carefully and will take whatever decisions are necessary. As it has made clear, if a referendum is required, one will be held.

Court Proceedings

Finian McGrath

Question:

110 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on a matter (details supplied). [6368/12]

I understand that the matter in question relates to legal proceedings currently before the courts. It would not be appropriate for me to comment any further at this stage other than to confirm that officials from my Department continue to monitor developments very closely.

Departmental Funding

Niall Collins

Question:

111 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if funding is available from him for a specific purpose (details supplied). [6399/12]

The Emigrant Support Programme, administered by my Department, provides funding to non-profit organisations and projects to support Irish communities overseas and to facilitate the development of more strategic links between Ireland and the global Irish. The strong emphasis of the Programme is on supporting culturally sensitive, frontline welfare services, which are targeted at the most vulnerable members of our overseas communities, including the elderly and homeless. These services have made a substantive difference to the lives of Irish people living abroad, particularly in Britain and the United States, through reducing homelessness, tackling social isolation, and enabling Irish emigrants to access their local, statutory entitlements.

Thanks to Irish Government support, all the major urban areas in Britain with substantial Irish populations have dedicated, professional, Irish welfare organisations that provide support and assistance for elderly Irish people, including with end of life issues.

Where an Irish citizen who is resident abroad dies my Department through our Embassies or Consulates will offer consular assistance with regard to the repatriation of the remains if it is requested. The assistance can involve contacts with local authorities/undertakers etc and liaison with family members here in Ireland. My Department does not have funds available to assist with the financial cost involved in the repatriation of remains.

Overseas Development Aid

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

112 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he is in a position to outline the impact of budgetary reductions on the aid programme in Lesotho; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6601/12]

For 2012, the Government will provide a total of €639 million for ODA, which, on current projections, will represent over 0.5% of GNP. Given our current economic circumstances this allocation represents a real commitment by the Government and people of Ireland to the world's poorest people.

Through the overseas aid programme the Government provides assistance to over ninety countries worldwide. Nine have been designated as Programme Countries for Irish Aid, where we have a commitment to long term strategic assistance. These are Ethiopia, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Timor Leste, Uganda, Vietnam and Zambia.

We are now in the process of allocating the overall budget for 2012, and therefore no individual country budgets have yet been identified. As has been the case in recent years however, the allocations to Irish Aid's Programme Countries will be prioritised to the extent possible.

Ireland has a long-standing commitment to Lesotho, which dates from 1975. Since 2003, we have provided almost €90m in bilateral aid to the country. In 2011, the annual budget for Lesotho stood at approximately €10.7 million. I expect the allocation to fall slightly in 2012 although on a per capita basis Lesotho will remain one of our largest programmes.

This year we will continue to target priority areas such as the provision of health services for those infected with HIV and AIDS, measures to improve access to education, along with quality, and a programme that is helping to strengthen Government accountability to the citizens of Lesotho. Support will also be provided for disaster management as well as a programme to improve food production at the household and community level. An evaluation of the Country Programme will be conducted later this year which will help to inform our future strategy in Lesotho.

Question No. 113 withdrawn.

International Agreements

Michael McGrath

Question:

114 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the manner in which he believes the fiscal compact agreed at inter-governmental level improves economic governance and budgetary discipline within the EU over and above the updated Stability and Growth Pact measures which came into effect on 13 December 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6338/12]

The Fiscal Compact is a key part of the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union agreed at the end of January. The Compact requires that fiscal rules — covering targets for the structural balance, automatic correction mechanisms, etc — take effect in national law. This is an important provision as it encompasses greater ownership in ensuring the appropriate conduct of fiscal policies at national level.

The Fiscal Compact compliments the already agreed measures taken at EU level, which seek to ensure the pursuit of sustainable fiscal policies in participating Member States. This, in turn, will help ensure a greater level of stability in the euro area and wider EU, which is in all of our interests.

The other parts of the Treaty cover economic policy coordination and convergence as well as improved governance of the euro area.

Tax Code

Billy Timmins

Question:

115 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding tax in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6223/12]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a revised Tax Credit and Universal Social Charge Certificate issued to the person concerned in December 2011 arising from a small difference between the details of her pension on Revenue's record and the pension particulars supplied by the Department of Social Protection. Based on the information available to the Revenue Commissioners the person concerned has been allowed the appropriate tax credits and reliefs on her income. Her 2012 Tax Credit and Universal Social Charge Certificate also reflects the correct rate band to take account of the treatment of the Universal Social Charge on a cumulative basis from 1 January 2012.

If the Deputy would like to ask the person concerned to contact the Wicklow District Manager, Vivienne Dempsey, telephone number 01 6316605, she will assist her with her enquiry.

Bank Interest Rates

Finian McGrath

Question:

116 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will respond to correspondence regarding the European Central Bank rates (details supplied). [6227/12]

The details provided by the Deputy refer to the failure of a particular lending institution to pass on ECB rate reductions. The Deputy will be aware that the lending institutions in Ireland, including those in which the State has a substantial shareholding are independent commercial entities. The lending institution mentioned by name, in the details supplied by the Deputy, is not one in which the State has a direct shareholding. Neither the Central Bank nor I have the power to compel financial institutions to reduce their mortgage interest rates.

Ultimately the pricing of financial products, including standard variable mortgage interest rates, is a commercial decision for the management team and board of each lending institution, having due regard to their customers and the impact on profitability, particularly where the cost of funding to each lending institution, including deposit pricing, is under pressure.

Banking Sector Regulation

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

117 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance the proposals he has to ensure that mortgage lenders are going to develop products to help mortgage holders in distress as part of the new strategy to help troubled borrowers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6263/12]

The Central Bank revised Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears (CCMA), the key framework that governs the relationship between lenders and borrowers who are in arrears, or facing arrears, on their mortgage, provides a number of protections to borrowers. These include the establishment of a formal Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process (MARP) as the framework for handling such cases, the establishment of dedicated Arrears Support Units and a separate internal appeals process by lenders to deal with individuals on a case by case basis. The Code also provides that a lender must not apply to the Courts to commence legal action for the repossession of a borrower's private residence until every reasonable effort has been made to agree an alternative arrangement with the borrower and that, where a borrower co-operates with the lender, the lender must wait at least twelve months from the date the borrower is classified as a MARP case before applying to the Court to commence legal action for repossession of a borrower's primary residence.

This twelve month period does not include any time where the borrower is complying with the terms of any alternative arrangement agreed with the lender, or being processed by the internal Appeals Board, or any time during which a complaint against the lender against any aspect of the Mortgage Arrears Code is being processed by the Financial Services Ombudsman's Office. In addition, lenders are restricted from imposing charges and/or surcharge interest on arrears arising on a mortgage account in arrears to which the Code applies and in respect of which the borrower is co-operating reasonable and honestly with the lender in the MARP process. The Central Bank has published a guide for consumers on mortgage arrears ‘Mortgage Arrears — A Consumer Guide to Dealing with your Lender' and this is available on the Central Bank website.

More recently, the Central Bank has also required licensed mortgage lenders to develop comprehensive strategies and implementation plans to deal with their individual mortgage arrears situations. The Central Bank is currently reviewing these strategies and plans to ensure that they are addressing the problem and that mortgage lenders are looking at appropriate longer term solutions, such as those recommended in the Inter-Departmental Mortgage Arrears Working Group report and other options that banks may develop themselves, for their customers who may have unsustainable mortgages. The Central Bank will continue to engage with lenders on the further development and implementation of these strategies and plans.

Tax Code

Terence Flanagan

Question:

118 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the universal social charge (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6271/12]

The Universal Social Charge (USC) was introduced in Budget 2011 and replaced the Health Levy and the Income Levy. It is a more equitable charge and has a wider base and a lower rate when compared to the combined impact of the Income and the Health Levies. As with all taxes, receipts from the USC form part of the collective contribution to the funding of public services.

Brendan Smith

Question:

119 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Finance if he will clarify the situation in regard to the right of a parent to gift a second home to a son or daughter without it affecting capital acquisition tax or inheritance taxes; if the matter will be confirmed and conditions outlined; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6304/12]

For the purposes of Capital Acquisitions Tax (gift and inheritance tax), the relationship between the person who provides the gift or inheritance (known as the "disponer") and the person who receives the gift or inheritance (i.e., the beneficiary), determines the maximum tax-free threshold (known as the "group threshold") below which gift or inheritance tax does not arise. There are, in all, three separate group tax-free thresholds based on the relationship of the beneficiary to the disponer.

Group A: €250,000 —applies where the beneficiary is a child (including adopted child, step-child and certain foster children) or minor child of a deceased child of the disponer. Parents also fall within this threshold where they take an inheritance of an absolute interest from a child. Group B: €33,208 —applies where the beneficiary is a brother, sister, a nephew, a niece or lineal ancestor or lineal descendant of the disponer. Group C: €16,604 —applies in all other cases.

When calculating whether a beneficiary has received benefits in excess of her/his group tax-free threshold, any other gifts or inheritances received by that beneficiary since 5 December 1991 from within the same group are also taken into account.

A son or daughter who takes a gift or an inheritance from their parents falls into the Group A threshold above.

Apart from the tax-free group thresholds available to a beneficiary, the Capital Acquisitions Tax code also exempts a gift or an inheritance of a dwelling house completely from gift or inheritance tax in certain circumstances.

Where a parent transfers by way of gift a dwelling house, which is not the only or main residence of the parent, to a son or daughter, that gift will be exempt from gift tax if the son or daughter has resided in that dwelling house for a minimum of three years prior to the gift and if the son or daughter does not have an interest in any other dwelling house. In addition, the son or daughter must continue to occupy that dwelling house as his or her only or main residence for a period of six years from the date of the gift.

If, therefore, the conditions for the dwelling house exemption are met by the son or daughter, the gift of the second home will be completely exempt from gift tax and the gift will not reduce the Group A tax-free threshold available to the son or daughter of €250,000, which will still be in place in respect of any other gifts or inheritances that the son or daughter may receive from their parents in the future.

National Asset Management Agency

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

120 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Finance if he is satisfied with the National Asset Management Agency’s strategy in regard to residential homes, some of which are protected structures or in areas of architectural conservation, that are unoccupied and in need of repair, or have been vacated while renovation works remain to be completed, and are now falling into disrepair. [6307/12]

NAMA informs me that property assets securing NAMA loans are under the control of debtors or of receivers appointed by the Agency. As such, it is debtors and receivers who are responsible for the preservation and maintenance of such property, including protected structures and residences which are of architectural significance. In cases where NAMA becomes aware that debtors are neglecting their duties in this regard, the Agency advises me that it demands of them that they take appropriate remedial action. Should the debtor fail to take the appropriate action, NAMA can appoint a receiver to take control of the property concerned or under the provisions of section 141 of the NAMA Act, it can apply to the District Court for an entry and maintenance order, for which the overall costs can be charged back to the debtor. NAMA informs me that it has not been necessary to move beyond the first option in the very few cases relating to period buildings and protected structures that have arisen to date. Should the Deputy have any concerns about such buildings or structures, however, he should inform the Agency through the dedicated e-mail address,oir@nama.ie, to which members of the Oireachtas may direct questions on matters of public interest provided the terms of Section 221 of the National Asset Management Act 2009 are respected.

Pension Provisions

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

121 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that when Fingal County Council transferred responsibility for pension payment to retired vocational education committee employees to the Paymaster General, that the Paymaster General changed the renewal period for those with VHI healthcare plans, meaning that there was a period when those in receipt of pension payments were not covered under their VHI plans. [6310/12]

There is a long standing agreement with all of the health insurance companies, including the VHI, where an individual's health cover remains in place even in circumstances where, through no fault of his/her own, a premium is not paid. As part of the move to the greater use of shared services in the public sector in order to drive efficiencies, the Paymaster General's Office, which is part of my Department, took over the payment, on an agency basis, of pensions of the retired staff of the Vocational Education Committees. Payment of these pensions was previously made through the local authorities. When those in receipt of pension paid via Fingal County Council moved to the payroll of the Paymaster General's Office in November 2011, there was no period during the transfer when they were not covered under their VHI plans.

Tax Code

Brendan Griffin

Question:

122 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 80 of 14 December 2011, his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding the universal social charge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6331/12]

The position is as I stated on 14 December 2011 in reply to Parliamentary Question Number 80, that the Universal Social Charge (USC) does not apply to social welfare payments or payments of a similar nature made by any other state or territory.

However, occupational pensions are liable to the USC, if the payment is greater than the exemption limit, which from 1 January 2012 is €10,036 per annum.

Therefore, in this particular case the retired couple in question receives a higher proportion of their total income from occupational pension than the retired couple in the newspaper article and therefore pays more USC. In both cases the State Pensions are exempt from the USC.

As the Deputy is aware, the USC was reviewed by my Department in the lead up to Budget 2012 and the report can be obtained atwww.finance.gov.ie.

Tax and Expenditure Profiles

Michael McGrath

Question:

123 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance when he will publish the monthly tax and expenditure profiles for 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6339/12]

The profile for monthly Exchequer tax revenues and debt servicing expenditure will be published this week. It is the intention of my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to publish expenditure profiles later this month.

Tax Code

Niall Collins

Question:

124 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance the reason the Revenue Commissioners are refusing to allow the Non-Principal Private Residence charge as a business expense for owners of rental properties despite the statement of the then Minister for the Environment during the Committee Stage of the Local Government (Charges) Bill in Dáil Éireann on 9 July, 2009 that as I understand it, they can set it against their expenses for business purposes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6389/12]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a person in receipt of rental income is assessed to income tax on the net amount of the rents received, i.e. the gross rents less allowable expenses incurred in earning those rents. In computing the net amount of the rents received, only those deductions that are specified in the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 are allowable. The legislation is quite clear in this matter. Section 97 of that Act 1997 sets out what are the allowable deductions in computing rental income. The main deductible expenses are:

Any rent payable by the landlord in the case of a sub-lease.

The cost to the landlord of any goods provided or services rendered to a tenant.

The cost of maintenance, repairs, insurance and management of the property.

Interest on borrowed money used to purchase, improve or repair the property.

Payment of local authority rates in the case of rateable properties used for commercial purposes.

Payment of the Non-Principal Private Residence charge is not an allowable expense in computing taxable rental income as it is not included on the list of allowable items.

Niall Collins

Question:

125 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance if he will examine a case in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork in view of the fact that this person has been advised that he is not liable for this charge; and if he will arrange to have this payment cancelled and refund all payments made. [6400/12]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that a Tax Credit Certificate that granted exemption from both PAYE and Universal Social Charge (USC) for the current tax year, 2012 was issued to person in question and their pension provider.

The person's pension provider should refund any deductions of USC that may already have been made, from his private pension, in the current year, 2012, through their payroll system.

The person's income in 2011 was in excess of the USC exemption limit for 2011, based on the most recent figures available to Revenue.

Tax Reliefs

Tom Hayes

Question:

126 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Finance the reason a particular not for profit organisation might have its application for relief of taxes under the Disabled Drivers/Passengers Regulations 1994 refused by Revenue; his views on a particular case (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6441/12]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that Section 134(3) of the Finance Act 1992 (as amended) and Statutory Instrument No: 353 of 1994 Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations, 1994 (as amended) provide for permanent relief from the payment of specified maximum amounts of VAT and VRT for persons registered under the scheme.

An application for exemption under the Scheme was received in the Central Repayments Office on 16 August 2011 from the organisation (details supplied). Qualifying Organisations are entitled to relief under this scheme. A "Qualifying Organisation" means a philanthropic organisation which is not funded primarily by (a) the State, (b) any board established by statute, or (c) any public or local authority. As confirmed on the application submitted by the organisation, this organisation is primarily funded by the State and therefore does not qualify for relief under this scheme.

Tax Yield

Pearse Doherty

Question:

127 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the total revenue raised on an annual basis from 1975 to 1985 under the terms of the Wealth Tax Act 1075 represented in monetary terms, as a percentage of the total tax take as a percentage of GDP. [6481/12]

Wealth tax was introduced in tax year 1975/76 and was abolished at the end of tax year 1977/78. The rate of the tax was 1% and it applied to the "net market value", as defined, of the "taxable wealth" of an individual, a discretionary trust, or a private trading company. There were a number of allowable deductions and exemptions from the tax. I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the yield from the wealth tax, and the wealth tax as a percentage of the total tax take, are as shown below. The figures for the wealth tax as a percentage of GDP are based on figures from the Central Bank of Ireland'sStatistical Yearbook of Ireland.

Year

Exchequer yield from Wealth Tax

Exchequer yield from Wealth Tax

Wealth Tax yield as % of total tax take

Wealth Tax yield as % of GDP

£m

€m equivalent

%

%

1975

3.7

4.7

0.4

0.09

1976

6.5

8.3

0.5

0.13

1977

5.8

7.4

0.4

0.09

1978

0.7

0.9

0.04

0.01

1979

0.8

1.0

0.04

0.01

1980

0.8

1.0

0.03

0.01

1981

0.7

0.9

0.02

0.01

1982

0.6

0.8

0.02

Negligible

1983

0.7

0.9

0.01

Negligible

1984

0.2

0.3

Negligible

Negligible

1985

0.2

0.3

Negligible

Negligible

National Asset Management Agency

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

128 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance if it is intended to re-price the houses in the portfolio of developers with NAMA loans to make them more affordable in 2012 for young and first-time buyers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6484/12]

I am informed that NAMA approves the sale of assets, including houses and apartments by debtors or receivers acting on its behalf, at the current market rate for such properties. Properties under the control of receivers or other insolvency professionals appointed by NAMA are listed on its website athttp://www.nama.ie/PropertiesEnforced.php. Potential purchasers are encouraged to contact the receivers to obtain additional information on specific properties and to submit expressions of interest if they wish to make a purchase. I understand that in cases where NAMA receives inquiries from potential purchasers about specific properties under the control of debtors, it can facilitate contact with debtors or receivers with a view to enabling sales transactions to take place.

Under the National Asset Management Act, 2009, NAMA has a commercial mandate. Given this commercial mandate, the Agency would not be in a position to change the prices of domestic properties for specific categories of purchasers.

Tax Code

Terence Flanagan

Question:

129 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding a PAYE allowance in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6586/12]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that, according to Revenue records the person in question was granted one PAYE Credit for the years 2006-2011.

On the 10 January 2012, the taxpayer advised Revenue that his spouse had a pension in her own right and he was granted an additional PAYE Credit for the year 2012. However, following further contact from the taxpayer when he was making a claim for the additional PAYE Credit for 2011, it transpired that his spouse did not have a pension in her own right but was in fact receiving the Adult Dependent portion of his pension. In such circumstances he was not entitled to the additional PAYE Credit and the credit was withdrawn for 2012.

EU-IMF Programme

Pearse Doherty

Question:

130 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the level of the general Government deficit if Ireland was to meet the 0.5% structural deficit in 2016 assuming that the general Government deficit level of 3% was met in 2015 as per the EU-IMF programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6671/12]

As part of the December 2010 ECOFIN Council recommendations to Ireland under the Excessive Deficit Procedure, Ireland is required to reduce its actual General Government deficit to below 3 per cent of GDP by 2015. The focus of Government at present is on adhering to the 8.6 per cent of GDP deficit target set for 2012 as well as on reducing the deficit to below 3 per cent of GDP by 2015, as we are committed to. It is vitally important that we restore sustainability to the public finances as soon as we can, bearing in mind the need to foster economic growth. The IntergovernmentalTreaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union agreed last week requires us to achieve a balanced budget in structural terms, in other words after adjustment for the impact of the economic cycle on the budgetary position. This requirement will be deemed as respected if a Member State’s structural balance is at its so-called Medium Term Objective, with a lower limit for the structural balance of -0.5 per cent of GDP (except in exceptional cases for countries with inter alia very low debt). The timeframe for convergence towards the MTO will be proposed by the Commission for each Member State taking into account country-specific sustainability.

At this point in time, it would be speculative to put forward a possible timeline for reaching the structural deficit of 0.5 per cent of GDP and what the corresponding actual General Government deficit might be at that point.

Tax Code

Sean Fleming

Question:

131 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Finance if a person paying mortgage interest falls into arrears, if mortgage interest tax relief at source is still available and the methods by which this may be reduced; when a person repays the arrears are there automatic provisions in place to reinstate the tax relief at source or is the person at the loss of this and have they to contact the Revenue Commissioners to have it reinstated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6674/12]

The position is that tax relief for mortgage interest paid on a qualifying loan, a loan used for the purchase, repair, development or improvement of a person's main residence, is paid through the tax relief at source (TRS) system.

Where interest relief has been ceased by Revenue, and the mortgage is subsequently the subject of repayment in accordance with an agreed schedule with the mortgage provider, then subject to an application to Revenue for relief by the person concerned, relief is restored by Revenue. The relevant interest relief ceiling will of course apply so that if the overall interest repaid by the person concerned exceeds the relevant ceiling, interest relief for interest payments beyond that ceiling will not be available.

Sean Fleming

Question:

132 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Finance if tax relief at source in respect of mortgage interest is available to persons with mortgages who are in receipt of the mortgage interest supplement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6675/12]

Mortgage Interest Supplement is paid by the Department of Social Protection. It is a short term support to help pay mortgage interest repayments and the payment is based on the interest portion of a mortgage after deductions have been made for mortgage interest relief and any mortgage allowance or mortgage subsidy payable towards the interest part of the mortgage by any local authority.

Persons who are in receipt of Mortgage Interest Supplement are not precluded from claiming Mortgage Interest Relief.

Robert Dowds

Question:

133 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 224 of 12 January 2011, if the Revenue Commissioners have updated the estimated information for 2010 that was given in that answer, and if it has been updated, if he will set out the updated figures. [6682/12]

Robert Dowds

Question:

134 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 224 of 12 January 2011, if he will set out the latest estimate available to the Revenue Commissioners for the tax year 2011 of the total number of taxpayers in each of the following bands, the latest estimate of the total income for each of these bands, and the latest estimate of the total tax paid for each of those income bands, that is, those earning less than €5,000, between €5,001 and €10,000, between €10,001 and €14,000, between €14,001 and €15,000, between €15,001 and €15,514, between €15,515 and €17,542, between €17,543 and €20,000, between €20,001 and €30,000, between €30,001 and €40,000, between €40,001 and €50,000, between €50,001 and €60,000, between €60,001 and €70,000, between €70,001 and €80,000, between €80,001 and €90,000, between €90,001 and €100,000, between €100,001 and €125,000, between €125,001 and €150,000, between €150,001 and €175,000, between €175,001 and €200,000, between €200,001 and €250,000, between €250,001 and €300,000, between €300,001 and €350,000, between €350,001 and €400,000, between €400,001 and €450,000, between €450,001 and €500,000, between €500,001 and €750,000, between €750,001 and €1,000,000, between €1,000,001 and €2,000,000, and €2,000,000 and over. [6683/12]

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

The information requested, estimated by reference to the income tax years 2010 and 2011, is set out in the following table:

2010 (provisional)

2011 (provisional)

Gross Income Range

Gross Income

Numbers

Tax Paid

Gross Income

Numbers

Tax Paid

0-5,000

495,623,776

230,685

0

487,986,108

227,095

0

5,001-10,000

1,275,216,986

170,462

68,959

1,255,663,199

167,836

446,003

10,001-14,000

1,808,764,491

150,339

2,654,925

1,779,984,419

147,969

4,022,590

14,001-15,000

543,973,402

37,517

1,313,885

539,083,092

37,184

1,688,461

15,001-15,514

296,094,907

19,417

780,619

291,944,937

19,146

958,432

15,515-17,542

1,296,090,208

78,386

3,331,862

1,276,179,382

77,181

6,147,635

17,543-20,000

1,959,064,431

104,401

9,983,624

1,931,125,757

102,910

30,974,477

20,001-30,000

9,716,508,118

391,532

283,492,711

9,573,599,824

385,744

381,082,644

30,001-33,343

3,449,159,733

109,107

174,667,568

3,400,149,735

107,551

207,574,683

33,344-40,000

6,901,581,906

188,645

442,375,330

6,800,653,487

185,876

564,306,322

40,001-50,000

9,279,663,224

207,924

866,609,478

9,142,633,523

204,850

1,058,021,456

50,001-60,000

7,615,165,884

139,299

956,814,148

7,506,470,503

137,311

1,086,273,677

60,001-70,000

6,200,789,092

95,815

900,606,275

6,113,230,290

94,466

992,452,875

70,001-80,000

5,180,141,228

69,339

829,587,971

5,106,969,027

68,362

913,147,308

80,001-90,000

4,049,384,422

47,819

710,799,491

4,000,986,987

47,247

773,899,034

90,001-100,000

3,151,192,559

33,274

599,128,884

3,108,236,315

32,818

642,150,132

100,001-125,000

5,386,008,665

48,570

1,135,112,131

5,316,263,933

47,941

1,196,849,254

125,001-150,000

3,154,874,862

23,197

734,888,359

3,121,226,315

22,950

762,690,308

150001-175,000

1,917,177,685

11,891

472,370,317

1,893,410,584

11,746

483,959,819

175,001-200,000

1,292,292,783

6,931

328,742,461

1,288,116,235

6,910

336,870,896

200,001-250,000

1,778,423,957

8,012

462,994,391

1,763,013,081

7,942

469,425,803

250,001-300,000

1,161,552,157

4,259

308,750,848

1,151,975,837

4,226

312,101,016

300,001-350,000

820,014,587

2,535

220,789,296

828,763,978

2,563

225,119,785

350,001-400,000

595,237,988

1,595

164,631,271

597,687,366

1,601

166,979,624

400,001-450,000

485,515,745

1,148

132,323,183

476,565,416

1,126

131,183,043

450,001-500,000

370,753,257

782

102,483,540

373,468,949

788

104,398,370

500,001-750,000

1,179,192,973

1,970

326,926,572

1,199,017,554

2,000

334,290,603

750,001-1,000,000

533,400,252

625

153,911,445

534,787,080

626

154,811,699

1,000,001-2,000,000

662,730,897

509

176,091,517

677,124,288

519

180,750,996

Over 2,000,000

1,025,497,998

118

349,540,335

1,016,296,602

117

345,279,341

Totals

83,581,088,169

2,186,100

10,851,771,390

82,552,613,799

2,154,599

11,867,856,287

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

It should be noted that the income ranges shown in the above tables relate to Gross Income as defined in Revenue Statistical Report 2010.

It should also be noted that a married couple who has elected or has been deemed to have elected for joint assessment is counted as one tax unit.

Proposed Legislation

Jack Wall

Question:

135 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider a matter (details supplied) regarding insolvency legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6704/12]

My colleague, Mr. Alan Shatter TD, Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, has now published the Heads of a Personal Insolvency Bill for Oireachtas and public consultation.

The Bill will provide for a new framework for the formal settlement of debt and for personal insolvency. The proposed reform will consist of the following main elements:

a revised judicial process (bankruptcy) to provide for a 3 year period for automatic discharge from bankruptcy, from the current 12 years.

the introduction of a new debt write-off process (Debt Relief Certificates) for low level indebtedness where the debtor has effectively no income and no assets and has unsecured debts amounting up to €20,000.

the introduction of a new non-judicial debt settlement process for unsecured debt only amounting to over €20,000 (Debt Settlement Arrangement).

the introduction of a new non-judicial debt settlement process for secured (and if applicable also unsecured debt) for amounts of between €20,000 and €3 million (Personal Insolvency Arrangement).

The draft Bill as published for consultation does not exclude debt, either unsecured or secured (including mortgage related), owed to a local authority.

Part 5 of the draft Bill, which provides for a Personal Insolvency Arrangement (PIA) framework, proposes that, subject to certain eligibility criteria, an insolvent debtor may make a proposal to address unsustainable secured debt, including mortgage debt, in a non-judicial manner. The debtor can also propose to concurrently address unsecured debt, if any, in this framework. The PIA as set out allows for a high degree of flexibility as to the type of solution that could be agreed for mortgage and other secured debt and does not exclude the possibility of shared ownership scenarios.

Upon conclusion of the consultation process, the Bill will be considered further by Government in advance of the publication of a Bill before the end of April in line with the revised commitment in the EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support. The Bill will also fulfil the relevant commitment in the Programme for Government.

Tax Yield

Michael McGrath

Question:

136 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the revenue, actual and projected, to be raised from the pension fund levy for each of the years 2011 to 2014; the cost of each of the related measures undertaken under the jobs initiative; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6761/12]

The Jobs Initiative publication from May of last year clearly outlined the expected revenue yields to be generated from the pension levy over the 2011-2014 period. In addition, the publication also included details of the proposed current and capital expenditure and other revenue measures. This information was most recently included in the response to PQ 4718/12 and PQ 4719/12 on January 26th also.

The outturn for the pension levy in 2011 was €463 million as opposed to the original forecast amount of €470 million.

The implementation of a jobs and growth strategy is a key priority of this Government. The Jobs Initiative contains a range of measures aimed at assisting in employment generation — providing opportunities for those who are out of work, to restore public morale and confidence in the economy and encourage spending by consumers. The Government is currently finalising a comprehensive Action Plan for Jobs which will set out further measures to be taken in 2012 to support job creation. This Action Plan, which complements last year's Jobs Initiative, will be published in the coming weeks.

A summary of the original measures and associated estimated yields and costs is set out in the table below:

Revenue

2011 (€m)

2012 (€m)

2013 (€m)

2014 (€m)

Total

*Air Travel Tax

-15

-90

-105

-105

-315

VAT

-120

-350

-350

-60

-880

PRSI

-95

-208

-201

-33

-536

Pension Funds Levy

+470

+470

+470

+470

+1,880

Expenditure (Additional)

-40

-30

-30

-30

-130

Net Benefit (+) / Loss (-)

+201

-208

-216

+242

+19

rounding may affect totals

*It should be noted that the proposed suspension of the Air Travel Tax, at an estimated cost of €15 million in 2011, €90 million in 2012 and €105 million in a full year, was conditional on the airlines increasing passenger numbers in terms of restoring routes and capacity. Following discussions with the airlines in that regard, the Government decided to retain the Air Travel Tax in 2011, pending a further review in the spring.

