Written Answers.

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

Data Protection

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

12 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Health his plans to store historical and new Guthrie Cards at Temple Street Hospital, Dublin; the timeline and extent of the upcoming consultation in relation to same; if he has considered an opt-out clause on same, whereby all cards will be stored unless specifically requested by an individual or their parent or guardian that it should be destroyed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16269/12]

In late 2009, the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) received a complaint from a member of the public in relation to the retention of Newborn Screening Cards (NSCs). The basis of the complaint (which was upheld by the Data Protection Commissioner) was that the NSCs should not be retained indefinitely without consent.

Soon after I was appointed Minister I requested the HSE to conduct a review of both the legal and ethical basis for retention of NSCs and their potential use for research purposes. The report of the review group was submitted to my office in January 2012. Having carefully considered the issue, I have accepted the recommendation of the review group that, in order to meet our legal and ethical responsibilities, NSCs older than ten years should be destroyed.

However, I fully recognise the value of this material for research purposes, which was why the review group was asked to explore ways in which the material could be made available to the research community that are compatible with our ethical and legal obligations. Consequently, the HSE will mount an information campaign offering members of the public the opportunity to have their screening card returned to them, prior to any destruction of the cards taking place. This will ensure that anyone who wishes to donate their own or their child's NBC to research will be afforded the opportunity to do so. The proposed course of action seeks to ensure public trust and a continued willingness to participate in the National Newborn Screening Programme, a vital public health measure for children and their families.

National Positive Ageing Strategy

Seamus Kirk

Question:

13 Deputy Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Health when the National Positive Aging Strategy will be published; the funding provided for the strategy this year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16475/12]

The Programme for Government has committed to completing and implementing the National Positive Ageing Strategy so that older people are recognised, supported and enabled to live independent full lives.

The Strategy will set the strategic direction for future policies, programmes and services for older people in Ireland. It will set out a common framework for the development of operational plans by a number of Government Departments which will clearly set out each Department's objectives relating to older people. Mechanisms designed to monitor the implementation of measures contained in operational plans will also be included in the Strategy. However, I do not envisage that the Strategy will propose new service developments. Rather it will set the strategic direction for future policies, programmes and services for older people in Ireland.

A considerable amount of preparatory work has already been completed. The drafting of the Strategy will proceed within the Department within the constraints of available staff and other priorities. At this stage I envisage the Strategy will be completed and published as soon as possible within these constraints.

Medical Aids and Appliances

Sandra McLellan

Question:

14 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Health if he has been in contact with their counterparts in France in relation to the PIP company which is responsible for breast implants using industrial rather than medical silicone, causing distress and possible medical complications to the women involved, including nine women here; if he has initiated any action on this matter to assist the women involved and, if not, if he will do so; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16265/12]

Mick Wallace

Question:

53 Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Health the total number of women affected by the PIP breast implants controversy in view of the recent revelation that PIP implants manufactured prior to 2001 may also have contained industrial grade silicone; his views on reports that some women are being obstructed by private clinics from obtaining their medical records in order to get confirmation of PIP implants and on reports that information is missing from some medical files; if his Chief Medical Officer has met with a representative group for the women affected by the PIP breast implants issue to discuss these and other concerns; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16440/12]

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

542 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health if he will provide an update on the advice or assistance being given to Irish women in respect of concerns raised regarding the safety of breast implants (details supplied) [17302/12]

Finian McGrath

Question:

547 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health if he will support PIP Action Ireland (details supplied) [16078/12]

Billy Kelleher

Question:

633 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health if he is correlating data in relation rupture rates and tissue sampling analysis of Irish victims of PIP implants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16798/12]

Billy Kelleher

Question:

635 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that breast implantation clients continue to experience difficulties in getting confirmation of PIP implants while these and other clients are also having difficulty obtaining their medical records; the action he will take to rectify this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16800/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 14, 53, 542, 547, 633 and 635 together.

Since concerns were first raised regarding the issue of breast implants provided by the now defunct French company Poly Implant Prosthese (PIP) the Irish Medicines Board (IMB) and my Department have been in constant touch with European and UK investigators of the matter.

The IMB in its role as Competent Authority for medical devices in Ireland is correlating data regarding the PIP Breast implant recall.

The Board keeps my Department advised of the device rupture rate, currently at 6.63% which is within the expected range.

The IMB tracks the number of implants and their dispersal to treating clinics via the product's distributors. Detailed examinations of the records of the UK distributors indicate that approximately 1,500 Irish patients received implants between 2001 and 2010.

On 15th March, 2012 the IMB received updated information from the French Competent Authority for Medical Devices suggesting that PIP silicone gel implants manufactured before 2001 may also have contained the unapproved non-medical grade silicone; current information suggests that in the region of 50 additional Irish recipients could be affected. As further information becomes available the IMB will publish additional updates.

The IMB has continued to liaise with European and international colleagues in relation to this issue and tests conducted to date support the Board's and the Department's position that:—

there is no evidence of increased risk of cancer for women with this brand of implant;

the risk of rupture is within expected norms and routine explanation is not recommended;

and anyone with a concern about their breast implants should discuss the matter with their GP or surgeon.

The EU Commission is currently reviewing the regulatory framework for medical devices, deriving from three EU directives. The Commission expects to publish its proposals for new medical devices legislation this year.

The Chief Medical Officer of my Department has met and is engaging with the treating clinics with a view to ensuring that best practice and patient support is paramount in the service provided to concerned recipients of PIP implants. He has discussed the concerns raised by affected clients including access to surgeons for consultation and the provision of full medical records in relation to one of the treating clinics. The provider concerned has advised that it is addressing the CMO's concerns including the delay in retrieval of clients' medical records. It says that work is ongoing to locate these records and that additional personnel have been recruited to address more quickly the requests from those still seeking their records.

The PIP Action Group also met the Chief Medical Officer and IMB officials on Friday 23rd March last and discussed their very reasonable concerns. The meeting was very constructive and the focus was largely on one provider. The meeting identified a number of follow on activities which the Department will take to help these women in their unsatisfactory dealings with this provider. The CMO has agreed to meet the Group again and will continue to engage with the treating clinics with a view to reaching an acceptable arrangement for resolving this serious issue for all concerned.

Finally, I am pleased to note that one major provider has dealt very well and responsibly with its patients. All providers should act in a reasonable and responsible manner to their clients and I expect the other treating clinics to follow suit. I will also be seeking to put better information in place for people who in good faith use services of non-State providers, especially for cosmetic surgery.

Care of the Elderly

Michael Colreavy

Question:

15 Deputy Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Health his plans regarding the funding and staffing of Health Service Executive care homes for older persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16272/12]

As the Deputy is aware the HSE is facing challenges in respect of all services in 2012. In the case of Community Nursing Units these challenges include staffing, funding and the age and structure of HSE units.

The Nursing Homes Support Scheme, introduced in October 2009, significantly changed the way in which long term care is funded. In the past public facilities were allocated budgets on an annual basis. In contrast, the new scheme supports individuals in need of long term residential care, not the facilities providing the care. This scheme applies equally to residents in voluntary, public and private facilities.

My colleague Minister Reilly has requested that the HSE provide him with a plan which seeks to protect the viability of as many public units as possible within the funding and staffing resources available, including smaller units where challenges of scale may require more innovative approaches to service delivery. This will require a combination of actions such as consolidation of services, changes in staffing, skill mix and work practices. It will also have to take into account the different types of services required and the capacity available within an area. The HSE has also been asked to carry out a risk assessment in relation to the staffing situation. The HSE will be working closely with the Department to develop an overall set of proposals for the Minister.

Health Action Plan

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

16 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Health if he will make a statement on the Health Service Executive Regional Plan 2012 for the South [16263/12]

The Regional Service Plan for the South sets out the type and volume of service the HSE will provide directly, or through a range of funded agencies, in that region during 2012. In line with the National Service Plan, the Regional Plan was prepared in the context of the challenges faced by the health services this year in terms of reduced staffing levels, and a reduced budget, combined with increasing demand for services. The Plan also takes account of additional funding being invested this year in areas such as mental health services, the National Clinical Care Programmes and child protection and welfare services.

As outlined in the Plan, the HSE will seek to minimise the impact on front line services in the region by fast tracking new, innovative and more efficient ways of using reducing resources. It should be noted in this context, that this region successfully delivered its services within budget in 2011. New models of care will be introduced across all services, which will treat patients at the lowest level of complexity and provide quality services at the least possible cost. The roll-out of the National Clinical Care Programmes and Special Delivery Unit initiatives will also deliver greater productivity.

My Department continues to work with the HSE to mitigate the impact of retirements and to ensure that the contingency plans are operating satisfactorily and that all critical front line services continue to be delivered across all regions. This includes using the provision of the Public Service Agreement to bring about greater flexibilities in work practices and rosters, and maximising redeployment to achieve more efficient delivery of services. Staff resources will continue to be allocated to areas of greatest priority. Clearly, the need for dynamic and pro-active management of the impact of reduced staffing and budgets will continue throughout the year and in this context, the National and Regional Service Plans, including for HSE South, will be subject to continuous review.

Medicinal Products

Tom Fleming

Question:

17 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Health the steps he will take with the manufacturer of the cancer drug (details supplied) to reduce its price to the Health Service Executive in order that the 200 people per year here who have advanced malignant melanomas, can when applicable, be prescribed this drug by oncologists [16285/12]

The HSE's National Cancer Control Programme has overall responsibility for providing access to appropriate treatments that meet clinical needs, including emerging drug treatments. e drug to which the Deputy refers (Ipilimumab) is a treatment for advanced melanoma in adults. I am advised by the Director of the Cancer Control Programme that this drug is currently going through a health technology assessment process. e Programme has been involved in ongoing discussion with the company on its cost and I am assured that a decision on its use nationally is expected shortly.

Medical Cards

Dessie Ellis

Question:

18 Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Health if he has issued or will issue instructions in relation to medical card applications from persons who previously benefitted from the free dispensing of psychiatric medication by mental health services in the greater Dublin area and who, since the ending of this scheme, face large bills for medication and for general practitioner visits to obtain prescriptions, in some cases forcing persons to give up or consider giving up work in order to qualify for a medical card, such instructions to give special consideration to this cohort of patients; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16266/12]

Under the former Eastern Health Board, it was the practice to provide psychiatric medicines free to all patients who attended an outpatient clinic for services regardless of their eligibility status. Such arrangements were unique to the greater Dublin area. In all other former Health Board Areas, similar patients were provided with psychiatric medicines in accordance with their eligibility status either through the General Medical Services Scheme or the Drug Payment Scheme.

In 2009, the HSE decided to bring the arrangements for the supply of medicines to patients attending mental health outpatient clinics in the greater Dublin area into line with those operating in the rest of the country. These changes were introduced on a phased basis, starting in October 2010 when medical card holders in the HSE Dublin North East area requiring psychiatric medicines were referred to their own GP for a GMS prescription. This arrangement was extended to the Dublin Mid Leinster area in November 2011. Drug Payment Scheme cardholders are required to pay for their prescription up to the co-payment threshold of €132 per month. Medical card holders continue to receive their medication free of charge, subject to any applicable prescription charge.

People affected by these changes 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 will take into account medical costs incurred by an individual or a family, including the cost of medication. The assessment for a medical card is determined primarily by reference to the means of the applicant and his/her dependants. However, at the request of my colleague, Dr James Reilly, Minister for Health, the HSE recently set up a clinical panel to assist in the processing of applications for discretionary medical cards where there are difficult personal circumstances.

The HSE also has guidelines in place in relation to the provision of emergency medical cards to patients with a serious medical condition in need of urgent medical care that they cannot afford. Emergency medical cards are issued within 24 hours of the receipt of the required patient details and letter of confirmation of condition from a doctor or consultant. Emergency medical cards are generally requested through the manager in a Local Health Office or through a social worker.

Hospital Closures

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

19 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Health if any small hospitals will be closed either as part of reconfiguration or due to budgetary measures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16478/12]

As Minister for Health my primary concern is the safety of patients. Much of the recent debate about the future role of smaller hospitals has been prompted by the need to deliver safe services and to address potentially unsafe situations wherever they arise.

The Government intends to publish a framework for the development of smaller hospitals, which will set out the way these hospitals provide services to patients and how they work within their regional hospital networks. The framework and its implementation is a priority of the Government.

In developing the framework, the Government is clear that:

there is an important future role for smaller hospitals, in which they will provide services for more patients, not fewer

no acute hospital will close, and

safety issues in all acute hospitals, large or small, must be fully addressed, by providing the right type of services in the right settings.

This framework will demonstrate clearly that the future of smaller hospitals is secure. It will set out what services can and should be delivered safely by these hospitals in the interest of better outcomes for patients. I expect to be in a position to publish the framework shortly.

I also believe that we must concentrate on getting the best possible services for patients from the budgets available to us. This means we need to focus on the throughput of patients, on reducing length of stay to international norms and on having as many procedures as possible carried out as day cases rather than inpatient work. Small hospitals have an important role to play in this context.

The organisation of hospital services nationally, regionally and locally will be informed by the work of the inter-related clinical programmes which aim to improve service quality, effectiveness and patient access and to ensure that patient care is provided in the service setting most appropriate to individuals' needs and by the work on the framework for the development of smaller hospitals. The planned introduction of hospital groups will also provide further opportunities for inter-site co-operation.

Seán Crowe

Question:

20 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Health if he will require the Health Service Executive to reverse plans to close St. Brigid’s, Crooksling, County Dublin and to fully utilise it, providing the necessary upgrade and retaining it as a home for older persons and a vital link in the regional healthcare infrastructure, including providing step-down beds for Tallaght Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16256/12]

During 2011 the Health Service Executive was considering a proposal to close St. Brigid's Hospital, Crooksling. However, following court proceedings in relation to another proposed closure it became clear that it was not appropriate to make a decision to close a hospital such as St. Brigid's without a comprehensive consultation process. In this regard the public consultation process in relation to the proposed closure of St. Brigid's Hospital at Crooksling will commence shortly. This will involve engaging with patients, relatives, staff, public representatives and any other party who wishes to make a submission. The consultation process will be completed within a period of three months from commencement at which point a final decision will be made regarding the future of the hospital. Meanwhile the HSE is undertaking works at St. Brigid's to ensure compliance with current HIQA standards. These works are due to be completed by 30th June 2012.

Hospital Services

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

21 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health the additional resources and supports that will be provided to Crumlin Children’s Hospital, Dublin in view of the unacceptable conditions there and in view of the further delay in the development of the National Children’s Hospital [16254/12]

Seán Crowe

Question:

42 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Health the additional resources and supports that will be provided to Tallaght Hospital, Dublin, in view of the unacceptable conditions there and in view of the further delay in the development of the National Children’s Hospital [16255/12]

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

69 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Health the additional resources and supports that will be provided to Temple Street Hospital, Dublin, in view of the unacceptable conditions there and in view of the delay in the development of the National Children’s Hospital [16257/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 21, 42 and 69 together.

This is a very challenging year for the health services given the extreme financial pressures and public sector moratorium. However, the budget adjustments for Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin and the Children's University Hospital, Temple Street this year are significantly less than the average. The HSE is working with Tallaght Hospital to help it address its particular financial difficulties. In addition, the three Dublin paediatric hospitals work in partnership in a collective process under the clinical leadership of Dr. Colm Costigan to ensure optimisation of resources and facilities.

There has been substantial investment in paediatric services in the region in areas such as Intensive Care, Accident and Emergency Department services, Rheumatology, Dermatology, Neurology and Cardiac services. However, the challenges presented by the current infrastructure in Crumlin and Temple Street hospitals can only be fully addressed through the construction of the new National Children's Hospital. The Government is committed to building this hospital in the shortest possible time frame. In the meantime, the HSE continues to work with the three hospitals in order to prepare for the transition to the new National Paediatric Hospital.

Ambulance Service

Luke 'Ming' Flanagan

Question:

22 Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Health if he will instruct the Health Service Executive to develop a national transfer pool for paramedic staff which will enable the movement of paramedic staff between ambulance regions in view of the fact that, currently, such staff must resign their positions if they wish to apply to a vacancy in a region other than their own (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16284/12]

I am informed by the HSE that the Director of the National Ambulance Service has recently responded to representations in relation to this case. The individual concerned has been informed that the HSE and relevant trade unions have recently agreed a National Framework Agreement — National Transfer Policy and Procedures. Consequently, the individual has been advised to discuss this matter with his immediate Line Supervisor in the first instance.

Questions No. 23 answered with Question No. 9.

Departmental Reports

Denis Naughten

Question:

24 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health the reason for the delay in publishing the report on mortality rates at acute hospitals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16210/12]

The Chief Medical Officer of my Department has been working on a report entitled ‘Health Care Quality Indicators in the Irish Health System: Examining the Potential of Hospital Discharge Data’. This includes the measure of recorded 30 day in-hospital mortality rates following heart attack.

The work to date demonstrates the value of using HIPE as a tool to derive knowledge and understanding of health care quality. However, this work has also uncovered variation in the accuracy of data as reported through the HIPE system. Some individual hospitals have attributed this variation to inaccuracies in the medical chart and the subsequent coding of information that is then inputted by individual hospitals to the HIPE system.

I am concerned about this finding in relation to data quality, given its potential patient safety implications. I believe there is a duty on all hospitals to take steps to ensure that the information which they record and report is accurate.

Concerns have been raised by certain hospitals and clinicians that the report, which seeks only to examine quality of data, could be either inadvertently or deliberately misinterpreted as making inferences on quality of care. I understand this concern. However, I do not accept that the solution is to disregard these data. Where that source of information is found to be flawed, the solution is to improve it. These data have been collected by hospitals and the hospitals themselves must be accountable for the quality of them. Therefore, the CMO, in conjunction with the HSE, is now in the process of further augmenting the analysis of the indicators to date with data for 2011 and 2012. Every public hospital in the country has been written to in order that they can ensure that the information they record and report for 2011 and 2012 is accurate. The Economic and Social Research Institute, who manage the HIPE system, provide checking and audit tools to enable hospitals to ensure the quality of their data.

The CMO expects to publish the ‘Health Care Quality Indicators in the Irish Health System: Examining the Potential of Hospital Discharge Data' report in the near future.

Hospital Staff

Clare Daly

Question:

25 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health his views in response to claims from senior management concerning the capacity to ensure safe deliveries of new born babies continue in the context of the cuts in mid wife numbers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16212/12]

Robert Troy

Question:

37 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health if he is confident that maternity services continue to be delivered safely following the conclusion of the early retirement scheme; if he will be recruiting additional staff to ensure that standards are maintained; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16492/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 25 and 37 together.

The impact of the recent retirements requires a range of strategic national responses, together with specific local responses. I have requested the HSE to prioritise the ongoing delivery of safe services for patients and to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to ensure the avoidance of risk in the delivery of services for patients.

Planning for the delivery of health services is undertaken within the context of the annual National Service Planning process. This process ensures that all factors, including budgets and staffing levels and any other emerging issues, including the impact of the retirements are factored into the plan for what services will be delivered within the coming year. To meet these challenges and to implement the National Service Plan, the HSE has drafted detailed regional plans which will take account of the effect of the reduction in both staff numbers and budgets, as well as addressing the service areas identified for priority development under the plan. Local contingency plans were also developed for all local hospital and community services. Briefings with staff, unions, public representatives and other stakeholders has also taken place.

Detailed planning for retirements in the period to the end of February 2012 commenced in October last and has also been intensified at local service level as the numbers and locations of those leaving have become clearer. The plans reflect the fact that the number of staff leaving varied from region to region and from service to service. The HSE's main aim has been to protect critical frontline essential services, including maternity services, and there are a range of national measures in place to reduce the impact of the retirements on these services.

The HSE is continuing to utilize the provisions of the Public Service Agreement 2010 to 2014 (the "Croke Park Agreement") as it seeks to change staff rosters, work practices and to redeploy staff. This will assist in minimising the service impact. Contingency plans to address the impact of the retirements also focus on staff redeployment, streamlining, delivering Greater Productivity through the National Clinical Programmes and the related work of the Special Delivery Unit.

There are a number of additional allocations set out in the HSE's National Service plan that will assist in minimising the impact of the retirements on services, to include:

Focused Recruitment for critical posts vacated will be undertaken (within the context of the cost containment plans and budgets for each service).

Agency staff may be used where there is a critical requirement. Any reliance on agency staff will be in the context of the HSE's objective to reduce overall agency costs by 50% in 2012.

The National Service plan in 2012 also makes provision for some conversion of agency costs into whole time equivalent staff which will be explored in limited circumstances where local budgets allow.

The HSE has assured me that the implementation of the contingency plans is continuing to be monitored and that maternity services continue to be delivered safely following the conclusion of the early retirement scheme. I will continue to work with the HSE to ensure that these measures are implemented and that we continue to provide efficient safe maternity services throughout the country, with patient safety remaining my first priority.

Hospital Accommodation

David Stanton

Question:

26 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health the number and location of public community hospitals and nursing homes across the country; the number of beds in these hospitals; his plans to extend the range of services especially outpatient services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16439/12]

David Stanton

Question:

56 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health if he will expand the role of community hospitals and the services that they can offer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16438/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 26 and 56 together.

The HSE is facing challenges in respect of all services in 2012.In the case of public nursing homes for older people these include challenges regarding staffing, funding and environmental factors around the age and structure of the units. It is clear that on a business as usual basis, the HSE would have to close further beds across a range of public nursing homes in 2012.In the absence of reform, this would increase the cost of caring for older persons within the public system, undermine the viability of public nursing homes and reduce the overall number of older persons that can be supported within the budget available for the Nursing Homes Support Scheme. This is not a sustainable way forward and would not meet the needs of older persons, local communities, the taxpayer or those working in the public service. Instead, a more pro-active approach is required to the provision of public nursing homes which seeks to protect the viability of as many units as possible within the funding and staffing resources available. This is likely to require a combination of actions such as consolidation of services and changes in staffing, skill mix and work practices. In this regard consideration must be given to the different types of services required — such as long-stay and transitional — and the respective strengths of public and private nursing homes in that regard; the public and private capacity available within an area; the age and structure of public homes;the wider needs of the local community; and alternative options for providing a viable community nursing service, including a possible role for local communities or other voluntary providers. The HSE is already examining these issues and is working closely with the Department to develop an overall set of proposals for the Minister. The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) is the statutory body responsible for the registration of all designated centres for older people, including public, voluntary and private nursing homes. Under the 2007 Health Act, all existing nursing homes must be registered by HIQA by 30 June 2012 Details of all currently registered nursing homes, including the maximum number of residents who can be accommodated, as well as inspection reports can be found on the HIQA website, www.hiqa.ie.

Voluntary Sector Funding

Terence Flanagan

Question:

27 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health the controls he can implement on the salaries of CEOs of certain disability charities, NGOs and voluntary hospitals such as Our Lady’s Hospice, Harold’s Cross, St. Francis Hospice, Dublin, Marymount Hospice and other such voluntary organisations who are funded by the State and whose chief executives may be in receipt of bonuses as a result of their charitable status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16279/12]

Derek Keating

Question:

66 Deputy Derek Keating asked the Minister for Health the controls he will implement on the salaries of CEOs of certain disability charities, NGOs and voluntary hospitals, such as Our Lady’s Hospice, Harold’s Cross, St. Francis Hospice, Dublin, Marymount Hospice and other such voluntary organisations who are funded by the State and whose Chief Executives may be in receipt of bonuses as a result of their charitable status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16207/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 27 and 66 together.

Voluntary organisations in a variety of service areas within the health service are funded by the Health Service Executive under either Section 38 or 39 of the Health Act 2004.

Organisations funded under Section 38 of the Act provide health or personal social services on behalf of the HSE. Staff in these organisations are considered public servants and the standard rates of remuneration for the public health sector apply to these agencies. Service Level Agreements between the HSE and such bodies require compliance with the salary scales concerned.

A review by the Health Service Executive in 2011 found some instances where the standard rates of pay for the public health service were not being applied in bodies funded under Section 38 of the 2004 Act. This had occurred across a number of grades of staff and it also included a small number of CEOs. These issues are being pursued up by the HSE with the bodies concerned.

Other organisations may receive grants from the HSE under Section 39 of the Health Act 2004 to provide a service similar or ancillary to a service that the HSE may provide. Staff in such independent organisations are not public servants and are not specifically subject to the pay scales approved for public servants.

Our Lady's Hospice is funded under Section 38 of the Health Act 2004, while St. Francis Hospice and Marymount Hospice are grant-aided under Section 39 of the Act.

Health Insurance

Sean Fleming

Question:

28 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Health in the context of his plans for universal health insurance, his intentions for the VHI; if it will be broken up; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16471/12]

The Programme for Government provides for the VHI to remain in State ownership in order to provide a publicly-owned health insurance option when the new system of Universal Health Insurance (UHI) is introduced. Last year I appointed financial and legal advisors to make recommendations on options to address the current imbalance in the private health insurance market. e advisors were invited to consider all options — including, but not limited to, a break-up of the VHI.

I am currently examining how best to address the imbalance in the structure of the private health insurance market in the overall context of a move towards UHI. This is being considered against a backdrop of the European Court of Justice Case regarding the VHI's derogation from the EU Non-Life Directives which had exempted it from the requirement to be authorised by the Central Bank. The Court ruled against the State on 29 September last.

The Department will continue to work with the Commission to progress a range of issues relating to the legal status of the VHI. It is making good progress in relation to these and will press ahead with them as planned.

Health Service Staff

Dessie Ellis

Question:

29 Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Health the final number of staff who left the Health Service Executive’s mental health services by the end of February; the number of same who were psychiatric nurses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16260/12]

Pearse Doherty

Question:

71 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Health the final number of staff who left the health services by the end of February deadline; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16274/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 29 and 71 together.

The most recent figures available (as at 9 March) indicate that approximately 4,500 staff left the health service in the period between September 2011 and end-February 2012. Final figures are expected to be available shortly.

The provisional number of staff who left the Health Service Executive's mental health services by end-February was 645. Of these, 450 were in the Nursing staff category which, in addition to psychiatric nurses, includes a number of other grades such as Senior Staff Nurse (Dual Qualified) and Clinical Nurse Specialist (General). As in other care areas, efficiencies and other savings are required in the mental health service, which will have to deal with its share of staff reductions.

In this context, the HSE's Service Plan includes a commitment to reduce acute in-patient capacity by a minimum of 153 beds nationally in 2012, in line with the recommendations of A Vision for Change. A key priority for the HSE is the reconfiguration of acute in-patient services and the redeployment of staff resources away from old institutional settings or over-provision of acute in-patient beds towards community-based services. A special allocation of €35m for mental health was announced in Budget 2012 and will be used primarily to strengthen Community Mental Health Teams in both Adult and Children’s mental health services, including the recruitment of approximately 400 additional staff for this purpose.

The HSE is also using the provisions of the Public Service Agreement to bring about greater flexibilities in work practices and rosters, redeployment and other changes to achieve more efficient delivery of services.

Health Services

Martin Ferris

Question:

30 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Health if he will take measures in 2012 to address the major deficit in orthodontic services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16278/12]

There are currently approximately 21,000 in treatment. The HSE will be commencing an independent review of orthodontic services in 2012 which will consider a number of service provision models. 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.

Liquor Licensing Laws

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

31 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health if he has reviewed the recent Blanchardstown Alcohol Strategy 2012-2014; his views on whether any of the objectives especially in terms of supply, reduction and enforcement will be rolled out on a nationwide basis; his views that it will be useful to introduce a system of labelling for all alcohol products as is already legislated for under Section 22 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2003; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16282/12]

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

67 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health if he has made any proposals to the Department of Justice in terms of the labelling of all alcohol items that are on sale through Section 22 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2003 or any other legislative mechanism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16281/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 31 and 67 together.

My Department has received the strategy referred to by the Deputy and the pillars on which it is based — such as Prevention, Education, Supply, Treatment and Rehabilitation and Research and Monitoring, were equally encompassed in the recently published report of the National Substance Misuse Strategy Steering Group; and hence, the areas that are common to both will at the very least feature in an Action Plan that I envisage being developed on the National Substance Misuse Strategy — in advance of proposals being drafted for Government.

The National Substance Misuse Strategy Steering Group reported that it considered the possibility of regulations requiring the specific labelling of alcohol containers in order to combat secondary purchasing of alcohol; however, the Group accepted in its report that practical and legal issues preclude this approach; and hence the question of making proposals to the Department of Justice and Equality on this matter has not arisen. The recommendation though of the National Substance Misuse Strategy Steering Group is relevant to the general issue of labelling since it recommended that ‘labels on alcohol products sold in Ireland should include the number of grams of alcohol per container, along with calorific content and health warnings in relation to consuming alcohol in pregnancy.' This recommendation will be taken into account when developing the Alcohol Action Plan.

Departmental Reports

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

32 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health when he intends publishing the Walsh Report; if he will advise its terms of reference; the extent of the consultation and engagement with informed voices and, very especially, with victims of symphysiotomy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16251/12]

Sandra McLellan

Question:

561 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Health if he will provide more than one symphysiotomy liaison officer in the country [16184/12]

Sandra McLellan

Question:

562 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Health if he will ensure that all victims of symphysiotomy are automatically entitled to a medical card [16185/12]

Sandra McLellan

Question:

563 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Health if he will ensure that all victims and survivors of symphysiotomy receive access to all clinical support needed and that this access should be readily available [16186/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 32 and 561 to 563, inclusive, together.

My Department has received a draft report from the independent academic researcher who was appointed to complete a report into the practice of symphysiotomy in Ireland. As I outlined in the Dáil Statement on 15 March 2012, the specific scope of the report that the researcher has been given is to:

1. a) Document the rates of symphysiotomy and maternal mortality in Ireland from 1940 to date by reference to available data (including annual reports and other reports);

b) Assess symphysiotomy rates against maternal mortality rates over the period.

2. Critically appraise international reviews of symphysiotomy practice and associated rates in a number of comparable countries in the world and in Ireland.

3. Review any guidelines and protocols that applied in Ireland on symphysiotomy over the time period.

4. Write a report based on the findings of the above analysis providing an accurate picture of the extent of use of symphysiotomy in Ireland, and an examination of the Irish experience relative to other countries.

I asked the Attorney General to consider the draft research report and I have just received her advice. There is no legal impediment to publishing the research with certain clarifications included. I now propose to make the draft research report available for consultation, subject to the minor amendments arising from the legal advice received. Following the consultation process with relevant individuals and bodies the report will be finalised by the academic researcher.

I am determined to bring this matter to a satisfactory conclusion for all women concerned as soon as possible. I am very conscious of the distress that this procedure has caused to a number of women in the past and recognise the pain that this issue has caused to those affected by it. The Government is committed to dealing with this matter sensitively, so that if at all possible, closure can be brought to those affected by it. In the first instance, it is a priority to make sure that the health needs of those who have had a symphysiotomy are met quickly and effectively. With this in mind I am committed to ensuring that the greatest possible supports and services are made available to women who continue to suffer effects of having undergone this procedure. The women concerned continue to receive attention and care through a number of services which have been put in place in the HSE.

Patients who underwent this procedure have been granted full GMS eligibility on medical grounds and are issued on application with a medical card from the HSE. Other services available to the women, should they wish to access the services are independent clinical advice, the organisation of individual pathways of care and the arrangement of appropriate follow-up care. This follow-up care includes medical, gynaecological and orthopaedic assessment, counselling, physiotherapy, reflexology, home help, acupuncture, osteopathy and fast tracked hospital appointments where possible. A support group facilitated by a counsellor was set up in Dundalk and Drogheda in 2004 for women living in the north-east region. Necessary medical expenses related to symphysiotomy in respect of medical and private treatments may also be refunded. In addition to these medical services and supports, a national triple assessment service provided by a multidisciplinary team was established in Cappagh Hospital, Dublin in 2005.

The HSE has recently nominated a National Lead Officer for Symphysiotomy who is now in place. The regional liaison officer referred to by the Deputy is in place in the Dublin North-East area and it is intended to designate further liaison officers in the other three regions as soon as possible. The provision of these necessary medical and support services for women is monitored and overseen by the HSE who are committed to being proactive in offering help to women who underwent a symphysiotomy and who may wish to avail of the services offered by the HSE.

Hospital Staff

Gerry Adams

Question:

33 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Health when the Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, County Louth, received notice from an orthopaedic paediatrician (details supplied) of their intention to resign on 17 December 2011; the reason the position was not advertised as soon as such notice was received; when authorisation to advertise the position will issue; if candidates have come forward for the position; the number of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16270/12]

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

Hospital Waiting Lists

Micheál Martin

Question:

34 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Health the number of day case patient and elective inpatients on waiting lists at the end of 2010; if he will provide the same figure for the end of 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16477/12]

The Special Delivery Unit was established in my Department last July to tackle patient wait times for hospital services. Unacceptably high wait times have been tolerated for too long and had become systemic for both unscheduled and scheduled care. The problems have to be tackled step by step so that improvements can be sustained.

The SDU immediately began work with the HSE and the NTPF on the problem of trolley waits and long waits for inpatient care. Last July I introduced a strict policy of chronological management of inpatient waiting lists so that those waiting longest are treated first. I set a target of 12 months maximum waiting time for treatment to be overseen by the SDU/NTPF.

In August the SDU/NTPF identified that there were 9,657 patients waiting for treatment to meet the 12 month target. By the end of the year all but 372 had been treated.

The challenge is not only to maintain the 12 month waiting time target for inpatient and day case procedures nationally but to continually improve and move to a 9 month maximum waiting time by the end of 2012. Targeting the longest waiters will have some effect on the wait times for some patients.

The NTPF is working constantly with hospitals to maintain the policy of chronological management, whilst taking into account the challenges arising from issues such as seasonal admissions / cost containment measures / infection control.

In relation to the specific questions raised by the Deputy in December 2010 the NTPF recorded 15,490 patients waiting for in patient treatment and 35,092 patients waiting day for day case treatment. The corresponding numbers waiting in December 2011 were 15,753 and 44,079 respectively. These figures refer to those on waiting lists for all medical and surgical admissions from the first day on the waiting list. While there has been some increase in the number of people on waiting lists, the real focus needs to be on the period of time waiting rather than the numbers waiting. I have also said from the very outset that targeting the longest waiters would inevitably mean a modest increase in waiting time for some patients. This is inevitable because resources and capacity are limited. The median waiting time for April 2011 was 2.6 months, in November 2011 it was 2.7 months and in December 2011 it was 2.8 months. I would prefer if this could be avoided but the average increase is a matter of days and the new regime is far more equitable.

Building on the achievements of 2011 the SDU will work with the NTPF, the HSE Clinical Programmes and hospitals to minimise patient waiting times in emergency departments and reduce waiting periods for inpatient and day case elective surgical care. The improvements already won have to be secured and continually improved upon.

General Practitioner Services

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

35 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Health his plans for the development of out-of-hours general practitioner services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16277/12]

General Practitioner (GP) out-of-hours co-operatives are an essential part of our primary care services and help to ensure that, to the greatest extent possible, care needs are met in the primary care setting. While there is no obligation on GPs to participate in co-operatives, GPs contracted under the General Medical Services Scheme must make suitable arrangements to enable contact to be made with them (or a locum/deputy) for emergencies outside normal practice hours. Co-operatives provide an ideal facility to enable GPs to discharge this obligation.

GP out-of-hours co-operatives are now in place in all HSE areas, providing coverage in all or in part of all counties. There were 949,703 contacts with GP out-of-hours services in 2011. A National Review of GP Out-of-Hours Services was published by the HSE in March 2010. It was the first national review to be undertaken since the commencement of publicly funded GP co-operatives in 1999. A working group comprising representatives from the HSE, the Irish Medical Organisation and the Irish Association of General Practitioner Co-operatives was established to advance the implementation of the recommendations. The HSE continues to work in close association with the GP co-ops on the implementation of the recommendations of the National Out of Hours Review. Potential new service delivery initiatives are currently being progressed which will facilitate added value and more responsive delivery models, integration between primary and secondary care and enhance the quality of patient care.

