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 13, inclusive, answered orally.

Road Traffic Offences

Willie O'Dea

Question:

14 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the action he will take to deal with the large number of foreign licence holders to whom penalty points cannot be attached; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8566/12]

The Deputy's question relates to the application of penalty points to foreign drivers licenses. Under the Road Traffic Act 2002, penalty points are required to be endorsed on the Irish driving licence record held on the National Vehicle and Driver File (NVDF) and a current driving licence is required to serve penalty points. or the majority of cases this endorsement takes place without difficulty against the relevant NVDF driver record. However, in relation to the Deputy's question where a person is the holder of a foreign licence and has NOT exchanged this licence for an Irish licence, the endorsement of the points on the NVDF is not currently possible. In such instances the penalty points record issuspended and the penalty points period does not “count down” in the fashion that applies to normal penalty points events.

By "counting down" I mean that in normal circumstances, when a person has penalty points applied to their licence, those penalty points are removed after three years. However, where they are not applied to a licence, they are suspended and do not "count down". Since a current Irish driving licence is required to serve penalty points, the points against the ‘holding' un-matched records are not counting down.

The 2010 Road Traffic moved to correct this anomaly and under Part 5 of that Act will allow the NVDF:

to create an official NVDF driver record for a person who amongst other issues, does not have an Irish licence record, or is the holder of a foreign licence; and

to record multiple penalty points events against a driver record created in any of the aforementioned circumstances;

Part 6 of the 2010 Act, which was commenced on 1 June 2010, expands the definition of a driving licence to include foreign driving licences so as to bring these within the scope of sanctions for road traffic offences including disqualifications.

Without the provisions of Part 5 of the Road Traffic Act 2010 these penalty points could remain indefinitely in this limbo which is an administrative arrangement to store the fact that the person has penalty points to be added to a licence record. In all these cases the NVDF issues a notification of penalty points to the driver in question so the driver is aware of the situation.

Part 5 of the 2010 Act and the associated provisions of Part 3, which deal with changes to the fixed charge system, have not yet been commenced due to administrative and technical issues. However, work is ongoing with both the Court Services and the Garda, including any necessary changes to IT systems, in order to commence the relevant sections of the 2010 Act.

When these provisions are implemented, penalty points will be applied to holders of foreign driving licenses, and they will be disqualified from driving in this State if they exceed 12 penalty points within a 3 year period.

Proposed Legislation

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

15 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to bring forward legislation that would comprehensively overhaul and modernise the road traffic laws that apply to cyclists; if not, if he will consider such a bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8561/12]

The Deputy's question relates to introducing new road traffic legislation as it pertains to cyclists. I am committed to supporting the continuing development of cycling as a core part of any effective transport policy recognising that it offers a healthy, affordable and environmentally friendly means of transport. Under the Programme for Government, we set out our commitment to continue investment in the National Cycle Policy. This is a broad framework aimed at providing a common, integrated basis for the long term development and implementation of cycling policies. In line with this commitment, my Department is investing in improvement of facilities and infrastructure for cyclists, as well as initiatives to promote and develop cycling.

Part of the National Cycling Policy Framework involves proposals for changes to legislation governing cycling, and legislative change to support cycling will be implemented where appropriate. The objective of legislative changes as stated in the Framework is to improve the safety of cyclists.

We have made good progress to date, including the amendment of bicycle lighting regulations to permit the use of flashing LED lights and the wider use by local authorities of the 30 kmph speed limits in core urban areas. The issues surrounding making it legal for cyclists to overtake on the left are being addressed in a set of Regulations being drafted at the moment and I hope to make the necessary amending Regulations later in the year. In these new regulations I shall also be removing the current mandatory requirement to use with-flow cycle lanes where provided. However I propose to retain the mandatory requirement to use contra-flow cycle tracks and cycle tracks in pedestrianised zones, in the interests of safety.

Tourism Promotion

Michael McGrath

Question:

16 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide an update on the current status of the Gathering initiative; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8589/12]

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

48 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when the Gathering will be formally launched; the mechanisms for community groups; and members of the public to get involved. [8872/12]

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

50 Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when the Gathering will be formally launched; and the way he intends community groups and members of the public to participate. [8628/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 16, 48 and 50 together.

The Deputies' questions relate The Gathering initiative. I presented proposals for "The Gathering 2013" at the Global Irish Economic Forum last October. Fáilte Ireland is the lead agency for the implementation of the initiative while Tourism Ireland Limited will have specific responsibility for promoting "The Gathering 2013" in overseas markets. The event is intended to be the biggest tourism initiative ever staged in Ireland and will consist of a year-long programme of festivals, events and other gatherings throughout the country, all of which will aim to attract overseas visitors.

The initiative is being overseen by a small, tightly-focused Project Board. This project board brings together representatives of the tourism bodies and my Department and includes other members with relevant expertise. The Chair of the Board is Ann Riordan (formerly Chair of Tourism Ireland and of Dublin Tourism, as well as previously working as Country Manager for Microsoft in Ireland) and the Board will oversee planning and delivery of the Gathering, supported by a small executive team drawn mainly from the tourism agencies alongside graduates under the JobBridge programme.

They will be supported by a Council of Champions, which will act as a forum to engage the wider community at home and abroad. Tim O'Connor, former Secretary-General to the President, will act as Chair of the Council of Champions and is also a member of the Project Board. The Project Board is currently finalising the Business Plan for "The Gathering 2013" which will cover the scope of the event and detail how interested parties can participate in it. It is planned that the event will be formally launched internationally over the course of the St. Patrick's Day festivities next month. It will be launched domestically in April at which point a mechanism will be put in place to allow communities and members of the public to contribute to The Gathering.

An additional €5m is being provided to Fáilte Ireland this year and is being ring-fenced for preparations for The Gathering. This additional allocation will more than reverse the original planned cut in Fáilte Ireland's current expenditure budget for 2012.

Question No. 17 answered with Question No. 12.

Property Transfers

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

18 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will consider co-ordinating with the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government and transfer ownership of the empty harbour court building owned by the Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company into the ownership of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council for amenity use; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8868/12]

The Deputy asked me a similar question regarding this building in June 2011. My response at the time was that I was not aware of any proposal to transfer this building and this remains the case today.

Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company is a State commercial port company established and operating pursuant to the Harbours Act 1996-2009. Section 15 of that Act states:

"A decision by a company to acquire any land or to dispose of any of its land (whether by sale or the grant of a lease) shall only be made by the directors of the company."

Therefore, this is a matter for the Directors of the Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company and it is not one in which I have any role.

Job Creation

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

19 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the degree to which he has identified the prospects for employment expansion and new job creation throughout the sectors under his remit; the extent to which he expects to be in a position to achieve particular targets in this regard in the next four to five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8713/12]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

262 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which he continues to engage with stakeholders in the industries under his aegis with a view to the maximisation of job creation opportunities and consequent reduction in unemployment levels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9103/12]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

267 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which he has received communication from the transport sector in the matter of identification of cost factors likely to inhibit growth or development in the industry; the measures taken or likely to be taken to address such; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9108/12]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

268 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which transport, tourism and sport is being interlinked with a view to maximising benefit in the context of employment creation in the tourism sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9126/12]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

271 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the degree to which he has examined the tourism and transport sectors with a view to identification of maximum potential for growth on an annual basis over the next four years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9129/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 19, 262, 267, 268 and 271 together.

The Deputy's questions relate to the employment prospects from the various sectors under my Department's remit. The Action Plan for Jobs was published on Monday last and sets out a co-ordinated Government approach to job creation. It places a particular emphasis on tourism as one of the key areas for the generation of employment. Transport demand on the other hand is primarily derived from the outputs of the other economic sectors. In addition to directly generated jobs on transport projects, increased employment in the transport sector will flow from increased economic activity generally.

The main actions in the plan relating to the transport, tourism and sport sectors are as follows:

The targeting by Fáilte Ireland of capital grants from the €21 million fund available to it to develop new tourism attractions and to upgrade existing ones;

Preparations for ‘The Gathering 2013' initiative which aims to attract an additional 325,000 visitors to Ireland in 2013;

Delivery of a new round of the Sports Capital Programme;

The development of niche tourism activities and products where Ireland has a comparative advantage;

Selected road and public transport projects with a clear impact on economic development, competitiveness and market access;

A review of public transport regulation to identify the potential to reduce costs;

The continuing offer to abolish the remaining €3 travel tax subject to acceptable commitments from the carriers to additional inbound flights to Ireland;

Use of the €40 million Tourism Marketing fund to focus on the four core source markets of Great Britain, the United States, Germany and France which are essential to supporting employment in the sector;

Participation in key trade missions to promote tourism;

Continuation of Fáilte Ireland support for training and building business capability.

In developing its overall policy approach under the Action Plan, the Department consulted with a range of stakeholders. I am confident that the actions under the transport,tourism and sport sectors will contribute to the overall objective in the Plan of creating 100,000 jobs by 2016.

Tourism Promotion

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

20 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the efforts he has made with the relevant agencies to maximise the tourism potential for Ireland of the European Football Championships; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8597/12]

The Deputy's question relates to the tourism potential for Ireland arising from this summer's European Football Championship.

Obviously the main tourism implications for Ireland of this year's European Football Championships will be related to the number of Irish supporters travelling to Poland and the Ukraine for the tournament and the extent to which carriers and others may focus on outbound traffic from Ireland to those countries for the duration of the event. The event may, however, provide some opportunities to encourage overseas visitors to come to Ireland in the future. As the Deputy will be aware, Tourism Ireland is the agency responsible for the overseas promotion of Ireland as a tourist destination. I understand that the agency is exploring a range of possible initiatives to maximise the tourism potential for Ireland. This is an operational matter for Tourism Ireland and I have referred the Deputy's question to the agency for direct reply. Please advise my private office if he does not receive a reply within ten working days.

Road Network

Sean Conlan

Question:

21 Deputy Seán Conlan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will, in line with proposals from the haulage industry, increase the motorway speed limit for heavy goods vehicles from 80 km/h to 90 km/h; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8625/12]

Sean Conlan

Question:

49 Deputy Seán Conlan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on increasing the motorway speed limit for heavy goods vehicles from 80 km/h to 90 km/h; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8626/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 21 and 49 together.

These questions relate to proposals to increase the motorway speed limit for heavy goods vehicles from 80 kph to 90 kph.

Under the Road Traffic (Ordinary Speed Limits — Buses, Heavy Goods Vehicles ) Regulations, 2008, a speed limit of 80 kilometres per hour is prescribed in respect of the operation of non-passenger carrying vehicles in excess of 3,500 kilograms. (i.e. heavy goods vehicles) on all public roads.

Maximum HGV motorway speed limits vary within the EU. Ireland, along with 12 other Member States, imposes a maximum speed limit of 80 kilometres per hour, some others allow HGVs to travel at 90 kilometres per hour, while the UK allows speed limits equivalent to 96 kilometres per hour.

In response to a request from the road haulage industry, I have been examining suggestions that the limit should be increased to 90 kilometres per hour on motorways and dual carriageways. There are technical, environmental, engineering and safety considerations to be examined in relation to this proposal, including consultation with the relevant bodies. The Road Safety Authority and the National Roads Authority have indicated that they have no objections to this change. I plan to progress this issue over the course of the next few weeks.

Ferry Services

Martin Ferris

Question:

22 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the efforts he made to ensure the future viability of the Cork to Swansea, UK, ferry service; the estimated impact of the loss of that service for the Cork and Kerry tourism industry; and his plans to address this issue. [8604/12]

I am disappointed to learn that the Cork-Swansea Ferry Service, operated by the Fastnet Line, has ceased to operate. I met the West Cork Tourism Co-op on 17 January when they outlined their plans for the future of the service. As a first step, the co-op advised me of the overriding requirement to secure further investment to bring the enterprise out of examinership.

I advised the co-op at the time that the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and the State Agencies under its remit had no function in the subsidisation or provision of ferry services for this or other routes or indeed the finance to do so.

That said and within the strict confines of EU State Aid rules, the State Tourism agencies have been supportive of the ferry service since its inception. In particular, they have provided co-operative marketing support, offered a range of business supports and Fáilte Ireland certified the venture for Business Expansion Scheme funding. I know that in recent months the State tourism agencies had more discussions with the operators and were assisting them in putting together a marketing plan. Further general business supports were also offered to the company which were intended to assist the service in securing sales and improving yields had it been able to exit the examinership process.

Regrettably the company was not able to reach a position where it could have availed of those supports. I accept that the loss of the service is likely to have some impact on tourism in the southern region.

Road Traffic Offences

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

23 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will be facilitating the public in reporting speed limit issues in view of the review of limits statewide. [8618/12]

My Department will shortly engage with the National Roads Authority and local authorities throughout the country with a view to ensuring that a nationwide audit of speed limits takes place. The aim of this audit is to examine and improve, where appropriate, the application by local authorities of speed limits and speed limit signage throughout the country, in accordance with my Department's "Guidelines for the Application of Special Speed Limits” issued last year.

As the application of speed limits on specific roads is a local authority matter, I would encourage members of the public, who wish to report speed limit issues, to contact their relevant city or county council.

Tourist Statistics

Sandra McLellan

Question:

24 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide a detailed breakdown of the tourists visiting the east Cork region during 2011; the major attractions that they visited; the obstacles he perceives to greater growth of this sector in this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8603/12]

The collection of statistics are primarily a matter for the Central Statistics Office (CSO). I understand that the CSO does not provide a regional breakdown of statistics in their monthly "Overseas Travel" publication. I am aware that Fáilte Ireland, provides an estimated regional breakdown of overseas visits on an annual basis, based on research of its own as well as available CSO statistics. The most recent full year figures are for 2009 with provisional figures available for 2010. The data is available, on a regional and county basis, under Tourism Facts/Tourism Regions in the Research and Statistics section of thewww.failteireland.ie website.

In regard to 2011 figures, I have asked Fáilte Ireland to provide the Deputy with whatever information they may have of the number of tourists to East Cork during 2011 together with the attractions they visited. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

The main obstacles to growth in the tourism sector in East Cork are similar to those in the rest of the country, namely the difficult economic conditions in our key source overseas markets and here in Ireland.

The Government is assisting the sector, in particular by maintaining in 2012 the VAT rate cut introduced in the Jobs Initiative in 2011. There is also provision in 2012 for expenditure of more than €138 million on tourism services across a diverse range of activities including overseas and domestic marketing, investment in the development of our tourism product and providing tourism enterprises with a range of business supports.

Road Network

Catherine Murphy

Question:

25 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if the National Intermodal Journey Planner will be fully delivered by April 2012 as previously indicated; the company which was engaged to develop the National Public Transport Access Nodes Database; the terms of this contract; the amounts paid in fees or projected to be paid in fees in respect of same; the reason the Dublin bikes scheme is not included in the first roll-out of the NIJP; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8873/12]

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. In the Greater Dublin Area (GDA}, funding for the implementation and development of public transport infrastructure projects, such as the National Intermodal Journey Planner, is provided by my Department to the National Transport Authority (NTA) for allocation to projects and programmes.

Noting this I have referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you don't receive a reply within 10 working days.

Question No. 26 answered with Question No. 12.

Parking Regulations

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

27 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will consider devolving powers to local authorities to make by-laws to enable partial footpath parking in limited circumstances that would take into account specific criteria such as ensuring that one side of the road path was left free, ensuring that paths that were made available to residents only with no other local option available, and ensuring that all other parking options have been exhausted before enabling any such by-laws; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8560/12]

There is a substantial history of correspondence on this matter between my Department and Dublin City Council in particular, going back well before my own time as Minister, and I have myself considered this question and corresponded with that Council on the issue. As I have indicated in my correspondence with the Council, I am satisfied that the arguments for revising the regulations to permit partial parking are outweighed by the arguments in favour of retaining the current regulations.

The implementation of footpath parking would require a detailed examination in each individual case, and the number of locations which would satisfy the criteria addressed would most likely be fairly limited. The crucial point is that footpaths are provided for the safety of pedestrians and to segregate, by kerb, vulnerable road users from passing or parking traffic on the roadway. Safety must be the number one concern in any consideration of traffic and parking regulations, and pedestrians are innately vulnerable road users. There is also the consideration that footpaths are not constructed to the same specifications as roads and are not built to bear the weight of vehicles. I appreciate that the Deputy is suggesting a very limited and circumscribed application of partial parking, but I believe that the considerations I have set out still apply, and a very restricted application of partial parking might in fact promote confusion on the part of road users.

It remains a matter for local authorities to apply whichever of the legally permitted range of parking arrangements they consider most appropriate on any given street. For my part, as the Minister responsible for making the regulations which provide them with that range of options, I am satisfied that changes to allow for partial parking on pavements would entail significant risk for minimal benefit.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

28 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which he and his Department have identified carbon reduction targets for the transport and tourism sectors over the next four years; the extent to which he expects to achieve any such targets during the period in question; the extent to which possible benefit in terms of reduced liabilities under carbon trading in the context of any such progress; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8712/12]

There is no specific carbon reduction target for the transport sector but the sector has been contributing to reductions in emissions. The most recent EPA figures for greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector are for 2010, and these figures show that they have fallen from a peak of 14.33 million tonnes in 2007 to 11.76 million tonnes in 2010, representing a decrease of nearly 18%. A further decrease in emissions would be expected for 2011 and 2012.

Whilst much of this reduction in emissions can be attributed to the contraction of the economy, savings are also being made due to policies and measures such as mobility management schemes, and promoting modal shift to cycling. In particular the motor taxation and vehicle registration taxation rebalancing has encouraged the entry of more energy efficient new cars to the fleet, leading to significant reductions in the associated greenhouse gas emissions.

Beyond 2012, when the current commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol expires, the binding greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets which Ireland must meet under EU law relate to the period 2013-2020. Overall, the level of mitigation to be achieved by 2020 equates approximately to 20% below 2005 levels the achievement of which will represent a major challenge. Ireland's 2020 carbon reduction target is set across economic sectors. Identifying a sectoral target for transport runs counter to the principle of making the least cost carbon reductions across the economy.

An assessment of least cost-effective, additional measures across all sectors, including transport, in response to GHG emissions targets is being carried out by the NESC Secretariat.

Question No. 29 answered with Question No. 11.

Road Network

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

30 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide further details about proposals for a national audit of speed limits; the way this audit will be conducted; and the way he plans to implement its proposals. [8871/12]

My Department will shortly engage with the National Roads Authority and local authorities throughout the country with a view to ensuring that a nationwide audit of speed limits takes place. The aim of this audit is to examine and improve, where appropriate, the application by local authorities of speed limits and speed limit signage throughout the country, in accordance with my Department's "Guidelines for the Application of Special Speed Limits” issued last year.

As this work will involve extensive input from and engagement with the NRA and road authorities to reduce inconsistencies and the potential for driver confusion, it will take some time, but it is my intention to complete this project during the course of this year. I am determined that the necessary improvements should be implemented as soon as possible so as to further enhance road safety, saving lives and reducing serious injuries.

Cycle Facilities

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

31 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the initiatives being taken to support further development of public urban bike scheme similar to that in place in Dublin. [8612/12]

Recognising the success of the Dublin bikes scheme, the Programme for Government commits my Department to look to extend the scheme to other cities and integrate the scheme more effectively with public transport links.

Following an analysis, carried out at my request, on the potential for the extension of the Dublin bikes scheme to other cities, consultations on the potential for and means of securing new city bike schemes were launched in November 2011 with symposiums held in Cork, Galway, Limerick and Galway to inform and involve key business and civil stakeholders.

My Department and the National Transport Authority are considering the responses to those symposia, including how to address key issues identified such as the changed commercial environment to that which existed when the Dublin bikes scheme was negotiated and different characteristics of scheme provision in smaller cities. This will enable us to identify how best we can secure public bike schemes in other cities.

Tourism Promotion

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

32 Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on the establishment of a diaspora centre in Ireland as a tourist attraction. [8629/12]

There is significant potential for Irish tourism in the development of an appropriate centre focusing on the story of the Irish diaspora.

The Government's Infrastructure and Capital Investment Framework 2012-2016, published in November 2011, includes a commitment of support for a Diaspora Centre or Diaspora Museum should a suitable project and partner be available. Accordingly, I have recently asked Fáilte Ireland to carry out a scoping study on the development of such a centre and the most suitable means by which it could be financed, developed and managed.

Sport and Recreational Development

Derek Keating

Question:

33 Deputy Derek Keating asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views that organisations and voluntary groups involved in sport have a huge part to play in addressing the massive increase in self-harm and death by suicide; if there is any attention being given to this issue by him; is there any promotional material or training for sports organisations and sports leaders to give due attention to this issue and, along with the ethos of the various sports they are involved in, are they trained in dealing with disclosure, suspicion of or crisis intervention when it comes to their attention that self-harm and suicide is an issue with the members of their clubs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8621/12]

Investment in sport is based on our belief that it is an important part of our individual, community and national life. It can make a major contribution to some of our most pressing social and health issues, including mental health and suicide prevention. We all appreciate the important role that sport plays in our society in promoting healthy lifestyles, creating a sense of identity and belonging, channelling energy in rewarding activity and bringing people together.

I want to ensure that all people are encouraged and given opportunities to participate in sport and to enjoy all the benefits that sport can bring through developing a healthy lifestyle. In that context the Irish Sports Council, which is funded by my Department, has an allocation of almost €44.5 million in 2012.

The Department of Health is the Department with responsibility for prevention programmes in the area of self-harm and suicide. I am informed by the Irish Sports Council that while there is no specific training or promotion developed around this issue specifically for sport, a number of National Governing Bodies of Sport have availed of the HSE's Assist Programme, which has been developed specifically to support young people at risk of suicide or self-harm. For example, I understand that the GAA have trained a number of people under this scheme. In the case of individual athletes, where concerns are raised by coaches or service providers with the Irish Sports Council or the Institute of Sport, the athlete is, with their consent, referred to appropriate experts in the area of self-harm and suicide prevention.

Road Safety

Liam Twomey

Question:

34 Deputy Liam Twomey asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport in view of the significant reduction in road deaths achieved over the past few years, the priority issues he wants addressed in the next Road Safety Strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8631/12]

The current Road Safety Strategy 2007-2012 was drawn-up by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and identified a number of Actions to be completed by various stakeholder bodies in order to improve safety on our roads. The implementation of the Actions has contributed significantly to the reduction in road fatalities in recent years.

As a result, I have asked the RSA to work closely with my Department in drafting the next strategy, which will cover the period 2013 to 2020. In concluding the strategy, the RSA will consult widely with all relevant bodies before submitting the proposals to me later this year.

While it is too early to be precise about the priority issues, I expect that the next strategy, without taking the focus off road fatalities, will concentrate to a greater degree on the causes of collisions and on reducing serious injuries.

Tourism Promotion

Jim Daly

Question:

35 Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans for a role for the EDEN destinations in Ireland in the preparations to host events around the Gathering. [8633/12]

Jim Daly

Question:

51 Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has any plans to recognise and actively support the promotion of the EDEN destinations in Ireland in a bid to capitalise on the unique recognition afforded to these destinations by the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8632/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 35 and 51 together.

The matters raised are primarily operational ones for the State tourism agencies. Fáilte Ireland — as the National Tourism Development Authority — is the lead agency for organising "The Gathering 2013" and for promoting domestic tourism as well as destination development. Tourism Ireland has lead responsibility for promoting Irish tourism in overseas markets. I have referred the Deputy's Questions to both agencies for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Denis Naughten

Question:

36 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the steps he is taking to support tourism in the regions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8619/12]

The Government recognises that tourism is very important to all regions of Ireland. It employs an estimated 180,000 people spread throughout the country and much of this in rural areas.

The Government's Jobs Initiative last year placed the tourism and hospitality sector at the heart of our economic recovery, recognising its vital contribution to employment, economic activity and foreign revenue earnings. The VAT reduction on a range of labour-intensive tourism services from 13.5% to 9% with effect from 1 July 2011 enhances further the competitiveness of our tourism product. The Visa Waiver Scheme will encourage visitors from emerging markets to add Ireland to a trip to the UK. The Government has also significantly reduced the cost of employing people by halving employers' PRSI for those on modest wages.