Banks Recapitalisation

Stephen S. Donnelly

Question:

137 Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Finance if he will set out the precise relationship between the emergency liquidity assistance and the promissory notes as relevant to the IBRC. [6777/12]

The Promissory Note acts as collateral under emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) loan (repo) agreements with the Central bank of Ireland (CBI). This ELA is itself funded by the CBI through Intra-Eurosystem liabilities and any repayments of ELA are used to reduce this liability on the Central Bank's balance sheet. Other than that there is no link between the Promissory Note and ELA.

Stephen S. Donnelly

Question:

138 Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Finance if it is the case that the European Central Bank loaned money to the Central Bank of Ireland in the form of emergency liquidity assistance, which the Central Bank of Ireland then loaned on to the Irish banking system; and if so, at what interest rate and repayment terms was this loan by the ECB. [6778/12]

One of the functions of the Central Bank of Ireland, similar to other central banks, is to grant Exceptional Liquidity Assistance to a credit institution when this is deemed necessary for financial stability purposes. These amounts are published monthly. The Central Bank cannot disclose the financial institutions that avail of such support although it is open to all eligible counterparties to apply for such funding. ELA is one of the ways that the Central Bank has responded to the financial crisis. This is distinct and separate from regular funding operations carried out for monetary policy implementation purposes through the ECB. ELA is funded through Intra-Eurosystem liabilities but the Central Bank does not disclose the terms under which ELA is provided. A loan provided to a credit institution under Exceptional Liquidity Assistance is granted against suitable collateral, where suitability is in line with unpublished criteria defined by the Central Bank. As with procedures for ECB eligible collateral, appropriate haircuts/discounts are applied with a view to ensuring that the Central Bank would not suffer any loss in the event of default on the loan assistance. The Bank has received formal comfort from me such that any shortfall on the liquidation of the collateral is made good.

Stephen S. Donnelly

Question:

139 Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Finance the total amount of emergency liquidity assistance originating from each of the European Cental Bank and Central Bank of Ireland currently in the Irish banking system; the projected repayment schedule per bank of ELA to the Central Bank of Ireland; and the projected repayment schedule per bank of ELA to the ECB. [6779/12]

The Central Bank has informed me that one of their functions, similar to other central banks, is to grant Exceptional Liquidity Assistance to a credit institution when this is deemed necessary for financial stability purposes. These amounts are published monthly. My Department, in addition, continues to monitor details of historical levels and trends in respect of the use of Central Bank funding across the system. The Central Bank cannot disclose the financial institutions that avail of such support although it is open to all eligible counterparties to apply for such funding. ELA is one of the ways that the Central Bank has responded to the financial crisis. This is distinct and separate from regular funding operations carried out for monetary policy implementation purposes through the ECB. A loan provided to a credit institution under Exceptional Liquidity Assistance is granted against suitable collateral, where suitability is in line with unpublished criteria defined by the Central Bank. As with procedures for ECB eligible collateral, appropriate haircuts/discounts are applied with a view to ensuring that the Central Bank would not suffer any loss in the event of default on the loan assistance. The Bank has received formal comfort from the Minister for Finance such that any shortfall on the liquidation of the collateral is made good.

Stephen S. Donnelly

Question:

140 Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Finance if he or any representative of the State has ever raised with the ECB the possibility of partial non-payment of ELA to the Central Bank of Ireland. [6780/12]

Emergency Liquidity Assistance, or ELA, is funded by the Central Bank of Ireland through the Eurosystem, and any repayments are used to reduce this liability on the Central Bank's balance sheet. The government is currently in technical discussions with European authorities in relation to the promissory notes held by the Irish Banking Resolution Corporation that are currently funded by ELA. I am actively pursuing these discussions, and hope to reach an agreement with the ECB and IMF to reduce to the overall cost to the State.

Stephen S. Donnelly

Question:

141 Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Finance the current resources of the IBRC; the projected cash flow requirements of the IBRC over the next ten years; the projected cash flow generated from the sale of IBRC’s assets over the next ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6781/12]

The most recent published information detailing the resources of IBRC are contained in the interim accounts of the bank. The attached link is provided for the Deputy's convenience. The information requested in relation to projected cash flows are commercially sensitive and as such, the Deputy will appreciate, cannot be properly disclosed.http://www.ibrc.ie/About_us/Financial_information/Latest_interim_report/Interim_ Report_2011.pdf

Tax Code

Michael McGrath

Question:

142 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the reason a person (details supplied) in County Cork, whose income is well below the relevant threshold, is paying the universal social charge. [6855/12]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the person in question is exempt from the Universal Social Charge (USC), based on the most recent figures available to Revenue. A revised Tax Credit/USC Certificate has recently issued to this person and their pension provider. This person's pension provider will refund any USC deducted since January.

Official Engagements

Billy Timmins

Question:

143 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Finance if a meeting (details supplied) took place and if so the details of same; if any other similar meetings took place in September 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6871/12]

I am informed that the meeting referred to by the Deputy did take place and that it was at the request of Mr. O'Mahony. I understand that it was a listening exercise from the Department's perspective and that Government policy deliberations were not discussed. It would not be unusual for the Department to agree to such requests for a meeting.

Disabled Drivers

Simon Harris

Question:

144 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Finance the rationale behind the decision to enforce the restriction preventing owners of vehicles of more than 2000 cc from participating in the disabled driver and passenger tax relief scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6876/12]

Simon Harris

Question:

145 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Finance the rationale behind the decision to enforce the restriction preventing owners of vehicles under the disabled driver and passenger tax relief scheme from carrying out adaptations to their vehicle to exceed that stated maximum VAT and VRT relief, regardless of the length of time they agree to keep the vehicle; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6878/12]

Simon Harris

Question:

146 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Finance the rationale behind the decision to restrict disabled drivers purchasing second-hand vehicles from participating in the disabled driver and passenger tax relief scheme if VRT on that vehicle had previously been claimed by a previous scheme participant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6880/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 144 to 146, inclusive, together.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that Section 134(3) of the Finance Act 1992 (as amended) and Statutory Instrument No. 353 of 1994 (Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations, 1994) (as amended) provide for permanent relief from the payment of specified maximum amounts of VAT and VRT for persons registered under the scheme.

The legislation specifies that, where a person satisfies the Revenue Commissioners that s/he is a Disabled Driver who complies with all the conditions of the Disabled Drivers Scheme, that person shall be entitled to relief in respect of a vehicle with an engine capacity of up to but not greater than 2,000 c.c.

The legislation also specifies that relief will be granted in respect of Value Added Tax (VAT), Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) or residual VRT borne in respect of a vehicle, or in respect of the adaptation of a vehicle, subject to the limit specified in Regulation 9 (Driver) or Regulation 11 (Passenger). There is no restriction on the extent of the adaptations but relief is subject to the specified limits. The specified limit in respect of a disabled driver is € 9,525 and in respect of disabled passenger is €15,875.

Disabled drivers purchasing second-hand vehicles may participate in this scheme provided they comply with all the conditions of the Disabled Drivers Scheme as outlined. Regarding VRT, the legislation specifies that the claimant must have borne the residual vehicle registration tax. In the case of the purchase of a second-hand vehicle, if there is no vehicle registration tax on the second-hand vehicle because it was either remitted or repaid when purchased as new, then there is no residual vehicle registration tax to be borne by anyone on a subsequent purchase and hence there is no amount available for refund.

The legislation does not provide for any exceptions and the provisions of SI 353/1994 must be fully adhered to.

Departmental Agencies

Terence Flanagan

Question:

147 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will respond to a query regarding FETAC (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6288/12]

Legislation providing for the dissolution of the Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC) and its amalgamation with the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI) and the Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC) was published in July 2011 and is currently progressing through the Houses of the Oireachtas. In order to manage the transition of functions to the new amalgamated agency, FETAC has decided that no new applications for provider registration will be accepted. I hope to establish the new Authority in the first half of the year and it will begin processing new applications for provider registration shortly thereafter. However, it should be noted that the Accreditation and Co-ordination of English Language Services (ACELS) is a function of NQAI. ACELS provides quality assurance for English language services in Ireland through the management and operation of an Inspection/Recognition Scheme for English language schools and an Accreditation Scheme for English Language teacher training providers. ACELS is the longest standing and most widely recognised scheme of inspection and recognition in the English language sector. An application for recognition by ACELS may be submitted at any time and details are available on the NQAI's website atwww.nqai.ie.

Special Educational Needs

Terence Flanagan

Question:

148 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views in relation to the written documented recommendations of a Health Service Executive psychologist in respect of a child (details supplied) with autism in view of the fact that the recommendation if implemented will save the taxpayer money; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6290/12]

Terence Flanagan

Question:

155 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide this Deputy with details received of research completed that shows that an ABA approach is more effective in educating some children with autism compared with an eclectic model; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6291/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 148 and 155 together.

The Deputy will be aware of the Government's commitment to ensuring that all children with special educational needs, including those with autism, can have access to an education appropriate to their needs preferably in school settings through the primary and post primary school network and a school placement is available for the child referred to by the Deputy. Children with autism present with a wide range of needs. Some children are capable of being fully integrated into mainstream schools without additional teaching or care supports. Others are able to attend mainstream schools but need additional teaching and/or care assistance. Many are best enrolled in autism-specific classes where more intensive and supportive interventions are required. Some may move from one setting to another as they get older and differing needs/strengths/abilities emerge. Such placements facilitate access to individualised education programmes which may draw from a range of appropriate educational interventions, fully qualified professional teachers, special needs assistants and the appropriate school curriculum. My Department's policy on autism strives to ensure that a continuum of special education provision is available as required for children with special educational needs. In line with this approach the policy is to promote a child-centred approach to education of all children with special educational needs including those with autism. As each child with autism is unique they should have access to a range of different approaches to meet their individual needs. This facilitates access to individualised education programmes, fully qualified professional teachers who may draw from a range of autism-specific interventions, including ABA, special needs assistants, and the appropriate school curriculum with the option where possible of full/partial integration and interaction with other pupils. This policy is based on advice received from international experts on autism, NEPS, the Inspectorate and the report of the Irish Task Force on Autism. In arriving at the preferred policy which is currently in place, my Department has considered published research, including the Report of the Task Force on Autism (2001) and the Evaluation of Educational Provision for Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (2006), both of which are available on my Department's website. The report of the Taskforce includes a comprehensive list of contributions. My Department was also mindful of contributions of many others experts at international conferences/visits. The Deputy will appreciate that it is not appropriate to comment on professional reports relating to individual cases. The National Council Special Education (NCSE) has been fully engaged in securing a placement for the child in question. The NCSE continues to be available to the parents for assistance with regard to available placements and the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) have also offered their services to assist in this regard.

Youth Services

Robert Dowds

Question:

149 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Education and Skills what the average waiting time is nationally for placement on a Youthreach programme; the average waiting time in Dublin; and what each of these figures was in the years 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. [6365/12]

There are almost 6,000 Youthreach places available nationwide under the Youthreach umbrella funded by my Department. Almost 3,700 of these places are provided by VECs in just over 100 Youthreach centres. The majority of the remainder of places are provided by FÁS in Community Training Centres. I am aware that there is significant demand for further education and training programmes in general but my Department does not collect data on waiting lists, including for the Youthreach programme. The overall number of approved Youthreach places is set at its current level because there is a continuing requirement to plan and control numbers and to manage expenditure within the context of overall educational policy and provision.

FÁS Training Programmes

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

150 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a person (details supplied) in County Dublin who was placed by FÁS in the Cherry Orchard Community Training Centre in October 2011 has not yet been paid by FÁS; if he will take steps to ensure that the payment is commenced without further delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6454/12]

FÁS commenced payment of the person's weekly training allowance from the week ending 27th January. He was informed that his back money will be paid in due course. The delay in making payment is due to the fact that when the person presented himself to register with FÁS, his Department of Social Protection (DSP) documentation indicated that he was not in receipt of a DSP payment prior to commencing his training with FÁS. Confirmation of entitlement to such a payment is a prerequisite for payment of a FÁS training allowance. On 25 January, 2012, FÁS received this confirmation from the local DSP Office. It was also confirmed that he should receive back money from the effective date of 21st October, 2011.

Departmental Agencies

John McGuinness

Question:

151 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the following reports relating to issues in FÁS north east have been published in full (details supplied); the cost of each report; the actions of each report; the actions taken arising from each report; if all matters being investigated have now been resolved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6695/12]

FÁS staff members in the North East region identified issues in respect of the operation and administration of FÁS assessment procedures, the resultant certificates to be awarded and several of the underlying processes. While these issues were initially identified in the North East Region, it became apparent that there were systemic problems in this regard within the organisation.

FÁS undertook a wide ranging examination of the underlying issues and a series of reports were produced, either internally by FÁS or by or with the assistance of external consultants or bodies. Some relate solely to the North East region and others to FÁS as a whole. The details requested are set as follows:

WRC Report: This report details a review of all FÁS regional centres in respect of Contractor Training. The report was part of a three phase review. Phase 1 and 2 were carried out by FÁS and involved monitoring over 300 courses and reviewing over 32,700 individual assessments in respect of 4,825 learners. Phase 3 was carried out by WRC Economic and Social Consultants to independently ratify that Phase 1 and 2 were conducted consistently and to a high standard in accordance with the agreed processes. Arising from the outcome of this report, FÁS implemented a number of new systems and procedures, including:

—The introduction and implementation of a new Training Standards System;

—A new and automated Contractor Training System (CTTL) with new procedures and safeguards;

—A dedicated unit for Curriculum and Assessments.

The report was published in October 2010 and is available on the FÁS website. The total cost of this report was €40,560, excluding VAT.

Boyle Report: In September 2010 an independent review was carried out at the request of the FÁS Assessment Standards Group, in relation to the process for handling thirteen non-conforming contracts in the North East Region. The review was undertaken by Dr Liam Boyle of the Limerick Institute of Technology. Arising from this review, the FÁS Assessment Standards Group approved certificate requests for eight courses, recommended that the marks for four courses be reviewed and that a re-sit was required for one course. In addition Dr Boyle made seven recommendations ranging from "Shared understanding of assessment requirements across Training Standard Officers in all regions" to "The need for a feedback mechanism to gather information from second providers on assessments and assessment issues". All recommendations have been addressed in full by FÁS. This is an internal report to FÁS and has not been published. The total cost of this report was €3,000, excluding VAT.

Investigations Report 2010: "An investigation surrounding the inputting of information in respect of applications for FETAC Certification in FÁS North East" was an independent report prepared by Michael Tyrell (former Managing Partner, Matheson Ormbsy Prentice Solicitors). Its purpose was to establish the facts behind the inaccurate inputting of results which could have resulted in the issue of incorrect certificates to certain learners. In establishing these facts Mr Tyrell was asked to assess whether this occurred deliberately. The main finding of this report was "that there is no evidence of a deliberate intention on the part of any person to incorrectly seek certification for a person not so entitled". It also reported on the sequence of events leading to this inaccurate inputting of certain results. This was an internal report for FÁS and has not been published. As it was an investigative report, there were no recommendations. The total cost of this report was €9,350, excluding VAT.

North East Review 2011: The North East Project Report (North East Review) was a follow on from an in-depth review of issues relating to assessment results which arose in FÁS North- East. This major review was carried out by FÁS, involving External Examiners to review and mark Summary Assessment Forms. An Independent Chair was appointed to oversee the Results Approval Group. Of the 103 courses reviewed by the External Examiners, a total of 92 courses involving 1,884 learners were recommended for certification. An extensive exercise was completed on the remaining 11 training programmes and issues were resolved. Arising from the feedback from the External Examiners, FÁS has addressed issues of concern by means of the Training Standards System, its new contracted training procedures and revised contracts. This process also involved the introduction of External Authentication prior to requesting certificates and the rollout of the RCCRS (Results Capture Certification Request System). This report was an internal report prepared by FÁS to summarise the outputs of the exercise and it has not been published. No additional costs arose. For the sake of completeness, the cost of the services of the External Examiners who undertook the primary exercise was €61,169. This includes costs in respect of the Independent Chair of the Results Approval Group.

FETAC Report 2010: An examination of FÁS procedures regarding requesting certificates was published in full by FETAC in February 2011. FETAC conducted the examination and produced the report from within their monitoring resources and no additional costs were incurred. There was no cost to FÁS in relation to this report. A follow-up report on implementation of the examination's actions, which outlines the corrective actions taken by FÁS, was published by FETAC in November 2011. The follow-up report states that FETAC is satisfied that FÁS is implementing the corrective actions identified and enhancing their quality systems as outlined in the February report. Both reports are available on the FETAC website.

School Curriculum

Tom Fleming

Question:

152 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills as a result of successive bank bailouts, with the average amount of money now owed by every man, woman and child in this country exceeding €30,000, the reason our schools do not teach our youth about money management; his plans to introduce compulsory financial education, money management education and personal budgeting in our schools; his views on the development and introduction of mandatory financial education for our youth; the way he hopes to progress this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6802/12]

The Department of Education and Skills participated in the work of the National Steering Group on Financial Education established by the Financial Regulator. The Report of the Group, Improving Financial Capability — a Multi-stakeholder Approach, was published in July 2009. The Group also developed a Financial Competency Framework which sets out a comprehensive set of learning outcomes detailing the knowledge skills and competences a financially competent person should have at different stages of their lives. This can be used as an important resource for those developing educational materials for young people and adults in the field of financial literacy. The learning outcomes cover Levels 1 to 4 of the National Framework of Qualifications. Aspects of financial literacy are included in the curriculum at present in such areas as Mathematics, Home Economics, Economics, Business and Accounting, Enterprise Education and the Mathematical Applications within the Leaving Certificate Applied Programme. The programmes cover computational skills, using appropriate tools to estimate and measure, to compare value for money, to calculate prices, compound interest, profit and loss, discount, VAT, PRSI, income tax, domestic bills and charges, recording and interpreting financial data, converting into other currencies and solving problems. Consumer studies, money and banking, housing finance, credit and insurance are also covered. These areas will be further strengthened to the extent possible in line with ongoing curriculum reform. In addition, Ireland has participated in the EU Dolceta programme designed to provide on-line education resources for financial literacy and consumer education. Get Smart with Your Money has been developed by the Financial Regulator as a specific resource for use within Transition Year. In addition, the National Adult Literacy Agency working in collaboration with the Educational Building Society, has developed a websitewww.makingcents.ie to help adults learn more about money and financial matters.

School Transport

Willie Penrose

Question:

153 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will investigate the possibility of facilitating, at no additional cost to the service, the transporting of children from a particular location rather than the location from which they are now picked up, in view of the fact that the bus driver passes through the preferred location to its first pick up, where the new location would be cost neutral but would be extremely beneficial in terms of improved safety for the children and the bus driver; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6241/12]

Bus Éireann, which operates the School Transport Schemes, on behalf of my Department, has advised that pupils are now provided with a service from the requested pick up and set down point.

Schools Buildings Projects

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

154 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress made in relation to the provision of a replacement building for a school (details supplied) in County Galway; when it is likely that this project will go to tender; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6266/12]

The major building project at the school referred to by the Deputy is at an advanced stage of architectural planning. The Design Team are currently working on finalising the Stage 2(b) Submission (Detailed Design and Tender Documents) which will then be forwarded to my Department for review. Thereafter, officials from my Department will be in contact with the Board of Management with regard to the further progression of the project. The Department will shortly publish an outline five year programme on the projects to be constructed in that time. The school building projects currently in architectural planning, including the project at Clifden Community School, will be considered in the context of that programme, taking into account the funding available, the building costs involved and the progression of other major projects required to meet demographic needs.

Question No. 155 answered with Question No. 148.

School Staffing

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

156 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a school (details supplied) in County Donegal will lose 50% of its teaching staff if proposed budget measures are implemented; and the immediate steps he will take to ensure that this school in an isolated and historically disadvantaged community can continue to reverse the legacy of disadvantage by alleviating this loss of key staff. [6298/12]

Given the scale of our economic crisis, adjustments have had to be made across all areas of the public sector. Despite this challenge, the Government has sought to do this in as fair a way as possible. We have protected the pupil-teacher ratio at primary level, continue to prioritise targeted support for the most disadvantaged schools and maintain the overall number of resource teachers and SNAs to support children with special needs. My Department will be notifying schools in the coming weeks of the new staffing arrangements for the 2012/13 school year. At a time of great strain in our public finances, we have to ensure that the very valuable but limited resources available for the education system are used in the best way possible.

The staffing schedule at primary level disproportionately benefits small primary schools. It is worth noting that we have 3,200 primary schools across Ireland. Over two thirds of those schools have more than 86 pupils and, as a result, have far higher average class sizes than all of the schools affected by this measure. For example a two teacher school with 32 pupils has an average class size of 1 teacher for sixteen pupils. In contrast, a typical ten teacher school with 272 pupils has an average class size of 27.2 pupils. It is important to retain a sense of perspective and balance when discussing this matter and to realise the exceptionally favourable supports my Department will continue to provide for small schools.

For that reason, as part of the Budget 2012 decisions, the number of pupils required to gain and retain a classroom teaching post in small primary schools will be gradually increased between September 2012 and September 2014. Even when all of these phased increases are implemented, the threshold for small schools will still be significantly lower than the minimum of 28 pupils that was required for the appointment of a second teacher in schools prior to the mid-1990s. The phasing of these measures can provide the schools concerned with time to consider the potential for amalgamation with other schools where this is feasible. If amalgamations take place, they will be voluntary and follow decisions taken by local communities and not by my Department.

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

157 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the impending loss of a teacher at a school (details supplied) in County Donegal and the impact this will have on this small school under the patronage of the Presbyterian Church. [6299/12]

Brendan Smith

Question:

191 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills when details of the appeals process pertaining to the new staffing schedules for one, two, three and four teacher primary schools will issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6900/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 157 and 191 together.

My Department will be notifying schools in the coming weeks of the new staffing arrangements for the 2012/13 school year. It will include detail of the staffing appeals process and appeal criterion for those small schools that are projecting increased enrolments that would be sufficient to allow them to retain their existing classroom posts over the longer term. As part of the Budget 2012 decisions, the number of pupils required to gain and retain a classroom teaching post in small primary schools will be gradually increased between September 2012 and September 2014. Even when all of these phased increases are implemented, the threshold for small schools will still be significantly lower than the minimum of 28 pupils that was required for the appointment of a second teacher in schools prior to the mid-1990s. All schools are being treated equally irrespective of the type of patronage. The phasing of these measures can provide the schools concerned with time to consider the potential for amalgamation with other schools where this is feasible. If amalgamations take place, they will be voluntary and follow decisions taken by local communities and not by my Department.

Teachers’ Remuneration

Brendan Griffin

Question:

158 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding an allowance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6301/12]

Circular 3/2012 issued on 31 January 2012 provides that, pending the outcome of a review by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, allowances are not payable to new beneficiaries; ie those who become eligible for receipt of the allowance in question on or after 1 February 2012. No additions to the common basic pay scale may be paid to new beneficiaries. Examples of such additions include any form of qualification allowance or the supervision and substitution payment paid to teachers, and the secretary to the Board of Management allowance paid to school principals. The position of teachers who, on 31 January 2012, were undertaking courses will be considered in the context of the public service-wide review of allowances announced in Budget 2012 which is being led by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. This decision was taken due to the upward pressure on the cost of teacher allowances. Without immediate action, this upward pressure would have cancelled out the savings made elsewhere in the education system and would bring about even harsher adjustments to schools and services.

Special Educational Needs

Peter Mathews

Question:

159 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a spelling waiver was refused in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 6W; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6328/12]

The State Examinations Commission has statutory responsibility for operational matters relating to the certificate examinations including organising the holding of examinations and determining procedures in places where examinations are conducted including the supervision of examinations. In view of the above I have forwarded your query to the State Examinations Commission for direct reply to you. I wish to inform the Deputy that in all cases where a school/parent or student is dissatisfied with any aspect of the SEC's decision in relation to an application for reasonable accommodations, they have access to an Independent Appeals Committee. All members of the Appeals Committee are drawn from outside the SEC. The remit of the Appeals Committee covers appeals against all elements of a decision taken by the SEC. All appeals are considered in light of the published principles.

Departmental Bodies

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

160 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding SOLAS; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6373/12]

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

161 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding SOLAS; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6374/12]

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

162 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding SOLAS; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6375/12]

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

163 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding SOLAS; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6376/12]

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

164 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding SOLAS; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6377/12]

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

165 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a mater (details supplied) regarding SOLAS; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6378/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 160 to 165, inclusive, together.

In July 2011, following a wide-ranging review of options regarding the provision of further education and training and the structures to support it, the Government announced the establishment of a new further education and training authority — SOLAS. I chair the Implementation Group established by the Government, which is charged with drawing up an Action Plan to set out the change process involved. The Group is comprised of representatives from the Department of Education and Skills, FÁS, the Irish Vocational Education Association (IVEA, representing Vocational Education Committees) and the Department of Social Protection. The Group decided to initiate a stakeholder consultation process and published a consultation paper to assist in that process. In response to a request from the IVEA, I gave additional time to VECs to make submissions, so that they would be able to consult with their committees and provide substantive input. I intend to hold an information seminar for stakeholders shortly and all stakeholders who made submissions, including VECs, will be invited to participate. As part of the change process, FÁS and the IVEA have established joint transformation teams which are analysing a range of issues as part of the process of establishing SOLAS and the structures to support it. This puts VECs at the heart of developing and implementing reforms in further education and training. Taken together with the framing of the consultation process and the participation of the IVEA in the Implementation Group, I believe this enables the VECs to contribute positively to the ongoing process.

Schools Buildings Projects

Robert Dowds

Question:

166 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Education and Skills the procedure to be followed to bring the new school premises for a school (details supplied) in County Dublin into being; and the timelines involved in this process, in view of the fact that approval has been granted. [6382/12]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the Office of Public Works acting on behalf of my Department are engaged in the process of acquiring the site. An Outline Planning Permission has been obtained by the Office of Public Works and the Chief State Solicitor's Office are engaged in pre-contract enquiries with the Vendor's legal representatives with a view to finalising contracts for signing. Due to commercial sensitivities, I am not in a position to comment on the matter any further. Once the site acquisition process is concluded, the proposed school building project will be considered in the context of the capital budget available to my Department for school buildings generally. The current status of all projects on the school building programme, including the school in question, may be viewed on my Department's website atwww.education.ie and this will be updated regularly throughout the year.

The Government's Medium Term Infrastructure and Capital Investment Framework, which was published on 10th November 2011, sets out the demographic challenge facing the education system in the coming years. In view of the need to ensure that every child has access to a school place, the delivery of major school projects and smaller projects devolved to schools to meet the demographic demands nationally as well as the demands in the area to which the Deputy refers, will be the main focus for capital investment in schools in the coming years. I have previously committed to publishing shortly a five year plan outlining the school building projects to be constructed in that time.

Third Level Education

Brian Walsh

Question:

167 Deputy Brian Walsh asked the Minister for Education and Skills his position on proposals concerning the idea of a technological university comprised of Athlone, Dundalk, Letterkenny, Sligo and Galway-Mayo Institutes of Technology; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6396/12]

In May of last year, I formally asked the Higher Education Authority to provide advice to me on draft performance criteria for a process for the designation of technological universities. Draft criteria had been developed by an international expert commissioned by my Department following the publication of the national strategy on higher education. In developing their advice, the Authority undertook a consultation process on the criteria which was completed last Autumn. The Authority has now submitted their advice, which I am now considering and intend to publish in the relatively near future. The criteria will set out a roadmap for the potential re-designation of any institutes of technology, who can meet the performance requirements set out, as technological universities.

School Staffing

Brian Walsh

Question:

168 Deputy Brian Walsh asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide details of redundancy entitlements for teachers employed exclusively to deliver the modern languages in primary schools initiative following the discontinuation of the programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6397/12]

The persons referred to by the Deputy are employed on a part-time basis by the Boards of Management of the schools under the Modern Languages in Primary Schools Initiative. I am unable at this time to provide the Deputy with details of redundancy entitlements for tutors engaged in the Initiative. My officials will be contacting the schools concerned in the coming weeks to ascertain details of those with an entitlement to redundancy.

School Enrolments

Michael Creed

Question:

169 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of conventional primary schools with 13 pupils and fewer in 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6447/12]

The information requested is provided in the National School Annual Census. The census for the current school year (2011/2012) is being finalised at present and results will be published on my Department's website later in the year. A full list of primary schools with their enrolments for the 2010/11 school year can be found on my Department's website at the following linkhttp://www.education.ie/ home/home.jsp?pcategory=10917&ecategory=12016&language=EN.

School Patronage

John O'Mahony

Question:

170 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Education and Skills when an announcement on the allocation of new primary schools for 2012 and 2013 will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6612/12]

In June 2011, I announced that 20 new primary schools are to be established in the next six years across a number of locations. My Department invited patrons and prospective patron bodies to make applications for patronage of the new primary schools that are due to be established in 2012 and 2013. A report on these applications has been prepared by my Department for the consideration by the New Schools Establishment Group. I expect that the Group will submit a report to me shortly and I will then make decisions in the matter. Full details of the new arrangements for patronage of new schools and the criteria for deciding on patronage of these new schools are available on my Department's website.

School Transport

Patrick Deering

Question:

171 Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a person (details supplied) in County Laois will receive a travelling allowance. [6615/12]

Under the terms of my Department's School Transport scheme, a pupil with special educational needs is eligible for school transport if s/he is attending the nearest recognised mainstream school, special class/special school or a unit, that is or can be resourced, to meet the child's special educational needs under Department of Education and Skills criteria.