A new GP out-of-hours service commenced in Tallaght Hospital on 1st November 2011. It covers the Tallaght and Clondalkin areas and there are approximately 40 GPs in the co-op. There is a further commitment in the HSE Dublin Mid-Leinster Regional Service Plan to the establishment of a GP out-of-hours service in Bray in 2012.

Hospital Services

Michael McGrath

Question:

36 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health in view of the fact that the Health Service Executive has confirmed that its service plan is out of date, if the number of community hospital beds closed this year may be greater than 900; when he expects to finalise plans for bed closures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16481/12]

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

Question No. 37 answered with Question No. 25.

General Practitioner Services

Pearse Doherty

Question:

38 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Health the action he will take to address the general practitioner shortage; and the need for further GP training places; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16275/12]

Separate reports in 2009 by FÁS, ESRI and the Competition Authority and in 2010 by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children referred to the GP manpower issue and stated that 120 training places per year were not sufficient to meet the demands of a growing and ageing population. They recommended that the number of GP training places be increased to 150. In July 2010, the number of GP training places increased to 157. The Department commissioned research in 2011 to develop a model of demand for and supply of GP and practice nurse services. The outcome is a functional and adaptable excel model rather than any specific set of findings. The Universal Primary Care Project Team will make use of this model in the course of its work.

The EU/IMF programme made provision for the removal of restrictions to trade and competition in sheltered sectors, including eliminating restrictions on the number of GPs qualifying and removing restrictions on GPs wishing to treat public patients. In relation to the number of GPs qualifying, the HSE and ICGP have reached agreement on an alternative route to specialist registration for doctors who have extensive experience in General Practice, but who lack some component of training to become eligible for specialist registration as a General Practitioner. Details of this "practice based assessment model" were published on the ICGP website in September 2011. It is anticipated that applications will be sought from interested doctors in Autumn 2012. In addition, consideration is being given to a potential "fast track" training programme for doctors who have already gained some of the required hospital rotation experience through General Professional Training and who now wish to become GPs, but do not have access to GP Specialist training. No such programme has existed in Ireland but the HSE is working with the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) to develop such a training programme.

In relation to the EU/IMF programme provision for the removal of restrictions on GPs wishing to treat public patients, the Health (Provision of General Practitioner Services) Act 2012, which came into effect on 12 March 2012, eliminates restrictions on fully qualified and trained GPs wishing to obtain contracts to treat public patients under the GMS contract. This legislation will encourage more young GPs to remain in Ireland and to establish their practice here and will make it more attractive for GPs to move here from overseas. It will also encourage competition among GPs at a time when many fee paying patients have less money at their disposal.

Nursing Homes Support Scheme

Brian Stanley

Question:

39 Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Health the way in which the setting of fees by nursing homes under the nursing home support scheme is monitored; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that some nursing homes are setting additional service charges on top of the agreed fees and that, in some cases, these charges are for services supposed to be covered by the nursing home support scheme, including beds; if any sanction can be taken against such improper charging; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16273/12]

The Nursing Homes Support Scheme provides financial support towards the cost of long-term residential care. The cost for long-term residential care in private nursing homes is agreed between the each individual nursing home and the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF). The services which fall within the scope of long-term residential care and which are covered by this cost are: nursing and personal care appropriate to the level of care needs of the person; basic aids and appliances necessary to assist a person with the activities of daily living; bed and board; and laundry service.

The cost for each public nursing home has been determined using the definition of long-term residential care services underpinned by an agreed set of cost components which has been laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. The cost components are consistent with the services outlined above but differ in format in order to mirror existing cost coding structures within the HSE. Incontinence wear, where required, is provided free of charge by the HSE to all Nursing Homes Support Scheme residents that possess a Medical Card.

Under the scheme, all residents retain their eligibility for other schemes, such as the Medical Card Scheme or the Drugs Payment Scheme. Individuals can continue to receive goods and services in accordance with the terms of these other schemes regardless of whether they are in a private nursing home or elsewhere. In determining the services covered by the Nursing Homes Support Scheme, it was considered very important that the care recipient and the taxpayer would be protected and would not end up paying for the same services twice. For this reason, medications and aids that are already prescribed for individuals under an existing scheme are not included in the services covered by the scheme, as this would involve effectively paying twice for the same items or service.

Individuals who avail of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme should not be charged any additional fee over and above the cost agreed with the NTPF, except where he or she chooses to obtain additional services over and above long-term residential care services, for example, hairdressing, social programmes or the delivery of daily newspapers. Under the Health Act 2007, statutory responsibility is given to the Chief Inspector of Social Services, part of the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), for the independent inspection and registration of certain categories of designated centres. This includes residential care settings for older people. This responsibility is underpinned by a comprehensive quality framework comprising the Health Act 2007, the Health Act 2007 (Care and Welfare of Residents in Designated Centres for Older People) Regulations 2009, as amended, and the National Quality Standards for Residential Care Settings for Older People in Ireland. Article 28 of the Regulations provides that the registered provider shall agree a contract with the resident within one month of admission and that the contract shall include details of the services to be provided and the fees to be charged. The Chief Inspector has the power to refuse to register, attach conditions to a registration or cancel the registration of a designated centre in the event of non-compliance with the regulations or the standards.

Departmental Reports

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

40 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Health the date on which the report compiled by Dr. Darina O’Flanagan for his Department relating to the relationship between narcolepsy and or cataplexy and the Swine Flu vaccination Pandemrix, will be published; the number of confirmed Pandemrix-related cases of narcolepsy and or cataplexy here; his plans to address this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16267/12]

The HSE is currently ascertaining the number of narcolepsy and or cataplexy cases that may be associated with Pandemrix vaccination. All cases will be offered a multidisciplinary assessment by the HSE to identify medical and educational need and appropriate services will be offered. I am aware of the submission of the report which is being considered in the context of other evidence from international studies. I plan to publish the report in due course.

Electricity Transmission Network

Clare Daly

Question:

41 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health the action he proposes to take to protect the health of children along the route of Eirgrid’s east west interconnector, in view of the serious professional opinion (details supplied) [16213/12]

I have written to the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural resources about the information supplied on this issue, and I have also communicated with the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government, Bord Pleanála and indeed Fingal County Council. I will seek a report from the Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Health and I will revert to the Deputy with the relevant information.

Question No. 42 answered with Question No. 21.

Health Services

Brian Stanley

Question:

43 Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Health if he will make a statement on the Health Service Executive Regional Plan 2012 for Dublin/Mid-Leinster [16262/12]

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

44 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Health if he will make a statement on the Health Service Executive Regional Plan 2012 for Dublin/North-East [16259/12]

Michael Colreavy

Question:

61 Deputy Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Health if he will make a statement on the Health Service Executive Regional Plan 2012 for the West [16261/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 43, 44 and 61 together.

The Regional Service Plans set out the type and volume of service the HSE will provide directly, or through a range of funded agencies, during 2012. In line with the National Service Plan, the Regional Service Plans were prepared in the context of the challenges faced by the health services this year in terms of reduced staffing levels, and a reduced budget, combined with increasing demand for services. The Plans also takes account of additional funding being invested this year in areas such as mental health services, primary care, Fair Deal, the National Clinical Care Programmes and children's services. In line with the Plans, the HSE will minimise the impact on front line services by fast tracking new, innovative and more efficient ways of using reducing resources. New models of care will be introduced across all services, which will treat patients at the lowest level of complexity and provide quality services at the least possible cost. The roll-out of the National Clinical Care Programmes and Special Delivery Unit initiatives will also deliver greater productivity.

My Department continues to work with the HSE to mitigate the impact of retirements and to ensure that the contingency plans are operating satisfactorily and that all critical front line services continue to be delivered across all regions. This includes using the provision of the Public Service Agreement to bring about greater flexibilities in work practices and rosters, and maximising redeployment to achieve more efficient delivery of services. Staff resources will continue to be allocated to areas of greatest priority. Clearly, the need for dynamic and pro-active management of the impact of reduced staffing and budgets will continue throughout the year and in this context, the National and Regional Service Plans will be subject to continuous review.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Brendan Smith

Question:

45 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Health the average waiting time on trolleys at the start of 2012; the comparable figure at the start of 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16490/12]

Building on the achievements of 2011, the Special Delivery Unit (SDU) will work with the National Treatment Purchase Fund, the HSE Clinical Programmes and hospitals to minimise patient waiting times in emergency departments along with reducing waiting periods for in-patient and day case elective surgical care.

The SDU is currently working on a refined methodology for recording Emergency Department waiting times for patients (PET) across the system. It is planned to have a number of hospitals reporting on the basis of the PET method by the second quarter of 2012. Work will continue to bring the remaining hospitals on stream as quickly as possible. Full PET data for individual hospitals will be published when it comes on stream and in the interim, data derived from sampling will be used. During 2012, the SDU will extend the coverage of the Patient Experience Time methodology to ensure that the data is captured in a uniform manner across the hospital system.

In relation to the Deputy's question regarding trolley wait times the Business Information Unit of the HSE collects data from the INMO on trolley waits. I can confirm that there has been a reduction in numbers of people waiting on trolleys. However these trends will be better demonstrated when the new system for recording Emergency Department data is implemented later this year.

Health Service Staff

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

46 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health the number of child mental health teams, early intervention teams and disability teams for children that are short of staff as a result of the moratorium on recruitment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15129/12]

John Halligan

Question:

600 Deputy John Halligan asked the Minister for Health the number of child mental health teams, early intervention teams and disability teams for children that are short of staff as a result of the moratorium on recruitment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15130/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 46 and 600 together.

As the Deputies questions relate to service matters, I have arranged for the questions to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputies.

Michael Moynihan

Question:

47 Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Health the actions he intends to take to fill vacant consultant and social worker posts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16484/12]

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

Ambulance Service

Denis Naughten

Question:

48 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health the results of the recent ambulance response times study and future plans for the development of the ambulance service. [16204/12]

In response to the publication of the HIQA Key Performance Indicators, the HSE National Ambulance Service (NAS) has developed a Performance Improvement Action Plan. In line with the national KPI's published by HIQA, the NAS is working towards achieving a first response to 75% of emergency ECHO (life threatening cardiac emergency) and DELTA (life threatening non-cardiac emergency) calls within 8 minutes or less. Its performance in 2011 was 53.1% of ECHO calls and 28.45% of DELTA calls responded within the target time-frame. The response times for 2011 for patient carrying vehicles, against a target of 80% arriving on scene within 18 minutes 59 seconds, were 69.3% for ECHO calls and 66.8% for DELTA calls.

However, key to further significant progress on improving response times is the issue of using emergency ambulances for planned inter-hospital transfers. The continued use of emergency ambulances in this role clearly affects the capacity of the NAS to meet KPI targets and to respond to emergency situations.

Among the options which I am considering to free up emergency capacity is the use of an intermediate care service. Vehicles with a greater patient-carrying capacity are employed as a dedicated resource for inter-hospital transfer of patients. The reduction in control centres will allow for more of our highly trained paramedic staff to be deployed back to direct emergency response roles, allowing the service to concentrate on responding to emergency incidents. There are budgetary constraints in all areas of health provision and all services must live within those restrictions. I know that the NAS is working to deliver an optimal performance with the resources available. In this context, my department, the NAS and HIQA will review the targets set for these KPI's in 2012, including consideration of targets used in other jurisdictions which more accurately reflect patient outcomes from pre-hospital emergency care.

Health Service Staff

Catherine Murphy

Question:

49 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Health if he will outline the expected total numbers of staff retirements from the Health Service Executive in 2012; if he will outline the expected cost to the HSE budget for all expected retirements, including pension lump sum entitlements; the expected impact this sum will have on the funding of HSE services in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16441/12]

John McGuinness

Question:

65 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health if he will ask the Health Service Executive to redraft its service plans for this year in view of the higher than expected number of early retirements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16482/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 49 and 65 together.

The HSE National Service Plan 2012 acknowledged that there will be an inevitable and unavoidable reduction in services this year because of the scale of the financial and staffing challenges facing the health service. Considerable work was undertaken by my Department and the HSE in recent months to manage and plan for the impact of retirements from the health sector in the lead-up to the end of the ‘grace period' on 29 February last. Within the HSE, contingency plans were developed locally for both hospital and community services, reflecting risk assessments undertaken by each hospital/community manager.

In the period September 2011 to February 2012 approximately 4,500 members of staff retired from the health service. My Department continues to work closely with the HSE to ensure that the contingency plans are operating satisfactorily and that all critical front-line services continue to be delivered. The Government's priority is to reform how health services are delivered, in order to ensure a more productive and cost effective health system. It is necessary to be as innovative and flexible as possible in order to mitigate the impact of reduced budgets and staffing and in this context, the National Service Plan is subject to continuous review.

The planning assumption used during the preparation of the HSE's 2012 National Service Plan was that the HSE would have to meet the costs associated with the retirement of about 3,500 people, or some 3,000 whole time equivalent staff. As outlined on page 4 of the Plan, the potential costs and savings involved were estimated as follows:

an extra €44m for lump sums;

an extra €68m for pensions;

a loss of €18.9m in respect of superannuation contributions and the public service pension levy;

a provision of €16m to fund the cost of replacing critical front-line service posts; and

pay savings of €160m.

As mentioned above, the latest figures available from the HSE indicate that some 4,500 personnel retired between September 2011 and February 2012. Once the data on actual lump sums and pensions is available, the HSE will be in a position to run a new cost estimate associated with this level of retirements. It is possible that there may be a growth in costs although some of the lump sums will have already been paid in 2011. In addition, staff with premium pay or allowances, are entitled to reckon for pension purposes the ‘best 3 years out of the last 10'. This requires 10 years payroll records to be examined for each person. In a recent sample of 413 retirees, 87% had premium pay or allowances. Accordingly, it may be some time before the HSE can accurately determine the full financial impact of the retirements.

It should also be noted that there may be further retirements during the year outside the "grace period" arrangements. There is no information available at present in relation to such potential retirements. The HSE is currently reviewing the impact of recent retirements on the financial and service delivery targets in its Service Plan and I understand a report on the matter is to be put before the Board at its next meeting.

Hospital Staff

Sandra McLellan

Question:

50 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Health the number of consultant neurologists in the public health service here; the hospital in which they work; if he considers this an adequate number per capita; his plans to deal with this shortfall and a timeline for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16268/12]

The HSE Clinical Programmes Directorate are currently developing appropriate models of care to ensure the delivery of safe and effective services across epilepsy, stroke services and neurology outpatient services. This programme of work is ongoing and will inform the most appropriate structure, staffing and organisation of services. With regard to the detailed information sought by the Deputy, as they are service matters, they have been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Accident and Emergency Services

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

51 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health in relation to the 24 hour accident and emergency services at St. Columcille’s Hospital, Loughlinstown, Dublin, and the review being carried out by a project steering group, when the outcome of this review to be announced; if he will confirm the 24 hour A&E will be retained at Loughlinstown Hospital; if he will provide a timeline on the implementation of any new reconfiguration in this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16246/12]

John Halligan

Question:

57 Deputy John Halligan asked the Minister for Health in relation to the 24 hour accident and emergency services at St. Columcille’s Hospital, Loughlinstown, Dublin, and the review being carried out by a project steering group, when the outcome of this review will be announced; if he will confirm that the 24 hour A&E will be retained at Loughlinstown; and if he will provide a timeline for the implementation of any new reconfiguration in the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16247/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 51 and 57 together.

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

Primary Care Strategy

Terence Flanagan

Question:

52 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health when he envisages the opening of the new primary care centre that will cover Palmerstown, Dublin 20; the stage at which the plans for a primary care centre for Clondalkin are at; the stage at which the plans for a primary care centre for the Lucan area are at; if his national primary care plan meet the targets set out in the Programme for Government; if he envisages that the primary care programme will be affected by the lack of financial resources; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16280/12]

Derek Keating

Question:

583 Deputy Derek Keating asked the Minister for Health when he envisages the opening of the new Primary Care Centre that will cover Palmerstown, Dublin 20; at what stage are the plans for a primary care centre fro Clondalkin, Dublin,; at what stage the plans for a primary care centre for the Lucan area, Dublin; if his National Primary Care Plan will meet the targets set out in the Programme for Government; if he envisages that the Primary Care Programme will be affected by the lack of financial resources; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16208/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 52 and 583 together.

The Programme for Government committed to reforming the current public health system by introducing Universal Health Insurance with equal access to care for all. As part of this reform programme the Government is committed to introducing Universal GP Care within the first term of office of this Government. I have established the Universal Primary Care Project Team, which has been tasked with working through the issues relating to the introduction of this commitment. The Project Team is meeting on a regular basis.

Initially it is intended to extend GP cover without fees to persons with defined long-term illnesses who are in receipt of drugs and medicines under the Long Term Illness Scheme. Primary legislation is required to give effect to this commitment. Once primary legislation has been approved by the Oireachtas, the details of the new arrangements will be announced. €15m has been made available to meet the costs involved in 2012.

As other aspects of the Deputies questions relate to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the HSE, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to address these matters and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Question No. 53 answered with Question No. 14.

Medical Cards

Gerry Adams

Question:

54 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Health the number of women who hold special medical cards based on their having been subjected to the disturbing procedure of symphysiotomy; the entitlements that such cards convey on their holders; when and the way entitlement to such cards was introduced; if they have a lifelong currency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16271/12]

Other services such as allied health professional services may be available to medical card holders. According to current HSE figures, there are 136 women on their database who hold such cards. These cards were specifically designed and coded to meet the unique needs of these clients and were to operate under the same guidelines as all other medical cards. Introduction of these cards commenced in November 2005 with distribution to clients in each Health Service Region through the National Network of Liaison Officers. Fast tracking of all medical appointments referred by the GP to address the adverse effects of symphysiotomy is done locally through the Symphysiotomy Liaison officer.

Health Insurance

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

55 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Health if he will request the VHI to desist from using the Government health insurance levy as a means of preventing persons in financial difficulties from downgrading their policies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16243/12]

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

62 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Health if, in view of the reports that VHI are allowing customers who have been made redundant downgrade their policies without penalty, he accepts the VHI explanation that they must charge other customers downgrading their policies such high penalties because of the health insurance levy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16244/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 55 and 62 together.

VHI is required by law under the Health Insurance (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 to provide contracts of insurance that are 12 months in duration. While insurers provide a facility to consumers to pay premiums over the policy year, rather than at the start of the policy, this does not change the twelve month nature of contracts. Health insurance contracts are normally written for a term of one year. Like any contract, a customer wishing to cancel or amend their contract is subject to the terms of that contract. If the policy contract does not allow cancellation during the term of the year, an insurer can seek to enforce the contract under contract law and demand the balance of the year's premium. All open market insurers give a 14 day cooling off period where they will cancel the contract and give a full premium refund. I am informed by the I that there are a limited number of special circumstances where they do allow a customer to breach their contract mid-year without penalty, including redundancy and emigration. It is important to note that customers are free to cancel and change their policy at their renewal date without difficulty.

In respect of policies renewing or commencing in 2012, the current Scheme of Age-Related Tax Credits and Community Rating Levy provides for the payment by insurers of a levy of €285 per adult. It should be noted that, where customers leave before the twelve month insurance period expires, the insurer incurs a loss in relation to the levy paid as the levy may only be collected once. If a policy is cancelled mid policy year, insurers cannot reclaim a proportion of the levy. Where a policy holder switches to an alternative insurer, the second insurer does not have to pay the levy in respect of the replacement policy, provided the two policies commence in the same accounting period (normally the twelve month period starting on 1 August and finishing on 31 July).

I understand that, where customers cancel their cover mid-policy (and pay the normal penalties for breaking their contract), I treats them as if they were a new customer, with waiting periods applying if they take out another I policy immediately afterwards. This measure is being taken as, where a policy is cancelled mid policy term, I are still required to pay the levy and therefore would otherwise be at a loss. I must ensure that they take in enough premium income in a given year to cover the costs of their customers' healthcare needs in that year. This would not be possible if the terms of cover on policies were constantly changing outside of the agreed contract period.

Section 8(5) of the Health Insurance Act 1994 (as amended in 2001) refers to the cessation of a contract with an insurer and the subsequent effecting of a contract with a different insurer. This section of the Acts does not cover circumstances of switching policies within the same insurer and does not prohibit an insurance provider from applying penalties to customers who cancel their cover mid-policy and wish to take out another, less expensive policy with the same insurer immediately afterwards.

The Health Insurance Authority (HIA) is the independent regulator of the private health insurance market in Ireland and provides information to consumers regarding their rights and health insurance plans and benefits. My Department will examine this issue further, in conjunction with the HIA, as part of the overall strategy to address issues in the private health insurance market, leading in to the introduction of Universal Health Insurance.

Question No. 56 answered with Question No. 26.
Question No. 57 answered with Question No. 51.

Hospital Staff

Willie O'Dea

Question:

58 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Health the number of hospital consultants in breach of the working time directive; if he is concerned that this may impact on the safe delivery of services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16488/12]

Consultants working in the public health service are employed under a number of contracts. Consultants employed under the 1991 and 1997 Consultant Contracts are contracted to work 33 hours a week, while those employed under the 2008 Consultant Contract are contracted to work 37 hours a week.

The European Working Time Directive and related case law from the European Court of Justice define working time as time spent at a place determined by the employer while performing duties on behalf of the employer. This can be summarised as time spent working or on-call on-site. Time spent on-call off-site does not count as working time.

Irrespective of contract, many consultants are liable to provide on-call services and attend on-site outside of contracted hours. Consultants employed on the 2008 Contract may be required formally to provide up to 5 additional hours on Saturdays, Sundays or bank holidays — albeit, to date, this provision has not been activated in other than exceptional circumstances.

While consultants have work schedules documenting contracted hours, they do not formally ‘clock-in' or participate in other means of recording time spent on-call on-site. The HSE does not therefore hold information regarding average working hours in excess of the 33 or 37 weekly contracted hours. Taking the above into account, the HSE does not have information indicating that any hospital consultant is working an average of more than 48 hours a week calculated over the 6-month reference period.

My immediate priority is to achieve more effective implementation of the 2008 Contract so that patients get faster access to services and achieve better outcomes within the budgets available to hospitals. I believe there is plenty of scope under the existing contract and the Croke Park agreement to achieve greater productivity from consultants, and I am satisfied that this can be achieved, while at the same time meeting the requirements of the working time directive.

Health Service Staff

Derek Keating

Question:

59 Deputy Derek Keating asked the Minister for Health following the recommendations by the legal aspects of professional home care as reported by the Law Reform Commission (details supplied), his views that such recommendations should be implemented immediately by the Health Service Executive; the steps that need to be taken for these to be introduced including training; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16205/12]

The Law Reform Commission's recent report, entitled Legal Aspects of Professional Home Care, is a follow up to its 2009 consultation paper entitled Legal Aspects of Carers.

Primary legislation and resources will be required for the introduction of a statutory regulation system for home care services. The question of possible changes to legislation, including regulation and inspection, for Home Care services for older people is under consideration. The Department is, at present, examining this matter in the overall context of the licensing of Health Care providers. Legislation is currently being prepared in this regard, taking into account the recommendations of the Commission on Patient Safety, and the Law Reform Commission. Various options are being considered at present, including the complex legal issues involved, and the need to prioritise legislation across the Social Care area overall. It is important to emphasise that statutory regulation or licensing is only one way of improving the safety and quality of services and that other measures have or are being taken to improve the standards of community service for older people delivered by, or on behalf of, the Health Service Executive (HSE). These are reflected in the agreed HSE Service Plan 2012 and includes a recently finalised public Procurement Framework for Home Care services (with quality and screening requirements); new National Quality Guidelines for Home Care Support Services, and new National Home Help Guidelines.

These various measures, taken together, have been designed to improve relevant aspects of HSE Home Care provision nationally, including taking into account the issues raised by the Deputy, for care recipients under the auspices of the Executive.

Hospital Services

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

60 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Health if he will reverse the under-funding of Letterkenny General Hospital, County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16276/12]

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

Question No. 61 answered with Question No. 43.
Question No. 62 answered with Question No. 55.

Medical Cards

John Halligan

Question:

63 Deputy John Halligan asked the Minister for Health in the review being carried out of medical cards, the number of persons over 70 years that have been disqualified; the number of persons under 70 years that have been disqualified; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16248/12]

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

587 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health in the review being carried out of medical cards, the number of persons over 70 years that have been disqualified, how many people under 70 years have been disqualified; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16245/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 63 and 587 together.

The HSE has stated that between 1 July 2011 and 29 February 2012 Primary Care Reimbursement Service received 450,306 applications and renewals for medical cards. 39,552 of these renewal applications were from people over 70 years of age and 300,251 were from people under 70 years of age. In total, 226 cases of those over 70 and 4,118 cases of those under 70 were assessed as being unsuccessful.

Hospital Services

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

64 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health if he has discussed with his northern counterpart the potential of cross-border co-operation in the area of neurology, specifically the potential of the Erne Hospital at Enniskillen, County Fermanagh to cater to its catchment needs, including in the neighbouring counties of Leitrim, Cavan and Monaghan and the prospects for the appointment of a Parkinson’s Nurse, attached to Enniskillen, catering to sufferers of Parkinson’s in adjacent counties south of the border; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16252/12]

There is a high level of cooperation in existence between the service providers in both jurisdictions in the border corridor, led and supported by the Co-operation and Working Together (CAWT) organisation and by Senior service managers in both jurisdictions. There have already been considerable achievements in providing certain services collaboratively, some with the support of EU Interreg Funding.

In both health and social care sectors there is a positive focus on building on past and current achievements and in assessing opportunities which will prove beneficial to the populations in both jurisdictions. This collaboration will continue to receive an impetus through CAWT, which is representative of the Health Services in both jurisdictions and which has promoted positive working relationships and collaborative effort since it was established 20 years ago. In respect of health services, collaboration between providers North and South has focussed upon ENT, Ophthalmology, Vascular and Urology services: Parkinson's services have not formed part of the discussion to date.

Recently, Senior HSE service managers from the border corridor area visited the New South West Hospital in Enniskillen for a familiarisation visit organised by CAWT. At this point in time the indications are that the new hospital will initially be commissioned and funded to provide services to its own defined catchment area. Neurology services are not indicated at this stage as part of that on-site provision. It was agreed that a review and mapping exercise would be undertaken to establish the potential for collaboration between services in the context of the opening of the new hospital. It should be noted also that although there is no dedicated Neurology Service in the Erne Hospital, further cross-border engagement will take place over the coming weeks and months particularly in the context of the opening of the new hospital, with a view to exploring areas for collaborative working across the border region.

The regional Neurology Service in Sligo is currently expanding under the National Clinical Programmes with the agreement for the appointment of a second Neurologist. Recruitment for this post has already commenced. Through this appointment, it is planned to develop sub-specialist neurology clinics for epilepsy, MS and Parkinson's disease in Sligo Regional Hospital. As part of the Neurological Care Clinical Programme, Cavan Monaghan Hospital has established a Stroke area in the hospital which is providing focused stroke care. In addition to this a Consultant Neurologist, has commenced a clinic in Cavan General Hospital for patients with neurological conditions. The Consultant Neurologist is based in the Mater Hospital but provides this clinic on the Cavan Hospital site.

Question No. 65 answered with Question No. 49.
Question No. 66 answered with Question No. 27.
Question No. 67 answered with Question No. 31.

Health Services

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

68 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health if he will report on the progress and on the development of a National Plan/Strategy for Rare Diseases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16253/12]

Ireland has been supportive of the EU proposals on rare disease which concluded with a council recommendation in June 2009. The end point is that countries are recommended to develop plans or strategies preferably by the end of 2013. We are now well advanced in developing this work.

In April 2011, I established a National Steering Group to develop a policy framework for the prevention, detection and treatment of rare diseases based on the principles of high quality care, equity and to be patient centred. The policy will operate over a 5 year period, take account of the Council Recommendation on Rare Diseases (2009) and define priority actions subject to resource availability. The National Steering Group identified a number of areas relating to rare diseases which it is currently considering including centres of expertise, access to appropriate medication and technology, orphan drug development, research and information and patient empowerment and support.

An integral part of an effective policy framework will be the development of a dedicated HSE clinical programme. A proposal has been submitted to the HSE's National Director of Clinical Strategy and Programmes to establish a National Clinical Programme for Rare Diseases. I understand that the HSE has agreed to establish such a programme, the details of which remain to be worked through.

In addition the steering group is planning to consult with patients and key stakeholders in early summer on the broad proposals and recommendations that will emerge.

It is expected that the steering group will submit a plan to me during the latter half of this year.

Question No. 69 answered with Question No. 21.

Hospital Services

Martin Ferris

Question:

70 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Health regarding the new critical care unit in the Mid-Western Regional Hospital, Limerick, when the unit will open and when it will begin functioning; the arrangements being put in place to ensure sufficient staffing and funding for the unit above and beyond the Health Service Executive regional plan for 2012; if additional non-critical beds will be provided at Limerick; his views that without such non critical beds and if the planned closure of the ICU in Nenagh Hospital, Tipperary proceeds then patients will face repeated journeys to and from Limerick and Nenagh; if he will halt the proposed closure of the Nenagh ICU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16264/12]

In relation to the new critical care block I understand that it will be completed by June 2012 and a period of commissioning will then follow.

The decision to open and close beds is made at hospital management level and approved by the Regional Director of Operations.

I believe we must concentrate on getting the best possible services for patients from the budgets available to us. The work of the Special Delivery Unit, together with implementation of the Clinical Care Programmes in the HSE, will help to improve the efficiency of our hospitals, allowing us to treat as many patients as possible within budget. In the current economic climate the acute sector must reduce its costs in order to deliver the agreed level of activity within the resources available to it. The emphasis in 2012 will continue to be to make the most effective use of acute bed capacity through shorter lengths of stay, increased rates of day-of-surgery admission and more day surgery. In this way the acute hospital system can ensure that, within the level of resources available, it provides safe, effective and efficient care to the maximum number of patients with.

In relation to the specific information sought by the Deputy, as these are service issues they have been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Question No. 71 answered with Question No. 29.

Hospitals Building Programme

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

72 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Health if he will report on the work of the group he established in the wake of the refusal of An Bórd Pleanála to grant permission for the National Children’s Hospital plan for the Mater Hospital site, Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16258/12]

I am committed to ensuring the delivery of a world class hospital for the children of Ireland providing the highest quality treatment they deserve. This project is one of the main priorities for the Government and is a commitment under the Programme for Government.

The decision to refuse planning for the new children's hospital was disappointing. Immediately following the decision I announced my intention to establish a Review Group to consider the decision of An Bord Pleanála to refuse planning permission for the National Paediatric Hospital. The Government has agreed the Terms of Reference for the Review Group. The Terms of Reference are as follows:—

"To inform itself about the planning considerations and processes affecting this project.

To consider the different options which now exist for progressing the construction of a national children's hospital having regard to—

Government policy on the delivery of health services, including accessibility and paediatric services in particular and best clinical practice considerations,

the cost and value for money considerations of the different options,

the likely timelines associated with the different options,

the implementation risks associated with the different options.

To advise the him, in the light of these considerations, on the appropriate next steps to take with a view to ensuring that a national paediatric hospital can be constructed with minimal delay.

To report to the Minister within 56 days of the first meeting of the group."

The aim of this Review is to consider all the possible options for the earliest possible delivery of a new children's hospital. The Review Group will present their findings on each of the possible options for my consideration. The Group will not be undertaking a site selection process.

I have appointed Dr Frank Dolphin to Chair the Review Group. There is a wealth of expertise on the group. The membership is composed of senior planners, an architect, the CEO of a major UK Paediatric hospital and senior clinicians in the field of paediatrics. Dr Dolphin is currently in contact with the other Group members and expects to hold the first meeting of the Group within days. I will await the completion of the work of the Review Group and do not wish to make any further comment on the matter at this time.

Constitutional Convention

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

73 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Taoiseach the way citizens are going to be picked to be on the panel for the constitutional convention; and the way a variety of viewpoints will be included without pre-screening or prejudicing potential candidates. [16117/12]

Patrick Nulty

Question:

74 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Taoiseach the way the 33 Oireachtas members due to serve on the Constitutional Convention will be selected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15186/12]

Alan Farrell

Question:

75 Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Taoiseach when the planned constitutional convention will be formed; and if he will outline the field of expertise that will form part of the Committee. [14700/12]

Finian McGrath

Question:

76 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Taoiseach if he will provide an update on the Constitution Convention. [16395/12]

Finian McGrath

Question:

77 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Taoiseach the way young persons outside the political system apply for the upcoming Constitutional Convention. [16396/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 73 to 77, inclusive, together.

The Government's proposals for the Constitutional Convention, including its composition and the topics it will consider, have been made public on www.merrionstreet.ie.

It is proposed that the Convention should consist of 100 members, including a chairperson. 66 will be ordinary citizens and the remaining 33 will be made up of Oireachtas members and one parliamentarian from each of the political parties in Northern Ireland which accept an invitation to be represented.

It is envisaged that the electoral register would be used to select the 66 citizens and that a polling company would be used to make the selection so that it is as representative of society as possible. It is also proposed that the involvement of citizens from Northern Ireland, and of Irish people abroad, will be facilitated by electronic means. Such technology should of course also facilitate the engagement of citizens at home.

In its proposals the Government has said that, rather than appoint experts as members of the Convention, an Expert Advisory Group will be established to provide the Convention with information and advice. This Group would be made up of political scientists, constitutional lawyers and academics. The Convention would be able to call on different experts from this panel according as different topics are examined. Persons on the panel will be expected to give their services ‘pro-bono’.

I have met representatives of the Opposition parties and the Dáil Technical Group to consult them on the Government's proposals for the Constitutional Convention and they have reverted to me with their views. A further meeting is envisaged when these have been been considered. The Government proposes that the Convention be set up by Resolutions of the Houses of the Oireachtas and these will be introduced in the next session.

Northern Ireland Issues

Micheál Martin

Question:

78 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach his plans to bring up the ongoing issue of the sensitive materials deposited in Boston College, that have been ordered by a US District Court to be handed over to the PSNI for criminal investigations, with President Obama during the annual St. Patrick’s Day visit to the USA; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16397/12]

Micheál Martin

Question:

79 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has previously brought up the ongoing issue of the sensitive materials deposited in Boston College, that have been ordered by a US District Court to be handed over to the PSNI for criminal investigations, with the US Department of State or in correspondence with US authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16398/12]

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

In respect of the Deputy's two questions on this matter, I am aware that there are ongoing legal proceedings under way in the United States regarding the oral history archive related to the Troubles held by Boston College. An appeal has been lodged by private individuals in relation to this and as this matter is due to be considered by the courts in early April, it would not be appropriate to comment on this matter at this stage.

Departmental Properties

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

80 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Taoiseach the number of buildings that his Department has rented in each county that are, at present, being fully utilised; the number of buildings rented which are empty, idle and not being used; the cost that is incurred by his Department in renting these buildings, with separate figures for the ones that are used and the ones that are unused; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16399/12]

My Department does not have any property in Dublin or elsewhere which is rented.

Irish Communities Abroad

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

81 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Taoiseach the position regarding the numbers of emigrants to Britain from Ireland from 1987 to date in 2012, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16400/12]

The accompanying table provides the most recent estimates of the number of emigrants to the UK from the Republic of Ireland for the 12 month period ending mid April for the years 1987 to 2011. The data was taken from the CSO's annual Population and Migration Estimates release. The annual estimates for 2007 to 2011 are subject to revision when the more detailed results from the 2011 Census of Population become available. The revised figures will be published in September along with the estimates for the year to April 2012.

Estimated number of emigrants (000's) to the UK, 1987-20111

Year ending April

Persons

1987

21.8

1988

40.2

1989

48.4

1990

35.8

1991

23.0

1992

16.9

1993

16.4

1994

14.8

1995

13.3

1996

14.1

1997

11.6

1998

11.8

1999

11.2

2000

7.2

2001

7.8

2002

7.4

2003

8.6

2004

7.1

2005

7.9

2006

8.8

2007

10.1

2008

7.0

2009

11.9

2010

14.4

2011

18.9

12007-2011 are preliminary.

