Written Answers

The following are questions tabled by Members for written response and the ministerial replies as received on the day from the Departments [unrevised].
Questions Nos. 1 to 9, inclusive, answered orally.

Illegal Moneylenders

Brian Stanley

Question:

10 Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons prosecuted for illegal money-lending offences during each of the past seven years; the offences for which they were prosecuted; the sentences received on conviction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29760/12]

The Deputy may be aware that the regulation of moneylending is a matter primarily for the Central Bank which is the competent Authority for licensing moneylending and has responsibility for overseeing and regulating that activity and it thus comes within the responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for Finance. Legislative provisions relating to moneylending are contained in the Consumer Credit Act 1995 (as amended) and the offences are set out in Part VIII of that Act. Persons who engage in moneylending and who do not hold the necessary licence granted by the Central Bank are committing an offence under section 98 of the Act, which provides for a prohibition on engaging in the business of moneylending without a licence. Complaints may be made to the Gardaí who have power to bring prosecutions against unlicensed operators.

A person who is guilty of an offence under the Act is liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding €3,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or both, or on conviction on indictment, to a fine not exceeding €100,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years or both.

The powers of An Garda Síochána in tackling illegal moneylending are principally contained in sections 105 to 109 of the Act, which make provision for a number of matters including Garda powers of entry and arrest. I am informed by the Garda authorities that where offences under section 98 are reported to An Garda Síochána, the matters will be the subject of investigation under the direction of the local District Officer, with relevant expert assistance available from the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation. There are also a number of provisions in the criminal law which may be of relevance in particular circumstances, for example, sections 10 (harassment) and 11 (demands for payment of debt causing alarm) of the Non-fatal Offences against the Person Act 1997 and the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 which specifies offences of blackmail, extortion and demanding money with menaces.

I have had enquiries made with the Courts Service and I am informed that there is no record of a successful prosecution for illegal money lending over the past 7 years. There were 91 charges brought in relation to harassment under section 10 of the 1997 Act but it should be noted this offence has wider application and there is no information available about whether those cases related to moneylending activities. I would encourage all those with specific information concerning the operation of unlicensed moneylenders to make that information available to An Garda Síochána who I am assured will take all measures open to them to enforce the law in this area.

Question No. 11 answered with Question No. 9.

Garda Deployment

Dessie Ellis

Question:

12 Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of gardaí based in each of Finglas and Ballymun Garda stations, Dublin, during each of the past six years; and the projected number of gardaí to be based in these stations for the coming year. [29758/12]

The Deputy will be aware that the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, throughout the Garda Síochána and I have no function in that matter. It is therefore not possible for me to say how many members will be assigned to the stations in question in the coming year.

I have been informed by the Commissioner that the strength of Finglas and Ballymun Garda Stations on 31 May 2012, the latest date for which figures are readily available, was 120 and 111 respectively. In addition to these figures, there were 3 Garda Civilians and 14 Garda Reserves attached to Finglas Garda Station and 12 Garda Civilians and 11 Garda Reserves attached to Ballymun Garda Station. I am circulating with this answer a table containing the detailed information requested by the Deputy on the personnel strength of both stations at the end of each year from 2011 back to 2006. As the Deputy will see, the strength of Finglas and Ballymun stations at the end of 2006 was 87 and 56 respectively.

Details of Garda strength in Finglas and Ballymun as of 31 December 2006-31 December 2011.

Year

Finglas Station

Ballymun Station

31/12/11

120

113

31/12/10

122

128

31/12/09

118

130

31/12/08

103

112

31/12/07

97

75

31/12/06

87

56

Repatriation Costs

Catherine Murphy

Question:

13 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide a breakdown of the costs in 2009, 2010, 2011 and to date in 2012 of repatriating unsuccessful asylum and visa applicants; if he will provide a table of the individual incidents of repatriation including the cost, destination and total number of persons repatriated per incident; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29711/12]

The majority of failed asylum seekers and illegal immigrants including persons refused entry into the State, persons who are removed as a result of being made subject to a Deportation Order, persons who were transferred under the Dublin Regulation to the EU member state in which they first applied for asylum and EU nationals who were returned to their countries of origin on foot of an EU Removal Order are removed using scheduled commercial flights as appropriate. As there have been approximately 10,000 such persons removed overall in the period in question, it is not possible to give details of the cost, destination and number of persons removed on each such individual scheduled commercial flight.

It should be noted that approximately 90% of these removals related to persons refused leave to land in the State. To put it in context, tens of millions people entered the State in the period in question. In the great majority of the refusals of leave to land cases, any costs arising are borne by the carrier. Removals on foot of Deportation Orders which are carried out using commercial flights usually involve transit through other European airports as Ireland does not have direct flights to most of the countries of return. In addition, most flights have to be booked at short notice, near to the date of departure, which involves higher costs than if booked well in advance.

The remainder of failed asylum seekers and illegal immigrants who are made subject to Deportation Orders are removed by charter flights contracted by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS). These flights are usually organised in conjunction with other EU Member States through FRONTEX (the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union). In most cases, such joint charter operations which Ireland has participated in during the period in question are partially or fully funded through the FRONTEX budget.

The details of the number of persons returned and costs per charter flight for each of the years in question are set out in the table beneath. In many cases, where Ireland participates in a FRONTEX-organised flight which is led by another EU member State, Ireland will only have to charter a plane one-way to the European city where the FRONTEX charter is departing from. After the return of the FRONTEX flight to the other European city following the return of the deportees, the Garda escorts will return to Ireland on scheduled commercial flights.

On occasions Ireland has been the lead country on flights and has had responsibility for the cost of the aircraft from Ireland to the country of return and back to Ireland. This cost which is substantially higher than chartering a plane to a European city also includes the provision of an airline crew, ground support at the airports for baggage handling, provision of food to returnees and escorts and also the provision of a medical team on the flight. In addition, some flights are fully funded by FRONTEX, while others, such as flights organised under the European Return Fund are only entitled to a partial refund.

In considering the costs of the removal of failed asylum seekers and illegal immigrants, the considerable expense arising from the continued presence in the State of persons who are the subject of deportation or removal orders has to be taken into account. These costs include social welfare costs, direct provision costs, and detention costs in certain cases. While it is important to keep deportation and removal costs to a minimum, not to remove persons refused permission to remain in the State would call into question the integrity of the entire immigration system. This would leave this country open to further illegal immigration and even more expense to taxpayers.

Finally, Ireland, like other EU member states, uses deportation of illegal immigrants and failed asylum seekers as the policy of last resort. The process leading to a deportation is extensive with many avenues of appeal, including judicial review in the High Court, open to persons subject to Deportation Orders. It should also be noted that a Deportation Order requires a person to remove themselves from the State and it is only where they fail to do so that the State is forced to remove them and enforce the rule of law.

(1) 2009

Cost

Destination

Numbers Removed

€118,690.86

Nigeria

31

0*

Nigeria

25

€76,167.25

Nigeria

9

€104,216.14

Nigeria

30

€8,503.42

Nigeria

12

€224,750.00

Nigeria

44

€273,948.12

Nigeria

41

€35,205.22

Georgia

1

€1,654.60

Georgia

5

(2) 2010

Cost

Destination

Numbers Removed

€7,492.89

Nigeria

22

0*

Nigeria

21

€11,140.67

Nigeria

11

€234,674.00

Nigeria

21

0*

Nigeria

28

0*

Nigeria

21

€277,634.30

Nigeria

37

€85,963.54

Georgia

38

€54,746.50

Italy

2

€25,086.88

DR Congo

1

(3) 2011

Costs

Destination

Numbers Removed

0*

Nigeria

39

€108,990.38

Nigeria

19

€35,505.05

Nigeria

17

€9,364.13

Georgia

10

€14,408.85

Pakistan

13

€3,540.47

DR Congo

3

€27,632.67

DR Congo / Nigeria

10

(4) 2012 (up to 18th June)

Costs

Destination

Numbers Removed

€1,642.78

Nigeria

1

€59,183.94

Nigeria

21

€54,036.30

Nigeria

12

€44,595.00

Georgia

7

€25,886.00

Ghana

8

*(flights marked with an asterisk were fully funded by FRONTEX and therefore resulted in no cost to the State).

Seized Property

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

14 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if there is an annual audit of the total amount of unclaimed, seized or recovered property, that is held, sold or disposed of by An Garda Síochána; if he will consider asking the Garda Audit Committee to conduct such a study; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29549/12]

The making of arrangements for the property that comes into the possession of An Garda Síochána is an operational matter for the Garda Commissioner. I have been informed by the Garda authorities that such property is managed under a dedicated property management system which is designed to facilitate the safe custody of the property. In that context specific regulations and requirements have been put in place which operate from the taking possession of the property through to its final disposal. Within this framework each property item is logged and tracked. The Garda authorities have also indicated that a monthly reconciliation of property records is carried out at each Garda station. In addition, senior Garda managers undertake the task of ensuring that the relevant policies and procedures are fully complied with.

The Garda Commissioner is the Accounting Officer for the Garda Vote and money realised from the sale of unclaimed or seized property is accounted for as an Appropriation-in-Aid within the Garda Vote. These funds are subject to audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Garda Internal Audit Section also audits all monies received by An Garda Síochána by way of Appropriations-in-Aid. The Garda authorities have also confirmed that the current arrangements for handling unclaimed, seized or recovered property are operating satisfactorily and that they will be kept under on-going review.

Anti-Social Behaviour

Micheál Martin

Question:

15 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to develop an anti-social behaviour strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29731/12]

I am very conscious that, notwithstanding the fact that public order offences decreased by 10.8% during 2011, anti-social behaviour causes great distress and the Programme for Government underscores our commitment to address this problem. The Garda Síochána Policing Plan for 2012 includes as key actions measures to reduce public disorder and criminal damage including:

identified locations,

continue proactive responses to public disorder including identifying anti-social behaviour ‘hot spots' and deploying appropriate resources to d liaison with the licensed trade and those involved in the management of the night time economy,

improving the feeling of safety in the community through the deployment of targeted high visibility patrols.