The pupil referred to is not attending the nearest recognised mainstream school, special class/special school or a unit, that is or can be resourced, to meet the child's special educational needs and is therefore not eligible for school transport or the payment of a grant towards the cost of private transport arrangements.

School Staffing

Seán Crowe

Question:

172 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Skills in view of the review currently being carried out into DEIS schools, if consideration has been given to teachers being placed on the redeployment panel list; and if the publication of the panel list will be deferred until the review has been completed. [6618/12]

My Department is currently finalising the report, which I requested, on the impact of the withdrawal of posts under these older schemes on DEIS Band 1 and Band 2 primary schools only. I will then make a decision on the final outcome for the individual schools involved.

My Department will be publishing its Circular shortly which will set out the staffing arrangements at primary level for the 2012/13 school year. The circular will include details for the operation of the redeployment arrangements for surplus permanent teachers.

The Department will be using its website for communicating with schools in relation to the operation of the redeployment panels and on the progress on clearing them.

Teachers’ Remuneration

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

173 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills the entry grades and salary scales of new entrant teachers affected by the Department’s Circular 0003/2012. [6648/12]

In his address to Dáil Éireann on December 5th 2011 the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform announced that Public Service bodies will have to achieve a reduction of 5% in the cost of allowances and premium payments in 2012. In order to achieve the necessary reduction, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is conducting a review of allowances and premium payments across the Public Service.

Pending the outcome of this review, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has advised my Department that delegated sanction for the payment of allowances to new beneficiaries is withdrawn with effect from 1st February 2012.

Circular letter 3/2012 applies to the awarding of allowances to all teachers, including new entrant teachers, who become eligible for receipt of the allowance in question on or after 1st February 2012. No additions to the common basic pay scale may be paid to new beneficiaries, pending the outcome of the review by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. The only exception to the prohibition on the awarding of new allowances is Principal and Deputy Principal allowances.

The common basic pay scale for new entrant teachers remains at the level announced by the Minister for Finance in his budget statement to Dáil Éireann on 7th December 2010. A copy of the scale is included below:

Teachers' Common Basic Scale

New Entrants post 1/1/11

1

€27,814

2

€28,775

3

€29,737

4

€30,702

5

€32,198

6

€33,168

7

€34,136

8

€36,576

9

€37,795

10

€39,251

11

€40,700

12

€42,160

13

€43,380

14

€44,996

15

€44,996

16

€44,996

17

€47,225

18

€47,225

19

€47,225

20

€47,225

21

€50,170

22

€50,170

23

€50,170

24

€50,170

25

€53,423

School Transport

Robert Troy

Question:

174 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the criteria that will be applied when evaluating the nearest school for members of minority faiths who apply for school transport from September 2012; if it will be the nearest school regardless of the patronage or the nearest school of the student’s faith; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6649/12]

Children are eligible for transport where they reside not less than 3.2kms, in the case of primary, and 4.8 kms in the case of post primary, from and are attending their nearest national school or education centre as determined by the Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.

Ethos relates to religious ethos and is in the context of minority religions. Each application for transport will be assessed, taking into account the designation of individual school(s) in the area.

Early Retirement Scheme

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

175 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a detailed breakdown of the number of public sector workers including teachers who have availed of the Croke Park early retirement scheme including their grade and place of employment, school name and so on in tabular form. [6655/12]

The information sought by the Deputy is not compiled in the format sought. Officials in the Pension Unit of my Department are currently fully occupied addressing the pension benefit entitlements for teachers who are retiring at this time. The number of teachers in Primary Secondary, Community and Comprehensive schools who have applied to retire in the period 1 January to 29 February 2012 is 1,166. Information received from the Vocational Education Sector indicate that 220 teachers have applied to retire in that sector during that period. A circular was issued by my Department, in July, 2011 requesting School Boards of Management to inform all staff in their schools (who are members of an occupation pension scheme) who intend to retire on or before 29 February 2012 that they are required to give 3 calendar months' notice of their date of retirement. The circular also stated that a notification may not be withdrawn on or after the date indicated as the last day of service. It was pointed out in that circular that failure to give the required notice could result in a delay in payment of pension benefits.

Accordingly, the actual number retiring will not be accurately known until after 29 February, 2012. When the work of processing pension benefits for those retiring has been addressed it is intended to commence work on compiling detailed statistical data on the number of teachers who retired and to publish this information on my Department's website.

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

176 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will list the number of staff, their grade, and locations seeking to avail of the early retirement scheme. [6666/12]

The information sought by the Deputy is not compiled in the format sought. Officials in the Pension Unit of my Department are currently fully occupied addressing the pension benefit entitlements for teachers who are retiring at this time. The number of teachers in Primary Secondary, Community and Comprehensive schools who have applied to retire in the period 1 January to 29 February 2012 is 1,166. Information received from the Vocational Education Sector indicates that 220 teachers have applied to retire in that sector during that period. A circular was issued by my Department, in July, 2011 requesting School Boards of Management to inform all staff in their schools (who are members of an occupation pension scheme) who intend to retire on or before 29 February 2012 that they are required to give 3 calendar months' notice of their date of retirement. The circular also stated that a notification may not be withdrawn on or after the date indicated as the last day of service. It was pointed out in that circular that failure to give the required notice could result in a delay in payment of pension benefits.

Accordingly, the actual number retiring will not be accurately known until after 29 February, 2012. When the work of processing pension benefits for those retiring has been addressed it is intended to commence work on compiling detailed statistical data on the number of teachers who retired and to publish this information on my Department's website.

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

177 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will list the number of staff within County Meath and their grade seeking to avail of the early retirement scheme. [6667/12]

The information sought by the Deputy is not compiled in the format sought. Officials in the Pension Unit of my Department are currently fully occupied addressing the pension benefit entitlements for those who are retiring at this time. The number of teachers in Primary Secondary, Community and Comprehensive schools who have applied to retire in the period 1 January to 29 February 2012 is 1,166. Information received from the Vocational Education Sector indicates that 220 teachers have applied to retire in that sector during that period. A circular was issued by my Department, in July, 2011 requesting School Boards of Management to inform all staff in their schools (who are members of an occupation pension scheme) who intend to retire on or before 29 February 2012 that they are required to give 3 calendar months' notice of their date of retirement. The circular also stated that a notification may not be withdrawn on or after the date indicated as the last day of service. It was pointed out in that circular that failure to give the required notice could result in a delay in payment of pension benefits.

Accordingly, the actual number retiring will not be accurately known until after 29 February, 2012. When the work of processing pension benefits for those retiring has been addressed it is intended to commence work on compiling detailed statistical data on the number of teachers who retired and to publish this information on my Department's website.

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

178 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of teachers who have availed of the early retirement scheme in County Donegal with details on the schools affected. [6686/12]

The information sought by the Deputy is not compiled in the format sought. Officials in the Pension Unit of my Department are currently fully occupied addressing the pension benefit entitlements for those who are retiring at this time. The number of teachers in Primary Secondary, Community and Comprehensive schools who have applied to retire in the period 1 January to 29 February 2012 is 1,166. Information received from the Vocational Education Sector indicates that 220 teachers have applied to retire in that sector during that period. A circular was issued by my Department, in July, 2011 requesting School Boards of Management to inform all staff in their schools (who are members of an occupation pension scheme) who intend to retire on or before 29 February 2012 that they are required to give 3 calendar months' notice of their date of retirement. The circular also stated that a notification may not be withdrawn on or after the date indicated as the last day of service. It was pointed out in that circular that failure to give the required notice could result in a delay in payment of pension benefits.

Accordingly, the actual number retiring will not be accurately known until after 29 February, 2012. When the work of processing pension benefits for those retiring has been addressed it is intended to commence work on compiling detailed statistical data on the number of teachers who retired and to publish this information on my Department's website.

Departmental Expenditure

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

179 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Education and Skills the non-capital allocation to each vocational educational committee in 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6749/12]

Details of the non-capital allocation to each Vocational Educational Committee in 2011 are included in the following table.

These allocations enable the VECs to provide a broad range of educational services. In addition to providing post-primary education and further and adult education, VECs also have responsibilities in areas such as community education, training for early school leavers, basic literacy courses, traveller education and the provision of youth services. My Department provides the majority of the funding required by VECs for the delivery of these programmes. Accordingly, the figures in the table include funding for pay to VEC staff (including teachers), non-pay for the day-to-day running of schools, specific grants (e.g. book grant, transition year programme), targeted expenditure (e.g. DEIS funding), funding for further and adult education (e.g. Youthreach and VTOS) and funding for student grants.

VEC Non Capital Allocations 2011

VEC

Non Capital Allocation

City of Cork

€43,101,010

City of Dublin

€129,025,707

City of Limerick

€25,133,402

City of Waterford

€17,278,993

Dun Laoghaire

€17,540,609

City of Galway

€21,621,420

Co Carlow

€19,514,564

Co Cavan

€25,460,752

Co Clare

€29,204,914

Co Cork

€85,755,168

Co Donegal

€48,034,089

Co Dublin

€100,563,761

Co Galway

€33,079,414

Co Kerry

€34,833,609

Co Kildare

€37,908,683

Co Kilkenny

€24,239,828

Co Laois

€16,212,993

Co Leitrim

€10,282,698

Co Limerick

€37,223,064

Co Longford

€12,303,688

Co Louth

€29,918,365

Co Mayo

€27,970,846

Co Meath

€40,182,724

Co Monaghan

€21,511,270

Co Offaly

€19,146,418

Co Roscommon

€12,840,461

Co Sligo

€14,876,613

Co Tipperary (NR)

€21,921,531

Co Tipperary (SR)

€21,077,334

Co Waterford

€13,981,843

Co Westmeath

€19,156,091

Co Wexford

€33,171,424

Co Wicklow

€44,089,086

Total

€1,088,162,371

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

180 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide figures detailing the capital allocation budget to each vocational educational committee in 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6750/12]

As requested by the Deputy, the amount of capital funding provided to each of the 33 Vocational Education Committees in 2011 is set out in the following table:

VEC

Capital Funding 2011

City of Cork

€773,281

City of Dublin

€3,903,679

City of Limerick

€143,502

City of Waterford

€483,164

Dún Laoghaire

€1,228,021

City of Galway

€128,829

Co. Carlow

€267,757

Co. Cavan

€462,012

Co. Clare

€784,480

Co. Cork

€1,416,116

Co. Donegal

€4,124,333

Co. Dublin

€15,511,995

Co. Galway

€462,070

Co. Kerry

€376,467

Co. Kildare

€23,820,444

Co. Kilkenny

€292,274

Co. Laois

€1,440,167

Co. Leitrim

€659,296

Co. Limerick

€500,934

Co. Longford

€304,757

Co. Louth

€1,684,523

Co. Mayo

€595,819

Co. Meath

€4,848,817

Co. Monaghan

€2,531,252

Co. Offaly

€430,920

Co. Roscommon

€30,748

Co. Sligo

€586,494

Co. Tipperary NR

€2,847,803

Co. Tipperary SR

€644,926

Co. Waterford

€249,532

Co. Westmeath

€150,744

Co. Wexford

€6,994,427

Co. Wicklow

€910,761

Total

€79,590,344

School Staffing

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

181 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Education and Skills the approved staffing level for each vocational educational committee in 2011 together with the grades of staff for whom approval was in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6751/12]

In regard to executive, administrative and maintenance posts funded from the VECs' pay allocation, each VEC is now set an annual target under the Employment Control Framework (ECF). These targets are not broken down by grade.

The following table outlines the end of year ECF targets for each VEC for 2011 as well as the current SNA and post primary/PLC teaching post allocations for the 2011/12 school year. All figures are expressed as whole time equivalents (WTEs).

VEC WTE Staff Numbers (executive, administrative and maintenance staff, teachers and SNAs)

VEC

Executive, Administrative and Maintenance Staff (ECF target end 2011)

Teachers (2011/12 school year)

SNAs (2011/12 school year)

City of Cork

85

390

11

City of Dublin

357

962

48

City of Limerick

41

199

2

City of Waterford

27

101

12

Dún Laoghaire

46

160

0

City of Galway

41

157

7

Co. Carlow

35

165

7

Co. Cavan

29

224

6

Co Clare

43

181

21

Co. Cork

129

887

97

Co. Donegal

80

394

63

Co. Dublin

166

977

90

Co. Galway

64

237

17

Co. Kerry

60

250

26

Co. Kildare

50

384

23

Co. Kilkenny

42

206

21

Co. Laois

27

139

8

Co. Leitrim

21

93

5

Co. Limerick

49

396

24

Co. Longford

23

88

5

Co. Louth

45

286

21

Co. Mayo

46

203

12

Co. Meath

58

402

36

Co. Monaghan

36

206

13

Co. Offaly

36

159

7

Co. Roscommon

21

82

8

Co. Sligo

30

126

11

Co. Tipperary NR

32

185

19

Co. Tipperary SR

36

187

18

Co. Waterford

21

97

11

Co. Westmeath

42

137

10

Co. Wexford

56

241

30

Co. Wicklow

67

428

29

Total

1,941

9,330

718

Teacher Recruitment

Brendan Griffin

Question:

182 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the way the interview panel for replacing teaching positions in a national school in County Kerry is chosen; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6807/12]

The Constitution of Boards and Rules of Procedure document 2011 sets out the procedures for appointment of teachers, including the composition of the selection board. These rules were agreed by the education partners and the revised document applies to new Boards of Management as of 1st December 2011. Under those rules, a selection board for teaching posts must comprise the chairperson of the board of management, the principal teacher and an assessor independent of the board of management, to be appointed by the patron after consultation with the chairperson of the board.

A copy of the rules is available on my Department's website —www.education.ie.

Departmental Staffing

Seán Crowe

Question:

183 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a list of the assistant secretaries on his Department’s payroll; and details of their salaries, allowances and expenses. [6809/12]

A list of assistant secretaries in my Department, along with details of their salaries, allowances and expenses is set out in the attached table:

List of Assistant Secretaries in the Department of Education and Skills

Name

Allowances per annum

Expenses to date in 2012

Mr Peter Baldwin

€115

*€159.02

Mr Pat Burke

€115

Nil

Ms Ruth Carmody

Nil

Nil

Mr Martin Hanevy

Nil

Nil

Mr Michael Keogh

€230

Nil

Mr Kevin McCarthy

Nil

Nil

Mr Dermot Mulligan

Nil

Nil

Mr Seán Ó Foghlú

Nil

Nil

*Travel and subsistence

The applicable four point salary scale (Pre-1995) for all of the above Assistant Secretaries is:

Four Point Salary Scale (Pre 1995)

1st Point

€127,796

2nd Point

€133,605

3rd Point

€139,898

4th Point

€146,191

Schools Building Projects

Brendan Smith

Question:

184 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the stage of a project (details supplied); if this project will proceed to the next stage during 2012; the likely timescale for the project to reach construction stage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6782/12]

The building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is currently at an early stage of architectural planning. The design team are currently working on Stage 2(a) which involves the detailed design of the proposed building and when this is complete it will be submitted to my Department for review. The Department will shortly publish an outline five year programme on the projects to be constructed in that time. The school building projects currently in architectural planning, including the project for the school referred to by the Deputy, will be considered in the context of that programme, taking into account the funding available, the building costs involved and the progression of other major projects required to meet demographic needs.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

185 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the continued disruption of school activities, having regard to the loss of the building structure (details supplied) damaged by fire 12 years ago; if the project of the new school will be advanced and progressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6788/12]

The building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is currently at an early stage of architectural planning. Stage 1 was approved in November 2011 and the design team are currently working on Stage 2(a) which involves the detailed design of the proposed building; when this is complete it will be submitted to my Department for review.

The Department will shortly publish an outline five year programme on the projects to be constructed in that time. The school building projects currently in architectural planning, including the project for the school referred to by the Deputy, will be considered in the context of that programme, taking into account the funding available, the building costs involved and the progression of other major projects required to meet demographic needs.

School Curriculum

Gerald Nash

Question:

186 Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to review the way in which mathematics is taught at second level; if he is satisfied that the qualifications of all maths teachers are sufficient to meet the county’s needs as a centre for the knowledge economy; his plans to undertake any review of the project maths approach; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6790/12]

The results of a survey of mathematics teaching undertaken by the Teaching Council shows that 66.4% of maths teachers are fully qualified to do so, 31.1% have undergone some studies in maths and only 2.5% of teachers teaching maths have no third level qualification/studies in maths. Tenders have been published for the development of a post graduate course to enable teachers of Mathematics who may not have a qualification in the subject to upskill to the recognised levels. The Teaching Council has also published a consultation document setting out proposed revised degree entry requirements for post-primary post graduate initial teacher education programmes relating to the teaching of 35 curricular subjects, including Mathematics.

Project Maths began in all second level schools in September 2010, building on the experiences of 24 Project Schools which started the programme in 2008. This is being supported by a national programme of professional development for teachers which began in 2009, and will continue to at least 2013. A Project Maths Implementation Support Group, as an industry/education partnership, reported in 2010 on how stakeholders from business, second level and higher education can work together to achieve the objectives of Project Maths. The recommendations of this report are being progressed.

Research has also been commissioned on the impact of Project Maths on student's attitudes and attainment. In the meantime, the results of the examinations in the 24 Project Maths schools have been published in the Leaving Certificate in 2010 and 2011, and the Junior Certificate in 2011. These show an improvement in the proportions scoring Grade ABC, and fewer students scoring at Grade EFNG.

My Department has produced The National Strategy to Improve Literacy and Numeracy among Children and Young People 2011-2020, "Literacy and Numeracy for Learning and Life" which is designed to promote a significant improvement in mathematical skills across primary and second level schools. The Strategy sets out a range of integrated actions in regard to helping parents to support their children's learning, professional development of teachers, expansion of the duration of initial teacher education, and improving school leadership, assessment and school management and review.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Eric J. Byrne

Question:

187 Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will review a profile of a school (details supplied) in Dublin 10; the issues therein; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6815/12]

I fully acknowledge that the reduction in resources to second level schools will be challenging for schools. However, the change must be seen in the context of the major challenges we have as a Government in trying to shelter public services to the greatest extent that we can in these exceptional times. The net impact on overall teacher numbers in our schools has been minimised to the greatest extent possible. In the budget announcement for education I made clear that the net impact of the measures relating to second level schools for the school year commencing next September would, after taking account of demographics, amount to about 450 posts.

Schools will have autonomy on how best to prioritise its available resources to meet its requirements in relation to guidance and the provision of an appropriate range of subjects to its students. Decisions on how this is done will be taken at school level and I am confident that schools will act in the best interest of students when determining precisely how to use the teaching resources available to them.

I have also provided for the filling of 300 Assistant Principal posts in second-level schools over the level originally planned. This will ensure that schools have sufficient management positions to ensure appropriate supports are available for all students. A key priority for me is to continue to prioritise and target available funding at schools with the most concentrated levels of educational disadvantage. All 195 second-level school in DEIS, including the school referred to by the Deputy, will be given targeted support by a more favourable staffing schedule of 18.25:1. This is a 0.75 point reduction compared to the existing PTR of 19:1 that applies in non-fee-paying second-level schools. My Department is currently notifying schools of the new staffing arrangements for 2012/13 school year.

School Transport

James Bannon

Question:

188 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a person (details supplied) in County Longford who is a repeat leaving certificate student, is being compelled to sit their exams in the school in which they are studying for their repeats, despite the fact that school transport will have finished in June and they will have no means of getting to the school, which is a considerable distance from their home and that they have been told by the exam commissioner that they cannot sit their exams in their previous school, which is near their home and does not require transport, despite the fact that the principals of both schools assured them that this would be in order, as it has been heretofore for other students; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6821/12]

Bus Éireann, which operates the School Transport Schemes, on behalf of my Department, has advised that the service referred to by the Deputy is not a school transport service; in general, school transport services operate for the duration of the state examinations.

As regards the issue of whether or not the person referred to can sit his/her state examinations in the school where he/she is studying or an alternative location, this is a matter for the State Examinations Commission. The State Examinations Commission has statutory responsibility for operational matters relating to the certificate examinations including organising the holding of examinations, supervising the examinations, making arrangements for the marking of work presented for examination and determining procedure to enable the review and appeal of results of examinations at the request of candidates. In view of this I have forwarded this part of your query to the State Examinations Commission for direct reply to you.

School Patronage

Brendan Ryan

Question:

189 Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills on foot of speculation in the media, if there are any plans to divest a primary school in the Malahide, Portmarnock or Kinsealy area of north Dublin of its Catholic patronage; if this is the case, is there a consultancy process currently taking place with schools in the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6854/12]

As the Deputy will be aware the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector — a key objective of the Programme for a National Government 2011-2016 — was officially launched by me in April last year. The terms of reference of the Forum are to advise me on:

how it can best be ensured that the education system can provide a sufficiently diverse number and range of primary schools catering for all religions and none;

the practicalities of how transfer/divesting of patronage should operate for individual primary schools in communities where it is appropriate and necessary; and

how such transfer/divesting can be advanced to ensure that demands for diversity of patronage (including from an Irish language perspective) can be identified and met on a widespread basis nationally.

An Advisory Group appointed to convene the Forum has held a number of meetings in public, during June and November 2011. The Group sought and received submissions from the education stakeholder groups and from the public as part of its work. The Group is currently finalising its report and I expect to receive it shortly. Progress regarding divesting patronage of schools in any area, including the areas of North Dublin referred to by the Deputy, will be considered in the context of the recommendations of this report.

School Staffing

Brendan Smith

Question:

190 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills when his Department’s circular will issue in respect of the provision for career guidance and counselling; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6899/12]

My Department will be issuing a circular to schools in the coming weeks for the 2012/13 school year. Schools will have autonomy on how best to prioritise its available resources to meet its requirements in relation to guidance and the provision of an appropriate range of subjects to its students. Decisions on how this is done will be taken at school level and I am confident that schools will act in the best interest of students when determining precisely how to use the teaching resources available to them.

Question No. 191 answered with Question No. 157.

Educational Disadvantage

Brendan Smith

Question:

192 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills when the review of teaching and teaching support services for DEIS schools will be finalised; when such schools will be notified of their allocations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6901/12]

My Department is currently finalising the report which I requested, on the impact of the withdrawal of posts under these older schemes on DEIS Band 1 and Band 2 primary schools only. I will then make a decision on the final outcome for the individual schools involved and the staffing schedules for 2012/2013 will then be finalised and published in the coming weeks.

Teaching Qualifications

Finian McGrath

Question:

193 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will reply to issues raised in a document (details supplied) regarding maths teaching. [6905/12]

The issues raised in the document in question are many and varied and relate to the teaching of Maths and the qualifications of Maths teachers. I have arranged for its content to be considered and I will revert to the Deputy in due course.

Departmental Staff

Dessie Ellis

Question:

194 Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of teachers who have availed of the Croke Park early retirement scheme from schools in Santry, Whitehall, Finglas, Cabra and Ballymun, Dublin. [6945/12]

The information sought by the Deputy is not compiled in the format sought. Officials in the Pension Unit of my Department are currently fully occupied addressing the pension benefit entitlements for those who are retiring at this time. The number of teachers in Primary Secondary, Community and Comprehensive schools who have applied to retire in the period 1 January to 29 February 2012 is 1,166. Information received from the Vocational Education Sector indicate that 220 teachers have applied to retire in that sector during that period. A circular was issued by my Department, in July, 2011 requesting School Boards of Management to inform all staff in their schools (who are members of an occupation pension scheme) who intend to retire on or before 29 February 2012 that they are required to give 3 calendar months' notice of their date of retirement. The circular also stated that a notification may not be withdrawn on or after the date indicated as the last day of service. It was pointed out in that circular that failure to give the required notice could result in a delay in payment of pension benefits.

Accordingly, the actual number retiring will not be accurately known until after 29 February, 2012. When the work of processing pension benefits for those retiring has been addressed it is intended to commence work on compiling detailed statistical data on the number of teachers who retired and to publish this information on my Department's website.

Public Service Staff

Terence Flanagan

Question:

195 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to rescind the recruitment embargo on the public service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6286/12]

The Government is committed to reducing the Public Service number to 282,500 by 2015. Given the importance of meeting this challenging numbers target, the moratorium on recruitment will remain in place. Any exceptions to the moratorium will continue to be directed towards areas of most need.

In order to mitigate the impact on frontline service provision as far as possible, with the co-operation and flexibility of individual public servants, we will fully use the mechanisms set out in Public Service Reform Plan, including the filling of essential posts and the utilisation of redeployment. Public Service Organisations must fully use all options for discharging work through reorganisation and redeployment of staff. Only after this will the issue of recruitment for current or emerging business needs arise.

Should a Department identify a potential exception to the moratorium on recruitment the sanction of my Department must then be sought. Exceptions to the Moratorium may be granted on the following basis:

a) statutory posts which have to be filled for legal reasons;

b) where failure to fill posts would result in a breach of EU/international regulations and impact upon exports, etc.;

c) safety related posts — failure to fill them could leave the state open to potential legal liabilities or for security reasons;

d) specialist/technical posts to ensure continuity of operations e.g. legal officers, laboratory staff, maritime safety, etc.;

e) to ensure continuity of frontline services.

In addition, in the case of the Education and Health Sector, special arrangements apply that allow for limited recruitment in essential frontline services.

Each Sector in the Public Service has been establishing its own Strategic Workforce Planning Group to ensure that sectoral employers are developing plans to deal with the operational and strategic consequences arising from staffing reductions. The sectoral groups are feeding into a central Strategic Workforce Planning Forum under my Department. Factors such as emerging demographic gaps in management grades will also be considered; measures such as the recently advertised graduate recruitment competition at Administrative Officer level will address such gaps.

Garda Stations

Simon Harris

Question:

196 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the Office of Public Works will consider its responsibility for the maintenance of Garda stations that it extends to providing disabled access facilities at a station (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6416/12]

Simon Harris

Question:

197 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the Office of Public Works will consider its responsibility for the maintenance of Garda stations that it extends to addressing the lack of suitable changing facilities for female gardaí at a station (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6417/12]

Simon Harris

Question:

198 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the Office of Public Works will consider its responsibility for the maintenance of Garda stations that it extends to painting a station (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6418/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 196 to 198, inclusive, together.

The Commissioners of Public Works undertake works such as re-painting, improvement of welfare facilities and improvement of access facilities at Garda Stations in line with priorities set by An Garda Síochána. The Commissioners do not currently have a request for such works at the Garda Station, the subject of the Deputy's questions. If such a request is made, due consideration will be given at that stage.

Departmental Expenditure

Niall Collins

Question:

199 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the total cost of the 2011 Dublin West by-election; and if he will provide a sub-heading breakdown of the costs and the cost of holding a recount as ordered by one of the candidates. [6641/12]

Returning Officers are required to submit accounts to the Department of Finance within six months of holding an election. The accounts for the recent by-election have not yet been submitted and an accurate break down of costs will not be available until that time. However, €231,000 was advanced to the returning officer to cover the estimated cost of holding the by-election.

Departmental Bodies

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

200 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he has reviewed proposals to address excessive pay in the private and public sectors in the UK and other EU states; if he is considering any similar proposals including the establishment of a top pay commission to examine and invigilate pay in the private and public sectors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6848/12]

I have no plans to establish a commission to examine levels of pay in the private and public sectors of the economy. Apart from instances where statutory rates of pay apply, pay rates in the private sector are generally a matter for negotiation between individual employers and employees. My responsibilities in relation to pay extend to the public service where the Government has a direct role in the determination of pay rates as employer.

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. In relation to the remuneration of senior positions in the public service and the Commercial State Companies, 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 for future appointments to CEO posts within Commercial State Companies and a voluntary waiver system of up to 15% for current post holders who have salaries in excess of the relevant pay ceiling. I have no plans to undertake further reviews of public service pay based on policy proposals in other jurisdictions at this time.

EU Funding

John Lyons

Question:

201 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the measures he plans to take to access the unspent and unallocated structural and social fund identified at the recent EU summit; and the options he has considered to match any additional funding that may become available [6883/12]

John Lyons

Question:

202 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he has considered accessing the unspent and unallocated structural and social funds identified at the recent EU summit for the purpose of financing measures for job creation, in particular measures to tackle youth employment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6884/12]

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

Following the informal European Council meeting on 30th January, EU Commission President Barroso has launched a special initiative to boost growth and tackle the problem of youth unemployment.

The Commission will work with the eight Member States with the highest youth unemployment rates to develop a plan which could use unallocated structural funds to strengthen national programmes. The Commission will be promoting a plan in each Member State with measures to deal with youth employment and strengthen support schemes for SMEs. President Barroso envisages that the funding would come from existing unallocated EU funds and from any available national funding, from either public or private sources.

Ireland has been allocated a total of €901m in EU Structural Funding for the period 2007-13. Of this, €750 million is assigned to the Regional Competitiveness and Employment (RCE) objective, and the balance to Territorial Co-operation programmes, including the PEACE III (Ireland/NI), INTERREG IVA (Ireland/NI and Western Scotland) and the Ireland Wales Programme. The RCE objective is being delivered through three operational programmes, the National ESF Human Capital Investment OP, managed by the Department of Education and Skills, and the Border Midland and Western (BMW) and Southern and Eastern Regional ERDF (S&E) OPs, managed by the BMW and S&E Regional Assemblies. The general programme priorities in Ireland are the promotion and encouragement of innovation, the knowledge economy, enterprise, research and development, up-skilling the workforce and increasing the participation of groups outside the workforce.

It is expected that the overall objectives of each programme will be achieved and that Ireland will drawdown the funding we have been allocated. At present, Ireland has no unallocated Structural Funds. Recent Commission figures show that Ireland has the highest Cohesion absorption rate in the EU at 48% for the current 2007-2013 Structural and Cohesion funding round and it is estimated that the remaining 52% allocated to Ireland will be drawn down.

I strongly welcome President Barroso's initiative. I and other members of the Government will be working closely with the EU Commission.