In addition, the necessary structures to deliver "The Gathering 2013" — a major tourism initiative to attract overseas visitors to all parts of Ireland — are being put in place. This year will be critical in starting our marketing efforts to help achieve the target we have set of bringing an extra 325,000 visitors here.

We are seeing a recovery in overseas visitor numbers with year-on-year growth of just under 7% in the first eleven months of 2011.

Operational responsibility for promotion and development of tourism in individual regions, rests with the State tourism agencies. The Government is providing more than €138 million to support tourism in 2012 across a diverse range of activities including overseas and domestic marketing, investment in the development of tourism product and vital business supports to tourism enterprises. I am satisfied that the tourism agencies are pursuing the appropriate strategies to support the continued promotion and development of the sector at national and regional level.

Departmental Staff

Sandra McLellan

Question:

37 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of staff leaving his Department and the agencies operating under its aegis as part of the early retirement scheme in the period 1 September 2011 to 29 February 2012; the effect this will have on the delivery of services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8601/12]

Staff retiring before 29th February 2012 are not doing so under an early retirement scheme. They are retiring under normal retirement terms and conditions within the ‘Grace Period' in other words the period of time during which the calculation of public service pensions is unaffected by the pay reductions applied under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Act 2009.

In the period 1 September 2011 to date 15 staff have retired from my Department. A further 21 have applied to retire between now and 29th February 2012. While It must be acknowledged that the retirement of so many staff presents a challenge to the ability of the organisation to deliver the same level of service, every effort will be made to do so by using the flexibilities provided by the Public Service Agreement, increasing the use of ICT solutions and prioritising the business demands to ensure the Government's commitments are met.

I have asked the State agencies under the aegis of my Department to provide the Deputy with the information requested. If you do not receive a reply within ten working days, please contact my private office.

Question No. 38 answered with Question No. 13.

Road Safety

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

39 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will ensure that part of the funding for road safety awareness used by him and agencies funded by it, is used specifically to raise awareness of pedestrians as road users. [8615/12]

Advertising and education regarding road safety for all road users are the responsibility of the Road Safety Authority (RSA). My Department provides funding to the RSA in order to allow it fulfil its functions. While it is a matter predominantly for the RSA to decide the allocation of funding across its functions, I am aware that a considerable amount of its total income is allocated to education and awareness campaigns.

Following an extensive consultation process, the RSA concluded a Pedestrian Safety Strategy, in 2010, and is in the process of implementing the recommendations contained. I have referred the Deputy's question to the RSA for more detailed information. I would ask him to contact my office if he has not received a reply within ten days.

Departmental Funding

Michael Creed

Question:

40 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will review the manner in which the restoration improvement and other road grants to local authorities are allocated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8627/12]

The restoration improvement grant is one of a range of grants made to local authorities from Exchequer funds to assist them in the maintenance and improvement of approximately 91,000 kms of non-national roads across the country.

These grants are intended to supplement authorities' own funds. The allocation of funds from my Department, and previously from the Department of the Environment, has evolved over time to reflect changes in programmes and in the availability of funding. In recent times programmes have been changed or amalgamated to provide flexibility to the local authorities to meet their individual needs and to react to recent issues such as damage to roads and bridges caused by flooding and snow. All of the works on regional and local roads which are funded by my Department are in the first instance prioritised by individual local authorities.

In the next few months, I am due to receive the Pavement Conditions Study. This report will provide a comprehensive overview of the current status of our regional roads network.

Once I have received and considered this report, I will use it — in conjunction with other work my Department is carrying out — as the basis on which to carry out a full review of the current system of allocating the restoration improvement grant. This review will be to ensure that the allocation to individual county councils is equitable in terms of the length of road within each county and the usage of such roads. It will also acknowledge those local authorities which make best use of their allocation and supplement them adequately with their own.

Public Transport

Brian Stanley

Question:

41 Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will ensure that fares for public transport companies are not raised beyond that laid out as acceptable by his Department. [8614/12]

The issue raised is a matter for the National Transport Authority. I have referred the Deputy's question to the authority for direct reply. Please inform my private office if he does not receive a reply within ten working days.

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

42 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the public service obligation allocation for Dublin Bus in 2008 to 2012, inclusive; when he was last briefed by Dublin Bus management on the network direct programme; if he is satisfied with the way the programme has been implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8623/12]

The annual subvention for the provision of public service obligation (PSO) services by Dublin Bus is subject to contract between the company and the National Transport Authority (NTA) since 2009.

The amounts paid to the company in respect of PSO services since 2008 are as follows:—

2008 €85.63m;

2009 €83.20m;

2010 €75.68m;

2011 €73.04m.

I understand that the NTA has allocated an amount of €69.44m to Dublin Bus in respect of PSO services for 2012 in line with their contract.

As the Deputy will be aware, the operation and provision of services is a matter for the company itself in conjunction with the NTA. I am, however, supportive of the efforts of Dublin Bus to achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness under the Network Direct project. Given the losses recorded by the company in recent years and having regard to unavoidable constraints on the availability of Exchequer funds for PSO subvention, it is important that they deliver greater efficiency and effectiveness in order to safeguard the overall sustainability of public transport services in the future. Both I and my Department have had and will continue to have regular engagement with Dublin Bus on a range of issues.

Question No. 43 answered with Question No. 13.

Ministerial Appointments

Dessie Ellis

Question:

44 Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the rationale for the appointment of persons (details supplied); and the remuneration they are expected to receive. [8605/12]

The three appointees to the board of Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) were selected by me on the basis of the range of appropriate talents and experiences that they possess which I know will be of great benefit to the DAA and to the development of aviation generally in Ireland in these challenging times.

The annual remuneration payable to each director is €15,750 in accordance with Department of Finance instructions on fees payable to members of the boards of State bodies.

Public Transport

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

45 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will reverse the plans to cut or eliminate the 45 route; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8867/12]

The issue raised is a matter for Dublin Bus in conjunction with the National Transport Authority. I have referred the Deputy's question to the company for direct reply. Please inform my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Question No. 46 answered with Question No. 13.

Air Services

Joe Higgins

Question:

47 Deputy Joe Higgins asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on the occupation of Galway City Airport; and his further views that a decision to cut the subsidy to the airport precipitated a crisis for the airport and its workers. [8865/12]

I announced in June 2011 that I had secured Government approval for additional funding to be made available to all six regional airports in 2011, including Galway Airport. At that time the Government also decided that it would not be able to provide operational or capital funding to Galway or Sligo Airports from 2012 onwards. This was in line with the recommendations of the Value for Money Review of Expenditure on the Regional Airports Programme.

These decisions were based on the need to ensure the most effective use of scarce Exchequer resources to support the regional airports network serving the Irish public, both in terms of business and tourism. The aim being to ensure that Ireland has a sufficient network of regional airports, while taking into account significant improvement in road networks, shorter and more reliable journey times by road and rail and the collapse in passengers flying domestically.

In making that announcement, I encouraged Galway and Sligo Airports, as privately owned entities, to use the opportunity provided by the additional funding in 2011 to engage with various parties, including business interests, investors and local authorities, to secure their ongoing viability.

In December 2011, a total of over €5 million was allocated to the six regional airports to cover a portion of their operating costs incurred in 2011. This included a subvention of over €2 million to Galway Airport.

In addition, €200,000 was paid to Galway Airport in 2011 under the Regional Airports Capital Expenditure Grant, CAPEX, scheme.

This brings to €15.5m the total amount of funding paid to Galway Airport in the past 10 years under the OPEX and CAPEX Schemes.

I fully recognise the difficulties being experienced by Galway Airport but its future cannot be reliant on an ongoing subsidy from the State.

Question No. 48 answered with Question No. 16.
Question No. 49 answered with Question No. 21.
Question No. 50 answered with Question No. 16.
Question No. 51 answered with Question No. 35.

National Car Test

Seán Crowe

Question:

52 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide an update on work which has been done to ensure high standards at national car test centres. [8616/12]

Under the Road Safety Authority Act 2006 (Conferral of Functions) Order 2006 (S.I. No. 477 of 2006) the RSA has overall responsibility for the operation, oversight, development, quality assurance and delivery of vehicle testing arrangements. The testing function is carried out by Applus+, since January 2010, under a contractual arrangement with the RSA.

I am informed that immediately arising from the specific allegations in the May 2011 Primetime programmes, seven staff were suspended resulting in three members of staff being dismissed. Since then, investigations have resulted in the dismissal of five additional members of staff giving a total of eight staff being dismissed to date. Also, the volume of internal and independent inspections of NCTS has been stepped up in the last few months including an increased number of focused reviews based on risk factors and more targeted test re-inspections.

While details of many of the measures being implemented by Applus+ to address the issues raised must necessarily remain confidential, overall, there has been an increased focus on reducing the opportunity for fraud and improving the focus on specific investigations, while ensuring that staff are fully aware of their obligations and of the consequences of a failure to meet those standards. The goal is to further reduce the potential for fraudulent activities or incorrect test results in the future.

I am also informed that the criminal investigation in regard to alleged fraudulent activity at the National Car Testing Service is on-going and Applus+ is providing all the information and assistance required. The RSA has acted swiftly and proactively to address the issues raised in the Prime Time Investigates programme and will continue to take every possible action to tackle these issues head on.

Olympic Games

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

53 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the route and date on which the Olympic torch will travel through the State in June 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8599/12]

The International Olympic Committee agreed in December that the Olympic Flame will visit Dublin on 6 June as part of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay. Responsibility for all aspects of the visit of the Olympic Torch Relay to Ireland, including the relay route, rests with the Olympic Council of Ireland.

Road Network

Michael Colreavy

Question:

54 Deputy Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the way he will deal with obsolete bus lanes following the ending of certain services. [8617/12]

I am advised that recent bus network changes have meant that a number of bus lanes are no longer required. In such cases, it is a matter for the local authorities to determine the most appropriate traffic arrangements to put in place for the particular road. Within the Greater Dublin Area, the relevant local authority should liaise with the National Transport Authority (NTA) in relation to proposals for revised road layouts in these cases, and funding may be provided by the NTA for the implementation of appropriate proposals in certain cases.

Tourism Promotion

Michael Colreavy

Question:

55 Deputy Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the efforts he has made to ensure that Ireland is well placed to take advantage of the substantial international market for trails, walkways and cycleways; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8598/12]

The promotion and development of various tourism sectors and activities are operational matters for Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland. Accordingly, I have referred the Deputy's question to the tourism agencies for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Question No. 56 answered with Question No. 12.

National Substance Misuse Strategy

Patrick Deering

Question:

57 Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he is considering banning the sponsorship of sporting events and festivals by the drinks and alcohol industry; and if so, his plans to source alternative sponsorship arrangements. [8630/12]

The Steering Group Report on a National Substance Misuse Strategy published last week recommends that drinks industry sponsorship of sport and other large events in Ireland should be phased out through legislation by 2016. I fully support the central aim of the strategy in reducing the level of alcohol consumption in Ireland. However, I have serious concerns that a legislative ban on sponsorship would have negative consequences for sport and tourism. There are huge economic, social and health benefits accruing from sport. From a health perspective alone, there are clearly significant benefits for individuals and for our health system in maintaining and increasing participation levels in sport. One of the goals of my Department is to contribute to a healthier and more active society by promoting sports participation. However, it is important that funding is available to sports organisations to ensure that sport is maintained at grassroots level so that as many people as possible can participate.

I am also of the view that sport plays an important role in diverting young people away from alcohol. The financial support provided through sponsorship is integral to the availability of sport at grassroots level and I am concerned that placing constraints on the sporting organisations by eliminating the drinks industry as a source of sponsorship will have a negative impact on the development and availability of sport, particularly in the current economic climate. My Department will participate in the consultative process which will now take place on foot of the recommendations of the report.

Road Network

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

58 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the amount of money raised from toll roads around the State fines incurred between 2009 and to date in 2012. [8607/12]

The statutory power to levy tolls on national roads, to make toll by-laws and to enter into toll agreements with private investors in respect of national roads is vested in the National Roads Authority (NRA) under Part V of the Roads Act 1993 (as amended by the Planning and Development Act 2000 and the Roads Act 2007).

Clare Daly

Question:

59 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the reason the works in regard to the east-west interconnector have disrupted traffic between Ballyboughal and Oldtown, County Dublin, for more than 18 months; and when residents can expect that the roads will be repaired and the disruption cease. [8952/12]

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is a statutory function of each road authority within its area, in accordance with the provisions of section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on such roads are a matter for the relevant local authority to be funded from its own resources and may be supplemented by State road grants.

The re-instatement of roads excavated by contractors or utility companies and the management of traffic on such roads are a matter for the local authority and the individual contractor to resolve.

Summit Meetings

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

60 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has had any contact with the countries involved in the first UK-Nordic-Baltic summit; if he intends to apply for membership of the summit in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8915/12]

I am aware of the UK-Nordic-Baltic Summits which were held in London in January 2011, and inStockholm earlier this month, under the title "The Northern Future Forum". These are informal meetings, attended by representatives of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and Britain, and are organised outside European Union structures. Ireland was not invited to take part in the Summits and there has been no formal contact with the participants on the matter. Should the opportunity arise in the future, it will be of course be given serious consideration.

Departmental Staff

Thomas Pringle

Question:

61 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the numbers of persons employed in his Department and agencies thereof whose gross salary as of the latest date available was in each of the bands (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9032/12]

The tables give a breakdown of the number of employees in each salary band as of the most recently processed payroll (16 February 2012):

0-10k

11-20

20-30

30-40

40-50

50-60

60-70

0

97

265

304

144

120

36

70-80

80-90

90-100

100-115

115-125

125-150

150+

150

48

67

26

0

33

9

Salary payments for locally-engaged staff in missions abroad are administered locally and it is not possible to provide details of such payments in the time available.

There are no state agencies under the aegis of my Department.

Financial Services Regulation

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

62 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance if he will report on the events surrounding the removal of a person (details supplied). [8926/12]

The matter raised by the Deputy is a regulatory matter which does not fall within my remit as Minister for Finance. I am advised by the Central Bank that the matter referred to by the Deputy dates back to 1995 when credit unions were under the responsibility of the Registrar of Friendly Societies and not the Central Bank of Ireland. The Central Bank further advises that the matters raised by the individual concerned have been the subject of ongoing communications over many years and that it considers that the matters were addressed by the members of the credit union concerned at that time.

Mortgage Repayments

Clare Daly

Question:

63 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Finance the steps he will take with mortgage providers to request that they freeze all mortgage accounts of residents of Priory Hall, Dublin, with no effect on credit rating, pending resolution of the problems in the area. [8944/12]

Seán Kenny

Question:

70 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Finance the steps he will take with the Bank of Ireland, the EBS and the Bank of Scotland Ireland to request them to comply with the application by Priory Hall home purchasers for a moratorium on their mortgages while they are out of the homes, by order of Dublin City Council fire officer, and forced to rent alternative accommodation, while they are waiting for a resolution of their case by the Supreme Court. [9018/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 63 and 70 together.

I am conscious of the difficult situation that the residents of Priory Hall find themselves in.

The lending institutions in Ireland, including those in which the State has a significant shareholding, are independent commercial entities. A mortgage agreement is a contract which cannot be altered without the consent of the parties. I, as Minister for Finance, have no powers in this regard and cannot require the lenders to alter contracts to accept a suspension in mortgage repayments.

In addition, in view of the case before the Supreme Court, which is referred to by Deputy Kenny, it would be inappropriate for me to comment any further on the matter.

Tax Reliefs

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

64 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance the tax expenditure per year since 2007 associated with the rent-a-room relief in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8946/12]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the cost to the Exchequer of income tax relief for the rent a room scheme for the years 2007, 2008 and 2009, the latest year for which the necessary detailed statistical information is available, is as follows:

Tax Year

Cost €m

€m

2007

4.7

2008

5.6

2009

5.6

Tax Code

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

65 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance the taxation that applies to patent royalties; the specific changes that have occurred on an annual basis since 2009; the yield from tax on patent royalties from 2009 to 2011 and the expected yield in 2012 in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8947/12]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that income from patent royalties is normally received in the form of a licence fee from licensing out the patent and that, for companies, such income is generally taxed at the higher corporation tax rate of 25%, while resident individual taxpayers are liable to tax at their marginal rate of tax in respect of such income. However, it is possible to have royalty income treated as trading income in respect of which a company is taxable at the 12½% rate of corporation tax. To qualify for the 12½% rate there must be a high degree of activity associated with the licensing out of the patent from which the royalty income is derived. Section 234 Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 (TCA) provided for a tax exemption for income received by an individual or company from a qualifying patent subject to an annual limit of €5 million on aggregate patent income in any one year. An exemption was also provided, under section 141, for dividends or other distributions paid by companies from tax-exempt patent income. A qualifying patent is a patent in relation to which the research, planning and development work leading to the patented invention was carried out in the State or in another country which is part of the European Economic Area. The exemption for patent royalty income was subject to the restriction, introduced in the Finance Act 2006, on the use of tax reliefs by high-income individuals and to the further restrictions in this regard introduced in Finance Act 2010.

The tax exemption for patent royalty income and related distributions was abolished in Budget 2011 with effect from 24 November 2010 following consideration of a recommendation to this effect in the Report of the Commission on Taxation. The Commission on Taxation was of the view that the exemption was not an effective measure in incentivising companies to engage in research and development activities in Ireland and that it had been used as a tax-efficient means of remunerating employees and directors.

I am also advised that there is an obligation to deduct tax at the standard rate of income tax on patent royalty payments under Section 238 of the TCA, but this does not apply in the case of royalties paid by a company to associated companies resident in other EU States or royalties paid by a company in the course of a trade to a company resident in a country with which Ireland has agreed a tax treaty. Revenue is also prepared to waive the requirement to deduct tax in circumstances where the royalties are paid to non-residents who would otherwise be entitled to repayment of the tax deducted.

In relation to tax yield from patent royalty income, I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that, based on information provided in annual tax returns, the total tax yield in respect of such income was negligible for the years 2009 and 2010. Estimates of tax yield from such income are not available for 2011 and 2012. However, the abolition of the exemption for patent royalty income in Budget 2011 was estimated to provide a full year yield of €50 million.

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

66 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance his plans to publish an annual tax expenditure report as recommended in the Commission on Taxation report 2009; if he will consider including such a proposal in the Finance Bill 2012 on Committee Stage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8948/12]

The Office of the Revenue Commissioners is the main source of statistics and data on tax incentives and expenditure. They provide costs of tax credits, allowances and reliefs in their Annual Statistical Reports. The most recent figures related to tax expenditures appear in the 2009 report, which sets out the total identifiable costs to the Exchequer of all income tax and corporation tax allowances, reliefs, exemptions and tax credits available for 2007 and 2008, the most recent year for which information is available. The work of updating cost details for the following year is well advanced and Revenue hope to be in a position to publish them in the near future. All tax expenditures are kept under review and as a matter of course form part of the Tax Strategy Group's (TSG) discussions in advance of the Budget. The TSG papers are subsequently published on the Department of Finance's tax policy website (www.taxpolicy.gov.ie).

For these reasons I do not consider it appropriate to include the proposal suggested by the Deputy in the Finance Bill.

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

67 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance the taxes applied to sulphur dioxide, SO2, and nitrogen oxides, NOx, emissions; if there are none, if he will consider implementing such a charge as applies in Denmark and Sweden; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8949/12]

There is currently no tax based on sulphur dioxide or nitrogen oxide emissions. The Deputy may wish to note that a carbon tax was introduced in respect of fossil fuels and was increased from €15 per tonne to €20 per tonne with effect from 7 December 2011 in respect of auto-fuels and from 1 May 2012 in respect of non-auto mineral oils and natural gas. The carbon tax in respect of solid fuels is subject to a Ministerial Commencement order.

Tax Reliefs

Simon Harris

Question:

68 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider extending the mortgage interest relief scheme to those who purchased their first property in 2003; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9002/12]

The position is as I stated in my Budget day speech, that the Government has now fulfilled its commitment contained in the Programme for Government to increase the rate of mortgage interest relief to 30 per cent for first-time buyers who took out their first mortgage in the period 2004 to 2008. I have sought to be as flexible as possible within the constraints pertaining. Under the current tax legislation mortgage interest relief is granted from the date the first mortgage interest payment is made. The legislation is being amended for this particular measure to also include mortgage draw-down as a qualifying event for the rate increase. This means that a mortgage holder will qualify for the increased rate if they made their first mortgage interest payment in the period 2004 to 2008 or if they drew down their mortgage in that period.

Therefore, an individual who drew down their mortgage in December 2003 but made their first mortgage interest repayment in 2004 will qualify for the increased relief.

However, I do not intend to extend the period any further as the measure would become less targeted and would increase in cost.

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

69 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance his views regarding tax breaks for persons who wish to come here to provide employment (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9014/12]

The Deputy will be aware that the number one priority of the Government is jobs. The Special Assignee Relief Programme (SARP) is designed to help attract key individuals to the Irish based operations of their employers. It is hoped that additional foreign direct investment and additional jobs will result from the introduction of SARP. In addition to SARP, other measures introduced in Budget 2012 include changes to the Research and Development (R&D) tax credit scheme as follows:

Volume basis

The first €100,000 of qualifying R&D expenditure will benefit from the 25% R&D tax credit on a volume basis. The tax credit will continue to apply to incremental R&D expenditure in excess of €100,000 as compared with such expenditure in the base year 2003. This will provide a targeted benefit to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

Outsourcing limits

At present sub-contracted R&D costs are eligible where they do not exceed 10% of total costs or 5% in the case of sub-contracting to third level institutions. This limit can disproportionately affect smaller companies who may have greater need to outsource R&D work than larger multinationals with greater internal resources. The outsourcing limits for sub-contracted R&D costs are being increased to the greater of 5 or 10% as appropriate or up to €100k. This will provide a targeted benefit to SMEs.

Use of the credit to reward R&D employees

Companies in receipt of the R&D credit will have the option to use a portion of the credit to reward key employees who have been directly involved in the development of R&D. It is envisaged that there would be no additional cost to the Exchequer as the bonus comes from the R&D credit already received by the company and the employee still pays the full tax liability on their other income. This change will be monitored closely and if abused will be removed.

Furthermore, a scheme was introduced in Budget 2009 which provides relief from corporation tax on the trading income and certain gains of new start-up companies in the first three years of trading, and was modified in 2011 so that the value of the relief will be linked to the amount of employers' PRSI paid by a company. Budget and Finance Bill 2012 extends this scheme for the next three years to include start-up companies which commence a new trade in 2012, 2013 or 2014.

I would like to point out to the Deputy that there are also a number of other tax incentives available to SMEs in the tax code.

The Employment and Investment Incentive was commenced on 25 November 2011. This scheme replaces the Business Expansion Scheme and helps SMEs to raise private investments with a view to job creation and maintenance. Tax relief is available to the relevant investors and an additional amount of tax relief is payable where jobs have actually been created over the investment period or if the company has spent at least 30% of the monies raised on research and development activities.

The Foreign Earnings Deduction which I announced in the Budget, and which is provided for in the Finance Bill, is available to all companies regardless of their size. This incentive is designed to assist companies in accessing the export markets of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa by providing a tax relief to the individuals that undertake trade missions to the countries specified.

The Revenue Job Assist scheme is also available to help companies to employ individuals that have been unemployed for 12 months or more. This scheme provides a double deduction to employers in respect of the salary of the qualifying individuals for a period of three years and also provides tax relief to the individual, on a sliding scale, over the same three year period.

The Deputy may wish to also seek information on the grants available to SMEs from the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, and information on certain PRSI incentives for employment that are available from the Department of Social Protection.

Question No. 70 answered with Question No. 63.