Departmental Bodies

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

82 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach if he will provide in tabular form, a list of all agencies, bodies and internal organisations under his aegis. [16402/12]

The National Economic and Social Development Office, which is the body corporate for the National Economic and Social Council, is the only agency under the aegis of my Department. The National Statistics Board is the only board under the aegis of my Department.

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

83 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach if he will provide in tabular form, a breakdown of the salaries, allowances and expenses paid to employees of the National Economic and Social Development Office in 2011. [16407/12]

The National Economic and Social Development Office (NESDO) was established under the NESDO Act 2006 and is the body corporate for the National Economic and Social Council (NESC).

A breakdown of the salaries, allowances and expenses paid to staff of the NESDO, which includes the staff of the NESC, is provided in the accompanying table.

NESDO/NESC Salaries, Allowances, and Travel and Subsistence for 2011

Salaries

Allowances in lieu of pension

Travel and Subsistence

Total

€1,475,208

€58,729

€6,194

1,540,131

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

84 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach if he will provide in tabular form, a breakdown of the number of National Economic and Social Development Office board members and their respective annual remuneration for 2011. [16408/12]

A breakdown of the number of National Economic and Social Development Office board members is in the accompanying table. No remuneration is payable for membership of the National Economic and Social Development Office.

Membership of the Board of the National Economic and Social Development Office 2011

Year

2011

Chairperson Mr. Dermot McCarthy (retired 31 July, 2011)

Secretary General, Department of the Taoiseach

Mr. Martin Fraser (appointed 1 August, 2011)

Secretary General, Department of the Taoiseach

Deputy Chairperson, Mr. Philip Kelly (ending June 2011)

Assistant Secretary, Department of the Taoiseach.

Departmental Staff

Sean Fleming

Question:

85 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Taoiseach if he will provide a list of staff in his Department that serve as directors of companies arising from their employment; the names of the companies involved; the annual remuneration received, if any; if they are indemnified by his Department in respect of their role as directors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16424/12]

No staff in my Department serve as directors of companies arising from their employment.

Ministerial Expenses

Niall Collins

Question:

86 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Taoiseach the amount of expenses claimed on a monthly basis since March 2011 by all Ministers attached to his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16458/12]

The table details the amount of expenses claimed since March 2011 by Ministers attached to my Department:

Date

Amount

Minister of State and Government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe

€157.34

Departmental Staff

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

87 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Taoiseach the number of staff employed in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions; the number of these employees in receipt of salaries €200,000, and over €150,000 and over €100,000, and their job titles. [14906/12]

The number of staff employed in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is 200. When worksharing patterns and staff on unpaid leave are taken into account this equates to 192.10 whole time equivalent staff.

No employees of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions are in receipt of salaries of €200,000 or higher. Two individuals are in receipt of salaries of over €150,000 but less than €200,000 and 21 employees are in receipt of salaries of more than €100,000 but less than €150,000. The table below shows the job titles.

Salary

Grade Title

Number of Staff

Over €200,000

Nil

€150,000 to €200,000

Director of Public Prosecutions

1

Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions

1

€100,000 to €150,000

Professional Officer Grade II

3

Professional Officer Grade III

9

Principal Prosecution Solicitor

6

Principal Officer (Higher)

2

Senior Prosecution Solicitor

1

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

88 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Taoiseach the average amount paid to staff in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for travel and subsistence on an annual basis; the details of the types of expenses staff may recoup; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14907/12]

The table below shows the total amount paid on travel and subsistence in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in the last three years, the number of staff who received payment and the average payment made.

2009

2010

2011

Total Travel and Subsistence Paid

€44,849.90

€49,524.97

€49,726.11

Number of Staff Paid

53

58

69

Average payment

€846.22

€853.88

€720.67

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions complies with Civil Service regulations with regard to travel and subsistence and expenses. The types of expenses which staff may recoup when travelling are mileage costs if driving or bus, train or taxi costs if not driving.

Departmental Expenditure

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

89 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Taoiseach if he will provide a breakdown of spending on postal and telecommunications services in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. [14908/12]

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

90 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Taoiseach if he will provide a breakdown of spending on office equipment and external IT services in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. [14909/12]

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

92 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Taoiseach if he will provide details of any office premises expenses of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions during each of the past three years; the amounts paid in rent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14911/12]

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

97 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Taoiseach if he will provide a breakdown of administration, non-pay related, in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions during each of the past three years. [14916/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 89, 90, 92 and 97 together.

The information sought in Question No. 97 — administration, non-pay related — contains the expenditure details sought in the other three questions.

The Deputy has sought information on expenditure on administration, non-pay related based on the headings published in the Revised Estimated for the Public Services 2012. I would draw the Deputy's attention to the fact that titles of administration subheads in respect of the Vote of the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions were changed in the Revised Estimate for the Public Services 2012. Expenditure is therefore shown in the table below under the old titles under which the expenditure was incurred. I would also draw the Deputy's attention to the fact that consultancy services, which for 2012 are shown in subhead A07 (Consultancy Services and Value for Money Reviews and Policy Reviews), were accounted for under subhead A03 (Incidental Expenses) in the years 2009-2011. Expenditure on consultancy has therefore been shown under subhead A03.

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions does not pay rent in respect of its buildings. The payment of rent is part of the responsibility of the Office of Public Works.

2009

2010

2011

A02 Travel and subsistence>

Foreign Travel

26,536

28,452

37,507

Domestic Travel

62,359

67,017

61,914

Sundry

1,034

1,757

1,995

89,929

97,226

101,415

A03 Incidental Expenses

Library Expenditure

216,531

201,714

138,331

Memberships and Training

83,711

117,876

128,098

Conferences and Seminars

14,173

12,635

13,100

Security

512,332

458,994

469,988

Internal Audit

22,895

42,280

25,015

Consultancy

58,369

4,878

General Operative

45,562

49,072

41,870

Recruitment / Advertising

25,285

8,064

10,507

Sundry

61,584

41,424

31,103

1,040,442

936,937

858,013

A04 Telephone and Post

Land and Data Lines

172,561

127,082

114,201

Mobile Phones

33,675

40,345

25,788

Postage

77,460

68,023

59,133

Couriers

36,309

30,313

38,339

Sundry

23,275

4,210

3,332

343,281

269,973

240,793

A05 Office Machinery and Supplies

Software and Equipment Maintenance

64,616

134,197

161,538

Office Supplies + Stationery

122,109

101,722

102,558

Computer Consumables

41,891

57,701

13,356

Printing and Design

15,062

32,673

8,407

Computer Hardware and Software

705,639

122,480

121,415

Office Machinery

62,178

45,440

47,587

1,011,495

494,213

454,861

A06 Office Premises Expenses

Heat Light and Fuel

197,232

182,416

165,766

Cleaning

130,102

149,809

140,143

Building Maintenance

172,556

145,444

147,421

Furniture and Fittings

41,165

24,359

30,172

File Storage and retrieval

18,986

19,325

24,684

Sundry

14,331

1,412

842

574,372

522,764

509,028

Departmental Bodies

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

91 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Taoiseach if he will provide details of any external companies which performed duties for the Office of Public Prosecutions during each of the past three years; the type of services they provided; and the amounts they were paid for these services. [14910/12]

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has outsourced a number of functions to private companies. The functions outsourced relate to security and cleaning services as well as the provision of one general operative staff member. Contracts were placed following a competitive tendering process. For security reasons, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has not disclosed the names of the companies. The cost of the services over the last three years is shown as follows.

Service

2009

2010

2011

Security

€512,332

€458,994

€469,988

Cleaning

€130,102

€149,809

€140,143

General Operative

€45,562

€49,072

€41,870

Question No. 92 answered with Question No. 89.

Departmental Expenditure

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

93 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Taoiseach if he will provide a breakdown of moneys paid during each of the past three years by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for consultancy services and value for money and policy reviews; the names of those who provided these services and reviews and the purpose of each review and service. [14912/12]

No value for money or policy reviews were undertaken in the period in question. The title for subhead A07 published in the Revised Estimated for the Public Services 2012 is Consultancy Services and Value for Money and Policy Reviews. I would draw the Deputy's attention to the fact that titles of administration subheads in respect of the Vote of the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions were changed in the Revised Estimated for the Public Services 2012. Consultancy services were accounted for under subhead A03 (Incidental Expenses) in the years 2009-2011. Expenditure on consultancy has therefore been shown in the table below under subhead A03 and the relevant information has been supplied with my answer to questions 14916/12. For ease of reference I am showing the total of expenditure incurred as follows. The types of services involved are also shown.

Consultancy Services

2009

2010

2011

Implementation of a major IT Project

€37,558

€2,700

€0

Legal Advice on the contract for IT project

€20,811

€0

€0

Health and Safety Review

€0

€2,178

€0

Total

€58,369

€4,878

€0

The Director of Public Prosecutions has not disclosed the names of the companies involved for security reasons. The companies were engaged following a competitive tendering process.

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

94 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Taoiseach if he will provide a breakdown of fees paid to counsel during each of the past five years by the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14913/12]

The table gives a breakdown of fees paid to counsel in each of the past five years. Since 2009, two 8% cuts and one 10% cut in fee rates paid to barristers by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions have been implemented.

Court

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

DUBLIN CIRCUIT

€4,149,896

€4,014,732

€4,806,448

€4,182,479

€3,936,101

SPECIAL CRIMINAL COURT

€264,194

€132,820

€271,399

€337,661

€220,611

CENTRAL CRIMINAL COURT

€4,289,909

€3,340,142

€3,841,896

€4,334,636

€3,611,987

HIGH/SUPREME COURT

€1,720,898

€2,178,254

€1,549,289

€2,085,014

€1,645,038

COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEAL

€526,902

€539,944

€530,540

€399,775

€660,424

NORTHERN CIRCUIT

€234,190

€305,808

€342,426

€276,205

€237,205

WESTERN CIRCUIT

€368,577

€217,764

€305,913

€305,835

€257,192

SOUTH WESTERN CIRCUIT

€530,680

€466,016

€795,015

€630,816

€675,173

CORK CIRCUIT

€715,673

€1,029,230

€1,111,797

€692,302

€638,650

SOUTH EASTERN CIRCUIT

€504,528

€673,856

€738,698

€603,052

€767,844

EASTERN CIRCUIT

€614,340

€549,840

€661,256

€539,473

€607,674

MIDLAND CIRCUIT

€221,811

€296,429

€328,395

€346,800

€242,828

€14,141,598

€13,744,835

€15,283,072

€14,734,048

€13,500,727

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

95 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Taoiseach the reason behind the drop in law costs awarded against the Director of Public Prosecution’s office between 2010 and 2011. [14914/12]

The significant reduction in the amount paid in respect of law costs awarded against the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution between 2010 and 2011 resulted from a 32% reduction in the number of cases and a 38% reduction in the average payment.

Departmental Bodies

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

96 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Taoiseach if he will provide a breakdown of general law expenses from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14915/12]

I have shown as follows the details sought. The most significant item of expenditure incurred was in respect of law costs awarded against the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

Award of Law Costs

€5,722,283

€5,691,519

€7,147,476

€5,957,466

€2,541,660

Psychologists Fees

€38,674

€42,753

€35,333

€23,265

€25,946

Cost Accountants

€100,809

€84,577

€58,794

€63,043

€27,269

Stenographers Fees

€17,253

€28,240

€21,907

€9,512

€9,996

Sundry

€51,405

€61,294

€25,959

€25,505

€17,419

Total

€5,930,424

€5,908,384

€7,289,469

€6,078,790

€2,622,289

Question No. 97 answered with Question No. 89.

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

98 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Taoiseach the number of staff employed in the Office of the Chief State Solicitor; the number of these employees in receipt of salaries over €200,000, and over €150,000 and over €100,000, and their job titles. [14917/12]

The answer is as follows:

2009

2010

2011

CSSO Staff Numbers

249

230

228

Year

Employees Earning

Number

Job Title

2009

Over €200,0001

1

Chief State Solicitor

Over €150,000

3

Assistant Chief State Solicitor

Over €100,000

1

Assistant Chief State Solicitor

10

Deputy Assistant Chief State Solicitor

7

Principal Solicitor

1

Principal Legal Executive

2010

Over €200,000

0

Over €150,000

1

Chief State Solicitor,

1

Assistant Chief State Solicitor

3

Assistant Chief State Solicitor

9

Deputy Assistant Chief State Solicitor

1

Principal Solicitor

2011

Over €200,000

0

Over €150,000

1

Chief State Solicitor,

1

Assistant Chief State Solicitor

3

Assistant Chief State Solicitor

10

Deputy Assistant Chief State Solicitor

3

Principal Solicitor

1The Chief State Solicitor took a voluntary pay cut of €22,931 in 2009 bringing his gross pay to €197,361.

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

99 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Taoiseach the average amount paid to staff in the Office of the Chief State Solicitor for travel and subsistence on an annual basis; the details of the types of expenses staff may recoup; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14918/12]

The Office of the Chief State Solicitor complies with the Civil Service Regulations with regard to travel, subsistence and expenses. The types of expenses which can be claimed are those which are laid down in the Department of Finance/Department of Public Expenditure and Reform circulars.

Year

Average Amount

2009

€752.62

2010

€573.91

2011

€588.40

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

100 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Taoiseach if he will provide a breakdown of spending on postal and telecommunications services in the Office of the Chief State Solicitor. [14919/12]

The answer is as follows:

2009

2010

2011

TELEPHONE EQUIPMENT — Support and Maintenance

€15,293.52

€11,283.28

€11,283.28

TELEPHONIST CONTRACT

€71,293.32

€99,458.391

€85,199.75

TELEPHONES

€213,997.85

€164,444.27

€162,353.66

COURIERS

€17,811.20

€21,925.39

€21,974.47

POSTAL SERVICES

€77,020.01

€71,591.26

€58,276.41

€395,415.90

€368,702.59

€339,087.57

1Service provided at the end of 2009 was not paid for until 2010.

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

101 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Taoiseach if he will provide a breakdown of spending on office equipment and external IT services in the Office of the Chief State Solicitor. [14920/12]

The answer is as follows:

Type of Service

2009

2010

2011

IT Hardware and Software

€158,031

€123,572

€153,994

External IT Services

€21,272

€24,205

Office Machinery

€43,454

€92,283

€26,863

Equipment and Software maintenance and repairs

€384,262

€280,336

€313,173

Stationery and Printing

€183,457

€202,974

€166,387

IT and Equipment Consumables

€2,327

€18,133

€30,893

Total

€771,531.61

€738,569.81

€715,517

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

102 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Taoiseach the details of any external companies which performed duties for the Office of the Chief State Solicitor during each of the past three years; the types of services they provided; and the amounts they were paid for these services. [14921/12]

The answer is as follows:

Type of Service

2009

2010

2011

Security

€412,208

€443,063

€443,266

Cleaning

€130,390

€130262

€127,314

Taxi

€13,517

€20,199

€16,725

Courier

€17,811

€21,925

€21,974

Postal

€77,020

€71,591

€58,276

Telephonist

€71,293

€99,548

€85,200

For security reasons, the Office of the Chief State Solicitor has not disclosed the names of the companies involved in the provision of duties over the last three years.

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

103 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Taoiseach the details of any office premises expenses of the Office of the Chief State Solicitor during each of the past three years; the amount paid in rent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14922/12]

The following are the costs of office expenses for the Office of the Chief State Solicitor for 2008 to 2010:

Account

2009

2010

2011

Furniture and Fittings

€191,399

€83,420

€148,655

Utilities

€116,743

€109,362

€106,555

Maintenance and Repairs

€84,417

€166,407

€190,059

€392,559

€359,190

€445,269

This expenditure comprises costs in relation to Furniture and Fittings, Utilities and Office maintenance and repairs.

The Office of the Chief State Solicitor does not pay any rent in the buildings it occupies. Osmond House is owned by the Office of Public Works and rent for the three floors occupied in The Chancery Building is paid for by the OPW.

Consultancy Contracts

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

104 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Taoiseach if he will provide a breakdown of moneys paid during each of the past three years by the Office of the Chief State Solicitor for consultancy services and value for money and policy reviews; the names of those who provided these services and reviews and the purpose of each review and service. [14923/12]

The answer is as follows:

Year

Amount

2009

€13,658

2010

€18,238

2011

€19,786

Name

Purpose of Service

Brendan Shiels

Expenditure Review

Business Transformation Consulting Limited

Accounting and Financial Management

Conal Devine and Associates

Mediation

Cantrell And Crowley Architects

Architectural Services

Corporate Translations Services

Translations Services

Institute Of Public Administration

Risk Management

MentecPlus Integrated Solutions Ltd

Financial Management

Andrew Doyle Safety Consultants

Health and Safety

Nifast

Health and Safety

HR Professional Services

Interview Selection

Working Solutions ltd

Mediation

Pat Firth

HR Consultancy

Pathway

Customer Service Survey

Renaissance Contingency Services Ltd.

Business Continuity

Stephanie Regan and Associates

Counselling

Departmental Bodies

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

105 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Taoiseach if he will provide a breakdown of fees paid to counsel during each of the past five years by the Office of the Chief State Solicitor; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14924/12]

The answer is as follows:

Year

Counsel

Amount

2007

Senior

€7,634,574

€15,118,784

Junior

€7,477,038

Counsel Travel1

€6,812

2008

Senior

€8,313,321

€17,786,200

Junior

€9,465,914

Counsel Travel

€6,965

2009

Senior

€6,705,959

€16,136,402

Junior

€9,416,755

Counsel Travel

€13,688

2010

Senior

€4,624,971

€12,372,056

Junior

€7,732,952

Counsel Travel

€14,133

2011

Senior

€3,696,641

€10,267,720

Junior

€6,287,202

Counsel Travel

€10,877

1Counsel Travel includes the cost of flights and accommodation for Counsel who travel to the Court of Justice of the European Union. Travel expenses are not paid to Counsel within Ireland.

Management of the expenditure in relation to Counsel Fees from 2008 outturn to 2011 outturn has seen a reduction in spend of 42%. The Office will continue to tightly control expenditure in this area.

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

106 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Taoiseach if he will provide a breakdown of general law expenses form the Office of the Chief State Solicitor for each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14925/12]

The answer is as follows:

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

Legal Expenses1

€1,715,362

€920,779

€671,436

€498,049

€523,115

Law Searches

€114,308

€122,225

€104,342

€41,330

€72,816

Legal Cost Accountants

€449,125

€568,186

€371,259

€386,279

€490,529

Stenographers Fees

€709,804

€365,353

€270,915

€330,633

€293,595

Medical Fees

€121,738

€45,888

€44,950

€59,892

€55,764

Attorney General’s Scheme

€1,648,162

€2,949,225

€2,121,315

€2,625,596

€4,087,730

Total

€4,758,498

€4,971,656

€3,584,216

€3,941,778

€5,523,549

1Legal Expenses comprise of Solicitor Costs and Services, Witness expenses and engineers fees.

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

107 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Taoiseach if he will provide a breakdown of administration, non-pay related, in the Offices of the Chief State Solicitor during each of the last three years. [14926/12]

The answer is as follows:

Non Pay Subhead

2009

2010

2011

Travel and Subsistence

€51,289.34

€56,558.26

€61,373.29

Incidental Expenses

€873,197.11

€946,824.14

€991,613.81

Postal and Telecoms

€395,415.90

€368,702.59

€339,087.57

Office machinery and other office supplies

€771,531.61

€738,569.81

€715,516.51

Office Premises Expenses

€392,558.93

€359,189.90

€445,269.84

Consultancy

€13,657.88

€18,237.88

€19,786.40

Local State Solicitors Services

€149,285.16

€240,816.05

€146,796.81

€2,646,935.93

€2,728,898.63

€2,719,444.23

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

108 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Taoiseach if he will provide a breakdown of moneys spent by the Office of the Chief State Solicitor on external legal services over each of the past three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14927/12]

The answer is as follows:

Year

Amount

2009

€149,285

2010

€240,816

2011

€146,797

These payments are in relation to work carried out by the local State Solicitors in relation to ministerial prosecutions around the country. Ministerial prosecutions comprise mainly of social welfare and agriculture-related prosecutions.

Appointments to State Boards

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

109 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Taoiseach if he will provide a full breakdown by gender of all appointments to State boards since February 2011; the current status of State boards in relation to the percentage of participation of women and men in each one; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16677/12]

The National Economic and Social Development Office (NESDO)

The National Economic and Social Development Office (NESDO) is the body corporate of the National Economic and Social Council (NESC). Two appointments were made to the NESDO since February 2011. The two appointees are the sole members of the NESDO and both were male appointments.

The National Economic and Social Council (NESC)

Fourteen appointments (four females and ten males) have been made to the NESC since February, 2011. Women account for 29% of the Council's membership while men account for 71% of its membership.

The National Statistics Board (NSB)

There have been no appointments to the National Statistics Board (NSB) since February 2011.

The current Board has seven members, six male members (86%) and one female member (14%).

National Lottery Funding

John McGuinness

Question:

110 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Taoiseach if he will confirm the amount of National Lottery funds allocated to his Department; if the funds are spent on specific projects; if so, the name of the project; if the National Lottery fund is allocated to the general spend by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17021/12]

My Department receives no funding from the National Lottery.

Departmental Equipment

Regina Doherty

Question:

111 Deputy Regina Doherty asked the Taoiseach the number of laptops in use in his Department; the number of tablets in use in his Department; the number of the laptops in use that are due to be upgraded this year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17580/12]

The number of laptops in use in my Department is 31 broken down as follows:

For the provision of remote out-of-hours support — 5;

For secure remote access to applications and email — 24;

For specific technical functions (e.g. streaming) — 2.

The number of tablets in use in my Department is 2. The number of the laptops in use that are due to be upgraded this year is 6.

Human Rights Issues

Clare Daly

Question:

112 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will raise with the Chinese President the issue of human rights in relation to all persecuted groups in China; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16073/12]

As I have stated previously, human rights are, and have always been, a priority of successive Irish Governments and a key plank of our foreign policy. Through the formal framework of the EU-China Human Rights Dialogue, which was established in 1995, the EU continues to share with China its experience in the field of human rights protection and promotion, and to urge China to take clear steps to improve the human rights situation.

Human rights are a constant and important issue of dialogue and discussion with the Chinese Authorities, at both national and European Union level. In the course of the recent visit of the H.E. Xi Jinping the Vice-President of the People's Republic of China, the issue of human rights was raised at a variety of levels, including directly between the Taoiseach, myself and Vice President Xi. I will be visiting China in 2012 and officials on both sides are working closely on identifying dates and these have not yet been established.

Departmental Staff

Sean Fleming

Question:

113 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide a list of staff in his Department that serve as directors of companies arising from their employment; the names of the companies involved; the annual remuneration received, if any; if they are indemnified by his Department in respect of their role as directors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16418/12]

There are no staff in my Department that serve as directors of companies.

Foreign Conflicts

Clare Daly

Question:

114 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade further to Parliamentary Question No. 74 of 21 February 2012 if he will confirm that he will oppose any UN resolution which enables an attack on Syria. [16427/12]

Ireland and its EU partners condemn unreservedly the violent assault by the Syrian government on the people of Syria. We are determined to assist the latter to chart a new way forward. We fully support the work of UN-Arab League Envoy Kofi Annan and his six-point plan which was presented to President Assad on 10 March. I welcome the fact that this plan has now been fully endorsed by all members of the Security Council including Russia and China in a Presidential Statement on 21 March, and I urge President Assad to accept and fully support the implementation of this plan without any further delay. I have made it clear that Ireland shares the majority view amongst the international community that, despite the gravity of the situation, outside military intervention will not bring about an end to the violence in Syria and instead runs the risk of precipitating all-out civil war in that country. For the moment, all efforts must be concentrated on support for the work of Special Envoy Annan and increasing diplomatic pressure on the Assad regime to halt its appalling campaign of violence.

There is no serious proposal at UN or EU level for a no-fly zone over Syria at present and it is very unlikely that one will emerge given that there is considerable resistance, not least within the ranks of the Syrian opposition and within the region, to any idea of outside intervention in Syria. Any no-fly zone in any case could only be authorised or properly mandated through a UN Security Council Resolution and there is no prospect of this at present, given clear Russian and Chinese opposition to such a step or any idea of external intervention in Syria. Any proposal to establish a no-fly zone would also have to be endorsed by the Arab League and by Turkey.

The focus of this Government and of the international community has been on increasing diplomatic and political pressure on the Assad regime to halt its violence and repression. In this regard, I fully support the Foreign Affairs Council's decision on 23 March to apply further EU sanctions against additional individuals and entities that support the Syrian regime. We will continue to take all possible measures to increase pressure on President Assad and his supporters until the violence against the civilian population stops, international humanitarian access is secured, and an inclusive Syrian-led political dialogue begins.

Clare Daly

Question:

115 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade further to Parliamentary Question No. 74 of 21 February 2012 regarding events in Syria and Iran and noting the 27 February 2012 statement by the Brazilian Foreign Minister that any attack by Israel or the US on Iran would be contrary to international law, and noting that the when Israel unilaterally bombed the Osirik nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981, that the UN Security Council unanimously condemned the attack, if he will make a public statement declaring that any attack on Iran by the US or Israel is a war crime under the UN Charter. [16428/12]

While the issues relating to Iran's nuclear programme raised in the 8 November 2011 IAEA reports, and in repeated UN Security Council and IAEA Resolutions, are very serious and must be comprehensively addressed by Iran, it is clear that any form of military intervention or military action against Iran would have extremely grave and unpredictable consequences for the entire region. Despite recent media speculation about military options, both the US and Israel have stated that they fully support the dual track approach, namely sanctions and negotiations. In this regard, the EU agreed extensive additional measures against Iran in December 2011 and January of this year, including a phased oil import ban. These measures complement tough bilateral sanctions implemented by US, Canada and the UK, including significant US legislation targeting the Iranian financial system signed into law by President Obama on 31 December.

It is my belief that these measures have been instrumental in triggering a belated acceptance of talks by Iran. Arrangements are now being made for resumed talks between the E3 + 3 (France, Germany, UK, US, Russia, China) and Iran to commence next month. Hopefully the talks will comprehensively address all the issues arising in relation to Iran's nuclear programme. The negotiation track must now be given time to succeed. In this regard I would urge the Iranian side to enter negotiations this time in a genuine spirit of compromise and cooperation.

Ireland has been consistent in supporting the dual track approach. We will continue to argue strongly at EU and UN level that the serious issues surrounding Iran's nuclear activities can only be addressed and resolved through negotiations and not by any other means.

Ministerial Expenses

Niall Collins

Question:

116 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the amount of expenses claimed on a monthly basis since March 2011 by all Ministers attached to his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16452/12]

The following table sets out the subsistence expenses paid to me as Minister and the combined subsistence and mileage expenses paid to the Ministers of State attached to my Department since March 2011 to date:

Mr. Eamon Gilmore T.D, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade

Ms Lucinda Creighton T.D., Minister of State with responsibility for European Affairs

Ms Jan O’ Sullivan T.D., Minister of State with responsibility for Trade and Development

Mr. Joe Costello T.D., Minister of State with responsibility for Trade and Development

2011

March

613.21

April

649.16

May

1,397.11

995.20

June

1,605.95

3,135.53

July

1,183.48

1,539.86

August

1,481.34

September

706.75

779.72

424.05

October

462.99

1,576.91

1,081.04

November

2,376.37

1077.97

December

392.74

971.34

2012

January

1,042.39

819.65

February

2,741.68

To 23 March

347.14

Passport Applications

Jack Wall

Question:

117 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the position regarding an application for a passport in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16653/12]

The Passports Act, 2008 provides, among other things, that only Irish citizens are entitled to be issued with Irish passports. Each application received by the Passport Service must, therefore, demonstrate that person's entitlement to Irish citizenship before a passport can issue. The person in question was born in Dublin on 13 April, 2010. His entitlement to Irish citizenship is governed by the provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended (the Act). Section 6A of the Act provides that persons, born in the State on or after 1 January 2005, where neither parent is an Irish or British citizen or otherwise entitled to reside in the State or Northern Ireland without restriction, may claim citizenship by birth in the State (and thereby establish eligibility for an Irish passport) only where a parent has been lawfully resident in the State for three years of the four years preceding their birth.

It is the practice of this Department to seek and consider documentary proofs of Irish citizenship in all passport applications. In the case of passport applicants, born in the State on or after 1 January 2005, where neither parent is Irish, British, or otherwise entitled to reside in the State or Northern Ireland without restriction, proofs are specifically required in respect of the lawful residence in the island of Ireland of a parent to establish an entitlement to citizenship for the child.

In line with guidelines provided by Department of Justice and Equality, which is the Department responsible for immigration and citizenship, the proofs of lawful residence which are accepted and considered by this Department for passport applications are immigration stamps in passports and/or the registration cards/books which are given to persons registering with the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB). These are official documents which can be objectively verified by the Department.

In the case of the person in question, two applications were made, on his behalf, to the Department in 2011. On both occasions, the evidence of immigration stamps and cards in respect of the child's mother in the period 13 April, 2006 to 12 April, 2010 did not yield the required amount of lawful residence to demonstrate the applicant's entitlement to Irish citizenship and thus a passport.

The Passport Service wrote to the applicant's mother in respect of both applications to explain to her that she did not have the required amount of lawful residence that was reckonable for the purposes of section 6A of the Act to demonstrate her son's entitlement to Irish citizenship. These letters also advised that, as her son was not an Irish citizen, a passport could not issue to him under the Passports Act 2008.

Missing Persons

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

118 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the efforts he and his Department has made in attempting to locate a person (details supplied). [16817/12]

As the Deputy will be aware, my Department has been providing consular assistance to the family of the missing person since being notified of the matter on 27 February this year. The Embassy of Ireland in New Delhi immediately alerted the relevant authorities and asked that full assistance be given in tracing the person. The Embassy advised the family on various sources of local information, such as traveller's forums which allowed the family to tap into the traveller's network and get practical help such as posting notices and translating into Hindi and Hebrew as appropriate.

The Embassy also confirmed details of the person's Indian visa and checked with the Indian authorities whether an extension had been granted or not.

After the person's belongings were found, a hugely significant milestone in the case, a Consular official travelled to Rishikesh to see the area and meet with the authorities both at local level in Rishikesh and State level (Director General of Police) in Dehradun, Uttarakhand. The purpose of this visit was to thank them for their efforts and to ask that a full search of the surrounding area be carried out. A search of the area was carried out. The Consular official also met with the person's family and friends who had travelled from Ireland to assist in the search.

The Ambassador of Ireland to India also met with the person's father in New Delhi.

The Embassy remains in close contact with the family on this case.

National Lottery Funding

John McGuinness

Question:

119 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will confirm the amount of National Lottery funds allocated to his Department; if the funds are spent on specific projects; if so, the name of the project; if the National Lottery fund is allocated to the general spend by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17015/12]

I can confirm that there are no National Lottery funds allocated to my Department.

Departmental Equipment

Regina Doherty

Question:

120 Deputy Regina Doherty asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of laptops in use in his Department; the number of tablets in use in his Department; the number of the laptops in use that are due to be upgraded this year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17575/12]

There are currently 376 laptops and 29 tablets in use in my Department. My Department has no plans to upgrade any laptops this year.

Disabled Drivers

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

121 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Finance the criteria used for the purposes of issuing a primary care certificate; when these criteria were set; when the criteria are set for review; if there are any circumstances where the criteria can be eased for certain applicants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16107/12]

The disability criteria for eligibility for the tax concessions under the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Scheme are set out in the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations 1994. To get the Primary Medical Certificate, an applicant must be severely and permanently disabled and satisfy one of the following conditions:

a) be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both legs;

b) be wholly without the use of one leg and almost wholly without the use of the other leg such that the applicant is severely restricted as to movement of the lower limbs;

c) be without both hands or without both arms;

d) be without one or both legs;

e) be wholly or almost wholly without the use of both hands or arms and wholly or almost wholly without the use of one leg;

f) have the medical condition of dwarfism and have serious difficulties of movement of the lower limbs.

The Senior Medical Officer (SMO) for the relevant local Health Service Executive administrative area makes a professional clinical determination as to whether an individual applicant satisfies the medical criteria. An unsuccessful applicant can appeal the decision of the SMO to the Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal, which makes a new clinical determination in respect of the individual.

A special Interdepartmental Review Group reviewed the operation of the Disabled Drivers Scheme. The terms of reference of the Group were to examine the operation of the existing scheme, including the difficulties experienced by the various groups and individuals involved with it, and to consider the feasibility of alternative schemes, with a view to assisting the Minister for Finance in determining the future direction of the scheme.

The Group's Report, published on my Department's website in July 2004, sets out in detail the genesis and development of the scheme. It examines the current benefits, the qualifying medical criteria, the Exchequer costs, the relationship with other schemes and similar schemes in other countries. The Report also makes a number of recommendations, both immediate and long-term, referring respectively to the operation of the appeals process and options for the future development of the scheme.

In respect of the long-term recommendations, including the qualifying disability criteria, given the scale and scope of the scheme, further changes can only be made after careful consideration. For this reason, the Government decided that the Minister for Finance would consider the recommendations contained in the Report of the Interdepartmental Review Group in the context of the annual budgetary process having regard to the existing and prospective cost of the scheme. This consideration is undertaken on a regular basis.

Official Engagements

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

122 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance if he will publish a schedule of all communications, written and verbal, and all encounters he, or officials of his Department, or officials of agencies for which his Department is accountable, has had with a former chairman and a multinational bulge bracket investment banking and securities firm (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16059/12]

As Minister for Finance I meet with a wide range of individuals and firms from various sectors. These interactions provide a useful forum for exchanges of views. It allows me to set out for investors the steps we have taken to stabilize and promote growth in the economy and the measures we have taken to restructure the Irish banking system. It also provides me with important feedback on these measures and an insight into market perceptions on the Irish economy.

In relation to the firm referred to in the Deputy's question, I have not met directly with them since my appointment as Minister for Finance. However, I along with Ministers from other countries attended a reception hosted by the firm in Washington in September, on the margins of the IMF Annual Meetings. Having worked closely with the individual referred to in the question in a previous Government, I have spoken with this individual on a number of occasions since my appointment.

As previously advised, Goldman Sachs was engaged by the NTMA following a competitive tender in April 2011 as external advisor for the liability management exercises and capital raising transactions to be undertaken in respect of Anglo, AIB, BOI, ILP, EBS, INBS and also for advice on the sale of Irish Life. The delegation of banking system functions to the NTMA ended in August 2011 with the secondment of the NTMA Banking Unit to the Department of Finance Banking Division. Following the transfer, the Department of Finance Banking Division liaised directly with Goldman Sachs on this engagement. Officials in my department are in regular communication with a team from Goldman Sachs as part of the engagement, which has not yet completed.

Pension Provisions

Pearse Doherty

Question:

123 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the pension arrangements for the ten top National Treasury Management Agency and ten top National Asset Management Agency executives and if the remuneration from these pensions was altered or increased when the executives involved waived their performance related bonuses and or took pay cuts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16105/12]

I am informed by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) that NTMA employees are members of the NTMA defined benefit superannuation scheme or else have Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs). The pension benefits of members of the NTMA superannuation scheme prior to 1 January 2010 are based on final salary. The pension benefits of members who joined the scheme on or after 1 January 2010 are based on career average earnings. The NTMA superannuation scheme is a funded scheme and pension entitlements are within the standard entitlements in the model public sector defined benefit superannuation scheme.

I am also informed by the Agency that performance-related payments do not count towards the calculation of pension benefits which are derived from base salary. Gifting of a proportion of salary to the Exchequer under Section 483 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 does not affect the calculation of pension benefits. The pension benefits of NTMA executives have not been altered or increased following either the waiving of performance-related payments or the gifting of a proportion of salary to the Exchequer.