These strategies are supported by the Garda National Model of Community Policing and by local Garda management configuring policing responses to local conditions. Clear objectives are set by Garda management, such as high visibility in the community and ease of contact by members of the public. Enhanced engagement is promoted with partnership approaches to improving community safety and reducing anti-social behaviour such as Community Alert and Neighbourhood Watch. The Joint Policing Committees and Local Policing Fora provide a further mechanism whereby An Garda Síochána, the local authority, together with elected and community representatives can consult, discuss and make recommendations on matters affecting the policing of an area, including how best anti-social behaviour can be addressed.

An Garda Síochána uses a range of legislative provisions in order to address anti-social behaviour and public order incidents when they occur, including of course the bringing of prosecutions where appropriate. These include provisions under the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Acts and the Intoxicating Liquor Acts which give Gardaí powers to deal with street violence and anti-social conduct attributable to excessive drinking. Powers include the seizure of alcohol to prevent underage drinking in public places and to forestall public disorder or damage to property. Gardaí may also issue fixed charge notices for the offences of intoxication in a public place and disorderly conduct in a public place. These are a more efficient use of Garda resources and avoid court proceedings when an offender pays the penalty.

Persons who engage in anti-social behaviour may also be subject to the incremental procedures under the Criminal Justice Act 2006. For children, these include a Garda warning, a good behaviour contract, referral to the Garda Juvenile Diversion Programme and finally the making of a behaviour order by the Children Court. With regard to adults, they include a warning and the making of a civil order by the court.

In addition to keeping the existing range of measures and policies under general review, later this year I intend to publish a White Paper on Crime, incorporating a National Anti-Crime Strategy. The Strategy will act as a overall framework strategy within which all measures to tackle crime, including anti-social behaviour, will be drawn together and which will assist in planning and coordinating the work of all relevant agencies to enhance the safety of our communities into the future.

Legislative Programme

Willie O'Dea

Question:

16 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the current status of the personal insolvency legislation; the issues raised by the troika in relation to this Bill; the timeframe for introduction to the Oireachtas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29743/12]

The Personal Insolvency Bill is currently being drafted by my Department in cooperation with the Office of the Attorney General and Parliamentary Counsel. This is a very lengthy and complex Bill from a legal standpoint, with proposed provisions which do not currently exist in Irish law. While it was hoped that the Bill would be published by 30 April, work on its development is still proceeding in the context of the many submissions received on the Bill which include, the report of the Joint Oireachtas Justice Committee received in early March following their completion of hearings on the Bill. The Deputy will appreciate that it is important that the provisions of the Bill are legally robust. This requires careful legal drafting of the text and full consideration of issues which emerge during the drafting process.

The troika team was in Dublin in April and progress on the Bill was discussed with them. They are supportive of the provisions contained in the General Scheme of Bill which I published on 25 January last along with my colleague the Minister for Finance. They appreciate the complexities involved in drafting a Bill of this nature and understand that some additional time is required to finalise the text in preparation for publication. I expect that the Bill will be one of the matters for discussion with the Troika in the context of their next quarterly review in early July.

I can assure the Deputy that the Bill remains a legislative priority for the Government and the revised time frame for publication of the Bill is now the end of June with the strong intention to commence Second stage in the Dáil prior to the Summer recess to facilitate early passage of the legislation through the Oireachtas in the Autumn session.

Question No. 17 answered with Question No. 9.

Subsidiary Protection

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

18 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the very small numbers of persons who are awarded subsidiary protection compared to the large numbers that apply; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29763/12]

The great majority of subsidiary protection applications are from persons who have already been refused refugee status following consideration of their asylum claim by an independent process comprising the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner (ORAC) and the Refugee Appeals Tribunal (RAT). Each application for subsidiary protection is examined in my Department under S.I. 518 of 2006 European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations. In the great majority of cases decided upon in my Department it has been determined that applicants have not been eligible for subsidiary protection for reasons such as their account of previous harm lacking credibility, country of origin information from reputable sources is at odds with the applicant's claimed fear of serious harm and the availability of State protection in the country of origin of the applicant among others.

For the avoidance of any doubt, I should also state that every application for subsidiary protection is subject to a detailed assessment in accordance with the law and in accordance to the extensive jurisprudence that has developed in this area both here and internationally. In many of these cases, this detailed assessment can be up to 60 pages in length. Moreover, in making decisions on applications for subsidiary protection, the findings made in the asylum process are, of course, taken into account. As the Deputy will know, the Immigration Residence and Protection Bill 2010 will provide for refugee status and subsidiary protection applications to be decided in a single procedure. It is my intention to republish the Immigration Residence and Protection Bill 2010 later this year.

Question No. 19 answered with Question No. 6.

Child Abduction

Pearse Doherty

Question:

20 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide an update on the operation of the child response Ireland policy since its introduction; the number of child abduction incidents to date in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29755/12]

Child Rescue Ireland (CRI) Alert is a system which enables An Garda Síochána to seek the assistance of members of the public in circumstances where a child has been abducted and there is a reasonable belief that there is an immediate and serious risk to the health or welfare of a child. The system was launched by myself and the Commissioner of An Garda Síochána on 25 May, 2012, International Missing Children Day. I am informed by the Garda authorities that there have been no Alerts initiated in the short period since its launch.

CRI Alerts may only be initiated by an Assistant Commissioner of An Garda Síochána and only when the following criteria are met:

1. The child is under the age of eighteen years;

2. There is a reasonable belief that the child has been abducted;

3. There is a reasonable belief that there is an immediate and serious risk to the health or welfare of a child;

4. There is sufficient information available to enable the public to assist An Garda Síochána in locating the child.

I am further informed by the Garda authorities to date in 2012 (to 14 June) eight incidents of alleged child abductions have been reported to An Garda Síochána, one of which transpired to be an attempted abduction of the child, who was not taken or harmed. In five of the incidents the children were recovered safe and well and investigations are ongoing in the remaining two incidents, which relate to parental abductions, where it is suspected the children concerned are in the company of a parent and have been removed from this jurisdiction.

Restorative Justice

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

21 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the details of any new programmes the Irish Youth Justice Service is developing regarding restorative justice process under the terms of the Children Act 2001. [23967/12]

I wish to inform the Deputy that the Irish Youth Justice Service operates as a joint task force staffed by officials from my Department and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. I have retained responsibility for the diversion and community aspects of the work of the Irish Youth Justice Service, while my colleague the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs has taken responsibility for the rest of IYJS, including the Children Detention Schools in Oberstown.

Essentially the delivery of restorative justice approaches are primarily a matter for IYJS strategic partners — An Garda Síochána and the Young Persons Division of the Probation Service. Restorative justice in the context of youth crime was introduced on a statutory basis for the first time in the Children Act 2001. There are two restorative justice initiatives provided for in the Act: a restorative conference or restorative caution included in the Garda Diversion Programme and a court-ordered restorative justice family conference delivered through the Probation Service.

An Garda Síochána are using Restorative Justice processes in the delivery of the Diversion Programme under Part IV of the Children Act, 2001. Garda Juvenile Liaison Officers are trained as Restorative Justice Practitioners and in Mediation Skills. More recently, Restorative Justice Philosophy has been introduced to five Garda Youth Diversion Projects which are managed by the Irish Youth Justice Service and operate on the basis of a strategic partnership between IYJS, An Garda Síochána and community based organisations. In October 2011, Garda Restorative Justice Trainers provided facilitator skills training in Restorative Justice to 10 Youth Justice Workers working in Garda Youth Diversion Projects and to 4 Community Gardaí who as part of their brief liaise with the projects on a regular basis. IYJS is monitoring the impact of these latest developments and the results will be taken on board in considering future developments in this area.

Prisoner Transfers

Luke 'Ming' Flanagan

Question:

22 Deputy Luke “Ming” Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason the relatives of a person (details supplied) have not been informed or consulted regarding a transfer to the Czech Republic of a prisoner; his views on whether it is correct to allow such a transfer when only four years of a life sentence has been served; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29548/12]

The 1983 Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons provides a mechanism whereby prisoners can be repatriated to their home state in order to serve prison sentences they have incurred abroad. The Convention is provided for in legislation in this State by virtue of the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Acts 1995 and 1997, and the process is administered by my Department. In the period 1995 to 2011 approximately 140 Irish citizens were transferred to Ireland from abroad to serve their sentence here and a similar number of foreign prisoners were returned to their home country abroad to serve their sentence there. The Convention does not envisage the serving of any minimum term in the sentencing country before a prisoner is eligible for transfer.

In this particular case, I had approved the transfer of the person referred to in accordance with the provisions of the Convention. However, on becoming aware of the family's concerns, I decided to defer the transfer and subsequently met with the family. I am giving careful consideration to their views and will make my decision in due course.

As regards the procedures in place for informing families of victims, or victims themselves, the position is that when victims of crime request, the Prison Service Victim Liaison Officer will enter into direct contact with them, on an ongoing basis, to inform them of significant developments in the management of the perpetrator's sentence as well as any impending release. The Victim Liaison Officer will also provide victims with general information on the prison system such as the prison regime, remission on sentences and the operation of the Parole Board. It is important to note that this is a voluntary service. It is for the victim, or an immediate family member in the case of a person who has died as a result of a crime, to choose if they wish to obtain information about a prisoner. In this particular case, the family had not opted into the scheme. However, as I indicated to them, I am going to make changes to the prison victim liaison scheme to provide for a more proactive system.

Closed Circuit Television Systems

Dessie Ellis

Question:

23 Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans for CCTV in Finglas, Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29757/12]

Garda CCTV systems are planned and implemented on the basis of the Garda Commissioner's identified operational needs and priorities. I have been informed by the Garda authorities that there is currently a Garda CCTV system in operation in Finglas and that the question of extending the system is being considered. This is a matter which will be pursued in the light of the overall policing arrangements for Finglas and the availability of resources.