Departmental Staff

Thomas Pringle

Question:

71 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Finance the numbers of persons employed in his Department and agencies thereof whose gross salary as of the latest date available was in each of the bands (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9031/12]

In the time allowed it is not possible to provide a detailed response to the Deputy. However, details in respect of my Department are outlined as follows:

Department

Band

Number of Employees

D/FIN

0-10K

59

D/FIN

10-20K

13

D/FIN

20-30K

45

D/FIN

30-40K

67

D/FIN

40-50K

36

D/FIN

50-60K

38

D/FIN

60-70K

11

D/FIN

70-80K

15

D/FIN

80-90K

38

D/FIN

90-100K

9

D/FIN

100-115K

7

D/FIN

125-150K

6

D/FIN

150K+

3

For administrative purposes, the 0-10K bracket includes certain staff members who are not on an actual scale.

Tax Code

Nicky McFadden

Question:

72 Deputy Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Finance if he has considered a proposal (details supplied) as part of the examination of the rebalancing of the excise tax structure in the context of the Finance Bill 2012; his views that the proposal, if implemented, would prevent cheap cigarettes from entering the market as well as increasing and or protecting excise duty returns for the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9053/12]

The Deputy will be aware that Ireland has the highest prices and excise duty levels for cigarettes in the EU and already applies a high specific duty element and a low ad valorum element in setting its excise duty for cigarettes relative to other Member States. However the question of re-balancing the excise tax structure will be examined in the context of the 2012 Finance Bill.

Tax Reliefs

Michael Conaghan

Question:

73 Deputy Michael Conaghan asked the Minister for Finance if the provisions of the Finance Bill that offer additional mortgage interest relief to first-time buyers who purchased their homes between 2004 and 2008 can be extended to second and third-time buyers who purchased during the same period. [9123/12]

The position is as I stated in my Budget day speech, that the Government has now fulfilled its commitment contained in the Programme for Government to increase the rate of Mortgage Interest Relief to 30 per cent for first-time buyers who took out their first mortgage in the period 2004 to 2008. I have sought to be as flexible as possible within the constraints pertaining. The increased rate of mortgage interest relief will be available to individuals who made their first qualifying purchase during the specified period, 2004 to 2008 inclusive. If these individuals made subsequent qualifying purchases in that period, they will also be able to avail of the increased rate in respect of those purchases.

Individuals who did not make a first time qualifying purchase during 2004 to 2008 will not be entitled to the increased rate. However, non-first-time buyer's relief is available at a rate of 15% on ceilings of €3,000/€6,000 for single/married. Mortgage Interest Relief is set to end for all individuals at the end of 2017.

I do not intend to extend the parameters of the measure any further as the initiative would become less targeted and would increase the cost of the measure.

Enterprise Support Services

Michael McCarthy

Question:

74 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if funding can be released under the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund for start-up businesses; the ways in which start-up business may be able to access the funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8991/12]

All Irish programmes to date which have been, or are being, co-financed by the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) provide, inter alia, for the accessing of certain enterprise supports by those redundant workers who are included in these programmes.

A wide range of EGF related enterprise supports are provided through the City and County Enterprise Boards in areas such as business advice, workshops, business planning, mentoring, training and grant aid to assist with self-employment and business start-up costs.

Eligible redundant workers on the currently running EGF construction programmes can contact the EGF Construction Contact Centre on the freephone number 1800 303 500 or visit the dedicated websitewww.egf.ie for further information.

Disadvantaged Status

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

75 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills when the review of resources for DEIS schools will be completed and published; if any decision has been made on the allocation of funding to schools (details supplied) in Dublin 17; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8903/12]

Terence Flanagan

Question:

87 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consider reversing the teacher cuts to the DEIS schools (details supplied) in Dublin 17 that have already suffered cuts with the removal of Traveller education support teachers last year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9000/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 75 and 87 together.

As announced in the house on the 11th January, I have asked my Department for a report on the impact of the withdrawal of certain posts allocated under previous disadvantaged schemes in DEIS Band 1 and Band 2 primary schools.

This report, which is currently being finalised, will detail the facts for each individual school affected by this measure, applying the most up to date enrolments for September 2011. In addition, the report will take account of the net effect of a range of factors on teacher allocations in these schools, for example increasing and decreasing enrolments and the reforms to the existing teacher allocations process, all of which will determine the staffing requirement for these schools for 2012/13 school year.

When the report is finalised it will then be possible to determine the final outcome for and notify the schools concerned including those referred to by the deputies.

School Accommodation

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

76 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will reconsider the decision to withdraw Dalkey school project’s grant to build a new classroom and two new resource rooms. [8923/12]

The school authority has appealed the Department's decision to withdraw grant aid. The appeal is currently being considered and a decision will be conveyed to the school authority as soon as this process has been completed.

School Staffing

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

77 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding the general allocation model. [8924/12]

The new simplified approach to the General Allocation Model of support for schools will make it easier to automatically update it annually in line with the changes in the number of classroom teachers in each school. Schools will also have autonomy on how to deploy the resource between language support and learning support depending on their specific needs. The arrangements for the staffing allocation under the General Allocation Model (GAM) are specifically designed to facilitate GAM hours being clustered into full-time posts — either entirely within their own school or with a nearby neighbouring school.

The new GAM allocations are being done in 5-hour blocks which is the equivalent of the tuition time for a full school day. Teachers that are in shared posts between schools can therefore operate local arrangements that enable their travel to a neighbouring school to be done, where possible, from the start of the school day thus avoiding loss of tuition time.

Any re-clustering of learning support (GAM) and language support hours into full-time posts will be operated at school level with schools having greater autonomy rather than the previous Department led approach.

My Department will be notifying schools in the coming weeks of the new staffing arrangements for 2012/13 school year.

School Transport

Terence Flanagan

Question:

78 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding school transport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8932/12]

The child referred to by the Deputy applied for school transport under my Department's School Transport Scheme for Children with Special Educational Needs. Under the terms of this scheme, children are eligible for transport where they:

have special educational needs arising from a diagnosed disability in accordance with the designation of high and low incidence disability set out in Department of Education and Skill's (DES) Circular 02/05 and

are attending the nearest recognised: mainstream school, special class/special school or a unit, that is or can be resourced, to meet their special educational needs.

However, this child does not meet the above criteria and is not eligible therefore for school transport.

Capitation Grants

Patrick Deering

Question:

79 Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason the ancillary grant paid to schools is not paid out until the end of March each year; and if he will change this to January in view of the fact that schools have to make tax returns in February and this leaves the school tight for money every year. [8941/12]

The Deputy is referring to funding arrangements for primary schools, and has not been previously raised with my Department by schools or their management bodies.

The manner in which primary schools are funded takes account of the fact that the State's accounting period is based on a calendar year, while schools traditionally operate on the academic year commencing in September. Thus, primary schools receive capitation funding in January and June, and the ancillary services grant in March.

The amount of grant paid to an individual primary school for ancillary services is determined by the school's enrolment, subject to a minimum grant in respect of schools with enrolments up to 60 and a maximum grant in the case of schools with enrolments of 500 or more.

The Deputy may wish to note that Circular 40/2009 clarifies issues relating to the allocation of funding for primary schools. The circular states that capitation funding provided for general running costs and funding provided for caretaking and secretarial services may be regarded as a common grant from which the Board of Management can allocate according to its own priorities.

In due course, both grant schemes will be merged. In the interim, both grants will continue to be paid according to existing timelines and calculated separately as heretofore.

Teachers’ Remuneration

Finian McGrath

Question:

80 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on cuts to teachers’ allowances (details supplied). [8956/12]

A public service-wide review of allowances, announced by the Government as part of Budget 2012, is currently being led by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Under Circular 70/2011 teachers who had been engaged in a public sector teaching post on or before 4 December 2011 are eligible to retain the qualification allowances they were entitled to be in receipt of on that date. Such teachers will not be paid any additional allowance where they acquire any further qualification on or after 5 December 2011. The position of teachers who, on 5 December 2011, were undertaking courses will be considered in the context of the review. Teachers who were appointed to teaching for the first time on or after 5 December 2011 but before 1 February 2012 are eligible for allowances on the basis of their qualifications at entry to the profession up to a maximum of the allowance applicable to an honours primary degree level.

Circular 3/2012 provides that allowances are not payable to new beneficiaries; i.e. those who become eligible for receipt of the allowance in question on or after 1 February 2012. Examples of such allowances 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 only exceptions to this prohibition are principal and deputy principal allowances. These decisions were taken pending the outcome of the public service-wide review of allowances 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.

I am not in a position to comment further on the position in relation to teacher allowances until the outcome of the public service-wide review of allowances is known.

Paschal Donohoe

Question:

81 Deputy Paschal Donohoe asked the Minister for Education and Skills if all persons involved in invigilation or examination superintendent work for State examinations in the examination year 2012 will be remunerated at the same rate of pay no matter what State examination is taking place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8975/12]

The State Examinations Commission has statutory responsibility for operational matters relating to the certificate examinations including organising the holding of examinations, determining procedures in places where examinations are conducted including the supervision of examinations and making arrangements for the marking of work presented for examination.

In view of this I have forwarded your query to the State Examinations Commission for direct reply to you.

Higher Education Grants

Paschal Donohoe

Question:

82 Deputy Paschal Donohoe asked the Minister for Education and Skills if grants or funding will be available for students going to take masters degrees and PhD, 4th level education; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8977/12]

In the context of the overall necessary but difficult expenditure reduction measures announced in Budget 2012, new students entering postgraduate courses from the 2012/13 academic year onwards will not be entitled to any maintenance payment under the Student Grant Scheme. Existing postgraduate students will not be affected.

However, those students who meet the qualifying conditions for the special rate of grant will be eligible to have their post-graduate tuition fees paid up to the maximum fee limit under the Student Grant Scheme.

In access terms, the requirement to pay a fee is considered to be a greater obstacle to entry than lack of maintenance support at postgraduate level. This is why I opted to maintain the fee-payment ahead of maintenance payments for postgraduate students.

In addition, a further limited number of students who would previously have qualified under the standard grant thresholds will qualify to have a €2,000 contribution made towards the costs of their fees. My Department estimates this will help an additional 4,000 postgraduate students. However, there will be a new income threshold for this payment which will be lower than the standard grant threshold. The income threshold for this level of grant is currently being determined in the context of the formulation of the student grant scheme for the 2012/13 academic year.

In addition to this, the Student Assistance Fund will continue to be made available through the access offices of third-level institutions to assist students in exceptional financial need. Tax relief is also available on postgraduate tuition fees.

While it is regrettable that any changes need to be made to student support, I believe this approach will continue to provide resources for a relatively wide number of post-graduate students and allow us to maintain the high level of supports provided to undergraduate students.

School Placement

Willie O'Dea

Question:

83 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the shortfall of places available to students in Limerick city and the surrounding suburbs who wish to continue their education through the medium of Irish and who have been refused places at a school (details supplied) in County Limerick due to lack of finances, accommodation and teaching allocation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8978/12]

The school to which the Deputy refers has recently submitted an application for additional accommodation to my Department and further information has been requested from the school authorities in this regard. When this information is received, the application will be further considered and a decision will be conveyed to the school authority as soon as this process has been completed.

Teaching Qualifications

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

84 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 222 of 31 January 2012 and 87 of 9 February 2012, if he will clarify that the numbers quoted refer to primary school teachers only; the number of those 2,132 teachers currently carrying out their probationary period that have come directly from college; the number who had a gap in time between finishing college and beginning their probationary period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8982/12]

I can confirm to the Deputy that the numbers quoted on the previous parliamentary questions do refer to primary school teachers only.

The vast majority of primary school teachers register with the Teaching Council as soon as they have completed their college course. As soon as they gain employment in schools for the required period (a minimum of 50 consecutive days), they complete a registration form for probation. The registration form for probation does not require teachers to state the year of completion of their college course and therefore records for the number of teachers who leave a gap between finishing college and beginning their probation period are not available.

Telecommunications Services

Ray Butler

Question:

85 Deputy Ray Butler asked the Minister for Education and Skills regarding the possibility of any of the schools among the 200 schools being allocated broadband upgrades which may be unable to take up the offer, if he will consider re-allocating this high-speed broadband to one or both secondary schools in Trim, County Meath, that are already in a position to take up the proposal for high-speed dedicated point-to-point broadband for schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8989/12]

A working group comprising representatives from my Department, HEAnet and the Department of Communications and Natural Resources have recommended a strategy for the roll out of 100mbps to post primary schools. All schools will be connected by the end of 2014. The strategy which has been accepted by Government is based upon the best technical advice available and was designed to achieve best value for money. Any issues arising in the course of the roll out will be referred to the Steering Group in the first instance for guidance.

Disadvantaged Status

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

86 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the name of each primary school in Donegal North East that participates in the DEIS programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8995/12]

The information which the Deputy has requested is available on the Social Inclusion section of my Department's website at following link —http://www.education.ie/servlet/blobservlet/deis_school_list.htm.

Question No. 87 answered with Question No. 75.

State Examinations

Ciara Conway

Question:

88 Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason the cost of repeating the leaving certificate has increased to €301 from €126; if he will outline the supports available to any families struggling to meet this increased cost; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9003/12]

The examination fee for repeat candidates has increased from €284 in 2011 to €301 in 2012, an increase of 6%. This is the same level of examination fee increase which has applied to the fees generally for Leaving Certificate candidates, where the fee has increased from €109 to €116.

Special examination fees for repeat candidates were introduced in 1987 on the basis that it is not unreasonable to expect those who have already benefited from the normal course of second level education, and who wish to take an extra year, to make a contribution towards the cost of providing the necessary resources. A course fee is also payable in respect of such candidates. The course fee is €126.

Examination fees generally cover only a fraction of the cost of running the examinations. Additional demands on the system have been arising in recent years due to the introduction of new methods of assessment in various subjects and to continuing increases in special arrangements for students with special needs.

There is an alleviation scheme in place whereby current medical card holders and their dependents are exempt from the payment of fees. This exemption applies to approximately 34% of all examination candidates each year. This alleviation scheme also applies in the case of repeat candidates in respect of both the course fee and the repeat examination fee.

School Management

Thomas Pringle

Question:

89 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason the board of management of a school has not engaged with the TUI in the matter of the grievance procedure involved on behalf of its member (details supplied) as per the agreed procedures between the TUI, ASTI and ACCS; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9019/12]

The grievance procedures are agreed between the school management bodies and the teacher unions. The Department of Education and Skills is not a party to these procedures and so it cannot intervene in their operation. Non-compliance with the procedures should be brought to the attention of the school's board of management, as the employer, in the first instance. The board may thereafter wish to seek advice from the relevant management body.

Departmental Staff

Thomas Pringle

Question:

90 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Education and Skills the numbers of persons employed in his Department and agencies thereof whose gross salary as of the latest date available was in each of the bands (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9029/12]

The table provides gross salary details in respect of persons employed in my Department and agencies thereof by salary band.

Part 1 of the table provides details in respect of those employees paid via the staff payroll system operated by my Department. This includes Civil Servants employed directly in my Department and staff in a small number of other named bodies for whom my Department operates a payroll service.

Part 2 of the table includes details in respect of exchequer funded public service staff employed in agencies of my Department. In the case of these staff, it has not been possible in the time available to supply salary information in the precise format requested. However, an alternative breakdown by salary band is provided.

Salary bands of employees on the Department of Education and Skills Payroll at 14 February 2012

Details shown are headcount figures

Gross Salary

Department of Education and Skills Staff

State Examinations Commission (SEC)

National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA)

Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse

Residential Institute Redress Board (RIRB)

Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta (COGG)

0-10k

4

1

0

0

0

0

10-20k

55

4

0

0

2

0

20-30k

171

28

1

0

5

0

30-40k

304

43

4

2

9

0

40-50k

222

32

2

1

4

1

50-60k

163

15

3

1

1

1

60-70k

55

2

1

0

0

0

70-80k

108

6

2

0

1

0

80-90k

172

17

2

1

0

0

90-100k

68

4

1

0

0

1

100-115k

20

1

2

0

0

0

125-150k

8

1

0

2

0

0

150k +

2

0

0

0

0

0

Total

1,352

154

18

7

22

3

Note: Salary costs related to agencies/bodies listed above for whom the Department operates a payroll service are recouped on a Monthly/Quarterly basis.

Salary bands of employees in agencies of Department of Education and Skills at 31 December 2011

Details shown are headcount figures

Headcount

Total employees

2,159.00

Foras Áiseanna Saothair

Total

1,978.00

(includes staff transferring to Department of Social Protection)

0-30K

102.00

30,001-70K

1,731.00

70,001-125K

140.00

Over 125K

5.00

Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC)

Total

36.00

0-30K

0.00

30,001-70K

24.00

70,001-125K

12.00

Over 125K

0.00

Grangegorman Development Agency

Total

7.00

0-30K

0.00

30,001-70K

4.00

70,001-125K

3.00

Over 125K

0.00

Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC)

Total

29.00

0-30K

6.00

30,001-70K

15.00

70,001-125K

8.00

Over 125K

0.00

Higher Education Authority

Total

57.00

0-30K

3.00

30,001-70K

32.00

70,001-125K

21.00

Over 125K

1.00

Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology

Total

4.00

0-30K

0.00

30,001-70K

3.00

70,001-125K

1.00

Over 125K

0.00

Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Total

5.00

0-30K

0.00

30,001-70K

4.00

70,001-125K

1.00

Over 125K

0.00

National Centre for Technology in Education

Total

16.00

0-30K

0.00

30,001-70K

11.00

70,001-125K

5.00

Over 125K

0.00

National Qualifications Authority of Ireland

Total

27.00

0-30K

1.00

30,001-70K

17.00

70,001-125K

9.00

Over 125K

0.00

School Staffing

Brendan Smith

Question:

91 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide the most recent figures available regarding the percentage of staff hired in substitute teaching positions who are retired teachers. [9074/12]

Brendan Smith

Question:

93 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he has taken to monitor the implementation of circular 31/2011 with respect to the employment of retired teachers in substitution posts. [9076/12]

Brendan Smith

Question:

94 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has collated data on the number of retired teachers hired by schools prior to circular 31/2011; and the number hired by schools thereafter. [9077/12]

Brendan Smith

Question:

95 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if boards of management are currently required to report to him each time the school hires a retired teacher and to certify that all reasonable steps were taken to offer the post to an unemployed teacher who is not in receipt of a pension. [9078/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 91, 93, 94 and 95 together.

Circular 31/2011 details a cascade of measures for recruitment of teachers, prioritising unemployed registered teachers over retired registered teachers, and registered teachers over unregistered persons.

Each principal must report to his or her board of management on a regular basis on the fact that a list of unemployed registered teachers is being maintained, and the circumstances in which he or she has had to engage a registered teacher in receipt of a pension under a public service pension scheme or an unregistered person.

Records relating to recruitment and appointment must be made available by the school for inspection by the Department and a copy of such a record must be furnished to the Department upon a request being made for this. The Department has recently initiated a review of compliance with the procedures outlined in 31/2011.

The number of retired teachers in substitute posts prior to and following the publication of 31/2011 are as follows:- Jan 2011: 273 (prior to the publication of Circular 31/2011), Dec 2011: 48 (following the publication of Circular 31/2011). The percentage of retired teachers paid on the final payroll of 2011 (substitute and contracted) is as follows: Post primary = 0.57%; Primary = 0.72%.

Brendan Smith

Question:

92 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide the most recent figures available regarding the percentage of staff hired in substitute teaching positions who are paid at the unqualified rate. [9075/12]

The information requested by the Deputy will be forwarded direct to him.

Question Nos. 93 to 95, inclusive, answered with Question No. 91.

Special Educational Needs

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

96 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if it might be possible to obtain a place in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9089/12]

As the Deputy will be aware, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), through the local special educational needs organisers (SENOs), is responsible for processing applications from primary and post primary schools for special educational needs supports including the approval of special classes for autism. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. All schools have the names and contact details of their local SENO. Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available onwww.ncse.ie. I have arranged for the information requested by the Deputy to be forwarded to the NCSE for their direct reply.

Third Level Education

Brendan Smith

Question:

97 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the recent discussion paper by the Higher Education Authority on the future of higher education; and the likely timescale for decisions on the structures that are likely to emerge. [9109/12]

On Monday 13th February, the HEA published a number of documents intended to provide a broad framework for future system development in Irish higher education, including a clear four stage process and criteria for designation as Technological University. All institutions have now been invited to identify their key strengths and their future strategic fit within the system and submit a realistic plan to HEA on that basis. Each higher education institution has been given six months in which to make a submission to the HEA setting out its strategic intentions. By the end of this year HEA will consider these strategic proposals and advise me on a "blueprint" or outline structure for the higher education system over the next 10-20 years. Institutions proposing to merge and apply for designation as technological universities will need also to submit a formal expression of interest within that period and will be advised within a further six months whether they can proceed to the second stage for designation.

Public Service Staff

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

98 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if opportunities for redeployment within the public service are open to persons employed in a permanent seasonal capacity; the way a person can become aware of and apply for such opportunities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8930/12]

The Public Service Agreement 2010-14 (Croke Park Agreement) provides for agreed redeployment arrangements to apply in the Civil Service and in other parts of the public service. Under the Agreement, redeployment generally takes precedence over all other methods of filling a vacancy and supersedes any existing agreements on the deployment of staff. It sets out the agreed redeployment arrangements within the Health, Education, and Local Authority sectors; and within and between the Civil Service and Non-Commercial State Sponsored Bodies (NCSSB). It alsoprovides that cross sectoral redeployments will follow the arrangements agreed for the NCSSBs.

The redeployment arrangements allow staff to be moved from activities which are of lesser priority, or which have been rationalised, reconfigured, or restructured, to areas of greater need. In practical terms these arrangements represent a means of facilitating the targeted reduction in public service numbers in the period 2010 to 2014 while sustaining the ongoing delivery of services. The arrangements are not intended to be a staff mobility scheme. Where there are specific requirements for seasonal staff, these are filled directly by the relevant employing Departments and Agencies.

Departmental Staff

Thomas Pringle

Question:

99 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the numbers of persons employed in his Department and agencies thereof whose gross salary as of the latest date available was in each of the bands (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9036/12]

In the time allowed it is not possible to provide a detailed response to the Deputy. However, details in respect of my Department are outlined as follows:

Department

Band

Number of Employees

D/PER

0-10K

99

D/PER

10-20K

9

D/PER

20-30K

24

D/PER

30-40K

36

D/PER

40-50K

53

D/PER

50-60K

57

D/PER

60-70K

19

D/PER

70-80K

28

D/PER

80-90K

45

D/PER

90-100K

12

D/PER

100-115K

17

D/PER

125-150K

7

D/PER

150K+

3

For administrative purposes, the 0-10K bracket includes certain staff members who are not on an actual scale.

Public Service Staff

Catherine Murphy

Question:

100 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the total numbers of public servants who have applied for early retirement who fall into the following age groups: those aged 50-54 on their retirement date, those aged 55-60 on their retirement date; if he will present the data broken down by Government Department and agencies thereof; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9072/12]

I presume the Deputy is referring to the Cost Neutral Early Retirement (CNER) scheme under which staff may apply to retire before the normal retirement age but to have an off-setting actuarial reduction applied to their retirement benefits. In the case of the Civil Service, the data sought by the Deputy is set out in the tables below for 2011 and 2012. In the case of the wider public service, the information required by the Deputy is not held centrally and should be sought from each of the relevant sectoral Ministers.