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

124 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Finance if he will review a pension issue (details supplied). [16120/12]

The position is that an individual liable to income tax on his or her social welfare pension is entitled to the PAYE tax credit against the tax due on that pension providing, of course, that the PAYE tax credit is not utilised against the tax due on another source of PAYE income that an individual may have. Regarding the example provided by the Deputy, if an individual has a social welfare pension and a source of non-PAYE income, then he or she is entitled to the PAYE tax credit against only the tax due on that social welfare pension and any unused portion of the PAYE tax credit cannot be off-set against tax due on any other non-PAYE income.

Tax Collection

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

125 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider correspondence (details supplied) concerning the issuing of a P60; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16190/12]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they have contacted the employer concerned and have been advised that the delay relates to technical problems with the production of the forms. The employer has also advised that form P60 will be issued to the person concerned next week.

Your enquiry about the government's intention to impose further pay cuts to teachers' salaries vis-a-vis a cumulative reduction of 20% of teachers' allowances by 2014 is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

126 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Finance if he will ensure that a P60 is issued to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16289/12]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they have contacted the employer concerned and have been advised that form P60 will be issued to the person concerned next week.

Banking Sector Regulation

Dara Murphy

Question:

127 Deputy Dara Murphy asked the Minister for Finance the current staffing levels at PTSB; the number of staff that has been made redundant since 2008; the current remuneration of the Board of Directors including the CEO and the remuneration in 2008; the measures being taken to reduce and control costs in PTSB; the actions he is taking to ensure PTSB will pass on reductions from the ECB; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16339/12]

I am advised that staffing levels in Permanent TSB bank stood at 2,243 (headcount) as at 29th February last. This figure includes staff that were recently transferred from Irish Nationwide Building Society and Northern Rock but excludes Career Break staff and other Long Term Absences. I am further advised that a total of 688 staff have been made redundant since 2008 in Permanent TSB. Detail in relation to all Senior Executive remuneration including Executive Directors is disclosed each year in the institutions Annual Report and Accounts. The Annual Reports for prior years are available at http://www.irishlifepermanent.ie/investor-relations/reports-and-presentations/annual-and-interim-reports/2011.aspx, disclosure for 2011 will be included in the latest Annual Report due to be published on 2nd April.

Neither the Central Bank nor the Department of Finance has a statutory function in relation to interest rate decisions made by individual lending institutions at any particular time. However, I can confirm to the Deputy that Permanent TSB did pass on, in full, the recent reductions to customers holding standard variable rate (SVR) mortgages and reduced further their LTV standard variable rates to align them with the SVR.

Finally, I am acutely aware of the need to ensure that costs in the State owned banks are managed and controlled appropriately. The Department of Finance maintains an active dialogue with the bank in respect of overall costs as part of the State's role as shareholder in the bank.

National Treasury Management Agency

Dara Murphy

Question:

128 Deputy Dara Murphy asked the Minister for Finance his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding the National Asset Management Agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16351/12]

NAMA has a commercial mandate to obtain the best achievable financial return on behalf of the State. It has emphasised repeatedly that one of its objectives is to instigate the sale of properties by its debtors and in order to facilitate this, it approves the sale of properties by debtors at realistic current market prices. In terms of determining an appropriate current level of pricing for particular properties, I am advised that NAMA has access to expert valuers with local knowledge of properties.

In some cases, potential purchasers may disagree with NAMA-approved pricing. I am informed by NAMA that it is open to discussion with any potential purchaser on the sale of particular properties but only through engagement by those purchasers with sales agents acting for NAMA debtors or NAMA-appointed receivers.

It is not appropriate that details of individual sales transactions should be divulged or discussed in public. However, the Deputy will be aware that NAMA has set up a dedicated e-mail address, oir@nama.ie, to which members of the Oireachtas may direct questions on matters of public interest provided the terms of Section 221 of the National Asset Management Act 2009 are respected. Accordingly, NAMA informs me that if the Deputy directs his query through this channel, the agency will provide him with relevant information.

Section 221 applies where a person communicates with NAMA on behalf of another person with the intention of influencing the making of a decision in relation to the performance of the functions of NAMA, subject to certain exceptions. One of the functions of NAMA which is explicitly covered by the provision is the purchase or sale of property. If a representation were made on behalf of another person with the intention of influencing NAMA in relation to a decision on the purchase or sale of property this would be an offence under section 221, unless it fell within the exception in subsection (3).

Betting Regulations

Dara Calleary

Question:

129 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Finance the level of potential revenue losses to the Exchequer as a result of on-line betting; and if he will consider addressing the issue. [16365/12]

The proposed Betting (Amendment) Bill, which is being drafted at present, will amend the 1931 Betting Act to inter alia establish the regulatory framework for the licensing of remote bookmakers and betting exchanges, including measures to enforce the regulatory framework. The drafting of the Bill, which is fairly complex, is well advanced and it is my intention to publish the Bill in the second quarter. The Finance Act 2011 contained measures to allow for the extension of the 1% betting duty to remote bookmakers and for a 15% gross profit tax to betting exchanges. The taxation provisions are subject to a Ministerial Commencement order which can only be commenced when the Betting (Amendment) Bill is enacted. It is estimated that the full year yield from the taxation of remote betting would be around €20 million.

Tax Code

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

130 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a breakdown at today's prices of the amount of VAT, tax, charges and so on taken out of every €10 of diesel and petrol; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16373/12]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the breakdown of Mineral Oil Tax, Carbon Tax and VAT out of €10 of petrol and auto-diesel at average prices is as follows:

Petrol

Diesel

Mineral Oil Tax

3.25

2.67

Carbon Tax

0.27

0.33

VAT

1.87

1.87

Total Tax

5.39

4.87

The Mineral Oil Tax and Carbon Tax amounts were calculated using an average price of 166.9 cent per litre for petrol and 159.9 cent per litre for auto-diesel.

Departmental Strategies

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

131 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance his views on a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16381/12]

A report setting out a Strategy for Financial Inclusion was published on my Department's website in June 2011. The main operational recommendation from the report was the proposed introduction of a basic payment account. An implementation group, which is chaired by my Department, has been established to manage the implementation process and a basic payment account is expected to be rolled out in June 2012 on a pilot basis in three locations in the State. Following an analysis of the outcome of the pilot it is expected that the basic payment account will be rolled out nationally in 2013.

It was noted in the Strategy for Financial Inclusion report that the post office network has the potential to play a key role in the delivery of basic payment accounts. However the delivery of a basic payment account by the post office network is contingent on suitable systems, operational, commercial and governance arrangements being in place to facilitate such a process. I am advised that this is one of the many issues which will be considered in the context of the pilot programme.

Departmental Staff

Sean Fleming

Question:

132 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a list of staff in his Department that serve as directors of companies arising from their employment; the names of the companies involved; the annual remuneration received, if any; if they are indemnified by his Department in respect of their role as directors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16417/12]

In response to the Deputy's question no staff in my Department serve as directors of companies arising from their employment.

I understand from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform that the Office of the Attorney General has advised that people working for the State are entitled to be indemnified for such work. The indemnification would cover any reasonable legal fees and/or damages incurred where people are sued for undertaking their duties on behalf of the State provided they acted in good faith and in a bona fide manner. The State carries its own insurance in this regard. This indemnity would apply to those civil servants appointed to State boards as part of their official duties.

Ministerial Expenses

Niall Collins

Question:

133 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance the amount of expenses claimed on a monthly basis since March 2011 by all Ministers attached to his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16451/12]

In response to the Deputy's question the following table gives details of mileage and subsistence claimed by me since March 2011:

Month

Amount Claimed

March 2011

€335

April 2011

€203

May 2011

€3,353

June 2011

€1,621

July 2011

€1,890

August 2011

€1,929

September 2011

€2,558

October 2011

€1,947

November 2011

€1,786

December 2011

€1,671

January 2012

€3,231

February 2012

€2,782

March 2012

€127

Pension Provisions

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

134 Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor asked the Minister for Finance if he is investigating recent assertions that companies are offering early draw down of pension savings (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16507/12]

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

135 Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor asked the Minister for Finance if Ireland is losing tax revenue due to the early draw down of pensions referred to in a publication (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16508/12]

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

136 Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor asked the Minister for Finance if, in view of the fact that companies are offering early draw down of pension funds that he will reconsider legislating for the early draw down of AVCs and personal pension schemes as previously requested; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16509/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 134 to 136, inclusive, together.

The transfer of an occupational pension scheme member's pension fund benefits or a Personal Retirement Savings Account (PRSA) contributor's PRSA assets to an overseas pension arrangement is permitted, subject to the transfer complying with the Department of Social Protection's "Occupational Pension Schemes and Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (Overseas Transfer Payments) Regulations 2003" and Revenue rules. Under the Regulations, in the case of occupational pension schemes, the facility to transfer only applies to a scheme member who is entitled under the Pensions Act 1990 to "preserved benefits" under the scheme — in other words to a scheme member whose service in the relevant employment has terminated.

It is the responsibility of all trustees to ensure full compliance with the requirements of the Regulations. In essence, the Regulations require that, prior to making any overseas transfer payments, the trustees and PRSA providers must be satisfied that:

(a) The member has requested a transfer.

(b) The overseas arrangement provides relevant benefits as defined by section 770 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997.

(c) The overseas arrangement has been approved by the appropriate regulatory authority in the country concerned.

In practice, trustees and PRSA providers are required to obtain written confirmation to that effect from the trustees, custodians, managers or administrators of the overseas arrangement to which the transfer is to be made.

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that if the transfer is to another EU Member State, Revenue rules require the overseas scheme to be operated or managed by an Institution for Occupational Retirement Provision (IORPS), within the meaning of the EU Pensions Directive (known as the "IORPS Directive"), and to be established in a Member State of the European Communities which has implemented the IORPS Directive in its national law. The scheme administrator must also be resident in an EU Member State. In broad terms, the purpose of the IORPS Directive is to ensure that members and beneficiaries of occupational pension schemes are properly informed about the rules and financial position of the scheme and their rights under the scheme and to ensure the efficient management and investment of scheme assets.

If the transfer is to a country outside the EU, under Revenue rules a transfer may not be made to a country other than the one in which the member is currently employed

I am also advised by the Revenue Commissioners that in late 2009, they introduced an additional approval condition for all existing and new retirement benefit schemes and PRSAs to the effect that all overseas transfers under the provisions of the above mentioned Regulations may be made to facilitate bona fide transfers only, that is that they are not made with the primary purpose of circumventing Irish tax requirements. Moving pension funds abroad in an effort to frustrate Irish tax rules would fall foul of that approval condition and could ultimately result in approval being withdrawn which would have very significant consequences for any individual concerned.

Tax relief given on pension savings is intended to encourage individuals to save for the long-term with a view to providing them with an income in retirement. That is why our tax rules, like those in many other jurisdictions, set a minimum age from which benefits from pension savings can normally be accessed. It is important that these rules are not abused and that savings built up with the benefit of generous tax reliefs are not misused.

Issues relating to an apparent increase in requests for transfers of Irish pension funds abroad, following newspaper advertisements encouraging such actions in order to access tax-free cash early, have been brought to the attention of my Department and the Revenue Commissioners as well as, I understand, to other relevant bodies. My Department has, in conjunction with the Revenue Commissioners, set in train an examination of the issues involved in order to ensure that any transfers of Irish pension funds overseas are for bona fide purposes and in compliance with the requirements and intentions of the existing rules and regulations.

I am not in a position at this point to comment on the tax revenue implications, if any, of the issues raised in connection with the apparent increase in transfer payment requests.

The question of pre-retirement access to Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs) and personal pension plans is a separate matter and I have recently set out my position in this regard to the Deputy and to other public representatives.

Tax Code

Michael McCarthy

Question:

137 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Finance if a person (details supplied) in County Cork is liable to pay the universal social charge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16574/12]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that their records indicate that this individual is not exempt from the Universal Social Charge (USC) based on the quantum of his income, as returned by his employer. An individual becomes liable for USC once their income, excluding social welfare payments, exceeds €10,036 per annum.

Robert Troy

Question:

138 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Finance in view of the escalating price of petrol at the pumps, if he will considering reducing excise duty. [16589/12]

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

153 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding taxation issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16823/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 138 and 153 together.

Ireland, as with other countries, has experienced an increase in the cost of petrol and auto-diesel. The increase in fuel prices is an international phenomenon. Fuel prices are driven by a number of factors including the price of oil on international markets, exchange rates, production costs and refining costs. The rise in oil prices over recent periods reflected additional factors such as geopolitical uncertainty in Northern Africa and the Middle East with potential supply disruptions.

The excise rates (including the carbon charge) in Ireland on motor fuels are 58.8 cent per litre of petrol and 47.9 cent per litre of auto-diesel. However, our rates remain lower than many of our main trading partners and significantly lower than our nearest neighbour the UK. The rates for petrol and auto-diesel were increased with effect from 7 December 2011, arising from an increase in the carbon charge for those fuels from €15 to €20 per tonne of CO2 emitted. This represented an increase of less than 1.5 cent per litre in the case of petrol and just over 1.5 cent per litre in the case of diesel, when VAT is included. The rate of VAT that applies to those fuels increased from 21% to 23% with effect from 1 January 2012.

The Exchequer yield from excise, as excise is set at a nominal amount, does not increase as the price of fuels increase. On the other hand, the yield from VAT per litre of fuel, as VAT is set as a percentage of the price, increases as the price of fuels increase. However, in this regard it should be borne in mind that to the extent that spending in the economy is re-allocated to petrol and other oil products, and away from other VAT liable spending, and to the extent that the overall level of economic activity is reduced by higher oil prices, there may be little or no net gain to the Exchequer.

It should also be noted that businesses are of course entitled to reclaim VAT incurred on their business inputs, including VAT incurred on fuel. For example, VAT incurred on auto-diesel and marked gas oil (MGO or green diesel) used in the course of business is a deductible credit for business in the Irish VAT system. VAT on petrol cannot be deducted/reclaimed.

There are no plans for temporary taxation adjustments, as to do so, could lead to significant costs to the Exchequer. The issue of rising fuel prices was discussed by EU Finance Ministers at an ECOFIN meeting last year where they reconfirmed the approach taken in 2005 and again in 2008, when oil prices were very high, which endorsed a coordinated approach towards not making distortionary fiscal adjustments.

Haulage Sector

Brendan Griffin

Question:

139 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding road haulage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16601/12]

A fuel rebate system could not under EU law be restricted to Irish licensed hauliers but would have to be extended to all vehicles intended exclusively for the carriage of goods by road with a maximum permissible gross laden weight of not less than 7.5 tonnes. In addition, the rebate would have to include the carriage of passengers by a motor vehicle of category M2 or category M3 as defined in Council Directive 70/156/EEC. The Deputy may wish to note that a working group between my officials and representatives of the Irish Road Haulage Association was set up to examine the issues currently affecting the sector.

National Asset Management Agency

Michael McGrath

Question:

140 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the amount of cash reserves currently held by the National Assets Management Agency; the nature of the account in which the money is deposited; the rate of return being earned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16615/12]

I am advised by NAMA that it currently holds cash balances of €4.3 billion. NAMA have advised me that cash is either placed on deposit with approved counterparties or the Central Bank or it is invested in Qualifying Liquid Assets (Short-term Irish Government securities). It is necessary for NAMA to invest in highly liquid, lower risk and therefore lower yielding assets as NAMA must ensure that it has available liquidity over the medium term to meet all of its contractual obligations as they fall due. Such obligations include its day-to-day operating costs, coupon payments due on its bonds and derivative contract payments. It also includes advances for project funding to ensure that the assets underlying the NAMA project have the best chance of achieving the best return for the taxpayer. In addition, NAMA has set itself the target of repaying €7.5 billion of its Senior Notes by the end of 2013.

The rate of return on cash held in whatever form during the first quarter of 2012 was 1.1%. However, this should be viewed against a background of a reduction in Euro interest rates and in the context of NAMA's pressing need to manage its liquidity in line with the short term and medium term demands placed on NAMA as outlined above.

Michael McGrath

Question:

141 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of the number of inquiries and formal applications made to National Asset Management Agency by debtors and tenants for a rent reduction prior to the issuing by NAMA of the Guidance Note on Upward Only Commercial Leases on 6 December 2011; the number of such applications which ultimately resulted in NAMA approving a rent reduction; the number which were refused by NAMA; and the number still under consideration by the agency. [16621/12]

Michael McGrath

Question:

142 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of the number of inquiries and formal applications made to National Asset Management Agency by debtors and tenants for a rent reduction since the issuing by NAMA of the Guidance Note on Upward Only Commercial Leases on 6 December 2011; the number of such applications which ultimately resulted in NAMA approving a rent reduction; the number which were refused by NAMA; and the number still under consideration by the agency. [16622/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 141 and 142 together.

NAMA issued a Guidance Note on Upward Only Commercial Leases on 6 December 2011. The Guidance Note was intended to deal with situations where tenants of NAMA debtors could show that the rents they were paying were in excess of current market levels and, as a result, the viability of their businesses was threatened. In such circumstances, tenants were given an opportunity to seek NAMA's approval for rent reductions.

NAMA points out that, prior to issuing the guidance note; it had received and approved a substantial number of applications for rent abatements which it had processed on an informal basis. I am advised by NAMA that, in 2011 prior to the issuing of the Guidance Note, it received 114 direct applications for rent abatement. NAMA states that 113 of these applications were approved and one was refused.

I am further advised that, since 6 December 2011, NAMA has received 40 applications for rent abatements under the terms of the Guidance Note. Five of these applications were approved. Another two were ineligible as they related to properties which are not held as security by NAMA. As regards the remaining 33 cases, the applications are currently under review. In the majority of these cases, NAMA has, as per the Guidance Note, facilitated direct discussion between the landlord and the tenant and is awaiting the outcome of these discussions. In some of the cases, it is awaiting receipt of additional information from tenants. On receipt of the necessary information by NAMA, I am advised that the average turnaround time for decisions in respect of applications is six days and that the Agency works to a turnaround target of seven days.

Seán Crowe

Question:

143 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a detailed list of the assets and holdings of companies (details supplied) that are assets in loans transferred to the National Assets Management Agency [16632/12]

Seán Crowe

Question:

144 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a detailed list of the assets and holdings of County Mayo based construction companies that are assets in loans transferred to the National Assets Management Agency. [16633/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 143 and 144 together.

Properties under the control of receivers or other insolvency professionals appointed by NAMA are listed on its website at http://www.nama.ie/PropertiesEnforced.php. The site includes properties located in Mayo, including Castlebar and Mulranny. This list is searchable by region and is updated on a monthly basis. Where relevant, information about the firm dealing with the insolvency and its contact details are provided. Potential purchasers are encouraged to contact the receivers to obtain additional information on specific properties and to submit expressions of their interest to purchase.

In the case of property under the control of debtors, NAMA is precluded, under Section 202 of the NAMA Act 2009, from disclosing confidential information. Confidential information is specifically defined to include information relating to debtors. Furthermore, Section 99 of the Act provides that, on acquisition of a loan, NAMA takes over the obligations of the participating institution under the loan, one of which is the contractual duty of confidentiality which the debtor enjoyed while still a customer of the participating institution. Information about individual debtors or guarantors is also protected against disclosure by the Data Protection Acts with which NAMA must comply as a data controller.

However, in cases where NAMA receives enquiries from potential purchasers about specific properties under the control of debtors, it can facilitate contact with a view to enabling sales transactions to take place.

Consultancy Contracts

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

145 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Finance if the external investigation into his Department’s €3.6 billion accounting error was completed on the 16 of March 2012 as agreed in the “Terms of Reference for External Review”; when he will submit the report to the Public Accounts Committee; and when he will publish the report. [16708/12]

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

146 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Finance the fee he agreed with a company (details supplied) for latter’s work in completing the external review of his Department's €3.6 billion accounting error. [16710/12]

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

147 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Finance further to the former Department Secretary General Kevin Cardiff’s confirmation on 11 January 2012 that an Internal Review into the Department's €3.6 billion accounting error had been carried out and a draft report completed by end-November 2011 with the expectation that the final report would be submitted to him before the end of January 2012, if he will confirm when he intends to submit the report to the Public Accounts Committee; when he will publish the report; and if he will make a statement on his delay in making public the findings of the Internal Review. [16711/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 145 to 147, inclusive, together.

The Deputy will be aware that Deloitte Consultants have been appointed to undertake an External Review of the €3.6bn General Government Debt issue. A fixed price of €50,000 has been agreed with the company; this is exclusive of VAT and any associated expenses which are capped at a maximum of 10% of the contract price.

At this stage, the work of the External Review is well under way and I understand that the consultants are likely to complete their work in the course of next week.

In regard to the Internal Report, it is my understanding that this work is near completion following its circulation to relevant parties involved, who were given sufficient time to provide their final comments on it.

Following consideration by the Government, it is my intention, subject to legal advice and in a timely manner, to send the Internal Report and the External Review to the Committee of Public Accounts. It is also my intention to publish them.

As previously highlighted in questions on this matter, it has to be recognised that while this matter was most regrettable, it was a statistical reporting discrepancy where our debt level was mistakenly stated as being higher than it actually was. This discrepancy had no impact on the 2011 budgetary deficit and the State is no better or worse off as a result of it.

Departmental Staff

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

148 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Finance the number of positions that have been filled in his Department from Assistant Principal upwards since taking office; the number of the available positions that were filled by existing staff and the number from outside the public sector; and if he will provide in tabular form the name of the position and job description filled, the educational qualifications and skills of each of the successful applicants and the salary awarded. [16721/12]

The table outlines the number of positions that have been filled by promotion in my Department from Assistant Principal upwards since I took office on 9 March 2011. Under the Ministers and Secretaries Act, 2011, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform was formally established on 6th July 2011. (My replies to previous Parliamentary Questions from the Deputy refer).

Grade

Number of Positions filled

Number of Existing Staff

Number from outside the Civil/Public Sector

Salary Range

Assistant Principal

17

17

N/A

€67,913 —€88,598

Principal

7

6

1

€85,957 —€110,844

Assistant Secretary

2

1

1

€127,796 —€153,855

Secretary General

1

1

Appointed by the Government (previously served as Second Secretary with effect from 16/03/2011)

€200,000

In selecting staff for appointment to higher grades, staff must demonstrate the requisite merit in their current jobs, as well as displaying the required capacity in the key competencies for the particular grade while bringing to bear the skills, experience, aptitudes and qualifications required to fulfil the duties and responsibilities of the post.

The overall staffing levels in my Department is determined within the context of the staffing levels governed by the Employment Control Framework (ECF) for the Department currently in place. The filling of staff vacancies through promotion or otherwise is determined so as to ensure that my Department is adequately resourced and skilled to meet its strategic goals and priorities.

General Government Debt

Paschal Donohoe

Question:

149 Deputy Paschal Donohoe asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 137 of 6 March 2012, if he will detail the amount the buy-out contract between the National Roads Authority and National Toll Roads of Westlink is capitalised as general Government debt; if he will detail the document in which this is published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16741/12]

Buying out the West Link Toll Bridge in 2008 allowed the removal of the toll plaza on the Westlink and its replacement by a barrier free tolling arrangement which facilitated the upgrading of the M50, resulting in the State and the travelling public, rather than NTR, being the direct beneficiary of the tolls. The terms of the contract are that NTR will receive annual payments of €50 million, adjusted in line with the Consumer Price Index, for each of the years 2008 to 2020.

As outlined in Figure 12, page 18, of the Comptroller and Auditor General's Annual Report 2011, the amount outstanding was €433m in 2010, and this amount is used in the calculation of the General Government Debt for that year.

Financial Services Regulation

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

150 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance in relation to a financial business (details supplied) if he and the regulator will hold the company board and leadership to account in relation to the loss of clients’ funds and if he will ask the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement to invigilate all aspects of the operation of this company; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16758/12]

Following the collapse of Home Payments (HPL) the Central Bank commenced an investigation into the matter. Home Payments Limited ("HPL") was not authorised or licensed by the Central Bank of Ireland ("Central Bank") and as such, customers of HPL are not eligible for recourse to statutory compensation. Joint liquidators have been appointed to HPL (KPMG and Leahy and Co.) and in relation to the specific issues regarding the accountability of the board and management of HPL, it is the responsibility of the liquidators in place to report to the relevant authorities (e.g. ODCE, Gardaí, Revenue etc.), any issues that come to light regarding the actions of the board and management of HPL that may have led to the collapse of the firm. The Central Bank has also informed me that it is undertaking a review of all firms in the State which appear to offer customers debt advice and/or debt management type services.

The Government is committed to introducing an effective regulatory/supervisory system for those firms which provide a household budgeting, and debt management and/or debt advice services.

My officials are working with the Central Bank to provide for this regime and I will seek Government approval to include the provision as an amendment to the Central Bank (Supervision and Enforcement) Bill, 2011 in the near future.

State Banking Sector

Nicky McFadden

Question:

151 Deputy Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Finance the extent to which he can involve himself in negotiations with the IBOA and AIB senior management to deliver a fair and reasonable outcome in a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16776/12]

The Deputy will be aware that AIB, as part of its announcement of 8th March 2012 of a voluntary severance programme, stated "as required under the bank's partnership principles with IBOA, a consultation process will begin immediately with trade union representatives." It went on to state that "AIB will not be making any further public comment until the consultation process with staff representatives is concluded." Accordingly, the Deputy will appreciate that it would not be appropriate for me to comment directly on some of the issues raised by him in his question. It is deeply regrettable, for all concerned, that the proposed action of shedding some 2,500 jobs has had to be taken but it is an inevitable consequence of the necessary restructuring of the banking system to render it fit to better serve personal and business customers throughout the economy.

I have been at pains to point out, in any public pronouncements on the issue, that all parties involved in this most sensitive of issues for individuals need to be treated with utmost consideration and respect and this most certainly includes the State.

As for any group of workers whose positions are being made redundant, the services of the State will be available to assist them across a range of issues including employment support services, education and training interventions and income maintenance and money advice.

Any such supports will supplement the facilities being put in place by the employer. The exact nature of the supports will be determined by the particular circumstances.

Tax Code

Paul Connaughton

Question:

152 Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Finance if an error was made when 0.6% was deducted in annual stamp duty from a pension fund, which matured on 29 December 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16814/12]

An annual stamp duty levy of 0.6% applies in each of the four years from 2011 to 2014 to the market value of assets under management in pension funds and pension plans approved under Irish tax legislation, including Occupational Pension Schemes, Retirement Annuity Contracts and Personal Retirement Savings Accounts. The value of most pension fund assets subject to the levy for 2011 was the market value of those assets on 30 June 2011. In the case of a defined benefit scheme with assets that are not held under insurance contracts or a one member scheme, in respect of which scheme accounts are prepared, the trustees may choose between valuing the assets as at 30 June 2011 or on the last date of the accounting period ending in the 12 month period preceding that date. Similar asset valuation arrangements will apply for the remaining 3 years of the pension fund levy. The levy is payable in one tranche by 25 September for each of the four years of its operation.

I do not have the full details of the pension fund to which the Deputy refers in his question. However, since retirement benefits were not taken from the pension fund until 29 December 2011, the stamp duty was properly levied in respect of 2011 in line with the requirements set out above.

Question No. 153 answered with Question No. 138.

Financial Services Regulation

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

154 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance his plans to ensure that persons will not be exposed to having to pay exorbitant rates of interest when they borrow money; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16844/12]

Illegal money lending is a criminal offence and a matter for An Garda Síochána to investigate. Licensed moneylenders are subject to strict legislative requirements. In this regard, the following position applies:

Licensed moneylenders are subject to provisions in the Consumer Credit Act 1995 (the Act) and the Central Bank's Consumer Protection Code for Licensed Moneylenders (the ML Code).

Section 93 of the Act sets out the Central Bank's powers in relation to the grant or refusal of a moneylender's license and includes a provision whereby the Central Bank may refuse to grant a moneylenders license if it considers that the cost of credit proposed in a license application is excessive or any of the terms or conditions attaching to a license application are unfair.

Licensed moneylenders are prohibited from offering top-up loans to consumers under Section 99 of the Act.

Section 110 of the Act sets out requirements relating to prohibitions on collecting repayments at certain times.

Section 112 of the Act prohibits licensed moneylenders from applying increased credit charges on a defaulted loan.

Licensed moneylenders are obliged to inform the consumer of the cost of credit per €100 borrowed under common rule 2 of the ML Code.

Licensed moneylenders are subject to the "Knowing the Consumer" and "Suitability" requirements, as set out in Chapter 2 of the ML Code.

Licensed moneylenders are prohibited from offering unsolicited pre-approved credit facilities to consumers under common rule 31 of the ML Code.

Licensed moneylenders are obliged to assess the creditworthiness of consumers before concluding an agreement with the consumer in accordance with regulation 11 of the European Communities (Consumer Credit Agreements) Regulations 2010.

Interest rate caps for licensed moneylenders are not provided for in law there are no interest rate caps applied by the Central Bank apart from the interest rate cap imposed on the credit union sector.

Tax Reliefs

Seán Kyne

Question:

155 Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Finance if strong consideration can be given, in view of the recent measures announced in the UK budget, to the introduction of new measures and the strengthening of existing ones to ensure Ireland maintains its competitive advantage in the film and TV industry over other competitors and in particular in extending tax relief to include not only film and TV production but also animation and gaming; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16947/12]

Section 481 film relief is one of the longest running sector specific tax reliefs and was first introduced in the Finance Act of 1987 to support the indigenous film sector. Finance Act 2011 provided for a further extension of the scheme to the end of 2015 to afford a medium term certainty to the industry, which exists in a competitive international environment. The scheme makes a positive contribution to the development and sustainability of the Irish film/screen industry which supports a significant number of jobs in the local economy and contributes to cultural tourism initiatives. In 2011 a total of 58 projects were approved for Section 481 funding with an eligible Irish spend of €114m. These 58 projects supported employment for crew, cast and extras of over 15,000 individuals and had the effect of maintaining and creating jobs in a very difficult climate, while at the same time producing a product that will help to sell Ireland abroad.

I have asked my Department to undertake a review later this year in order to inform future policy making in relation to the scheme. I do not intend to make any major adjustments to the scheme prior to the completion of this review.

Tax Code

Gerald Nash

Question:

156 Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Finance if he will make arrangements to provide citizens with annual personal taxation statements providing a breakdown of the way moneys raised by way of income tax are spent by the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16990/12]

The Revised Estimates Volume, which was presented to the Oireachtas on 23 February, contains a full and detailed breakdown of every area of public spending. I should add that this year, the Book of Estimates includes an unprecedented amount of new material, making clear the outputs and impacts that the public is seeing as a result of this expenditure. This new initiative is in keeping with the Government Programme commitments to strengthen the focus upon performance and delivery in the public service. A Databank giving access to detailed information on expenditure trends across each area of public spending is also available on www.per.gov.ie.

The Government also publishes Exchequer Statements each month which sets out the Central Government current and capital account receipts and expenditure, tax and non-tax revenue receipts.

In addition, my Department each year prepares detailed accounts of the Central Fund known as the Finance Accounts. These are the most comprehensive set of accounts published by the Government and include, in summary form, information on almost every aspect of the Government's operations.

It should be noted that every taxpayer in the State is already provided annually with a document detailing the amount of income tax and Universal Social Charge that has been paid. This is provided by way of a P60 for employees and an assessment from Revenue for the self-employed.

I believe that the Deputy's request comes on foot of the United Kingdom's Chancellor of the Exchequer recent announcement that he plans to provide personal tax statements in 2014 to every individual taxpayer. In addition, these statements will also include tax paid broken down into the proportion which is used for each function of the State. I assume that this initiative will be a very big overhead for the Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs and one for which it has budgeted.

I should point out that this would also be a significant overhead and costs for the Irish Revenue Commissioners entailing individual statements being sent out to over 2 million taxpayers.

However, as I stated in respect to a similar request, to an opposition recommendation submitted during the Committee Stage in the Seanad of the Finance Bill 2012, I have asked the Revenue Commissioners to monitor the progress made in the United Kingdom and, having regard to the experience in that country, to advise me of the feasibility of introducing such an initiative.

Currency Exchange

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

157 Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Finance the amount of Irish Punts currency still in circulation; the amount still not converted to euros; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17002/12]

Irish pound notes and coins ceased to be legal tender with effect from 9 February 2002. Of the Irish pound notes and coins remaining in circulation at that point, IR£185m in banknotes and IR£98m in coin had not been converted to euro by 15 March 2012 and remain outstanding. This represents 7.5% of the total amount of Irish pound notes and coins in circulation at end 2001. Irish pound notes and coins may still be exchanged at the Central Bank of Ireland in Dublin.

Currency Circulation

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

158 Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Finance the amount of Irish punts currency in circulation in the years 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001. [17003/12]

The information requested by the Deputy is set out as follows:

Value (IR£m)

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

Circulation of Irish Pound Coin

165.05

180.71

202.14

222.87

255.04

295.11

305.48

Circulation of Irish Pound Notes

1,926.50

2,105.94

2,416.38

2,816.00

3,562.81

3,935.51

3,421.02

National Lottery Funding

John McGuinness

Question:

159 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Finance if he will confirm the amount of National Lottery funds allocated to his Department; if the funds are spent on specific projects; if so, the name of the project; if the National Lottery fund is allocated to the general spend by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17014/12]

My Department does not receive any funding from the National Lottery.

Appointments to State Boards

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

160 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a full breakdown by gender of all appointments to State boards since February 2011; the current status of State boards in relation to the percentage of participation of women and men in each one; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17561/12]

In response to the Deputy's question in the period in question 5 appointments made to the Fiscal Advisory Council. Of the five members appointed four were males including the Chairperson. In respect of the Irish Banks Resolution Corporation two new members were appointed as Directors both of whom were males. Currently there are eight directors sitting on the board all of whom are males.

In respect of the remaining bodies under the remit of my Department the current gender make up of each board is contained in the following table:

Body

No of Members

% of Male Members

% of Female Members

Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal

5

60

40

National Treasury Management Agency Advisory Committee

7

86

14

National Pensions Reserve Fund Commission

7

86

14

Financial Services Ombudsman Council

6

83

17

Irish Financial Services Appeals Tribunal

7

57

43

Credit Union Advisory Committee

7

57

43

Commission on Credit Unions

13

85

15

State Claims Agency Advisory Committee

7

86

14

Central Bank Commission

10/12

92

8

National Assets Management Agency

9

89

11

Irish Bank Resolution Company

8

100

0

National Development Finance Agency

8

87

13

Departmental Equipment

Regina Doherty

Question:

161 Deputy Regina Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the number of laptops in use in his Department; the number of tablets in use in his Department; the number of the laptops in use that are due to be upgraded this year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17574/12]

IT is now provided on a shared service basis between the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Department of Finance. There are 55 laptops and 1 tablet in use across the two Departments.

Laptops are not upgraded, they are replaced when they fail.

FÁS Training Programmes

Catherine Murphy

Question:

162 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the arrangements in place or are intended to be put in place for FÁS/Solas to reduce delays in providing certificates including competency certificates for those who have satisfactorily completed courses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16137/12]

In accordance with FETAC requirements all training providers, including FÁS, are required to implement specified verification processes to ensure that the integrity of their assessment systems and their assessment results approval processes are maintained and compliant. All FÁS assessment scripts and associated assessment marks are therefore subject to both internal and external verification processes, and a results approval process.

Internal verification of assessment results is an on-going process. When a course finishes, the assessment results packs (including the evidence) for each learner are submitted by the course Instructor/Contractor to FÁS Training Standards Offices for processing. External Authentication subsequently provides independent confirmation of fair and consistent assessment of learners in accordance with national standards. It establishes the credibility of the provider's assessment processes and ensures that assessment results have been marked in a valid and reliable way and are compliant with the requirements of the award.

The external authentication process heretofore was a six week fixed-date cycle within the each of the six FETAC certification-requesting periods for Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS). FÁS now operates the external authentication process on a monthly basis for programmes that lead to the issue of competency skills cards. The introduction of monthly external authentication of results for these programmes will greatly expedite the issuing of such cards.