Garda Deployment

Sean Fleming

Question:

24 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide information on Garda numbers at individual stations in the Dublin Metropolitan Region East Division, District F and W, as at 1 March 2011, 31 January 2011 and 1 June 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29726/12]

The Deputy will be aware that the Commissioner is responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, throughout the organisation and I have no function in the matter. This allocation of resources is constantly monitored in the context of crime trends, policing needs and other operational strategies in place on a District, Divisional and Regional level to ensure optimum use is made of Garda resources and the best possible Garda service is provided to the public.

I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that the personnel strength of the Dublin Metropolitan Region East Garda Division on 28 February 2011, 31 January 2012 and 31 May 2012, the latest date for which figures are readily available, was as set out in the table hereunder.

Station

28/02/11

31/01/12

31/05/12

Blackrock (District F)

98

91

91

Dundrum

75

73

71

Stepaside

30

28

28

Cabinteely

39

37

36

Dalkey

31

31

29

Dun Laoghaire (District W)

108

104

98

Kill — O — Grange

29

28

27

Shankill

59

58

56

Total

469

450

436

The Division is supported by 15 Garda Reserves and 23 civilians who provide administrative and technical support to members of the Garda Síochána. These resources are augmented, when appropriate, by Gardaí from national units.

Joint Policing Committees

Gerry Adams

Question:

25 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to increase the powers of the local joint policing committees; his plans to resource the Joint Policing Committee, County Louth; the date on which he will receive the report on JPCs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29752/12]

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

In relation to the report referred to by the Deputy, I assume he is referring to the outcome of the review of the operation of JPCs which I have previously mentioned in the Dáil. My Department, the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government and An Garda Síochána have commenced work on the review and have canvassed opinions from existing JPC members. It is intended that a document will shortly be prepared, on the basis of which consultations will take place with the local authorities and other stakeholders. Elected members of the Oireachtas and of local authorities will be invited to contribute to this process.

With regard to the allocation of resources for the Louth JPC, or any other JPC, the position is that each agency involved in the Committees is expected to meet the expenses arising for itself from within its own budget. It is important to bear in mind that JPCs are a forum for engagement to promote more effective action by the various stakeholders and are not an additional administrative structure.

Garda Stations

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

26 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide an update on the new Garda station at Glanmire, County Cork. [29750/12]

The programme of replacement and refurbishment of Garda accommodation is based on agreed priorities established by An Garda Síochána. The programme is progressed in co-operation with the Office of Public Works, which has responsibility for capital expenditure in respect of Garda accommodation. I am advised by the Garda authorities that a premises is being acquired to serve as a new Garda station in Glanmire. In addition, I have been informed that the Office of Public Works is making arrangements to invite tenders for the necessary fit out works.

Garda Investigations

Denis Naughten

Question:

27 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will have the case of the murder of Garda Richard Fallon on 3 April 1970 independently reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29547/12]

Let me firstly say that I wish to express my deepest sympathy to the family of Garda Fallon. His murder was not only a dreadful tragedy but also a shameful crime against this State. The Deputy may wish to note that the case is currently being examined by An Garda Síochána's Serious Crime Review Team. I am informed that members of the Team have met with the Fallon family and continue to keep them appraised of developments where this matter is concerned. In that regard, it is anticipated that a preliminary assessment of the case will be completed by September 2012. I am sure the Deputy will appreciate that it would be best to allow that examination to proceed.

Garda Stations

John McGuinness

Question:

28 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the steps he has taken towards the closures of additional Garda stations; the locations of the stations to be closed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29737/12]

Under the Garda Síochána Acts 2005-2007, the Commissioner is required to submit, before November of each year, a policing plan for the forthcoming year. Any proposals for the closure of Garda stations or the altering of Regional or Divisional boundaries must be set out in the plan. The Policing Plan for 2013 has not yet been prepared and therefore it is not possible to say at this stage what it may contain although I expect that it will contain measures to address the ongoing issue of rationalisation of the Garda station network.

Garda Operations

Martin Ferris

Question:

29 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to an increase in the number of strip searches taking place in Belmullet Garda station, County Mayo, since the rape tape incident; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29762/12]

Information regarding the number of searches involving the removal of clothing that have taken place in Bellmullet Garda Station since the incident in question took place on 31 March 2011, as compared to the number that took place there prior to it, is not readily available and would require a disproportionate amount of Garda time and resources to attempt to extrapolate. Garda management have informed me that they are not aware of any increase in such searches in the station referred to.

As I mentioned in my reply to a similar question on 8 May last, the searching of a person in custody is governed by the Criminal Justice Act 1984 (Treatment of Persons in Custody in Garda Síochána Stations) Regulations, 1987 and 2006. Members of the Garda Síochána who fail to observe any provision of the regulations are liable to disciplinary proceedings and members of the public, who believe they have been mistreated, are entitled to make a complaint to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission.

Treatment of Prisoners

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

30 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the procedures followed and recommendations made and by whom for the referral of prisoners for training programmes, transfer to open prisons, particular or specific remissions associated with good behaviour, health issues or other circumstances; the extent to which all prisoners are subject to such criteria; the exceptions if any, the grounds for exceptions in respect of any referrals in each of the past three years to date; if any particular prisoner remains a notable exception to such procedures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29748/12]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

131 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the procedures for evaluation of entitlement of the various category of prisoners to remission, access to education, training or other rehabilitative facilities and/or transfer to open prison; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30024/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 30 and 131 together.

The Irish Prison Service provides a wide range of rehabilitative programmes that include education, vocational training, healthcare, psychiatric, psychological, counselling, welfare and spiritual services. All prisoners are eligible to apply for such courses and the Prison Service will endeavour to facilitate as many prisoners as possible. On committal, all prisoners are interviewed by the Governor and informed of the services available in the prison. At this point, prisoners may be referred to services or they can self refer at a later date. Where Governors consider, on the information available, that a prisoner needs a particular intervention they will initiate a referral.

As part of its recently published Three-Year Strategic Plan, the Prison Service will build on and enhance current programmes and services including accredited education and vocational training. A new Incentivised Regimes Policy will also be rolled out which provides for a differentiation of privileges between prisoners according to their level of engagement with services and quality of behaviour.

My replies to previous Questions explained the criteria which applies including the circumstances when temporary release may be provided and what matters must be taken into account. Regular review meetings take place in each of our prisons where the Governor, senior management, and representatives from the professional therapeutic services discuss individual cases and make recommendations to an official from Prison Service Headquarters as to how the sentence management of a case should proceed. This may at times include a recommendation that the person engage in the school, work with the addiction services, etc but may also at times recommend that a prisoner be considered for a transfer from a closed prison, that they be considered for daily temporary release to attend a training programme or at times that they be granted supervised reviewable temporary release.

Prisoners serving short sentences, i.e. under 12 months, may be moved to an open centre shortly after committal. Other longer term prisoners being prepared for the transition back into the community may be considered for moves with about 2 years left in their sentence. Exceptional prisoners who are engaging strongly with the therapeutic services can sometimes be considered for a transfer with up to 4 years left to serve in their sentence. For prisoners serving sentences in excess of 8 years, recommendations on their sentence management which may include transfers to open centres or temporary release are made to me by the Parole Board. It is very important to note that it does not necessarily follow that a prisoner will receive a transfer to an Open Centre or temporary release even if the recommendation is to that effect.

The Deputy will appreciate that in all cases where prisoners have applied for a transfer to an open centre, early or compassionate release, or other concessions, there are safety, security, operational and logistical considerations that must be taken into account when deciding whether to approve or refuse the application. There is no automatic entitlement to concessions for prisoners at a specific point in their sentence or in light of specific conduct. Each case is examined on its individual merits.

Garda Equipment

Clare Daly

Question:

31 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the Garda stations which have had cameras installed since 2008 in view of data (details supplied). [29712/12]

Audio Visual CCTV systems have been installed in 4 Garda Stations, namely Letterkenny Station in Donegal and Pearse Street, Store Street and the Bridewell Prisoner Custody area in Dublin. CCTV systems are due to be installed this year in a further 15 Garda Stations , namely Irishtown, Ballymun, Finglas, Lucan, Ronanstown, Carrickmacross, Ballymote, Buncrana, Navan, Leixlip, Castlerea, Tralee, Ballincollig, Castleisland and Listowel. These CCTV systems cover public areas and custody areas in stations but cameras are not yet located in cells due to privacy issues which have to be resolved.

Prison Accommodation

Clare Daly

Question:

32 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on a policy of one person, one cell in prisons here; and the strategy he has to implement such a policy. [29713/12]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

130 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of prison cells currently accommodating one prisoner or more; the number of such cells currently accommodating four or more prisoners; the highest number of prisoners currently occupying a single cell; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30023/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 32 and 130 together.

There has been a consistent increase in the total prisoner population in Ireland over recent years. The problem of prison overcrowding therefore remains a challenging issue which unfortunately cannot be resolved overnight.

Given the current number of prisoners in custody — 4,493 on 14th June 2012 — the Irish Prison Service is not in a position to provide single cell accommodation to all prisoners. Single cell occupancy across the system would result in a bed capacity of less than 3,000 and would not be possible to achieve without releasing sizeable numbers of prisoners considered to represent a threat to public safety.

It must be borne in mind that prisoners are housed together for reasons other than lack of capacity. Family members, friends and co-accused prisoners often elect or are assigned a shared cell. Shared cell accommodation can be very beneficial from a management point of view particularly for those who are vulnerable and at risk of self-harm. There will always be a need for certain prisoners to be accommodated together.

On the 30th April I launched the Irish Prison Service 3-Year Strategic Plan for the period 2012-2015. In accordance with this Strategy, it is the intention of the Irish Prison Service, over the coming three years, to seek to align the capacity of our prisons with the guidelines laid down by the Inspector of Prisons, in so far as this is compatible with public safety and the integrity of the criminal justice system.