CNER by Department/Office 2011

Number aged 50-54

Agriculture, Food and the Marine

4

Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

2

Defence

2

Education and Skills

1

Environment, Community and Local Government

2

Foreign Affairs and Trade

1

Health

1

Justice and Equality

5

—Prison Service

1

—Courts Service

1

—Property Registration Authority

2

Oireachtas

2

Revenue

9

Social Protection

6

Transport, Tourism and Sport

3

Total

42

CNER by Department/Office 2011

Number aged 55-60

Agriculture, Food and the Marine

12

Attorney General

1

Children and Youth Affairs

1

Civil Service Commission

1

Communications, Energy and Natural Resources

2

Comptroller and Auditor General

1

Defence

4

Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

5

Environment, Community and Local Government

1

Justice and Equality

3

—Property Registration Authority

3

—Courts Service

2

Office of Public Works

2

Public Expenditure and Reform

1

Social Protection

18

Revenue

22

Transport, Tourism and Sport

3

Total

82

CNER by Department/Office 2012

Number aged 50-54

Agriculture, Food and the Marine

4

Communications, Energy and Natural Resources

1

Education and Skills

3

Foreign Affairs and Trade

3

Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

1

Justice and Equality

2

—Land Registry

1

—Courts Service

4

Social Protection

5

Revenue

10

Taoiseach

1

Transport, Tourism and Sport

1

Total

36

CNER by Department/Office 2012

Number aged 55-60

Agriculture, Food and the Marine

18

Central Statistics Office

3

Defence

1

Education and Skills

4

—State Examination Commission

1

Environment, Community and Local Government

2

Foreign Affairs and Trade

7

Finance

3

—Comptroller and Auditor General

1

—Revenue

31

Health

1

Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

10

Justice, and Equality

8

—Land Registry

3

—Courts Service

3

Office of Public Works

5

Oireachtas

2

Social Protection

12

Transport, Tourism and Sport

2

Valuation Office

1

Total

118

Employment Rights

Noel Harrington

Question:

101 Deputy Noel Harrington asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of cases taken in the Labour Relations Commission, National Employment Rights Authority, Employment Appeals Tribunal, the Labour Court and the Equality Tribunal against County Cork Vocational Education Committee in each of the years since 2000 relating to employment legislation; the number of these cases that findings were made against County Cork VEC in each year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8919/12]

The Labour Relations Commission, Employment Appeals Tribunal and the Labour Court are bodies that act independently in carrying out their functions. Although coming within the overall remit of my Department, as independent bodies I have no involvement in their day-to-day operations or cases coming before them for hearing. However, having made enquiries, I understand that a claim was lodged against County Cork VEC before the Employment Appeals Tribunal in 2009 and a determination issued in July 2011. The Labour Court issued 6 Determinations relating to County Cork VEC in the past four years, issuing the most recent in July 2011. The determinations of the Employment Appeals Tribunal and the Labour Court are available on their websites. The Labour Relations Commission does not publish details of its conciliations, decisions or recommendations. As regards NERA, there were no cases involving County Cork VEC.

The Equality Authority is another body that acts independently in the carrying out of its functions. However, it comes within the overall remit of the Minister for Justice and Equality and I am not in a position to provide any information regarding cases coming before it. However, I am aware that where it publishes details of cases, it makes these available on its website.

Job Creation

Charles Flanagan

Question:

102 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of jobs that have been created in County Laois in the years 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 as a result of the support of Laois County Enterprise Board; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8921/12]

Charles Flanagan

Question:

103 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of grants that have been awarded by the Laois County Enterprise Board for the years 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8922/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 102 and 103 together.

As this is a day to day operational matter for the Enterprise Board concerned, I have asked that the relevant Unit based within Enterprise Ireland compile the information required, which will then be supplied direct to the Deputy.

Company Audits

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

104 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, further to Parliamentary Question No. 86 of 8 February 2012, if community employment schemes will be able to avail of the revised audit exemption rules; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8953/12]

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

109 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, further to Parliamentary Question No. 86 of 8 February 2012, if schools that are set up as charitable institutions or a trust will be able to avail of the revised audit exemption rules; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9058/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 104 and 109 together.

Exemption from audit applies to certain private limited companies. The scope for companies to have an exemption from the requirement to have an audit carried out is set out in EU legislation (4th Directive). Community or voluntary groups or schools may be incorporated as companies, but this may not always be the case, as some may choose to avail of other legal forms. Such groups which have charitable status are governed by the Charities Act 2009, under the aegis of the Minister for Justice and Equality and are answerable to their stakeholders, shareholders and funders.

As stated in my reply of 8th February, the Company Law Review Group (CLRG) 2009 Report examined the issue of extending audit exemption to companies limited by guarantee. It is my intention that provisions giving effect to the recommendations of the CLRG in this matter will be included in the Companies Bill, which I aim to publish in the second half of this year. The CLRG recommendations contemplate that any proposals in this context will be subject to consultation with the Department of Justice and Equality, which now has responsibility for charities regulation.

Job Creation

Thomas Pringle

Question:

105 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of jobs in each of the past five years that have been supported by Enterprise Ireland and the Industrial Development Agency in towns in County Donegal outside of Letterkenny in tabular form. [9022/12]

Thomas Pringle

Question:

106 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of jobs in each of the past five years that have been supported by Enterprise Ireland and the Industrial Development Agency in Letterkenny, County Donegal, in tabular form. [9023/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 105 and 106 together.

Enterprise Ireland monitors the employment trends in the companies it supports through the Annual Employment Survey, conducted in conjunction with Forfás. The results of this survey are released each January. This information is collected at county level and it is not possible to provide it with a geographical breakdown within the county. However, data on employment in companies supported by Enterprise Ireland in County Donegal over the last five years is outlined in the tabular statement below.

One of the targets in IDA Ireland's strategy document ‘Horizon 2020’ is the creation of 62,000 direct jobs in 640 investment projects over the period 2010-2014, resulting in an additional 105,000 jobs overall in the economy, with 50% of these investments to be based in locations outside of Dublin and Cork. Central to IDA’s strategy is to build on existing regional strengths to ensure Ireland’s economic development, while optimising regional spread, in line with the National Spatial Strategy.

To achieve balanced regional development, IDA Ireland markets the Gateway locations within each Region as areas of critical mass and highlights the opportunities provided by Hub locations which are within commuting distance of these Gateways. In the North West, IDA prioritises the promotion of Letterkenny and Sligo. As well as marketing the region for new Greenfield investment, IDA Ireland continues to work with existing clients in encouraging them to broaden their mandate and to continue to re-invest in their sites within the region.

In the North West Region, IDA has 36 existing client companies employing over 5,300 people. Data on employment in IDA supported companies is provided on a county basis, not by individual towns. Employment data for IDA supported companies over the past five years is shown in the tabular statement below:

Employment in Enterprise Ireland-aided companies in County Donegal

Donegal

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

Number Of Plants

192

188

188

182

181

Full Time Jobs

3,445

3,241

2,731

2,678

2,796

Gains

456

252

233

218

301

Losses

-281

-456

-743

-319

-179

Net Change

175

-204

-510

-101

122

Contract/Part Time Jobs

524

507

643

675

722

(Source Forfás Employment Survey— 2011).

Employment in IDA Supported Companies in County Donegal

Year

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

Number of Companies

14

14

14

12

12

Permanent Employment

1,631

1,650

1,685

1,621

1,870

Other Jobs

136

110

128

221

224

Gross Gains (New Jobs)

176

67

63

152

271

Net Change in other Jobs

13

-26

18

93

3

Total Jobs Created

189

41

81

245

274

Departmental Staff

Thomas Pringle

Question:

107 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the numbers of persons employed in his Department and agencies thereof whose gross salary as of the latest date available was in each of the bands (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9034/12]

The table identifies the number of persons employed in my Department broken down by the salary bands supplied. The numbers include departmental staff in the following Offices of the Department:

The Companies Registration Office

The Registry of Friendly Societies

The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement

The Labour Court

The Labour Relations Commission

The National Employment Rights Authority

The Employment Appeals Tribunal

Salary Band

Numbers Employed

€0 — €10,000

0

€11,000 — €20,000

35

€20,000 — €30,000

182

€30,000 — €40,000

226

€40,000 — €50,000

187

€50,000 — €60,000

105

€60,000 — €70,000

14

€70,000 — €80,000

51

€80,000 — €90,000

33

€90,000 — €100,000

24

€100,000 — €115,000

15

€115,000 — €125,000

0

€125,000 — €150,000

10

€150,000+

4

Information regarding the number of employees of the Agencies whose gross salary is in each of the bands listed above is a day to day matter for the Agencies and I have asked that the relevant information be provided to the Deputy directly.

Business Regulation

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

108 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the legislation currently applicable to the co-operative movement; and his views on the movement as an area for development by this Government [9047/12]

The Industrial and Provident Societies Acts (1893-1978) is the legislation under which most co-operative organisations operate in Ireland. However, a co-operative may also register as a company (in which case the terms of the Companies Acts (1963-2009) apply. Credit Unions, which are savings and loans co-operatives, were a category of industrial and provident society, but since the Credit Union Act 1997 they now operate under a wholly separate legal form with its own legislative system. In theProgramme for Government, the Government committed to promoting “a greater appreciation of the co-operative model as a distinct form of organisation, ensure a level playing field between co-operatives and the other legal options for structuring enterprise activities, and provide a constructive framework for the full potential of the co-operative model to be realised...”.

My responsibility lies in the legislative provision for co-operatives in general. Last year, I secured the agreement of Government to draft legislation to ease the regulatory burden on co-operative societies and to make it easier to start up and run a co-operative as an alternative form of enterprise organisation. I hope to publish this Draft Bill during 2012.

Any initiatives to facilitate or promote the development of co-operatives in particular sectors, for example, child care, education, housing, energy retro-fitting, environmental protection, would be a matter for my colleagues in the respective Government Departments.

Question No. 109 answered with Question No. 104.
Question No. 110 withdrawn.

Social Welfare Benefits

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

111 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Social Protection when will payments for partial capacity payment commence; the persons who will be eligible; the way the new payment will be advertised; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8892/12]

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that the Partial Capacity Benefit scheme was formally launched on Monday 13th February 2012. Full details of the scheme have been published on my Department's website and an information leaflet has also been published. My Department will also be engaging with representative bodies in the disability sector to further enhance awareness of the new scheme.

The Partial Capacity Benefit scheme is open to people who are in receipt of Invalidity Pension (IP) or who have been in receipt of Illness Benefit (IB) for a minimum of six months. Participation in the scheme is voluntary and the scheme is designed in particular to respond to the needs of people who have sought to avail of ‘exemptions' in order to take up employment opportunities. The limitations on hours worked which applied under the ‘exemptions' arrangements do not apply to the new scheme.

The introduction of the Partial Capacity Benefit scheme marks an important and positive development of the social welfare system. The scheme recognises that the welfare system, which categorised people as ‘fit to work' or ‘unfit to work', did not reflect the reality for many existing welfare customers. It provides an opportunity for people with disabilities, and assessed to have an employment capacity which is restricted when compared to the norm, to avail of employment opportunities while continuing to receive an income support payment.

Sean Fleming

Question:

112 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection when a carer’s allowance will be granted to a person (details supplied) in County Laois; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8902/12]

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

Martin Heydon

Question:

113 Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Social Protection the provisions, if any, in place for recipients of jobseeker’s payments who are close to retirement age; if there are any transitional arrangements in place or plans to introduce same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8931/12]

Jobseeker's allowance and jobseeker's benefit is paid to people up to 66 years of age at which stage eligibility for a State Pension commences. There are three categories of State Pension to which a jobseeker client may be entitled — State Pension (Transition) which is paid at age 65, State Pension (Contributory) which is paid at age 66 and the means tested State Pension (Non-contributory) which is also paid at age 66.

There are a number of transitional arrangements in place for jobseeker clients moving onto State Pension:

They are automatically advised to apply for one of the State Pension payments three months in advance of reaching the eligible age;

Where a person's entitlement to jobseeker's benefit exhausts between age 65 and 66, they may continue to receive jobseeker's benefit up to 66 provided they have 156 paid social insurance contributions;

A number of people aged 55 and over who have left the labour force are in receipt of Pre-Retirement Allowance (PRETA) which is payable until they reach pension age. This is a means-tested payment and the people on this scheme are not required to sign-on as they do not need to be available for work. This scheme has been phased out for new clients from July 2007 in order to encourage and facilitate people to continue to work up to and beyond pension age.

There are no plans to introduce any other transitional arrangements for people approaching pension age.

Social Welfare Appeals

Patrick Deering

Question:

114 Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision on an application for carer’s allowance will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow; and if she will expedite a response [8942/12]

The person concerned was refused carer's allowance on the grounds that the Department's Medical Assessor expressed the opinion that the care recipient is not so disabled as to require full-time care and attention as prescribed in regulations. On 13 October 2011, he was notified of this decision, the reason for it and of his right of review or appeal.

He subsequently appealed this decision and submitted additional medical evidence in support of his appeal. This information has been forwarded to the Department's Medical Assessor for consideration. He will be notified directly of the outcome of the review in due course.

Patrick Deering

Question:

115 Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision on an appeal for carer’s allowance will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow; and if she will expedite a response. [8943/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 22nd July 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 19th December 2011 and the appeal was assigned to an Appeals Officer for consideration on 6 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. 116 withdrawn.

Tom Fleming

Question:

117 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will issue on a scope appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8973/12]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that following an oral hearing of the appeal, the Appeals Officer referred the case to a Social Welfare Inspector for further investigations and clarification of certain aspects. The appeal has recently been returned to the Appeals Officer who is now considering the appeal in the light of all the evidence submitted, including that adduced at the hearing. The person concerned will be notified of the Appeals Officer decision when the appeal has been determined.

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

Redundancy Payments

Michael McGrath

Question:

118 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for statutory redundancy in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [8974/12]

An application in respect of the person concerned was received in the Department on 2 February. Online claims received after 3 October 2011 are being processed within six to eight weeks of receipt. Manual lump sum claims received in December 2011 are also currently being processed.

These are general processing timeframes for straightforward redundancy claims. Processing times can vary considerably depending on the complexity of the claim.

Social Insurance

Tom Fleming

Question:

119 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will examine the position of the self-employed who have made income tax returns over the past ten years; if she will grant credits for unemployment benefit and contributory pension purposes to these persons in view of the fact that unless a scheme of this nature is introduced with retroactive effect, it will have no benefit to those self employed people who are currently unemployed or have become unemployed over the past number of years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8990/12]

PRSI credited contributions are an integral part of the social insurance system. For the most part they are linked to having an underlying entitlement to a social welfare payment while temporarily detached from the labour force or having entitlement to statutory leave. The primary purpose of PRSI credits is to secure social welfare benefits and pensions of employees by covering gaps in insurance where they are not in a position to pay PRSI such as during periods of unemployment, illness, etc.

The class at which a contributor paid his or her last PRSI contribution determines entitlement to credited contributions. Credits are awarded in respect of an employment contribution which is defined as a contribution in respect of an employed contributor. There are no provisions for the award of credits on foot of self-employment contributions. Self-employed individuals who wish to preserve the continuity of their social insurance record for pension purposes have the opportunity to do so by becoming a voluntary contributor.

Any changes to the PRSI system to extend the full range of social insurance benefits, including access to credited contributions would have significant financial implications and would have to be considered in the context of a much more significant rise in the rate of contribution payable. I established the Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare last year to meet the commitment made in the Programme for Government. The Advisory Group will, inter alia, examine and report on issues involved in providing social insurance cover for self-employed persons in order to establish whether or not such cover is technically feasible and financially sustainable. In addition, the Actuarial Review of the Social Insurance Fund, which is due to be completed in mid-2012, will examine this matter.

Social Welfare Benefits

Patrick Deering

Question:

120 Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision on a carer’s allowance application will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow; and if she will expedite same. [8999/12]

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

Social Welfare Appeals

Seán Kenny

Question:

121 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will issue on the appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5 against the refusal of a claim for disability allowance. [9005/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the disability allowance claim of the person concerned was disallowed following an assessment by a Medical Assessor who expressed the opinion that he was medically unsuitable for the allowance. An appeal was registered on 31 January 2012 and in accordance with the statutory procedures the relevant department papers and the comments of the social welfare services on the matter raised in the appeal have been sought. In that context, an assessment by another Medical Assessor will be carried out.

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

Social Welfare Benefits

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

122 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons in the past three months, that is, November, December and January, who have been refused domiciliary care allowance; the number of applications received, further requests and refusals; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9013/12]

The number of applicants for DCA that were received, awarded and refused in the last three months is set out in the table:

Month

Applications received

Applications fully processed in the month

Applications awarded

Applications refused

November

484

397

98

299

December

299

275

152

123

January

338

786

166

620

Total

1,121

1,458

416

1,042

The Deputy should note that as it can currently take up to 8 weeks to process an application the number of applications processed in any month does not correspond with the number of applications received in the particular month. Statistics on further requests and refusals of claims processed in the period are not available.

Departmental Staff

Thomas Pringle

Question:

123 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Social Protection the numbers of persons employed in her Department and agencies thereof whose gross salary as of the latest date available was in each of the bands (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9037/12]

The table sets out the numbers of persons currently employed in the Department of Social Protection and its agencies in each of the salary bands as requested:

Salary band € per annum

Number ofemployees

0-10,000

50

10,001-20,000

378

20,001-30,000

1,466

30,001-40,000

2,048

40,001-50,000

1,528

50,001-60,000

1,274

60,001-70,000

143

70,001-80,000

204

80,001-90,000

68

90, 001-100,000

46

100, 001-115, 000

23

115, 001-125,000

1

125,001-150,000

9

150,001+

4

Social Welfare Appeals

Pat Breen

Question:

124 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9043/12]

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 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.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

125 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will give a date when a decision will be reached regarding a carer’s allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Laois; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9052/12]

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. Notification of the Appeals Officers decision issued 5 October 2011.

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.

Brendan Griffin

Question:

126 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection if a decision will be made on a disability allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry in view of new medical evidence in this case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9059/12]

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 she 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 Complaints

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

127 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Social Protection the complaints procedure that governs interactions between claimants of social welfare and her staff. [9063/12]

A formal comments and complaints procedure has been in operation in my Department since 2002, details of which are available atwww.welfare.ie.

Customers can make formal complaints to my Department in person, by telephone, on line, by e-mail or in writing. Upon receipt, a complaint is immediately acknowledged in writing. It is sent to the relevant complaints officer and dealt with within 15 working days.

If a customer is not satisfied with the response they receive, the complaint is reviewed by a more senior manager. Should the customer still not be satisfied with the outcome of his complaint, he is advised of his right to contact the Ombudsman.

My Department monitors all such complaints received from members of the public and reports are issued to relevant management on a monthly basis.

Departmental Staff

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

128 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Social Protection the code of practice that governs conduct of Department of Social Protection staff. [9064/12]

The Civil Service Code of Standards and Behaviour sets out the standards required of all civil servants in the discharge of their duties in relation to service delivery, probity and appropriate behaviour at work. In addition, certain designated officers in my Department are also covered by the Ethics in Public Office Act 1995 and the Standards in Public Office Act 2001.

Departmental Correspondence

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

129 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Social Protection the procedures in place for tracing missing claims documents in her Department’s offices; and the accountability mechanisms in place for these. [9065/12]

The Department operates in the region of 70 separate welfare schemes and processes in the order of 2.5 million applications annually under these schemes. There is no evidence that there is any significant problem in my Department regarding missing claim documents. It is important, however, that customers when submitting claims follow carefully the instructions outlined in the application forms and also put their PPS numbers on any accompanying documentation so it can be easily traced and identified if an issue arises.

My Department is committed to delivering the best possible service to its customers. To this end, operational processes, procedures and the organisation of work are continuously reviewed in all areas of my Department. These reviews are supported by modern technology, the potential of which is continuously harnessed. Claims are processed in the most efficient and expeditious way possible, having regard to the eligibility conditions that apply to each scheme.

Departmental Staff

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

130 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Social Protection if social welfare offices have policies of dignity and respect; and the details of same. [9066/12]

My Department is committed to providing a professional, inclusive and timely service that is responsive to the needs of its clients. It is also committed to conducting its business in an impartial, open and transparent manner and seeks to treat people fairly, with dignity and respect.

A customer charter setting out the standards of service that people can expect in their dealings with the Department is displayed in the Department's public offices and on its website,www.welfare.ie. To monitor its services, the Department operates a comment and complaint system which allows people express their views on the service provided. The Department values the views of all those accessing their service and will continue to monitor and improve on the quality of service it provides as opportunities to do so arise.

Question No. 131 withdrawn.

Social Welfare Appeals

Willie Penrose

Question:

132 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a social welfare appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath in relation to their invalidity pension claim; if same will now be expedited; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9071/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 23rd 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 06th December 2011 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.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

133 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if and when domiciliary care allowance will be paid in the case of persons (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9082/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 18th 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 17th 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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

134 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding determination of an application for disability allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9083/12]

I confirm that the Department is in receipt of an application for disability allowance from the above named person. On completion of the necessary investigations on all aspects of the claim a decision will be made and the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

135 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason for the non-payment to date of disability allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9084/12]

The person concerned applied for disability allowance on 26 July 2011. The medical evidence supplied with her claim was referred to one of the Department's medical assessors who was of the opinion, based on the information supplied, that she was not medically suitable for disability allowance. The deciding officer accepted this opinion. The deciding officer further decided that the person in question does not meet the condition of being habitually resident in the State, in accordance with the guidelines. Accordingly, her claim for disability allowance has been refused and the person in question has been notified of the decision and the reasons for it.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

136 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding the determination of entitlement to domiciliary care allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9085/12]

An application for domiciliary care allowance was received on the 27th October 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 the 10th 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. As yet no appeal has been registered against the decision in this case.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

137 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if and when rent support will be provided in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9086/12]

The person concerned has been awarded rent supplement on the 14th February 2012. The 2011 rent rates are applicable to the person concerned as per the commencement date on the lease. The person concerned is in receipt of his full entitlement to rent supplement based on his household circumstances.

Redundancy Payments

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

138 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason an award agreed via the Employment Appeals Tribunal has not being paid in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Offaly; if any outstanding entitlement to State redundancies exists and is likely to be paid; the extent of redress available to them arising from their previous employer's non-compliance with the decision of the EAT; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9088/12]

There is no record of a redundancy lump sum claim in respect of the person concerned. I understand that my officials have liaised directly with your office and await contact from the person concerned in this regard.

Community Employment Schemes

Billy Timmins

Question:

139 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding community employment schemes (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9120/12]

The purpose of Tús is the provision of quality short-term work for those who are unemployed for over a year. The aim is to break the cycle of unemployment and to improve a person's opportunities and readiness to return to the labour market.

I can confirm that €84m has been allocated towards Tús under the 2012 REV, to allow for the engagement of 5,000 persons on Tús, (ie full implementation of the initiative). In 2011, an allocation of €30m was allocated towards the phased rollout of the initiative.

Separately, the Tús Scheme and CE Schemes are included in a policy review of the overall range of employment support, activation and work schemes operated by the Department.

The aim of the review is to assess the schemes, individually and in combination, "in the light of their contribution to the Department's policy objective of supporting people of working age into employment" and to "recommend any changes to the current range of schemes/programmes seen as required on the basis of the analysis carried out".

Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla

Dara Calleary

Question:

140 D’fhiafraigh Dara Calleary den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta an nglacfaidh sé le moladh an Ollaimh Colin Williams chun abhcóide sinsearach, nó breitheamh atá éirithe as, a cheapadh chun tuarascáil neamhspleách a réiteach maidir leis an athbhreithniú ar Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [8874/12]

I dtús báire, is mian liom a mhíniú go bhfuil an t-athbhreithniú ar Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003, atá ar siúl faoi láthair, á stiúradh ag mo Roinnse. Fuair mo Roinn timpeall 1,400 freagra ar an suirbhé agus 240 aighneacht ó pháirtithe leasmhara le linn an phróisis chomhairliúcháin phoiblí ar an athbhreithniú ar tháinig deireadh leis ar an 31 Eanáir 2012. Tá anailís ar na moltaí a fuarthas ar siúl ag oifigigh mo Roinne faoi láthair. Mar chuid den athbhreithniú, tá comhairle á glacadh leis an iliomad páirtithe leasmhara, lena n-áirítear Oifig an Choimisinéara Teanga, Ranna Rialtais agus comhlachtaí poiblí eile, eagraíochtaí Gaeilge agus Gaeltachta, agus an pobal i gcoitinne. Faoi réir théarmaí tagartha an athbhreithnithe, is féidir leas a bhaint freisin as saineolaithe seachtracha, saineolaithe acadúla agus idirnáisiúnta san áireamh, de réir mar is cuí. Is fiú a lua fosta go dtabharfar aird ar dhea-chleachtas i dtaca le soláthar seirbhísí teanga ag comhlachtaí poiblí i ndlínsí eile, faoi réir théarmaí tagartha an athbhreithnithe.