As there are no unused Structural and Cohesion funds available for Ireland at present, we will, in the first instance, be looking at whether employment programmes might be re-focused to better effect. If, at a later stage, additional EU funding becomes available, Ireland will make the necessary application.

Dealing with unemployment is the major priority for the Government and this is an initiative which must be utilized to maximum effect.

Proposed Legislation

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

203 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the position regarding the reform of the Freedom of Information Act; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6609/12]

My Department is at an advanced stage in the preparation of the General Scheme of a Bill to give effect to the commitments in the Programme for Government in relation to Freedom of Information.

Subject to Government approval of the draft Heads of the Bill and other priorities in the Government's legislative programme, I expect to be in a position to introduce the Bill to give effect to the commitment to restore Freedom of Information later this year.

Departmental Staff

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

204 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will provide a detailed breakdown of the number of Civil Service workers who have availed of the Croke Park early retirement scheme including their Department and grade in tabular form. [6653/12]

Based on data to hand, the numbers of Civil Servants by Department who are due to retire by end-February 2012, having given notice of their intention to retire, are set out in the following table, including a breakdown by grade where relevant information is to hand.

Retirements by Department/Office and grade, January-February 2012

Department/Office

Grade

Numbers

Dept Total

Foreign Affairs

Assistant Secretary

4

Counsellors

8

First Secretary

2

AP

1

Assistant Legal Adviser

1

Translator

1

HEO

2

EO

1

SO

3

CO

10

Cleaner

1

34

Public, Expenditure and Reform

Second Secretary

1

PO

4

AP

5

CO

2

12

Finance

PO

1

AP

3

HEO

1

SO

2

CO

1

Asst Head Service Officer

1

Service Officer

2

11

State Laboratory

Chemist II

1

Lab Analyst

1

2

National Council for Special Education

Special Education Needs Organiser

2

AP higher

1

3

Houses of the Oireachtas

CO

2

Usher

5

Translator

1

Assistant Editor

1

9

Justice and Equality

Assistant Secretary

3

PO

3

AP

8

HEO

7

EO

2

SO

2

CO

8

Probation officer

11

Community Service Supervisor

1

Deputy Director (Forensic Science Lab)

1

Senior Lab Analyst

1

Solicitor

1

48

Transport, Tourism and Sport

Aeronautical Officer

1

AP

3

HEO

3

EO

3

Radio Officer II

1

Radio Officer III

3

Electronics Officer

1

Service Officer

1

CO

7

23

OPW

Architectural Assistant Level 4

5

Chief Technical Officer

1

HEO

4

Engineer Grade 1

2

Architect

1

Principal Architect

1

Asst Principal Architect

3

CO

1

PO Higher

2

District Inspector

1

HEO

1

Senior Architect

6

Parks Superintendent

2

EO

3

Principal Engineering Draughtsman

1

AP

1

Engineering tech grade 1 level 4

1

36

Defence

PO

1

AP

1

HEO

1

EO

1

CO

1

5

Ombudsman

Director General

1

1

Revenue Commissioners

Commissioner

1

PO

10

AP

43

HEO

55

EO

66

SO

6

CO

36

Service Officer

5

222

Environment, Community and Local Government

Supervising Housing Inspector

1

Senior Meteorologist

1

Meteorologist

1

Local Government Auditor

1

Principal Meteorological Officer

1

Meteorological Officer

1

Principal Auditor

1

PO

1

AP

4

HEO

3

EO

3

SO

1

CO

4

Service Officer

2

25

Communications, Energy and Natural Resources

Assistant Director

1

AP

2

CO

1

HEO

2

Petroleum Exploration (Specialist)

1

PO

1

Principal Geologist

1

Senior Geologist

2

11

Education and Skills

Secretary General

1

CO

1

SO

2

EO

3

HEO

3

AP

2

PO

2

Inspector

10

Psychologist

7

Service Officer

1

32

State Examinations Commission

Examination and Assessment Manager

3

AP

1

EO

1

Head Service Officer

1

6

Valuation Office

Managing Valuer (PO)

2

Valuer Grade 1

2

Valuer Grade 2

1

Valuer Grade 3 (AO)

1

EO

1

7

Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Agricultural Inspector

4

Area Superintendent

3

Assistant Principal

8

Chief Analyst

1

Chief Engineer (Fisheries) on PO scale

1

Clerical Officer

22

Dairy Produce Officer

1

District Superintendent

14

Engineer Grade 2 (Harbour Master)

1

Executive Officer

16

Forestry Inspector Grade 1

1

Forestry Inspector Grade 2

2

Higher Executive Officer

11

Inspector Grade 2

1

Laboratory Analyst

1

Laboratory Attendant

2

Poultry Officer

2

Principal

1

Research Officer

1

Rural General Operative Band 3

3

Seed Analyst

1

Senior Dairy Produce Officer

1

Senior Inspector

2

Senior Lab Analyst

4

Senior Service Asst

1

Senior Solicitor

1

Senior Research Officer

1

Senior Superintending Vet Inspector

1

Senior Surveyor

1

Services Officer

1

Staff Officer

2

Superintending Sen. Research Officer

1

Superintending Vet. Inspector

4

Supervisory Agricultural Officer

20

Technical Agricultural Officer

36

Technical Grades Level 4

1

Veterinary Inspector

6

180

Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

Assistant Secretary

1

Assistant Principal

2

HEO

2

EO

1

CO

3

Senior Archaeologist

1

Wildlife Inspector Grade 3

1

Wildlife Inspector Grade 1

1

Conservation Ranger

2

Craft Chargehand

2

Storekeeper Chief

1

General Operative

2

Seasonal Guide

1

20

Public Appointments Service

Assistant Secretary

1

HEO

1

2

Social Protection

PO

6

AP

14

HEO

80

EO

42

SO

30

CO

37

Service Officer

5

214

National Gallery of Ireland

Security Attendants

2

2

Health

3

3

Central Statistics Office

Senior Statistician

3

Statistician

1

PO

1

AP

2

HEO

1

EO

2

Tourist Enumerator

1

Employee Assistance Officer

1

QNHS Interviewer

2

14

Courts Service

Assistant Principal Officer

4

HEO

14

EO

11

SO

1

CO

10

Court Messenger

2

Bankruptcy Inspector

1

43

Office of the Attorney General

Assistant Parliamentary Counsel Grade II

1

1

Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

PO

9

AP

10

HEO

9

EO

5

CO

3

Service Officer

1

37

Office of the Chief State Solicitor

2

2

Comptroller and Auditor General

Comptroller and Auditor General

1

Deputy Director of Audit

1

Senior Auditor

2

Clerical Officer

1

5

Irish Prison Service

52

52

National Council for Curriculum and Assessment

1

1

Taoiseach

Principal Officer

1

EO

1

Head Service Officer

1

3

Total

1,066

1,066

Exchequer Savings

Sean Fleming

Question:

205 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will outline for each year from 2008 to 2015, the reduction in the gross pay bill for public servants, which totalled €2.5 billion for the period as referred to in the public service reform document, published by him on 17 November 2011, as a result of the numbers that are expected to have fallen by 37,500 since 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6677/12]

The reduction in the gross Exchequer pay bill from 2008-2015 is as follows:

Year

Gross Pay €bn

2008

17.2

2009

17.5

2010

15.9

2011

15.7

2012

15.3

2013

15.0

2014

14.7

2015

14.6

Local Authority and Oireachtas staff are not included in the Exchequer pay bill.

2011 and 2012 figures are estimates as per Budget 2012. 2013-2015 figures are forecasts.

The Government target for public service numbers in 2015 is 282,500. When delivered this will have reduced the gross Exchequer pay bill by over €2.5bn since 2008.

Departmental Expenditure

Sean Fleming

Question:

206 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will outline in a tabular form, on a year by year basis from 2008 to 2015, in respect of staff leaving the public service, the cost of lump sums; the cost of severance payments; the cost of pensions of those leaving the service through retirement or other means; the loss of the pension levy from employees who have left; the loss of superannuation payments from retired or departed employees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6679/12]

In the time allowed it is not possible to provide a detailed response to the Deputy. The information will be provided to him as soon as possible. Corresponding information in respect of other Departments should be sought from the relevant Minister.

Departmental Staff

Dara Calleary

Question:

207 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans for the hiring of seasonal outdoor staff in County Mayo; when these positions will be filled; and if vacant positions will be publicly advertised. [6757/12]

The Office of Public Works anticipates filling six seasonal drainage posts in the Co. Mayo area from April 2012. These posts will be filled from panels which were established arising from previous public competitions. Any other vacancies will be advertised in the local media and on the OPW website, but the moratorium on recruitment in the public service dictates that further opportunities will be limited.

Departmenal Expenditure

Catherine Murphy

Question:

208 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if any remuneration, stipend, expense facility, financial facility or similar payment is being made from the Exchequer to any senior public servant who has retired from the public service beyond any accrued pension entitlements; if any such payment has been sanctioned for current senior public servants who are about to retire; if he will detail by list the name, positions and details of any relevant moneys paid or scheduled to be paid of any person in receipt of or sanctioned to receive such a payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6843/12]

The information sought by the Deputy is being collated in respect of retired Civil or Public Servants being paid by my Department or being paid by any bodies under its aegis. The information will be provided to him as soon as possible. Corresponding information in respect of other Departments should be sought from the relevant Minister.

Health and Safety Regulations

Dessie Ellis

Question:

209 Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will ensure that proper safety precautions are being taken in the national car test sites and that workers’ health and safety guidelines are respected, especially in regard to the full extraction method of dealing with car fumes. [6289/12]

Government Ministers do not have responsibilities under occupational health and safety legislation insofar as National Car Test Centres are concerned.

The National Car Test Centres are places of work which like all other workplaces are subject to health and safety legislation. It is the employer's duty to ensure that worker's health and safety is managed in workplaces.

Employers have a duty under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 to ensure that the potential hazards to their employees are identified and controlled so as to either eliminate or minimise the risks associated with the identified hazards.

In all workplaces, an employer is required to have a health and safety management system, including a site-specific safety statement and risk assessment that identifies the controls that are in place to control the identified risks and protect those at work.

Employees at a place of work should be advised of and familiar with what the identified risks and controls are.

The Health and Safety Authority is the national statutory body with responsibility for enforcing occupational safety and health law and, where breaches of such law are identified, the Authority takes appropriate action which can include criminal prosecution.

Departmental Agencies

Michael McCarthy

Question:

210 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will provide an update on the planned transfer of a site (details supplied) to Cork County Council from the Industrial Development Agency; the stage the project is currently at; if he will consider expediting the matter in view of the delay experienced in progressing same to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6762/12]

The purchase and disposal of lands by IDA Ireland is a matter for which the agency has been assigned responsibility under legislation and is one in which I have no direct role.

IDA Ireland has informed me that it is currently progressing the transfer of lands at Miles and Cloheen, Clonakilty and Brookpark, Dunmanway with Cork County Council. The contract documents are being prepared and are scheduled to be forwarded to Cork County Council in two weeks time.

Housing Management Companies

Gerald Nash

Question:

211 Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of estate management companies registered with the Companies Office for the purposes of managing private residential developments; if he will provide information as to the number of such companies which were declared insolvent in the years 2008, 2009 and 2010 respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6314/12]

As part of the company incorporation process companies must indicate to the Companies Registration Office the purpose for which the company is being formed and indicate an activity in the State in accordance with the relevant classification system.

In relation to the Deputy's question the relevant business activity in accordance with the classification system in use is "Management of real estate on a fee or contract basis". Currently on the Companies Office Register there are 7,853 such companies with a normal status. In addition there are 2,847 such companies which are dissolved, 39 which are in the process of liquidation and 23 which are in receivership.

In 2008, there were no such companies placed into insolvent liquidation. In the years from 2009 to 2011 there were four, nine and nine such companies placed into insolvent liquidation respectively.

Job Creation

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

212 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the cost per job created by the Industrial Development Agency in County Tipperary for each year since 2007. [6319/12]

The cost per job as published in IDA Ireland's Annual Reports for the years 2009 and 2010, which are available on the agency's web-site, is set out in the accompanying table. Information relating to 2011 will be included in the 2011 Annual Report which will be published later this year. The Agency has informed me that it does not present this material on a County basis.

IDA Cost Per Job Sustained Constant 2010 Prices

1995-2001

1996-2002

1997-2003

1998-2004

1999-2005

2000-2006

2001-2007

2002-2008

2003-2009

2004-2010

16,304

18,525

18,210

16,165

14,219

12,903

12,899

12,495

14,159

14,287

Source: Forfás Annual Employment Survey 2010.

Note: The cost per job sustained is calculated by taking into account all IDA Ireland expenditure to all firms in the period of calculation. Only jobs created during and sustained to the end of each seven year period are credited in the calculations.

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

213 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the grants awarded by the Industrial Development Agency in County Tipperary for 2010; and the number of jobs created or maintained by each grant. [6320/12]

I am informed by IDA Ireland that details of grants approved and paid to individual companies is not made publicly available as disclosure of such information could compromise the Agency's negotiating position with other investors. I can confirm, however, that grants paid by IDA Ireland to its client companies in County Tipperary in 2010 totalled €17,055,098.

IDA Ireland has also explained that grants paid in any particular year do not necessarily relate to projects approved in that year and that, cosequently, there is no corelation between grants paid and jobs created in any particular year.

The number of jobs created in County Tipperary during 2010 is outlined in the table:

County

Employment Data

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

Tipperary North

No. of Companies

4

4

4

3

3

Tipperary North

Permanent Employment

583

550

362

277

296

Tipperary North

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

9

13

0

14

22

Tipperary North

Net Change in Other Jobs

-4

-13

-137

3

1

Tipperary North

Job Losses

-100

-46

-188

-99

-3

County

Employment Data

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

Tipperary South

No. of Companies

12

12

11

11

9

Tipperary South

Permanent Employment

2,981

3,217

3,376

3,255

3,060

Tipperary South

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

604

262

252

56

84

Tipperary South

Net Change in Other Jobs

230

16

-47

19

-81

Tipperary South

Job Losses

-15

-26

-93

-177

-279

Employment Permits

John McGuinness

Question:

214 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the status of six employment permit applications submitted on 29 September 2011 by an employer (details supplied). [6322/12]

My Department processes applications in respect of the different types of employment permits and all applications are processed in line with the Employment Permits Act 2006. I wish to advise the Deputy that a significant amount of additional information was required in order to make a decision on these applications. A number of requests have been made to the employer for this information, most recently on the 6th February 2012. On receipt of that information a decision will be made in this case.

Job Creation

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

215 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of Enterprise Ireland jobs that were provided and supported in each of the 26 counties for the past five years by Enterprise Ireland, the county enterprise boards and Science Foundation Ireland. [6442/12]

This is a day-to-day operational matter for the agencies and enterprise boards concerned. I understand that Enterprise Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland have provided the information requested directly to the Deputy in reply to PQ 40812/11 answered on 11 January last. Information regarding jobs supported by the County and City Enterprise Boards particular to this Question will be forwarded in the same way by the CEB Central Co-ordination Unit within Enterprise Ireland.

Enterprise Support Services

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

216 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will detail the grants made by Enterprise Ireland in each of the 26 counties for the past five years. [6443/12]

This is a day-to-day operational matter for Enterprise Ireland. I understand that Enterprise Ireland provided the information requested directly to the Deputy in reply to PQ40812/11 answered on 11 January 2012.

Departmental Agencies

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

217 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will detail the grants made by county enterprise boards in each of the 26 counties for the past five years. [6444/12]

The role of the County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) is to provide support for micro-enterprises in the start-up and expansion phases, to promote and develop indigenous micro-enterprise potential and to stimulate economic activity and entrepreneurship at local level. CEBs offer both grants and a range of training, mentoring and business advice services. The information regarding grants issued as requested by the Deputy is set out in tabular form as follows for the most recent five years for which figures are currently available:

CEB Grant Payments 2006-2010

CEB Payments

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

Carlow

211,035.19

230,922.81

182,246.44

441,060.42

260,406.80

Cavan

278,540.62

326,688.56

311,912.65

179,113.00

274,396.79

Clare

376,530.00

240,399.00

236,770.00

300,616.47

332,072.00

Cork City

180,738.36

179,060.56

364,709.60

209,458.68

306,040.20

Cork North*

0.00

0.00

0.00

100,000.00

69,946.00

Cork South

355,109.08

489,321.05

430,001.10

309,458.68

287,825.86

Cork West

258,297.45

120,347.31

266,592.32

244,750.15

299,698.36

Donegal

475,307.61

555,852.49

692,523.55

261,507.52

403,349.66

Dublin City

770,094.95

853,510.10

721,179.63

664,492.16

754,729.83

Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown

453,693.55

711,911.19

542,187.00

595,164.00

539,187.82

Fingal

376,169.16

534,900.00

326,313.00

394,923.69

401,093.21

Galway

444,321.00

445,900.00

432,703.00

455,927.00

479,771.95

Kerry

349,230.00

379,840.00

504,247.31

428,093.34

186,744.08

Kildare

158,335.70

444,628.00

352,385.00

133,636.00

291,608.00

Kilkenny

380,142.41

256,843.89

342,280.76

363,862.00

246,088.29

Laois

219,264.00

394,931.05

353,666.70

146,270.00

268,702.00

Leitrim

184,599.00

175,926.69

193,731.00

160,793.33

203,735.34

Limerick City

189,963.50

159,180.89

215,074.75

240,062.00

243,128.99

Limerick Co.

349,757.89

357,199.00

314,702.00

293,529.00

524,493.00

Longford

257,345.00

261,244.00

233,183.00

187,626.00

230,934.00

Louth

305,411.03

216,188.75

236,617.00

191,712.40

249,940.14

Mayo

438,939.00

349,814.00

554,920.00

243,396.00

429,409.00

Meath

204,813.00

252,974.21

286,335.70

228,797.00

230,515.00

Monaghan

219,325.00

250,490.50

135,953.13

191,112.86

230,740.14

Offaly

253,104.00

357,092.00

329,707.00

248,104.00

250,996.00

Roscommon

403,420.41

315,710.40

219,214.84

340,218.08

343,335.27

Sligo

280,811.00

423,450.00

348,565.00

323,834.00

280,464.00

South Dublin

482,250.00

542,500.00

317,500.00

487,500.31

478,770.10

Tipperary NR

238,850.00

252,329.00

308,873.00

273,051.00

126,636.50

Tipperary SR

329,393.00

304,586.70

240,752.38

218,655.32

143,605.00

Waterford City

163,417.63

244,640.08

279,599.66

174,016.21

315,176.20

Waterford Co

226,164.09

295,171.94

281,326.69

225,483.51

332,955.36

Westmeath

314,240.33

466,917.35

345,552.55

376,428.35

381,709.38

Wexford

223,760.74

603,866.56

392,569.99

413,592.05

341,751.06

Wicklow

269,142.83

377,530.98

354,165.91

319,292.77

339,704.80

Total

10,621,516.53

12,371,869.06

11,648,061.66

10,365,537.30

11,079,660.13

*Cork North CEB piloted a move from Measure 1 Grant Aid to an interest Paid Small Business Loan Scheme in 2000. In conjunction with the Credit Unions in the area, Cork North CEB operated an Interest Paid Small Business Loan Scheme under which the CEB client was provided with a Credit Union loan in respect of eligible capital costs but the CEB, by way of contribution/assistance towards the client project covered the interest charges arising. The CEB implemented this form of assistance as a move away from direct financial assistance to softer forms of support such as mentoring and training. In 2008/2009 the Board re-evaluated local needs and requirements and in 2009 returned to direct grant-support/issue.

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

218 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will detail the grants made by Science Foundation Ireland in each of the 26 counties for the past five years. [6445/12]

This is a day-to-day operational matter for Science Foundation Ireland. I understand that SFI have provided the information requested directly to the Deputy in reply to Question No. 301 answered on 11 January last.

Industrial Development

Sean Fleming

Question:

219 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of Industrial Development Agency supported jobs currently in existence on a county basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6676/12]

I am informed by IDA Ireland that, at the end of 2011, there were 130,499 people employed in Ireland in 1,004 companies supported by the Agency. The following table, which has been compiled by IDA Ireland, provides details of the number of jobs created and lost in companies supported by IDA Ireland, on a county basis, over the period 2007 to 2011:

IDA Ireland Jobs Created and Loss by County and by Region from 2007 to 2011

County

Employment Data

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

Cavan

No. of Companies

5

5

5

6

6

Cavan

Permanent Employment

1,065

1,071

1,033

1,035

1,016

Cavan

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

59

32

18

52

3

Cavan

Net Change in other Jobs

-38

-49

-6

28

-6

Cavan

Job Losses

-2

-26

-56

-50

-22

Louth

No. of Companies

19

19

21

21

21

Louth

Permanent Employment

1,670

1,533

1,322

1,028

1,080

Louth

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

140

75

34

43

110

Louth

Net Change in other Jobs

-147

4

-67

46

115

Louth

Job Losses

-172

-212

-245

-337

-58

Monaghan

No. of Companies

6

6

6

6

6

Monaghan

Permanent Employment

350

351

353

367

285

Monaghan

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

21

15

19

28

0

Monaghan

Net Change in other Jobs

-55

-34

-13

14

19

Monaghan

Job Losses

-16

-14

-17

-14

-82

North-East

No. of Companies

30

30

32

33

33

North-East

Permanent Employment

3,085

2,955

2,708

2,430

2,381

North-East

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

220

122

71

123

113

North-East

Net Change in Other Jobs

-240

-79

-86

88

128

North-East

Job Losses

-190

-252

-318

-401

-162

Donegal

No. of Companies

14

14

14

12

12

Donegal

Permanent Employment

1,631

1,650

1,685

1,621

1,870

Donegal

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

176

67

63

152

271

Donegal

Net Change in Other Jobs

13

-26

18

9

33

Donegal

Job Losses

-116

-48

-28

-216

-22

Leitrim

No. of Companies

6

5

5

5

4

Leitrim

Permanent Employment

1,021

1,013

988

972

780

Leitrim

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

4

35

5

6

57

Leitrim

Net Change in Other Jobs

-60

95

-38

12

19

Leitrim

Job Losses

-50

-43

-30

-81

-199

Sligo

No. of Companies

19

20

20

20

20

Sligo

Permanent Employment

2,234

2,273

2,190

1,999

2,041

Sligo

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

36

103

54

53

93

Sligo

Net Change in Other Jobs

8

-20

19

18

84

Sligo

Job Losses

-255

-64

-137

-244

-51

North-West

No. of Companies

39

39

39

37

36

North-West

Permanent Employment

4,886

4,936

4,863

4,592

4,691

North-West

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

216

205

122

270,

371

North-West

Net Change in Other Jobs

-39

49

-1

123

106

North-West

Job Losses

-421

-155

-195

-541

-272

Laois

No. of Companies

3

3

4

4

2

Laois

Permanent Employment

129

109

115

124

100

Laois

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

3

0

17

10

3

Laois

Net Change in Other Jobs

-10

-3

2

4

-1

Laois

Job Losses

-43

-20

-11

-1

-27

Longford

No. of Companies

8

8

7

6

6

Longford

Permanent Employment

905

847

781

658

608

Longford

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

19

30

8

4

0

Longford

Net Change in Other Jobs

-28

-3

1

19

-11

Longford

Job Losses

-79

-88

-74

-127

-50

Offaly

No. of Companies

10

10

9

9

10

Offaly

Permanent Employment

1,154

1,135

1,030

768

721

Offaly

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

53

29

22

22

31

Offaly

Net Change in Other Jobs

-70

83

-64

-59

22

Offaly

Job Losses

-91

-48

-127

-284

-78

Roscommon

No. of Companies

8

8

8

7

7

Roscommon

Permanent Employment

905

946

855

804

837

Roscommon

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

9

41

0

12

45

Roscommon

Net Change in Other Jobs

8

-1

32

-43

39

Roscommon

Job Losses

-30

0

-91

-63

-12

Westmeath

No. of Companies

20

20

19

19

19

Westmeath

Permanent Employment

2,141

2,053

1,804

1,892

2,030

Westmeath

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

317

134

231

128

194

Westmeath

Net Change in Other Jobs

52

41

-154

93

-47

Westmeath

Job Losses

-245

-222

-480

-40

-56

Midlands

No. of Companies

49

49

47

45

44

Midlands

Permanent Employment

5,234

5,090

4,585

4,246

4,296

Midlands

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

401

234

278

176

273

Midlands

Net Change in Other Jobs

-48

117

-183

14

2

Midlands

Job Losses

-488

-378

-783

-515

-223

Galway

No. of Companies

53

52

49

52

58

Galway

Permanent Employment

9,896

9,743

9,138

9,396

10,207

Galway

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

433

611

442

768

980

Galway

Net Change in Other Jobs

53

-858

-353

100

918

Galway

Job Losses

-619

-764

-1,047

-510

-169

Mayo

No. of Companies

19

19

18

18

18

Mayo

Permanent Employment

3,004

3,010

2,948

3,112

3,110

Mayo

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

114

132

97

183

85

Mayo

Net Change in Other Jobs

121

-14

-105

52

46

Mayo

Job Losses

-83

-126

-159

-19

-87

West

No. of Companies

72

71

67

70

76

West

Permanent Employment

12,900

12,753

12,086

12,508

13,317

West

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

547

743

539

951

1,065

West

Net Change in Other Jobs

143

-878

-396

-129

66

West

Job Losses

-702

-890

-1,206

-529

-256

Clare

No. of Companies

10

10

10

10

10

Clare

Permanent Employment

1,021

1,144

1,173

1,182

1,158

Clare

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

22

139

122

30

16

Clare

Net Change in Other Jobs

6

35

-79

-75

4

Clare

Job Losses

-35

-16

-93

-21

-40

Limerick

No. of Companies

43

44

41

41

44

Limerick

Permanent Employment

9,040

8,634

6,287

6,022

6,131

Limerick

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

298

288

172

163

242

Limerick

Net Change in Other Jobs

208

-1,311

-320

14

10

Limerick

Job Losses

-452

-694

-2,519

-428

-133

Tipp North

No. of Companies

4

4

4

3

3

Tipp North

Permanent Employment

583

550

362

277

296

Tipp North

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

9

13

0

14

22

Tipp North

Net Change in Other Jobs

-4

-13

-137

3

1

Tipp North

Job Losses

-100

-46

-188

-99

-3

Mid-West

No. of Companies

57

58

55

54

57

Mid-West

Permanent Employment

10,644

10,328

7,822

7,481

7,585

Mid-West

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

329

440

294

207

280

Mid-West

Net Change in Other Jobs

210

-1,289

-536

137

55

Mid-West

Job Losses

-587

-756

-2,800

-548

-176

Cork

No. of Companies

143

137

136

135

133

Cork

Permanent Employment

20,645

21,273

20,017

20,435

21,522

Cork

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

1,756

2,116

1,108

1,385

1,957

Cork

Net Change in Other Jobs

68

-449

-258

1,075

-166

Cork

Job Losses

-1,695

-1,488

-2,364

-967

-870

Kerry

No. of Companies

15

15

14

15

12

Kerry

Permanent Employment

1,820

1,798

1,407

1,313

1,294

Kerry

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

116

86

25

50

163

Kerry

Net Change in Other Jobs

13

-13

-1

19

3

Kerry

Job Losses

-47

-108

-416

-144

-182

South-West

No. of Companies

158

152

150

150

145

South-West

Permanent Employment

22,465

23,071

21,424

21,748

22,816

South-West

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

1,872

2,202

1,133

1,435

2,120

South-West

Job Losses

-1,742

-1,596

-2,780

-1,111

-1,052

South-West

Net Change in Other Jobs

81

-462

-259

1,094

-163

Carlow

No. of Companies

7

9

9

7

7

Carlow

Permanent Employment

411

457

431

316

391

Carlow

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

3

74

49

87

75

Carlow

Net Change in Other Jobs

-34

-35

5

-22

122

Carlow

Job Losses

-262

-28

-75

-20

20

Kilkenny

No. of Companies

6

5

4

4

3

Kilkenny

Permanent Employment

476

468

356

371

399

Kilkenny

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

93

1

0

17

33

Kilkenny

Net Change in Other Jobs

5

6

-7

60

-41

Kilkenny

Job Losses

-53

-9

-112

-2

-5

Tipp South

No. of Companies

12

12

11

11

9

Tipp South

Permanent Employment

2,981

3,217

3,376

3,255

3,060

Tipp South

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

604

262

252

56

84

Tipp South

Net Change in Other Jobs

230

16

-47

19

-81

Tipp South

Job Losses

-15

-26

-93

-177

-279

Waterford

No. of Companies

33

32

33

32

31

Waterford

Permanent Employment

6,386

6,079

5,622

5,329

4,637

Waterford

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

376

176

112

146

72

Waterford

Net Change in Other Jobs

18

84

-12

84

-224

Waterford

Job Losses

-183

-483

-569

-439

-764

Wexford

No. of Companies

11

11

12

12

12

Wexford

Permanent Employment

1,972

1,990

1,915

1,948

1,952

Wexford

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

67

91

14

100

51

Wexford

Net Change in Other Jobs

-10

1

-44

97

-33

Wexford

Job Losses

-59

-73

-89

-67

-47

South-East

No. of Companies

69

69

69

66

62

South-East

Permanent Employment

12,226

12,211

11,700

11,219

10,439

South-East

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

1,143

604

427

406

315

South-East

Net Change in Other Jobs

209

72

-105

238

-257

South-East

Job Losses

-572

-619

-938

-887

-1,095

Dublin

No. of Companies

527

509

497

495

492

Dublin

Permanent Employment

53,175

53,280

48,636

48,436

51,910

Dublin

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

5,266

4,353

2,276

4,228

6,540

Dublin

Net Change in Other Jobs

-1,118

92

-26

169

620

Dublin

Job Losses

-4,076

-4,248

-6,920

-4,428

-3,066

Kildare

No. of Companies

29

28

27

28

26

Kildare

Permanent Employment

11,123

10,610

9,127

9,937

9,958

Kildare

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

69

113

30

1,228

398

Kildare

Net Change in Other Jobs

-217

-96

-115

281

-13

Kildare

Job Losses

-723

-626

-1,513

-418

-377

Meath

No. of Companies

19

18

17

17

16

Meath

Permanent Employment

1,467

1,294

1,136

1,091

1,116

Meath

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

148

134

30

38

53

Meath

Net Change in Other Jobs

-5

-26

33

25

31

Meath

Job Losses

-43

-307

-188

-83

-28

Wicklow

No. of Companies

21

20

19

19

17

Wicklow

Permanent Employment

2,833

2,559

2,328

2,167

1,990

Wicklow

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

190

53

39

13

66

Wicklow

Net Change in Other Jobs

-42

16

3

-8-1

Wicklow

Job Losses

-87

-327

-270

-174

-243

East

No. of Companies

596

575

560

559

551

East

Permanent Employment

68,598

67,743

61,227

61,631

64,974

East

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

5,673

4,653

2,375

5,507

7,057

East

Net Change in Other Jobs

-1,382

-14

-105

467

637

East

Job Losses

-4,929

-5,508

-8,891

-5,103

-3,714

Total IDA

No. of Companies

1,070

1,043

1,019

1,014

1,004

Total IDA

Permanent Employment

140,038

139,087

126,415

125,855

130,499

Total IDA

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

10,401

9,203

5,239

9,075

11,594

Total IDA

Net Change in Other Jobs

-1,066

-2,484

-1,671

2,149

1,474

Total IDA

Job Losses

-9,631

-10,154

-17,911

-9,635

-6,950

Departmental Funding

Paudie Coffey

Question:

220 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the amount of public funds that have been allocated to Waterford City Enterprise Board for the years 2008, 2009 2010 and 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6766/12]

Paudie Coffey

Question:

221 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of jobs that have been created in Waterford city in the years 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 as a result of support of the Waterford City Enterprise Board; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6767/12]

Paudie Coffey

Question:

222 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of grants that have been awarded by the Waterford City Enterprise Board for the years 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6768/12]

Paudie Coffey

Question:

223 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of businesses that have been supported in Waterford city by Waterford City Enterprise Board in the years 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 in tabular form. [6769/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 220 to 223, inclusive, together.