The Inspector of Prisons recommended capacity for individual prisons is based on single cell occupancy in cells of 7m2 with in cell sanitation and an additional 4m2 for each additional prisoner — for example double cell occupancy in an 11m2 cell, triple cell occupancy in a 15m2 cell. It is also the intention of the Irish Prison Service, during the lifetime of the Strategy, to provide in cell sanitation in all remaining areas of the prison estate. The attached table outlines the number of prisoners per cell in each prison and place of detention for the week ending 17 June, 2012.

Establishment

Number of cells/ rooms with 1 person only

Number of cells/ rooms with 2 persons only

Number of cells/ rooms with 3 persons only

Number of cells/ rooms with 4 persons only

Number of cells/ rooms with more than 4 persons

Highest Number of Prisoners in 1 cell / room / dormitory

Arbour Hill

87

26

4

0

0

3

Castlerea*

124

99

16

4

0

4

Cloverhill

57

35

77

20

0

4

Cork

37

96

13

0

0

3

Limerick

103

94

4

0

0

3

Loughan House*

64

17

0

0

0

2

Midlands

263

141

5

17

1

5

Mountjoy Female*

49

30

3

2

1

5

Mountjoy Male

253

136

22

6

0

4

Portlaoise

153

60

3

0

0

3

St. Patrick’s Institution

105

58

0

0

0

2

Shelton Abbey*

41

3

1

6

5

8

Training Unit

70

26

0

0

0

2

Wheatfield

188

263

0

0

0

2

*Mountjoy Female, Loughan House, Shelton Abbey and "The Grove" area of Castlerea Prison comprise of dormitory style accommodation with a variety of room sizes.

Departmental Funding

Pearse Doherty

Question:

33 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he has drafted preliminary figures for the amount of funding that will be allocated to the newly merged human rights and equality body. [29765/12]

The annual financial allocation for the new body will fall to be determined in the light of the Budget for the relevant years and will be announced in that context in due course.

Firearms Licences

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

34 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of firearms licences issued by An Garda Síochána in 2009, 2010, 2011 and to date in 2012; the individual licence fee in each of those years and the total sum raised on an annual basis; the expected total in 2012; his views on whether the number of firearms in circulation and that the licence fee is of a sufficient amount; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29550/12]

I can inform the Deputy that a new system for firearms licensing commenced on the 1st of August, 2009 with the commencement of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 and the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009. This radically changed the manner in which firearms are now licensed in the State. Included in these changes was the introduction of three year Firearm Certificates, with a standard fee of €80 for 3 years, and the outsourcing by the Garda of the collection of fees to An Post. The table below shows the number of Firearm Certificates issued for the years 2009/2010, 2011, and to date in 2012 (up to 11/06/12). The figures for 2009 and 2010 are combined as new, three year certificates were issued from August 2009 onwards.

Table: Number of certificates issued

Year

Firearm Certificates Issued

1 August 2009 to 31 December 2010

187,445

January to December 2011

30,716

January to 11 June, 2012

5,629

(As firearms certs are now issued on a three year cycle, yearly figures no longer reflect the numbers of certs/ licences in existence in the State in that year).

The three year fee for a standard Firearms Certificate was set in 2009 at €80 and like all Government fees charged for services they are subject to review, from time to time. The amount generated in respect of firearm certificates fees for the years 2009, 2010, 2011, and to date in 2012 is as follows:

Year

Revenue from fees

2009

€2,765,630

2010

€13,079,251

2011

€2,234,179

2012 (up to 31/5/12)

€402,884

In the revised 2012 Estimates and the related budget provision, the projected revenue for 2012 for licence fees is €1,607,000.

The Deputy has also asked for my views regarding the number of firearms in circulation. Each application for a firearms certificate is considered on its own merits under the Firearms Acts. The senior Garda officers of each District or Division are by law the designated persons for deciding on firearms applications. This is an independent function carried out by them and they must consider a wide range of factors before granting any certificate. The operation of the firearms licensing system is kept under review and, as I have informed the House previously, my primary concern is public safety.

State Visits

Catherine Murphy

Question:

35 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide a detailed breakdown of the visits to the State which took place in 2009, 2010 and 2011 by foreign delegations which require the State to provide security services; if he will advise the protocol on visits by foreign delegations in respect of which party bears the cost of providing security services and the circumstances under which the costs are shared or borne equally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29710/12]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the number of visits by individuals or delegations during the years in question where security was provided by An Garda Síochána is as follows:

Year

Number of Visits

2009

207

2010

215

2011

169

While it would not be appropriate for me to comment in detail on the security arrangements for such visits I can say the Gardaí carry out a threat and risk assessment to determine the appropriate level of security to be provided for the duration of such visits. The costs of security measures for these visits are borne by An Garda Síochána on behalf of the State, as host. This is the normal practice and where security measures are necessary for Irish dignitaries making visits to other states, the host state bears the cost.

Liquor Licensing Laws

Jim Daly

Question:

36 Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to the level of illegal drinking of alcohol in public places such as pavements outside of licensed premises in which the alcohol has not been purchased; his plans in place to address this growing problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29714/12]

I can inform the Deputy that a range of strategies and legislative powers are employed by An Garda Síochána in order to respond to the situations referred to by the Deputy. In particular, the Garda Síochána Policing Plan for 2012 includes as key actions the reduction of public disorder and criminal damage through pro-active responses to public disorder including:

identifying anti-social behaviour ‘hot spots',

the deployment of appropriate resources to particular locations,

continued liaison with the licensed trade and those involved in the management of the night time economy,

improving the feeling of safety in the community through the deployment of targeted high visibility patrols.

In addition, each Garda District and Divisional Officer configures their policing response to local conditions, including by engaging with local communities as part of the Garda National Model of Community Policing and through the work of Joint Policing Committees. The Joint Policing Committees provide a forum whereby issues of policing concern, including alcohol related anti-social behaviour, can be discussed and solutions recommended accordingly.

Under the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2003 strong legal provisions are in place to deal with the abuse of alcohol and its contribution to public order offending and broader social problems. The Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 2003 also provides the Gardaí with powers to deal with late night street violence and anti-social conduct attributable to excessive drinking, including exclusion orders in respect of premises, closure orders for licensed premises and catering outlets following anti-social behaviour related offences. Under the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994, Gardaí may also issue fixed charge notices for the offences of intoxication in a public place and disorderly conduct in a public place. These are a more efficient use of Garda resources and avoid court proceedings when an offender pays the penalty.

The Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008 gives further powers to the Gardaí to tackle misuse of alcohol. The Act places restrictions on the availability and visibility of alcohol and provides for more effective enforcement to deal with the consequences of alcohol abuse. The Gardaí may seize any bottle or container from a person under the age of 18 and which a Garda suspects contains alcohol to be consumed by a person under 18 in a public place. They may also, in respect of adults, seize bottles or containers containing alcohol to forestall public disorder or damage to property and require a person to leave the place concerned in a peaceable and orderly manner.

Educational Services for Prisoners

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

37 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which the criteria for referring prisoners incarcerated on foot of serious offences has been reviewed in order to ensure that recidivists are not automatically referred for educational training or other rehabilitative programmes ahead of first time offenders who might be expected to benefit more from such rehabilitation and at the same time ensure that such first time offenders do not become institutionalised in terms of their dependence on criminality; if any on-going evaluation has been done or is being done to determine whether training and rehabilitative programmes are made as readily available to first time offenders as they should be; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29747/12]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

132 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which prisoners serving sentence on conviction of serious offences but who have no previous criminal record are referred for educational or rehabilitative training; the number of applications by such prisoners that have been successful in the past year; the number rejected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30025/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 37 and 132 together.

The Deputy will be aware from my replies to previous Questions that the Irish Prison Service provides a wide range of rehabilitative programmes that include education, vocational training, healthcare, psychiatric, psychological, counselling, welfare and spiritual services. These programmes are available in all prisons and all prisoners are eligible to use the services. On committal, all prisoners are interviewed by the Governor and are informed of the services available in the prison. At this point prisoners may be referred to services or they can self refer at a later date. Where Governors consider, on the information available, that a prisoner needs a particular intervention they will initiate a referral. Programmes are available to all prisoners, but some programmes may not be suitable for prisoners on shorter sentences.

Human Trafficking

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

38 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to address trafficking into the domestic labour and agriculture sectors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29749/12]

In addition to the range of employment law enacted to protect workers from exploitation generally and the redress mechanisms for alleged breaches of employment law, the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 (which came into effect on 7 June 2008) criminalises the trafficking of persons for the purposes of labour exploitation (including domestic labour and agricultural labour). For the purposes of the Act, the term "trafficks" is broadly defined. For example, the commission of an offence does not require cross border movement or illegal entry into the State. It includes recruitment; taking a person into one's custody, care or charge; and providing the person with accommodation or employment. Section 1 of the 2008 Act defines labour exploitation in relation to a person (including a child) as follows:

(a) subjecting the person to forced labour,

(b) forcing him or her to render services to another, or

(c) enslavement of the person or subjecting him or her to servitude or a similar condition or state.

An Garda Síochána is proactive in attempting to detect any breach of the provisions of the Act of 2008 and investigates all allegations of human trafficking with a view to identifying potential suspects and/or culprits.

A comprehensive programme of training in the area of human trafficking has been undertaken within An Garda Síochána. In total over 600 Gardaí have now completed the intensive three day training course entitled "Trafficking in Human Beings; Prevention, Protection, Partnership and Prosecution." In addition, a further 3,500 members of An Garda Síochána have received awareness raising training relating to human trafficking. The overriding aim of the training is to provide members of An Garda Síochána with knowledge of indicators of human trafficking, where to look and how to identify victims of human trafficking.