Reachtaíocht Molta

Robert Dowds

Question:

141 D’fhiafraigh Robert Dowds den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta cathain a bheidh an Bille nua Gaeltachta foilsithe agus cén tionchar a bheidh ag an mBille seo ar cheantair taobh amuigh den Ghaeltacht ina bhfuil líon mór Gaeilgeoirí; agus cén cineál deise a bheidh acu chun aitheantas oifigiúil a bhaint amach gur cheantair láidre Ghaeilge atá iontu. [8875/12]

Ar an 7 Feabhra 2012, thóg an Rialtas cinneadh an Bille Gaeltachta 2012 a dhréachtú mar thosaíocht. Tá dhá phríomh-aidhm leis an mBille seo — sainmhíniú nua a leagan síos don Ghaeltacht agus leasuithe a dhéanamh ar ról agus ar fheidhmeanna Údarás na Gaeltachta. Foilseofar an Bille chomh luath agus is féidir. Tá sé i gceist faoin reachtaíocht seo go mbeidh an Ghaeltacht bunaithe feasta ar chritéir theangeolaíocha seachas ar limistéir thíreolaíocha mar a bhí go dtí seo. Beidh an phleanáil teanga ag leibhéal an phobail lárnach do phróiseas an tsainmhínithe nua don Ghaeltacht agus beidh deis ag ceantair lasmuigh de na ceantair thraidisiúnta Ghaeltachta aitheantas reachtúil Gaeltachta a bhaint amach, faoi réir critéir áirithe a bheith comhlíonta acu. Déanfar na critéir seo a leagan síos in orduithe ag an Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta.

Special Areas of Conservation

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

142 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he has provided funding to the parks and wildlife service for the acquisition of Mouds Bog, a special area of conservation in County Kildare; if so, the amount of bogland that was acquired; the price for which said land was purchased; the restoration works or otherwise that have been carried out on the land; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8916/12]

Since 1999, my Department has operated a voluntary bog purchase scheme under which sites in designated bogs have been purchased by the Department at agreed rates. In May 2010, this scheme was closed to new applicants. Mouds Bog in County Kildare is designated as a raised bog special area of conservation. Under the voluntary bog purchase scheme, my Department has purchased freehold title to over 90 acres and turbary rights over a further 12.7 acres of Mouds Bog. These were purchased for a total cost in the region of €430,000. No restoration work has as yet been undertaken on this bog by my Department. Once turf cutting has ended on raised bog special areas of conservation, conservation objectives will be drawn up and a draft management plan will be discussed with local land owners for each designated site. These issues will be considered within the wider context of a national strategy on peatland conservation and management.

Údarás na Gaeltachta

Ciara Conway

Question:

143 Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will clarify the way to appeal a decision that has been issued by Údarás na Gaeltachta in view of the fact that this body is not under the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9004/12]

Údarás na Gaeltachta's client charter is displayed in its offices and on its website,www.udaras.ie. This charter sets out the standard of service that clients can expect to receive from Údarás na Gaeltachta, together with the procedures to be followed in the event of formal complaints by clients or members of the public. I understand that decisions taken by Údarás na Gaeltachta may, depending on the circumstances, be open to statutory appeal or judicial review proceedings.

Departmental Staff

Thomas Pringle

Question:

144 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the numbers of persons employed in his Department and agencies thereof whose gross salary as of the latest date available was in each of the bands (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9025/12]

The Deputy will appreciate that it is not possible to provide the information requested within the constraints imposed by a ‘details supplied' Question. I am, however, arranging for the available information in relation to the profile of staff salaries in my Department and those agencies coming within my Department's ambit to be provided directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Turbary Rights

Pat Breen

Question:

145 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the position regarding an application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9042/12]

The individual referred to in the Deputy's question has applied to sell her interest in land in a raised bog special area of conservation under the Voluntary Bog Purchase Scheme, which is administered by my Department. A letter of offer for the purchase of the land had issued from my Department. However, no contracts for sale have been signed. I am advised that 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 write to them to outline their options under the Cessation of Turf Cutting Compensation Scheme.

Frank Feighan

Question:

146 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht when a deal will be finalised in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Leitrim. [9080/12]

In 2010, the then Government decided that turf cutting should come to an end on raised bog Natural Heritage Areas at the end of 2013. However, the current Programme for Government contains an undertaking to review the situation with regard to turf cutting on Natural Heritage Areas. On 15 April 2011, the Government made a number of decisions in relation to turf cutting in Ireland, including the putting in place of a compensation package for those who are required to cease cutting, the establishment of a Peatlands Council and the drawing up of a national strategy on peatland conservation and management. In the context of the national strategy, the position regarding raised bog Natural Heritage Areas, which are designated under national legislation, will be examined in advance of the 2014 cutting season in accordance with the Programme for Government. In response to Question No. 312 of 17 January last, I indicated that the land referred to by the Deputy is located in an area that was designated as a Natural Heritage Area in 2003. A letter of offer for the purchase of the land had issued from my Department. However, no contracts for sale were signed. My Department is giving priority to putting in place the compensation requirements in relation to the cessation of cutting on the 53 raised bog special areas of conservation. In the circumstances, and in light of the decision to review the approach to these areas more generally, the issue of any further purchase of land or rights in Natural Heritage Area bogs, including the land referred to, is being kept under review.

Fishing Vessel Licences

Brendan Griffin

Question:

147 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if a draft net fishing licence will reissue to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9054/12]

The yearly allocation of public licences for commercial draft nets is governed by the provisions of the relevant Control of Fishing for Salmon Order. The Order for 2012 is currently under consideration in my Department and it is expected that it will be finalised shortly. Any person over the age of 18 is entitled to apply for a public draft net licence unless they have previously availed of the Salmon Hardship Scheme. The Salmon Hardship Fund was established in line with the decision to end, on conservation grounds, the mixed stock fishery for salmon at sea. The scheme provided a payment, based on catch history, to former commercial licence holders who could no longer fish or who chose to withdraw from the fishery. The beneficiaries undertook to abide by the conditions of the scheme including not to apply for a commercial fishing licence in the future. I understand that the person referred to by the Deputy is a former holder of a commercial drift net licence and received payment under the Salmon Hardship Scheme. Under these circumstances, the person is not entitled to apply for a drift net licence. Under the terms of the scheme an applicant who received a hardship payment and is in the future found to be in breach of the salmon fishing regulations will be required to repay the full amount of the hardship payment received together with interest from the day of payment.

Inland Fisheries

Thomas Pringle

Question:

148 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the date on which an anglers association with whom Inland Fisheries Ireland has done the deal to manage angling on the Gweebara river in County Donegal came into existence; the reason other angling associations (details supplied) were not consulted on the management planning; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9020/12]

The fisheries management of the Gweebarra River is a matter for Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) and in common with other Rivers consultation with stakeholders is a key element of that management.

I am advised that the Gweebarra Fishing Club is the local club resident within the Gweebarra catchment. The Gweebarra club is a rejuvenated version of the Gweebarra Fisherman's Association which dates back to 1970. The Gweebarra and District Angling Association was formed in September 2000 and officially affiliated with the Donegal Game Angling Federation on 16 January 2001. Since March 2005 when the local draft net fishermen were included, the club has been known as the Gweebarra Fishing Club.

The Rosses Angling Association (which is a private fishery) and the Fintown Anglers Association, are resident in two of several adjoining catchments to the Gweebarra catchment.

However, I am advised that the local consultation process was comprehensive. From the stage of initial dialogue and throughout the local consultation process the Donegal Game Angling Federation was formally consulted on the management planning for the Gweebarra fishery. The affiliates of the Donegal Game Angling Federation include the Rosses and Fintown Anglers Association and the Gweebarra and District Angling Association along with several other local angling clubs.

Departmental Staff

Thomas Pringle

Question:

149 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the numbers of persons employed in his Department and agencies thereof whose gross salary as of the latest date available was in each of the bands (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9027/12]

The information requested by the Deputy is outlined in the table:

Salary Band

Number of Staff

€,000

0-10

0

10-20

12

20-30

34

30-40

51

40-50

49

50-60

44

60-70

20

70-80

24

80-90

12

90-100

12

100-115

7

115-125

0

125-150

3

>150

2

The staff number includes persons on atypical working arrangements, for example, staff working and being paid for less than a full week.

Information in respect of bodies and agencies under the aegis of my Department is a day to day matter for those organisations and my Department does not have the information sought by the Deputy. I will, however, request relevant agencies and bodies under the aegis of my Department to respond directly to the Deputy in the matter.

Water and Sewerage Schemes

Dara Calleary

Question:

150 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the position regarding a sewerage scheme (details supplied) in County Mayo. [8890/12]

My Department's Water Services Investment Programme 2010-2012, a copy of which is available in the Oireachtas Library, includes a contract for wastewater treatment plants and associated networks for the Belmullet, Foxford and Charlestown Sewerage Scheme to advance to construction during the period of the Programme at an estimated cost of €14.3 million.

I understand that Mayo County Council intends to advance the planning process for the Belmullet project in order to facilitate progress on the Council's applications to the Environmental Protection Agency for a discharge licence and to my Department for a foreshore licence in respect of the outfall for the wastewater treatment plant.

A decision on Mayo County Council's design brief for the appointment of consultants to advance the procurement of the three wastewater treatment plants and associated works under a single Design Build Operate (DBO) will be made by my Department as soon as possible. This decision will also assist the Council to determine the scale and scope of the works to be carried out on the collection systems at the three locations, and whether to incorporate those works into the DBO contract or to procure them under separate contracts.

Local Authority Charges

Dara Calleary

Question:

151 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the reason an estate (details supplied) in County Donegal was not exempted from the household charge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8895/12]

Robert Dowds

Question:

152 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the specific criteria under which an estate is deemed to be unfinished for the purposes of determining liability for the household charge; and the reason an unfinished estate (details supplied) in County Dublin is not exempt from the household charge despite it being unfinished. [8906/12]

Denis Naughten

Question:

153 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the reason some developments have been exempted from the household charge while other developments which have not been completed to the same standard are required to pay the charge in an area (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8925/12]

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

164 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide an update on the list of estates that are exempt from the household charge on the grounds that they are in unfinished estates; if estates may appeal the decision not to include them on this list; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8998/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 151 to 153, inclusive, and 164 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 categorisation 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. The 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. 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.

Local Authority Housing

Sandra McLellan

Question:

154 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will consider introducing a rent to buy system on the tenant purchase scheme in view of the fact that persons are having difficulties in obtaining mortgages due to the current economic crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8937/12]

There are no proposals currently to introduce a ‘rent to buy' scheme for tenant purchase of local authority dwellings.

Sandra McLellan

Question:

155 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if the incremental purchase scheme is on track to commence next year; in view of the fact that the scheme only applies to new houses, when will these houses be built; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8940/12]

Part 3 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provision) Act 2009 provides for an incremental purchase scheme in respect of newly built houses reserved by housing authorities for the purpose. Regulations to implement the Incremental Purchase Scheme for new homes were made in June 2010. The scheme is available to all housing authorities.

It is acknowledged that the current economic climate, reduced demand for house purchase including purchase by local authority tenants, constraints on availability of credit to applicants and a scale back of new-build local authority houses have all combined to limit the potential of the scheme at present.

It remains the intention, as previously announced, that the 1995 tenant purchase scheme for houses will be wound down in 2012 to be replaced by a new scheme based on the incremental purchase model. This change will require amending legislation.

National Drugs Strategy

Brian Stanley

Question:

156 Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will consider reversing the cut of €148,274 to a project (details supplied); if he will consider meeting the project to discuss the serious implications this cut will have; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8962/12]

Brian Stanley

Question:

157 Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the rationale applied when deciding to cut funding to a project (details supplied). [8963/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 156 and 157 together.

As part of the Government's Comprehensive Review of Expenditure and the 2012 estimates process, difficult decisions have had to be taken in relation to prioritising funding for core services in all programme areas.

The project in question is one of 5 drugs projects mainstreamed to my Department's Housing programme and, in 2011, funding of €129,200 was provided through Dublin City Council for the project. This funding represented only 8% of the project's overall budget of €1.59 million in 2011. The Council was informed in December 2011 that it would not be possible for my Department to continue funding the project beyond 31 March 2012.

A consultation process commenced between the 5 drugs projects, the relevant local authorities and other bodies to explore alternative funding mechanisms for the mainstreamed drugs projects for 2012 and beyond. As part of this process a consultation meeting regarding the project in question was facilitated by my Department on 3 February 2012. The meeting involved the Project Manager and Chair of the project in question, representatives from the Drugs Programme Unit in the Department of Health, Dublin City Council, Pobal and the Coordinator of the Ballyfermot Local Drugs Task Force, with apologies from Department of Children and Youth Affairs, HSE and FÁS representatives. A number of actions were agreed at the facilitation meeting,inter alia:

the Project Manager and Chair will engage bilaterally with the identified key funders, i.e. HSE, FÁS, Department of Children and Youth Affairs and Department of Health, with a view to identifying potential alternative funding sources, including through possible rationalisation of administration costs, sharing and maximising services, etc. The Department of Health agreed to facilitate further meetings, if required, and also offered to take part in further discussions with the Star projects' other funders,

the Project Manager and Chair will also undertake an internal examination of the potential for a reconfiguration or modification of the project's management structure,

Ballyfermot Local Drugs Task Force will re-examine funding priorities for 2012 within the Task Force budget with a view to identifying potential funding to support this project during 2012.

Having regard to difficulties identified by the Councils, the projects and other funding partners in ensuring that the 5 drugs projects have sufficient time to identify alternative streams of funding and/or to undertake a reconfiguration of project tasks and priorities, my Department has also agreed to provide additional pro rata funding to support the projects for the second quarter of 2012, i.e. to 30 June 2012, through a transfer of a €100,000 from within the provisional Housing programme estimate for 2012.

This funding is being provided strictly on a once off basis and on the clear understanding that it represents an extension of the transitional arrangement only, thereby providing projects with sufficient time to undertake a fully comprehensive consultation to identify future alternative funding mechanisms. It will be a matter for all the public funding bodies, as part of the consultation process, to identify resources to deliver on the overall objectives of the reconfigured projects beyond end June 2012.

Furthermore, in the context of a public funding provision of €260 million for drugs programmes across all Departments and agencies in 2011, my colleague, the Minister of State with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy is currently undertaking a review of the structures that underpin the National Drugs Strategy at local, regional and national level, including how the current funding structures can be improved or streamlined, particularly in relation to local and regional drugs task forces.

Water Services

Clare Daly

Question:

158 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the reason he is proposing to proceed with universal domestic water metering prior to establishing the source of leaks while unaccounted for water is running at 60% in some areas and nearly 50% nationally; and his views that such a proposal is directly contradictory to commitments to sustainable development. [8966/12]

The Programme 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 water metering programme for households on public water supplies in advance of the introduction of water charges. Charging for water based on volumetric usage will encourage more sustainable use of water resources and is clearly not contradictory to sustainable development.

Water conservation measures have also been given a particular priority in the Water Services Investment Programme 2010-2012. The Programme provides for contracts for water main replacement/rehabilitation to the value of €321m to commence in the Programme period. Published figures for unaccounted for water includes leakage within private properties, which the metering programme will help to address.

Domestic Fire Statistics

Clare Daly

Question:

159 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the number of fires reported in domestic houses since the introduction of the building regulations and separately the number of timber frame houses; and the number of occasions on which the fire spread to adjoining houses. [8967/12]

The Building Regulations 1997-2002 apply to the construction of new buildings, to extensions and material alterations to existing buildings, and to certain changes of use of existing buildings.

Statistics on fires and other emergency incidents dealt with by local authority fire brigades are forwarded by fire authorities to my Department and are published annually on my Department's website atwww.environ.ie.

The following table indicates annually since 1997, the number of instances where fire services were in attendance at fires in domestic buildings, including apartments, (other than chimney fires):

Year

Total Numberof Fires in Domestic Buildings*

1997

3,589

1998

3,422

1999

3,814

2000

3,542

2001

3,590

2002

3,557

2003

3,416

2004

3,338

2005

3,398

2006

3,457

2007

4,195

2008

4,137

2009

4,251

*Fires (other than chimney fires) in domestic buildings (including apartments) in which brigades were in attendance.

While there has been an overall increase since 1997 in the number of domestic fires attended by fire brigades, there has also been a significant growth in the housing stock over same period and a consequent decline in the rate of dwelling fires per hundred thousand dwellings.

My Department does not have data specifically in relation to fires in timber frame houses or in regard to the incidence of fire spreading to adjoining houses. Full data returns in relation to 2010 are not yet available.

Building Regulations

Clare Daly

Question:

160 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the number of houses that have been accepted as complying with the building regulations without any inspection by building control on the basis only of a certificate of substantial compliance by an architect or engineer. [8968/12]

The Building Regulations set out the legal requirements for the design and construction of new buildings, including houses, extensions and material alterations and certain changes of use of existing buildings. The related Technical Guidance Documents provide technical guidance on how to comply with the Regulations. Compliance with the Regulations is the responsibility of the owner or builder of a building. Enforcement of the Regulations is the responsibility of the 37 local building control authorities who are empowered to carry out inspections and initiate enforcement proceedings, where considered necessary. Where building defects occur, their remediation is a matter for the parties concerned, namely the building owner, the relevant developer and the builder's insurers, in line with any contractual arrangements agreed between the parties.

The Department sets an inspection target of 12-15% of all buildings covered by valid commencement notices.

The certificates of substantial compliance referred to in the question would appear to refer to forms drawn up by professional bodies in the construction industry in conjunction with the Law Society and used for conveyancing purposes. These forms were developed and published as opinions of compliance. They are often mistakenly described as "certificates" of compliance with planning permission or ‘certificates' of compliance with building regulations but this is incorrect — they are titled and intended to be opinions of compliance.

These forms are not part of the statutory building control system. I have previously expressed my concerns about the manner in which these forms have been used, in particular in relation to certain housing and apartment developments.

I have also previously outlined, most recently in response to Questions Nos. 166, 167 and 168 on 2 February 2012, a number of measures to be advanced by my Department and local authorities with a view to improving compliance with, and oversight of, the requirements of the Building Regulations and which will make it mandatory for owners, builders and designers of buildings to provide evidence of compliance with building regulations. Proposals in this regard will be released for public consultation in the coming weeks with a view to having the required changes in place as early as possible in 2012.

Professionals who are engaged by developers will thus be required to ensure that construction at least meets the legal minimum standards and there is an urgent need for the construction professions to deliver high standards and professionalism in the construction field.

Clare Daly

Question:

161 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government when he will introduce legislation requiring quarries to test materials for sale to ensure that no heave-inducing material is delivered to building sites. [8969/12]

There are existing requirements on quarries to carry out testing of aggregate materials. The Construction Products Directive (89/106/EEC) provides for a system of harmonised technical specifications for construction products. IS EN 13242:2002 is a harmonised European Product Standard for "Aggregates for unbound and hydraulically bound materials" for use in civil engineering work and road construction. It sets out the rules for producers to demonstrate conformity with the standard. It requires initial type testing before an aggregate is placed on the market, and these tests to be repeated if the aggregate comes from a new source, if there is a major change in raw materials or when the aggregate is to conform to a new requirement.

Standard Recommendation (SR) 21, initially published by NSAI in 2004 and revised in 2007, provides guidance on the use of IS EN 13242:2002. SR21:2004+A1:2007 gives additional specific guidance on reducing the risk of reactive forms of pyrite being present in material fill for use under concrete floors in dwellings and buildings.

I am awaiting the report of the Pyrite Panel and on receipt of this report, and having regard to any recommendations it may make, I will evaluate the necessity for any additional requirements to the existing testing regimes for quarries.

Clare Daly

Question:

162 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the materials known as Clause 804 material which was found to be unfit for purpose under the Sale of Goods Act in the case of James Elliot v Irish Asphalt (Lagan), is commonly used under ground floor extensions to houses and is not yet required to be tested for sulphur content to determine potential heave; and his plans to deal with same. [8970/12]

The key requirements relevant to the use of hardcore material for buildings are set out in Part C (Site Preparation and Resistance to Moisture) and Part D (Materials and Workmanship) of the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations.

Part C (Site Preparation and Resistance to Moisture) of the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations sets out the legal requirements for Site Preparation and Resistance to Moisture. Requirement C4 stipulates that“the floors , walls and roof of a building shall be so designed and constructed as to prevent the passage of moisture to the inside of the building or damage to the fabric of the building”.

Part D, Requirement D1 specifies that "All works to which these Regulations apply shall be carried out with proper materials and in a workmanlike manner”. Requirement D3 defines “Proper Materials” as “materials which are fit for the use for which they are intended and for the conditions in which they are to be used”.

The related Technical Guidance Documents — TGD C and TGD D provide guidance on how compliance with the requirements of the Building Regulations can be achieved in practice. Work carried out in accordance with the guidance provided in the TGDs is consideredprima facie evidence of compliance with the Building Regulations.

TGD C provides guidance on hardcore for use in buildings. It states that "hardcoreshould conform with IS EN 13242:2002” (Aggregates for unbound and hydraulically bound materials for use in civil engineering work and road construction) “and meet the specification as outlined in Annex E of the accompanying guidance document to this standard, SR21:2004+A1:2007”.

Standard Recommendation (SR) 21:2004+A1:2007 provides specific guidance on reducing the risk of reactive forms of pyrite being present in material fill for use under concrete floors in dwellings and buildings. Annex E in SR 21:2004+A1:2007 is an example specification for unbound granular fill for use under concrete floors and footpaths and limits the total sulphur content to 1%.

The onus is on the builder/developer to ensure that all works undertaken are compliant with the relevant parts of the Building Regulations.

In the High Court case referred to in the question, it was acknowledged that Clause 804 is, in fact, a material superior to what is usually needed for construction infill and underfloor support. It is manufactured and sold on the basis that it is a high quality product. The quarry supplied stone fill which contained pyrite. The pyrite in the stone fill caused the heave in the subfloor area which caused the concrete ground floor to heave and crack.

This case is on appeal to the Supreme Court.

I will consider the necessity for any changes to the specification for hardcore on receipt of the report from the Pyrite Panel.

Clare Daly

Question:

163 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the number of housing estates in each local authority that have been taken in charge since the building regulations were introduced; and the number that remain to be taken in charge at this time. [8971/12]

Question No. 164 answered with Question No. 151.

Property Tax

Simon Harris

Question:

165 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will take into consideration the contribution made by homeowners through stamp duty when formulating the mechanism by which the property tax will be calculated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9001/12]

I have recently established an inter-Departmental expert Group to design an equitable property tax having regard to its terms of reference. This Group has been asked to report to me by end April, 2012. I will then bring proposals to Government for decisions on the structure and modalities of the property tax.

Departmental Staff

Thomas Pringle

Question:

166 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the numbers of persons employed in his Department and agencies thereof whose gross salary as of the latest date available was in each of the bands (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9030/12]

There are currently 805.21 staff employed in my Department. The information requested is set out in the following table:

Salary Range

Number of Staff (FTE) *

< €10,000

4.44

€10,000-€20,000

7.40

€20,000-€30,000

69.48

€30,000-€40,000

132.96

€40,000-€50,000

159.00

€50,000-€60,000

171.53

€60,000-€70,000

41.40

€70,000-€80,000

103.00

€80,000-€90,000

50.00

€90,000-€100,000

48.00

€100,000-€115,000

9.00

€115,000-€125,000

0.00

€125,000-€150,000

8.00

> €150,000

1.00

Total

805.21

*Figures indicates full time equivalent.