The role of the County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) is to provide support for micro-enterprises in the start-up and expansion phases, to promote and develop indigenous micro-enterprise potential and to stimulate economic activity and entrepreneurship at local level. CEBs offer both grants and a range of training, mentoring and business advice services.

Exchequer funding is made available to the CEBs at the start of each year under the Estimates Process. In addition, where savings are identified elsewhere in the Department during the course of the year every consideration is given to making such funds available to the CEBs where they demonstrate and request such additional funding. Details with regard to Waterford City Enterprise Board, as requested by the Deputy, are set out as follows for the most recent years for which figures are currently available.

P6766 — Exchequer Allocations under the Estimates Process (i.e. at the start of each year) to Waterford City Enterprise Board — 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011

Exchequer Allocations

Current (Administration)

Capital

Total Exchequer Allocation

2008

319,268

420,000

739,268

2009

329,528

455,455

784,983

2010

224,108

286,681

510,789*

2011

216,561

339,772

556,333**

Total

1,089,465

1,501,908

2,591,373

Source: CEB Co-ordination Unit.

*Savings within DJEI enabled further Exchequer funds to be made available to the CEBs in 3rd Quarter 2010. Waterford City requested and received an additional Capital allocation of €134,060, bringing the total Allocation to €644,849.

**No request for additional Capital funding was requested when additional Exchequer funds (from DJEI savings) became available in 3rd quarter 2011.

P6767 — Jobs Created in Waterford City as a result of support by the CEB in 2008, 2009, 2010 (figures for 2011 are not yet available)

Year

Net Jobs existing in CEB-supported companies

Net Gains/Losses

2008

809.5

-22.5

2009

662

-147.5

2010

671.5

-58.5

Total

2,143

Source: CEB Co-ordination Unit.

P6768 — Number of Projects/Businesses Grant Assisted (i.e. Grants approved for assistance) by Waterford City Enterprise Board 2008, 2009, 2010 (2011 not yet available)

Year

No. of Projects Assisted

2008

20

2009

30

2010

22

Total

72

Source: CEB Co-ordination Unit.

P6769 — Number of Businesses that have been supported by Waterford City Enterprise Board 2008, 2009, 2010 (2011 not yet available)

Year

No. of Projects Assisted (Grants)

No. of Participants on CEB Training and Development Programmes

2008

20

330

2009

30

808

2010

22

619

Total

72

1,757

Source: CEB Co-ordination Unit.

Departmental Agencies

Seán Kenny

Question:

224 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if the Director of Corporate Enforcement and the National Employment Rights Authority have requested permission to employ additional staff; the date of each request; if each request was approved, pending or refused; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6861/12]

In May 2005 the Director of Corporate Enforcement sought additional staff for his Office. In 2007 it was agreed to provide 8 additional staff to the Office. The Department of Justice and Equality also agreed to provide an additional Garda to the Office at that time. At the initiation of the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement's investigation into events at Anglo Irish Bank five additional civilian staff were provided to the Office as well as two Gardaí staff from the Department of Justice and Equality. There are currently no outstanding staffing requests from the Director.

No request has been made by NERA for additional staff.

Unemployment Levels

John Lyons

Question:

225 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he can outline the way his action plan for jobs will tackle youth unemployment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6885/12]

The Government will shortly publish a policy statement on labour market activation, "Pathways to Work", which will set out its strategies to tackle unemployment and help job seekers to get back to work.

In addition, I am currently finalising the 2012 Action Plan for Jobs on behalf of the Government, for publication in the coming weeks. The Plan will contain a significant number of tangible measures to protect existing jobs and to support the creation of new jobs across the economy. It will set out a range of initiatives to promote enterprise growth, improve competitiveness and develop key sectors of the economy where Ireland can gain a competitive advantage, including in areas such as manufacturing, cloud computing, agri-food and digital gaming.

The 2012 Action Plan will mark a new process by the Government of outlining its plans to support job creation on an annual basis, with the aim having 100,000 more people in work by 2016 and two million people at work by 2020. If we can achieve this level of ambition, it will have a significant impact on tackling unemployment amongst young people.

Question No. 226 withdrawn.

Redundancy Payments

Finian McGrath

Question:

227 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection if a person (details supplied) is entitled to a payment. [6394/12]

Under the Redundancy Payments Scheme all eligible employees are entitled to a statutory redundancy lump sum payment on being made redundant. An eligible employee is entitled to two weeks pay for every year of service, plus a bonus week, subject to a maximum ceiling on gross weekly pay of €600. Where an employer is unable or fails to pay the statutory redundancy entitlement to a former employee, a payment can be paid directly to the employee from the Social Insurance Fund.

The right of the employee to a redundancy payment must first be established either by a completed Redundancy Certificate (RP50) or, in the absence of that, a decision of the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) following an appeal from the employee.

The time limit for making a claim for a lump sum redundancy payment is 52 weeks after the date of termination of employment. Accordingly, there are 52 weeks in which:

a redundancy payment can be agreed upon and paid or

for an employee to give a written claim for a redundancy payment to his/her former employer or

for the employee to lodge an appeal to the Employment Appeals Tribunal to adjudicate on the right of the employee to a redundancy payment.

While it should be noted that the period of 52 weeks for submitting a claim is the normal period that applies, the Employment Appeals Tribunal has discretion to extend the 52 week time-limit to 104 weeks provided that it receives the necessary claim within 104 weeks of the date of dismissal and is satisfied that the delay by the employee in making his/her claim arose due to reasonable cause.

Social Welfare Appeals

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

228 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if and when an appeal will be decided in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6204/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 31 August 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 30 November 2011 and the appeal has been assigned to an Appeals Officer for consideration.

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

Social Welfare Benefits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

229 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if and when payment will issue in respect of arrears for a disability application in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6205/12]

The arrears will issue shortly to the person concerned.

Question No. 230 withdrawn.

Social Welfare Appeals

Sandra McLellan

Question:

231 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will be reached by the appeals office in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; if she will expedite the appeal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6207/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 7 December 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 5 January 2012 and the appeal will, in due course, be assigned to an Appeals Officer for consideration.

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

Social Welfare Benefits

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

232 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Social Protection if existing contributors to her Department’s pension scheme are likely to suffer a reduction in their expected benefits; if existing contributors are to be affected, can they count on a period prior to pension age, for example ten years, when there will be no changes; if changes that are scheduled for introduction in 2020 are being brought forward to 2012; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6211/12]

I would like to say at the outset of this reply that it gives me no satisfaction to have to make any cuts in social welfare payments. However, given the scale of the fiscal crisis the Government inherited and because spending on social protection accounts for nearly 40% of current Government expenditure, savings have to be found in the social welfare system.

In the welfare package presented in Budget 2012, I sought to minimise the impact of the necessary adjustments in my Department's welfare expenditure on groups vulnerable to poverty and social exclusion. The Government has endeavoured insofar as it could to limit cuts in social welfare to households where there is some additional income over and above the basic social welfare payment and in that regard, successfully avoided any general reduction in primary weekly welfare payments.

In addition to the Budgetary imperative, there is an important long-term policy context for the proposed changes to State pension, including the proposed change to pension rate bands being introduced for new customers from September 2012, which is that the challenges facing the Irish pension system are significant. There are currently six people of working age for every pensioner and this ratio is expected to decrease to approximately two to one by 2050. In addition, those aged over 65 will account for a greater proportion of the population while the proportion who are of working age is expected to decline. With increases in life expectancy, more people are living to pension age and living longer in retirement. The period for which a pension will be paid will be greater than the period for which a pension is paid at present. This has obvious and significant implications in relation to the future costs of State pension provision and for the sustainability of pension provision into the future.

Reform of the State pension system is therefore necessary and the proposed changes to the rate bands, outlined in Budget 2012, are part of the reform process under way in my Department. In this context, there are a number of changes planned to State contributory pensions. The changes are as follows:

The minimum paid contributions requirement for State pension (transition) (SPT) and State pension (contributory) (SPC) will increase to 520 in April 2012 as provided for in legislation since 1997.

State pension age is being increased gradually to 68 years. This will begin in 2014 with the standardisation of State pension age at 66 and SPT will no longer be payable to those who reach age 65 in 2014 or later. State pension age will be increased to 67 years in 2021 and to 68 in 2028.

As announced in Budget 2012, a change to the rates bands for contributory pensions is being introduced from September 2012. This supports the policy objective of aligning the proportion of pension paid with the person's contribution to the PRSI system over a working life. This policy needs to be adhered to if we are to be able to fund pensions into the future. Currently a person with an average of 20-47 PRSI contributions per year over their working life receives a weekly State pension of only €4.50 less than a person with a yearly average of 48 or more PRSI contributions, a situation which is neither fair, equitable nor sustainable.

With effect from September 2012, the rate band of between 20 and 47 yearly average contributions will be replaced with new rate bands of between:

(i) 40 and 47 yearly average contributions,

(ii) 30 and 39 yearly average contribution, and

(iii) 20 and 29 yearly average contributions.

Therefore, the rate of State pension paid to new applicants will be appropriate to the average number of contributions paid. Those who have fewer contributions will receive a lower rate of pension. The maximum rate is unchanged as is the rate for those with yearly average contributions of between 40 and 47. While existing pension recipients are unaffected the changes proposed will apply to new claimants from September 2012.

For those claimants who qualify for a reduced rate of State pension (contributory) and have income needs, they may qualify, depending on their means, for a higher rate of State pension (non-contributory).

Details of the new rates bands for both State pension (transition) and State pension (contributory) are set out in the tables below.

Finally, the current proposed date for the introduction of the ‘total contributions approach' to State pension is 2020 and there are no plans at present to bring this forward to 2012.

New State Pension (Transition) Rates

Yearly Average Contributions

Personal Rate Per Week

48 or over

230.30

40-47

225.80

30-39

207.00

24-29

196.00

New State Pension (Contributory) Rates

Yearly Average Contributions

Personal Rate Per Week

48 or over

230.30

40-47

225.80

30-39

207.00

20-29

196.00

15-19

150.00

10-14

92.00

Social Welfare Appeals

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

233 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Social Protection the purpose of the holding of an oral hearing as part of the appeal process for an invalidity pension; if the person conducting the hearing is required to be medically qualified; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6212/12]

Appeals officers are not required to be medically qualified. Their role is to decide any appeal where a person is dissatisfied with the decision given by a deciding officer in relation to entitlement to benefit under the Social Welfare Acts. They act in a quasi-judicial manner and the procedures involved are designed to ensure that every appellant gets full and fair consideration.

An oral hearing is required where the case cannot fairly be decided by way of summary decision. This may be because there are conflicts in the evidence presented by the parties or there is insufficient documentary evidence to enable an appeals officer to decide the case. Whether an oral hearing is required is at the discretion of the appeals officer. In 2011, some 35% of decisions by Appeals Officer were made following an oral hearing.

Social Welfare Benefits

Michael McGrath

Question:

234 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding payment for a qualified adult under the State pension contributory in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [6220/12]

The person concerned has been awarded an increase for a qualified adult allowance on his State pension (contributory) for the period 1 January 2010 to 25 July 2011. The amount due will issue this week. He has no entitlement from 26 July 2011, as his wife has been awarded a State pension (transition) from that date.

Social Welfare Appeals

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

235 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 139 of 12 January 2012, the reason that 40% of applications filed in 2011 have not yet been processed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6224/12]

The very significant increase in the number of appeals received by the Social Welfare Appeals Office since 2007 has significantly impacted on the processing time for appeals.

Overall, the average processing time for all appeals in 2011 was 25.1 weeks in cases dealt with by way of summary decisions and 52.5 weeks where an oral hearing was required.

These processing times are calculated from the registration date of the appeal to the date of its finalisation and include all activities during this period including time spent in the Department for comments by the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal put forward by the appellant and any further investigation, examination or assessment by the Department's Inspectors and Medical Assessors that is deemed necessary. A considerable period of time is added to the process when an oral hearing is required because of the logistics involved in this process.

In an effort to reduce the processing times, the Department appointed 9 additional Appeals Officers during 2011 who augmented the 3 appointments made to the Office in 2010. In addition, a further 10 Appeals Officers, formerly employed by the Community Welfare Services (CWS) of the Health Services Executive joined the Office as part of the integration of the CWS appeals services into the Social Welfare Appeals Office. This brings the total number of Appeals Officers to 39.

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

Social Welfare Benefits

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

236 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Social Protection if the statistics provided in Parliamentary Question No. 139 of 12 January 2012, can be broken down into types of disability that is physical, sensory, learning, emotional, behavioural and autistic spectrum disorders. [6225/12]

The Department does not hold details of the disability type in a format that would allow the provision of the information requested by the Deputy in respect of the domiciliary care allowance (DCA) scheme.

However, a specific data extraction exercise was conducted last year in relation to the outcome of applications for DCA for children with autism-related conditions. This exercise covered the 930 DCA applications processed during the period 1 April 2009 to 31 March 2011 with a stated medical condition within the autism spectrum. Of these, 55% (507 claims) were deemed to satisfy the qualifying criteria, with 45%, (413 claims) deemed ineligible.

Approximately 46% of all claimants were awarded the allowance on initial application in the same period.

Community Employment Schemes

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

237 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Social Protection the person that will be in charge of the review of the community employment schemes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6253/12]

Following the reductions in the CE training and materials grant announced in the Budget, the Department of Social Protection commenced a review of the financial resources of individual schemes. This review is scheduled to be completed by the end of March and all sponsors have been contacted by Department officers to brief them on the review.

Following the completion of the reviews a Stakeholder Conference will be held to seek views and assist the development of future policy in this area.

Separately, the Community Employment Scheme is included in a second review of the overall range of employment support, activation and work schemes operated by the Department, to assess their contribution to the Department's policy objective of supporting people of working age into employment. It is being carried out by the Department and is expected to be completed by the end of March. The outcome of this review will guide future policy development.

A commitment has been given that no scheme will be forced to close as a result of the reduction in grants whilst the financial review is on-going.

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

238 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Social Protection to whom the sponsoring groups will make their submissions regarding their respective community employment schemes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6254/12]

Following the reductions in the CE training and materials grant announced in the Budget, the Department of Social Protection commenced a review of the financial resources of individual schemes. This review is scheduled to be completed by the end of March. All sponsors have been contacted by Department officers at local level to brief them on the review, discuss their returns and deal with any queries that the sponsors may have. The submissions should be made to these officers.

Question No. 239 withdrawn.

Social Welfare Appeals

John Lyons

Question:

240 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Social Protection when a medical assessment for an appeal will be carried out in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Meath in view of the fact that the original assessment was cancelled. [6295/12]

Payment of illness benefit, to the person concerned, was disallowed by a Deciding Officer following an examination by a Medical Assessor of the Department who expressed the opinion that s/he was capable of work.

An appeal was registered on 22 October 2011 and the Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that, in accordance with statutory requirements, the Department was asked for the documentation in the case and the Deciding Officer's comments on the grounds of the appeal. In that context an examination by another Medical Assessor will be carried out on 20 February 2012.

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

Question No. 241 withdrawn.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

242 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if and when eligibility for disability allowance will be determined in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6300/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 14 October 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 31 January 2012 and the appeal will, in due course, be assigned to an Appeals Officer for consideration.

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

Simon Harris

Question:

243 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow against her decision to refuse disability allowance payments; if she will provide a clear timetable for when the outcome of this appeal can be expected; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6316/12]

The claim for disability allowance, by the person concerned, was disallowed by a Deciding Officer following an assessment by a Medical Assessor of the Department who was of the opinion that he was medically unsuitable for disability allowance.

The person concerned appealed this decision and I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer, having fully considered all the evidence disallowed the appeal by way of summary decision.

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

Social Welfare Benefits

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

244 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will review a matter in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6327/12]

The person concerned started on a Community Employment (CE) scheme in Killarney in September 2011 and has eligibility for one year on the scheme. The full allowance for training for CE participants, before the changes announced in the 2012 Budget, was €500 per participant per year. The person concerned was paid €480 in November 2011 as a contribution towards the cost of the course she is undertaking.

Social Welfare Appeals

Michael McGrath

Question:

245 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a domiciliary care allowance application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [6351/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 17 October 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 12 January 2012 and the appeal will, in due course, be assigned to an Appeals Officer for consideration.

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

Question No. 246 withdrawn.

Social Welfare Code

Robert Dowds

Question:

247 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will outline her role in the delivery of rent supplement to be paid to private landlords. [6359/12]

Robert Dowds

Question:

248 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Social Protection the amount that was spent on rent supplement paid to private tenants in each of the years 2010 and 2011. [6360/12]

Robert Dowds

Question:

249 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Social Protection the amount she hopes to save on rent supplement paid to tenants this year. [6361/12]

Robert Dowds

Question:

250 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Social Protection if she would consider putting in place a suitability interview system before tenants are given the go-ahead to lease a dwelling using rent supplement. [6362/12]

Robert Dowds

Question:

251 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Social Protection if she would consider setting a cap on the percentage of households in an estate which can be in receipt of rent supplement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6363/12]

Robert Dowds

Question:

252 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Social Protection if she intends to move from paying rent supplement to tenants to paying it directly to landlords; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6364/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 247 to 252, inclusive, together.

The purpose of rent supplement is to provide short-term income support to eligible people living in private rented accommodation, whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs and who do not have accommodation available to them from any other source. The scheme is intended as a temporary income support payment and is not designed to be a medium to long term housing support or a permanent solution to a person's housing needs. In order to qualify for a payment under the rent supplement scheme a person must satisfy all of the conditions of the scheme including that the accommodation is reasonably suited to the residential and other needs of the person. Expenditure for 2010 and 2011 was €516 million and €503 million respectively. Provision of some €437 million has been made for the 2012 scheme.

Budget 2012 has provided for two main changes to rent supplement from 1 January 2012. First, an increase in the weekly minimum contribution payable by all tenants under the rent supplement scheme from €24 per week to €30 per week with a higher rate minimum contribution of €35 per week for coupled households. Secondly, the introduction of new maximum rent limits.

As the Deputy will be aware the community welfare service (CWS), and the community welfare officers providing it, transferred formally to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) from 1 October 2011. The service and the staff are now part of the DSP. As with all statutory schemes, the Minister has no function in relation to the determination of individual entitlements.

In general there is no limit or restriction on the proportion or number of people that may receive rent supplement in an area. However Section 25 of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2007 provides that a payment of rent supplement can be refused in respect of accommodation which is situated in an area notified to the Minister for Social Protection by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, as being an area of regeneration.

Rent supplement payments can, at the request of the tenant and with the agreement of the Department, be paid directly to the landlord. If the Department were to introduce a system whereby all rent supplement payments were to be made directly to landlords the efficiency of the scheme would be significantly affected. For example, the Department would potentially have to create a formal relationship with some 96,000 additional clients, the landlords. This would involve greater complexity and significant resources to deal with a new set of third parties.

It would not be an effective use of resources to have departmental staff negotiating rental agreements for those with a short term need who generally enter the scheme with an existing tenancy agreement in place and leave again when they re-enter the workforce.

The Government has effectively two initiatives to deal with long term reliance on rent supplement. The Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) is in operation since 2004 and the new Housing Policy Initiative as announced by my colleagues the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government and the Minister for Housing and Planning on 16 June 2011.

Both initiatives give the local authorities specific responsibility for meeting the long term housing needs of people receiving rent supplement. Latest figures show that over 37,700 rent supplement tenancies have now been transferred from rent supplement to RAS and other social housing options since its inception.

Social Welfare Appeals

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

253 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason for the delay in processing an appeal for the one-parent family payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 10. [6369/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeal from the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer who proposes to hold an oral hearing in this case.

There has been a very significant increase in the number of appeals received by the Social Welfare Appeals Office since 2007 when the intake was 14,070 to 2010 and 2011 when the intake rose to 32,432 and 31,241 respectively. This has significantly impacted on the processing time for appeals which require oral hearings and, in order to be fair to all appellants, they are dealt with in strict chronological order.

While every effort is being made to deal with the large numbers awaiting oral hearing as quickly as possible, it is not possible to give a date when the person's oral hearing will be heard, but s/he will be informed when arrangements have been made.

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

Social Welfare Code

Simon Harris

Question:

254 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Social Protection the criteria by which a person is eligible to apply for rent allowance in a county they are not normally resident in but which they wish to reside in for a number of personal and family reasons; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6404/12]

To qualify for a Rent Supplement a person must have been residing in private rented accommodation (where at the commencement of the tenancy the person could have reasonably afforded the rent and has experienced a substantial change in his or her circumstances where they are now unable to pay the rent) or accommodation for homeless persons or in an institution (or any combination of these) for a period of 183 days within the preceding 12 months of the date of claim for rent supplement.

A person may also be considered for rent supplement where an assessment of housing need has been carried out within the 12 months preceding the date of claim and the person is deemed by the relevant Local Authority to be eligible for and in need of social housing support.

In all other cases, a person who wishes to apply for rent supplement is referred, in the first instance, for an assessment of eligibility for social housing support by the Local Housing Authority in the area where claim to rent supplement is made (and the person intends to reside). Only when the person has been assessed as being eligible for and in need of social housing support by the relevant local housing authority, does the person become eligible for consideration for rent supplement.

Social Welfare Appeals

Nicky McFadden

Question:

255 Deputy Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a disability allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6412/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 4 October 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 11 January 2012 and the appeal will, in due course, be assigned to an Appeals Officer for consideration.

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

Company Closures

Willie O'Dea

Question:

256 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection if his attention has been drawn to the forthcoming closure of a company (details supplied) who now have only three weeks of material funding remaining; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6436/12]

Limerick Community Services Ltd provide a very valuable service in Limerick.

Budget 2012, has resulted in the following changes being made to the Community Employment (CE) scheme: a reduction in the training and materials grants from €1,500 to €500 per participant per annum; the ending of the concurrent entitlement to a CE payment and a social welfare assistance payment for new CE entrants; and the ending of the dual payment of Qualified Child Dependent Increases to CE participants in receipt of certain DSP payments.

In relation to the reduction in the training and materials grant the Department is seeking to minimise the effects of these changes on those schemes most affected and will examine the income and expenditure of schemes with reference to their capacity to absorb the changes made to the grant.

I have directed that a review of the financial resources of individual schemes be completed by the end of March. The purpose of the review is to examine the income and funding of sponsoring organisations in terms of their ability to continue to deliver the programme. As part of the review alternative sources of support will be examined, particularly the level of funding from other State Agencies. The review will also seek to establish if income is generated by scheme activity and the potential for utilisation of these funds to cover project costs. The outcome of each review will provide a clear picture of the core funding required for each CE scheme. This will assist the Department in ensuring a fair distribution of the funding available for these schemes.

Assurances have been given to community and voluntary organisations that no CE scheme will be forced to close as a result of the reductions in training and material grants, pending the completion of this review at the end of March. Officials from the Department are engaged in discussions with Limerick Community Services to complete this review.

Social Welfare Appeals

John Paul Phelan

Question:

257 Deputy John Paul Phelan asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason for the backlog in cases being processed by the appeals office and in particular a case (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6446/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 5 January 2012. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 11 January 2012 and the appeal will, in due course, be assigned to an Appeals Officer for consideration.

There has been a very significant increase in the number of appeals received by the Social Welfare Appeals Office since 2007 when the intake was 14,070 to 2010 and 2011 when the intake rose to 32,432 and 31,241 respectively. This has significantly impacted on the processing time for appeals, especially those which require oral hearings, and, in order to be fair to all appellants, appeals are dealt with in strict chronological order.

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

Question No. 258 withdrawn.

Social Welfare Code

Alex White

Question:

259 Deputy Alex White asked the Minister for Social Protection in view of the phenomenon whereby adult children who are in receipt of social protection payments temporarily return to the family home, principally as a result of a loss of financial independence induced by unemployment and or overwhelming debt burden, whether she will introduce a period of discretion whereby a parent in receipt of a State retirement pension and a household benefit package would retain the latter benefit, thus allowing some space to come to terms with the implications of such a cohabitation arrangement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6480/12]

It is not possible to allow household benefits to be retained if the household composition rules are not satisfied. One of the conditions for receipt of the household benefits package is that an applicant who is under age 70, must be living alone or only with excepted people. These excepted people include: a qualified adult; a dependent child or children aged between 18 and 22 years of age, if in full-time education; a person who would qualify for the allowances in his or her own right; or a person providing full time care and attention.

The rules relating to the household composition do not apply where the person who is getting the household benefits is 70 years of age or over.

The household benefits package is made up of three allowances, electricity or gas allowance, telephone allowance and free television licence. These allowances provide contributions towards electricity or natural gas or bottled gas refill bill and telephone bill and cover the cost of the television licence each year. Provision for 2011 on household benefits was €382 million. As of end of December 2011 there were over 400,000 customers on household benefits package.

One of the objectives of the household benefits package is to provide assistance to older people who are living alone or with certain excepted people by targeting them with specific benefits that provide both income and social inclusion gains. Given the current economic situation, I am not in a position to consider extending the scheme to provide for temporary changes to household composition.

Community Employment Schemes

Catherine Byrne

Question:

260 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will outline details of changes to community employment schemes relating to double payments; who is affected by these changes; if current participants will be affected if they register and sign a new contract for a further year on CE; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6490/12]

As announced in the Budget, from 16 January 2012, new participants on community employment (CE) schemes will not be able to simultaneously claim their original social welfare payment and a CE allowance, as per section 12 of the Social Welfare Act 2011. This measure affects those in receipt of the following payments commencing CE after that date: One-Parent Family Payment; Deserted Wife’s Benefit; Widow(er)’s Pension; Illness Benefit; Disability Allowance; Invalidity Pension or Blind Pension.

These new CE participants will receive payments directly via the CE scheme at a rate equivalent to their original social welfare payment (including any increase for a qualified adult and/or child dependants) plus an additional €20 CE participation bonus.

New participants are defined as those persons who, with effect from 16 January 2012, have not been employed on a CE scheme in the 12 months prior to commencing the current CE placement. CE participants on maternity leave or sick leave at 16 January will not be considered new entrants when they return as they will have participated on CE within the 12 month period. Persons who were approved by DSP staff for CE positions before 16 January 2012 but, due to operational reasons, only commence working on or after 16 January 2012, will be treated as existing CE participants for the purpose of retaining their social welfare payments.

Existing CE participants who have their contracts renewed after the 16 January 2012 will retain their social welfare payment provided they are continuously employed on CE from that date. This provision is subject to the standard CE participation limits and a final cut-off date for double payments of December 2014. All CE participants will receive a single payment only from that date. In addition, payment of two qualified increases per child where the person is employed on a CE scheme and in receipt of either One-Parent Family Payment, Deserted Wife's Benefit/Allowance or Widow(er)'s Pension will cease for new and existing recipients with effect from Monday, 20 February 2012. Existing CE participants will continue to receive increases for qualified children from their original social welfare payment only. New CE participants will receive the qualified child increase (where applicable) on their CE payment.

Social Welfare Code

Micheál Martin

Question:

261 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Social Protection if recipients of disability allowance will also incur a reduction in the rent allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6507/12]

Rent supplement provides short-term support to eligible people living in private rented accommodation, whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs and who do not have accommodation available to them from any other source. Since 2005, rent supplement expenditure has increased from €369 million to a provisional outturn of €503 million in 2011. The number of persons claiming the allowance increased from almost 60,200 persons in 2005 to over 96,800 at end 2011, a 61% increase.

Budget 2012 provided for an increase in the minimum contribution for a single person on rent supplement from €24 to €30 per week and a new rate of minimum contribution for couples of €35 per week. These measures are applicable to all rent supplement tenants, including those in receipt of disability allowance.