Departmental Agencies

Barry Cowen

Question:

163 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Education and Skills when it is expected that the new education and training authority SOLAS will be finally set up; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16180/12]

Following the Government Decision to create SOLAS, an Implementation Group was set up to establish SOLAS. I am chairing this Group and its membership includes representatives from the Department of Education and Skills, FÁS, the Irish Vocational Education Association and the Department of Social Protection. The Group has been meeting regularly to drive the process forward. Legislation is being prepared by officials in the Department. A public consultation process with stakeholders is currently under way. In addition, a number of projects are currently being undertaken to ensure the smooth integration of the further education and training sectors.Given the complex elements involved, including enacting appropriate legislation, it is expected that the process of establishing SOLAS will be completed by the end of 2012.

Higher Education Grants

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

164 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding student grants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16839/12]

As I announced last December, the means test for student grants will be amended to take account of the value of certain capital assets as well as income for the 2013/14 academic year.

A dedicated Capital Asset Test implementation group has been established. The group has been charged with bringing forward detailed implementation proposals on new means testing arrangements for student grants, to include the value of assets, for new applicants from the 2013/14 academic year. No decision has been taken on the treatment of farm or other business assets. In the circumstances, I am not in a position to say at this time what assets may be included.

However, any proposals will require further Government agreement and necessitate legislative amendment.

Home Tuition

Pat Breen

Question:

165 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Education and Skills if extra home tuition hours will be allocated to a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16056/12]

The Home Tuition scheme provides funding to parents to provide for education at home for children who, for a number of reasons such as chronic illness, are unable to attend school. The scheme was extended in recent years to facilitate tuition for children awaiting a suitable educational placement including eligible pre-school children with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

Eligibility for children with a medical condition is assessed with reference to a completed medical report and attendance records supplied by the school in which the pupil is enrolled. The allocation of home tuition hours for children with a medical ailment is determined with reference to the age of the child and their level of attendance. Additional hours can be allocated to eligible children during their leaving certificate year.

The allocation made to the child referred to by the Deputy cannot be increased for the remainder of this school year.

Higher Education Grants

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

Question:

166 Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 211 of 13 March 2012, if he will provide clarification to a person (details supplied) regarding their student grant application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16063/12]

The Deputy will be aware that the decision on eligibility for grant assistance is a matter for the relevant grant awarding authority — a local authority or VEC.

Further to my answer in this case to Parliamentary Question No. 211 of 13 March 2012, officials of my Department have been in contact with the VEC concerned. I understand that the applicant applied through the grants online facility in July 2011 and that since then, although a number of requests have been made, not all of the outstanding documentation in relation to the application has yet been furnished.

In the circumstances, any further queries in relation to this application should be directed to the VEC.

If the applicant has been deemed ineligible for a student grant by the grant awarding authority, that decision may be appealed to the awarding authority's appeals officer. Where the appeals officer decides to reject the appeal, the applicant may appeal this decision to my Department or the independent appeals board, as appropriate.

Teachers’ Remuneration

Ann Phelan

Question:

167 Deputy Ann Phelan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will clarify whether teachers may work a maximum of 25 hours per week; if he will further clarify if a resource or learning support teacher may only work a number of hours per week, whereas a person initially working 15.2 hours per week spread over three days may make up their hours by teaching on a substitute basis for the other two days; if she will further clarify that when the hours are combined it would make 25.2, which is 0.2 hours above the maximum rate, even though the teacher is willing to forfeit the 0.2 hours, and the primary payroll system is unable to process this and therefore may only pay 20.2 hours; his views on whether this is a disincentive to sub for the extra two days when it would appear they would merely be penalised for doing so; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16070/12]

The issues raised by the Deputy are being examined by officials from my Department and a reply will issue direct to the Deputy.

School Staffing

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

168 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to allow a school (details supplied) in County Donegal to retain its permanent learning support teacher; if not, if an avenue is open to them to appeal this loss; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16076/12]

Ann Phelan

Question:

184 Deputy Ann Phelan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will examine the case of a school (details supplied) in County Kilkenny which requires 25 general allocation teaching hours, and the difficulties being faced by the principal of the school in attaining an additional five hours for learning support; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16294/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 168 and 184 together.

The staffing arrangements for the 2012/13 school year are set out in Primary Circular 0007/2012 which is available on my Department's website. The new arrangements incorporate a long overdue updating of the GAM (learning support) allocation for all schools. From September 2012 the combined resources available for GAM (General Allocation Model) and language support are being merged into a single simplified allocation process.

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 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.

The GAM/EAL allocation for each school is conditional on schools making all reasonable efforts to combine their GAM/EAL hours into full-time GAM/EAL posts through contact with neighbouring schools. Schools that have been unable to get all of their GAM/EAL hours clustered into full-time posts will be processed by the Department at a later stage. If necessary and where appropriate, the Department may use the opportunity to do a Department led clustering process of remaining GAM/EAL hours to facilitate the redeployment of any remaining surplus permanent teachers.

There are also new and separate arrangements for how resource hours for individual pupils are converted into teaching posts in schools. The requirement for resource hours in a school varies from year to year depending on the number, if any, of its pupils with autism etc. Small schools generally have a lower requirement for resource hours. The new arrangements take account of the later timescale for the allocation of these hours necessitated by individual assessment by the NCSE.

All of the changes are designed to enable a more efficient operation of the teacher allocation and redeployment process and to reduce the impact of travel time between schools where teachers are shared. My Department will be working with schools and the relevant education partners to ensure that the new arrangements operate as efficiently as possible. As the process proceeds this work can take account of any appropriate local arrangements that might be made to further optimise travel arrangements.

The staffing schedule also includes an appeals mechanism for schools to submit an appeal under certain criteria to an independent Appeals Board. Details of the criteria for appeal are contained in the staffing schedule, Circular 0007/2012. The Appeals Board operates independently of the Department and its decision is final.

Schools Building Projects

Michael McGrath

Question:

169 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a primary school (details supplied) in County Cork is rapidly expanding, that it has recently been forced to use multiple locations, that it will need a permanent school building well in advance of the 2014/15 time frame set out in the recent capital programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16077/12]

The building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is currently at an early stage of architectural planning. While a site has been identified for purposes of a new permanent school building, there are a number of planning issues to be resolved. The Department will be in communication with the school concerned in relation to the next steps to be taken, at the appropriate time, as the project progresses through the various stages of the architectural planning process. As outlined in the five year plan, it is expected that this school project will progress to the construction stage of the architectural planning process in 2014/15.

Details of all projects on the Five Year Plan are published on my Department's website, www.education.ie, and this will be updated regularly.

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

170 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Education and Skills when an application for funding was made in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Mayo; the stage this application is at; the reason this school was not included in the recent announcements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16083/12]

In view of the need to ensure that every child has access to a school place, the delivery of major school projects to meet the demographic demands nationally will be the main focus for capital investment in schools in the coming years. The five year programme announced recently is focused on meeting those demographic needs. In that context, it was not possible to advance all applications for capital funding concurrently.

The Major Building Project for the school referred to by the Deputy is currently at an advanced stage of Architectural Planning.

School building projects currently in architectural planning, including the project referred to by the Deputy, will continue to be advanced incrementally over time within the context of the funding available. However, in light of current competing demands on the Department's capital budget, it is not possible at this time to indicate when this project will be progressed to tender and construction stage.

Special Educational Needs

Michael McGrath

Question:

171 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the retention of the special class and the existing special needs assistant provision at a school (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16109/12]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is responsible for processing applications from schools for special educational needs supports. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support, which now includes a requirement for them to have regard to an overall cap on the number of posts available.

The NCSE is responsible for the allocation of resource teaching hours and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special educational needs, as well as the establishment of special classes in various geographical areas, as required, and the discontinuation of such classes where the need no longer exists.

I have therefore arranged for the Deputy's question in relation to the continuation of a special class at a particular school to be forwarded to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply.

In relation to the allocation of SNAs, I wish to clarify for the Deputy that SNAs are recruited specifically to assist in the care of pupils with disabilities in an educational context. SNA allocations are not permanent as the level of SNA support allocated to a school may be increased or decreased as pupils who qualify for SNA support enrol or leave a school or where a child's care needs may have diminished over time. The allocation of SNAs in each school can therefore alter from year to year.

Schools have been invited to make applications to the NCSE for SNA support for the 2012/13 school year by 16th March, 2012. Schools will subsequently be advised by the NCSE of their allocation for the next school year, based on the number of valid applications received and the extent of the care needs of qualifying children.

Third Level Courses

Jack Wall

Question:

172 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he is satisfied with the number of degree courses in oil and gas exploration in universities here; if he has plans to address this position; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16112/12]

Universities are autonomous institutions and my Department does not have any function in relation to decisions concerning course provision.

Potential students have access to a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses in science and engineering disciplines many of which contain modules relevant to the field of oil and gas exploration. Details of science and engineering programmes offered in higher education institutions are available on the Qualifax website: www.qualifax.ie.

School Staffing

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

173 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will take action to ensure that a school (details supplied) in Dublin 17, does not lose two of its legacy posts in the staffing schedule for the school year 2012/2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16122/12]

The staffing arrangements for the 2012/13 school year are set out in Primary Circular 0007/2012 which is available on my Department's website. This includes details of the reform of the allocation process which is designed to bring a more equitable distribution of existing posts between schools.

The overall objective with the reforms is to enable the teacher allocation and redeployment process to operate more smoothly and efficiently within the new climate of fixed ceilings on teaching posts. The changes are designed to give a more equitable distribution of existing posts between schools, give earlier certainty to schools about their staffing allocations and, where possible, simplify and streamline existing processes and give greater autonomy to schools.

The new arrangements incorporate a long overdue updating of the General Allocation Model (GAM) combining learning support for high incidence special needs and language support for all schools. It also includes changes to NCSE approved (low incidence) resource hours in the base schools or in neighbouring schools. This approach builds on the interim arrangements that operated in 2011 but in a more structured and transparent manner.

The school to which the Deputy refers is a DEIS Band 1 School but was not among the 140 DEIS Band 1 and Band 2 schools included in the recent report on the impact, in terms of posts, that certain Budget measures would have on these schools, the main focus of which concerned additional posts allocated under disadvantage schemes pre-dating DEIS.

Applying the new staffing schedule for Band 1 schools to this school, it is due to lose two mainstream class teachers due to falling enrolment for the 2012/13 school year.

The allocation process also includes an appeals mechanism under which schools can appeal against the allocation due to them under the staffing schedules. The appeal procedures are set out in the circular referred to above.

The closing date for submission of appeals for the April meeting of the Staffing Appeals Board was 23 March, 2012. The Appeals Board meeting will take place on Wednesday 18 April, 2012 which will be prior to the release of the main redeployment panel and allow for any impact of the Board's decision on redeployment panels to be effected. Once the Appeals Board meeting has taken place schools will be notified of the outcome of their appeal.

Further meetings of the Appeals Board will be held as required in June and October, 2012. The Appeals Board operates independently of the Department and its decision is final. The final staffing position for all schools will ultimately not be known until later in 2012. At that stage the allocation process will be fully completed and any appeals to the Staffing Appeal Board will have been considered.

The school to which the Deputy refers has submitted an appeal.

Gaelscoileanna

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

174 D’fhiafraigh Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna cén fáth nach bhfuil síneadh ar Ghaelscoil Mhic Amhlaigh ar an gClár Cúig Bliana do scoileanna a fógraíodh le gairid, i bhfianaise an ráitis a rinne sé nuair a bhí sé ina urlabhraí oideachais ag an bhfreasúra nach ceart d’aon ghasúr a bheith á mhúineadh i seomraí réamhdhéanta; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [16128/12]

De bharr an riachtanais atá ann lena chinntiú go mbíonn rochtain ag gach aon pháiste ar ionad scoile, beidh sé ina phríomhfhócas ag an infheistíocht chaipitil i scoileanna sna blianta amach romhainn tionscadail mhóra scoile a sheachadadh chun freastal ar na héilimh dhéimeagrafacha ar fud na tíre. Tá an clár cúig bliana a fógraíodh níos luaithe dírithe ar na héilimh dhéimeagrafacha a shásamh. Sa chomhthéacs sin, níorbh fhéidir na hiarratais uile ar mhaoiniú caipitil a chur chun cinn go comhthráthach.

Tá an tionscadal mór tógála don scoil dá dtagraíonn an Teachta ag ardchéim phleanáil ailtireachta faoi láthair agus thug Aonad Pleanála agus Tógála mo Roinne faomhadh d'aighneacht Chéim 2(b) (Dearadh Mionsonraithe) ar 10ú Eanáir 2012.

Ní féidir, áfach, i bhfianaise na n-éileamh iomaíocha faoi láthair ar bhuiséad caipitil mo Roinne, an tionscadal seo a chur ar aghaidh chun tairisceana agus tógála ag an tráth seo.

In view of the need to ensure that every child has access to a school place, the delivery of major school projects to meet the demographic demands nationally will be the main focus for capital investment in schools in the coming years. The five year programme announced recently is focused on meeting those demographic needs. In that context, it was not possible to advance all applications for capital funding concurrently. The major building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is currently at an advanced stage of architectural planning and the Stage 2(b) submission (Detailed Design) was approved by the Departments Planning and Building Unit on 10th January 2012. However, in light of current competing demands on the Department's capital budget, it is not possible to progress this project to tender and construction at this time.

Third Level Fees

Simon Harris

Question:

175 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the policy of a university (details supplied) to charge non-EU resident fees for persons who are Irish and EU citizens who have resided in the United States of America but are classified as non-resident by the American authorities; his views that this situation is fair given that the relevant applicants are Irish and EU citizens who are not legally resident in another country; the steps he intends to take to address this anomaly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16129/12]

Simon Harris

Question:

176 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Education and Skills the directives he has issued to third level institutions as regards Irish and EU citizens who apply for postgraduate courses of study who have lived abroad in non-EU/EEA states but who are classified as non-residents by the immigration authorities of their current countries; if he will direct that these Irish citizens should be charged the EU/EEA rate of fees for postgraduate study; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16130/12]

Simon Harris

Question:

177 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to a situation (details supplied) whereby a university refused to classify an individual as an EU resident and insisted on charging non-EU resident fees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16131/12]

Martin Heydon

Question:

188 Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason Irish passport holders who have been abroad for three years or more have to pay significantly larger non-EU rates to partake in education courses when they return home to Ireland, while EU residents get to take advantage of the lower fees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16352/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 175 to 177, inclusive, and 188 together.

Under the terms of my Department's Free Fee Scheme the Exchequer meets the cost of tuition fees in respect of eligible students who are pursuing full-time undergraduate courses of study which are a minimum of two years duration in an approved higher education institution. The main conditions of the scheme are that students must be first-time undergraduates, hold inter alia EU/EEA/Swiss nationality in their own right, and have been ordinarily resident in an EU/EEA/Swiss state for at least three of the five years preceding their entry to an approved third level course.

Higher education institutions are autonomous bodies and the criteria governing the level of tuition fees to be charged (EU or Non EU rate), in cases where undergraduate students do not qualify for free fees and in the case of postgraduate study, are determined by the institutions and accordingly I have no role in the matter.

Section 473A, Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997, as amended by Section 11 of the Finance Act 2011, provides for tax relief, at the standard rate of tax, for tuition fees paid in respect of approved courses at approved colleges of higher education including certain approved undergraduate and postgraduate courses in EU Member States and in non EU countries. Details are available on the Revenue Commissioners' website at www.revenue.ie.

Schools Building Projects

Michael McGrath

Question:

178 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason two schools (details supplied) in County Meath are not listed as part of the school building programme 2012-2016. [16142/12]

The Deputy will be aware of the demographic challenges that we are facing. Total enrolment in both primary and post-primary schools is expected to grow by almost 70,000 between now and 2018 — over 45,000 at primary level and 25,000 at post primary — and will continue to grow up to at least 2024 at post-primary level. For purposes of the 5 Year Plan, new school building projects as well as major extensions have been identified and prioritised on the basis of meeting significant demographic needs in areas where such needs have been identified. In that context, it was not possible to advance all applications for capital funding concurrently. School building projects currently in architectural planning, including the projects for the schools referred to by the Deputy, will continue to be advanced incrementally over time within the context of the funding available. My Department will be in communication with the schools concerned in relation to the next steps to be taken, at the appropriate time, as the projects progress through the design stages of the architectural planning process up to and including the preparation of tender documents. Details of all projects in respect of the current school building programme, including these projects, are available on the Department's website at www.education.ie.

Michael McGrath

Question:

179 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason two schools (details supplied) in County Louth are not listed as part of the school building programme 2012-2016 [16143/12]

In view of the need to ensure that every child has access to a school place, the delivery of major school projects to meet the demographic demands nationally will be the main focus for capital investment in schools in the coming years. The five year programme announced recently is focused on meeting those demographic needs. In that context, it was not possible to advance all applications for capital funding concurrently.

The building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is currently at an advanced stage of architectural planning. The Design Team are currently working on Stage 2(b) of Architectural Planning which includes securing Planning Permission, Fire Certificate and Disability Access Certificate (DAC) and the preparation of tender documents.

School building projects currently in architectural planning, including the project referred to by the Deputy, will continue to be advanced incrementally over time within the context of the funding available.

However, in light of current competing demands on the Department's capital budget, it is not possible to progress this project to tender and construction at this time.

School Accommodation

Pat Breen

Question:

180 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Clare. [16150/12]

The school to which the Deputy refers submitted an application for grant-aid towards ancillary office accommodation in the school. In view of the need to ensure that every child has access to a school place, priority is being given to applications for essential classroom accommodation to meet significant demographic needs. Accordingly my Department is not in a position to provide funding towards such projects at this time. This decision was advised to the school in December last. I also wish to advise the Deputy that my Department approved funding for the provision of a mainstream classroom to this school in June 2011 and is satisfied that the school has sufficient accommodation to cater for its current pupil needs.

Special Educational Needs

Seán Crowe

Question:

181 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will confirm when a school place will be made available to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 17. [16159/12]

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 establishment of special classes in various geographical areas as required. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support.

The NCSE also has a role to assist parents in identifying suitable school placements for children with special educational needs.

All schools have the names and contact details of their local SENO. Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie.

I have arranged for the matters raised by the Deputy to be forwarded to the NCSE for their direct reply.

School Placement

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

182 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a person (details supplied) in County Meath is not being allowed to continue their dual school placement; the way they can appeal this decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16187/12]

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

229 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Education and Skills his formal policy on dual placement for children with autism between applied behaviour analysis schools and mainstream schools; if schools are allowed informal arrangements between themselves for these types of dual placements; the number of children with autism in each county that are currently in dual placements, in tabular form; the reasons that can be given for a child to be taken out of a dual placement and asked to attend only one school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16751/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 182 and 229 together.

The enrolment of a child in a school is a matter in the first instance for the parents of the child and the Board of Management of a school. My Department has no role in relation to processing applications for enrolment to schools.

My Department provides for a range of placement options and supports for schools which have enrolled pupils with special educational needs in order to ensure that, wherever a child is enrolled, s/he will have access to an appropriate education. A specific function of the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is to identify appropriate educational placements for all children with special educational needs, including children with autism.

My Department does not facilitate the dual enrolment of children. Children with special educational needs may transfer from special schools to special classes attached to ordinary primary school or to mainstream classes where they may attend on a fully integrated basis with teaching and special needs assistant supports, as appropriate. In considering such transfers, it would be important to have regard to the professionally assessed needs of the child involved and his or her capacity to function successfully in the more integrated setting. However, children with special educational needs in special schools or special classes can also attend mainstream classes on a part-time basis in line with their abilities and local arrangements made by the relevant boards of management. These arrangements are referred to locally as dual placements and are a regular feature of transitional plans for children who are transferring from one placement to another. However it's important to differentiate between a dual placement and a dual enrolment.

The Deputy will be aware that my Department strives to ensure that a continuum of special education provision is available as required for children with special educational needs. In line with this, the policy is to promote a child-centred approach to education of all children with special educational needs including those with autism. As each child with autism is unique they should have access to a range of different approaches to meet their individual needs. This facilitates access to individualised education programmes, fully qualified professional teachers who may draw from a range of autism-specific interventions, including Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), Treatment and Education of Autistic Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH) and Picture Exchange Communications System (PECS). The schools referred to by the Deputy operate in line with this policy.

Schools Building Projects

Gerry Adams

Question:

183 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Education and Skills the criteria used to establish which schools were included in the schools building programme which he recently announced. [16287/12]

The Deputy will be aware of the demographic challenges that we are facing. Total enrolment in both primary and post-primary schools is expected to grow by almost 70,000 between now and 2018 — over 45,000 at primary level and 25,000 at post primary — and will continue to grow up to at least 2024 at post-primary level. As such enrolment increases are not uniformly distributed nationally, my Department has carried out a study of the country using data from the Central Statistics Office, the General Register Office and the Department of Social Protection in addition to recent schools' enrolment data to identify the areas it is projected that there will be significant enrolment increases. For purposes of the 5 Year Plan, new school building projects as well as major extensions have been identified and prioritised on the basis of meeting demographic needs in areas where such needs have been identified. Other criteria that were taken into account included factors such as whether projects, already in the Department's architectural process, were technically ready to proceed to tender and construction in the duration of the Plan. I also wish to advise the Deputy that where an immediate enrolment need in an area has been identified e.g. the appointment of an additional teacher and where school's existing accommodation cannot provide for this growth, the Department will be prepared to consider applications by schools for capital funding for additional classrooms mainly on a devolved basis.

Question No. 184 answered with Question No. 168.

School Accommodation

Tom Hayes

Question:

185 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason every application by a school (details supplied) in County Tipperary to have the prefabs on the school grounds replaced with proper classrooms has been refused; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16298/12]

The Deputy will be aware that this school has also submitted an application for a major extension refurbishment school project, that includes for the replacement of the temporary accommodation referred to by the Deputy. This project is currently in early architectural planning. Any application for the separate replacement of the temporary accommodation concerned cannot be considered in isolation of the major project plan application. Details of all projects in respect of the currentschool building programme, including this project, are available on the Department's website, www.education.ie. In relation to the temporary accommodation currently being rented by the school, it is a matter, in the first instance, for the school authorities to ensure that the supplier(s) of these prefabricated buildings maintain them to a standard suitable for use.

Schools Amalgamation

Sean Fleming

Question:

186 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason the amalgamation of two schools (details supplied) in County Laois were not included on the schools building programme announced by him on 12 March 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16342/12]

In view of the need to ensure that every child has access to a school place, the delivery of major school projects to meet significant demographic demands nationally will be the main focus for capital investment in schools in the coming years. The five-year programme announced earlier this month is focused on meeting those demographic needs. In that context, it was not possible to advance all applications for capital funding concurrently. School building projects currently in architectural planning, including the project for the school referred to by the Deputy, will continue to be advanced incrementally over time within the context of the funding available. The project for this school is just commencing the process of appointing a design team. Once appointed, the design team will commence the architectural planning process and will progress the project through the design stages up to and including the preparation of tender documents. However, in light of current competing demands on the Department's capital budget, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression to tender and construction of the project at this time.

Schools Building Projects

Sean Fleming

Question:

187 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a school (details supplied) in County Laois was not included on the schools building programme announced by him on 12 March 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16343/12]

In view of the need to ensure every child has access to a school place, the delivery of major school projects to meet the demographic demands nationally will be the main focus for capital investment in schools in the coming years. The five-year programme announced earlier this month is focused on meeting those demographic needs. In that context, it was not possible to advance all applications for capital funding concurrently. I can confirm to the Deputy that a potential site has been identified for a building for the school referred to by the Deputy. Once the site is secured, my officials will be in contact with the school authority in relation to the next steps to be taken to progress the project.

Question No. 188 answered with Question No. 175.

Higher Education Grants

Tom Fleming

Question:

189 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will ensure that the eligibility criteria for higher education grants for farmers' sons and daughters remains based on the yearly income of the farmer rather than the capital assets of the farm holding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16358/12]

As I announced last December, the means test for student grants will be amended to take account of the value of certain capital assets as well as income for the 2013-14 academic year. A dedicated Capital Asset Test implementation group has been established. The group has been charged with bringing forward detailed implementation proposals on new means testing arrangements for student grants, to include the value of assets, for new applicants from the 2013-14 academic year. No decision has been taken on the treatment of farm or other business assets. In the circumstances, I am not in a position to say at this time what assets may be included. However, any proposals will require further Government agreement and necessitate legislative amendment.

Departmental Expenditure

Simon Harris

Question:

190 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Education and Skills the way roofing and construction companies can be included on his Department's tender lists for works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16366/12]

School building projects are tendered in line with public procurement procedures. There are two methods of tendering, the Restricted procedure and the Open procedure. In both procedures, there are minimum standards for participation including previous experience, turnover, insurance, capacity to obtain a bond, etc. The minimum standards for participation are stated in the Contract notice or the eTenders advertisement. For less complex projects of a small to medium scale, the open procedure is generally used. All contractors meeting the minimum standards are entitled to submit a tender, thus facilitating the inclusion of small to medium enterprises and those with no experience in educational projects. For larger or more complex projects, where it is considered that pre-qualification of contractors is warranted, the Restricted procedure is normally used. In the Restricted procedure, there is an intermediary qualification stage during which the numbers of applicants is reduced or restricted to a specified amount (normally 10). The criteria for suitability assessment, which are taken from the Department of Finance's capital management works framework, include company turnover, insurance, capacity to obtain a bond, personnel for the project, previous experience and health and safety competence. Guidance on this process and standard questionnaires used by the Department are available on my Department's website. The dedicated website for Irish public tenders, www.etenders.gov.ie, has been developed as part of the Government’s strategy for the implementation of eProcurement in the Irish public sector. The site is designed to be a central facility for all public sector contracting authorities to advertise procurement opportunities and award notices. Contractors seeking to tender for public works contracts in Ireland should register with this website.

Training Programmes

Dara Calleary

Question:

191 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills the eligibility criteria for those 9,000 construction workers who were included in the globalisation funding; and who defined who was eligible and who was excluded under the european globalisation adjustment fund scheme and those who are not. [16389/12]

On 9 June 2010, the Department submitted an application for co-funded assistance from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) in respect of 9,089 former workers made redundant in the construction industry during the nine-month EGF reference period between 1 July 2009 and 31 March 2010. In the case of this EGF application, the subsequent ten-week application submission period ended on 9 June 2010. This proposal sought to maximise the number of eligible redundant workers for co-financed assistance as far as practically possible. I understand the aggregated application submitted contains collectively the largest number of redundant workers to be encompassed in an EGF application to date. However, of the utmost importance is the requirement for the Irish authorities to be able to verify the cohort who are deemed eligible for EGF supports and to ensure all the relevant criteria of the fund are met in respect of that cohort. For this purpose, this Department used data from the statutory redundancy payments system. This is a demonstrably verifiable source of data such as is deemed sufficient to satisfy both national and EU audits and control checks. Furthermore, these data were complemented by additional material on redundant apprentices from the apprenticeship database held by FÁS. Those redundant workers who were ultimately included in the EGF application were identified on the basis of the most recent recorded date of registration for a statutory redundancy payment as at 28 April 2010.

I appreciate the frustration which can arise for those redundant workers who fall outside the reference period. However, I should point out that a host of other non-EGF aided supports may be available to these persons, including a wide range of active labour market interventions which are available to all qualifying redundant workers, provided by FÁS, the Vocational Education Committees and the County Enterprise Boards and the higher education system, subject to the meeting of the relevant criteria of existing schemes in individual cases. For example, FÁS runs the Professional Networking and Support Programme, which is open to all professionals and available through their local Employment Services Office. Free part-time higher education places were launched as part of the Springboard initiative and are available to unemployed people to reskill in areas of identified skills needs. Last month, more than 500 additional places were made available on courses that had exceptionally high demand when first run in 2011. Some €10 million has been made available for the roll-out of Springboard 2012, which will be available in May 2012, following a competitive tendering process. More than 750 free places are being provided on 17 new graduate ICT skills conversion programmes. The programmes allow those with the appropriate qualifications to convert their skills during an intensive course of study in a higher education institute and a corresponding work placement in a collaborative company. Details of the Springboard and ICT Skills Conversion programmes are available on www.bluebrick.ie and participants can apply online at this website.

Departmental Staff

Sean Fleming

Question:

192 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a list of staff in his Department that serve as directors of companies arising from their employment; the names of the companies involved; the annual remuneration received, if any; if they are indemnified by his Department in respect of their role as directors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16415/12]

Three officials from my Department are serving as directors of companies arising from their employment. The officers concerned do not receive remuneration. Mr. Micheál Delaney is a director of Middletown Centre for Autism (Holdings) Limited. Mr. Des O'Loughlin and Ms. Gerardine Skelly are directors of Léargas, the Exchange Bureau. I understand from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform that the Office of the Attorney General has advised that people working for the State are entitled to be indemnified for such work. The indemnification would cover any reasonable legal fees and/or damages incurred where people are sued for undertaking their duties on behalf of the State provided they acted in good faith and in a bona fide manner. The State carries its own insurance in this regard. This indemnity would apply to those civil servants appointed to State boards as part of their official duties.

Ministerial Expenses

Niall Collins

Question:

193 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount of expenses claimed on a monthly basis since March 2011 by all Ministers attached to his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16449/12]

Details of the amounts of expenses claimed by the Ministers attached to my Department since March 2011 to date are included in the following table:

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn)

Month Paid

Amount of Payment

Apr-11

€315.21

Jun-11

€2,853.46

Aug-11

€2,072.99

Sep-11

€2,435.84

Oct-11

€1,614.88

Nov-11

€521.53

Dec-11

€3,091.13

Jan-12

€1,289.26

Mar-12

€3,911.04

Total

€18,105.34

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy Ciaran Cannon)

Month Paid

Amount of Payment

May-11

€5,222.77

Jul-11

€2,587.01

Aug-11

€1,596.32

Sep-11

€157.90

Oct-11

€3,295.73

Dec-11

€4,476.35

Feb-12

€5,427.54

Total

€22,763.62

Departmental Expenditure

Michael Creed

Question:

194 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Education and Skills the total capital allocation in his Department for school building in 2012; the amount of this which is available for devolved grants; the way the remainder of the allocation will be spent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16494/12]

The total capital allocation for my Department is €430 million, of which €357 million has been assigned to the school sector. Expenditure in 2012 on large scale projects and the acquisition of sites is estimated at €240 million while expenditure under the Additional Accommodation Scheme and the initiative I announced recently to replace rented prefabs in schools will cost in the region of €80 million this year. The balance of the allocation will be expended on emergency works, the provision of furniture and equipment, remediation programmes and commitments arising from the 2011 Summer Works Scheme and the 2011 Jobs Initiative and other miscellaneous items.

School Staffing

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

195 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the suppression of four teaching posts in a school (details supplied) in County Donegal in the past year; if he will review the staffing situation of the school and retain at the very least their concessionary post. [16504/12]

The staffing arrangements for the 2012/13 school year are set out in Primary Circular 0007/2012 which is available on my Department's website. This includes details of the reform of the allocation process which is designed to bring a more equitable distribution of existing posts between schools.

The overall objective with the reforms is to enable the teacher allocation and redeployment process to operate more smoothly and efficiently within the new climate of fixed ceilings on teaching posts. The changes are designed to give a more equitable distribution of existing posts between schools, give earlier certainty to schools about their staffing allocations and, where possible, simplify and streamline existing processes and give greater autonomy to schools.

The new arrangements incorporate a long overdue updating of the General Allocation Model (GAM) combining learning support for high incidence special needs and language support for all schools. It also includes changes to NCSE approved (low incidence) resource hours in the base schools or in neighbouring schools. This approach builds on the interim arrangements that operated in 2011 but in a more structured and transparent manner.

Arising from the decisions taken following Budget 2012, of the 328 DEIS Rural primary schools, 16 of these schools with legacy posts will lose one teaching post each, including the school referred to by the Deputy. The allocation process also includes an appeals mechanism under which schools can appeal against the allocation due to them under the staffing schedules. The appeal procedures are set out in the circular referred to above. The closing date for submission of appeals for the April meeting of the Staffing Appeals Board was 23 March, 2012. I can confirm that the school to which the Deputy refers has submitted an appeal.

The Appeals Board meeting will take place on Wednesday 18 April, 2012 which will be prior to the release of the main redeployment panel and allow for any impact of the Board's decision on redeployment panels to be effected. Once the Appeals Board meeting has taken place schools will be notified of the outcome of their appeal. Further meetings of the Appeals Board will be held as required in June and October, 2012. The Appeals Board operates independently of the Department and its decision is final.

The final staffing position for all schools will ultimately not be known until later in 2012. At that stage the allocation process will be fully completed and any appeals to the Staffing Appeal Board will have been considered.

Statutory Trust Fund

Clare Daly

Question:

196 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason he is proceeding with the establishment of the statutory trust fund despite the objection of many survivor group leaders and individuals, and upon the recommendation of which groups or organisations he is proceeding. [16519/12]

I had a very constructive meeting with groups representing survivors of residential institutional abuse on 22nd July last, when we discussed the Government's approach to the proposed Statutory Fund to support the needs of victims of residential institutional abuse. The Government is proceeding with the drafting of the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Bill on the basis of the General Scheme prepared by my Department, which followed extensive consultations with survivors of residential abuse and the groups which support them, together with a public consultation process. The General Scheme of the Bill and a Report on the Consultation Process are available on my Department's website as is a copy of the minutes of the meeting of 22 July.

I am aware that some former residents advocated a simple distribution of the available money rather than the establishment of the Statutory Fund. However, as I outlined when I published the legislative proposals, I believe that the Fund should target resources at services to support former residents' needs. The General Scheme provides for a wide range of services to be approved for the Fund including counselling, psychological support services and mental health services, health and personal social services, educational services and housing services.

I am committed to establishing the proposed Statutory Fund for survivors of institutional abuse. Work on the drafting of the Bill is currently being finalised and I expect to be in a position to publish it very shortly.

Special Educational Needs

Clare Daly

Question:

197 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consult with professional bodies in applied behaviour analysis Ireland to ascertain the extent of the misrepresentation of ABA in the report of the taskforce on Autism. [16521/12]

Clare Daly

Question:

198 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills in relation to appropriate investment in education the reason professionals not trained in applied behaviour analysis are being consulted with rather than international organisations representing the science of ABA. [16522/12]

Finian McGrath

Question:

218 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will review a matter (details supplied) regarding autism. [16673/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 197, 198 and 218 together.

The Task Force on Autism Report was published in 2001 and its recommendations concerning broad educational provision for children on the autistic spectrum from pre-school through to third level provided the basis for the development of educational services and supports for persons with autism since then.

The Task Force was composed of a combination of parents, education and health professionals, advocates and researchers. The professional backgrounds of members included psychiatry, psychology and education. The Task Force was chaired by the then head of the Education Department in UCD. The final report, which is available on my Department's website, represents the insights of the members and a number of experts from Ireland and other jurisdictions.

In line with the recommendations of the Task Force Report, my Department strives to ensure that a continuum of special education provision is available as required for children with special educational needs. In line with this, the policy is to promote a child-centred approach to education of all children with special educational needs including those with autism. As each child with autism is unique the policy is that they should have access to a range of different approaches to meet their individual needs. This facilitates access to individualised education programmes, fully qualified professional teachers who may draw from a range of autism-specific interventions, including Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), Treatment and Education of Autistic Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH) and Picture Exchange Communications System (PECS).

This policy is based on advice received from my Department's National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS), research and reviews published by international and national experts, including:

"The Evaluation of Educational Provision for Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (2006)" published by my Department's Inspectorate,

"The International Review of the Literature of Evidence of Best Practice Provision in the Education of Persons with Autistic Spectrum Disorders" undertaken by the Autism Centre for Education and Research, University of Birmingham and funded by the National Council for Special Education.

My Department continues to develop policy and programmes for children with special educational needs, including those with autism, and will continue to take relevant professional advice into account in this regard.

Religious Education

Clare Daly

Question:

199 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason Ireland mislead the UN Human Rights Committee by rejecting the request to eliminate religious education on the grounds that there are a growing number of non-denominational schools, when in fact there are no non-denominational schools registered with the Department. [16523/12]

I wish to assure the Deputy that Ireland did not mislead the UN Human Rights Committee in any way in relation to this matter.