In relation to state agencies, my Department collects information on numbers employed within defined salary bands. The most recent data collected in respect of Q4 2011 are set out in the following table:

Agency

<€30,000

€30,000-€70,000

€70,000-€125,000

> €125,000

Total

An Bord Pleanála

31.20

76.90

44.10

4.00

156.20

An Chomhairle Leabharlanna

1.00

10.10

3.00

0.00

14.10

Dublin Docklands Development Authority

0.00

12.00

5.00

1.00

18.00

Environmental Protection Agency

12.00

259.70

47.00

4.00

322.70

Housing Finance Agency

0.50

7.50

3.00

0.00

11.00

Interim Housing & Sustainable Communities Agency

1.00

28.20

9.00

1.00

39.20

Irish Water Safety

2.00

3.00

1.00

0.00

6.00

Limerick Northside Regeneration Agency

0.00

4.00

4.00

0.00

8.00

Limerick Southside Regeneration Agency

0.00

4.00

3.00

1.00

8.00

Local Government Computer Services Board

3.00

58.50

18.00

0.50

80.00

Local Government Management Services Board

1.00

14.60

10.60

0.50

26.70

National Building Agency

0.80

0.00

3.00

0.00

3.80

Private Residential Tenancies Board

10.00

37.40

3.00

0.00

50.40

Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland

4.80

27.30

12.10

1.00

45.20

Western Development Commission

0.00

11.40

2.00

0.00

13.40

Total

67.30

554.60

167.80

13.00

802.70

Local Authority Funding

Pearse Doherty

Question:

167 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to local authorities funding difficulties particularly Donegal County Council in retaining the library services due to the recruitment embargo and retirement of staff; and his strategy to ensure that public libraries are manned and retained to a satisfactory service level for the public. [9050/12]

The moratorium on recruitment and promotion in the public service was introduced in March 2009. My Department operates a delegated sanction from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for implementation of the moratorium in relation to local authorities, and any exceptions to the moratorium in the local government sector require sanction from my Department.

Under section 159 of the Local Government Act 2001, each County and City Manager is responsible for staffing and organisational arrangements necessary for carrying out the functions of the local authorities for which he or she is responsible. In this regard, it is a matter for County and City Managers, in the first instance, to ensure that the moratorium is implemented while the appropriate service levels are maintained.

When vacancies arise, public bodies must initially seek to reallocate staff and/or re-organise work or staff accordingly. In exceptional circumstances a request for sanction to fill a post may be made to my Department. In considering sanction requests public safety, maintaining key front line services and economic issues are given precedence as is the requirement to avoid increases in overall staffing levels.

Day to day operations, including staffing levels and opening hours, in the public library service are a matter for each local authority in its capacity as a library authority under Section 78 of the Local Government Act 2001.

My Department has provided funding towards the capital costs of approved new libraries and the refurbishment of existing libraries along with funding for mobile libraries and delivery vans.

The library service provides very valuable social, educational and cultural services to communities around the country and local authorities continue to make every effort to deliver appropriate services within budgetary constraints.

Local Authority Housing

Catherine Murphy

Question:

168 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the options, if any, being considered in relation to local authority housing loans; if local authorities will be permitted to allow those on shared ownership loans to transfer to annuity loans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9061/12]

Catherine Murphy

Question:

169 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the extent of arrears on local authority mortgages, by county, in 2010 and 2011; the amount that was paid on the subsidy element of the shared ownership loans in 2010 and 2011, and in respect of how many loans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9062/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 168 and 169 together.

My Department issued comprehensive guidance to local authorities on the treatment of mortgage arrears, including local authority mortgages for shared ownership transactions, in March 2010. That guidance was closely based on the Central Bank's first statutory Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears to ensure that cases of local authority mortgage arrears are handled in a manner that is sympathetic to the needs of the particular household, while also protecting the position of the local authority concerned.To reflect the content of the Central Bank's revised Code of Conduct — which replaced the previous code from 1 January 2011 and was informed by the deliberations of the Expert Group on Mortgage Arrears and Personal Debt — my Department is currently preparing updated guidance to local authorities in consultation with the City and County Managers Association. This will further enable local authorities to provide a range of flexible repayment options for households in difficulty. In relation to shared ownership specifically, the full review of Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000 announced in the Government's housing policy statement in June 2011 has been broadened to include an examination of the shared ownership scheme.

Where any borrower, either from a local authority or from a private financial institution, is facing difficulties in meeting mortgage repayments, they should engage proactively and constructively with the lender to seek to achieve an agreed solution. The services of the Money Advice and Budgeting Service are also available to such borrowers and support is available through the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme.

In addition, section 34 of Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 provides local authorities with powers to deal flexibly with distressed borrowers.

My Department has recently commenced the collation of data from local authorities on the number of loans in arrears broken down by the length of time in arrears. The data to end of September 2011 indicate that 6,202 of all local authority mortgages (including those drawn down for the purposes of purchasing houses under the various affordable housing schemes, including shared ownership and tenant purchase) are in arrears of more than 90 days. This represents 27.5% of the total number of loans. The table below provides the data on a county by county basis. My Department does not collect information in relation to payments on the subsidy element of shared ownership loans.

The use of 90 days as a comparative metric in considering the level of arrears is consistent with the approach adopted by the Central Bank in compiling information in respect of private lenders' loans. The Central Bank's data show that 8.1% of mortgages in the private sector are now either in arrears for more than 90 days or have been restructured. It is to be expected that the rate of arrears among local authority mortgage holders would be higher than the rate of arrears generally given local authorities' position as lenders of last resort.

Number of LA loans in arrears

Year

QTR

Between 91-180 days in arrears

Over 180 days in arrears

Total over 90 days

Loans in arrears as a % of the total loan book

2010

Q1

1,769

3,657

5,426

24.2%

Q2

1,878

4,121

5,999

24.6%

Q3

1,723

4,307

6,030

24.8%

Q4

1,577

4,488

6,065

25.4%

2011

Q1

1,506

4,501

6,007

25.5%

Q2

1,656

4,541

6,197

26.8%

Q3

1,555

4,647

6,202

27.5%

Q4 2010

Q3 2011

At the end of:

Number of loans in arrears over 90 days

Value of loans in arrears over 90 days

Number of loans in arrears over 90 days

Value of loans in arrears over 90 days

County Councils

Carlow

39

1,672,633

43

2,096,177

Cavan

84

1,201,450

79

1,170,415

Clare

209

3,711,999

193

3,769,998

Cork

259

2,045,459

347

17,158,442

Donegal

144

4,195,405

160

5,597,229

DL/Rathdown

118

4,178,006

108

5,521,327

Fingal

129

8,229,866

161

12,123,891

Galway

172

6,313,240

176

6,278,839

Kerry

163

2,845,267

143

2,846,849

Kildare

400

15,846,719

427

17,405,106

Kilkenny

208

7,021,114

249

8,248,005

Laois

240

12,190,148

249

14,325,289

Leitrim

27

251,408

27

189,693

Limerick

168

1,944,936

157

2,049,067

Longford

105

2,046,314

107

2,947,402

Louth

145

2,539,390

130

4,137,386

Mayo

334

6,796,155

312

6,821,825

Meath

161

2,802,784

137

3,854,656

Monaghan

103

1,049,102

114

1,891,629

North Tipperary

106

2,333,256

95

2,376,940

Offaly

116

1,356,676

106

1,727,466

Roscommon

113

771,036

98

770,770

Sligo

211

5,947,656

246

5,860,541

South Dublin

126

8,190,747

131

9,086,310

South Tipperary

154

3,238,126

166

3,277,589

Waterford

100

3,470,772

98

4,128,535

Westmeath

334

15,528,930

332

15,884,963

Wexford

152

5,800,178

148

7,472,113

Wicklow

132

5,781,818

121

5,678,251

City Councils

Cork

222

4,002,870

201

4,596,713

Dublin

689

6,743,131

800

8,288,657

Galway

98

6,316,974

94

5,597,594

Limerick

136

1,681,138

78

1,367,091

Waterford

168

9,300,798

169

9,686,001

Total

6,065

167,345,501

6,202

204,232,759

Catherine Murphy

Question:

170 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the number of houses rented under the rental accommodation scheme, by county; the additional allocations that will be made in 2012 by county; the housing list by county; the other options available or are being considered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9068/12]

My Department collects information on the total number of accommodation units rented under the Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) but this is not broken down by type of accommodation. Since the scheme was introduced in late 2005, some 37,757 households have been transferred by local authorities from Rent Supplement to RAS and other social housing options. Of this figure 21,892 were housed directly under RAS.

The following table outlines the number of households provided with accommodation under RAS on a county by county basis from November 2005 up to the end of 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 Co. Cl.

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

My Department does not hold information on the number of households on local authorities' waiting lists. This figure continuously fluctuates as households are allocated housing and new households apply for housing support. Detailed information on the latest statutory assessment of housing need carried out in March 2011, including a breakdown by housing authority, is available on my Department's websitewww.environ.ie or on the Housing Agency’s website at www.housing.ie.

Visa Applications

Sean Fleming

Question:

171 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will re-examine the reply to Question No. 519 of 24 January 2012 (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8885/12]

The guidance provided in Parliamentary Question No. 519 was appropriate to the circumstances of the particular visa application referred to by the Deputy. It was not specific to an application coming within the scope of EU Treaty Rights. The Deputy will recall that the guidance was provided in respect of the concern surrounding the relationship history of the Applicant and her spouse. The Visa Officer was of the opinion that evidence in support of the relationship history was insufficient. This opinion was shared by the Visa Appeals Officer who upheld the refusal. Such guidance could be applicable to all visa applications where the relationship history is at issue.

It should be borne in mind that the onus rests with the Applicant to satisfy the Visa Officer as to why the visa sought should be granted. As every visa applicant and their family circumstances are unique, it is impossible to be completely prescriptive about the type of supporting information that should be supplied. In circumstances where the applicant feels that the general guidance given is not practical, then the onus rests with the applicant to provide some form of tangible evidence that can be given reasonable consideration. It is important to note that, in the absence of adequate supporting information, the visa officer will not make assumptions about the applicant's individual circumstances.

Each visa application is entitled to one appeal only. It is however open to the applicant to submit a fresh visa application at any time. Guidance on the visa application process is available on the website of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service,www.inis.gov.ie.

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

Garda Strength

Dara Calleary

Question:

172 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of juvenile liaison officers retiring from the Garda at the end of February; if all of them will be immediately replaced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8888/12]

The Deputy will be aware that the Commissioner, in consultation with his senior management team, is responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, throughout the organisation and I have no function in that process. I have, however, been informed by the Garda Commissioner that on 31 December 2011, the latest date for which figures are readily available, the personnel strength of Juvenile Liaison Officers was 115, of which 11 are due to retire from the force by the end of February 2012.

While there is no getting away from the reality that public expenditure and public service numbers have to be reduced in the context of the agreement with the EU and the IMF, it is our intention to maintain front-line services at the highest level possible. Garda management will continue to closely monitor the allocation of resources, including transfers and retirements, in the context of crime trends, policing needs and other operational strategies in place on a District, Divisional and Regional level to ensure optimum use is made of Garda resources and the best possible Garda service is provided to the public.

Departmental Correspondence

Dara Calleary

Question:

173 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will outline his correspondence with the IMF on the Legal Services Regulation Bill; his views on the commitments he has given in that correspondence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8889/12]

The correspondence under reference between my Department and the IMF about the Legal Services Regulation Bill has, in fact, taken place at official level. My Department's involvement was the outcome of a telephone call received from IMF Washington on 17 January seeking an update on the progress of the Legal Services Regulation Bill following its resumption of Second Stage. The IMF also indicated that it was preparing its own letter of reply to separate correspondence received by its Managing Director in December from the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE), the American Bar Association (ABA) and the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA). The letter to the IMF Managing Director, which was widely reported in the Irish media, had raised concerns about recent trends and their potential impact on the independence of the legal profession in countries subject to IMF support, including Ireland.

My Department agreed to provide an updated response to the concerns raised by means of an official letter to IMF Washington. Moreover, I was happy to agree that the Department's response could, if considered appropriate, be enclosed by the IMF in its reply to the correspondence of the international legal professional bodies. My Department's letter issued to IMF Washington on 31 January 2012. The IMF's own reply to the international legal bodies was issued on 3 February with my Department's letter enclosed for cross-reference. This complete correspondence was posted on the website of the Bar Council (it being the affiliate of the professional organisations who had written to the IMF) on 7 February where it remains available to the general public.

The letter issued by my Department to the IMF on 31 January very openly draws from my statement to the House at the opening of Second Stage of the Legal Services Regulation Bill on 16 December 2011. It confirms the Bill's fundamental upholding of the independence of the legal professions and of the professional principles at several points, notably in Part 2, section 9; that I am taking positive steps to reinforce the independence of the new Legal Services Regulatory Authority from any perception of executive control or interference; my anticipation of a number of amendments to obviate the need for Ministerial consents, e.g. in relation to professional codes of conduct. The letter also reiterates my invitation for similarly constructive suggestions that might enhance the Bill's regulatory framework within the Government's stated policy objective of independent regulation. It notes the broad support, including that of the two professional bodies, already enjoyed by the modernised legal costs regime provided under Part 9 of the Bill and welcomes the historic step recently taken by the Law Society in lending its support, in the best interests of the public and the profession, to the independent complaints procedures being introduced under the Bill.

In recognising that there already has been positive movement towards addressing the concerns about independence and the regulatory interface with Government raised by the international legal bodies with the IMF, the Department's letter highlights the continuing opportunity for dialogue that exists for all stake-holders, including the professional bodies. I will be returning to these and other aspects of the Bill in my forthcoming statement to the House for the closing of Second Stage.

Tribunals of Inquiry

Martin Ferris

Question:

174 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if any action will be taken with regard to the findings of the Moriarty tribunal. [8899/12]

Insofar as the Report of the Moriarty Tribunal made recommendations concerning the future operation of tribunals of inquiry, many of these recommendations are anticipated by the Tribunals of Inquiry Bill 2005 which awaits Report Stage debate in the Dáil. Other recommendations are the subject of consultation with the Attorney General and other relevant Departments.

I am also informed by the Garda authorities that their examination of the Report of the Moriarty Tribunal remains ongoing. The Deputy will appreciate that it would therefore be inappropriate for me to comment further on this aspect at this time.

Garda Deployment

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

175 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding anti-social activity (details supplied); the steps the Garda is taking to stop this problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8920/12]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the area referred to is within the Ashbourne Garda District. Local Garda management is aware of an increase in the number of burglaries recorded in the Sub-District.

The area is the subject of regular patrols by personnel allocated to the Sub-District, supplemented as necessary by uniform and plain clothes personnel from the District Headquarters in Ashbourne, District and Divisional Detective and Drug Unit personnel and the Divisional Traffic Corps and Regional Support Units. Local Garda management has directed that additional patrols take place in the area, including the deployment of members of the Community Policing Unit, to prevent, deter and investigate these crimes. Checkpoints are regularly carried out to identify suspect vehicles travelling through the Sub-District.

Local Garda management closely monitors and keeps under review patrols and other operational strategies in place, in conjunction with crime trends and policing needs of the communities in the area, to ensure optimum use is made of Garda resources and the best possible Garda service is provided to the public.

Garda management is also satisfied that a comprehensive policing service is being delivered in the Meath Garda Division and that current structures in place meet the requirements of the delivery of an effective and efficient policing service. I am further informed that this situation is being kept under review.

Garda Operations

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

176 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of warrants that were outstanding at the end of January 2012; the average time before a warrant is served; if he will provide a breakdown of the number of outstanding warrants by Garda operational district; his views on whether further resources are required to ensure there are not significant delays in the serving of warrants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8955/12]

In the time available it has not been possible for the Garda authorities to supply the information requested by the Deputy. I will be in contact with the Deputy when the information is to hand.

Garda Stations

Robert Troy

Question:

177 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to reduce public opening hours of Granard Garda station, County Longford, from 24 hours to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. [8964/12]

The Deputy will be aware that the allocation of resources and the general management of the Garda Síochána, including deciding on the opening hours of any Garda station, are matters for the Garda Commissioner. I am not aware of any plans, at this stage, to reduce the opening hours of Granard Garda station.

Courts Service

Willie O'Dea

Question:

178 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to the fact that as a result of the provisions of the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011, the Circuit Court no longer has any direct power to enforce maintenance orders; if his further attention has been drawn to the fact that a backlog of cases has arisen in which persons who are entitled to maintenance as a result of a separation agreement endorsed by the Circuit Court are no longer in a position to have the maintenance enforced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8972/12]

Two sections of the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011 relate to the enforcement of maintenance orders. Firstly, Section 31 inserted two new sections into the Family Law (Maintenance of Spouses and Children) Act 1976 setting out procedures to be followed in the District Court regarding arrears of maintenance payments. The section confers power on the District Court to treat as contempt of court a failure by a maintenance debtor to comply with a previous court order and to deal with such a breach accordingly, including by means of imprisonment. The new Section 9A of the 1976 Act only applies to maintenance orders made by the District Court.

Secondly, section 63 of the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011 amends section 8 of the Enforcement of Court Orders Act 1940. This provided that where arrears of maintenance are due, a maintenance creditor may make application to the District Court to summon the maintenance debtor and the District Judge may make such order as to the payment, collection or recovery of all amounts outstanding as the judge seems fair and reasonable. Such an application may be made where the maintenance order was made by the Circuit Court. The amendment contained in the 2011 Act addressed within four months of my appointment a difficulty with the enforcement of District Court maintenance orders that the previous Government had failed to adequately address for almost two years.

The Circuit Court's power to enforce its own orders, including maintenance orders, has not changed. This power is provided for in Section 23(1) and 23(2)(c) of the Family Law (Maintenance of Spouses and Children) Act 1976, as amended by section 12 of the Courts Act 1981.

I have made inquiries with the Courts Service with regard to the Deputy's reference to a backlog of cases arising from the enactment of the 2011 Act. I am informed that the Courts Service is not aware of any backlog or issue having arisen with this legislation. As the Deputy will be aware, the management and administration of the courts, is a matter for the Courts Service. However, if the Deputy wishes to furnish details of any such backlog I will have the matter further examined.

Residential Institutions

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

179 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when he will be more specific about the commitment in his reply to Question No. 139 of 8 February 2012, from Deputy Dowds, with regard to the appropriateness and practicality of addressing issues related to the former Bethany Home, Dublin, in a satisfactory manner. [8993/12]

As stated in my response to Parliamentary Question No. 139 of 8 February, 2012, the Government has charged the inter-departmental committee with clarifying any State interaction with the Magdalen institutions and producing a narrative detailing such interaction. There are presently no plans to expand its brief beyond those institutions. The Deputy can be assured, however, that every consideration is being given to issues relating to the former Bethany Home and how they might be addressed. I regret that I cannot be more specific at this time but it is my intention to give a full consideration to this important matter.

Departmental Staff

Thomas Pringle

Question:

180 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the numbers of persons employed in his Department and agencies thereof whose gross salary as of the latest date available was in each of the bands (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9035/12]

The information requested by the Deputy in respect of the Department and agencies staffed by the Department is set out in the following table. The salary bands include staff employed both on a full-time and a work-sharing basis:

Income Band

Number of Staff

€0 — €10,000

0

€11,000 — €20,000

80

€20,000 — €30,000

423

€30,000 — €40,000

465

€40,000 — €50,000

340

€50,000 — €60,000

363

€60,000 — €70,000

155

€70,000 — €80,000

140

€80,000 — €90,000

36

€90,000 — €100,000

46

€100,000 — €115,000

35

€115,000 — €125,000

1

€125,000 — €150,000

12

Greater than €150,000

7

Citizenship Applications

Jack Wall

Question:

181 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding a permit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9079/12]

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that in 2011 an application from the individual in question was refused at both first instance and on review. The applicant submitted a second application in November 2011 which was not accepted as the circumstances of the application remained unchanged since the first application.

The applicant may submit a request for a review of the decision not to accept his second application. Details of how this may be done are on the INIS website. Also, if the applicant is a student it is open to him to apply to the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) for student permission to reside in the State.

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

182 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress made to date and likely outcome in the determination of residency and naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9092/12]

The person in question made an application for a permanent residence card to EU Treaty Rights Unit of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) on 18 October 2011. This application was acknowledged by letter on 25 October 2011 and further documentation in support of the application was requested at that time. To date no response has been received to this letter.

Officials in the Citizenship Division of INIS inform me that there is no record of an application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's question. It is open to any individual to lodge an application for citizenship if and when they are in a position to meet the statutory requirements as prescribed in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 as amended.

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

Asylum Applications

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

183 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which a review of residency can be undertaken in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9093/12]

I refer the Deputy to my detailed Reply to Parliamentary Question No. 183 of Thursday, 17th November, 2011 — copied beneath. The position is unchanged since then.

Arising from the refusal of his asylum application, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 22nd February, 2010, that the then Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the then Minister setting out the reasons why a Deportation Order should not be made against him. In addition, he was notified of his entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in accordance with the provisions of the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006.

The position in the State of the person concerned will now be decided by reference to the provisions of Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. All representations submitted will be considered before a final decision is made. Once a decision has been made, this decision and the consequences of the decision will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

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

Citizenship Applications

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

184 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress made to date and expectation in the determination of residency and naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9094/12]

Arising from the refusal of his asylum application, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 18th August, 2011, that the then Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why a Deportation Order should not be made against him. In addition, he was notified of his entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in accordance with the provisions of the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006.

The person concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person concerned will be notified in writing of the outcome.

In the event that the application for Subsidiary Protection is refused, the position in the State of the person concerned will then be decided by reference to the provisions of Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. All representations submitted will be considered before a final decision is made. Once a decision has been made, this decision and the consequences of the decision will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

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

Residency Permits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

185 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress made to date and likely outcome in the determination of residency and naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 7; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9095/12]

The person concerned applied for asylum on 28 March 2011. Pursuant to the provisions of Article 13 and Article 16(1)(c) of Council Regulation (EC) No 343/2003 the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner determined on 17 June 2011 that Hungary was the country responsible for examining her asylum application, which was accepted by the Hungarian authorities.

A Transfer Order in respect of the person under Article 7(1) of the Refugee Act 1996 (Section 22) Order 2003 (S.I. No. 423/2003) was signed on 15 July 2011.

The person was informed that she was required to present to the Garda National Immigration Bureau at 13-14 Burgh Quay on 21 July 2011 in order to make arrangements for her transfer to Hungary. She failed to present and was classified as having evaded her Transfer Order. Accordingly, Ireland sought an extension of time under Article 19(4)/20(2) of Council Regulation (EC) No. 343/2003 to effect the transfer. The Transfer Order in this case remains valid.

An application by this person in respect of the Zambrano Judgement has now been received. This will be considered before a final decision is made. Once a decision has been made, this decision and the consequences of the decision will be convoyed in writing to the person concerned.

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

Asylum Applications

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

186 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will examine the family health and general circumstances in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9096/12]

The positions in these cases are as follows. The first and second named persons lodged separate asylum applications, in 2006 and 2007. Arising from the refusal of their respective asylum applications, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), they were separately notified, by letter dated 23 October 2008 and by letter dated 28 September 2009, that the Minister proposed to make Deportation Orders in respect of them. They were each given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why a Deportation Order should not be made against them. In addition, they were notified of their respective entitlements to apply for Subsidiary Protection in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006. They each submitted applications for Subsidiary Protection and these applications will be considered first. When consideration of these applications has been completed, they will be notified in writing of the outcomes.

In the event that their applications for Subsidiary Protection are refused, their position in the State of will then be decided by reference to the provisions of Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. All representations submitted will be considered before a final decision is made. Once decisions have been made, these decisions and the consequences of these decisions will be conveyed in writing to the first and seconded named person. I am satisfied that any decisions taken in the context of the cases of theses persons concerned will have regard for all relevant factors.

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

Deportation Orders

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

187 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress made to date in the matter of examination of entitlement to residency and naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9097/12]

The person concerned, together with the other family members referred to by the Deputy, are the subject of Deportation Orders, made against them, following a comprehensive and thorough examination of their asylum claims, applications for Subsidiary Protection and a detailed examination of the representations they submitted for consideration under Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended). The effect of the Deportation Orders is that the persons concerned must leave the State and remain thereafter out of the State. The enforcement of the Deportation Orders is an operational matter for the Garda National Immigration Bureau.