Rent supplement is subject to a limit on the amount of rent that an applicant for rent supplement may incur. These rent limits are set at levels that enable the different categories of eligible tenant households to secure and retain basic suitable rented accommodation, having regard to the different rental market conditions that prevail in various parts of the State. Household size is taken into account and the objective is to ensure that rent supplement is not paid in respect of overly expensive accommodation having regard to the size of the household. The Department may exceed these levels in certain circumstances, e.g. where the applicant may have special housing needs such as those incurred by a disability.

As the Department currently funds approximately 40% of the private rented sector it is essential that State support for rents are kept under review, reflect current market conditions and do not distort the market in a way that could increase rent prices for low paid workers and students.

New maximum rent limits came into force on 1 January 2012. These new limits are in line with the most up to date market data available. The emphasis of the rent limit review was to ensure that maximum value for money for tenants and the taxpayer was achieved whilst at the same time ensuring that people on rent supplement are not priced out of the market for private rented accommodation.

The new maximum rent limits will not change the after accommodation costs income of persons receiving rent supplement. Rather the impact of the change in the rent limits will be on the rents received and expected by landlords.

Social Welfare Appeals

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

262 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a disability allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) which has been pending for nearly 19 months; and if she will expedite the matter. [6585/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeal from the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer who proposes to hold an oral hearing in this case.

There has been a very significant increase in the number of appeals received by the Social Welfare Appeals Office since 2007 when the intake was 14,070 to 2010 and 2011 when the intake rose to 32,432 and 31,241 respectively. This has significantly impacted on the processing time for appeals which require oral hearings and, in order to be fair to all appellants, they are dealt with in strict chronological order.

While every effort is being made to deal with the large numbers awaiting oral hearing as quickly as possible, it is not possible to give a date when the person's oral hearing will be heard, but s/he will be informed when arrangements have been made.

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

263 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 328 of 15 November 2011, the progress made to date in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6595/12]

This case has been referred to a Social Welfare Inspector for further investigation and the person concerned will be contacted shortly by the Inspector to arrange an interview. Her pension entitlement will be re-examined when the Inspector has concluded the investigation and she will be notified of the outcome.

Social Welfare Benefits

Niall Collins

Question:

264 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for domiciliary care allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [6597/12]

An application for domiciliary care allowance was received on 29th November 2011. This application was referred to one of the Department's Medical Assessors who found that the child was not medically eligible for the allowance. A letter issued on 20th January 2012 advising of the decision.

In the case of an application which is refused on medical grounds, the applicant may submit additional information and/or ask for the case to be reviewed or they may appeal the decision directly to the Social Welfare Appeals Office within twenty one days.

Question No. 265 withdrawn.

Simon Harris

Question:

266 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Social Protection the eligibility criteria for the confirmation and communion grants; the dates on which this grant will issue for eligible persons in County Wicklow in view of confirmation and communion events being scheduled much earlier this year. [6608/12]

Under the supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme, the Department may make a single exceptional needs payment (ENP) to help meet essential, once-off, exceptional expenditure, which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet out of their weekly income. These ENP payments are a vital component of the SWA scheme and link the income support function of the scheme with the wider welfare role of the Department's Community Welfare Service.

There is no automatic entitlement to a payment, or no predetermined amounts under the different categories for exceptional needs payments. ENP's are payable at the discretion of the officers administering the scheme taking into account the requirements of the legislation and all the relevant circumstances of the case in order to ensure that the payments target those most in need of assistance.

A review of the guidelines on Exceptional Needs Payments has recently been carried out by the Department by a working group made up of former Community Welfare Service staff. One of the recommendations emanating from this review is to address the different approaches taken, in different areas, in relation to the payment of exceptional needs payments in respect of religious ceremonies, mainly Communions and Confirmations, and to ensure that the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme is responding to financial need and not occasions.

In future, where the Department is satisfied that an exceptional need exists, it is recommended that a maximum payment of €110 can be made in respect of the religious ceremony (mainly Communions and Confirmations).

Persons who consider that they have an entitlement to an ENP under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme should contact the local officials administering the scheme (former Community Welfare Officers).

Brendan Ryan

Question:

267 Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Social Protection the current average waiting time for an application for carer’s allowance to be processed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6613/12]

The average time taken to award a claim for carer's allowance for quarter to end Sept 2011 was 17 weeks. The average time to award for the last quarter of 2011 is unavailable as, due to the phased introduction of a new claims processing system in the carer's allowance area, new claims are being processed on the new system while older claims are still being processed on the old system.

As mentioned above, a major service delivery modernisation project is under way to improve the efficiency of administration of the carer's allowance scheme. This involves the development of information technology functions and associated business process re-organisation. The first tranche of new carer's allowance claims began to be processed under the new system in August 2011. It is anticipated that the new system will introduce significant processing efficiencies and a quicker and more responsive service to the customer. Accordingly, the project is being given high priority and involves a significant level of time and commitment from the relevant staff in the Department. This has had a short-term negative impact on claim processing times which is expected to continue until the completion of the modernisation project when all existing carer's allowance claims will be transferred onto the new processing system.

Some 7,719 applications are awaiting a decision at present, down from 8,540 at the beginning of September 2011. I acknowledge that the time taken to process carer's allowance claims at present is not satisfactory but I am satisfied that the Department is taking appropriate steps to resolve the situation. In addition to dealing with the approximately 330 new carer's allowance applications that are received each week, overtime working is being applied to help reduce backlogs that have built up chiefly as a result of the effort associated with the service delivery modernisation project.

While the new systems and processes will facilitate a significant improvement in overall processing times, it should be noted that the intake of new carer's allowance applications continues to increase and that individual claims may continue to take some time to process. Entitlement to carer's allowance is based on satisfying medical, means and residency conditions. In determining entitlement to the allowance, in certain cases unavoidable time lags are involved in making the necessary investigations and inquiries to enable accurate decisions to be made. Delays can also arise if those applying for the allowance are not in a position to supply all the necessary information in support of their claim.

In the meantime, if a person's means are insufficient to meet his or her needs while awaiting a decision on a claim, he or she can apply for a means tested supplementary welfare allowance payment from their local community welfare officer.

Social Welfare Appeals

Tom Fleming

Question:

268 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will expedite a jobseeker’s allowance appeal review in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6621/12]

Further to my response to Parliamentary Question Ref. No. 1005/12, I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that there is no update to the information given previously.

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

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

269 Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will issue on an application for invalidity pension appeal in respect of a person (details supplies) in County Sligo; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6622/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 8 November 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Social Welfare Services on the grounds of appeal be sought. When received, the appeal in question will be referred to an Appeals Officer for consideration.

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

Social Welfare Code

Paul Connaughton

Question:

270 Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding family income supplement (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6647/12]

The query referred to by the Deputy asks whether the Minister has any plans to reform the number of hours worked eligibility criteria for the family income supplement (FIS) payment.

The FIS payment provides income support for employees on low earnings with children. The payment is designed to preserve the financial incentive to take-up or remain in employment in circumstances where the employee might be marginally better off in employment than on social welfare payments.

To qualify for payment of FIS, a person must be engaged in full-time insurable employment which is expected to last for at least 3 months and be working for a minimum of 38 hours per fortnight or 19 hours per week. A couple may combine their hours of employment to meet the qualification criteria. The applicant must also have at least one qualified child who normally resides with them or is supported by them. Furthermore, the average family income must be below a specified amount which varies according to the number of qualified children in the family.

The "hours worked" eligibility criteria has been reduced significantly since the introduction of the scheme in 1984. The requirement was initially set at 30 hours per week but was progressively reduced to 19 hours per week in 1996.

I have no immediate plans to make any significant changes to the qualifying criteria for FIS. Further reducing the "hours worked" requirement could have expenditure implications and could only be decided on in a budgetary context. More generally, however, I recognise that creating jobs and tackling poverty are two of the key challenges that we face. It is essential that our tax and social protection systems play their part in addressing these issues and ensure that work is worthwhile. To this end, I established an Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare in June of last year with the aim of harnessing expert opinion and experience in order to address a number of specific issues. These include making cost-effective proposals for improving employment incentives and achieving better poverty outcomes, particularly child poverty outcomes.

Question No. 271 withdrawn.

Social Welfare Benefits

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

272 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for carer’s allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; if she will give a timeframe as to when a decision will be made on the application; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6039/12]

I confirm that the department is in receipt of an application for carer's allowance from the person in question. On completion of the necessary investigations relating to all aspects of his case a decision will be made and the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

John McGuinness

Question:

273 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social Protection if an application for illness benefit will be approved in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [6693/12]

Payment of illness benefit, to the person concerned, was disallowed by a Deciding Officer following an examination by a Medical Assessor of the Department who expressed the opinion that he was capable of work. An appeal was registered on 20 January 2012 and the Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that, in accordance with statutory requirements, the Department was asked for the documentation in the case and the Deciding Officer's comments on the grounds of the appeal. In that context, an examination by another Medical Assessor will be carried out. The person concerned will be notified when arrangements for the examination have been completed.

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

Care of the Elderly

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

274 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Social Protection the progress that has been made on implementing the national carer’s strategy as contained in the Programme for Government; if she has had any discussion with the Department of Health regarding developing such a strategy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6748/12]

The national carer's strategy does not come under the remit of my Department. The Taoiseach gave responsibility for the carer's strategy to Minister of State in Department of Health Kathleen Lynch in 2011. Therefore this is a matter for the Department of Health.

Flood Relief

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

275 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Social Protection when final approval will be given to a person (details supplied) in County Galway of assistance to relocate; the reason for the delay to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6752/12]

As the Deputy is aware the Government has provided various types of support to people affected by the November 2009 flooding. Humanitarian Aid payments were made, both in the immediate aftermath of the flooding and subsequently to enable eligible households to resume living at their home. Flood relief works were also undertaken in some of the affected areas and other works are at an advanced state of preparation. Discussions also took place with representatives of the insurance industry regarding giving households access to appropriate house insurance at a reasonable cost.

Subject to certain conditions the Government also decided to provide support to a small number of families who are continuing to experience significant housing problems as a result of the November 2009 flooding and are considering the possibility of relocating rather than resuming living at their original home.

The household of the person concerned has been visited by an official from the Department and a report of their individual circumstances has been completed. The Department has received a report from the Office of Public Works in relation to the house of the person concerned and on the basis of all the relevant facts in the case an offer of financial assistance towards relocation has been made.

A request for a review of the terms and conditions of the offer has been received from the person concerned. This review is currently being considered and it is expected that the result of the review will be made known to the person concerned in the coming weeks.

Social Welfare Benefits

Gerald Nash

Question:

276 Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will issue on an application for carer’s allowance in respect of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6764/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 13 August 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 30 November 2011 and the appeal was assigned to an Appeals Officer on 13 January 2012 who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing.

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

277 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the progress made to date in determination of eligibility for rent allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6801/12]

The person concerned was awarded rent supplement on 12 November 2011. On 11 January 2012, their rent supplement was temporarily suspended as their primary jobseeker's payment had been suspended. The rent supplement claim will be reactivated when the impediments with the primary social welfare payment have been resolved.

Question No. 278 withdrawn.

Social Welfare Appeals

Simon Harris

Question:

279 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an appeal in respect of a refusal to grant domiciliary care allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; if she will provide a timeframe for when this appeal will be completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6771/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 17 October 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 17 January 2012 and the appeal will, in due course, be assigned to an Appeals Officer for consideration.

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

Social Welfare Benefits

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

280 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Social Protection if there is a covert agenda at present to cut 10% of welfare payments that are being made at present from genuine claimants; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6792/12]

The Government is committed to protecting the vulnerable throughout the course of the difficult fiscal adjustment process that is currently under way. There is absolutely no question of an agenda, covert or otherwise, to cut ten per cent or any other percentage of welfare payments that are being made to genuine claimants. In fact, protecting the vulnerable by securing the long-term financial viability of the social protection system is one of the main benefits the Government is seeking from the restoration of equilibrium to the Government's finances.

Social Welfare Appeals

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

281 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will issue on an appeal to be granted habitual residence in respect of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6794/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 30 November 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 16 January 2012 and the appeal will, in due course, be assigned to an Appeals Officer for consideration. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Benefits

Eric J. Byrne

Question:

282 Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will expedite an application for one-parent family allowance and ensure that an appointment with an inspector is made at her earliest convenience in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 6W. [6816/12]

An Inspector will contact the person concerned regarding her application for one-parent family payment within the next week.

Social Welfare Appeals

James Bannon

Question:

283 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) in County Longford has been refused domiciliary care allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6822/12]

Applications for domiciliary care allowance in respect of these children were received on 6 September 2011. These applications were referred to one of the Department's Medical Assessors who found that the children were not medically eligible for the allowance. Letters issued on 8 November 2011 advising the person concerned of the decisions.

In the case of an application which is refused on medical grounds, the applicant may submit additional information and/or ask for the case to be reviewed or they may appeal the decision directly to the Social Welfare Appeals Office within twenty one days. Appeals have been registered in this case and the Social Welfare Appeals Office will be in contact with the person concerned in due course regarding her appeals.

James Bannon

Question:

284 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) in County Longford has been refused jobseeker’s benefit in 2010 on appeal as they were not working under contract of employment at the time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6825/12]

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

Under Social Welfare legislation, the decision of the Appeals Officer is final and conclusive and may only be reviewed by the Appeals Officer in the light of new evidence or new facts. Following the submission of additional evidence the Appeals Officer has agreed to review the case. The person concerned will be contacted when the review of her appeal has been finalised. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

285 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will investigate the position of persons (details supplied) in County Monaghan who have been refused rent supplement payment; if she will review this decision; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6842/12]

The persons concerned were refused rent supplement payment because they were forced to leave previous accommodation due to non-payment of rent. They were afforded the right to appeal this decision.

Social Welfare Benefits

Tom Fleming

Question:

286 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will clearly clarify the cuts to one-parent family payments announced in the December budget; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6849/12]

There were a number of measures regarding One Parent Family Payment announced in Budget 2012. The following is a brief description of each of those measures:

1. Up to 2010, One-Parent Family Payment could be claimed in cases where the youngest child was up to 18 years of age (22 years of age if in full-time education). The maximum age was reduced to 14 in 2010. As a result of Budget 2012, the maximum age will be reduced from 14 to 7 progressively over the period 2012 to 2014 inclusive — to age 12 in 2012, age 10 in 2013 and age 7 in 2014.

2. It was also announced in Budget 2012 that the amount of earnings disregarded for the purposes of the One Parent Family Payment means test will be reduced from €146.50 to €130.00 per week in 2012 for new and existing recipients. Further reductions will be introduced over the following four years.

3. From January 2012, payment of a six month transitional payment of half of the rate of One Parent Family Payment where the recipient's earnings exceed €425 per week will be discontinued. Existing recipients of the temporary payment were not affected.

4. Finally, Budget 2012 also provided that participants on Community Employment (CE) schemes would no longer be simultaneously entitled to both One Parent Family Payment and a CE payment. That measure affects new entrants to CE from January 2012.

Social Welfare Appeals

Tom Fleming

Question:

287 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will issue on a disability allowance claim in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6856/12]

The claim for disability allowance, by the person concerned, was disallowed by a Deciding Officer following an assessment by a Medical Assessor of the Department who expressed the opinion that he was medically unsuitable for the allowance. I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an appeal has been opened and in accordance with statutory requirements the Department was asked for the documentation in the case and the Deciding Officer's comments on the grounds of the appeal. In that context, a medical examination by another Medical Assessor has been arranged for 09th February 2012. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Employment Support Services

John Lyons

Question:

288 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Social Protection if, in considering measures to tackle youth unemployment, she has examined the possibility of providing a youth contract or youth guarantee so that those under 25 years of age and out of work or education would be guaranteed a work placement, training or an internship within a set period; if she will outline the funding or measures that would be necessary to provide this commitment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6882/12]

The Department of Social Protection, through the wide range of schemes and interventions it provides, impacts on the lives of almost every person in the State at some stage. A number of these measures already support those under 25 years of age.

In this regard the back to education allowance (BTEA) scheme is a second chance education opportunities scheme designed to remove the barriers to participation in second and third level education by enabling eligible people on social welfare to continue to receive a payment while pursuing an approved full-time education course that leads to a higher qualification than that already held.

A BTEA applicant must be in receipt of a relevant social welfare payment and be at least 21 years of age (24 years postgraduate courses) prior to commencing an approved course of study. However, lone parents and persons in receipt of jobseekers payments can qualify at 18 years of age provided they are out of formal education for at least 2 years.

Changes made to rate of payment of jobseekers allowance to young people since 2009 were undertaken in order to incentivise under 25 year old jobseekers to avail of education and training opportunities and try to avoid them becoming welfare-dependent from a young age. The full adult rate of the relevant payment will be paid to under 25 year olds who participate in full time approved education or training programmes. This measure provides this group with a strong financial incentive to engage in education or training or to take up employment.

In addition JobBridge, the National Internship Scheme, assists individuals to bridge the gap between unemployment and the world of work. It provides those seeking employment with an opportunity to undertake a 6 or 9 month internship in a host organisation. Participation on the scheme assists in breaking that cycle whereby unemployed people are unable to get a job without experience. On completing their internship, participants will have improved their prospects of securing employment. The scheme is scheduled to run for two years with a maximum of 5,000 places at any time. Interns receive an allowance of €50 per week on top of their social welfare entitlement payable for the period of the internship.

It is intended that both the BTEA and the internship programme will be reviewed to assess their effectiveness and the outcome of those reviews will be used to determine whether policy changes are required to meet labour market activation objectives.

Social Welfare Benefits

Michael Creed

Question:

289 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social Protection if she has received a request for a review of a domiciliary care application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6903/12]

The person concerned requested a medical review of this decision on 26th January 2012 and submitted additional supporting information. The application has been forwarded to one of the Department's Medical Assessors for review of the original medical opinion. Upon receipt of the review report, a decision will issue to the customer.

Redundancy Payments

Brendan Smith

Question:

290 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will give consideration to the issues raised by an employer (details supplied) in respect of the additional burden on business due to a reduction in the employer’s rebate on redundancies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6904/12]

The primary purpose of the redundancy payments scheme is to compensate workers, under the Redundancy Payments Acts, 1967 to 2011, for the loss of their jobs by reason of redundancy. Compensation is based on the worker's length of reckonable service and reckonable weekly remuneration, subject to a ceiling of €600 per week.

It is the responsibility of the employers to pay statutory redundancy to all their eligible employees. An employer who pays statutory redundancy payments to the employees is then entitled to a rebate from the State. Rebates to employers and lump sums paid directly to employees are paid from the Social Insurance Fund (SIF).

Significant and increasing amounts have been paid out in redundancy rebates to employers from the SIF in recent years. While the SIF is constituted primarily from employer contributions, the taxpayers' contribution is also significant. One of the factors which influenced the Government's decision to revise the rebate rate was the increasing costs of rebates in recent years.

The deficit in the Social Insurance Fund is a matter of concern. Prior to the implementation of the revised rebate, the Social Insurance Fund refunded employers 60 per cent of the cost of making people redundant. €152.2 million was paid out in rebates to employers in 2006; €167.4 million was paid in 2007; €161.8 million was paid in 2008; €247.9 million in 2009; €373.2 million in 2010 and €188.2 million in 2011. The amounts paid out in lump sums to employees have also increased.

As part of the deliberations on Budget 2012 it was decided that the 60% level of rebate is not sustainable in the current economic climate. While I acknowledge that this may cause difficulties for employers it should be noted that redundancy rebate payments to employers are not common in many EU and other jurisdictions.

Commemorative Events

Seán Kyne

Question:

291 Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he would report on the progress of the committee tasked with planning centenary celebrations for a range of historically significant events, including the Easter 1916 Rising. [6907/12]

I am satisfied that the Centenary commemoration of the Easter Rising in 2016 requires a comprehensive programme that will also present the economic, social and cultural history of the period. The development of the commemorative programme is therefore orientated towards the entire Decade of Centenaries 2012 to 2022 with official consideration currently being focussed on the period 2012 to 2016.

The Government envisage a framework that will feature, not only the official commemorative programme, but also the initiatives of local authorities, national cultural and sporting organisations, heritage groups and community organisations. A special effort will be made to ensure that all events are organised on an inclusive basis with respectful regard for the different traditions in Ireland. As we explore our shared heritage, we will also be mindful of the interest and affinity of the Irish abroad in the commemorative programme.

With a view to the enhanced engagement required of all partners, I have made arrangements to strengthen the Oireachtas Consultation Group on commemorations. In future discussions with the group, I will be accompanied by Minister of State, Dinny McGinley and other representatives of government parties. I have also invited Senator Martin McAleese to join the group. The next meeting of this group will be on 8 February 2012.

All Government Departments, State Agencies and services of government are now being consulted in relation to their intended contribution to the official commemorative programme. There has been considerable progress recently on several elements of the commemorative programme and specific announcements can be expected shortly. I would like to emphasise my personal welcome for all suggestions and contributions to the development of the commemorative programme. If the Deputy has particular interests or concerns, I would be grateful to hear from him.

Turbary Rights

John O'Mahony

Question:

292 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive their agreed payment for the sale of turbary rights; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6341/12]

The individual referred to in the question applied to sell his interest in land under the Voluntary Bog Purchase Scheme, administered by my Department. The relevant land has been inspected and found to be partially within a site designated as a Special Area of Conservation. A letter of offer has issued to the applicant and when the contracts are received, they will be forwarded to the Chief State Solicitor's Office to progress the sale.

Commemorative Events

Gerry Adams

Question:

293 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he has any plans to develop a permanent exhibition to the famine in the National History Museum of Ireland in Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6391/12]

The Deputy will be aware that, as Chair of the National Famine Commemoration Committee, I am responsible for ensuring on behalf of the Government that appropriate arrangements are in place to commemorate the Great Irish Famine with an annual memorial day. It has been agreed that this year's National Famine Commemoration will take place on Sunday, 13th May in Drogheda, County Louth. Full details of the work of the National Famine Commemoration Committee since 2008 in implementing a varied and diverse annual programme of events to coincide with the National Famine Commemoration are available on the National Famine Commemoration page of my Department's website athttp://www.ahg.gov.ie/en/NationalFamine Commemoration2012/.

In relation to the reference to plans to develop a permanent exhibition dedicated to the Great Famine in the National Museum of Ireland, the Deputy should be aware that this is an operational matter for the Museum itself. However, the Deputy should note that the National Famine Commemoration Committee, of which the Director of the National Museum is a member, has previously considered the possibilities around exhibiting a collection dedicated to the Irish famine in the Museum. It has been given to understand that much of the evidence relating to the Great Famine is statistical and pictorial, and there are very limited artefacts that could be exhibited at the National Museum. In this regard, I am advised that there is insufficient material to support an exhibition of the type referred to by the Deputy.

Forbairt Labhairt na Gaeilge

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

294 D’fhiafraigh Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta cén costas ina iomláine — briste síos de réir bliana agus costas ama foirne, agus duaiseanna, dearadh ábhair, taisteal, caidreamh poiblí seachtrach, grianghrafadóir, fáiltiú, srl. san áireamh — acaitheadh ar an gcomórtas GLEO de chuid Fhoras na Gaeilge ó cuireadh ar bun é; cé mhéad scoil agus dalta a ghlac páirt ann de réir gach bliana; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [6509/12]

Bhunaigh Foras na Gaeilge an scéim GLEO (Gaeilge Labhartha san Earnáil Oideachais) don scoilbhliain 2006/2007 chun aitheantas a thabhairt do shár-chleachtas i leith chur chun cinn na Gaeilge labhartha i mbunscoileanna agus in iarbhunscoileanna ar oileán na hÉireann ina mhúintear trí mheán an Bhéarla. Leasaíodh an scéim ina dhiaidh sin chun aitheantas a thabhairt do scoileanna, seachas do mhúinteoirí. Ós rud é go dtugtar aitheantas faoin scéim do scoileanna, níáirítear líon na ndaltaí sna scoileanna sin faoin scéim.

Tá príomhshonraí na scéime maidir le hollchostais agus rannpháirtithe tugtha sa dá thábla thíos. Ní mór dom a mhíniú don Teachta go dtógfadh sé an iomarca ama agus ionchur foirne chun an t-eolas ar fad atá iarrtha a chur le chéile. Táthar den tuairim nach mbeadh an obair sin ar chóimhéid leis na hacmhainní atá ar fáil. Tuigtear dom ó Fhoras na Gaeilge go ndearnadh athbhreithniú ar an scéim GLEO anuraidh agus, mar thoradh air sin, go mbeidh athruithe áirithe á ndéanamh ar an scéim sula bhfógrófar arís í.

Tábla 1: Costais de réir bliana

GLEO

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

Costais tionscadail

€16,186.11

€75,678.80

€69,055.78

€106,232.38

€60,125.01

€56,644.89

Áiseanna

€50,826.05

€34,566.75

€14,977.38

Ollchaiteachas

€16,186.11

€126,504.85

€69,055.78

€140,799.13

€75,102.39

€56,644.89

Tábla 2: Líon na scoileanna agus na mbuaiteoirí

Scoilbhliain

2007/2008

2008/2009

2009/2010

2010/2011

Líon scoileanna

49

44

40

54

Líon buaiteoirí

21

16

12

17

Turbary Rights

Robert Troy

Question:

295 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht when he will issue payment to a person (details supplied) in County Longford for their turf cutting rights at Ardaghullion bog, Mostrim, County Longford, which was designated as a special area of conseveration, SAC, in 2002; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6755/12]

The individual referred to in the Deputy's Question has applied to sell his interest in land under the Voluntary Bog Purchase Scheme administered by my Department. Processing of applications on hand under this scheme has been slower than anticipated, due to capacity constraints in undertaking the work involved.

In 2011, the Government announced a compensation scheme for those affected by the cessation of turf cutting on raised bog special areas of conservation. This Cessation of Turf Cutting Compensation Scheme consists of a payment of €1,000 per year, index linked, over 15 years or, where feasible, relocation of turf cutters to non-designated bogs where they can continue to cut turf. Those wishing to relocate can avail of the financial payment or the delivery of cut turf while relocation sites are identified and prepared. The cost of acquiring and preparing relocation sites will be met by the State.

Where applicants under the Voluntary Bog Purchase Scheme have not received a letter of offer, or have received a letter of offer but contracts have not been signed, my Department will be writing to them to outline their options under the Cessation of Turf Cutting Compensation Scheme.

Prospecting Licences

Finian McGrath

Question:

296 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources when exploration licences for hydraulic fracturing were granted; to whom they were granted; the locations for which they were granted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6222/12]

I can inform the Deputy that my Department has not received applications for, nor licensed the use of hydraulic fracturing in the Irish onshore at this time. In February of last year my Department granted onshore Licensing Options to Tamboran Resources Ltd over parts of Cavan, Leitrim and Sligo, the Lough Allen Natural Gas Company Ltd over parts of Cavan, Leitrim, Roscommon and Sligo and to Enegi Oil Plc over parts of County Clare. The licensing options are for a two-year period from 1st March 2011. Exploration drilling, including drilling that involves hydraulic fracking is not permitted under these licensing options.

Before the companies concerned could apply for an exploration licence and proceed to an exploration drilling phase, they must first complete the licensing option work programme agreed with my Department. These work programmes are primarily based on desktop studies of existing data and should be completed by February 2013. When they have completed their work programmes each company will then have to decide if it wishes to move to the next stage and apply for an exploration licence.

Any application for an exploration licence that proposed using hydraulic fracturing would be subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). That assessment would include a Public Consultation Phase, of four weeks or more, which would be advertised on my Department's website and in the local press. This would provide an opportunity for the public to input into the decision making process. My Department would also seek and be guided by the expert advice of other relevant statutory authorities such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and the Local Authorities. The outcome of the EIA would help determine whether or not an Exploration Licence would be granted.

Health and Safety Regulations

Finian McGrath

Question:

297 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding the Commission for Energy Regulation regarding the recently published document titled, Petroleum Safety Implementation Project Overview: C.E.R./11/138 — 2 August 2011. [6415/12]

The Petroleum (Exploration and Extraction) Safety Act, 2010 makes provision for the safety of petroleum exploration and extraction (upstream) activities and associated infrastructure to be regulated by the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER). It provides that the regulation of upstream safety will be achieved through the establishment and implementation of a new risk assessment based Petroleum Safety Framework in line with best industry practice.

I understand that as part of its initial planning and scoping for the establishment of the new Safety Framework, the reports referenced by the Deputy were produced. These reports, i.e. Report on the Existing Legislative and Regulatory Framework for Petroleum Exploration and Extraction in Ireland; and Review and Comparison of International Petroleum Safety Regulatory Regimes were undertaken by consultants GL Noble Denton on behalf of the CER.

While the specifics on how unconventional gas exploration and extraction were not explicitly addressed in the above documents, neither were the specifics with regard to any other petroleum activity to be regulated by the CER. It was never the intention, I understand, to cover the detail on how specific petroleum exploration and extraction activities are regulated in Ireland or the comparator countries in these reports. The reports simply set out the broad legislative and regulatory approach to the regulation of petroleum activities, thereby providing the background information to enable the CER to begin its work on the consulting on the Petroleum Safety Framework itself.

The CER published its consultation paper on the High Level Design of the Petroleum Safety Framework in August 2011, and hopes I understand, to publish its draft decision in this regard shortly.

As exploration drilling and extraction are likely to be designated by CER as petroleum activities, unconventional gas exploration and extraction would fall to be regulated under the Petroleum Safety Framework by the CER from a safety perspective.

Departmental Funding

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

298 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if funding has been made available to Inland Fisheries Ireland to retain contract staff in 2012 to continue with the work of controlling the African Pond Weed otherwise known as Lagarosiphon due to the damage being done to Lough Corrib by this weed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6267/12]

Inland Fisheries Ireland has sought funding from a number of agencies for the continuation of the control of the invasive pondweed in Lough Corrib as in previous years.