The UNHRC request in question related to the elimination of religious discrimination in access to education. Ireland did not accept this. There is a growing non-denominational school sector in Ireland, particularly at primary level. These schools cater for all pupils and there is no denominational involvement in their governance. The existing system of school admissions is currently under review, and issues of access are being considered as part of that review process. Religious groups are free to establish their own schools to cater for members of their particular faith. This religious freedom is a core element in our system at primary and secondary level.

I would like to clarify for the Deputy that there is a distinction between the classification of schools by the Department on the basis of the ethos of the schools as against that of the governance structures of the schools.

Special Educational Needs

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

200 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of autistic children and children with special needs for Inishowen, County Donegal, that are forced to travel to Letterkenny, to avail of post primary education; and his plans to address this situation. [16532/12]

My Department provides for the education of children with special educational needs through a number of support mechanisms depending on the child's assessed disability. In general, educational provision for children with special needs is made; in special schools; in special classes attached to mainstream schools; or in integrated settings in mainstream classes.

The Deputy will be aware that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is responsible for processing applications from primary and post primary schools for special educational needs supports. This includes the allocation of resource teaching hours to schools as well as the establishment of special classes in various geographical areas, including the area referred to by the Deputy.

I have therefore arranged for the questions raised by the Deputy to be forwarded to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply.

Schools Building Projects

Brendan Smith

Question:

201 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills in relation to each of the five new schools announced for Lucan, Dublin, when were these projects initiated; the anticipated timeframe for delivery; the stage of these projects; if delays are anticipated; the funding that has been set aside for these projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16583/12]

On the 12th of March I announced a five year plan which outlined the major school projects that will proceed to construction over the lifetime of the plan. Details of the individual projects and the indicative timeline for when each project is expected to proceed to construction were published as part of the announcement.

A total of €1.5 billion will be spent on those projects included in the five year plan. This expenditure will form part of a larger €2 billion capital investment programme over that period.

There will be a small number of additional projects, required for demographic reasons, which will need to proceed to construction in the lifetime of the Plan which did not form part of my recent announcement. These are school projects where discussions are under way with a school concerning an extension and which have not been completed.

Details of the five year plan and the individual projects included in the plan are available on my Department's website at www.education.gov.ie.

FÁS Training Programmes

Regina Doherty

Question:

202 Deputy Regina Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a person (details supplied) in County Meath will be allocated a place on a FÁS ECDL course; the reason for the waiting list for ECDL course places when there is a high demand; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16585/12]

I am informed by FÁS that the individual in question commenced an ECDL course on the 20th March 2012 in Drogheda. ECDL courses are very popular and a very high number of clients have been referred to these programmes. As a result of this high demand, waiting lists are necessarily in place.

Schools Building Projects

Simon Harris

Question:

203 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Education and Skills when an extension for a school (details supplied) in County Wicklow will take place; if the urgent nature of this extension can be taken into consideration; the current status of the school’s application for an extension within his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16616/12]

As the Deputy is aware, on 12th March last, I announced details of the new major school building projects where construction is expected to commence over the next five years as part of a €1.5 billion major school project capital investment programme. The school referred to by the Deputy was included in that announcement to commence construction of their extension in 2015/2016.

The timeline for when work is expected to proceed is outlined in the announcement. Each project is listed in the year when the commencement of construction works is anticipated. The Department will be in communication with all those schools, including the school referred to by the Deputy, on the programme in relation to the next steps to be taken, at the appropriate time, as the projects progress through the various stages of the architectural planning process.

Details of all projects in respect of the current school building programme, including this project, are available on the Department's website at www.education.ie.

In the meantime, I am pleased to inform the Deputy that my Department has recently approved a temporary mainstream classroom to meet the school's immediate accommodation needs from September, 2012.

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

204 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a school (details supplied) in County Meath can expect an announcement about their school building project; when it will go from design stage to the next stage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16618/12]

In view of the need to ensure that every child has access to a school place, the delivery of major school projects to meet the demographic demands nationally will be the main focus for capital investment in schools in the coming years. The five year programme announced on March 12th is focused on meeting those demographic needs. In that context, it was not possible to advance all applications for capital funding concurrently.

School building projects currently in, or entering into, architectural planning, including the project referred to by the Deputy, will continue to be advanced incrementally over time within the context of the funding available up to the preparation of tender documents.

The process of appointing a design team to the school building project referred to by the Deputy is currently nearing completion, i.e. contracts are being signed by the Client and the design team consultants. Once these contracts are in place, work will commence on Stage 1 of the architectural planning process.

School Staffing

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

205 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which urgently required extra facilities at a school (details supplied) have been identified in the wake of meeting special needs provisions; if he will identify the full extent of extra facilities required and as presented by the board of management; if he will indicate a timetable within which provision is likely; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16629/12]

I understand that the Deputy's question relates to the provision of Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support at the school referred to by him.

I wish to advise that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating SNAs to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support, which now includes a requirement for them to have regard to the overall cap on numbers.

The NCSE has advised all schools, including the school referred to by the Deputy, of their SNA allocation for the current school year, taking into account the care needs of qualifying pupils attending the school.

The NCSE has retained a number of SNA posts in order to allocate them over the remainder of the school year in respect of emergency cases or new diagnosis. Should a school seek to have their SNA provision reviewed or make a new application, they should contact the NCSE in this regard. It is expected that schools, before requesting any review of their SNA provision, will be in a position to demonstrate that they have made every effort to manage their allocation of SNA posts to best effect.

Schools have also been advised to make applications to the NCSE for resource teaching and SNA support for the 2012/13 school year by 16th March, 2012. Schools will subsequently be advised by the NCSE of their allocation for the 2012/13 school year, based on the number of valid applications received and in the case of SNA support, the extent of the care needs of qualifying children. It is open to schools to contact their local SENO in this regard, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie.

Departmental Bodies

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

206 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he will take to ensure that the English language sector is represented on the board of directors of the Qualifications and Quality Assurance Authority of Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16636/12]

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

207 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason the advertisement for expressions of interest in being on the board of the Qualifications and Quality Assurance Authority of Ireland appeared during the Christmas holiday period of the education sector when it was most likely those most interested would not see it; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16637/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 206 and 207 together.

In December 2011, expressions of interest were sought, through the Public Appointments Service (PAS), from suitably qualified and experienced persons for positions on three Boards of State Bodies under the aegis of my Department, including the Qualifications and Quality Assurance Authority of Ireland (QQAAI). The deadline was extended to mid January to take account of the Christmas period. The Deputy may be aware that the term of office of the Board of the HEA, which was also advertised concurrently, expired on 31st January 2012. In order to appoint the new Board in a timely manner, it was necessary to close expressions of interest by mid-January. The invitation to apply for positions was issued in a press release and was advertised on my Department's website.

In making appointments to any Board vacancies, I am not necessarily confined to those who apply through that process, but I will in all cases ensure that all of those appointed have the relevant qualifications for the positions. Indeed, in the case of QQAAI, the relevant legislation will require that members of the Authority have experience of, and expertise in relation to, the functions of the Authority. In that respect, it is important to have regard to the particular area of responsibility of the Authority and to ensure, with due regard to the Government policy on gender balance, that the board members have an appropriate mix of skills and experience in such areas as, for example, corporate governance and financial expertise.

The Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Bill 2011 provides for an eight person board to include an international expert and a representative of learners. The Bill does not provide for stakeholder nominations to board positions and, given the broad remit of QQAAI, this would be very difficult to achieve while maintaining the board at an effective size. It is not envisaged that stakeholders would represent their interests through Board membership but rather through the consultative structures that QQAAI develops.

Sixty expressions of interest were received for positions on the board of QQAAI. The selection of members has not yet taken place.

School Staffing

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

208 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Education and Skills when the National Council for Special Education review will take place at a school (details supplied) in County Wexford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16638/12]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support, which now includes a requirement for them to have regard to an overall cap on numbers of posts available.

Schools have been advised to make applications to the NCSE for resource teaching and SNA support for the 2012/13 school year by 16th March, 2012. Schools will subsequently be advised by the NCSE of their allocation for the 2012/13 school year, based on the number of valid applications received and in the case of SNA support, the extent of the care needs of qualifying children.

It is open to schools to contact their local SENO in this regard, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie.

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

209 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has any plans to reinstate the appeals process for National Council for Special Education decisions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16639/12]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), for allocating resource teaching support and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support which now includes a requirement for them to have regard to an overall cap on the number of posts available.

Whereas the NCSE does not currently have a formal appeal system in place, in relation to the allocation of SNA support, the NCSE has retained a number of SNA posts in order to allocate them over the remainder of the school year in respect of emergency cases or new diagnosis. Should a school seek to have their SNA provision reviewed or make a new application, they should contact the NCSE in this regard. It is expected that schools, before requesting any review of their SNA provision, will be in a position to demonstrate that they have made every effort to manage their allocation of SNA posts to best effect.

The NCSE has advised my Department that it is in the process of reviewing and developing an appeals process which is intended to be in place for the 2012/13 school year allocations process.

Pearse Doherty

Question:

210 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills the loss of teaching positions and other support positions to a school (details supplied) in County Donegal in 2011/2012 academic year; the proposed reduction in teaching positions and other to the same school for the academic year 2012/2013; if he will reconsider the proposed cuts to this particular school in view of its rural DEIS status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16646/12]

The staffing arrangements for the 2012/13 school year are set out in Primary Circular 0007/2012 which is available on my Department's website. This includes details of the reform of the allocation process which is designed to bring a more equitable distribution of existing posts between schools.

The overall objective with the reforms is to enable the teacher allocation and redeployment process to operate more smoothly and efficiently within the new climate of fixed ceilings on teaching posts. The changes are designed to give a more equitable distribution of existing posts between schools, give earlier certainty to schools about their staffing allocations and, where possible, simplify and streamline existing processes and give greater autonomy to schools.

The new arrangements incorporate a long overdue updating of the General Allocation Model (GAM) combining learning support for high incidence special needs and language support for all schools. It also includes changes to NCSE approved (low incidence) resource hours in the base schools or in neighbouring schools. This approach builds on the interim arrangements that operated in 2011 but in a more structured and transparent manner.

Arising from the decisions taken following Budget 2012, of the 328 DEIS Rural primary schools, 16 of these schools with legacy posts will lose one teaching post each, including the school referred to by the Deputy.

The allocation process also includes an appeals mechanism under which schools can appeal against the allocation due to them under the staffing schedules. The appeal procedures are set out in the circular referred to above. The closing date for submission of appeals for the April meeting of the Staffing Appeals Board was 23 March, 2012. I can confirm that the school to which the Deputy refers has submitted an appeal.

The Appeals Board meeting will take place on Wednesday 18 April, 2012 which will be prior to the release of the main redeployment panel and allow for any impact of the Board's decision on redeployment panels to be effected. Once the Appeals Board meeting has taken place schools will be notified of the outcome of their appeal.

Further meetings of the Appeals Board will be held as required in June and October, 2012. The Appeals Board operates independently of the Department and its decision is final.

The final staffing position for all schools will ultimately not be known until later in 2012. At that stage the allocation process will be fully completed and any appeals to the Staffing Appeal Board will have been considered.

Departmental Expenditure

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

211 Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide in tabular form the cost of the provision of transition year imposed on the Exchequer each year since its conception; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16660/12]

The Transition Year was introduced as a pilot project in September 1974, and was mainstreamed in September 1994.

My Department is not in a position to provide the information requested by the Deputy going back to 1974. Schools offering transition year are provided with additional teaching and financial resources in respect of the cohort of pupils availing of the programme.

In the current school year, an additional teacher allocation is given to each school in the Free Education Scheme offering the transition year based on a pupil teacher ratio (PTR) of 19 to 1. In the case of fee-charging schools, the PTR applicable is 20 to 1. My Department has allocated circa 1,600 whole time equivalent teaching posts in the 2011/2012 school year in respect of transition year.

Schools in the Free Education Scheme also qualify for payment of a transition year grant of €95 for each pupil participating in the programme. Fee-charging schools do not receive any grant aid. The estimated cost of transition year grants in 2012 is €2.5m.

School Curriculum

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

212 Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor asked the Minister for Education and Skills if there is a national transition year curriculum programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16661/12]

The Transition Year (TY) is a one-year programme that forms the first year of a three-year senior cycle.

It is designed to act as a bridge between the Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate programmes. It is available to all second level schools. Transition Year is optional for students in most schools. Some 28,500 students in 550 post-primary schools follow this option.

Each school designs its own Transition Year programme to suit the needs and interests of its students. The Transition Year Programmes document 1994-95 published in 1993 provides overarching guidelines in the Transition Year.

School Staffing

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

213 Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of teachers that are employed by the State to teach transition year students; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16662/12]

The management authority of each school carries responsibility for making decisions regarding the Transition Year (TY) Programme in that school. Based on information available to my Department the number of students enrolled in the Transition Year programme for the 2011/2012 school year is 30,536 with circa 1,600 whole time equivalent teaching posts allocated in respect of same.

Transition Year Programme

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

214 Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide in tabular form the number of students who are partaking in transition year in 2012; the number of students per year who have partaken in transition year since its inception; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16663/12]

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

215 Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide in tabular form the number of students as a percentage of the cohort of eligible students who are partaking in transition year in 2012; the percentage who have partaken in transition years since its inception; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16664/12]

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

The information sought by the Deputy is not readily available. I have asked my officials to compile the information for the past five years and to forward it to the Deputy as soon as it is available.

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

216 Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to any Irish or international research that has proven education or social benefits resulting from participation in transition year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16665/12]

An evaluation of the Transition Year Programme was published by the ESRI in 2005. A key finding from this study was that school principals and teachers see the Transition Year programme as broadly successful, especially in developing personal and social skills among students.

The evaluation showed that transition year students were 1.3 more likely to enter higher education, and achieved higher grade point averages in the Leaving Certificate that non transition year programme students. The advantage of this may be related to longer exposure to the various subjects, more maturity, better selection of senior cycle subjects, and experience of self directed learning leading to improved study skills.

The Transition Year Programme is designed to enable students to experience a wide range of educational inputs, sample subjects which have not been taken at lower second level, and provide for a strong focus on personal development, collaborative, self directed and experiential learning, learning in the community and work experience. Increased maturity, social awareness, social competence, and enhanced career awareness are important outcomes from the programme.

There are no formal examinations, but schools provide for assessment through a range of test, journal, project and portfolio approaches. Most schools offer a mix of academic subjects, a key focus on personal and social development, ICT and work related learning, taster programmes and civic, cultural, sport and leisure options. Mini-company, where students set up and operate a real business, enterprise and work experience are popular options in schools.

School musicals, fashion shows, participation in competitions such as the Young Scientist and the Young Enterprise and the Young Social Innovators Programme provide important opportunities for students to hone their research, planning, teamwork, evaluation, and critical reflection skills.

Some 28,500 students in 550 post-primary schools follow this option (approx 50% of cohort).

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

217 Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the average extra cost imposed on families who have a child partaking in transition year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16666/12]

Information concerning the costs referred to by the Deputy is not available to my Department.

The key aim of the Transition Year Programme is to provide for a strong focus on personal development, collaborative and experiential learning, learning in the community and work experience. The programme is also designed to enable students to experience a wide range of educational inputs, and sample subjects which have not been taken at lower second level. It is a maturing process and a chance to engage in group work, project work and self directed learning.

Schools are free to devise a flexible modular programme within an overall framework set out by my Department. The cost therefore of the programme is dependent upon the particular circumstances in any individual school.

My Department provides specific teaching resources and additional grant aid to schools that offer transition year.

Question No. 218 answered with Question No. 197.

Brendan Smith

Question:

219 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will indicate the level of resources which would normally be provided by him to a new post primary school for the purposes of establishing its first transition year programme; if he will indicate the best practice guidelines that are available to schools in relation to transition year including class and group sizes, admissions, policy admission appeals, programme content and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16690/12]

Brendan Smith

Question:

220 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will indicate the resources, if any, sought by a school (details supplied) for the establishment of a transition year programme for the 2012/2013 academic year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16691/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos 219 and 220 together.

The Transition Year (TY) is a one-year programme that forms the first year of a three-year senior cycle. It is designed to act as a bridge between the Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate programmes. It is available to all second level schools.

Each school designs its own Transition Year programme to suit the needs and interests of its students. A Transition Year Programmes document is published on my Department's website and provides overarching guidelines on the Transition Year.

The management authority of each school carries responsibility for making decisions regarding the Transition Year Programme in that school. In some schools, the programme is compulsory for all students. In those that offer it as an option, circumstances may arise where it is necessary to limit the number of students who can avail of it.

It is the board of management of each individual school that decides the number of places available to students on programmes such as Transition Year. In cases where restrictions apply, schools should have clear procedures regarding how places are allocated to students.

My Department has recently published Circular 0009/2012 setting out the staffing arrangements for post-primary schools for the 2012/13 school year. A proportion of posts allocated to post-primary schools are determined on the basis of ratios of recognised pupils to teachers for the various approved programmes including Transition Year. The pupil teacher ratio (PTR) applicable in respect of Transition Year pupils is equal to the PTR applicable in respect of pupils enrolled in programmes such as the Junior Certificate, Leaving Certificate, Leaving Certificate Applied and Leaving Certificate Vocational (LCVP) programmes.

The school referred to by the Deputy has projected that there will be 24 pupils in Transition Year for the 2012/13 school year. These pupils will be included in the overall enrolment of the school when determining the 2012/13 staffing allocation for the school. The school has been provisionally allocated 3 additional whole time equivalent teaching posts in respect of its total projected enrolment figure (including its TY pupils) for 2012/13

Schools Building Projects

Paul Connaughton

Question:

221 Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a school (details supplied) in County Galway was not included in the schools building programme considering it had been approved for schools building for the past number of years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16694/12]

In view of the need to ensure that every child has access to a school place, the delivery of major school projects to meet the demographic demands nationally will be the main focus for capital investment in schools in the coming years. The five year programme announced on March 12th is focused on meeting those demographic needs. In that context, it was not possible to advance all applications for capital funding concurrently.

The process of appointing a design team for the major school building project referred to by the Deputy is nearing completion. Once appointed, the design team will start commence work on Stage 1 of architectural planning. School building projects currently in, or entering into, architectural planning, including the project referred to by the Deputy, will continue to be advanced incrementally over time within the context of the funding available.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

222 Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a school (details supplied) in County Galway was not included in the schools building programme considering it had been approved for schools building for the past number of years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16695/12]

In view of the need to ensure that every child has access to a school place, the delivery of major school projects to meet the demographic demands nationally will be the main focus for capital investment in schools in the coming years. The five year programme announced on March 12th is focused on meeting those demographic needs. In that context, it was not possible to advance all applications for capital funding concurrently.

The building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is currently at an advanced stage of architectural planning and the Stage 2(b) submission (Detailed Design) was approved by the Departments Planning and Building Unit on 30th November 2011.

However, in light of current competing demands on the Department's capital budget, it is not possible to progress this project to tender and construction at this time.

Paul Connaughton

Question:

223 Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a school (details supplied) in County Galway was not included in the schools building programme considering it had been approved for school building for the past number of years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16696/12]

In view of the need to ensure that every child has access to a school place, the delivery of major school projects to meet the demographic demands nationally will be the main focus for capital investment in schools in the coming years. The five year programme announced recently is focused on meeting those demographic needs. In that context, it was not possible to advance all applications for capital funding concurrently.

The building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is currently at an advanced stage of architectural planning. The Design Team are currently working on Stage 2(b) of Architectural Planning which includes securing Planning Permission, Fire Certificate and Disability Access Certificate (DAC) and the preparation of tender documents.

School building projects currently in architectural planning, including the project referred to by the Deputy, will continue to be advanced incrementally over time within the context of the funding available.

However, in light of current competing demands on the Department's capital budget, it is not possible to progress this project to tender and construction at this time.

Special Educational Needs

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

Question:

224 Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Education and Skills in relation to a school (details supplied) the position regarding the Health Service Executive recommendations compiled after inspection; the position regarding the implementation of the recommendations; if he will provide any proposals he may have regarding the training of teachers in specialised autism units, with regard to primary schools with applied behaviour analysis instruction; if he accepts instruction through ABA is an effective and successful method; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16702/12]

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that the Board of Management of the school in question has advised that the recommendations of the HSE report have been implemented in full. My Department remains in regular contact with the school and my officials will continue to monitor the position. My Inspectorate visited the school recently.

The Deputy will be aware that my Department's policy is focused on ensuring that all children including those with autism can have access to an education appropriate to their needs, preferably in school settings through the primary and post primary school network. This facilitates access to individualised education programmes, fully qualified professional teachers who may draw from a range of autism-specific interventions, including Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), Treatment and Education of Autistic Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH) and Picture Exchange Communications System (PECS).

The Deputy will be familiar with the standards associated with qualified teachers, the registration of qualified teachers required by the Teaching Council, the probationary process, whereby teachers are supported and advised by the inspectorate during their first year of teaching. Furthermore the Department recognises that specialised training and continued professional development (CPD) is important for staff working with children with special educational needs and supports the provision of CPD through the Special Education Support Service (SESS) which was specifically established for this purpose. The SESS co-ordinates and delivers a range of professional development initiatives and support structures for school personnel working with students with special educational needs.

Grant Payments

John McGuinness

Question:

225 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills if an appeal against his decision not to pay 40 hours of home tuition will be expedited in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16722/12]

I wish to inform the Deputy that my Department has, as an exceptional measure, agreed to pay the full amount of grant aid in this case.

The persons to which the Deputy refers have been notified of this decision.

Disadvantaged Status

John McGuinness

Question:

226 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills the length of time it will take to consider a submission from a school (details supplied) in County Kilkenny with regard to the proposed cuts in teaching posts in DEIS schools; if he will protect the existing levels of service available to the students/parents of this school and enhance the service where possible as this is the only DEIS school in Kilkenny of junior cycle pupils; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16725/12]

My Department has considered a submission received from the school to which the Deputy refers in January 2012 in relation to proposed Budget measures.

The staffing arrangements for the 2012/13 school year are set out in Primary Circular 0007/2012 which is available on my Department's website. This includes details of the reform of the allocation process which is designed to bring a more equitable distribution of existing posts between schools.

The overall objective with the reforms is to enable the teacher allocation and redeployment process to operate more smoothly and efficiently within the new climate of fixed ceilings on teaching posts. The changes are designed to give a more equitable distribution of existing posts between schools, give earlier certainty to schools about their staffing allocations and, where possible, simplify and streamline existing processes and give greater autonomy to schools.

The new arrangements incorporate a long overdue updating of the General Allocation Model (GAM) combining learning support for high incidence special needs and language support for all schools. It also includes changes to NCSE approved (low incidence) resource hours in the base schools or in neighbouring schools. This approach builds on the interim arrangements that operated in 2011 but in a more structured and transparent manner.

The school to which the Deputy refers was among the 140 DEIS Band 1 and Band 2 schools included in the recent report on the impact, in terms of posts, that certain Budget measures would have on these schools.

The main focus of this report concerned additional posts allocated under disadvantage schemes predating DEIS. The outcome of this report was published last month and schools were notified of the Government's decision to retain these posts in DEIS Band 1 and Band 2 Schools.

As I have already indicated, I requested my Department to examine these schools due to conflicting number of posts being reported as potentially lost to these schools. It was necessary to obtain clarity with regard to the net effect of a range of factors on teacher allocations in these schools; for example, increasing and decreasing enrolments, the reforms to the existing teacher allocations process and up to date enrolments, all of which contribute to determining the staffing requirement for these schools for 2012/13 school year.

Applying the new staffing schedule for Band 1 schools and the Government's decision in relation to schools retaining posts from previous disadvantage schemes ensures that these schools can continue to implement the appropriate favourable pupil teacher ratios from previous disadvantage schemes while not exceeding this entitlement for 2012/13 school year. Notification issued to the school outlining the teaching staff allocation for 2012/13. There is no change to the number of teaching staff allocated to this school for 2012/13 over their current teaching staff compliment.

The allocation processes also include an appeals mechanism under which schools can appeal against the allocation due to them under the staffing schedules. The appeal procedures are set out in the circular referred to above.

For the coming school year the existing staffing appeals criteria have been extended to enable some limited phasing arrangements for schools where the combination of budget and reform measures impact on a particularly adverse manner on a school's overall allocation. The closing date for submission of appeal is 23 March, 2012.

The Appeal Boards operate independently of the Department and their decisions are final.

The final staffing position for all schools at primary level will ultimately not be known until the Autumn. At that stage the allocation process will be fully completed and any appeals to the Staffing Appeal Boards will have been considered.

School Staffing

John McGuinness

Question:

227 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills the time frame for considering a submission and appeal in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Kilkenny relative to the retention of a fourth mainstream class teacher and if he will expedite a response [16734/12]

Brendan Smith

Question:

246 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills when he expects the final staffing position for primary schools to be known taking into account the work of the appeals board; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16944/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 227 and 246 together.

The closing date for submission of appeals for the April meeting of the Staffing Appeals Board was 23 March, 2012. The Appeals Board meeting will take place on Wednesday 18 April, 2012 which will be prior to the release of the main redeployment panel and allow for any impact of the Board's decision on redeployment panels to be effected. Once the Appeals Board meeting has taken place schools will be notified of the outcome of their appeal.

Further meetings of the Appeals Board will be held as required in June and October, 2012. The Appeals Board operates independently of the Department and its decision is final. The final staffing position for all schools will ultimately not be known until later in 2012. At that stage the allocation process will be fully completed and any appeals to the Staffing Appeal Board will have been considered.

Schools Building Projects

Jim Daly

Question:

228 Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application for an extension to a school (details supplied) in County Cork; if he will confirm whether the position has advanced since his reply on this issue of 1 March 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16742/12]

Officials from my Department have recently been in contact with the school to which the Deputy refers and further information regarding their application has been received. This is currently under consideration and a decision will be conveyed to the school in due course.

Question No. 229 answered with Question No. 182.

Higher Education Grants

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

230 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills the method by which the distance from a person’s normal residence to an approved institution is measured for the purposes of determining whether an applicant is eligible for an adjacent or non-adjacent grant under the student grant scheme 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16754/12]

The measurement of the distances for student grant purposes is a matter for grant awarding bodies — the relevant local authority or VEC.

There has been no change as to how these distances are measured. As in the past for all cases, the shortest most direct route to the institution attended is measured. I understand that a range of mechanisms can be used, for example, online mapping such as AA Route Planner and Google Maps.

If the distance is disputed, the matter should be taken up with the grant awarding body concerned. In some cases, it may be necessary to carry out a physical measurement.

Stay Safe Programme

Brendan Smith

Question:

231 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if, due to the new primary school staffing schedules, a school is reduced to a staffing complement of one, and if there is no other support staff in that school, he will outline the implications, if any, in relation to the implementation of child protection protocols; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16757/12]

Last Autumn, my Department published updated "Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools". These procedures are based on the recently published "Children First — National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2011" and apply to all primary and post-primary schools, irrespective of size.

The new procedures incorporate significant improvements to the previous school guidelines and are intended to better ensure consistent and uniform implementation of Children First across all schools. The improvements include a new template child protection policy, a requirement that all primary schools fully implement the Stay Safe programme and also put in place improved oversight arrangements at Board of Management level.

Higher Education Grants

Brendan Griffin

Question:

232 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16783/12]

As I announced last December, the means test for student grants will be amended to take account of the value of certain capital assets as well as income for the 2013/14 academic year.

A dedicated Capital Asset Test implementation group has been established. The group has been charged with bringing forward detailed implementation proposals on new means testing arrangements for student grants, to include the value of assets, for new applicants from the 2013/14 academic year. No decision has been taken on the treatment of farm or other business assets. In the circumstances, I am not in a position to say at this time what assets may be included.

However, any proposals will require further Government agreement and necessitate legislative amendment.

School Staffing

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

233 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding small schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16822/12]

As part of the Budget decisions announced, the number of pupils required to gain and retain a teaching post in small primary schools will be gradually increased between September 2012 and September 2014. The schools concerned are those with four or less classroom teachers. The phasing of these measures can provide the schools concerned with time to consider the potential for amalgamation with other schools where this is feasible. If amalgamations take place, they will be voluntary and follow decisions taken by local communities and not by my Department.

This Government recognises that small schools are an important part of the social fabric of rural communities. They will continue to be a feature of our education landscape. However, this does not mean that small schools can stand still or never have their staffing levels changed to something that is more affordable and sustainable for these difficult and challenging times. The teachers in small schools cannot be immune from the requirement that is being asked of all public servants to deliver our public services on a reduced level of resources.

My Department has expanded the existing appeals process so that it is accessible to the 73 small schools that are losing a classroom post as a result of the budget measure. These schools will not lose their classroom post if any of them are projecting increased enrolments in September 2012 that would be sufficient to allow them to retain their existing classroom posts over the longer term. The detailed arrangements are set out in the Department's Staffing Circular that is now published on my Department's website. The closing date for submission of appeals for the April meeting of the Staffing Appeals Board was 23 March, 2012. The Appeals Board meeting will take place on Wednesday 18 April, 2012 which will be prior to the release of the main redeployment panel and allow for any impact of the Board's decision on redeployment panels to be effected.

The Appeals Board operates independently of the Department and its decision is final.

School Transport

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

234 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will grant an exemption to proposed changes in school transport rules in relation to students (details supplied) if it can be demonstrated that there will not be a cost saving to enforcing the proposed changes and that doing so would lead to overcrowding issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16826/12]

From the commencement of the 2012/13 school year, the use of the Catchment Boundary Area (CB) System as a means of determining eligibility will cease for all pupils newly entering post primary school. This means that from the 2012/13 school year, school transport eligibility for all pupils newly entering a post primary school will be determined by reference to the distance they reside from their nearest post-primary education centre having regard to ethos and language. This change was announced as part of Budget 2011 but is not being introduced until the 2012/13 school year in order to allow parents of children newly entering post primary school ample time to consider their school choice options, taking account of the revised school transport eligibility arrangements.

At post primary level, the evidence is, as set out in the Value for Money Review of the School Transport Schemes, that the majority of children are attending their nearest post primary school/centre.

The changes to the Post Primary School Transport Scheme will be applied equitably on a national basis.

Residential Institutions Redress Scheme

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

235 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding survivor groups; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16840/12]

My Office has corresponded previously with the person concerned.

The position in relation to the proposed Statutory Fund is that last July, I announced that the Government was proceeding with legislation to provide for the establishment of a Statutory Fund to support the needs of victims of residential institutional abuse, as endorsed by Dáil Éireann in the aftermath of the publication of the Ryan Report in 2009. The legislative proposals followed extensive consultations with survivors of residential abuse and the groups which support them, together with a public consultation process. In this context, the report on the consultation process and the General Scheme of the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Bill were published on my Department's website.

Some former residents advocated a simple distribution of the available money rather than the establishment of the Statutory Fund. However, as I outlined when I published the legislative proposals, I believe that the Fund should target resources at services to support former residents' needs. The General Scheme outlines the range of services proposed.

I had a very constructive meeting with groups representing survivors of residential institutional abuse on 22nd July last, when we discussed the Government's approach to the proposed Statutory Fund. The minutes of this meeting are also available on my Department's website.

Work on the drafting of the Bill is currently being finalised and I expect to be in a position to publish it very shortly.

State Examinations

Brendan Smith

Question:

236 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of retired teachers involved in oral Irish examinations, oral French examinations, oral German examinations and oral Spanish examinations in the State Examinations 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16921/12]

Brendan Smith

Question:

237 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of retired teachers employed supervising the State Examinations 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16923/12]

Brendan Smith

Question:

238 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of then recently qualified graduates who applied for employment with the State Examinations 2011; the number that were offered employment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16924/12]

Brendan Smith

Question:

239 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of retired teachers involved in oral Irish examinations, oral French examinations, oral German examinations and oral Spanish examinations in the State Examinations 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16925/12]

Brendan Smith

Question:

240 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of recently qualified graduates who applied for employment with the State Examinations 2012; the number that were offered employment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16926/12]

Brendan Smith

Question:

241 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of retired teachers who were employed to correct examination papers for the State Examinations 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16927/12]

Brendan Smith

Question:

242 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of retired teachers who will be employed to correct examination papers for the State examinations 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16928/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 236 to 242, inclusive, together.

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 the Deputy's query to the State Examinations Commission for direct reply to him.

School Staffing

Brendan Smith

Question:

243 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the total staffing complement for a school (details supplied) in Dublin 1 for 2011/2012; the number of teachers this school will have for the next school year; if this school will retain its existing entitlements under DEIS Band 1 school categorisation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16929/12]

The total staffing complement for the school referred to by the Deputy in 2011/12 is 7.83 posts. The staffing arrangements for the 2012/13 school year are set out in Primary Circular 0007/2012 which is available on my Department's website. This includes details of the reform of the allocation process which is designed to bring a more equitable distribution of existing posts between schools.

The overall objective with the reforms is to enable the teacher allocation and redeployment process to operate more smoothly and efficiently within the new climate of fixed ceilings on teaching posts. The changes are designed to give a more equitable distribution of existing posts between schools, give earlier certainty to schools about their staffing allocations and, where possible, simplify and streamline existing processes and give greater autonomy to schools.

The new arrangements incorporate a long overdue updating of the General Allocation Model (GAM) combining learning support for high incidence special needs and language support for all schools. It also includes changes to NCSE approved (low incidence) resource hours in the base schools or in neighbouring schools. This approach builds on the interim arrangements that operated in 2011 but in a more structured and transparent manner.

The school to which the Deputy refers was among the 140 DEIS Band 1 and Band 2 schools included in the recent report on the impact, in terms of posts, that certain Budget measures would have on these schools.

The main focus of this report concerned additional posts allocated under disadvantage schemes pre-dating DEIS. The outcome of this report was published last month and schools were notified of the Government's decision to retain these posts in DEIS Band 1 and Band 2 Schools.

As I have already indicated, I requested my Department to examine these schools due to conflicting number of posts being reported as potentially lost to these schools. It was necessary to obtain clarity with regard to the net effect of a range of factors on teacher allocations in these schools; for example, increasing and decreasing enrolments, the reforms to the existing teacher allocations process and up to date enrolments, all of which contribute to determining the staffing requirement for these schools for 2012/13 school year.

Applying the new staffing schedule for Band 1 schools and the Government's decision in relation to schools retaining posts from previous disadvantage schemes ensures that these schools, including the school referred to by the Deputy, can continue to implement the appropriate favourable pupil teacher ratios from previous disadvantage schemes while not exceeding this entitlement for 2012/13 school year.

The allocation processes also include an appeals mechanism under which schools can appeal against the allocation due to them under the staffing schedules. The appeal procedures are set out in the circular referred to above.

For the coming school year the existing staffing appeals criteria have been extended to enable some limited phasing arrangements for schools where the combination of budget and reform measures impact on a particularly adverse manner on a school's overall allocation. The closing date for submission of appeal is 23 March, 2012. The Appeal Boards operate independently of the Department and their decisions are final.

The final staffing position for all schools at primary level will ultimately not be known until the Autumn. At that stage the allocation process will be fully completed and any appeals to the Staffing Appeal Boards will have been considered.

Schools Refurbishment

John McGuinness

Question:

244 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application for major capital works at a school (details supplied) in County Carlow; if correspondence sent to his Department by the board of management has been processed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16936/12]

I can confirm that the school referred to by the Deputy has an application with the Department for a major school project involving school refurbishment and ancillary accommodation. Information in respect of the current school building programme along with all assessed applications for major capital works, including this project, is available on the Department's website at www.education.ie.

In view of the need to prioritise available funding for the provision of additional school accommodation, the delivery of major school projects required to meet demographic demands nationally will be the main focus for capital investment in schools in the coming years. The five year programme announced on 12th March is focused on meeting those demographic needs. It is not possible therefore to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of this school project at this time. I wish however to advise the Deputy that to meet its immediate accommodation needs, my Department sanctioned devolved funding to the school in June last to facilitate the building of a permanent additional mainstream classroom.