A number of potential victims of human trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation have been identified as working in the domestic labour sector. The incidents concerned are the subject of investigations undertaken by An Garda Síochána. However, to date, there have no prosecutions in respect of suspected or alleged incidents of human trafficking for labour exploitation in this State. Three investigations have been completed and investigation files relating to human trafficking for labour exploitation have been submitted to law officers. Directions not to prosecute were received in each of these cases. A further investigation is almost complete and an investigation file relating to domestic servitude is expected to be submitted to the law officers in the near future.

An Garda Síochána works closely with other police forces. As a result of an intensive investigation conducted in Ireland evidence was transferred to Romania by way of a mutual assistance request and in December 2009, three Romanian men were sentenced to imprisonment for seven years, five years and five years, respectively for the trafficking of Romanian nationals into Ireland for labour exploitation on farms in Wexford. A number of Romanian nationals who were discovered to have been exploited in this case were rescued and received support from relevant Irish state agencies. With the assistance of the Romanian authorities, the victims returned to Romania at their request.

In a number of the cases under investigation by An Garda Síochána little, or no, evidence of human trafficking for labour exploitation has been found but alleged breaches of employment legislation have been identified in some of these incidents. An Garda Síochána works closely with the National Employment Rights Authority (NERA) in these matters. This cooperation extends to joint inspections between the labour Inspectors and An Garda Síochána. No cases of forced labour have been encountered in the course of the joint inspections to date. Training has been provided by An Garda Síochána to NERA Inspectors. In addition, representatives from NERA and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine Inspectorate attended a two day ‘Train the Trainer' course on human trafficking.

An Garda Síochána works closely with relevant state agencies and non-governmental organisations in its efforts to identify and assist victims of human trafficking. In particular, where suspected or alleged incidents of human trafficking involve labour exploitation, personnel from the Garda National Immigration Bureau engage, where appropriate, with the Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland.

Human Rights Issues

Thomas Pringle

Question:

39 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will intervene in the matter of two Palestinian political prisoners who are currently on hunger strike in an Israeli prison and have been confirmed as facing an imminent threat to their lives. [29907/12]

As I have stated in reply to previous Questions, I was very pleased when agreement was reached last month following successful Egyptian mediation between the Israeli authorities and the large numbers of Palestinian prisoners who had been on hunger strike, apparently addressing a range of issues which had occasioned the protests. I have been very concerned however about two prisoners who did not end their hunger strikes, and were approaching the point of real danger. As before, it has been difficult to get a reliable picture of what is the actual position, including the object of the strikes, despite contacts with both the Israeli authorities and with NGOs dealing with the prisoners.

I have been encouraged by the fact that both the Israeli authorities and the prisoners clearly recognised the danger of the hunger strikes spiralling out of control, and found agreement last month to avoid this. I have already strongly urged both sides to seek to resolve the issues involved in these two remaining cases with all possible urgency. I am pleased therefore that it is reliably reported that one of the two remaining cases, and the most advanced and critical one, has been resolved by agreement, and the prisoner has ended his hunger strike. I will continue to follow the other remaining case, and I look forward to an early resolution also of that.

Tax Code

Stephen S. Donnelly

Question:

40 Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide, or request that his officials prepare an analysis of the net cost to the Exchequer of making child care tax deductible; if he will provide any further analysis that has been done by his Department on alternative fiscal strategies for reducing the cost of childcare to parents. [29823/12]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that as they do not capture data on the overall net cost of childcare there is, therefore, no statistical basis on which they can provide an estimate of the cost of making childcare tax deductible. In these circumstances, it is not possible to extrapolate the potential net cost to the Exchequer of the proposal. I would have some concerns about the potential that any tax relief for childcare costs might have on charges for childcare, as it is possible that the main beneficiaries of any such tax relief would be the childcare providers. The introduction of such a relief would also potentially carry a large Exchequer cost which could not be countenanced at the current time.

Notwithstanding the absence of tax relief for childcare costs, the Government acknowledges the continuing cost pressures on parents, particularly those with young children. For this reason a number of support measures are available. These include, (i) the Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) programme, which funds community childcare services to enable them to charge reduced childcare fees to qualifying parents, (ii) the Childcare Education and Training Support (CETS) programme, which provides free childcare places to qualifying FÁS and VEC trainees and (iii) the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme which provides for a free pre-school year for children in the year before commencing primary school. In addition, generous entitlements to paid and unpaid maternity leave are provided, as well as child benefit payments.

Currency Circulation

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

41 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance the one off windfall that would accrue for the Central Bank of Ireland if the exchange mechanism for punts to euros was ended; the outstanding amount of punts, both notes and coins respectively, remaining to be exchanged for euros at the Central Bank of Ireland at the end of May 2012; the current amount of provision for the liability that arises from the ongoing exchange of both punt notes and coins respectively to euros at the Central Bank; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29894/12]

I am informed by the Central Bank that the Bank continues to redeem Irish pound banknotes, which ceased to be legal tender on 9 February 2002. As of 31 December 2002, notes to the value of €299.7 million were outstanding. With the approval of the Board of the Bank, a provision of €60 million was created in respect of future redemptions. The balance of €239.7 million, which it was estimated would not be presented for redemption, was accounted for through the Profit and Loss account. This windfall gain then formed part of the payment of Surplus Income to the Exchequer for 2002, as proposed by the Minister for Finance in December 2001.

Since 2002, the Bank has continued to redeem Irish pound banknotes which have been charged against the provision of €60 million. The provision was exhausted on 30 April 2010 and in November 2010 the Commission of the Bank approved a transfer of a further €10.0 million to the provision. Irish pounds to the value of €2.4 million were redeemed during 2011 leaving €235 million in Irish banknotes still outstanding and a balance of €5.7 million in the provision at end-December 2011. The balance in the provision at 31 May 2012 was €4.9 million. The provision relates only to Irish pound banknotes.

In respect of coin, as of 2002, the net proceeds from the issue of coin are passed directly to the Exchequer on an annual basis (section 137 of the Finance Act 2002). Irish pound coin to the value of €125 million is still in circulation and is redeemed by the Bank on behalf of the Minister for Finance. Should the Government decide to cease redemption of Irish pound coin, the Exchequer could be expected to benefit over time to the value of the amount outstanding (by way of a higher net proceeds of coin transfer to the Exchequer because the proceeds received from the issue of euro coin would no longer be reduced by the value of Irish pound coin redeemed). However, even assuming that all the outstanding coin will eventually be redeemed, this could not realistically be described as a windfall as the amount redeemed each year is relatively low (€0.4m in both 2011 and 2010).

The value of the amount outstanding in respect of Irish pound banknotes and coin as at 31 May 2012 was as follows:

Irish pound banknotes —€234 million

Irish pound coin —€125 million.

National Asset Management Agency

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

42 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance if he can explain in relation to a business (details supplied|) the reason the National Asset Management Agency has requested a 100% increase in rent on top of the already €18,000 per annum rent of an external terrace only used 60 days maximum a year; the reason NAMA is requesting such an expense to be paid when Ireland is in a recession and restaurant turnover has declined by 30% since the economic boom with further decreases expected; the amount NAMA pays in consultancy fees to the original owner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29902/12]

As the deputy is aware NAMA has acquired loans from the five participating institutions and is not the owner/operator of properties. The Agency's role is that of a secured lender. Other than properties that have been enforced, all of which are listed on NAMA's website and which are managed by the appointed receivers/administrators, properties continue to be managed by their existing owners or their professional managers/agents albeit NAMA takes a very close interest in their efficient management and sale with a view to maximum loan repayment in order to protect the position of the taxpayer.

NAMA's primary concern is that properties securing its loans are professionally managed at the most economical cost to ensure that rental and occupancy is optimised towards the servicing of interest and capital repayment on related loans. The owners/professional managers are responsible for the efficient running of properties, the collection of rents and service charges, arrangements for letting of vacant units and the operation of rent reviews in accordance with the leases into which tenants have entered. As lender and holder of security on the asset, NAMA's approval is needed for key decisions such as significant new leases, rental reductions or abatements and plans for ultimate sale of the property.

On the issue of rent abatements, as I have previously advised NAMA has published very clear Guidelines, available onwww.nama.ie, for tenants seeking a rent reduction from a NAMA debtor or receiver. It is important to emphasise that applications for rent abatements may be made in situations where tenants of NAMA debtors can demonstrate that the rents payable under their current leases are in excess of current market levels and, as a result, that the viability of their businesses is threatened. In such circumstances, tenants may seek NAMA’s approval for rent reductions. The Guidance Note is not intended to provide benefits to tenants whose businesses are trading profitably and who are in a position to honour their current contractual arrangements on rent. By the end of May 2012, the Agency had approved 145 applications for rent reductions under these Guidelines with just 4 applications refused.

NAMA is prohibited by Sections 99 and 202 of the NAMA Act and the normal rules of banking confidentiality from commenting on individual debtors or arrangements between tenants and landlords who may be borrowers from NAMA but NAMA assures me that in its role as lender/security holder it responds promptly and pragmatically to requests from its borrowers regarding lease arrangements including rent abatements on their properties where there is a justifiable case.

NAMA does not pay consultancy fees to debtors. As previously advised to the House it is the Agency's practice to allow debtor companies to retain overhead costs from rental or other income that are produced by their assets where this is necessary for the operations of the debtor companies. The level of overhead is only agreed following a thorough and rigorous evaluation of the debtor's business plan by NAMA. Each cost element is reduced to the minimum and NAMA advised that the level of overhead sanctioned by NAMA typically represents a very significant reduction on the level which prevailed prior to NAMA acquisition of the loans: typically, reductions of 50% to 75% in overhead costs have been imposed by NAMA.