To date, funding commitments have been received from the Office of Public Works, Galway County Council, Inland Fisheries Ireland itself (IFI) and the Caisie — (Control of Aquatic Invasive Species in Ireland) EU project.

Should all agencies continuing to support the programme to the same level as in 2011 it is proposed to continue it in 2012. In this regard, a response is awaited from Galway City Council to progress matters and an application for assistance has also been made to the Heritage Council and a decision on this will be made in the coming weeks.

Broadcasting Services

Brendan Griffin

Question:

299 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will request that RTÉ address issues raised by a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6357/12]

RTÉ is responsible for the rollout and operation of the Saorview TV network. Part 8 of the Broadcasting Act 2009, sets out RTÉ's powers and responsibilities in this regard.

The RTÉ decision to provide a satellite service is being made by RTÉ on a commercial basis. RTÉ has indicated that this service in conjunction with the DTT network will provide coverage to virtually 100% of the population.

In regard to coverage in the Dingle area, I have asked my officials to contact RTÉ and RTÉNL who will revert to you directly on this matter.

Electricity Generation

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

300 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he anticipates delays in payments under the REFIT scheme this year; when he anticipates that these payments will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6455/12]

The REFIT scheme is funded through the Public Service Obligation (PSO) levy which is charged to all electricity consumers and the mechanism is well established. The PSO levy is calculated and certified by the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER). REFIT payments under the first REFIT scheme to those included by the CER in their 2011/2012 PSO levy decision are currently being paid on a monthly basis, and there is no delay.

Five months ahead of the start of the PSO year (which commences 1 October), electricity suppliers are obliged to advise CER of those generators with whom they have entered into REFIT Power Purchase Agreements that will be exporting electricity to the grid during the following period and on behalf of whose exported metered generation the suppliers are eligible to receive REFIT payments from the PSO levy fund. Those projects are then included in the PSO decision by CER and only those projects included in the decision are eligible for payments.

The calendar year 2012 as is the norm with the PSO mechanism straddles two PSO years. The 2011/2012 PSO year runs to 30 September 2012 and the 2012/2013 PSO year will commence on 1 October 2012. Those projects that were included in the 2011/2012 levy fund calculation by CER are currently being paid and will continue to receive payments up to 30 September. Those eligible for payment in the 2012/2013 PSO year which commences 1 October will be determined on the basis of information provided by suppliers to CER 5 months ahead of the commencement of the next PSO levy year.

My Department is currently also working to finalise the terms and conditions for the new REFIT Scheme recently cleared by the EU Commission, with a view to its launch shortly.

Inland Fisheries

Brendan Griffin

Question:

301 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the reasons for the relative brevity of the 2011 fishing season in respect of two lakes (details supplied) in County Kerry; if the 2012 season will be extended; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6820/12]

I can inform the Deputy that the opening and closing dates for lakes are fixed annually by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) on the basis of assessment of demand from anglers and resources to manage those lakes responsibly.

IFI seeks to ensure that the resource and opportunities are available to recreational and tourist anglers at peak times at a reasonable number of lakes.

Over the years the demand in the early part of the season varies and is generally lower and hence resource management imperatives mean that all lakes do not open at the same time.

IFI, while recognising that there is some off peak demand for the lakes in question, must, in common with all public sector bodies, operate responsibly within overall budgetary constraints. As part of the balance between these constraints and assessed demand, it is necessary to manage the lakes within the resources available and in that context it is not currently in a position to open the lakes referred to by the Deputy any earlier than proposed.

IFI advise that Lough Fadda and Barfinnihy Lake are community managed trout lakes. They are run effectively as put and take fisheries (i.e. IFI stock the lakes prior to opening for fishing on a pay per use basis). In this regard they are no different from any other ‘put and take' fishery in the country. They are managed on a commercial basis in that IFI endeavours to at least cover the cost for the stocking and management of these lakes from the permits fees derived from anglers.

Landowners Liability

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

302 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will clarify a matter (details supplied) regarding landowners liability; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6275/12]

The liability of a landowner in relation to a person engaging in a recreational activity on their land, if an accident were to occur, is governed by the provisions of the Occupiers Liability Act, 1995. This Act provides definitions of recreational activity and outlines the duty of care of a landowner or occupier to entrants onto their land, including recreational users.

The Occupiers Liability Act, 1995 was introduced to address the question of the exposure of landowners to claims arising from injuries to recreational users and others including trespassers. The Act defines categories of entrants onto land and specifies the duty of care owed by occupiers. An occupier is anyone in charge of a premises such as the owner or a tenant. Under the Act there are three categories of entrant: visitors, recreational users and trespassers. The duty of care owed by the occupier of land to recreational users and trespassers under section 4 of the Act is a duty not to cause injury intentionally and not to "act with reckless disregard" for their safety. A higher duty of care is owed to visitors. A landowner charging recreational users for entry (as opposed to a reasonable charge for parking) increases his/her duty of care to that owed to visitors. A report of by an Expert Group established to examine and make recommendations on The Legal Issues of Land Access for Recreational Use is available on my Department's website (http://www.environ.ie/en/Publications/Community/RuralDevelopment/ FileDownLoad,27109,en.doc). This report provides additional information and clarification regarding the Occupiers Liability Act.

Planning Issues

Tom Fleming

Question:

303 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will address the situation whereby planning applications for an extension of time are being refused following on from previous grant of full planning permission due to a change in environmental guidelines; if he will amend the 2010 Planning Act to resolve this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6217/12]

Section 28 of the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2010 amended Section 42 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 to provide that the duration of a planning permission may be extended where substantial works have not been done, or where the development has not even commenced, in cases where the planning authority is satisfied that there were considerations of a commercial, economic or technical nature beyond the control of the applicant which substantially militated against either the commencement of development or the carrying out of substantial works, pursuant to the planning permission (again provided that an application complying with the relevant Regulations was made before the expiration of the initial period). This latter provision is, however, subject to the following qualifications—

that the planning authority is satisfied that there have been no significant changes in the development objectives in the development plan or in regional development objectives in the Regional Planning Guidelines for the area of the planning authority since the date of the permission such that the development would no longer be consistent with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area,

that the planning authority is satisfied that the development would not be inconsistent with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area, having regard to any guidelines issued by the Minister under section 28, notwithstanding that they were so issued after the date of the grant of permission in relation to which an application is made under this section, and/or

that the planning authority is satisfied where the development has not commenced, that an environmental impact assessment, or an appropriate assessment, or both of those assessments, if required, was or were carried out before the permission was granted.

This means that in cases where substantial works have not been carried out, and where the relevant development plan objectives or the objectives in the relevant regional planning guidelines have changed since the permission was granted to the extent that the development in question would no longer be consistent with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area, the duration of the permission will not be extended.

It should be noted that the previous provision remains in the Planning and Development Act 2000, whereby an extension of permission is automatically given on application, in a case where substantial works have been carried out within the original duration (subject only to the condition that an application complying with the relevant Regulations was made before the expiration of the initial period).

I consider that the amendment made in 2010 strikes an appropriate balance and that in cases where substantial works have not been carried out, the duration of permission should not be extended in respect of developments for which the planning authority would now refuse permission in respect of current applications. I have no plans to further amend the Act in this regard.

Rural Development

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

304 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will outline the administration spend with regard to the rural development programme in tabular form and a breakdown by company country wide; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6255/12]

The following table outlines administration expenditure for the period 2009 to end December 2011 for each Local Development Company contracted to deliver Axes 3 and 4 Rural Development Programme (RDP). Meitheal Forbartha na Gaeltachta (MFG) went into liquidation on 7 September 2011.

LAG

Admin Spend to date

Avondhu/ Blackwater Partnership Limited

€627,452.92

Ballyhoura Development Limited

€1,045,753.10

Carlow County Development Partnership Limited

€824,872.60

Cavan Part and County Monaghan Area Part

€964,624.50

Clare Local Development Company Limited

910,842.91

Comhar na nOileáin Teoranta

€430,507.67

Donegal Local Development Company Limited

€914,948.59

Fingal LEADER Partnership

€549,750.46

FORUM Connemara

€698,531.77

Galway Rural Development Company Limited

€971,795.38

Inishowen Development Partnership

€625,581.28

I.R.D. Duhallow

€721,022.77

Kildare (Cill Dara ar Aghaidh Teoranta)

€868,870.54

County Kilkenny LEADER Partnership Limited

€833,182.31

Laois Community and Enterprise Development

€879,759.20

Leitrim Integrated Development Company

€863,729.22

Longford Community Resources Limited

€529,574.09

Louth LEADER Partnership

€812,265.71

Mayo North East LEADER Partnership

€820,226.54

Meath Partnership

€1,105,071.84

Meitheal Forbartha na Gaeltachta Teoranta

€1,314,883.67

North and East Kerry LEADER Partnership Teoranta

€849,954.60

North Tipperary LEADER Partnership Company

€744,731.38

Offaly Integrated Local Development Company

€693,821.89

Roscommon Integrated Development Company

€832,371.17

County Sligo LEADER Partnership Company

€659,871.45

South East Cork Area Development Limited

€675,991.95

South Kerry Development Partnership Limited

€1,128,984.93

South Tipperary Local Development Company Limited

€848,247.34

South West Mayo Development Company Limited

€766,966.56

Waterford LEADER Partnership Limited

€846,348.29

West Cork Development Partnership

€1,047,709.16

West Limerick Resources

€822,146.32

Westmeath Community Development

€607,057.85

Wexford Local Development

€850,704.22

County Wicklow Partnership

€787,274.14

Total

€29,475,428

Local Authority Charges

Finian McGrath

Question:

305 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if a person (details supplied) in County Dublin is entitled to a waiver of the household charge. [6258/12]

Sandra McLellan

Question:

312 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if persons (details supplied) in County Cork must pay the household charge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6342/12]

Gerald Nash

Question:

322 Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will make provision for the payment of the household charge on an instalment basis at An Post local offices and other appropriate outlets in the interests of facilitating the widest possible number of home owners to pay the charge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6478/12]

Michael Moynihan

Question:

349 Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if a house is a protected structure, is the owner liable for the household charge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6887/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 305, 312, 322 and 349 together.

The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 and the Local Government (Household Charge) Regulations 2012 provide the legislative basis for the household charge. The Act provides for a number of exemptions and waivers from payment of the household charge. The exemptions from payment of the household charge are—

Residential properties that are part of the trading stock of a business and have not been sold or been the source of any income since construction,

Residential property owned by a Minister of the Government, a housing authority or the Health Service Executive,

Voluntary and co-operative housing,

Residential property subject to commercial rates and wholly used as a dwelling,

Residential property owned by certain charities or discretionary trusts, and

Residential property which an owner has vacated due to long-term mental or physical infirmity (e.g. elderly person that has moved into a nursing home).

The waivers which apply concern—

Owners of residential property entitled to mortgage interest supplement, and

Owners of houses in certain unfinished housing estates.

There is a range of options available for persons to pay the household charge. An online systemwww.householdcharge.ie is in place in the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) to enable homeowners to pay the household charge by credit/debit card or in four instalments by direct debit. In addition, homeowners can make payment by cheque, postal order, credit/debit card or in four instalments of €25 by direct debit by completing the relevant payment details on the declaration form and posting it to Household Charge, PO Box 12168, Dublin 1. Instalment payments are available by direct debit only and persons opting to pay in this way must register their details by 1 March, 2012.

A bureau is in place in the LGMA to administer the charge on a shared service/agency basis for all local authorities. In addition, all county/city councils have been requested to have arrangements in place for persons to attend their principal offices to pay the household charge up to 31 March, 2012. I am satisfied that there is a comprehensive suite of payment options available to persons with a liability to pay the household charge.

Water Services

Terence Flanagan

Question:

306 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding water meters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6260/12]

TheProgramme for Government provides for the introduction of a fair funding model to deliver clean and reliable water. The Memorandum of Understanding with the EU, the IMF and the ECB also contains commitments for the reform of water services delivery and operation and the introduction of domestic water charges.

To meet these commitments, the Government intends initiating a universal water metering programme in advance of the introduction of domestic water charges. This will facilitate moving to a charging system for domestic water users that is based on use above a free allowance as provided for in theProgramme for Government. A procurement strategy for the metering programme is currently being prepared and this will include detailed specifications for meters and related equipment. The metering programme will be the subject of a competitive procurement process in accordance with EU and national procurement rules.

Social and Affordable Housing

Catherine Murphy

Question:

307 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he is considering altering the rules around the claw back for those who purchased houses in recent years under the terms of some social housing schemes; if so, the timeframe he has in mind; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6274/12]

I assume the question refers to clawback provisions which apply as conditions of the sale of houses to first time buyers under the various affordable housing schemes at a significant discount from market value in order to prevent short-term profit taking on the resale of the house to the detriment of the objectives of the schemes.

Where a person is selling and the claw-back 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 outcome. As announced in the Government's Housing Policy Statement published on 16 June 2011, all affordable housing schemes, including shared ownership, have been stood down in the context of a full review of Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000. A request for tenders in respect of the review was published last week, and the review will commence as soon as possible.

Pearse Doherty

Question:

308 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government with respect to the pilot mortgage to rent scheme currently under way with an organisation (details supplied), if he will confirm the number of units involved in this scheme; the participating bank in the scheme; the details of the funding arrangements between him and the organisation; the total cost to the Exchequer arising from this pilot; if the funding for this pilot and its future expansion will come from the existing capital allocation for social housing as outlined in budget 2012 or from additional resources to be made available specifically to address the mortgage crisis; if he has an estimate of the expenditure on this scheme if and when it is rolled out beyond the initial pilot; the terms agreed between the bank and original mortgage holder on that portion of the original mortgage not covered by the purchase agreement between the bank and the organisation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6282/12]

As part of the implementation of the recommendations in the Keane Report my Department is developing a mortgage to rent scheme on a pilot basis. This work has been assisted by Clúid Housing Association, a number of local authorities, the Housing and Sustainable Communities Agency, AIB, and more recently, New Beginning and another lender. The Keane reported recommended 2 such schemes or models on which a mortgage to rent option might operate. The same categories of household would be targeted under each scheme. These are households that:

have had their mortgage position deemed unsustainable under a Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process (as provided for under the Central Bank's Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears);

agree to the voluntary repossession of their home;

do not have significant positive equity; and

are eligible for social housing.

In addition, the house must also be appropriate to household need. In other words, the household are not significantly over-accommodated (e.g. a couple residing in a home that is too large for their needs) or under-accommodated/overcrowded. Households availing of the scheme will become social housing tenants, paying a differential rent calculated on the basis of household income. The treatment of any mortgage shortfall or residual debt will be a matter for bilateral resolution between the borrower and lender. The essential difference between the 2 options relates to ownership of the property after the voluntary repossession has taken place.

Under the first model, after voluntary repossession has taken place the property would be purchased by an approved housing body at current market value. The household would become a social housing tenant — they would no longer be homeowners. The purchase of the property would be part loan financed, using loan finance generally obtained from the initial mortgage provider, and the Exchequer using funds available under the 2012 allocation for the Capital Advance Leasing Facility. My Department is also consulting with the Central Bank to ensure that the process through which households might be offered the option to participate in the scheme complies fully with all existing consumer protection and other regulatory requirements.

Under the second model, the lender would become the long term owner of the property after voluntary repossession had taken place. The household would become a social housing tenant of the relevant local authority and the local authority would, in turn, lease the property from the financial institution for the period of the lease. The household would enjoy the same benefits as any household already accommodated under the social housing leasing initiative in terms of security of tenure, differential rents, eligibility, etc.

It is anticipated that the first transactions under the first model will take place very soon. Ultimately, the schemes will be rolled out nationally using the criteria set out above and it is hoped that all lenders will agree to participate. I have not set definitive limits on the numbers of cases that will be addressed in the pilot phase.

Local Authority Charges

Gerald Nash

Question:

309 Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the safeguards in place to ensure that the criteria for inclusion in the list of category three and four unfinished housing estates are being applied consistently across all counties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6292/12]

Gerald Nash

Question:

310 Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the appeals process available to residents, who feel that their estate has been wrongly overlooked for inclusion in the list of category three and four unfinished housing estates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6293/12]

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

323 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government with the exception of estates (details supplied), the reason the rest of Clongriffin, Dublin 13, is not exempt from the household charge in view of the fact that no part of the estate is finished and there are many serious challenges facing residents in Clongriffin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6483/12]

John McGuinness

Question:

351 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will outline the way those who live in unfinished housing estates and are not on the published list of unfinished estates and therefore are not exempted from the household charge can appeal the decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6891/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 309, 310, 323 and 351 together.

As part of the process of preparing the National Housing Development Survey 2011, published by my Department in October 2011, local authorities provided details of all unfinished housing developments in their areas. Unfinished housing developments were divided into four categories as follows:

Category one, where the development is still being actively completed by the developer, or where no serious public safety issues exist;

Category two, where a receiver has been appointed;

Category three, where a receiver has not been appointed and the developer is still in place but effectively inactive; and

Category four, where the development has been effectively abandoned and is posing serious problems for residents.

Other relevant factors for the purposes of the categorization process include, inter alia:

the state of completion of roads, footpaths, public lighting facilities, piped water and sewerage facilities and open spaces or similar amenities within the development;

the extent to which the development complies with the terms of applicable planning permission;

the extent to which it complies with the provisions of the Building Control Acts 1990 and 2007;

the provisions of the Local Government (Sanitary Services) Act 1964 as they pertain to dangerous places and dangerous structures within the meaning of the Act;

the extent to which facilities within the development have been taken in charge by the local authority concerned; and

where there is an agreement regarding the maintenance of such facilities, the extent to which this agreement has been complied with.

In some cases a local authority may have found that conditions in respect of a certain phase of a development were relatively good and that, for example, no serious public safety issues could be identified. This phase of the development may have been categorised under category 1 or 2. Conversely, safety issues may have been identified in another phase of the same overall development, or development in that second phase may have been abandoned altogether, implying a category 3 or 4 identification for that phase. This categorisation formed the basis for the list of those unfinished developments eligible for a waiver on the annual household charge.

Only households in developments in categories three and four are eligible for the waiver from payment of the household charge. This list of developments in which households are eligible for the waiver in 2012 is set out under the Local Government (Household Charge) Regulations 2012 and forms the complete list of such developments for this year. The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 does not provide for an appeals facility in this regard. A revised list of estates will be prescribed for 2013 after which time the waiver for unfinished housing developments will end. Throughout this period it is anticipated that the numbers of categories 3 and 4 developments will decrease as my Department continues to work with local authorities and other stakeholders to resolve outstanding issues, including through the Public Safety Initiative.

Social and Affordable Housing

John McGuinness

Question:

311 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if an application from Kilkenny County Council for funding to refurbish the Newpark Close, Kilkenny housing scheme will be expedited and approved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6337/12]

Kilkenny County Council has submitted this project for inclusion in the Social Housing Investment Programme for the period 2012-2014. I hope to be in a position to make announcements in relation to budgets or allocations for the various housing supply programmes in early March.

Question No. 312 answered with Question No. 305.

Local Authority Charges

Niall Collins

Question:

313 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the position regarding the non principal private residence charge on a property which is the only property owned by a person, and is unoccupied in view of the fact that this person is outside of the State on contract or additional training connected to their employment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6372/12]

The Local Government (Charges) Act 2009, as amended, broadened the revenue base of local authorities by introducing a charge on non-principal private residences. The charge is set at €200 and liability for it falls, in the main, on owners of rental, holiday and vacant properties.

The 2009 Act is structured from a starting position of a universal liability for the charge in respect of all residential property. Liability arises each year on a point-in-time basis, which is 31 March in each year. A number of exemptions from the charge are provided for in the Act, the most significant being where a property is an owner's sole or main residence.

In a situation where a person owns a property in which he or she does not live and his or her sole or main residence is another property, there may be a liability for the non-principal private residence charge in respect of the property owned by the person, unless it is otherwise exempted under section 4 of the Act.

The Act places the charge under the care and management of the local authorities, and application in particular circumstances is a matter for the relevant local authority. Interpretation of the legislation is a matter for legal advice in individual cases and ultimately a matter for the Courts.

Departmental Bodies

Niall Collins

Question:

314 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will issue a specific document (details supplied). [6388/12]

The Local Government Audit Service is responsible for external audits of local authorities and gives an audit opinion on the annual financial statement as prepared by an authority. The auditor, who is independent in the exercise of professional functions, may also issue a separate report on any matter or matters arising from the statutory audit. Audited information in relation to the accounts of Fermoy Town Council is not yet available for 2010. The audit of the 2010 Annual Financial Statements (AFS) of all local authorities is scheduled for completion by 31 March 2012.

Waste Management

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

315 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he is currently preparing new guidelines or a code of conduct for local authorities for waste collection and disposal especially in the context of the privatisation of services; if he will indicate the outline of the proposed regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6406/12]

TheProgramme for Government contains a commitment to introduce competitive tendering for household waste collection, under which service providers would 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 2011. A large number of responses were received from a broad spectrum of interests. As one might expect, a consensus is not apparent and, on almost all of the relevant issues, a considerable breadth of opinion was expressed. All of the responses received, in addition to a summary document, are available on my Department's website,www.environ.ie

I expect to be in a position to submit final proposals in relation to household waste collection to Government by Easter this year. All policy proposals will be carefully considered by Government and will take account of the full range of issues and perspectives. The respective waste management roles of the public and private sectors have evolved considerably in recent years. Such developments will be among the issues for consideration in this context.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

316 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he has been briefed by Dublin City Council on the recent transfer of waste collection services from Dublin City Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6407/12]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

344 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will confirm that the transfer of domestic waste collection by Dublin City Council to a company (details supplied) was in compliance with the EU tendering process; his views that there was no breach in data protection during the transfer; his further views on the transfer of the debt of DCC customers to the company; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6805/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 316 and 344 together.

I am aware of Dublin City Council's transfer of household waste collection services to a private sector partner and the issues arising for customers. However, the operational and legal implications of the transfer of waste collection services are a matter for the City Council itself. Queries on the matter should therefore be addressed directly to the City Council.

Local Authority Charges

Alex White

Question:

317 Deputy Alex White asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government in the absence of official notification whether by electronic or hard copy by either the local authority or the online infrastructure of the NPPR payment system that a charge is due, if he will ensure that all registered accounts receive notification of the charge falling in 2012, in order that persons who have not received notice either of the charge or late payment will not needlessly incur late payment fees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6411/12]

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

There is no legal obligation on local authorities to issue notifications, invoices or reminders. In practice, a number of measures are undertaken to assist collection of the charge. Nationwide advertising has taken place in each year since the introduction of the charge in 2009 to ensure general awareness of the charge and the liability dates. In addition, local authorities have undertaken their own advertising campaigns locally. As a shared resource, I understand that reminder notifications were issued by the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) and local authorities to those who paid the charge last year in respect of their possible liability for 2011.

It is intended that similar advertising will take place in the context of liability for the NPPR in 2012, including reminder notifications from the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) and local authorities to those who paid the charge last year in respect of their possible liability for 2012. Reasonable efforts have been and will continue to be 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.

Social Welfare Code

John Lyons

Question:

318 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will consider compiling a list of landlords who are willing to take part in the rental accommodation scheme in each council area; if he will consider starting a campaign to publicise RAS and encourage landlords to take part and join such a list; and if he will provide details of participation in the scheme in each local authority area to date. [6448/12]

The Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) is a collaborative project between my Department, local authorities and the Department of Social Protection, including its community welfare service.

Under the scheme local authorities assume primary responsibility for meeting the accommodation needs of Rent Supplement (RS) recipients with a long-term housing need. The local authority administers the scheme in its entirety from the transfer of RS recipients, including the sourcing of suitable accommodation and the accommodation of eligible households together with the payment of rent to landlords. As part of their overall role in sourcing accommodation, local authorities engage in regular advertising of the scheme aimed at landlords. They also produce, along with my Department and the Housing Agency, detailed explanatory leaflets, including website information, on the scheme and the conditions/requirements on landlords who are entering or wish to enter the scheme.

Local authorities are best placed to administer RAS and I do not propose to compile a national list of landlords willing to take part in the scheme.

Since the Rental Accommodation Scheme commenced in late 2005 local authorities have transferred a total of 37,759 households from RS up to the end of December 2011. Of these 21,892 were housed directly under RAS and a further 15,867 were accommodated under other social housing options. The following table sets out a county by county breakdown of the number of transfers from RS:

Rental Accommodation Scheme cumulative figures — Nov 2005 to end Dec 2011.

Local Authorities (Housing)

No. of cases transferred to RAS (Private) to end December 2011

RAS Unsold Affordables (Leasing) to end December 2011

No. of cases transferred to RAS (Voluntary) to end December 2011

Total RS transfers to Voluntary, Unsold Afford. and Private to end December 2011

Total No. of RS cases socially housed to end December 2011

Total RS cases transferred to Private/ Voluntary/ Unsold Affordables and socially housed to end December 2011

Carlow Co. Cl.

391

0

89

480

204

684

Cavan Co. Cl.

287

0

89

376

298

674

Clare Co. Cl.

374

0

98

472

235

707

Cork City Cl.

745

0

259

1,004

974

1,978

Cork County Cl.

821

0

449

1,270

1,225

2,495

Donegal Co. Cl.

322

0

277

599

1,437

2,036

Dublin City Cl.

1,688

62

693

2,443

703

3,146

Dublin South Co. Cl.

1,347

1

91

1,439

1,118

2,557

Dun/Rathdown CC

512

0

116

628

548

1,176

Fingal Co. Cl.

719

96

138

953

847

1,800

Galway City Cl.

650

0

217

867

361

1,228

Galway Co. Cl.

370

0

170

540

274

814

Kerry Co. Cl.

726

0

78

804

624

1,428

Kildare Co. Cl.

421

0

125

546

582

1,128

Kilkenny Co. Cl.

344

0

337

681

345

1,026

Laois Co. Cl.

165

0

96

261

183

444

Leitrim Co. Cl.

109

0

26

135

100

235

Limerick City Cl.

615

0

102

717

164

881

Limerick Co. Cl.

257

0

245

502

256

758

Longford Co. Cl.

400

0

0

400

95

495

Louth Co. Cl.

242

0

79

321

858

1,179

Mayo Co. Cl.

598

0

394

992

334

1,326

Meath Co. Cl.

167

55

118

340

317

657

Monaghan Co. Cl.

176

0

135

311

184

495

Nth Tipperary Co. Cl.

427

0

52

479

236

715

Offaly Co. Cl.

215

40

47

302

242

544

Roscommon Co.Cl.

364

0

86

450

347

797

Sligo Co. Cl.

343

0

177

520

209

729

Sth Tipperary Co. Cl.

572

0

96

668

428

1,096

Waterford City Cl.

395

0

271

666

360

1,026

Waterford Co. Cl.

265

0

39

304

279

583

Westmeath Co. Cl.

397

0

17

414

205

619

Wexford Co. Cl.

498

0

103

601

918

1,519

Wicklow Co. Cl.

373

0

34

407

377

784

Totals

16,295

254

5,343

21,892

15,867

37,759

Urban Renewal Schemes

Dessie Ellis

Question:

319 Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the status of Ballymun Shopping Centre, Dublin, which was to be replaced as part of the regeneration project; the progress made in this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6453/12]

Ballymun Regeneration Limited (BRL) and Dublin City Council are continuing to explore all options to further the economic objectives of the Ballymun Masterplan, including the redevelopment of the privately owned Ballymun Shopping Centre and the adjoining lands owned by the City Council. Planning permission for the redevelopment of the centre and adjoining lands was granted in September 2009. The proposed redevelopment did not proceed at the time due to the prevailing economic conditions. However, provision of commercial, retail and other services in Ballymun, and at this prominent site in particular, remains very important within the context of the overall regeneration programme.

Social and Affordable Housing

Eric J. Byrne

Question:

320 Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his views on the many different formulas for calculating persons’ eligibility for housing; his further views that it is wrong that Dublin City Council has one system which is completely different to the adjoining South Dublin County Council area’s method of calculating persons entitlements for social housing; his further views that there is an urgent need to review the methodology used throughout the entire country so that there is a single, common formula that is used throughout the entire country as opposed to the formulas that currently exist in each different area and that this new method is fair, equitable and transparent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6475/12]

Sections of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2009 dealing with social housing support, and related Social Housing Assessment Regulations, 2011, were commenced on 1 April 2011. The Regulations contain national eligibility criteria, including maximum income limits. These mandatory criteria must be applied by all housing authorities in assessing a household's eligibility for social housing support.

The new arrangements seek to streamline the process of applying for social housing support, both for the applicant and the local authority, while at the same time allowing a reasonable level of choice to households as to the areas in which they would like to receive social housing support. The new system includes a requirement that applicants may only make an application for housing support to a single housing authority for the purpose of determining whether or not they have a housing need. It requires completion of a new standard application form and provides maximum net income limits according to the area of application.

The ultimate aim of the new system is to provide a fair, consistent and transparent approach to eligibility for social housing support across the country and I am satisfied that the provisions are generally working well. My Department is currently reviewing the operation of the new regulations and, when the review is finalised, will implement any changes necessary.

Local Authority Charges

Joan Collins

Question:

321 Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the number of households who have registered for the €100 household charge to date in 2012 under the following headings (details supplied) and broken down by local authority areas in tabular form. [6476/12]

The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 and the Local Government (Household Charge) Regulations 2012 provide the legislative basis for the household charge. Under the legislation, an owner of a residential property on the liability date of 1 January 2012 is liable to pay the household charge, unless otherwise exempted or entitled to claim a waiver. The household charge is on a self-assessment basis and it is a matter for an owner of a residential property on the liability date to determine if he/she has a liability and, if so, to declare that liability and pay the household charge.

The Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) is administering the household charge system on a shared service/agency basis for all county and city councils. I understand, from data provided by the LGMA, that as of 3 February, 2012, a total of 75,050 properties were registered for the household charge and that it has been paid in full in respect of 61,669 properties while 13,381 are making payment by direct debit in four instalments. The LGMA does not have the sub national details of the registrations sought in the Question.