Special Educational Needs

Finian McGrath

Question:

245 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will end the proposed reduction in provision for special needs students at exam time (details supplied). [16943/12]

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 the Deputy's query to the State Examinations Commission for direct reply to him.

Question No. 246 answered with Question No. 227.

School Staffing

Tom Hayes

Question:

247 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a DEIS Band 1 primary school (details supplied) in County Tipperary, which had two legacy posts, has not had these posts reinstated in their staffing schedule for 2012/13 as per his announcement that he was reversing the proposed cuts to DEIS Band 1 and 2 Schools, and that they would not lose any teachers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16960/12]

The staffing arrangements for the 2012/13 school year are set out in Primary Circular 0007/2012 which is available on my Department's website. This includes details of the reform of the allocation process which is designed to bring a more equitable distribution of existing posts between schools.

Applying the new staffing schedule for Band 1 schools to this school, it is due to lose one mainstream class teacher for the 2012/13 school year due to falling enrolment.

The overall objective with the reforms is to enable the teacher allocation and redeployment process to operate more smoothly and efficiently within the new climate of fixed ceilings on teaching posts. The changes are designed to give a more equitable distribution of existing posts between schools, give earlier certainty to schools about their staffing allocations and, where possible, simplify and streamline existing processes and give greater autonomy to schools.

The new arrangements incorporate a long overdue updating of the General Allocation Model (GAM) combining learning support for high incidence special needs and language support for all schools. It also includes changes to NCSE approved (low incidence) resource hours in the base schools or in neighbouring schools. This approach builds on the interim arrangements that operated in 2011 but in a more structured and transparent manner.

The school to which the Deputy refers is a DEIS Band 1 School but was not among the 140 DEIS Band 1 and Band 2 schools included in the recent report on the impact, in terms of posts, that certain Budget measures would have on these schools, the main focus of which concerned additional posts allocated under disadvantage schemes pre-dating DEIS.

The allocation processes also include an appeals mechanism under which schools can appeal against the allocation due to them under the staffing schedules. The appeal procedures are set out in the circular referred to above.

For the coming school year the existing staffing appeals criteria have been extended to enable some limited phasing arrangements for schools where the combination of budget and reform measures impact on a particularly adverse manner on a school's overall allocation. The closing date for submission of appeals for the April meeting of the Staffing Appeal Board was 23 March, 2012.

The school to which the Deputy refers has not submitted an appeal.

Pension Provisions

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

Question:

248 Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application for early retirement in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16965/12]

The person is question has not applied for early retirement at this time. However, he has recently sought details from my Department as to the earliest date at which he may retire with a pension. The information sought by the person in question is being compiled in the Pension Unit of my Department and will issue to the person in question within the next 2 weeks which is well within the timeframe outlined in my Department's Business Plan for the provision of such information.

Higher Education Grants

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

Question:

249 Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a student grant application to Dublin VEC (details supplied); and if they may appeal a decision as they did not receive correspondence from the VEC and therefore did not supply additional information. [16992/12]

The decision on eligibility for grant assistance under the student grant scheme is a matter for the relevant grant awarding authority, i.e. local authority or Vocational Education Committee.

The closing date for receipt of completed grant applications including all required supporting documentation for the 2011/12 academic year was the 31st August, 2011. It is a matter for each grant awarding authority to determine, at its own absolute discretion, whether or not to accept a late application or outstanding documentation submitted after the closing date.

As this is a matter between the candidate and the grant awarding authority concerned, any queries in relation to the candidate's grant application, correspondence issued to the candidate or outstanding documentation should be directed to the VEC.

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

250 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will expedite an appeal in the case of a student grant application (details supplied) in County Kildare; if he will consider the issues raised in correspondence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16993/12]

A student may appeal the decision of the grant awarding authority's appeals officer to my Department or the Student Grants Appeals Board, as appropriate.

Appeals on grant applications made under the Student Grant Scheme 2011 and subsequent schemes are appropriate to the Appeals Board. This is provided for under the Student Support Act 2011. Appeals on applications under all previous schemes are appropriate to my Department.

As the appeal from the student referred to by the Deputy related to a grant application made under a previous scheme, it was considered by my Department rather than the Appeals Board. A response has recently issued from my Department to the student.

National Lottery Funding

John McGuinness

Question:

251 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will confirm the amount of National Lottery funds allocated to his Department; if the funds are spent on specific projects; if so, the name of the project; if the National Lottery fund is allocated to the general spend by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17012/12]

The Revised Estimates Volume (REV) published by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform provides summary details of programmes part-financed by the National Lottery and disbursed by relevant Government Departments and Offices. The REV provides these details at Vote subhead level and identifies the aggregate amount of National Lottery funding towards the programmes in question, together with the amount of Exchequer funding. For example the 2012 REV identifies that estimated total expenditure of €339 million will be financed by €220 million from the National Lottery, with the remainder funded by the Exchequer (reference page 245 of the 2012 REV).

€147,000 in funding has been allocated to my Department's Vote for expenditure in 2012 which will be part-financed by the National Lottery. The allocations for specific recipients have not yet been finalised.

For the information of the Deputy I enclose details of National Lottery related expenditure disbursed by my Department in 2010 and 2011 in a spreadsheet.

2010 National Lottery Funding from Vote 26 — Education and Skills

6.1National Lottery Funding

Under subheads B.1 and B.14, a total of €1.06 million was grant aided in 2010 to support adult education and cultural activities. The subheads in Vote 26 from which the funding was paid are noted below. This expenditure is part-financed by National Lottery funding.

Recipients of Funding from National Lottery

2010

2009

€000

€000

Expenses of Adult Education Organisations (Subhead B.1.)

864

941

Cultural Activities (Subhead B.14.)

196

207

Total

1,060

1,148

Recipients of Grants from Subhead B.1 — Adult Education Organisations

Name of Recipients

Sum Received 2010

Sum Received 2009

€000

€000

Aontas

440,000.00

477,000.00

National Adult Literacy Agency

302,000.00

333,000.00

Peoples College

99,000.00

108,000.00

Irish Countrywomen’s Association

23,000.00

23,000.00

Total

864,000.00

941,000.00

Recipients of Grants from Subhead B.14 — Cultural Activities

Name of Recipients

Sum Received 2010

Sum Received 2009

€000

€000

Foras Éireann

11,000.00

11,400.00

National Youth Orchestra of Ireland

108,000.00

114,000.00

Feis Maitiu

38,500.00

41,000.00

Artane School of Music

38,500.00

41,000.00

Total

196,000.00

207,400.00

Appointments to State Boards

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

252 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a full breakdown by gender of all appointments to State boards since February 2011; the current status of State boards in relation to the percentage of participation of women and men in each one; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17560/12]

The information requested by the Deputy is being compiled and will be forwarded in the near future.

Departmental Equipment

Regina Doherty

Question:

253 Deputy Regina Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of laptops in use in his Department; the number of tablets in use in his Department; the number of the laptops in use that are due to be upgraded this year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17572/12]

There are 439 laptops currently deployed within my Department. No tablet PCs have been purchased for use by officials.

My Department does not have an annual programme for the upgrading of laptops. Individual laptops are replaced when deemed beyond repair. Since the start of 2012, a need to replace 5 laptops has been identified.

Hazardous Waste

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

254 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he has published the report of the Working Group chaired by the Office of Public Works that was set up to examine all outstanding issues relating to the clean-up of the former Irish Steel and Irish Ispat site at Haulbowline, County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16092/12]

The Working Group, established by Government, to develop a structured and coherent approach to the further management and development of the former Irish ISPAT site at Haulbowline, County Cork, concluded its deliberations in May 2011 and issued its final report to Government.

It should be noted that matters pertaining to the clean up were outside the terms of reference of this Working Group.

It is a matter for Government to decide whether to publish the report.

Local Authority Services

Simon Harris

Question:

255 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he has issued a directive to local authorities explaining the way construction and roofing companies can tender for infrastructure construction projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16367/12]

All policy, guidance and implementation measures relating to capital projects is published on the Construction Procurement Reform website www.constructionprocurement.gov.ie where the Capital Works Management Framework provides a suite of best practice guidance, standard contracts and generic template documents are available to download for all contracting authorities to provide a consistent approach to the management of public works projects.

The Capital Works Management Framework was introduced on a phased basis from 2007 and became mandatory for all contracting authorities through the issue of Department of Finance Circular 06/10 on 5 May 2010. The documents are updated and augmented where appropriate to respond to new developments in the industry and changes in the regulatory environment.

Under EU rules all public works contracts above €5m must be published in the Official Journal of the EU and on the eTenders website, whilst our national rules require all public works contracts above €50,000 to be advertised on the eTenders website. While there is no requirement to advertise works projects below €50,000 on eTenders or elsewhere, the principle of transparency and non-discrimination still needs to be satisfied. Where a Contracting Authority does not advertise for projects below €50,000 and has satisfied the principles in some other way, five firms should be invited to tender with the expectation that five tenders will be submitted. Department of Finance Circular 10/10 ‘Facilitating SME Participation in Public Procurement' requires all public works contracts up to €250,000 to be procured using an "Open" procedure.

Public Service Reform

Gerry Adams

Question:

256 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the progress that has been made in his plans to abolish 50 quangos; and if he will provide a list of which quangos are due to be abolished. [16406/12]

As the Deputy will be aware the Public Service Reform Plan, published in November, demonstrated the Government's commitment to reform and the pursuit of efficiencies by deciding (i) to proceed with the rationalisation of 48 bodies by the end of 2012 and (ii) the critical review of a further 46 bodies by the end of June 2012. Details of the bodies involved are set out in Appendices IIa and IIb of the Plan which can be found at: http://reformplan.per.gov.ie/files/2012/01/Public-Service-Reform-28112011.pdf.

With regard to the progress made, I refer the Deputy to my answer to Deputy Shane Ross (PQ Ref No: 7802/12) on 14 February 2012, which details the progress to date on rationalising the State bodies.

Sports Funding

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

257 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will consider asking the Office of Public Works to support an association (details supplied) in its efforts to secure the reopening of the real tennis court in Earlsfort Terrace. [16818/12]

I have agreed to meet representatives of the Irish Real Tennis Association in the coming weeks to hear their proposals.

Valuation Office

Brendan Smith

Question:

258 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will clarify the situation in relation to general revaluation currently ongoing by the valuation office; the purpose and reason for same if requested by Government; if he will outline local authorities which have been completed and which are in progress; if the programme is on schedule or the action that can be taken to speed the process up; also in relation to local authorities completed, if a summary of findings can be outlined; if revaluations decided are in respect of individual properties or categories of property; if there have been any consistencies in the changes recommended particularly as between categories of properties; if same will be outlined; if he will clarify the original remit, if overall rate base can be reduced or if purpose is to reconfigure same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16919/12]

The work of the Valuation Office is underpinned by The Valuation Act 2001, which provides for the valuation of all commercial and industrial property. The Commissioner of Valuation is independent in the performance of his functions under the Act, and the making of valuations for local authority rating is his sole prerogative. In accordance with the 2001 Act, which came into force on 2nd May, 2002, a national programme is being rolled out progressively for the revaluation of all commercial and industrial properties in the State.

The revaluation programme aims to provide up-to-date valuations for individual properties across all economic sectors that are subject to local authority rates. It is an important programme, especially given the significant changes in values and rents following the economic downturn of recent years. The revaluation process is the mechanism whereby economic changes that take place in the property market are reflected in the valuation lists for rates purposes and in individual ratepayers' rates liabilities. The purpose of a revaluation is to redistribute commercial rates liabilities among ratepayers based on up-to-date values. Following revaluation, there will be a much closer relationship between rental value and commercial rates liability. Even though property values have fallen generally, some ratepayers will gain, while others will lose from the process of redistribution but, overall, there will be a fairer distribution of the rates burden. In general, however, more ratepayers have gained than lost in the revaluations carried out to date. A table illustrates the changes that have occurred in the areas already valued:

Local Authority Area

Ratepayers with a reduced rates liability following revaluation

Ratepayers with an increased rates liability following revaluation

New Property Valuations

South Dublin County

49%

39%

12%

Fingal County

65%

30%

5%

DunLaoghaire- Rathdown

54%

46%

0%

It is not the purpose of a revaluation to increase the total amount of commercial rates collected by local authorities. In fact, the relevant legislation (Valuation Act 2001 and the Local Government Business (Improvement Districts) Act 2006) provides that the commercial rates income of local authorities in the year following a revaluation is capped and cannot be increased, while there is no impediment to a decrease in the rates income under the legislation. The only increase in the total rates income of a local authority permitted in the year following publication of the new Valuation List is an increase for the rate of inflation.

The redistribution of the rates liability following revaluation is a function of market conditions at the date of valuation and the composition of the valuation list in terms of property type. Therefore, the trend of reduced or increased rates liability in certain sectors in the revaluations to-date may not be replicated in the revaluations of other areas.

The revaluation programme, which has been completed in three County Council areas in Dublin, began in November 2005 in the South Dublin County Council area and has since been rolled out to the areas covered by Fingal and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Councils. The revaluation of South Dublin was completed in December 2007, Fingal was completed in 2009 and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown was completed in 2010. The revaluation of Dublin City Council area was launched on the 5th May 2011 and the Commissioner signed valuation orders on 12th January, 2012 to commence the revaluation of the three local authority areas in Waterford. In addition, he has recently concluded consultations with the local authorities in Limerick and expects to sign valuation orders extending the revaluation programmes to these areas very shortly. It is intended to extend the revaluation programme to further local authority areas as soon as it is practicable to do so but it is not possible at present to say where these areas will be.

While the extension of the project to Dublin City is the major current focus, the Commissioner has expressed his concern that the present rate of progress may not allow the Office to complete the job nationally within the ten years from 2008 to which the Office previously committed.

The Valuation Office is actively pursuing ways to accelerate the revaluation programme. The Commissioner has indicated that, following detailed examination of various possibilities over the past year, the Office has concluded that it may be feasible to introduce a self-assessment approach, accompanied by appropriate controls, and that it might be possible also to outsource some of the work. As well as helping to speed up the national programme, an element of outsourcing, if it proves practicable, would allow comparison of the Valuation Office productivity and costs with those in the private sector. The enabling provisions to allow for these changes are included in proposals for amending legislation currently being drafted by the Parliamentary Draftsman and, subject to the enactment of the legislation; I understand that the intention would be to initiate pilot revaluations in two local authority areas using the new methodologies.

EU Funding

Dessie Ellis

Question:

259 Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the rationale for excluding citizens in the Border, Midland and Western region from being identified under the Connecting Europe facility; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16970/12]

In October 2011, the European Commission announced a proposal to introduce the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) — a plan to fund €50 billion worth of investment to improve Europe's transport, energy and digital networks. The proposal's key objectives are to improve competitiveness and make Europe's economy greener by promoting cleaner transport modes, high speed broadband connections and facilitating the use of renewable energy in line with the Europe 2020 Strategy.

Discussions in relation to the structure of the CEF are ongoing and form part of the overall discussions on the Multi-Annual Financial Framework 2014-2020 and cohesion policy. The Facility is open to all Member States; the Border, Midland and Western region is not excluded, but I would point out that the proposal is not a structural funds regulation and as such, does not apportion funding on the basis of regions. Given that the Facility is aimed at large strategic, cross border, transnational projects and given Ireland's position on the periphery of Europe, there may be limited scope for Ireland to access funding. My Department is examining the details of the proposal in conjunction with relevant departments (Department of Finance, Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport) and is exploring with them how we can maximise drawdown of funds for investing in digital, energy and transport infrastructure.

Departmental Staff

Martin Heydon

Question:

260 Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the reason, when considering temporary vacancies in a Department, redeployment from other Departments or agencies is considered before the transfer list of the same Department is used; if this means employees on temporary contracts have a greater chance of transfer than permanent employees in the Department in which there are vacancies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16062/12]

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 Civil Service and Non-Commercial State Sponsored Bodies (NCSSB). It also provides that cross sectoral redeployments will follow the arrangements agreed for the NCSSBs.

The Public Appointments Service (PAS) has put in place a system of Resource Panels of Civil Service and State Agency staff to support the redeployment processes in those sectors agreed under the Croke Park Agreement. It is a matter for the employer to identify the number and grades of posts to be redeployed in the first instance and to upload the posts onto the PAS panels. Posts to be filled by redeployment are offered in the first instance to the relevant panel or panels.

In situations where an organisation has a need for staff on a temporary basis it is considered reasonable to seek to fill these in the first instance from the redeployment Resource Panels. Where it is agreed that posts should be filled on a temporary basis by redeployment, a loan arrangement would apply. Staff on such assignments would remain as employees of their current employer and be retained on the payroll of the sending organisation, with salary costs etc. being met on a recoupment basis.

National Monuments

Brendan Griffin

Question:

261 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if a member of staff (details supplied) will engage with locals in relation to an Office of Public Works site in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16356/12]

Kilgobnait Church is a recorded national monument. It is not, however, in State ownership and does not come under the care of the Office of Public Works. The National Monuments Service of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has statutory responsibility for recorded national monuments and may be contacted in this regard.

Public Service Reform

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

262 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his views on a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16379/12]

As the Deputy will be aware, this Government is committed to far reaching reform of the Public Service and providing better value for money in service delivery.

The Government's Public Service Reform Plan, which was published last November, outlines the priority actions and timelines for reform. These reforms reflect five major commitments to change, namely:

placing customer service at the core of everything we do;

maximising new and innovative service delivery channels;

radically reducing costs to drive better value for money;

leading, organising and working in new ways; and

a strong focus on implementation and delivery.

As part of the Reform Plan, the Government has set a target of reducing public service staff numbers to 282,500 by end-2015, from a peak of 320,000 in 2008. The number of staff working in the Public Service continues to fall, with the provisional outturn for end-2011 standing at 296,900, which means that there has already been a reduction of over 23,000 and that we are now at close to the 2005 staffing levels.

In the context of these reduced numbers, together with the changed economic environment, it is necessary to look at new ways of working that use fewer resources and that provide real value for money for the Irish taxpayer by maximising efficiency and eliminating waste. This includes, for example, a strong focus on making greater use of technology and online service delivery; increased use of shared services to reduce costs across all sectors of the Public Service; a coordinated programme to improve key business processes; rationalisation of State Agencies and other bodies; and reorganisation of Public Service structures to ensure a more efficient, responsive and customer orientated Public Service.

The Reform Plan also commits to the identification and evaluation of further potential non-core activities suitable for external service delivery. My Department has recently written to all Departments and Offices requesting them to carry out an assessment of potential areas of work/processes, both new and existing, within their Departments/Offices or wider sectors that could be done on a more cost effective basis through alternative delivery mechanisms and to report back with suggestions in this area. This information will form the basis for an integrated approach to the use of alternative services delivery models in the Public Service.

Departmental Staff

Sean Fleming

Question:

263 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will provide a list of staff in his Department who serve as directors of companies arising from their employment; the names of the companies involved; the annual remuneration received, if any; if they are indemnified by his Department in respect of their role as directors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16422/12]

In response to the Deputy's question Mr. David Moloney Assistant Secretary responsible for Labour Market and Enterprise Policy, is a member of the Governing Council the Economic and Social Research Institute for which he receives no remuneration.

Ms. Marie McLaughlin Principal Officer is a director on the boards of the National Building Agency and the Housing and Sustainable Communities Agency Limited. She receives no remuneration in relation to serving on these boards.

The Office of the Attorney General has advised that people working for the State are entitled to be indemnified for such work. The indemnification would cover any reasonable legal fees and/or damages incurred where people are sued for undertaking their duties on behalf of the State provided they acted in good faith and in a bona fide manner. The State carries its own insurance in this regard. This indemnity would apply to those civil servants appointed to State boards as part of their official duties.

Ministerial Expenses

Niall Collins

Question:

264 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the amount of expenses claimed on a monthly basis since March 2011 by all Ministers attached to his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16456/12]

The information sought by the Deputy is set out in the tables below:

Minister Howlin's Expenses claims since March 2011

Month

Milage

Other Expenses

Total

May 2011

€1,949

Nil

€1,949

June 2011

€1,970

Nil

€1,970

July 2011

€911

Nil

€911

August 2011

€218

Nil

€218

September 2011

€968

Nil

€968

October 2011

€1,005

Nil

€1,005

November 2011

€939

Nil

€939

December 2011

€840

Nil

€840

Minister of State Office of Public Works, Brian Hayes claims since March 2011

Month

Milage

Other Expenses

Total

March 2011

€372

Nil

€372

April 2011

€1,206

€143

€1,349

May 2011

€1,790

€353

€2,143

June 2011

€1,708

€410

€2,118

July 2011

€1,202

€498

€1,700

August 2011

€553

€60

€613

September 2011

€2,114

€88

€2,202

October 2011

€984

€115

€1,099

November 2011

€1,613

€112

€1,725

December 2011

€1,134

€73

€1,207

January 2012

€1,573

€18

€1,591

February 2012

€2,691

€223

€2,914

Minister Hayes claims include monies received from OPW as well as any claims made to the Department of Finance and Department of Foreign Affairs.

Departmental Staff

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

265 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 72 and 74 of 7 March 2010, if he will provide the responses to the questions. [16810/12]

A letter issued with the response in hard copy and by email to the Deputy's office on Wednesday the 21st of March 2012 in relation to the issues raised in Parliamentary Questions Nos. 72 and 74.

Departmental Equipment

Regina Doherty

Question:

266 Deputy Regina Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of laptops in use in the Civil Service; the number of tablets in use in the Civil Service; the number of the laptops in use that are due to be upgraded this year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16934/12]

My Department would not have information on the number of laptops or tablets in use in the Civil Service.

IT is now provided on a shared service basis between the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Department of Finance. There are 55 laptops and 1 tablet in use across the two Departments. Laptops are not upgraded, they are replaced when they fail.

National Lottery Funding

John McGuinness

Question:

267 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will confirm the amount of National Lottery funds allocated to his Department; if the funds are spent on specific projects; if so, the name of the project; if the National Lottery fund is allocated to the general spend by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17019/12]

The surplus generated by the National Lottery is transferred annually to the Exchequer and is applied to part-fund the Exchequer allocations to a specified range of expenditure subheads across various Votes.

The amount transferred to the Exchequer from the National Lottery surplus, together with details of the total Exchequer allocations to the relevant Lottery supported subheads, are published each year in Appendix 1 of the annual Revised Estimates for Public Services (REV) which gives a breakdown of allocations by programme. It is important to note that these programmes are only part-funded by the Lottery and that the remaining expenditure comes from general Exchequer funding. In 2012, total expenditure under subheads that are part-funded by the National Lottery is estimated at 339 million euro. It is estimated that this expenditure will be part-funded by 220 million euro from the National Lottery with the balance coming from the Exchequer.

While as Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, I have overall responsibility for regulating the National Lottery, my Department's Vote does not include any subheads that are part funded by the Lottery.

Appointments to State Boards

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

268 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will provide a full breakdown by gender of all appointments to State boards since February 2011; the current status of State boards in relation to the percentage of participation of women and men in each one; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17565/12]

In response to the Deputy's question the following appointments were made to Boards under the aegis of my Department since February 2011.

Five reappointments, all of which were male, were made for a 12 month term ending 30 June 2012 to the Arbitration Board under the Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme for the Civil Service, the Defence Forces, the Gardai and Teachers.

In September 2011 members of the Board of the Public Appointments Service were appointed. Of the external appointments to the board (not including the CEO) three females and five males were appointed.

The Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act, 2004 states that the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (in consultation with Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, the Minister for Health and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence) should appoint members of the Board of the Public Appointments Service.

The Board is representative of the client base. The majority of the board are therefore civil or public servants, nominated by the relevant Minister (two males and two females were nominated in this category). There is also a union representative nominated by ICTU (male). The outgoing Chairman (male) was reappointed by me. The two external members were appointed by me because of their expertise in strategic change and public service recruitment respectively. In this category one male and one female were appointed.

In relation to An Post National Lottery one reappointment was made to the Board in the form of the current chairman. Of a possible seven members of the board one is a female.

Intellectual Property Rights

Robert Dowds

Question:

269 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if estimates were prepared by him on the potential financial and employment impact which S.I. No. 59/2012 would have on the Irish creative arts business; if so, if he will provide those estimates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16346/12]

As the Deputy is aware, Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) is a tool used by Government Departments and Offices for the structured exploration of different options to address particular policy issues and it is used where one or more of these options is new regulation or a regulatory change. This process helps to identify any possible side effects or hidden costs associated with new regulation and to quantify the likely costs of compliance on the individual citizen or business. The European Union (Copyright and Related Rights) Regulations 2012 (i.e. S.I. No. 59 of 2012) was enacted to ensure the return to the legal position that was considered to pertain, in relation to injunctions against intermediaries, prior to a High Court judgment in the case of EMI Ireland and others versus UPC in October 2010. This judgment also stated that Ireland was not in compliance with its EU obligations under Copyright Directive 2001/29/EC. It is important to note that there was no policy or regulatory change put forward in this Statutory Instrument as it had been the intention of the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000 to provide such civil remedies and it had been assumed that such was the case up to the aforementioned High Court judgment . The purpose of the Statutory Instrument was not to implement new EU legislation but rather it has been introduced to merely restate the position that was thought to exist within the copyright legislation prior to Justice Charleton’s judgement here and in all EU Member States.

Robert Dowds

Question:

270 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if his staff were aware of United States of America special report 301, which is an annual review of the global state of intellectual property rights protection and enforcement, conducted by the Office of the United States Trade Representative pursuant to Section 182 of the US Trade Act of 1974, as amended by the US Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 and the US Uruguay Round Agreements Act, enacted in 1994; and if so, the conclusions that were drawn by his staff from the content of this report. [16347/12]

I wish to inform the Deputy that the staff at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation are aware of the United States of America special report 301, which is an annual review of the global state of intellectual property rights protection and enforcement, conducted by the Office of the United States Trade Representative.

As the Deputy is aware, counterfeiting and piracy are now serious problems which undermine legitimate trade and the sustainable development of the world economy. The growth of illegal trade requires international cooperation regarding tackling this serious development.

The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation is also fully aware of the current trends in the infringement of intellectual property rights and to that end is currently involved in a number of initiatives to strengthen intellectual property rights protection and enforcement, both at EU level and international level.

The Department participates in the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights and is currently involved in a number of EU legislative proposals in this area such as:

the Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on entrusting the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (Trade Marks and Designs) with tasks related to the enforcement of intellectual property rights, including the assembling of public and private sector representatives as a European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights;

the review of the Enforcement Directive 2004/48/EC; and

the Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning customs enforcement of intellectual property rights.

Industrial Development

Finian McGrath

Question:

271 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the reason unemployed persons with new ideas for a business are being charged €20 and later €50 in the Dublin enterprise board mentor programme. [16348/12]

The provision of mentoring services is a day to day operational matter for the County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) operating under my Department's remit.

I have asked that the relevant Business Unit based within Enterprise Ireland, which provides administrative coordination and support to the CEBs, to ascertain the information required on behalf of the CEBs, which will then be supplied direct to the Deputy.

Departmental Staff

Sean Fleming

Question:

272 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will provide a list of staff in his Department who serve as directors of companies arising from their employment; the names of the companies involved; the annual remuneration received, if any; if they are indemnified by his Department in respect of their role as directors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16420/12]

Shannon Free Airport Development Co. Ltd. (SFADCo) is the only Company under the aegis of my Department.

By virtue of his employment in the Liaison Unit dealing directly with SFADCo; Mr Stephen Curran serves on the board of SFADCo. As a Civil Servant, Mr Curran is not entitled to receive of any fee or remuneration for this appointment, but is entitled to travel and subsistence expenses, which are paid by SFADCo at the normal rates.

SFADCo directors are covered under Directors and Officers cover which includes cover for any wrongful act by the insured in their capacity as an officer/director of SFADCo. I understand from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform that the Office of the Attorney General has advised that people working for the State are entitled to be indemnified for such work. The indemnification would cover any reasonable legal fees and/or damages incurred where people are sued for undertaking their duties on behalf of the State provided they acted in good faith and in a bona fide manner. The State carries its own insurance in this regard. This indemnity would apply to those civil servants appointed to State boards as part of their official duties.

Ministerial Expenses

Niall Collins

Question:

273 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the amount of expenses claimed on a monthly basis since March 2011 by all Ministers attached to his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16454/12]

I interpret the Deputy's question as relating to travel expenses claimed by the Ministers attached to my Department.

Travel expenses are claimed and paid in arrears and are reimbursed in accordance with Department of Finance rates and regulations.

Please find in the tables below the monthly totals paid in respect of travel expenses to each Minister of my Department since March 2011.

Table 1

Details of travel expenses paid by the Department of Jobs Enterprise and Innovation to Minister Richard Bruton T.D., Minister for Jobs Enterprise and Innovation during the period 9 March 2011 to 23 March 2012

Month expense reimbursed

Mileage €

Subsistence/ Accommodation €

Total €

June 2011

872.28

872.28

August 2011

503.66

503.66

November 2011

280.00

280.00

December 2011

3,791.31

3,791.31

January 2012

279.48

279.48

March 2012

1,244.01

1,244.01

Total:

6,690.74

280.00

6,970.74

Table 2

Details of travel expenses paid by the Department of Jobs Enterprise and Innovation to Mr Sean Sherlock T.D., Minister for Research and Innovation during the period 9 March 2011 to 23 March 2012

Month expense reimbursed

Mileage €

Subsistence/ Accommodation €

Total €

April 2011

52.08

52.08

May 2011

3,117.12

175.16

3,292.28

June 2011

2,002.05

162.76

2,164.81

July 2011

1,858.44

242.24

2,100.68

August 2011

1,290.38

1,290.38

September 2011

925.80

331.77

1,257.57

October 2011

1,821.44

162.76

1,984.20

November 2011

2,312.38

73.03

2,385.41

December 2011

1,082.62

1,082.62

January 2012

1,374.62

1,374.62

February 2012

3,327.41

3,327.41

March 2012

2,281.56

90.42

2,371.98

Total

21,393.82

1,290.22

22,684.04

Table 3

Details of travel expenses paid by the Department of Jobs Enterprise and Innovation to Mr John Perry T.D., Minister for Small Business during the period 9 March 2011 to 23 March 2012.

Month expense reimbursed:

Mileage €

Subsistence/ Accommodation €

Total:

April 2011

2,069.99

2,069.99

May 2011

3,517.36

3,517.36

June 2011

2,011.78

2,011.78

July 2011

2,272.34

162.76

2,435.10

August 2011

2,978.56

2,978.56

September 2011

1,508.41

1,508.41

October 2011

2,591.30

216.89

2,808.19

November 2011

2,678.04

2,678.04

December 2011

2,909.92

1,059.82

3,969.74

January 2012

2,214.29

2,214.29

February 2012

5,030.36

5,030.36

March 2012

2,084.52

2,084.52

Total:

31,866.87

1,439.47

33,306.34

Industrial Development

Paul Connaughton

Question:

274 Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will provide a list of exporting companies in County Galway that have received Government assistance in the past three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16502/12]

The Industrial Development agencies under the aegis of my Department, IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland, together with the Galway County and City Enterprise Board provide assistance for companies in County Galway.

As this is a day-to-day operational matter for the agencies and the Enterprise Board concerned, I have asked the agencies to respond directly with the information required to the Deputy.

Robert Troy

Question:

275 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will consider meeting a deputation from the Deputies representing Longford-Westmeath to discuss the Marlinstown IDA businesses parks, Mullingar and all IDA Ireland sites in the constituency. [16590/12]

The recently published Action Plan for Jobs 2012 is the first in a series of annual Action Plans which will be rolled out, with the objective of supporting the creation of 100,000 net new jobs over the period 2012 to 2016, and the longer-term target of having 2 million people at work by 2020.

As part of a campaign to inform the enterprise sector of the measures included in the Action Plan for Jobs, I am undertaking a series of regional consultative meetings around the country. Three of these meetings have already taken place, in Cork, Limerick and in Waterford, but the schedule for the remaining meetings has not yet been finalised. These regional meetings will enable me to take on board local concerns and identify further measures suitable for inclusion in the 2013 Action Plan for Jobs.

The management of IDA's property function is a day to day operational matter for the Agency and not one in which I have a function.

The main thrust of IDA's Property policy is the provision of high quality, fully serviced property solutions in regional locations, to international standards. IDA's Business Parks are designed to have a variety of sizes of sites and advance buildings, to suit the varied requirements of new companies locating in them, both manufacturing and services. The strategy of developing lands and property solutions in advance of securing new investments has been a fundamental differentiator in IDA's marketing efforts with overseas clients.

IDA has invested significantly in developing its Business and Technology Park in Mullingar in order to make it attractive to overseas clients.

However, as Ireland competes for investments at the highest end of the value chain, the concept of scale is crucial. Leading corporations require a significant population of highly qualified talent, essential physical and digital infrastructure coupled with the availability of sophisticated professional support services. There is intense and continual international competition to win FDI, which is mainly dominated by Metro City Regions with populations in excess of 1 million i.e. London, Manchester, Boston and Los Angeles. Ireland has only one Metro City Region, the Greater Dublin area, so, in order to achieve regional economic development, IDA Ireland focuses on marketing Gateway locations within each Region and highlights the opportunities provided by Hub locations which are within commuting distances of these Gateways. Of course, IDA Ireland promotes other locations as part of its marketing. However in the final analysis it is the investor who decides where to visit and where to locate.

Research and Development Fund

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

276 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the amount awarded to business through the Enterprise Ireland research and development fund and small projects for each of the past five years. [16643/12]

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

277 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of applications made, and the number of applications awarded support under the Enterprise Ireland research and development fund and small projects for each of the past five years. [16644/12]

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

278 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of successful applications by county to the Enterprise Ireland research and development and small projects for each of the past three years. [16645/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 276 to 278, inclusive, together.

The information sought in relation to Enterprise Ireland research and development and small projects, is taken to refer to Enterprise Ireland's support for in-company Research and Development under the R&D Fund.

The total amount approved under Enterprise Ireland's in-company R&D project support funds for each of the past five years is summarised in table 1 below:

Table 1

Year

In-company R&D project approvals

2007

€19,897,785.52

2008

€23,183,862.23

2009

€23,499,605.50

2010

€15,755,588.00

2011

€17,016,537.00

The total number of applications made under Enterprise Ireland's in-company R&D project support funds for each of the past five years is summarised in table 2 below:

Table 2

Year

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

Number of Applications

121

128

138

108

112

The total number of applications approved under Enterprise Ireland's in-company R&D project support funds for each of the past five years is summarised in table 3 below:

Table 3

Year

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

Number of Approvals

95

104

133

96

104

The total number of approvals made under Enterprise Ireland's in-company R&D project support funds for each of the past three years by county is summarised in table 4 below.

Table 4

No. of Approvals by County

2009

2010

2011

Carlow

3

3

Cavan

5

2

6

Clare

5

1

1

Cork

20

11

14

Donegal

3

Dublin

41

39

36

Galway

6

2

7

Kerry

1

2

4

Kildare

2

3

2

Kilkenny

5

2

1

Laois

1

1

4

Leitrim

1

Limerick

6

9

1

Longford

1

5

Louth

1

4

Mayo

7

1

Meath

3

1

4

Monaghan

4

1

2

Offaly

6

Roscommon

1

2

Sligo

4

3

Tipperary

2

2

1

Waterford

1

Westmeath

1

2

Wexford

2

4

2

Wicklow

5

4

7

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

279 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will detail the investments made by the Innovation Fund Ireland for each of the years since its establishment. [16679/12]

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

280 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will detail the investments made by Enterprise Ireland and investments made by the NPRF as part of the Innovation Fund Ireland for each of the years since its establishment. [16680/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 279 and 280 together.

The establishment of Innovation Fund Ireland was formally announced on 12th July 2010 and a call for "expressions of interest" was made in September 2010.

The €250m Fund is currently operating along two parallel tracks. The €125m provided by the Exchequer is managed by Enterprise Ireland (EI). Successful applicants who receive an investment from EI have to commit to investing an equivalent amount in Irish companies or companies with substantial Irish operations over the lifetime of their fund. The second is for a similar amount, and is designed to allow Ireland's National Pension Reserve Fund (NPRF) to make a similar level of commercial investments assuming its criteria are met.