Betting Regulations

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

43 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance if he expects the betting (amendment) Bill to be published during this session; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29911/12]

The Finance Act 2011 provides for the taxation of bets that remote bookmakers enter into with persons in the State. This means, for example, that a business which engages in online bookmaking and which accepts bets from people in this country will be liable for betting duty on those bets, irrespective of where that business is based. The existing betting duty (1%) will be applied to such bets. The Finance Act also provides for the taxation of Betting Exchanges under the new arrangements; however the calculation of the tax will take account of their particular business model, in other words a tax on the commission charged. The proposed Betting (Amendment) Bill, which is being drafted at present, will establish the regulatory framework for these licences. The tax changes provided for in the Finance Act can only be implemented once the Betting (Amendment) Bill is enacted. This Bill is well advanced and it is hoped that it will be published this session.

Mortgage Interest Relief

Regina Doherty

Question:

44 Deputy Regina Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if persons who rent out their home residence property due to negative equity, will retain mortgage interest relief; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29926/12]

The position is that mortgage interest relief is only available in respect of interest paid by an individual on a loan used by that individual for the purchase, repair, development or improvement of his/her sole or main residence. However, it should be noted that an individual who rents out their residential property may be allowed a deduction, subject to certain conditions, in computing the taxable rents from that letting of 75% of the interest accruing on monies borrowed to purchase, improve or repair that property.

Dormant Accounts Fund

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

45 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance the date on which the Central Bank of Ireland came into possession of the two inspection reports carried out by PriceWaterHouseCoopers in relation to the Dormant Accounts Fund and the chronology of events in respect of those reports; when were the institutions to be inspected identified, and by whom; the person who made the judgment that the institutions identified for inspection were sufficiently representative of the dozens of financial institutions that have contributed to the Dormant Accounts Fund since its establishment more than a decade ago, some of which have since collapsed in apparent consequence of their own internal maladministration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30014/12]

I have been informed by the Central Bank of Ireland that a review of all Dormant Account Holders, under the remit of the Bank, is currently ongoing. The Bank has to date received a number of completed reviews covering specific institutions and a further number of reviews are scheduled to be completed later in the year. The Bank will submit a report to both me and my colleague, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, when the review process has been completed.

General Government Deficit Adjudication

Michael McGrath

Question:

46 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance when he expects a final adjudication in respect of the impact on the 2011 general Government deficit arising from the recapitalisation of the banks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30036/12]

In July 2011, a net amount of €16.5 billion was injected into Irish financial institutions. Following an examination of the nature of the transactions by the Central Statistics Office and Eurostat, €5.8 billion of the €16.5 billion injected was classified as a deficit-increasing capital transfer in the Maastricht Returns in March 2012. However, the recapitalisation of July 2011 was fully reflected in Ireland's general government debt reported to Eurostat in September 2011, so Ireland is no worse off. This is simply a statistical reclassification from financial transaction to capital transfer for deficit purposes. There is no impact on our debt position.

Eurostat reserved final adjudication in their April General Government Debt and Deficit release on the capital transfer amount because restructuring plans of Allied Irish Banks and Irish Life and Permanent, which were used in the analysis, were not approved at that time. I believe that the Irish Life and Permanent plan is being finalised and will be completed shortly. It is expected that the Allied Irish Banks plan will also be completed in the coming months, ahead of the end Q3 2012 deadline as per the most recent Memorandum of Economic and Fiscal Policies. When finalised, these restructuring plans must be submitted to the European Competition authorities. Once DG Comp has approved the plans Eurostat will be in a position to definitively classify the injections and we can confirm the impact on the General Government Deficit for 2011.

Irish Fiscal Advisory Council

Michael McGrath

Question:

47 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he intends to make additional resources available to the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council once it is put on a statutory footing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30037/12]

Additional resources will be available to the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council when it is put on a statutory footing. The Council was allocated a grant-in-aid of €650,000 in the Revised Estimates Volume for 2012. The General Scheme of a Bill to be called the Fiscal Responsibility Bill 2012, which I published on the 26th of April 2012 in the context of providing information for the referendum on the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance, includes provisions for the statutory establishment of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council which includes its funding arrangements. The draft legislation proposes that the Fiscal Council should be funded directly from the Central Fund subject to an annual limit of €800,000. This limit, which will be adjusted each year by the annual percentage change in the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices, represents an increase of 23% over the grant-in-aid provided for in 2012. I expect to publish the Fiscal Responsibility Bill 2012 before the summer recess.

Banking Sector Regulation

Michael McGrath

Question:

48 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if in view of the fiscal tightening being undertaken by the State and private households, additional time for the banks to meet their deleveraging targets should be sought from the troika; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30038/12]

As the Deputy will be aware, a key component of the Financial Measures Programme (FMP) is the establishment of transparent deleveraging plans to reduce the Irish banking system to a manageable size and to stabilise its funding base. The Central Bank has agreed with the External Partners that a sustainable Loan to Deposit Ratio for the aggregate domestic banking system is 122.5%. Total deleveraging achieved across government supported banks was €46 billion through end December 2011 against 2011 expected deleveraging of €36 billion. In addition, Irish banks have enjoyed deposit inflows despite the very difficult international environment.

It is important to maintain the progress in downsizing our banking system which was made in 2011, and we are working to refine the deleveraging framework to minimize risks to lending to the economy and discourage excessive competition for deposits. Nonetheless, it is also important, as part of the overall strategy to maintain progress in regard to deleveraging and this momentum will ensure that banks will be better able to support the real economy in the shortest possible timeframe. As you may be aware the deleveraging programme is monitored on an on-going basis and discussed with EU Commission, the ECB and the IMF. Any refinements or adjustments which are required are considered and addressed as part of this process.

Banks Recapitalisation

Michael McGrath

Question:

49 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he envisages the covered banks will be able to meet their wholesale funding maturity needs in the next two years from the open market; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30039/12]

I have been informed by the covered banks that their wholesale funding maturity needs should be met as follows in the next two years:

IBRC:

IBRC is a non-pillar bank that had the majority of its deposits transferred to AIB in 2011 by Ministerial order. As a result, IBRC is heavily reliant on official sources for its funding. Any wholesale maturities that come due are met from either the Bank's existing resources or drawings on official sources.

PTSB:

PTSB expect to meet maturity needs from deposit growth and the benefits of restructuring the balance sheet. PTSB will continue to review opportunities for secured debt issuance.

AIB:

AIB has a planned term issuance schedule that will refinance maturing wholesale debt maturities out to the end of 2014, including a combination of Secured Funding and Government Guaranteed bond issues with unguaranteed issuances restarting from 2014 onwards. The extent of AIB's wholesale funding refinancing requirements will be influenced by the level of customer deposit funding and deleveraging activity. These are on track. Continued stability in their customer deposit franchise would allow the bank to meet its wholesale maturity needs in the next two years even if it could not access wholesale markets by utilising its unencumbered liquidity buffer.

BOI:

In the case of BOI, a material reduction in the wholesale funding requirement to the end of 2013 is expected consistent with planned deleveraging and the achievement of a loan to deposit ratio of 122.5% by December 2013. Maturing open market term funding is more than offset by the planned reduction in the overall wholesale funding requirement, thus limiting the financing requirement from the open market.

Banking Sector Redundancies

Michael McGrath

Question:

50 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the anticipated cost to the State-owned banks from current redundancy programmes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30040/12]

The State-owned banks have supplied the relevant information as follows:

PTSB:

PTSB have informed me that they are not in a position to answer this question as they have not finalised their redundancy plans.

IBRC: IBRC have informed me that as part of IBRC’s progress towards wind down, the Bank is currently operating redundancy schemes in its Irish, UK and US operations. The redundancy schemes running at present in the UK, Ireland and the US are currently planning 169 redundancies at a total cost of c. €7.2 million* (average cost c. €43,000). All exits from the Bank are to be completed by 30.06.2013. The redundancy scheme currently running in the US will result in the ultimate closure of the Bank’s operations there.

*Includes US$ amount for the US redundancy scheme converted using US/Euro FX rates as at 18.06.12.

AIB:

AIB have informed me that the costs prior to launch of the programme (programme still open) was approx €200m. However, AIB anticipate savings in the region of €170m per annum on completion of the programme assuming that targeted voluntary severance / early retirement numbers are delivered. As you are aware, Bank of Ireland is not a state owned bank.

Economic Growth

Michael McGrath

Question:

51 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the measures and reforms he proposes to stimulate domestic demand; when he expects domestic demand to return to growth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30041/12]

While the economy is growing again, it will take time for export growth to feed through to the labour market and the domestic economy. This is because it will take households, firms, and government time to work through the imbalances which had built up during the boom. The Government is acutely aware of the headwinds which the domestic economy faces in this regard. We have therefore taken a number of steps to support domestic activity and job creation, including the introduction of the Jobs Initiative shortly after coming into office and the structuring of Budget 2012 in such a way as to be as growth-friendly as possible.

In addition, the Government also established NewERA and the Strategic Investment Fund within the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) last September, and published the Action Plan on Jobs in February. The Government has also taken a number of steps to ensure there is sufficient credit available to business. Moreover, in relation to tax-policy, we have also sought to support firms and encourage job creation through extending the three-year start-up relief scheme, improving the R&D tax credit scheme and replacing the Business Expansion Scheme with a new Employment and Investment Incentive. Furthermore, I would point out that the Taoiseach has consistently sought to have growth moved up the European agenda, and I note that the "EU growth agenda" will be discussed at the European Council meeting on the 28th-29th June.

Moreover, following long-term negotiations, the Government has reached agreement with Troika representatives that all of the proceeds from the sale of State assets will be used, in one shape or another, to support job creating initiatives in the economy, which will in turn support domestic demand. Half of the proceeds will be available to fund employment enhancing projects of a commercial nature. The other half, while destined eventually to pay-down debt, will, in the first instance, be constituted as a fund to guarantee additional lending into Ireland, for example by the EIB, in support of further investment in job-creating initiatives.