The Deputy will appreciate that in light of the above clarification, the persons concerned could not be deemed to have an outstanding application for residency.

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

Residency Permits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

188 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress made to date in the determination of residency and naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9098/12]

With regard to the matter of residency, I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 161 of 13 October, 2011 (a copy of which follows). The position is unchanged since then. In relation to the matter of naturalisation, I am informed that there is no record of an application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's question.

The person concerned is an asylum applicant. However, the Deputy will be aware that it is not the practice to comment on individual asylum applications where a final decision has not been made.

PQ No 161 of 13 October 2011

The person concerned has separately submitted documentation to my Department to advance her case to remain in the State based on the principles of the Zambrano Judgment. Her case is under consideration at present. Once a decision has been made, this decision and the consequences of the decision will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

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

Citizenship Applications

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

189 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will clarify the position following correspondence between the Office of the Chief State Solicitor and solicitors for the client dated 16 March 2011 in the matter of determination of entitlement to naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; if he will initiate a full review of the case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9099/12]

I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that the person referred to by the Deputy has never applied for naturalisation. The correspondence referred to by the Deputy between the Chief State Solicitor's Office and the solicitors for the applicant is subject to a confidentiality clause. I do not propose to breach that clause.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

190 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason stamp four has not issued in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9100/12]

I refer the Deputy to my detailed Reply to Parliamentary Question No. 209 of Thursday, 19th January, 2012, a copy of which follows. The position is unchanged since then.

The person concerned is a failed asylum applicant. Arising from the refusal of her asylum application, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 29th September, 2008, that the then Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of her. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why a Deportation Order should not be made against her. In addition, she was notified of her entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in accordance with the provisions of the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006.

The person concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person concerned will be notified in writing of the outcome. In the event that the application for Subsidiary Protection is refused, the position in the State of the person concerned will then be decided by reference to the provisions of Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. All representations submitted will be considered before the a final decision is made. Once a decision has been made, this decision, and the consequences of the decision, will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

The Deputy should note that as the person concerned has not established a right of legal residency in the State, the issue of an application for citizenship does not arise at this time.

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

191 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress made to date in the determination of entitlement to naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9101/12]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question 500 on 7th July, 2011. The position remains as stated:

Reply to Parliamentary Question 500 of 7th July, 2011

A valid application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in April 2008.

I refer the Deputy to Parliamentary Question 138 on 18 June, 2009 in which he was advised that on examination of the application submitted it was determined that the application form had not been fully completed. It was returned to the person in question for further attention on 18 April, 2008. The person in question returned the application form to the Citizenship Division but the application form was returned again to the applicant on 1 July, 2008 as the application form was still incomplete. The Citizenship Division of my Department wrote to the person in question on 16 October, 2008 requesting she return her completed application form and supporting documentation in order for her application to be processed further. A further letter issued on 22 January, 2009, however, to date the Citizenship Division of my Department has not received the requested documentation and the application has been deemed ineligible.

The second person concerned has been granted Leave to Remain in the State for the period to 14 August 2013. This decision was conveyed in writing to the person concerned by letter dated 14 August 2010.

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

Residency Permits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

192 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will clarify the position in regard to residency entitlement in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Waterford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9102/12]

Arising from the refusal of his asylum application, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 24th August, 2009, that the then Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why a Deportation Order should not be made against him. In addition, he was notified of his entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006.

The person concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person concerned will be notified in writing of the outcome.

In the event that the application for Subsidiary Protection is refused, the position in the State of the person concerned will then be decided by reference to the provisions of Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. All representations submitted will be considered before a final decision is made. Once a decision has been made, this decision and the consequences of the decision will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

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

Control of Firearms

Willie Penrose

Question:

193 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Justice and Equality in the context of a recent judgment of the High Court concerning a legal challenge against the refusal of restrictive firearms, if he will indicate that if persons who always held such a firearms licence and who were refused in the past two to three years or so the renewal of such application, will now have their refusal reviewed in the context of their application, whereby it appears that such refusals were being made on a blanket basis without adequate reasons being given; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9113/12]

I understand that the cases referred to by the Deputy were settled and there was, in fact, no judgment delivered by the Court.

It was agreed, as part of the settlement, that any other person, eligible to apply for a Firearm Certificate in respect of a Restricted Firearm, who had previously been refused by the Granting Authority (Chief Superintendent) and which refusal has not been the subject of an appeal to the District Court (as outlined below) may re-submit an application for a Firearm Certificate in respect of a Restricted Firearm, for consideration by the Granting Authority, in accordance with law.

This category has been further clarified, to refer to two (2) specific categories of applicant:

Applicants who have had their application for a Firearm Certificate, in respect of a Restricted Firearm, refused and have not commenced an appeal to the District Court in respect of this decision; and

Applicants who have had their application for a Firearm Certificate, in respect of a Restricted Firearm, refused and have commenced proceedings appealing this decision before the District Court but have discontinued such appeal proceedings.

Equality Issues

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

194 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will include a requirement in the Immigration Residence and Protection Bill for the development and publication of gender guidelines in the asylum process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9118/12]

The issue raised by the Deputy is being examined by my Department in consultation with the relevant statutory agencies.

Job Initiative

Michael McCarthy

Question:

195 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Defence when a decision will issue on the successful applicant for a vacancy within his Department (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8939/12]

The position to which the Deputy refers is an internship post which was advertised under the FÁS JobBridge programme. I am advised that 13 applications have been received for the post and these applications are being considered by the military authorities with regard to their eligibility and suitability for the post. The applicants considered to be most suitable will be called for interview shortly. If a successful candidate is identified in this process it will then be necessary for the individual to be security cleared by An Garda Síochána. In the circumstances, it is not possible for me to indicate at this stage a precise timeline for the filling of the post.

Defence Forces Recruitment

Willie Penrose

Question:

196 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Defence the anticipated levels of recruitment into the Permanent Defence Forces in 2012; the likely level of recruitment for the Western Brigade based at Custume Barracks, Athlone, CountyWestmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8984/12]

The Government has decided to accept my recommendations that the strength of the Permanent Defence Force will be maintained at 9,500. I believe that this is the optimum level required to fulfil all roles assigned by Government. I am advised by the Military Authorities that the strength of the Permanent Defence Force at 31 December, 2011, the latest date for which details are available, was 9,438 comprising 7,650 Army, 791 Air Corps and 997 Naval Service.

It is my intention that targeted recruitment will continue in 2012, within the resource envelope allocated to Defence, so as to maintain the Government approved strength of the Defence Forces.

The issue of the allocation of personnel to Custume Barracks, Athlone, County Westmeath, will be a matter for the Military Authorities based on requirements.

Departmental Staff

Thomas Pringle

Question:

197 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Defence the numbers of persons employed in his Department and agencies thereof whose gross salary as of the latest date available was in each of the bands (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9028/12]

The bodies under the aegis of my Department are the Civil Defence Board, the Army Pensions Board and the Board of Coiste an Asgard. No staff are attached to Coiste an Asgard. The table sets out numbers of persons whose gross salary fall into the relevant bands:

Band

Civil Servants

Civil Defence

Army Pensions Board

€0-€10,000

1

Nil

Nil

€10,000-€20,000

24

Nil

Nil

€20,000-€30,000

51

6

Nil

€30,000-€40,000

97

9

1

€40,000-€50,000

82

4

1

€50,000-€60,000

43

2

Nil

€60,000-€70,000

6

1

Nil

€70,000-€80,000

27

2

Nil

€80,000-€90,000

7

Nil

Nil

€90,000-€100,000

6

1

Nil

€100,000-€115,000

Nil

Nil

Nil

€115,000-€125,000

1

Nil

Nil

€125,000-€150,000

2

Nil

Nil

Greater than €150,000

1

Nil

Nil

Army Barracks

Clare Daly

Question:

198 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Defence if he will produce a comprehensive cost benefit analysis regarding the closure of army barracks, including the costs of leasing extra accommodation as recently advertised in the provincial press. [9055/12]

Following the Government's decision to further consolidate Defence Forces personnel into fewer locations, four military barracks — Clonmel, Cavan, Mullingar and Castlebar — will close on 30 March 2012. Military personnel at present occupied on security and support functions within these installations will be released for operational duties leading to a manpower efficiency gain of around €5 million p.a. In addition, there will be direct cash savings of approximately €1.3m arising from utilities, maintenance and security duties allowances in the four barracks. The Reserve Defence Force in each barracks will be provided with alternative rented accommodation prior to the closure of the barracks. This is a normal arrangement for Reserve Units in other locations around the country and consistent with how the previous Government dealt with the matter. For use by the RDF, the Department has 10 permanent rentals and 30 part time rentals in place including part time use of parish and community halls as well as some commercial premises. The total annual cost is less than €100,000 for all forty premises.

On this basis there is no economic argument for keeping a full barracks open to cater for a Reserve Unit that may only train for a few hours once or twice a week when alternative rented accommodation can be provided for a small fraction of the cost.

Nicky McFadden

Question:

199 Deputy Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Defence if the military museum in Columb Barracks, Mullingar, County Westmeath, will be retained; if he has reviewed correspondence from the Mullingar Area Committee on this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9111/12]

The museum collection in Columb Barracks is primarily associated with the history of the 4th Field Artillery Regiment. It is presently intended to make provision to house the museum in a suitable location in Custume Bks, Athlone, which will be the new location for the 4th Field Artillery Regiment. This arrangement is in keeping with the normal military practice and tradition. The majority of the museum artefacts belong to the Defence Forces with the remaining being owned by private individuals. Some of these individuals have requested the return of their artefacts and these requests have been complied with. Any remaining artefacts owned by private individuals will be moved and stored appropriately in the museum at Custume Barracks, Athlone. I can confirm that I have received an approach from local representatives on this matter and in this regard I have asked a senior official from my Department to meet with them in the near future.

Public Sector Staff

Michael Moynihan

Question:

200 Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of retirements from Teagasc as of the end of February 2012 under the changed pension arrangements broken down by position and role; the total staff working in Teagasc in 2009, 2010, 2011; the estimated total staff remaining after February 2012 broken down by section, position and role; his plans to replace these personnel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8879/12]

At the outset I would point out that this is an operational matter for the Teagasc Authority and the Deputy may wish to contact Teagasc directly for a more detailed reply.

I am advised by Teagasc that 127 staff have already retired under the revised pension arrangements and a further 57 are expected to retire by the end February deadline. The total staff working in Teagasc on 1st January for each respective year is as follows:

Year

Number (full-time equivalents)

2009

1,557

2010

1,385

2011

1,296

2012

1,189

Teagasc, in common with all other public bodies, has had to play its part in the planned reduction in public service numbers and pay costs set down by the previous Government in 2010 under the National Recovery Plan.

The question of replacing retired staff in Teagasc must have regard to Government policy on public service numbers and the need to achieve savings in the public service pay bill through planned reductions in staff numbers. Therefore, when vacancies arise, public service organisations must reallocate or reorganise work or staff accordingly. Any exceptions to this principle can only be considered in limited circumstances in respect of mission critical posts and in full compliance with annual ceilings on staff numbers.

Grant Payments

Sean Fleming

Question:

201 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a single farm payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Carlow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8886/12]

An application under the Single Payment Scheme was received from the person named on 5 May 2011, following processing of which dual claims were identified in respect of all five land parcels declared by the person named. Following correspondence with my Department, it emerged that the lands in question were leased by the other claimant from the person named for a twelve month period commencing on 1 April 2011.

Consequently, the leased out lands were not eligible for inclusion in the Single Payment Scheme application of person named. The application was then processed as per the Terms and Conditions of the Single Payment Scheme, based on the governing EU Regulations, resulting in no payment being due to the person named as the dual claimed parcels exceeded 20% of his application.

Brendan Griffin

Question:

202 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8905/12]

Applications under the 2009 and 2010 Single Payment Schemes/Disadvantaged Areas Schemes were received from the person named on 30 April 2009 and 7 May 2010, respectively. Under the provisions of the governing EU Regulations, payments under these Schemes may be made only in respect of eligible land and applicants are obliged annually to only declare eligible lands available to them. While the person named was initially paid on the declared eligible area, following a review of the commonage area, and a recalculation of eligible areas, additional payment under Disadvantaged Areas scheme for years 2009 and 2010 is now due to the person named. This payment is due to issue shortly.

Brendan Griffin

Question:

203 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when an oral hearing will take place in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8907/12]

The Agriculture Appeals Office received an appeal from the person named on 15th December 2011. The Department's file was received at this office on 24th January 2012 and the appeal was assigned to an Appeals Officer on 26th January 2012 for adjudication. Currently, the appeal is under consideration by the Appeals Officer and pending the availability of all parties concerned, arrangements will be made in the near future for the oral hearing.

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

204 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason for the delay in processing payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9016/12]

The person named commenced REPS in February 2008 and received payments for the first three years of their contract. REPS 4 is a measure under the current 2007-13 Rural Development Programme and is subject to EU Regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications to be completed before any payments can issue. These checks have now been completed and 75% of the Year 4 payment issued dated 14th February for the amount of €9,638.77. The 25% balancing payment amounting to €3212.92 will also issue shortly.

Departmental Staff

Thomas Pringle

Question:

205 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the numbers of persons employed in his Department and agencies thereof whose gross salary as of the latest date available was in each of the bands (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9024/12]

The information requested by the Deputy, as extracted from the Department's payroll at the end of January, is contained in the Table:

No. of Department Staff in Various Pay Ranges

Gross Pay Range

No. of Staff

< €10,000

17

> €10,000 < €20,000

13

> €20,000 < €30,000

167

> €30,000 < €40,000

1,131

> €40,000 < €50,000

1,051

> €50,000 < €60,000

651

> €60,000 < €70,000

105

> €70,000 < €80,000

150

> €80,000 < €90,000

178

> €90,000 < €100,000

181

> €100,000 < €115,000

31

> €115,000 < €125,000

1

> €125,000 < €150,000

7

>€150,000

2

In relation to the State Agencies under my Department's aegis, the query should be addressed directly to the agencies themselves.

Grant Payments

Paudie Coffey

Question:

206 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when an agri-environment option scheme payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Waterford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9110/12]

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

Under the EU Regulations governing the Scheme and other area-based payment schemes, a comprehensive administrative check, including cross-checks with the Land Parcel Identification System, had to be completed before any payment could issue. These checks have been completed and 75% payment totalling €1,218.32 has issued to the person named in respect of 2010.

The application was selected for a Cross Compliance inspection which resulted in a penalty being imposed. The cross compliance penalty, in this case 3%, will be deducted from the balancing payment which will shortly issue to the person named.

Payments in respect of the 2011 Scheme year are subject to a similar administrative checking process which includes verification of capital investments related to approved AEOS actions. These checks have now been completed and following the payment of the balance for year 1, the payment in respect of year 2 will be processed further.

Willie Penrose

Question:

207 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps he will take to have the suckler cow welfare scheme payments immediately paid to a person (details supplied) in County Longford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9115/12]

The person named registered forty six beef breed animals under the 2011 Suckler Welfare Scheme. Payment has been approved for six of the animals and will issue to the applicant shortly. During the payment validation process, errors were identified in respect of the remaining forty animals and a letter outlining these errors will issue to the applicant shortly.

Children in Care

Gerald Nash

Question:

208 Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of children from this State with exceptional needs and behavioural issues who are currently receiving residential support in Scotland; if she will detail the cost to the Exchequer of same; if she will provide details on the number of special care unit and child detention centre units available to children with exceptional needs; the number of places currently available to such children; and her plans for the development of additional places to ensure that these young persons can be supported in residential facilities in the State. [8904/12]

I am informed by the HSE, that on 26 January last there were 10 children in specialised units overseas, detained on High Court Detention Orders. These placements were mainly in the UK and allow for access to therapeutic services not available in this country or where a special care placement is urgently needed and one is not available here. I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy with the most up-to-date information in relation to the other issues raised.

Departmental Staff

Thomas Pringle

Question:

209 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the numbers of persons employed in her Department and agencies thereof whose gross salary as of the latest date available was in each of the bands (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9026/12]

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the table. Numbers quoted refer to head count:

Pay Band €,000

Department

Adoption Authority of Ireland

Office of the Children’s Ombudsman

Family Support Agency

National Education and Welfare Board

Centres for Young Offenders

>150

2

125-150

1

115-125

2

100-115

5

1

1

1

90-100

2

1

80-90

4

1

2

3

70-80

14

1

1

1

6

3

60-70

2

12

1

50-60

20

8

2

4

51

19

40-50

26

5

2

3

16

125

30-40

18

8

3

1

4

65

20-30

20

3

3

2

19

11-20

8

1

0-10

Travel Costs

Gerald Nash

Question:

210 Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Health the mileage rates paid to Health Service Executive employees using their own personal vehicles for work related transport; the rates paid to staff in each HSE region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8876/12]

The current rates of motor mileage allowance payable to Health Service Executive employees (as per HSE HR Circular 008/2009) in respect of the use of own vehicles for work related transport are set out in the tables below:

Rates per Mile

Official Motor Travel in a calendar year

Engine Capacity up to 1200cc

Engine Capacity 1201cc to 1500cc

Engine Capacity 1501cc and over

0 — 4,000 miles

64.54 cent

76.94 cent

97.95 cent

4,001 miles and over

34.91 cent

39.14 cent

47.36 cent

Rates per Kilometre

Official Motor Travel in a calendar year

Engine Capacity up to 1200cc

Engine Capacity 1201cc to 1500cc

Engine Capacity 1501cc and over

0 — 6,437 km

40.11 cent

47.82 cent

60.88 cent

6,437 km and over

21.70 cent

24.33 cent

29.43 cent

Motor Cycle Rates per Mile

Official Motor Travel in a calendar year

Engine Capacity up to 150cc

Engine Capacity 151cc to 250cc

Engine Capacity 251cc to 600cc

Engine Capacity 601cc plus

0 — 4,000 miles

23.29 cent

32.34 cent

38.16 cent

46.01 cent

4,001 miles and over

15.07 cent

21.42 cent

24.61 cent

28.31 cent

Motor Cycle Rates per Kilometre

Official Motor Travel in a calendar year

Engine Capacity up to 150cc

Engine Capacity 151cc to 250cc

Engine Capacity 251cc to 600cc

Engine Capacity 601cc plus

0 — 6,437 km

14.48 cent

20.10 cent

23.72 cent

28.59 cent

6,437 km and over

9.37 cent

13.31 cent

15.29 cent

17.60 cent

Line managers in the HSE are required to ensure that only essential travel is undertaken and that the number of staff travelling on any official journey is kept to the absolute minimum.

The same rates apply across each of the HSE regions.

Gerald Nash

Question:

211 Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Health the rate per mile paid to transport providers engaged by the Health Service Executive in all HSE regions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8877/12]

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

Medical Cards

Niall Collins

Question:

212 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health the position regarding an application for a medical card in respect of a child (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8878/12]

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

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

213 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Health the position regarding a medical card application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8882/12]

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

Drugs Task Force

Simon Harris

Question:

214 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Health the funding allocated to a drugs task force (details supplied), in tabular form, for 2011 and 2012; the person to whom this funding was paid; the way it was distributed; the way it was spent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8891/12]

It has an annual funding allocation from my Department, from which it allocates funding to community based drugs projects. Funding for these projects is channelled through the Health Service Executive and, in one case, the Co. Wicklow Vocational Education Committee.

Details of the funding allocated in respect of projects in the Task Force area in 2011 and 2012 are set out in the table. It should be noted that the Task Force are currently working to identify a project promoter for the East Coast Addiction Service. Information in relation to project expenditure in 2011 is not yet available, but will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as it has been received.

Project

Project Promoter

Agency

2012 Allocation €

2011 Allocation €

East Coast Addiction Services

Not yet identified

HSE

366,000

386,019*

Wicklow Child & Family Project

Hosted by Co Wicklow Partnership

HSE

50,500

12,000

Wicklow Traveller Group

Wicklow Travellers Group

HSE

68,048

53,509

Task Force Budget

ECRDTF

HSE

90,102

111,540

ISPCC 4Me

ISPCC

HSE

108,946

111,648

Living Life

Living Life

HSE

10,000

10,000

Counselling service

ECRDTF

HSE

0

30,000

Youth Outreach Worker — Drugs Education

Bray Youth Service, Regional Office of Catholic Youth Care

Co. Wicklow VEC

60,000

60,000

Tiglin Residential Centre

Teen Challenge Ireland

HSE

98,000

98,000

Total

851,596

872,716

*Actual amount paid €132,639.50.

Long-Term Illness Scheme

Jerry Buttimer

Question:

215 Deputy Jerry Buttimer asked the Minister for Health his plans to carry out a review of the list of long-term illnesses and if Addison’s disease will be included on a future list; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8893/12]

There are no plans to extend the list of conditions covered by the Long Term Illness Scheme. Under the Drug Payment Scheme, no individual or family pays more than €132 per calendar month towards the cost of approved prescribed medicines. The scheme significantly reduces the cost burden for families and individuals incurring ongoing expenditure on medicines. In addition, people who cannot, without undue hardship, arrange for the provision of medical services for themselves and their dependants may be entitled to a medical card. In the assessment process, the Health Service Executive can take into account medical costs incurred by an individual or a family. Those who are not eligible for a medical card may still be able to avail of a GP visit card, which covers the cost of general practice consultation.

Hospital Staff

Dara Calleary

Question:

216 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Health if a dedicated paediatric clinical nurse specialist can be appointed at Letterkenny General Hospital, County Donegal. [8896/12]

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

Hospital Services

Dara Calleary

Question:

217 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Health if he will provide clarification on the future of paediatric diabetes services at Letterkenny General Hospital, County Donegal; and if the services can be retained or even enhanced. [8897/12]

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

Pension Provisions

Paul Connaughton

Question:

218 Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Health if a person (details supplied) in County Galway whose late spouse was a former employee of Portiuncula Hospital,Ballinasloe, County Galway, is entitled to any payment in respect of their superannuation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8898/12]

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

Public Service Contracts

Sean Fleming

Question:

219 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Health if all public procurement procedures and legislation are being adhered by the Health Service Executive in Dublin north for construction, building and maintenance works being carried out by contractors appointed by HSE management possibly without going through an adequate tender process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8901/12]

The Health Service Executive confirms that it complies with all public procurement procedures and legislation in Dublin north and nationally. The Executive's Internal Audit Unit randomly selects capital projects for annual spot checks.

General Medical Services Scheme

Billy Kelleher

Question:

220 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health if he will consider making naprotechnology available on the general medical service system to assist couples with infertility (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8908/12]

Assisted Human Reproduction treatment is not provided or funded by the public health system; such treatment is available from clinics that operate privately. Patients who access these services privately may claim tax relief on the costs involved under the tax relief for medical expenses scheme.

In addition, a defined list of fertility medicines needed for fertility treatment is covered under the High Tech Scheme administered by the Health Service Executive. Medicines covered by the High Tech Scheme must be prescribed by a consultant/specialist and approved by the ‘High Tech Liaison Officers'. The costs of medicines is then covered, as appropriate, under the Medical Card or Drug Payment Scheme.

I am conscious of the financial burden that fertility services can place on the couples concerned; however, this matter has to be considered in the context of the difficult economic situation that prevails and the other compelling funding demands across a full range of health issues. Hence, there are currently no plans to include Naprotechnology or any other Assisted Human Reproduction technology under the General Medical Services Scheme.

Health Services

Sandra McLellan

Question:

221 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 212 of 8 February 2012, when a response will issue. [8910/12]

Sandra McLellan

Question:

222 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 213 of 8 February 2012, when a response will issue. [8911/12]

Sandra McLellan

Question:

223 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 214 of 8 February 2012, when a reply will issue. [8912/12]

Sandra McLellan

Question:

224 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 215 of 8 February 2012, when a reply will issue. [8913/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 221 to 224, inclusive, together.

The HSE has advised that they replied to the Deputy on the 13th February 2012.