The Board of Enterprise Ireland approved three commitments under Call 1 to three venture capital managers. On 15th March last, I announced the first investment by Enterprise Ireland under the programme in Sofinnova Ventures. Sofinnova Ventures is one of the premier US healthcare venture capital funds, recently raising their eighth fund, a $440M vehicle focused solely on life sciences, and the fund will be establishing a presence in the Irish market. Enterprise Ireland has committed $25 million to the Fund, alongside a commitment of $12.5 million by the National Pensions Reserve Fund.

As well as its investment in Sofinnova Ventures, the NPRF have made three other investments. The first investments were in DJF and DFJ Esprit resulting in a partner being hired on the ground in Ireland to invest in Irish companies. The other investment was in Polaris who have recently established Dog Patch Labs in Ireland — opened by An Taoiseach on 29 September 29 2011.

On 16th March, I announced a second call from Innovation Fund Ireland. The Government, through Enterprise Ireland, will look to commit a total of more than €60 million in venture capital funds which establish a presence in Ireland. The announcement of a second call represents the delivery of a major Q1 commitment in Action Plan for Jobs 2012.

Export Controls

Thomas Pringle

Question:

281 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the checks carried out by Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland to ensure that exporters are compliant with the EU Dual Use Regulations 428/2009; if the reporting procedures are in place between his department and the Revenue authorities in relation to Dual Use exports; if a company has ever been prosecuted for a breech of the regulation; if so, the penalty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16707/12]

The Licensing Unit of my Department is responsible for the administration in Ireland of the EU Dual Use Regulation 428/2009. The Unit has regular contacts with Enterprise Ireland and IDA regarding export control matters, including dual use licensing, with a view to ensuring that EI and IDA client companies are aware of the provisions of the Dual Use Regulation and their legal responsibilities in this regard. However, primary responsibility for ensuring compliance with the Regulation rests with my Department.

My Department liaises regularly with representatives of Revenue's Customs Services regarding implementation of various pieces of export control legislation, including the EU Dual Use Regulation 428/2009. Revenue's Customs Service applies the provisions of Council Regulation No 2913/92 (Community Customs Code), Commission Regulation 2454/93 (implementing provisions of the Community Customs Code) and also Council Regulation 648/2005 as implemented by Commission Regulation 1875/2006 in respect of the import of goods from outside the Community and export of goods from the Community to third countries. The co-operation of Revenue's Customs Service is therefore key to the effective implementation of the export control regime and the vigilance of Customs officers is vital. Revenue's Automated Entry Processing System (AEP) is responsible for receiving, validating, processing and clearance of all Customs declarations in real time environment. All declarations at import and export are subject to risk assessment which allows Customs staff increased scope to target movement of high risk and suspicious transactions.

Penalties for breaches of the Dual Use Regulation 428/2009 are provided for in Section 8 of the Control of Exports Act 2008 Act. That section provides for penalties on summary conviction of a fine not exceeding €5,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months, or both. It provides for penalties on conviction on indictment of a fine not exceeding €10 million or three times the value of the goods or technology concerned, or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years, or both. To date there have been no prosecutions for a breach of the Dual Use Regulation 428/2009.

National Lottery Funding

John McGuinness

Question:

282 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will confirm the amount of National Lottery funds allocated to his Department; if the funds are spent on specific projects; if so, the name of the project; if the National Lottery fund is allocated to the general spend by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17017/12]

My Department did not receive any National Lottery funding in 2011 and does not expect to receive any such funding in 2012.

Appointments to State Boards

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

283 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will provide a full breakdown by gender of all appointments to State boards since February 2011; the current status of State boards in relation to the percentage of participation of women and men in each one; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17563/12]

I have made the following appointments since taking office in March 2011:

Forfás

Mr. John Murphy, Secretary General of the Department was appointed to the Board of Forfás with effect from 18th January 2012. The Industrial Development legislation provides that the Director General of Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) serves on the board of Forfás. Professor Mark Ferguson therefore became a member of the Forfás Board on taking up his position with SFI with effect from 18th January 2012.

National Standards Authority of Ireland Board (NSAI)

Helen Curley, a Principal Officer in my Department, was appointed on 8 July 2011. Ms Curley resigned from the Board on 15 November 2011, as due to an internal transfer she was no longer responsible for the NSAI policy area.

Following an open expression of interest campaign, organised through the Public Appointments Service, Mr. Terry Landers and Ms Barbara O'Leary were appointed to the Board with effect from 06 March 2012.

Competition Authority

While it does not have a typical board structure, the Competition Authority consists of a Chairperson and up to four other members who act as an executive board. The Competition Acts 2002 to 2010 set out the requirements pertaining to appointments to the Authority. I re-appointed Mr. Declan Purcell as Chairperson of the Competition Authority on 1st July 2011 and following his retirement, I subsequently appointed Ms Isolde Goggin as Chairperson following her selection by the Public Appointments Service (PAS) who publicly advertised this position. I appointed Ms Noreen Mackey and Mr. David McFadden as temporary members of the Authority in July 2011 and I subsequently re-appointed both from 1st October. On 9th August 2011, I re-appointed Mr. Ciarán Quigley as a temporary member of the Authority.

Advertisements for three full time members of the Competition Authority were published in June 2011 and following the completion of the PAS selection process for these posts I appointed Mr. Stephen Calkins and Mr. Gerald FitzGerald from December 2011 and Mr. Patrick Kenny from January 2011.

Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority

Seven appointments were made to the Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority (IAASA). Mr. Dave Martin and Mr. Kevin O'Donovan were both appointed as nominees of the Prescribed Accountancy Bodies on the 26 May 2011. Ms Sylvia McNeece of the Irish Pension Board, Ms Deirdre Behan of the Revenue Commissioners, Ms Mairead Devine of the Central Bank, Ms Marie Daly of the Irish Business and Employers Confederation and Mr. Sean Hawkshaw of the Irish Association of Investment Managers were all appointed as nominees of the Designated Bodies on the 3rd January 2012. Mr. Conor O'Mahony was appointed as a nominee of the designated bodies on the 2nd March 2012. These appointments were made in compliance with the Companies (Auditing and Accounting) Act 2003.

National Consumer Agency

Ms Isolde Goggin was appointed to the Board of the National Consumer Agency in November 2011. Ms Goggin's appointment was made in the light of the forthcoming merger of the Competition Authority and the National Consumer Agency and also given her appointment as chairperson of the Competition Authority and Chairperson designate of the new body, of the proposed merger.

PIAB

Two appointments were made to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB).

One was the re-appointment of Ms Ann Fitzgerald in her capacity as Chief Executive of the National Consumer Agency, which is a statutory position on the Board.

In the case of the second appointment, it was considered appropriate to have a representative from the Department on the Board and Ms Breda Power, Assistant Secretary, was appointed.

Science Foundation Ireland

Dr. Rita Colwell and Professor Martina Newell-McGloughlin were both reappointed to the Board of Science Foundation Ireland with effect from 26th of July 2011. Dr. Colwell and Professor Newell-McGloughlin are internationally renowned scientific experts in the Life Sciences and Biotechnology sectors.

InterTrade Ireland

The InterTradeIreland Board expired on the 12th December 2011.

I nominated four new members to that Board. These members included the following:

Mr. Martin Cronin Chairman;

Mr. Philip Doherty;

Mr. Kevin Norton;

Ms Mairead Sorenson.

These four members were subsequently appointed to the Board on the 13th December, 2011 by the North South ministerial Council. Mr. Philip Doherty did not take up his membership on the Board, and I have recently nominated an alternative Mr. John Corbett. Mr. Corbett's nomination has not yet been approved by the North South ministerial Council which is not likely to happen until April.

Shannon Development

Mr. Stephen Curran, Principal Officer, was appointed to my Department on 9 January 2012 and was subsequently appointed to the Board of Shannon Development on 23 February 2012. This appointment was a direct replacement of Mr. Bob Keane, Principal Officer, who transferred from the Department to a position in Brussels and subsequently resigned from the Board.

IDA

I have recently made the following two appointments to the Board of the IDA:

Alan W. Gray and Mary Campbell. Ms Mary Campbell was identified following consultations with IDA Ireland to nominate a person with relevant international financial experience for my consideration for appointment to the Board.

Appointments to the boards of bodies accountable to my Department are made in accordance with the legislation under which the body was established. The relevant legislative provisions vary from body to body. For example, in certain cases the legislation provides for the appointment of persons nominated by specified stakeholders, such as employer or trade union representative bodies. This can sometimes have a limiting effect on the scope to address gender imbalances. In other cases there may be no such provisions.

Appointments are also made based on the expertise and experience of individuals, the balance of skills and attributes in terms of the overall composition of the board, the gender balance of the board and the availability and commitment of people to serve on the board. So, whilst achieving greater gender balance on State boards is an important goal, the overriding focus is on getting the best people for particular board appointments.

In this respect, the Deputy will be aware that Government policy is to introduce greater transparency in the appointment process. In line with this policy and in an effort to broaden the pool of suitable candidates for consideration for appointment to boards, I sought expressions of interest last summer from suitably qualified people for appointment to the boards of several agencies under my Department's remit. I made it clear in advertising those vacancies that I would not be restricted to only those who responded to the advert. I intend to launch another expressions of interest campaign in the near future in respect of further vacancies that have arisen or that are due to arise over the coming months. In this respect, my overriding focus is to find the best people for particular board appointments. In making appointments I will have regard to the expertise and experience of individuals, the balance of skills and attributes in terms of the overall composition of the board, the gender balance of the board and the availability and commitment of people to serve on the board.

As part of the Government's commitment to achieving a minimum of 40 per cent representation of women on State Boards, The Department of Justice and Equality collect data on a six monthly basis for reporting to Government. I have attached the latest Report in respect of the State Boards under the aegis of my Department for the Deputy's information.

Departmental Equipment

Regina Doherty

Question:

284 Deputy Regina Doherty asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of laptops in use in his Department; the number of tablets in use in his Department; the number of the laptops in use that are due to be upgraded this year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17577/12]

My Department's records indicate that there are currently 81 laptops in use across the Department. None of these are due to be upgraded this year.

While no tablet devices have been issued to staff, my Department's ICT unit is currently testing their suitability for official use and to that end 5 Apple iPads and 5 BlackBerry Playbooks have been acquired.

The upcoming Irish presidency of the EU will place significant additional pressures on my Department. Staff will be required to travel extensively whilst co-ordinating activities with colleagues at home, and collaborating with officers from other Government Departments and Agencies. Accordingly, to increase productivity and to ensure staff have timely access to important information, my Department is currently reviewing its requirements for additional mobile computing devices.

Social Welfare Appeals

Michael Creed

Question:

285 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will confirm receipt of an appeal in respect of a claim for domiciliary care allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16084/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 22nd March 2012. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. When received, the appeal in question will be referred in due course 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

John O'Mahony

Question:

286 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) in County Cork was turned down for domiciliary care allowance; the reason the person was not seen by her Department's medical advisor, and will she review the attached files and supporting evidence; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16091/12]

An application for domiciliary care allowance (DCA) was received on 11th November 2011. This application was referred to one of the Department's Medical Assessors who found that the child was not medically eligible for DCA. A letter issued on 7th February 2012 refusing the allowance. The person concerned subsequently requested a review of this decision and supplied additional medical information in support of their application. The case was reviewed by a medical assessor on 26th March 2012 and they are now satisfied that the child qualifies for the payment. A revised decision will issue to the person concerned shortly and they will be notified of when the first payment will be available.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

287 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will indicate the precise grounds for determination of entitlement to rent support, where the applicants have been assessed and accepted on the established Local Authority Housing List with dependent children, whether such decisions are based on a specific section of a relevant social welfare Act in a particular year and subject to guidelines and statutory limits, or whether the decision is entirely at the discretion of the deciding officer who may disregard such evidence and if doing so she will indicate the legal basis under social welfare law for such decisions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16097/12]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

288 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection further Parliamentary Question No. 95 of 14 March 2011, wherein it would seem that there are no guidelines to indicate the exact amount of time a parent must have access to their child in order to qualify for rent support and that every claim for rent support is determined having regard to all the circumstances of the case, if the lack of such guidelines bestows on the deciding officer the absolute discretion to determine entitlement to rent support, if this procedure is compliant with social welfare law; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16098/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 287 and 288 together.

The purpose of the rent supplement scheme is to provide short-term support to eligible people living in private rented accommodation whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs and who do not have accommodation available to them from any other source. The overall aim is to provide short term assistance, and not to act as an alternative to the other social housing schemes operated by the Exchequer.

There are numerous qualifying conditions for the rent supplement scheme all of which are based on legislation. For example, any person seeking a rent supplement must satisfy the Department that they have a housing need that they are unable to meet from their own resources. In addition, the Department must be satisfied that the residence is reasonably suited to the residential and other needs of the claimant. The Department must also be satisfied that the rent payable is reasonable having regard to the nature, character and location of the residence.

There is no absolute discretion to determine entitlement to support under the rent supplement scheme. Entitlement to rent supplement is determined under Chapter 11 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005, as amended and under S.I. No. 412 of 2007, Social Welfare (Consolidated Supplementary Welfare Allowance) Regulations 2007, as amended. These legislative provisions are supported by staff guidelines issued by the Department.

As previously advised, in a case where parents have joint custody of a child, the needs of both parents to have adequate accommodation to look after the child are taken into account when an application for a rent supplement is being determined. There is no exact amount of time a parent must have access to their child and every claim for rent supplement is determined having regard to all of the circumstances of the case.

Social Welfare Appeals

Seán Kenny

Question:

289 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will be made on the appeal against the refusal of a family income supplement application in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 13; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16104/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned has not been received by that office.

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

Industrial Disputes

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

290 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Social Protection when it is expected that payments will be issued to employees of a company (details supplied) in respect to their claims awarded by the Rights Commissioner under the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 following a hearing by the commissioner in the Shirley Arms Hotel, Carrickmacross on 30 November 2011; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16133/12]

Insolvency payment claims, in relation to employees of the company, were received online by the Department on 14 February 2012. The Department is processing January claims at present.

Redundancy Payments

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

291 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan can expect to receive redundancy payment from the social insurance fund; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16134/12]

A redundancy lump sum claim in respect of the person concerned was awarded on 29 February 2012 and a cheque payment issued directly to the person concerned.

Social Welfare Appeals

Michael McGrath

Question:

292 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an invalidity pension appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [16138/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 29th 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 20th January 2012 and the appeal will be assigned, in due course, to an Appeals Officer who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing.

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

Pat Breen

Question:

293 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision on an invalidity pension claim appeal will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16141/12]

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 1st March 2012 and in accordance with the statutory procedures the relevant department papers and the comments of the Deciding Officer 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.

Redundancy Payments

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

294 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a redundancy payment application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16161/12]

A redundancy lump sum claim in respect of the person concerned was awarded on 29 February 2012 and a cheque payment issued directly to the person concerned.

Social Welfare Benefits

Noel Coonan

Question:

295 Deputy Noel Coonan asked the Minister for Social Protection when an application for domiciliary care allowance will be finalised in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16168/12]

An application for domiciliary care allowance (DCA) was received on 11th November 2011. This application was referred to one of the Department's Medical Assessors who found that the child was not medically eligible for DCA. A letter issued on 7th February 2012 refusing the allowance. The person concerned subsequently requested a medical review of this decision and supplied additional medical information in support of their application. The case was reviewed by a medical assessor on 26th March 2012 and they are now satisfied that the child qualifies for the payment. A revised decision will issue to the person concerned shortly and they will be notified of when the first payment will be available.

Employment Support Services

Kieran O'Donnell

Question:

296 Deputy Kieran O’Donnell asked the Minister for Social Protection the arrangements in place to ensure the prompt processing of individuals in receipt of a jobseeker’s payment who have the opportunity of undertaking casual employment; the length of time it takes to administer a person’s case where that person has to sign off temporarily to undertake work, and then sign back on again once the work has ended; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16170/12]

Where a jobseeker client states that they have found work, it is normal practice for their jobseeker claim to be closed. However, in cases where the client is taking up a short period of temporary work (up to 4 weeks) or training (up to 8 weeks), arrangements are now in place to simplify the process of signing off and back on at the end of this period.

In these cases, instead of closing the claim, the local office temporarily suspends payment for the duration of the work or training. When the person signs on again after the period of work or training, the claim can be reactivated very quickly and payment restored within a few days.

It is important for the client to make clear to the local office in advance that the work is expected to last for up to 4 weeks only or 8 weeks in the case of training.

Barry Cowen

Question:

297 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons that have secured paid employment following the completion of an internship on the JobBridge programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16172/12]

Barry Cowen

Question:

301 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection when she expects the evaluation of the JobBridge programme to be completed; if this evaluation will cover the types of jobs taken up and the numbers that were offered paid employment at the end of the internship; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16176/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 297 and 301 together.

JobBridge, the National Internship Scheme, came into operation on the 1st July 2011. The Scheme has made significant progress to-date. Currently over 5,600 internships have commenced to date with 4,170 internships currently in place and over 2,100 opportunities are currently advertised on www.jobbridge.ie. Our records indicate that a significant proportion of individuals have progressed into employment on completion of their internship placements. As the first internships did not commence until mid July it is too early to report on the number of interns who have completed their internship due to the inherent six or nine months duration of a JobBridge Internship. However, initial data (5th March 2012) provided by Host Organisations in relation to interns who have finished their internship indicates that 33% of finishers secured employment immediately on the conclusion of their internship. This data does not reflect those who subsequently secured employment and is based solely on the feedback from the Host Organisations. Further information on outcomes will be ascertained as a result of the forthcoming evaluation of JobBridge.

The Department of Social Protection has recently conducted a tendering process for a company to conduct and evaluate JobBridge. This Project will assess the design, delivery and impact of the JobBridge Scheme on the unemployed. It should also assist the Department in making further policy decisions on the benefit of work placement programmes in the overall context of the Government's activation policy, which is to engage with every unemployed individual to provide them with a pathway to employment and to prevent and reduce long term unemployment.

The evaluation should include the following key outcomes:

Socio economic profile of the participants on the Scheme;

Information on the host organisations that have used the Scheme including, size, sector, and reason for participating;

Details of the progression of those on the Scheme into education, training or job placement. In the case of job placement this should detail if the placement is with the same company, in the same sector and the sustainability of that placement;

Details of the nature of the work experience of the participants and a measurement of the relevance of that experience to the labour market and to progression into employment;

An assessment of the displacement effect of the Scheme;

An assessment of the level of deadweight in the Scheme;

Information on the satisfaction of participants with their experience of the Scheme;

Information on the satisfaction of host organisations with their experience of the Scheme;

An assessment of the process and procedures used by the Department in running the Scheme;

Recommendations on how the Scheme might be improved.

The selection process for the engagement of the successful vendor is currently being finalised. It is anticipated that the evaluation review will be completed by the first quarter 2013

Barry Cowen

Question:

298 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection if she is satisfied that all employers taking part in the JobBridge programme are completing their monthly compliance reports; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16173/12]

Barry Cowen

Question:

299 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of unannounced inspections that have taken place in relation to employers taking part in the JobBridge programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16174/12]

Barry Cowen

Question:

300 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons that have availed of the whistle blowing function set up as part of the JobBridge programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16175/12]

Barry Cowen

Question:

302 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection the measures that are in place to ensure no jobs are displaced as a result of the JobBridge programme; her views that there should be stronger penalties for employers who are found to have displaced jobs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16177/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 298 to 300, inclusive, and 302 together.

JobBridge, the National Internship Scheme came into operation on the 1st July 2011. Currently over 5,600 internships have commenced to date with 4,170 internships currently in place and over 2,100 opportunities are currently advertised on www.jobbridge.ie. This represents very significant progress in a short period of time.

All organisations who are participating in JobBridge are required to abide by the criteria of the Scheme including the specific measures which have been designed to prevent the abuse of the Scheme; protect the intern from exploitation; and to ensure the integrity of the JobBridge.

As such JobBridge internships are monitored in accordance with the criteria governing the Scheme to ensure compliance. My Department conduct this monitoring to ensure that they are of sufficient quality and that both host organisations and interns are abiding by the spirit and the rules of the Scheme.

As part of this process Host Organisations must complete a monthly online compliance return for each Intern. The obligation to complete these returns is clearly stated in the Standard Agreement with is signed by both parties to the internship. A guide to completing Compliance Returns is available on www.jobbridge.ie and the JobBridge Team are available to provide support in relation to any queries which may arise.

Of the current active internships, 99% of Host Organisations are within compliance regulations. Of the remaining 1% who has not completed compliance the Job Bridge team investigate the matter fully.

Monitoring visits are another integral part of our continuous efforts to improve the JobBridge scheme. The aim is to facilitate individual discussions with both the Intern and the Host Organisation to ensure compliance with the terms outlined in the JobBridge Standard Agreement. Unannounced visits would be incongruous with this approach. A monitoring pilot has been conducted in relation to active internships. This pilot is under review in order to enhance the monitoring process. It is intended to conduct monitoring of 5% of active internships on a monthly basis.

It is worth noting that an intern may contact the JobBridge Team at any stage of their internship whether for advice or as part of the "whistle blowing" feature. Consequently any individual who suspects that an internship may be in breach of the scheme's criteria, including cases of suspected displacement or poor quality, may contact the JobBridge Team. All such claims are fully investigated.

To-date over 7,800 emails have been received and responded to accordingly by the JobBridge Team and our Regional Support network. Of the current matters under review, in the region of 89 queries relate to matters associated with whistleblowing. This may include reports of potential displacements, possible issues arising with the conducting of the internship or quality matters relating to current advertisements. These queries are currently active undergoing investigation and are consequently subject to change pending outcomes.

My Department continues to monitor and review the operation of the JobBridge Scheme including its control mechanisms and conditions on an on-going basis. Failure to comply with the terms of the JobBridge Scheme will result in a Host Organisation not being entitled to offer further placements under the Scheme

Question No. 301 answered with Question No. 297.
Question No. 302 answered with Question No. 298.

EU Funding

Jack Wall

Question:

303 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection the funding available to a club (details supplied) in County Kildare under the EU social inclusion programme 2007/13; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16191/12]

The European Union Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity — PROGRESS (2007-2013) is a programme fully implemented and managed by the European Commission. It was established to financially support the implementation of the objectives of the European Union in the employment, social affairs and equal opportunities area, and thereby contribute to the achievement of the Europe 2020 Strategy goals in these fields. The seven-year Programme targets all stakeholders who can help shape the development of appropriate and effective employment and social legislation and policies, across the EU-27, EFTA-EEA and EU candidate and pre-candidate countries. The Programme specifically supports the following five policy areas:

Employment;

Social inclusion and social protection;

Working conditions;

Anti-discrimination; and

Gender equality.

The overall mission of PROGRESS is to financially support EU Member States' efforts to build a more cohesive society. It promotes the involvement of the relevant stakeholders, including social partners and civil society organisations, in the policy making process and is particularly targeted at policy level projects on an EU-wide scale.

The EU Commission selects the projects to fund either through calls for tender or calls for proposals. Groups/organisations that are eligible for project co-financing generally receive a maximum of 80 per cent funding. They are required to make up the remaining 20 per cent funding themselves, either from their own resources or from funding received from other sources such as partners or national organisations.

In the case of Irish projects under the social inclusion and social protection strand of PROGRESS, my Department has been allocated funding of €75,000 in 2012 to support the matching funding requirements for such projects.

Redundancy Payments

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

304 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason an award arising agreed via 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 exist 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. [16293/12]

Claims made under the Insolvency Payments Scheme can only be processed if an employer is legally insolvent within the definition of the Protection of Employees (Employers' Insolvency) Act 1984. The employer in this case was not legally insolvent. No redundancy payment application has been received in respect of the individual concerned.

Social Welfare Code

Simon Harris

Question:

305 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason persons in receipt of lone parents allowance and jobseeker’s benefit payment have their payments changed from weekly to monthly when they take up limited employment; if her attention has been drawn to the hardship that this change causes many families; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16376/12]

All payments to jobseeker and one-parent family clients are made on a weekly basis. A person claiming one-parent family payment can work and receive a weekly payment provided their earnings are within certain parameters. A person on a jobseeker scheme who is working full time would not normally be entitled to a payment. However, if the work is of a casual nature, payment is made on a weekly basis once all of the conditions of the scheme are met.

If the deputy has a particular case in mind, my officials will be happy to examine the matter.

Social Welfare Offices

Simon Harris

Question:

306 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Social Protection the guidelines she has issued to local social welfare offices regarding the manner in which staff must interact with clients; if she will outline the manner of conduct expected from staff; the number of complaints she has received from clients unhappy with the manner in which they have been treated by local social welfare office staff; the complaints procedure she operates in this regard; the number of disciplinary actions that she has taken against staff in this regard; the sanctions that have been handed down; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16377/12]

Alan Farrell

Question:

342 Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of formal complaints received by her from social welfare applicants; the process in which complaints are undertaken by her; the standard timeframe in which complaints are dealt with; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16986/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 306 and 342 together.

My Department is committed to delivering a quality customer service. The Customer Charter sets out the commitments and standard of service people can expect from the Department. Customers will be served in a fair, courteous and timely manner and their privacy will be respected. They will be informed of their rights and entitlements and provided with full and clear information. The Customer Charter is prominently displayed in all our public offices and is also available on my Departments website, www.welfare.ie.

My Department makes 1.4 million payments each week, when adult and child dependants are taken into account that constitutes payments to almost 2.1 million people. Annually over 87 million payments are processed and approximately 6.5 million telephone calls answered in respect of all schemes and services. In 2011, some 1,734 complaints were received of which 947 were complaints regarding Social Welfare Local Offices, which represented a decrease of 20% from 2010.

If a customer is dissatisfied with the standard of service they receive from a staff member, they can make a formal complaint in person, by telephone, by email, in writing and on line at www.welfare.ie. The complaint is immediately acknowledged and referred to a complaints officer for investigation. A response to the customer normally issues within 15 working days of the date of receipt of the complaint. If the customer is not satisfied with the response they have the option of requesting a review by a more senior officer. If the customer is still dissatisfied a formal complaint can be made to the Ombudsman.

Two cases were referred to the Personnel Officer, over the past two years, for consideration of disciplinary action following complaints made against staff of my Department by customers. In one case no disciplinary action or sanction was applied and the other case is currently under investigation. My Department is committed to delivering the best possible service to its customers and continuously strives to achieve the highest standard of customer service.

Social Welfare Benefits

Dessie Ellis

Question:

307 Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Social Protection if she has any plans to act on IMF suggestions to cut free travel and free electricity/gas units for older persons. [16391/12]

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently completed the fifth review of the Programme of Financial Support for Ireland. In this review, the IMF outlined that the Government has continued the strong implementation of the programme despite deteriorating external conditions, meeting 2011 fiscal targets with a margin and advancing structural reforms to support growth and job creation. The IMF staff report for this review mentions areas of Irish social welfare expenditure which they believe merit examination in the context of the current reform of the system and fiscal consolidation which is already well under way.

My Department completed a Comprehensive Review of Expenditure last September and all social protection expenditure, including free travel and free electricity/gas, continues to be reviewed as part of the Government's ongoing examination of all Government Expenditure.

Departmental Staff

Sean Fleming

Question:

308 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide a list of staff in her Department that serve as directors of companies arising from their employment; the names of the companies involved; the annual remuneration received, if any; if they are indemnified by her Department in respect of their role as directors; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16423/12]

The information sought by the Deputy is not readily available. The information will be collated and forwarded to the Deputy when it becomes available.

I understand from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform that the Office of the Attorney General has advised that people working for the State are entitled to be indemnified for such work. The indemnification would cover any reasonable legal fees and/or damages incurred where people are sued for undertaking their duties on behalf of the State provided they acted in good faith and in a bona fide manner. The State carries its own insurance in this regard. This indemnity would apply to those civil servants appointed to State boards as part of their official duties.

Ministerial Expenses

Niall Collins

Question:

309 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Social Protection the amount of expenses claimed on a monthly basis since March 2011 by all Ministers attached to her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16457/12]

Details of payments made by the Department since March 2011 in respect of expenses claimed by me are set out in the following table:

Month

Amount (€)

March 2011

469

April 2011

411

May 2011

3,252

June 2011

417

July 2011

1,017

August 2011

0

September 2011

258

October 2011

59

November 2011

134

December 2011

0

January 2012

0

February 2012

116

to date March 2012

132

Total

6,265

Expenses included mileage claimed under the ministerial travel scheme, expenses incurred in representing the government in London for St. Patrick's Day 2011, airfares and accommodation at European Council for Ministers meetings and travel and subsistence within the State on official business.

Social Welfare Appeals

John O'Mahony

Question:

310 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will be made on an invalidity pension appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo following a decision by a medical officer in her Department that they are unfit for work; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16505/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 27th February 2012. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. When received, the appeal in question will be referred to an Appeals Officer for consideration.

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

Brendan Griffin

Question:

311 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection if a decision has been made on an appeal for invalidity pension in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16577/12]

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

There has been a very significant increase in the number of appeals received by the Social Welfare Appeals Office since 2007 when the intake was 14,070 to 2010 and 2011 when the intake rose to 32,432 and 31,241 respectively. This has significantly impacted on the processing time for appeals which require oral hearings and, in order to be fair to all appellants, they are dealt with in strict chronological order. While every effort is being made to deal with the large numbers awaiting oral hearing as quickly as possible, it is not possible to give a date when the person's oral hearing will be heard, but s/he will be informed when arrangements have been made.

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

Social Welfare Offices

Robert Troy

Question:

312 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Social Protection in view of the large increase in the number using the local social welfare offices and the reduction in the public service numbers, if she has engaged with An Post and IPU with regard to the possibility of An Post offering services currently available at the local social welfare office such as signing on. [16593/12]

The Department is committed to delivering the best possible service to its clients and continuously strives to achieve the highest standard of customer service possible. In order to adapt to the large increase in the volume of claims in recent years, the Department has embarked on a major programme of process redesign and modernisation including the deployment of new computer systems. Arrangements have also been made to augment Departmental resources and to increase the staff numbers available to process claims.

As regards signing, the Department has developed a facility which captures a client's signature on an electronic signature pad and it is planned to use this facility as part of the future certification process for fully unemployed clients. This introduces greater flexibility to the certification process as it means that the client can sign on at any counter in the office whereas they have been restricted to one particular counter point in the past. Offices will be able to respond immediately if a queue begins to form by opening and closing counters, as required, to deal with the volumes on hand. This will enable offices to reduce queuing times and provide a higher quality of customer service. The facility is operational in a number of offices at present and will be rolled out, on a phased basis, to other offices during this year.

In addition, in order to offer a more streamlined, efficient and integrated service to clients, the Department is undergoing a process of intensive planning and organisational change in establishing the new National Employment and Entitlements Service (NEES). The new NEES model will integrate all employment and benefit support services in a single delivery unit and will provide a coherent integrated and more personalised service to customers. It will also serve to eliminate the duplication of work that characterised services which were provided separately in the past.

There are currently no plans to outsource any portion of the work involved in managing jobseekers claims to An Post.

Community Employment Schemes

Arthur Spring

Question:

313 Deputy Arthur Spring asked the Minister for Social Protection when her review of community employment schemes will be complete; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16598/12]

A financial review of Community Employment schemes is ongoing following the announced changes in Budget 2012. All schemes have been communicated with and met by an officer of my Department. Returns from these meetings are now being examined on a regional basis in terms of the funding requirements and what savings can be achieved within the limits set down by the Department. These outcomes will be analysed and will form the basis of the review findings which will be available to my Department from the end of March. Initial feedback is that the additional flexibility of €1,000 provided by my Department has helped to ease the situation. There is a growing realisation that some reduction is necessary given the budgetary situation and there is a general acceptance of this in principle.

A series of meetings is taking place at national level with representative bodies in relation to coming up with solutions as to how savings can be gained within the programme and further meetings are planned. Due to the widespread consultation and the level of detail being provided it is not possible to make any recommendations or decisions until the process is completed. There is also a review of Employment Support programmes, which includes Community Employment. Stakeholders are also being consulted as part of this review process. This review will also be completed by the end of March 2012.

These reviews and subsequent reports at both the individual CE scheme level and at the macro level will provide good evidence on which to base future policy and ensure the most appropriate support for participants and the services provided to the community and voluntary sector.

Social Welfare Appeals

Niall Collins

Question:

314 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [16600/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 31st 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 17th January 2012 and the appeal was assigned to an Appeals Officer on 27th January 2012 who, on consideration of the evidence submitted, will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing.

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

Social Welfare Benefits

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

315 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 387 of 15 March 2012, her views on a matter (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16603/12]

Applications for disability allowance are assessed on a case to case basis by one of the Department's medical assessors who are all fully qualified medical practitioners and who have training/experience in human disability evaluation. The medical assessor's opinion is based on information provided by the person's treating physician in the medical section of the application form. This information includes detail on medical history and investigations and detail on medication and treatment and a competency grid to gauge activities of daily living. Any specialist medical evidence supplied is also reviewed by the medical assessor.

All medical evidence is reviewed by the medical assessor in accordance with Department's evidence based medical protocols and guidelines.

Social Welfare Appeals

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

316 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will issue on an appeal to be granted habitual residence in respect of a person (details supplied) following an oral hearing on 14 March; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16609/12]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that the Appeals Officer is now considering the appeal in the light of all the evidence submitted, including that adduced at the hearing. The person concerned will be notified of the Appeals Officer decision when the appeal has been determined.

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

Community Employment Schemes

Eric J. Byrne

Question:

317 Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Minister for Social Protection if she outline the terms applying to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12 and community employment workers in general as to the duration of their entitlements to BCE; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that there seems to be perpetual confusion among FÁS advisers and CE supervisors as to the eligibility for continuing CE workers on the schemes for more than two years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16627/12]

Community Employment participants may be eligible, but not entitled, to extensions in their participation under the following criteria:

Part-time Integration Option

Participation on the Part-time Integration Option is for 1 year. In certain limited circumstances a second year may be available, subject to the approval of the Department and the availability of places and budget.

Part-time Job Option

Participation on the Part-time Job Option is for 1 year initially with annually renewable contracts for a further 2 years, subject to annual departmental approval and the availability of places and budget. Persons under 55 years of age, who meet the qualifying conditions, may be eligible for a maximum of 3 years overall participation on Community Employment (CE). Persons of 55 or over, who meet the qualifying conditions, may be eligible to a maximum of 6 years overall participation on CE. Persons in receipt of any of the 4 disability-linked social welfare payments may be eligible for 1 additional year's participation. Only time spent on CE since the 3rd April 2000 counts towards these participation limits. Each CE participant on completion of a 52 week period is considered, on an individual basis, for an extension for a further period of time. Their record of training and "job-readiness" is considered by both the employer (CE sponsor) and the Department in arriving at a decision to extend participation.

The person concerned commenced on the Athru Education and Training CE programme on the 22nd February 2010 and completed a second consecutive year on the 19th February 2012. Request for a third year was to engage in a reception post which is not an agreed position on the CE programme. It was considered that the person concerned was ready to progress to employment or mainstream training.

Social Welfare Benefits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

318 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason rent support has not been paid since January to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16634/12]

The person concerned was awarded rent supplement on the 15th of March 2012. The claim was delayed due to a lack of information provided by the client.

Social Welfare Code

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

319 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will confirm that a person on invalidity pension who applies for partial capacity benefit but whose capacity to work is assessed as moderate or severe will lose 50% or 75% of their payment respectively; the provision made for a person whose capacity to work varies from day to day due to the underlying medical condition; if the reduction in the invalidity pension will continue when a person is assessed as having a moderate or severe invalidity but no suitable work is available; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16654/12]

The Partial Capacity Benefit scheme 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. 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. There is no earnings limit in place either.

The level of partial capacity benefit payable is related to the level of restriction on claimants' employment capacity, as assessed by a Medical Assessor. In the case of a person who was in receipt of invalidity pension prior to qualifying for partial capacity be