Overall, the economy is expected to record a second successive year of positive growth this year. My Department's latest forecasts — which were published in April's Stability Programme Update — project GDP growth of 0.7 per cent this year with exports leading the way. The recovery is expected to broaden out and gain ground next year, with growth of 2.2 per cent foreseen. These forecasts are similar to those of other domestic and foreign forecasters. Regarding the domestic demand component, near-term prospects remain muted, with a further contraction envisaged for this year. However, the pace of decline is set to ease relative to 2011 and should come close to stabilising next year, before domestic demand starts to increase once again in 2014 and 2015.

House Prices

Michael McGrath

Question:

52 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance his view of the success to date of measures introduced in the budget with a view to stimulating the domestic housing market; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30042/12]

In line with the commitment in the Programme for Government, in Budget 2012, I increased the rate of mortgage interest relief to 30% for first-time buyers who purchased homes between 2004 and 2008. This, I believe, will go some way to helping mortgage holders who purchased at the peak of the housing market. Under the current system, mortgage interest relief is set to be abolished in 2013. In Budget 2012, I extended the current rates of relief for anyone purchasing in 2012. This is 25% for first-time buyers and 15% for non-first time buyers. Anyone currently qualifying for mortgage interest relief or who purchases in 2012 will receive the relief up until the end of 2017. These measures will cost in the region of €55 million per annum. Mortgage interest relief is set to be abolished from 2018.

There were two other property related tax measures in the Budget: the reduction in the rate of Stamp Duty on non-residential property transactions to a single rate of 2%, and the Capital Gains Tax incentive for property bought between 7 December 2011 and 31 December 2013, which provides that, if the property is held for at least seven years, any gain related to the initial seven year holding period will be relieved from CGT. The measures will facilitate greater activity within the property market, leading to additional employment and activity in related sectors. Only the CGT measure relates to the housing market.

The measures have been in place for six months so it is early to assess their impact. However, I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that there has been an increase in the number of property transactions reported to the eStamping system for Stamp Duty purposes — there were a total of 20,317 such transactions recorded in the first five months of 2012 compared to 18,207 in the same period in 2011. I understand that a breakdown between residential and non-residential transactions is not available. These figures may be subject to change — for example, if a transaction is cancelled.

Credit Availability

Michael McGrath

Question:

53 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if in view of the 20% decline in the stock of lending to indigenous small and medium enterprises since the first quarter of 2010 that, in addition to a target for the pillar banks for gross new lending to SME he will apply a target with respect to the overall stock of lending to SMEs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30043/12]

The Central Bank publishes quarterly figures on credit advanced by Irish resident credit institutions to Irish resident SMEs. The figures are available to download athttp://www.centralbank.ie/polstats/stats/cmab/Pages/ BusinessCredit.aspx and the latest table is also attached.

In relation to the total outstanding stock of loans to SMEs, there are three figures for consideration, as shown in table A.14.1 — total outstanding loans to all SMEs, total outstanding loans to SMEs excluding those engaged in financial intermediation, and total outstanding loans to SMEs excluding those engaged either in financial intermediation or property-related sectors. Based on the change in the outstanding stock of loans to SMEs between end-Q1 2010 and end-Q1 2012, as reported to the Central Bank by all resident credit institutions, the change in lending to SMEs has been as follows:

Table

Total outstanding loans to SMEs:

6%

Total outstanding loans to SMEs excl. Financial Intermediation:

7%

Total outstanding loans to SMEs excl. Financial Intermediation and Property Related Sectors:

-20%

I am informed by the Central Bank that it is important to note that the change in the stock of loans reported on the credit institutions' aggregate balance sheet can sometimes reflect non-transaction related effects, for example changes in the reporting population, valuation changes due to fluctuations in exchange rate effects, or other reclassifications. As a result, the Central Bank publishes quarterly transactions or "flows" figures, which provide details on the true underlying flow of business during the quarter. These figures adjust the change in stocks in order to strip out the impact of any such non-transaction effects. Based on these underlying flows, the developments in the outstanding stock of loans to SMEs between end-Q1 2010 and end-Q1 2012 are as follows:

Table

Total outstanding loans to SMEs:

-12%

Total outstanding loans to SMEs excl. Financial Intermediation:

-16%

Total outstanding loans to SMEs excl. Financial Intermediation and Property Related Sectors:

-15%

It is also important to note that SMEs are paying down existing debts at a faster rate than they are demanding new lending. The November 2011 Mazars survey on credit demand published by my Department showed that only 36% of companies surveyed requested bank credit in the period April-September 2011. This reflects the level of finance required by the companies surveyed, for trading at current levels, together with a reluctance to borrow for investment in new capital projects until foreseeable returns are more positive. It is for the above reasons that the lending targets applied to the pillar banks was viewed as being a more appropriate policy instrument than applying a target with respect to the overall stock of lending to SMEs.

Exchequer Revenue

Michael McGrath

Question:

54 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if in view of the temporary nature of such revenue, he is concerned by the increasing proportion of overall Exchequer revenue that is accounted for by non tax revenue, primarily the Central Bank of Ireland surplus and income from the bank guarantee. [30044/12]

A breakdown of Exchequer Non-Tax revenue is provided in the table below for the 2011 outturn and forecasts for 2012 and 2013.

Exchequer Non-Tax Revenue (€billions)

2011

2012

2013

Central Bank Surplus Income

0.67

0.96

0.92

National Lottery Surplus

0.23

0.22

0.22

Bank Guarantee Fees

1.24

0.98

0.36

Other Surplus Income/Royalties

0.00

0.00

0.00

Interest on Loans (including on Contingent Capital Injected into Irish banking system

0.02

0.32

0.31

Dividends

0.14

0.11

0.12

Other

0.47

0.15

0.09

Total

2.77

2.73

2.03

Non-Tax revenue as % of total Exchequer revenue

7.1

6.7

4.8

Rounding may affect totals

The Deputy should be aware that in relation to 2011, the information is set out in the end-December 2011 Exchequer Statement, which is available on my Department's website.

The figures for 2012 and 2013 are the estimates from the time of the Stability Programme Update (SPU) in late April and are likely to be subject to change as more up-to-date information becomes available later this year and into next. Given that the bank guarantee (ELG Scheme) is subject to six-monthly EU Commission approval and that the Central Bank Surplus income is largely related to interest earned on the provision of exceptional liquidity assistance (ELA) whose future usage is difficult to estimate, it is not possible to reliably estimate the revenue from these sources beyond the years mentioned.

As provided by the 2010 Finance Accounts, non-tax revenue as a proportion of total Exchequer revenues was 7.4% in 2010. The end-December 2011 Exchequer Statement showed that non-tax revenue accounted for 7.1% of all Exchequer revenues last year and April's Stability Programme Update estimates that they will account for 6.7% of Exchequer revenues this year and 4.8% next year so the share of overall Exchequer revenues is actually decreasing.

In summary, as the table above illustrates, Exchequer non-tax revenue is forecast to decline over the next two years and I am satisfied that at this point these forecasts are robust in nature.

Banks Recapitalisation

Michael McGrath

Question:

55 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the proportion of the State’s holdings in the covered banks which he holds directly and through the National Pensions Reserve Fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30045/12]

The State's holding in AIB and BofI is held through the NPRF, the State's holding in IL&P and in IBRC is held directly by the Minister for Finance. The following table provides comprehensive detail on the State's holdings in the covered banks:

Current State Ownership

AIB/EBS

BoI

IL&P

Anglo/INBS

Total

State Ownership of Ordinary Shares

99.8%

15.1%

99.2%

100%

n/a

Contingent Capital Notes (at cost)

€1.6bn

€1.0bn

€0.4bn

n/a

3.0

Preference Shareholdings (at cost)

€3.5bn

€1.8bn

n/a

n/a

5.3

These holdings have been raised as a result of the bank recapitalisation commitments made by the State to date; these are set out in the following table:

€bn

AIB/EBS

BoI

IL&P

IBRC (Anglo/INBS)

Total

Government preference Shares (2009) — NPRF

3.5

3.5*

7.0

Capital contributions (with Promissory Notes as consideration) /Special Investment Shares (2010) — Exchequer**

0.9

30.7

31.6

Ordinary Share Capital (2009) — Exchequer

4.0

4.0

Ordinary Share Capital (2010) — NPRF

3.7

3.7

Total pre-PCAR 2011 (A)

8.1

3.5

0

34.7

46.3

PCAR 2011:

Capital from Exchequer***

3.9

2.7

6.5

NPRF Capital

8.8

1.2

10.0

Total PCAR (B)

12.7

1.2

2.7

16.5

Total Cost of Recap for State (A) + (B)

20.7

4.7

2.7

34.7

62.8

*€1.7bn of BoI's government preference shares were converted to equity in May/June 2010 (€1.8bn still left in existence). The government also received €0.5bn from the warrants relating to BoI's preference shares (excluded from table above).

**The IBRC amount is made up of a total capital contribution for Anglo / INBS of €30.6bn and a special investment share of €0.1bn (INBS). The Anglo / INBS capital contribution impacted in full on the GGB in 2010. The consideration for the Anglo / INBS capital contribution was €30.6bn of promissory notes. These Promissory Notes are an amount due from the State to IBRC. Each year, on 31 March, €3.06bn is paid by the Exchequer to Anglo / INBS as part of the scheduled repayments of the promissory notes. The first such repayment was made on 31 March 2010.

***The Exchequer cost of the 2011 BoI recap is shown net of share sale to private investors (Completed in October, 2011)

Please note that these figures only represent the capital committed to recapitalising these institutions and they do not take account of revenues received directly or indirectly from the banks.

It should also be noted that the total cost of the recapitalisations would have been significantly higher were it not for the burden sharing achieved with holders of subordinated debt in each of the institutions.