Question No. 322 answered with Question No. 305.
Question No. 323 answered with Question No. 309.

Hazardous Waste

Micheál Martin

Question:

324 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the reason the southern part of Haulbowline Island and other polluted parts of the island will not be covered by the steering group’s Environmental Protection Agency licence application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6499/12]

Micheál Martin

Question:

325 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his plans for the polluted parts of Haulbowline Island outside of the eastern tip; and when these plans will be implemented. [6500/12]

Micheál Martin

Question:

326 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if studies have been undertaken on pollution seepage from sites other than the eastern tip into other parts of Haulbowline Island. [6501/12]

Micheál Martin

Question:

327 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government when the decision to exclude the southern part of Haulbowline Island from the Environmental Protection Agency licence application process was taken; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6502/12]

Micheál Martin

Question:

328 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if the decision to exclude the southern part of Haulbowline Island from the Environmental Protection Agency licence application was his decision or made by the steering group; if he will make a decision on the matter. [6503/12]

Micheál Martin

Question:

329 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if the decision to exclude the southern part of Haulbowline Island from the Environmental Protection Agency licence application process was discussed by the steering group or subgroups before and after the decision was made; and if so, the number of occasions. [6504/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 324 to 329, inclusive, together.

There is an unauthorised hazardous waste site (known as the East Tip) within the site of the defunct steel works at Haulbowline, County Cork. Irish Ispat, the last company to operate the steel works, applied for, and was granted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an Integrated Pollution Control (IPC) licence. However, the company went into liquidation in June 2001 before the conditions in the licence could be met and the liquidator applied to the High Court seeking to disclaim the IPC licence. In its judgment on 29 July 2004, the Court found as a matter of fact that the IPC licence was granted after the company had ceased production of steel and that the conditions of the licence could not be applied retrospectively.

In 2003 the State, acting through my Department in a co-ordinating role, took over custody of the site from the liquidator as mandated by Government. The mandate required my Department to, inter alia, cover issues such as ongoing site security, ongoing maintenance, and other issues arising once the site was vacated by the liquidator and also to enable a site investigation to be carried out to determine the best option, economically and environmentally, for site remediation.

Following a complaint relating to the failure to ensure that the site was covered by a waste permit, the European Commission sought information from the Irish authorities on 7 May 2009 through the EU Pilot complaint system on the measures being taken to ensure that the waste was covered by a valid waste permit. In this request, the Commission cited the judgment in European Court of Justice Case C494/01. In an additional Letter of Formal Notice in October 2010, in relation to deliverables required of the State to close Case C494/01, the European Commission cited the unauthorised hazardous waste site within the site of the defunct steel works at Haulbowline, County Cork — the East Tip. It stated that it was evident from the response that no waste permit is in place for the sludge pit although it relates to an industrial site that was functioning up to 2001 (i.e. over a period when the Directive was applicable). The Waste Framework Directive applies to waste deposited after 1977 and the State is obliged to ensure that all such waste deposited since 1977 is covered by a valid waste permit.

Following Government consideration, my colleague the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Mr. Simon Coveney TD, on 27 June 2011 announced the establishment of a Steering Group to oversee an application for a licence to the EPA to address the issue raised by the Commission in its Letter of Formal Notice and to oversee any necessary remedial action required. The Steering Group is chaired by Minister Coveney and also comprises representatives of the Departments of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Defence, Public Expenditure and Reform, my Department and the Office of Public Works. Cork County Council has agreed on behalf of the State to prepare the licence application, under the supervision of the Steering Group. The timeline and outline of proposed works in this regard are set out on the Council's website,www.corkcoco.ie.

In so far as the South Tip is concerned, the waste in that location was deposited in the 1960's and, therefore, is not covered by waste legislation licensing requirements. However, Cork County Council will in due course be reviewing the data which exists and will carry out a risk assessment based on that data. The outcome of that risk assessment, which will take account of the relevant EPA Code of Practice and will be incorporated into the overall programme of works to be undertaken under the aegis of the Steering Group chaired by Minister Coveney, will inform decisions on what actions may be required in relation to the South Tip.

Water Charges

Stephen S. Donnelly

Question:

330 Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the prices charged to domestic and to business consumers for water in each county or local authority district here; if he will explain the variation in prices; if there exists or is in development any policy that will standardise same; and the guidelines in place for local authorities to ensure that the pricing of water is fair and reasonable. [6616/12]

In 1998, the then Government approved a Water Pricing Policy which required the local authorities to recover the cost of providing water services from non-domestic users of these services. Detailed guidance on the implementation of the policy was issued by my Department to local authorities between 1998 and 2004. The policy provides for cost recovery without profit, with charges based on actual metered consumption. The volumetric rates for water and waste services are set each year by each local authority based on the cost of service delivery within their functional area. The determination of the consolidated charge is a function of the local authorities and the charges being applied in 2012 are available from the local authorities. TheProgramme for Government provides for the reform of water services delivery including the establishment of Irish Water, a new State-owned water company and the introduction of a fair funding model to deliver clean and reliable water. The Memorandum of Understanding with the EU, the IMF and the ECB also contains commitments for the reform of water services delivery and operation and the introduction of domestic water charges. The Government is also proposing to establish an independent economic regulator for water within the Commission for Energy Regulation. The regulator will be responsible for setting a clear determination of the efficient costs for the provision of water and waste water service and ensuring efficiencies are driven and costs for customers reduced.

On 16 January 2012, I commenced a public consultation on the Government's proposals for reform of water services delivery in Ireland, including metering and water charges, seeking views from the public on the establishment of a public water utility and the introduction of domestic water charges. The details of the consultation process can be found on my Department's website and submissions can be made to my Department until 24 February 2012.

Services for People with Disabilities

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

331 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he has given approval to Monaghan County Council and a housing association (details supplied) to move to the next stage in the development of a group home for women with physical and sensory disabilities at Carrickmacross, County Monaghan; the projected timeframe for the next phase of the planning process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6619/12]

My Department's involvement with voluntary and co-operative housing schemes relates primarily to the provision of funds for individual projects. The detailed administration of the schemes, and the certification that projects comply with the terms and conditions of the funding schemes, are the responsibility of the relevant local authority.

Monaghan County Council recently submitted revised proposals under my Department's Capital Assistance Scheme (CAS) for a group home for people with physical and sensory disabilities at Carrickmacross. These proposals are currently under consideration.

I will, in the context of an examination of existing programme commitments under CAS, give consideration to the financial scope for new CAS projects during 2012. It will be a matter for Monaghan County Council to prioritise projects locally having regard to the relevant merit of any proposals received and the extent to which they meet housing need.

Local Authority Staff

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

332 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide a detailed breakdown of the number of local authority workers who have availed of the Croke Park early retirement scheme including their grade and the local authority for whom they work in tabular form. [6657/12]

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

334 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the number of staff within local government seeking to avail of the early retirement scheme by their local authority and grade. [6670/12]

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

335 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the number of staff that have availed of the early retirement scheme across local authorities in County Donegal. [6680/12]

Dessie Ellis

Question:

346 Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the number of local authority staff who have availed of the Croke Park early retirement scheme from the north west area of Dublin City Council. [6819/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 332, 334, 335 and 346 together.

My Department is collecting data on retirement figures from local authorities on a fortnightly basis at present. Based on the most recent figures, a total of 120 local authority employees have retired in the period 1 January 2012 to 27 January 2012 and a further 739 employees have notified local authorities of their intention to retire in the period 28 January, 2012 to 29 February, 2012. The total figure of 859 represents a significant increase on the previous figure of 755.

A breakdown by local authority of the numbers who have retired or notified their intention to do so is provided in table 1 below. A breakdown by grade of the numbers that have retired is provided in table 2 below:

Numbers of Retirements from 01 January 2012 to 27 January 2012 inclusive

Numbers of Retirement Notices on hand where the notice of retirement is from 28 January 2012 to 29 February 2012 inclusive

Total

City Councils

Cork

3

24

27

Dublin

23

145

168

Galway

1

7

8

Limerick

1

19

20

Waterford

3

8

11

County Councils

0

Carlow

0

7

7

Cavan

2

22

24

Clare

1

20

21

Cork

2

46

48

Donegal

3

37

40

Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown

3

18

21

Fingal

6

32

38

Galway

7

23

30

Kerry

1

21

22

Kildare

4

16

20

Kilkenny

1

14

15

Laois

3

11

14

Leitrim

2

10

12

Limerick

8

24

32

Longford

0

9

9

Louth

2

8

10

Mayo

8

24

32

Meath

0

16

16

Monaghan

1

14

15

Offaly

2

4

6

Roscommon

2

8

10

Sligo

1

9

10

South Dublin

12

43

55

Tipperary North

4

13

17

Tipperary South

2

17

19

Waterford

3

15

18

Westmeath

3

9

12

Wexford

4

25

29

Wicklow

2

21

23

Total

120

739

859

Breakdown by grade of those who have retired from 01 January 2012-27 January 2012 inclusive

City Councils

Cork

General Operative (1)

Water Production Attendant (1)

Park Ranger (1)

Dublin

Administrative Officer (1)

Assistant Community Officer (1)

Assistant Staff Officer (1)

Building Inspector (1)

Clerical Officer (1)

Senior Executive Officer (1)

Senior Housing Officer (1)

Senior Staff Officer (1)

Sheltered Housing Liaison Officer (1)

Superintendant of Building Works (1)

Assistant Foreman (1)

Chargehand(1)

Firefighter (2)

Foreman (2)

Painter (1)

General Operative (5)

Sub Officer (1)

Galway

Clerical Officer (1)

Limerick

Craftsman (1)

Waterford

Clerical Officer (1)

Driver (1)

City Hall Superintendant (1)

County Councils

Carlow

Nil

Cavan

Craftsman (1)

Driver (1)

Clare

Retained Firefighter (1)

Cork

Executive Planner (1)

Plumbers Helper (1)

Donegal

Senior Engineer (1)

Senior Staff Officer (1)

Multi Skilled (1)

Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown

Senior Executive Parks Superintendant (1)

Assistant Staff Officer (1)

Clerical Officer (1)

Fingal

Administrative Officer (2)

Librarian (1)

Senior Librarian (1)

Library Attendant (1)

Ganger (1)

Galway

Assistant Staff Officer (1)

Branch Librarian (1)

Executive Engineer (1)

Executive Planner (1)

General Operative (1)

Craftworkers Mate (1)

Chargehand (1)

Kerry

Roads Foreman (1)

Kildare

Chief Technician (1)

Revenue Collector (1)

Settlement Worker (1)

General Services Supervisor (1)

Kilkenny

Driver (1)

Laois

Clerical Officer (2)

Fire Station Officer (1)

Leitrim

County Librarian (1)

Retained Firefighter (1)

Limerick

School Warden (2)

Retained Firefighter (1)

Senior Library Assistant (1)

Roads Foreman (1)

Ganger (1)

Craftworkers Mate (1)

Waterworks Caretaker Grade Three (1)

Longford

Nil

Louth

General Services Supervisor (1)

Craftworker (1)

Mayo

Assistant Staff Officer (1)

Foreman (1)

Ganger (1)

General Operatives (2)

Library Driver (1)

Waterworks Caretaker Grade Three (2)

Meath

Nil

Monaghan

General Operative (1)

Offaly

Foreman (1)

Semi Skilled (1)

Roscommon

Waterworks Caretaker (2)

Sligo

General Operative (1)

South Dublin

Staff Officer (2)

Water and Drainage Inspector (1)

Driver (1)

Ganger (1)

Craftworker (2)

Wheelie Bin Operative (2)

General Operative (2)

Park Ranger (1)

Tipperary North

Staff Officer (1)

County Librarian (SEO) (1)

Library Officers (2)

Tipperary South

Clerical Officer (1)

General Operative (1)

Waterford

Clerk of Works (1)

Foreman (1)

General Operative (1)

Westmeath

Assistant Staff Officer (1)

General Operative (1)

Life Guard (1)

Wexford

Drivers (2)

Waterworks Caretaker (1)

General Operative (1)

Wicklow

Driver (1)

General Services Supervisor (1)

Local Authority Charges

Jack Wall

Question:

333 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if a person (details supplied) is liable for the full rate of the household charge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6665/12]

I refer to the reply to Question No. 116 of 1 February, 2012, which sets out the position in this matter.

Questions Nos. 334 and 335 answered with Question No. 332.

Local Authority Housing

John McGuinness

Question:

336 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the grant schemes or other schemes available to local authority tenants to fully insulate their homes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6696/12]

In line with overall national policy which promotes a reduction in energy use, the enhancement of energy efficiency standards remains a priority within my Department's overall strategy for the improvement of local authority housing.

My Department does not operate a grant scheme in this regard for individual local authority tenants but under the Department's Social Housing Investment Programme, local authorities are allocated capital funding each year in respect of a range of measures to improve the standard and overall quality of their social housing stock. The programme includes a retrofitting measure aimed at improving the energy efficiency of older apartments and houses by reducing heat loss through the fabric of the building and the installation of high-efficiency condensing boilers.

Given the constraints on new local authority housing supply, it is important that the existing stock of local authority housing is available and in fit condition to meet housing need. Under the allocation to be made in respect of this year's programme there is a particular focus on returning vacant properties to productive use. Works to occupied units may also be carried out, from within the allocation provided, where the local authority considers this appropriate.

Planning Issues

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

337 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the legislation or statutory instrument by which he proposes to grant exemption from planning to householders who have to upgrade their waste water systems in order to comply with the provisions of the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6699/12]

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

338 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the EU directives or legislation, national legislation or statutory instrument by which he proposes to grant exemptions from environmental screening and environmental impact statements to householders who have to upgrade their waste water systems in order to comply with the provisions of the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6700/12]

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

339 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the legislation or statutory instrument by which he proposes to ensure that all householders no matter how small their site will be able to comply with the regulations under the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6701/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 337 to 339, inclusive, together.

I refer to the reply to Question Nos. 19 and 40 of 2 February 2012, which sets out the position in this matter.

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

340 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if householders will have to comply with EN 12566-3 as part of their obligations under the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6702/12]

The European standard EN 12566 is a suite of standards for wastewater treatment systems consisting of 7 parts of which parts 1, 3 and 4 are harmonised product standards. These standards set out the testing and factory production control regimes for septic tanks (Part 1 and 4) and packaged wastewater treatment systems (Part 3). Ireland recently set minimum performance levels for the tests in these standards through National Annexes which ensure that the products being used in Ireland are fit for purpose. The performance levels set are in line with current practice and are no more onerous than the existing requirements.

If a septic tank or biological treatment unit has to be replaced, for whatever reason, then the new product should conform with the relevant harmonised European Product standard and meet the requirements of the Irish National Annex.

There is no obligation under the Water Services (Amendment) Act 2012 to provide a specific type of on-site wastewater treatment unit.

Litter Pollution

David Stanton

Question:

341 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 20 of 20 October 2011, the amount made available under the anti-litter awareness grant scheme for 2012; the amount expended under this scheme in 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6707/12]

David Stanton

Question:

342 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 20 of 20 October 2011, regarding the €1 million funding available under the anti-litter awareness grant scheme in 2011, the number of submissions received from local authorities regarding the possible roll-out of adopt a road schemes in their functional areas; the total number who applied for funding of such schemes; the amounts subsequently allocated for these schemes; if he has received any applications from local authorities this year for adopt a road schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6708/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 341 and 342 together.

As stated in the previous reply referred to, under the Litter Pollution Acts 1997 to 2009 it is the function of local authorities to provide the primary response to littering. My Department's role is to provide the legislative framework for combating litter pollution, and to motivate and energise anti-litter responses as necessary.

The Anti-Litter Awareness Grant Scheme, which is administered by my Department, allows local authorities the opportunity to apply for grant funding for suitable projects such as adopt a road schemes. Under the scheme in 2011, I requested local authorities to examine and investigate the possible roll-out of adopt a road schemes in their functional areas, where practicable.

34 submissions were received from local authorities in respect of the €1 million funding which was made available in 2011 under the scheme and a total of €985,218 was paid out in grant assistance in respect of eligible projects. Of the 34 submissions received, 14 local authorities applied for and were allocated funding for adopt a road type projects. The total amount of funding provided for these projects was €91,042.

Details of the individual payments to local authorities for adopt a road projects in 2011 are set out in the table:

Local Authority Name

Individual Cost of Adopt a Road Schemes in 2011

Carlow County Council

€2,000.00

Cavan County Council

€3,000.00

Clare County Council

€1,800.00

Donegal County Council

€28,750.00

Fingal County Council

€10,392.00

Galway County Council

€5,300.00

Kerry County Council

€2,500.00

Leitrim County Council

€2,000.00

Louth County Council

€6,000.00

Meath County Council

€7,000.00

Roscommon County Council

€6,300.00

Tipperary South County Council

€4,000.00

Westmeath County Council

€7,500.00

Wicklow County Council

€4,500.00

Funding for the Anti Litter Awareness Grant Scheme is provided from the Environment Fund and the 2012 Environment Fund allocations are currently being finalised. Local authorities will then be invited to apply for grant aid for projects which meet the criteria set out in the Anti-Litter Awareness Grant Scheme. As in 2011, I will again be requesting local authorities to examine the further roll-out of additional adopt a road projects in their functional areas, where practicable.

Local Authority Charges

Jim Daly

Question:

343 Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he has given instructions to local authority managers to exercise discretion when collecting arrears for the non principal private residence charge for persons who genuinely cannot afford to pay or to persons living abroad who have not been aware of the charge to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6758/12]

The Local Government (Charges) Act 2009, as amended, broadened the revenue base of local authorities by introducing a charge on non-principal private residences. The charge is set at €200 and liability for it falls, in the main, on owners of rental, holiday and vacant properties.

Under the Act, it is a function of a local authority to collect non-principal private residence charges and late payment fees due to it and all charges and late payment fees imposed and payable to a local authority are under the care and management of the local authority concerned. In this regard, application of the legislation in particular circumstances is a matter for the relevant local authority. Interpretation of the legislation is a matter for legal advice in individual cases and ultimately a matter for the courts.

My Department is currently engaged with the City and County Managers' Association in the development of guidelines for local authorities in relation to the operation of the "care and management" provisions of the legislation. In particular, this guidance will deal with situations where significant arrears of non-principal private residence charges and late payment fees have arisen and where a person can demonstrate genuine hardship in having to discharge their liability in a single payment. In such cases, the guidelines will set out the modalities for local authorities, exercising their functions under the care and management provisions, including where payment of the outstanding liability in a single payment would result in hardship, entering into payment arrangements for the discharge of outstanding liabilities in instalments over a specified period.

Question No. 344 answered with Question No. 316.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

345 Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the reason residents of an estate (details supplied) in County Galway are not entitled to a waiver from the household charge in view of the fact that it is an unfinished estate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6818/12]

As part of the process of preparing the National Housing Development Survey 2011, published by my Department in October 2011, local authorities provided details of all unfinished housing developments in their areas. Unfinished housing developments were divided into four categories as follows:

Category one, where the development is still being actively completed by the developer, or where no serious public safety issues exist;

Category two, where a receiver has been appointed;

Category three, where a receiver has not been appointed and the developer is still in place but effectively inactive; and

Category four, where the development has been effectively abandoned and is posing serious problems for residents.

This categorisation formed the basis for the list of those unfinished developments eligible for a waiver on the annual household charge. Only households in developments in categories three and four are eligible for the waiver.

Question No. 346 answered with Question No. 332.

Waste Management

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

347 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government when a decision will be made on the future of the Poolbeg Incinerator, Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6845/12]

In accordance with the provisions of the Waste Management Acts, the preparation and adoption of a waste management plan, including in respect of infrastructure provision, is the statutory responsibility of the local authority or authorities concerned, and under section 60(3) of the Act the Minister is precluded from exercising any power or control in relation to the performance by a local authority, in particular circumstances, of a statutory function vested in it.

While I understand that the parties to the contract in respect of the Poolbeg facility are in a period of review, the project is being advanced by Dublin City Council, acting on behalf of the four Dublin local authorities. Accordingly, questions concerning the status of the project should be directed to the City Council.

Rural Development

Brendan Griffin

Question:

348 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 453 of 31 January 2012, if there will also be an increase in capping; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6886/12]

I assume the question refers to the €200,000 maximum grant aid currently allowable under the Rural Development Programme (RDP). Up until recently community projects could apply for grant aid of up to €500,000; however a State Aid issue identified in late 2011 resulted in the suspension of grant aid for any project with grant amount of €200,000 or more.

State aid refers to any aid granted by a Member State which distorts or threatens to distort competition by favouring certain undertakings or goods. EU Member States are required, under State Aid rules, to submit a notification to DG Competition in the European Commission (EC) when they propose to provide state support for schemes and programmes that could be considered to distort competition in any way. Commission Regulation EC 1998/2006 allows for aid of up to €200,000, known asde minimis aid, to be provided from public funds to enterprises over a period of three years as this amount is considered too small to have an effect on economic activity between competing forces.

In the original Rural Development Programme (RDP) document approved by the EC in July 2007 Ireland outlined that, as the aid to be granted under two of the Axis 3 measures of the RDP would not in any way distort competition, it would not constitute State Aid and would, therefore, not require notification to DG Competition. The measures concerned,Basic services for the economy and rural population —€49.61m and Village renewal and development —€54.2m provide support for non-commercial community based projects and focus particularly on community infrastructure.

Recently Ireland was notified by the EC that only DG Competition has the competence to judge whether or not state support can be deemed to be State Aid and that a State Aid notification in the context of these two measures should have been submitted when the original programme was being prepared in 2006/2007.

The notification process was not undertaken at the time of programme design and the EC now require Ireland to complete the notification process as soon as possible and obtain the necessary state aid clearance in order to proceed with projects requiring grant aid in excess of €200,000. As the consequences of non-compliance with State Aid rules are significant, particularly for project promoters, it is necessary to suspend the allocation and approval of projects with grant amounts of over €200,000 in order to avoid non-compliance.

The documentation for the State Aid notification has been submitted through the relevant EU notification systems. As soon as my Department receives the Commission decision we will notify all Local Development Companies.

Question No. 349 answered with Question No. 305.

Local Authority Housing

Willie Penrose

Question:

350 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will outline the current terms of the tenant purchase scheme including the eligibility criteria; the closing date for participation in this scheme; if a new scheme will be introduced to replace the existing scheme which will expire in December 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6888/12]

The current tenant purchase scheme, known as the 1995 Tenant Purchase Scheme, is provided for in section 90 of the Housing Act, 1966. The details of the scheme are set out in the legislation and in the associated regulations. Housing authorities have adopted Purchase Schemes to implement the scheme in their areas.

The criteria for a tenant purchasing a home under the tenant purchase scheme include that a tenant must have a period of reckonable tenancy of at least one year's duration. The Housing Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1997 provides that a housing authority may refuse to sell a dwelling to a tenant where the authority considers that the tenant is or has been engaged in anti-social behaviour or that a sale to that tenant would not be in the interest of good estate management. Certain classes of houses, as distinct from tenants, may be excluded from sale under the Regulations and in accordance with the provisions of individual tenant purchase schemes adopted by housing authorities.

There is no specific expiry date yet set for the 1995 Scheme. However, it remains the intention, as announced in 2010, that the tenant purchase arrangements be wound down in 2012 to be replaced by a new scheme based on the incremental purchase model. This change will require amending legislation. Details of the proposed new scheme and the arrangements for winding down the 1995 scheme will be announced when proposals are further advanced. My Department has reminded housing authorities to inform all existing tenants of houses of the decision to end the tenant purchase scheme in 2012 so that they have sufficient time to apply to purchase their home under the existing scheme if they so wish.

Question No. 351 answered with Question No. 309.

Local Authority Charges

Niall Collins

Question:

352 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will clarify a specific issue (details supplied) in regard to the €100 property tax. [6935/12]

I assume the Question is referring to the household charge.

The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 and the Local Government (Household Charge) Regulations 2012 provide the legislative basis for the household charge.

The Act places the household charge under the care and management of the local authorities, and application in particular circumstances is a matter for the relevant local authority. Interpretation of the legislation is a matter for legal advice in individual cases and ultimately a matter for the courts.

Section 2 of the Act sets out the meaning of "residential property" for the purposes of the Act. In particular, section 2(2)(d) of the Act provides that a building that is wholly used as a dwelling (other than a dwelling that forms part of a mixed hereditament within the meaning of the Local Government (Financial Provisions) Act 1978, and in respect of which local authority rates are payable, is not a residential property for the purposes of the household charge. There would be a liability in respect of a residential property that forms part of a mixed hereditament, within the meaning of the Local Government (Financial Provisions) Act 1978, unless otherwise exempted or entitled to a waiver.

Legislative Programme

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

353 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Justice and Equality with regard to the insolvency Bill, his plans to ensure that the lenders will have an obligation or incentives to accept them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6269/12]

The reform of personal insolvency law, the Heads of Bill which I have published, will involve the introduction of three new non-judicial debt settlement systems, subject to relevant conditions in each case. These are as follows:

A Debt Relief Certificate to allow for the full write-off of qualifying unsecured debt up to €20,000, after a one-year moratorium period for debtors with "no assets — no income";

a Debt Settlement Arrangement for the agreed settlement of unsecured debt of €20,001 and over with two or more creditors;

a Personal Insolvency Arrangement for the agreed settlement of both secured and unsecured debt of €20,001 to €3 million with one or more creditors. The Personal Insolvency Bill will also continue the reform of the Bankruptcy Act 1988, begun in the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011 and will include, critically, the introduction of automatic discharge from bankruptcy, subject to certain conditions, after 3 years in place of the current 12 years.

It is not for me to speculate as to the future conduct of any of the participants in an insolvency process. However, I am of the view that new personal insolvency laws, including the bankruptcy law reform, should provide a significant incentive for financial institutions to develop and implement realistic agreements to manage or settle debt with their customers. Such agreements should in time become the norm as the most sensible and cost-effective arrangements, particularly where the issue is one of dealing with repayment difficulties for a single major debt, secured or otherwise. These agreements could include measures to address mortgage arrears.

Jerry Buttimer

Question:

354 Deputy Jerry Buttimer asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to reform the law on mental capacity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6229/12]

I refer the Deputy to my response to Question No. 193 of 12 January 2012 in which I said that: "The Government Legislation Programme, published on 11 January 2012, indicates that the Mental Capacity Bill is expected to be published in this session. The Bill will reform the law on mental capacity taking into account the Law Reform Commission's Report on Vulnerable Adults and the Law. The enactment of new mental capacity legislation is one of the core elements of the remaining work to be completed towards ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities."

Garda Stations

Dara Calleary

Question:

355 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the total number of Garda stations here as at 31 December 2011; the number of these stations that have an e-mail address; his views that every Garda station should have a unique email connection; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6242/12]

I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that the total number of Garda Stations in the country at the end of 2011 was 703. I have been further informed by the Garda Commissioner that there are currently 421 networked Garda locations in the country. While not every Garda station is a networked location, every District and Divisional Headquarters is, therefore providing access to that network for every member of An Garda Síochána. All Garda stations which are not directly linked to the Garda network have secure voice communications to their local networked station which meets the current operational requirements.

Garda Strength

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

356 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding Garda numbers. [6252/12]

I am informed by the Garda Authorities that the personnel strength of the Kerry Division on the 31 December 2011, the latest date for which figures are readily available, was 314 which compares with 334 on the 31 December 2010 or a reduction of approximately 6%. As the Deputy will be aware, the allocation of resources, including personnel, vehicles and other equipment, is a matter for the Garda Commissioner in consultation with his senior management team. Reductions in Garda strength must be seen in the context of a wider programme aimed at reducing the size of the public service, and will contribute to reducing expenditure and complying with the terms of the EU-IMF agreement.

Today I have secured Cabinet approval for the appointment of 2 Assistant Garda Commissioners, 8 Chief Superintendents and 23 Superintendents, a total of 33 appointments to senior Garda ranks. All of the consequential vacancies at Sergeant and Inspector ranks will also be filled. I was very glad to secure the agreement of my colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, and the Cabinet as a whole for such a significant number of appointments. In seeking these promotions, I was conscious of the need to enable the Garda Commissioner to fill key positions in the senior ranks, and to maintain both the investigative and also the management and supervisory capacity of the Force.

Local Garda Management closely monitors the allocation of all resources in the context of crime trends, policing needs and other operational strategies in place on a District, Divisional and Regional level, to ensure optimum use is made of Garda resources, and the best possible Garda service is provided to the public. Senior- Garda Management is satisfied that a comprehensive policing service continues to be delivered and that current structures in place meet the requirement to deliver an effective and efficient policing service to the community. This situation will be kept under review.

While a policing service may not always be provided in the same way as it was in the past, it is no less effective and the commitment of An Garda Síochána to the community is not diminished. The importance of the partnership between An Garda Síochána and the community in preventing and detecting crime and maintaining a safe environment for everyone can never be over-emphasised and the pledge of An Garda Síochána is to continue to invest time and energy in those partnerships and relationships to the benefit of all.

Garda Stations

Catherine Murphy

Question:

357 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding the proposals to redevelop Clane Garda station, County Kildare, in view of the inadequate facilities for both staff and members of the public; if the station has been identified as a high accommodation priority by An Garda Síochána; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6303/12]

The programme of replacement and refurbishment of Garda accommodation is based on agreed priorities established by An Garda Síochána. This programme is progressed in co-operation with the Office of Public Works, who have responsibility for capital expenditure in relation to Garda accommodation. The Deputy will recall from the reply I gave to her in Parliamentary Question No. 130 on 1st December 2011 that proposals in relation to the refurbishment of Clane Garda station are being developed. The Garda authorities have indicated that these proposals will be taken forward with reference to An Garda Síochána's overall accommodation priorities and the availability of resources.

Proposed Legislation

Finian McGrath

Question:

358 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding legislation (details supplied). [6367/12]