Cancer Screening Programme

Joan Collins

Question:

225 Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Health if he will, as a matter of urgency, restore the mammography services to Sligo General Hospital in order to alleviate the stress on patients travelling to University Hospital Galway and to alleviate the stress on services at UHG; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8917/12]

I am committed to ensuring that quality and optimal care are paramount in decisions about the provision of services throughout the health system. There is no specific date for the resumption of follow-up mammography services in Sligo for women who have previously had a diagnosis of, and treatment for, breast cancer. The recruitment of additional radiographers at University Hospital Galway (UHG) is necessary to allow the service to resume in Sligo, through a radiographer travelling from Galway to provide this service. However, due to issues including the retirement/transfer of existing staff, it has not yet been possible to increase the complement of radiographers at UHG.

As one of the two designated centres for the HSE West region, Galway has a critical mass of expertise, sufficient throughput of cases and relevant multidisciplinary specialist skills in cancer services which, as confirmed by international evidence, achieve the best outcomes for patients. The Director of the National Cancer Control Programme keeps the provision of breast cancer services in all designated cancer centres under review.

In-patient, day care and outpatient medical oncology, as well as chemotherapy services, continue as always to be provided at Sligo General Hospital. It is important to note that some 96% of women who attend the Galway unit do not have cancer, and only one visit is normally necessary. For the small number diagnosed with breast cancer, some 85% will require radiotherapy as well as surgery, which would involve treatment in Galway in any event.

Medical Cards

Jack Wall

Question:

226 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health the reason a person (details supplied) in County Kildare and two children did not receive a medical card when the person’s partner did; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8918/12]

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

Health Services

Pearse Doherty

Question:

227 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Health if he acknowledges the red eye service NowDoc as an essential service to rural dwellers in County Donegal and that the three centres in Gweedore, Carndonagh and Mountcharles are critical to serve them; if his attention has been drawn to any changes or proposals to this service in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8929/12]

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

Joan Collins

Question:

228 Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Health if he will review a matter (details supplied) regarding a resource centre; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8933/12]

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

Medical Cards

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

229 Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Health when a decision will be issued on a medical card application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Longford. [8934/12]

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

Health Services

Michelle Mulherin

Question:

230 Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Health when a decision will be issued on a tender, advertised in autumn 2010, to deliver the home care package nationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8935/12]

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

Nursing Home Accommodation

Finian McGrath

Question:

231 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health the position regarding a nursing home placement in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5 [8957/12]

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

Health Services

Finian McGrath

Question:

232 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health if he will give priority to motor neurone services in 2012 [8958/12]

People with motor neurone disease avail of a wide range of general and specialist health services. Services for people with this condition will be provided by the Health Service Executive (HSE) and voluntary organisations in accordance with the HSE's National Service Plan for 2012.

Medical Cards

Jack Wall

Question:

233 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health the reason a person (details supplied) and their two children did not receive a medical card when the person’s partner did; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8981/12]

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

Hospital Services

Brendan Griffin

Question:

234 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Health if the Health Service Executive will reconsider its decision to withdraw its embalming service in hospitals or if the HSE will make a exception in cases where an autopsy is required [8992/12]

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

Hospital Services

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

235 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Health the number of cancer patients attending Dublin hospitals for treatments on a monthly basis from County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8994/12]

The Deputy's question relates to service delivery matters and accordingly I have asked the HSE to respond directly to him.

Ambulance Service

Billy Kelleher

Question:

236 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health the status of the 24-hour emergency transport co-ordination centre; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8996/12]

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

Hospital Services

Billy Kelleher

Question:

237 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health if he has made a policy decision to provide more nursing support to help hospitals offer insulin pump treatment to children with type 1 diabetes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8997/12]

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

Long-Term Illness Scheme

Simon Harris

Question:

238 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Health the reason behind the exclusion of end-stage renal failure from the list of illnesses entitled to a long-term illness medical card; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9006/12]

There are no plans to extend the list of conditions covered by the Long Term Illness Scheme.

Under the Drug Payment Scheme, no individual or family pays more than €132 per calendar month towards the cost of approved prescribed medicines. The scheme significantly reduces the cost burden for families and individuals incurring ongoing expenditure on medicines. In addition, people who cannot, without undue hardship, arrange for the provision of medical services for themselves and their dependants may be entitled to a medical card. In the assessment process, the Health Service Executive can take into account medical costs incurred by an individual or a family. Those who are not eligible for a medical card may still be able to avail of a GP visit card, which covers the cost of general practice consultation.

Health Service Allowances

Simon Harris

Question:

239 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Health his plans to examine the way in which ongoing travel expenses are reimbursed by the Health Service Executive, HSE; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9007/12]

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

Medical Aids and Appliances

Simon Harris

Question:

240 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Health if he will ask the Health Service Executive to address the undue delays that children with cerebral palsy and similar conditions are facing in accessing vital medical equipment, such as walkers; if the HSE will consider making second-hand equipment available to families to help alleviate this delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9009/12]

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

Health Services

Simon Harris

Question:

241 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Health the community support services available to children with autism being educated in a mainstream setting and living in an area (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9010/12]

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

Simon Harris

Question:

242 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Health if the same criteria are applied in drawing up the Health Service Executive independent assessment of needs plan for children with autism regardless of the part of the country in which the child resides; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9011/12]

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

Medical Cards

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

243 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the position regarding a medical card application in respect of a person (details supplied|) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9012/12]

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

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

244 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the position regarding a medical card application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9017/12]

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

Departmental Staff

Thomas Pringle

Question:

245 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Health the numbers of persons employed in his Department and agencies thereof whose gross salary as of the latest date available was in each of the bands (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9033/12]

The data requested by the Deputy as it pertains to my Department is presented in the following table. The Deputy might note that the figures presented are shown on the basis of ‘headcount' which means that staff that have a work-sharing pattern that is less than 100% are in the band that represents their pro-rata downwards adjusted salary.

Department of Health

Pay Band

Total Staff (Headcount)

0-10

5

11-20

9

20-30

36

30-40

75

40-50

76

50-60

64

60-70

12

70-80

51

80-90

22

90-100

20

100-115

15

115-125

0

125-150

5

>150

2

Grand Total

392

With regard to the Health Service Executive, they have been asked to collate the data sought as soon as possible and it will be provided directly to the Deputy by them when available.

The information in respect of other Agencies is being collated by my Department and will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as it is available.

Medical Cards

John O'Mahony

Question:

246 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive a decision on an application for a medical card; the reason for the delay in same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9045/12]

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

John O'Mahony

Question:

247 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive a decision on an application for a medical card; the reason for the delay in same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9046/12]

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

Health Services

Paul Connaughton

Question:

248 Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Health the reason intravenous drugs such as antibiotics can only be administered in a hospital setting as opposed to nursing homes when there are suitably qualified staff; if he will consider reviewing this in view of the fact that it creates unnecessary hospital admissions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9051/12]

There is nothing in medicines legislation that requires intravenous antibiotics to be administered in a hospital only.

The Minister for Health and Children introduced primary legislation in 2006 to allow prescriptive authority for nurses and midwives subject to conditions specified in regulations. The focus subsequently has been to successfully implement the initiative by supporting health service providers to introduce medicinal product prescribing based on service need within a national standardised framework and strong clinical governance.

Prescriptive authority for nurses and midwives is founded on a dual framework of medicines legislation, and professional regulation and a programme of implementation has been rolled out since 2007.

I have asked the HSE to supply the Deputy with details of sites where this programme is in progress.

Catherine Murphy

Question:

249 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Health the extent of the waiting list for orthodontic treatment by county; if all patients are categorised by severity; if so, the waiting time by category and by county; if it is intended to fill any specialist vacancies for the provision of this service in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9060/12]

Referrals for orthodontic treatment are generally assessed for eligibility under the Modified Index of Treatment Need (IOTN). This establishes the category of need; Grade 5 being more complex needs and Grade 4 being less complex needs.

The following table outlines the number of patients awaiting orthodontic treatment and the average waiting time for the second quarter of 2011:

Orthodontic Treatment Waiting List

HSE Area

Grade 5 formerly Category A

Waiting time (Months)

Grade 4 formerly Category B

Waiting time (Months)

South Western

531

16 months

535

24 months

Mid Leinster

375

18-24 months

494

36 months

Midland

82

12 months

815

24 months

North/North Eastern

770

12 months

1,861

42 months

Southern

206

21 months

1,776

42 months

Mid Western*

1,174

24 months

North Western

263

12 months

279

32 months

South Eastern**

n/a

n/a

Western*

1,891

36 months

*A breakdown by grade is not available for the Mid Western or the Western region.

**Figures for the South Eastern area are currently unavailable.

The HSE will be commissioning an independent review of orthodontic services in 2012 which is intended to review a number of service provision models and the required skills mix. The outcome of this review will give guidance as to what changes will be desirable to provide the best possible model of care delivery, given the current resources available and expected future demand for services.

Medical Cards

Willie Penrose

Question:

250 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Health if he will make contact with the primary care reimbursement services with a view to having a medical card application processed immediately, which was initially submitted in November 2011, and has not been processed to date in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9069/12]

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

251 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health when it is likely that a medical card will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9090/12]

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

252 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health if and when a medical card will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9091/12]

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

Health Services

Billy Timmins

Question:

253 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health the position regarding homoeopaths (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9116/12]

While homoeopathy is not regulated by my Department, homoeopaths, like all practitioners, are subject to the law, including consumer legislation, competition, contract and criminal law.

I understand that the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland has had concerns about homoeopathic products or treatments being offered for serious or prolonged medical complaints in contravention of its advertising code and has engaged with the relevant representative body in the matter.

In addition, the Irish Medicines Board operates a registration scheme for homoeopathic medicines under the Medicinal Products (Control of Placing on the Market) Regulations 2007. Advertising of medicinal products is regulated by the Medicinal Products (Control of Advertising) Regulations 2007 and these Regulations prohibit the use of certain material (e.g. material which refers, in improper, alarming or misleading terms to claims of recovery) in advertisements of medicinal products.

Nicky McFadden

Question:

254 Deputy Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Health the position regarding the proposed primary care centre, Clonbrusk, Athlone, County Westmeath; if construction on the facility will go ahead this year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9117/12]

Following the publication of the ‘Infrastructure and Capital Investment 2012-2016: Medium Term Exchequer Framework', the Health Service Executive commenced drawing up its capital programme for the multi-annual period 2012-2016. The Executive is required to prioritise the capital infrastructure projects within its overall capital funding allocation taking into account the existing capital commitments and costs to completion over the period. A draft capital plan for the period 2012-2016 has been submitted to my Department. My Department is reviewing the proposals and following up with the HSE where further details may be required.

The proposed plan requires my approval with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. Details of the plan will be published by the Executive following its approval.

Departmental Expenditure

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

255 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health if students studying for a degree in biomedical science, in other parts of the country, receive training allowance payments (details supplied); if this is the case, the reason DIT medical scientist students do not receive these payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9122/12]

Student medical scientists who are in their third year of study, and who are accepted for clinical placement in a public health service laboratory, are eligible to receive a monthly training allowance of €813.58.

I am making enquiries about the particular issue raised by the Deputy and will correspond with her on the matter as soon as possible.

Departmental Reports

Finian McGrath

Question:

256 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position regarding an audit report in respect of an organisation (details supplied). [8960/12]

I can advise the Deputy that, on the basis of legal advice received, the draft audit report referred to has been issued by the Internal Audit Unit of my Department to a number of parties referred to in it in order to allow them an opportunity to comment on its contents prior to its being finalised. Once this process has been completed, the final text of the report will be submitted to my Department's Audit Committee for its consideration.

Road Network

Brendan Griffin

Question:

257 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he sees the upgrade of the N22 to Macroom road as a priority project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8881/12]

As Minister for Transport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme. The planning, design and implementation of individual national roads are matters for the National Roads Authority (NRA) under the Roads Acts 1993 to 2007 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. Noting this, I have referred the Deputy's question to the NRA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you don't receive a reply within 10 working days.

Dara Calleary

Question:

258 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will make funding available to Donegal County Council for road improvement works based on the storm damage report submitted by the council to him in September 2011. [8894/12]

Against the backdrop of very tight overall financial constraints, the grant allocations for 2012 in respect of regional and local roads have now been announced. Donegal County Council has received an increase of €1.1 million in its restoration improvement grant (above the 2011 amount) to bring it to €11.3 million. The additional monies being made available to the Council under the restoration improvement programme in 2012 should assist the Council in carrying out rehabilitation works on damaged roads. The Department is also open to the Council revising its three year restoration improvement programme to accommodate particular restoration works which may now be needed following the storm damage.

Rail Network

Michelle Mulherin

Question:

259 Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if the State has undertaken a very onerous financial commitment as a result of the inclusion of the Cork-Shannon part of the western arc from Cork to Belfast on the EU CEF list of pre-identified projects; and if it is pre-identification on this TEN-T CEF list requires Ireland to build a fully electrified ERTMs railway between Shannon and Cork by 2030. [9015/12]

As the Deputy is aware, the Trans-European Network (TEN-T) and the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) were published by the European Commission in October, 2011. These were proposed by the European Commission and are currently being discussed in the European Council and in the European Parliament and therefore, have not yet been agreed.

It is important to note that the TEN-T Core Network was proposed by the European Commission and not by Member-States. The proposal as it currently stands comprises the most important links and nodes on the European rail network and has been devised by the Commission based on various criteria including traffic demand. In Ireland, the Belfast-Dublin-Cork railway line has been designated by the Commission as a Priority Project in the current TEN-T network and has been put forward for inclusion in the proposed new Core Network.

Based on the criteria published by the Commission, the only other rail line, outside of the Dublin and Cork Areas, which might be eligible for inclusion in the new Core Network is the Limerick/Foynes rail line. This line was proposed by Ireland to the European Commission on the basis of its potential use for the transport of freight to Foynes Port. Should this potential not be realised, the Foynes line would not be expected to be included in either the Core or Comprehensive networks. No other railway line existing or proposed on this island would carry the volume of passengers or freight to meet the Commission's criteria. There is no proposal for a Shannon-Cork railway line referred to by the Deputy.

In the discussions that are currently underway between the Commission, member-states and the European Parliament, it is the intention to ensure that Ireland's unique circumstances are taken into account in the final text of the TEN-T and the Connecting Europe Facility regulations. Arising from our input to the negotiations to date the most recent draft proposals contain an exemption from the ERTMS requirement for railways such as Ireland's that have a different rail gauge and which are detached from the main rail lines of the EU.

Subject to the exemption Ireland will support the thrust of the new TEN-T proposals since as an island on the periphery of Europe improved transport links to our main trade and tourism markets are vital. It is important to understand that TEN-T is not aspirational. Rather it involves very onerous financial commitments on individual member states and therefore the Government must exercise care in discussions on this matter.

Departmental Staff

Thomas Pringle

Question:

260 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the numbers of persons employed in his Department and agencies thereof whose gross salary as of the latest date available was in each of the bands (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9038/12]

As agreed with the Deputy details on the number of people employed in the Department and the applicable pay rates per grade is outlined in Table 1. The pay rates shown are the revised rates applicable from 1st January 2010 for public servants. New reduced pay (NRP) rates apply with effect from 1st January 2011 to new entrants recruited into the public service. The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport has recruited Radio Officers (Grade 3) to fill safety critical vacancies in the Irish Coast Guard's marine rescue service. The NRP rates for the recruits is €27,747-€48,488 at Class A PRSI rates.

I have asked the State agencies under the aegis of my Department to provide the Deputy with the information requested. If you do not receive a reply within ten working days, please contact my private office.

Table 1 — Staff Numbers at 31 January 2012

GRADE

Number of staff (Full-time Equivalents)

Pay Rates @ Modified PRSI (pre-1995)

Pay rates @ Class A PRSI (post 6th April 1995)

Fixed Term Contracts

Secretary General

1

See note below

Assistant Secretary

5

€127,796-€146,191

€134,523-€153,885

Special Advisor to Minister

1

€105,837

Principal Adviser — Engineer

1

€93,197-€110,665

€97,968-€116,386

Chief Aeronautical Officer

1

€92,701-€112,173

€97,099-€117,588

Chief Surveyor

1

€92,672-€105,429

€97,416-€110,844

Aeronautical Officer Grade I

4

€86,795-€105,165

€90,876-€110,216

Director Irish Coast Guard

1

€85,957-€105,429

€90,355-€110,844

Assistant Director IRCG

1

€80,051-€98,424

€84,132-€103,472

Chief Engineer

1

€80,051-€98,424

€84,132-€103,472

Principal Officers

18

€80,051-€98,424

€84,132-€103,472

Press Advisor

1

€80,051-€98,424

Deputy Chief Surveyor

1

€78,939-€98,424

€82,964-€103,472

Senior Adviser Engineer

1

€78,939-€98,424

€82,964-€103,472

Surveyor (Officer in charge)

1

€70,157-€85,724

€73,720-€90,102

Aeronautical Officer Grade 2

1

€68,710-€83,512

€71,929-€87,422

Legal Advisor

1

€67,913-€86,555

€71,359-€80,988

Regional Controller IRCG

2

€67,913-€84,296

€71,359-€88,598

Surveyor (marine)

24

€65,247-€80,814

€68,553-€84,935

Inspector (engineering)

1

€65,247-€80,814

€68,553-€84,935

Staff Engineer

1

€65,247-€80,814

€68,553-€84,935

Assistant Principal Officers

42

€61,966-€76,768

€65,185-€80,678

Sustainability Adviser

1

€61,966-€76,768

€65,185-€80,678

Transport Planner

1

€61,966-€76,768

€65,185-€80,678

Divisional Controller

2

€61,966-€76,768

€65,185-€80,678

Training & Operations Officer

3

€61,966-€76,768

€65,185-€80,678

Marine Radio Surveyor

1

€55,257-€77,429

€58,131-€81,375

Electronics Officer IRCG

3

€55,863-€69,132

€58,765-€72,642

Accountant

2

€55,863-€69,132

€58,765-€72,642

Deputy Divisional Controller IRCG

2

€48,467-€59,039

€50,973-€62,109

Engineering & Operations Officer IRCG

1

€48,467-€59,039

€50,973-€62,109

Coastal Unit Sector Manager IRCG

3

€43,816-€55,415

€46,081-€58,294

Higher Executive Officers

72

€43,816-€55,415

€46,081-€58,294

Personal Assistant to Minister/Minister of State

6

€43,715-€56,060

Staff Officers

14

€33,070-€43,906

€34,771-€46,171

Statistician

1

€31,928-€76,768

€33,576-€80,678

Station Officer IRCG

13

€31,913-€53,800

€33,566-€56,611

Administrative Officers

7

€31,619-€55,415

€33,247-€58,294

Radio Officer Grade 3 IRCG

31

€29,327-€51,214

€30,830-€53,875

Executive Officers

76

€29,024-€45,616

€30,516-€47,975

Clerical Officers

127

€22,015-€35,515

€23,177-€37,341

Telephonists

2

€22,015-€35,515

€23,177-€37,341

Pay scale at weekly rate:

Civilian Drivers

6

€631.75

Services Officers/Attendants/ Storekeeper

12

SO €398.74-531.61;SA — €398.74-€524.65

Tourism Promotion

Seán Crowe

Question:

261 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the efforts he has made with the relevant agencies to maximise the tourism potential for Ireland of the Volvo Ocean Race; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8602/12]

The State tourism agencies are working hard to ensure a significant tourism impact for the finale of the Volvo Ocean Race in Galway later this year. As the promotion of such events is an operational matter for those agencies, I have referred the question to the tourism agencies and asked them to inform the Deputy of their activities in this area. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Question No. 262 answered with Question No. 19.

Tourism Industry

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

263 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the likelihood of increased employment arising from expansion of business in the catering sector in the course of the current year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9104/12]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

264 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the total number of persons employed in the hotel and catering sectors at all levels; the extent to which employment can be increased in these sectors over the coming 12 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9105/12]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

265 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which costs in the tourism sector has been isolated with a view to identification of factors likely to inhibit business expansion and employment creation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9106/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 263 to 265, inclusive, together.

The Government made a concerted effort to reduce the cost base of the tourism sector through the 2011 Jobs Initiative which introduced a reduced 9% VAT rate from July 1st on a range of services, including hotels and restaurants. The Government also halved employers' PRSI for those on modest wages and introduced a visa waiver scheme that makes Ireland more accessible for tourists from important new and emerging markets. These measures were aimed at supporting the creation and maintenance of employment within the tourism sector as well as helping tourism businesses lower their cost base, and allowing them to offer a more competitive product to tourists.

The Central Statistics Office measure employment in accommodation and food service activities and the latest seasonally adjusted figures are from quarter three of 2011 when 109,700 were employed in the sector. Fáilte Ireland's most recent estimate of the numbers employed in the broader tourism and hospitality sector is approximately 180,000 people. At this stage it is too early to accurately assess the impact of the Jobs Initiative and it will be later this year before we can form a view on the effect of these measures on employment. I am, however, pleased to report that overseas tourism numbers have increased by almost 7% to the end of November in comparison to the same period last year. I am also encouraged that employment in accommodation and food service activities, as measured by the CSO, increased by 6,000 over the six month period to end September 2011.

The Irish tourism industry is cautiously optimistic about its prospects and performance for the year ahead and Tourism Ireland is targeting growth in overseas visitor numbers of 4.5%. I would hope that this will result in improved job creation during the course of the year.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

266 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent if any, to which he has had discussion with the banking sector with a view to ensuring the availability of adequate working capital for the hotel and catering sectors particularly those whose bankers have withdrawn from this jurisdiction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9107/12]

I have not held discussions with the banking sector on the issue referred to by the Deputy and the primary responsibility for the restructuring of the banking system is held by my colleague, the Minister for Finance. In this regard, I am informed that under the restructuring plan for the two Pillar Banks, Bank of Ireland and AIB, both banks were required to sanction lending of at least €3 billion in 2011, €3.5 billion this year and €4 billion in 2013 for new or increased credit facilities to SMEs. Each bank has informed the Department of Finance that they have met their lending targets for 2011.

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation is putting in place a Temporary Partial Credit Guarantee for viable companies currently unable to access credit due to lack of collateral or the novelty of their business proposition. A Microfinance Fund to provide loans to small businesses is also being developed by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation, which will generate up to €100 million in additional micro-enterprise lending which will benefit over 5,000 businesses over a ten year period. These initiatives are not designed to replace current lending through the banking system but to provide additional lending where specific measures are warranted.

In addition, in conjunction with the Minister of State for Small Business, the Head of Banking Policy Division in the Department of Finance is holding a series of regional meetings to discuss access to bank credit with key local stakeholders. These meetings will complement the information provided by the recent Mazars credit demand survey and better inform the design and implementation of future Government policies on credit to the SME sector. The first of these meetings were held on 3 February in Dundalk and Dublin. My Department and Fáilte Ireland have taken part in these consultations.

Questions Nos. 267 and 268 answered with Question No. 19.

Road Network

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

269 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which the next phase of motorway extension is likely to progress; if discussions have taken place in this regard with a view to identifying the most necessary developments in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9127/12]

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme. The planning, design and implementation of individual road projects is a matter for the National Roads Authority (NRA) under the Roads Acts 1993 to 2007 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

As outlined in the Infrastructure and Capital Investment Framework 2012-2016, the key objective in the current economic circumstances is to protect the investment made to date in the road network and to progress a limited number of road improvement schemes. At this point the Ballaghdereen bypass and the N11/Newlands Cross PPP scheme are the only major schemes scheduled to commence construction in the next few years. It is also hoped to progress the N17/18 scheme as a PPP project.

Tourism Promotion

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

270 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which tourism marketing on an all-Ireland basis continues with a view to maximising opportunities in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9128/12]

Tourism Ireland is the all-island tourism marketing company established under the Good Friday Agreement. The Company has responsibility for the overseas promotion of the entire island of Ireland as a tourist destination, Tourism Brand Ireland and the delivery of regional and product marketing and promotion activity on behalf of Fáilte Ireland and the Northern Ireland TouristBoard. Details of Tourism Ireland's marketing plans for 2012 can be found on their website:www.tourismireland.com.

Question No. 271 answered with Question No. 19.