Government Revenue and Expenditure

Michael McGrath

Question:

56 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance when he expects to be in a position to report monthly Government revenue and expenditure on a gross basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30047/12]

The monthly Exchequer Statement published by my Department presents the cumulative receipts into and issues from the Exchequer Account for the year to date. The voted expenditure issues are based on the estimated requirements of Departments and Offices from the Supply Account of the Paymaster General and are net of appropriations-in-aid and thus funded on a net basis from the Exchequer Account. It is the case however that as a means of improving budgetary reporting and allowing for comparability officials from my Department are discussing with officials from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform the possibility of separately producing an alternative presentation of Exchequer information, some of which would be on a gross basis.

Credit Unions

Michael McGrath

Question:

57 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number and extent of recapitalisations of credit unions from resources within the sector itself that have taken place to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30048/12]

The Report of the Commission on Credit Unions identified 51 credit unions at 31 December 2011 with total realised reserves below 10%, of which 25 credit unions were seriously undercapitalised with reserves below 7.5%. The Report noted that, since December 2011, some credit unions have been assisted by private funds to address this position.

The Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU) has since 1989, operated on an all-island basis a savings protection scheme (SPS) for credit unions. The SPS operates by providing financial support to credit unions that get into difficulty. As this is a privately owned and managed fund it is not possible to provide the Deputy with the information requested. The Commission on Credit Unions recommended the establishment of a statutory stabilisation mechanism whereby financial assistance could be given to credit unions on an individual basis, in certain circumstances, with certain conditions attached to the provision of such assistance. This would be facilitated by the establishment of a stabilisation fund to be managed by the Central Bank. Work on the heads of Bill to provide the statutory basis for this recommendation is currently ongoing.

Michael McGrath

Question:

58 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance his view on whether the four-year timeline for the restructuring of the credit union sector as envisaged in the report of the Commission on Credit Unions report is too long; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30049/12]

The Commission on Credit Unions presented its report to me on 18 April 2012. The Report recommended that the credit union sector be restructured on a voluntary, time-bound and incentivised basis. The Report set out a timescale for the completion of the restructuring process by the end of 2015. Restructuring is to be facilitated by the Credit Union Restructuring Board (the ReBo). Expressions of interest have already been sought for appointment to the ReBo which is due to be established on an administrative basis. This timescale is necessary as it provides for the establishment of the ReBo, engagement with credit unions, formulation of restructuring proposals and approval or otherwise of such proposals as well as allowing time for the ReBo to provide support and advice to restructured entities.

National Asset Management Agency

Michael McGrath

Question:

59 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he is concerned by the continuing fall in the proportion of National Asset Management Agency’s loans that are performing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30050/12]

As the deputy is aware NAMA acquired a distressed loan portfolio from 5 participating institutions. The NAMA Report for the fourth quarter of 2011 confirms that, of the loans transferred to end December 2011, 20% of the nominal debt was classified as performing and 80% was reported as non-performing. This is a disimprovement on the third quarter when 21% of the nominal debt was classified as performing and 79% was reported as non-performing. However, NAMA advises that it expects the situation to stabilise once NAMA's engagement with debtors moves into the implementation phase and as it invests in assets.

As previously advised to the House, NAMA is continuing to address the issue of non-performing loans in the course of the Debtor Business Plan process. The outcome of NAMA's deliberations on the viability of a Debtor's business plan will determine whether these delinquent loans will be enforced or re-financed on new terms. It should be noted that where Debtor Business Plans are agreed, the loans may be restructured and the performance profile of the overall loan book will change as performance is assessed against the restructured loans. The restructuring of loans will not reduce the amount owed to NAMA.

EU-IMF Programme

Michael McGrath

Question:

60 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the amount of loans drawn down to date under Ireland’s EU / IMF programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30051/12]

Under Ireland's EU-IMF Programme of Financial Support, which is due to expire at the end of 2013, a total of €67.5 billion in loans will be provided from the EU facilities, bilateral loans and the IMF. At the 15th of June 2012, Ireland's net borrowings under the EU/IMF Programme amounted to €49.42 billion. The following table gives an updated breakdown of the loans drawn-down by Ireland under the EU/IMF programme. The table incorporates the recent draw-downs from both the IMF and the Swedish bilateral loan.

Table 1: Loans drawn by Ireland under the EU/IMF Programme — as of 15th June 2012

Funding Mechanism

Currency

Currency Principal

Net € drawdown

Billion

Billion

European Financial Stability Facility

EUR

12.74

12.15

European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism

EUR

18.40

18.34

International Monetary Fund

XDR

15.03

17.23

UK Bilateral Loan

GBP

1.21

1.45

Denmark Bilateral Loan

EUR

0.10

0.10

Sweden Bilateral Loan

EUR

0.15

0.15

49.42

Notes

The net euro drawdown figures are net of deductions including the prepaid margin on the first EFSF disbursement and discounts applied for below par issuance and also reflect the effect of foreign exchange transactions.

These figures are for net drawdowns and include the effect of maturing and rolling over of short term EFSF financing.

XDR is the currency code used to denote the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), an international reserve asset which is composed of a basket of currencies consisting of the euro, Japanese yen, pound sterling, and U.S. dollar.

A summary of the nominal liabilities under the EU-IMF programme as at 15th June 2012 is as follows:

Lender

Nominal Loan Amount1

Date of Draw Down

Maturity Date

Term from Date of Drawdown

European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism (EFSM)

€5.00 billion

12-Jan-11

04-Dec-15

4.9 yrs

€3.40 billion

24-Mar-11

04-Apr-18

7 yrs

€3.00 billion

31-May-11

04-Jun-21

10 yrs

€2.00 billion

29-Sep-11

04-Sep-26

14.9 yrs

€0.50 billion

06-Oct-11

04-Oct-18

7yrs

€1.50 billion

16-Jan-12

04-Apr-42

30.2yrs

€3.00 billion

05-Mar-12

04-Apr-32

20.1yrs

EFSM Total

€18.40 billion

11.8yrs weighted average life

European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF)

€4.19 billion2

01-Feb-11

18-Jul-16

5.5 yrs

€3.00 billion

14-Nov-11

04-Feb-22

10.2yrs

€1.27 billion

12-Jan-12

04-Feb-15

3.1yrs

€0.48 billion

19-Jan-12

19-Jul-12

0.5yrs

€1.00 billion

15-Mar-12

23-Aug-12

0.4yrs

€2.80 billion

03-Apr-12

03-Apr-37

25yrs

EFSF Total

€12.74 billion

10.1yr weighted average life

United Kingdom Bilateral Loan

€0.50 billion

14-Oct-11

14-Apr-19

7.5yrs

€0.50 billion

30-Jan-12

30-Jul-19

7.5yrs

€0.50 billion

28-Mar-12

28-Sep-19

7.5yrs

UK Total

€1.50 billion

7.5yrs weighted average life

Sweden Bilateral Loan

€0.15 billion

15-Jun-12

15-Dec-19

7.5yrs

Sweden Total

€0.15 billion

7.5yrs weighted average life

Denmark Bilateral Loan

€0.10 billion

30-Mar-12

30-Sep-19

7.5yrs

Denmark Total

€0.10 billion

7.5yrs weighted average life

International Monetary Fund

18-Jan-11

Amortising: 18 Jul 2015-18 Jan 2021

€18.11 billion

18-May-11

Amortising: 18 Nov 2015-18 May 2021

4.5 -10 yrs

07-Sep-11

Amortising: 07 Mar 2016-07 Sep 2021

16-Dec-11

Amortising: 16 Jun 2016-16 Dec 2021

29-Feb-12

Amortising: 31 Aug 2016-28 Feb 2022

15-Jun-12

Amortising: 15 Dec 2016-15 Jun 2022

Overall Total

€51.0 billion3

9.7yrs weighted average life

1Non-euro liabilities are translated into euro at the rates of exchange at 15th June 2012. The net euro amount received by the Exchequer was €49.42 billion after adjustment for below par issuance and deduction of a prepaid margin (Note 2), and also reflect the effect of foreign exchange transactions.

2A prepaid margin of €0.53 billion was deducted from the loan of €4.19 billion drawdown on 1 February 2011 giving a net liability of €3.67 billion. This margin prepayment will be refunded to Ireland in 2016. The total liability of €50.46 billion included in the National Debt (€130.1 billion at 15th June 2012) takes account of this reduction.

3Short Term EFSF Funding totalling €1.48 billion maturing in 2012 is due to be replaced by longer term funding.

National Asset Management Agency

Michael McGrath

Question:

61 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the amount of cash on hand held by the National Treasury Management Agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30052/12]

I am informed by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) that the balances held by the Agency as at 31 May 2012 were as follows:

NTMA Cash balances at Central Bank

31/05/2012

€million

Exchequer Account

13,503

Capital Services Redemption Account

50

Post Office Savings Bank Fund

319

National Loans Advance Interest Account

14

National Loans winding Up Accounts

3

Unclaimed Dividends Account

2

Dormant Accounts Fund

122

14,013

The figures include cash held in the Exchequer Account in the Central Bank, cash available in the Dormant Accounts Fund and other Ministerial funds.

FÁS Training Programmes

Sandra McLellan

Question:

62 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason an Irish citizen who participated in a FÁS course for ten weeks was not entitled to payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30007/12]

This is a day-to-day operational matter for FÁS. FÁS have informed me that training allowances can only be paid on receipt of a completed and signed F103 Form that indicates a person is in receipt of payment from the Department of Social Protection. When the individual in question commenced the course his social welfare claim status was "pending" and in those circumstances they were not entitled to receive a training allowance. Course attendance remains free of charge.

Billy Timmins

Question:

63 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a HGV training course in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow [30054/12]

This is a day-to-day operational matter for FÁS. I understand from FÁS that the individual in question attended a FÁS Articulated Driving Course with North West Training in Bray, Co. Wicklow, from the 21st November 2011 to 13th January 2012. I understand that he then undertook his driving test on 18th January, 2012, but regrettably failed the test on that occasion.

FÁS inform me that according to their records, the individual in question has not applied to repeat this test. Should he wish to repeat the test, FÁS will facilitate him by offering to provide two driving lessons and the driving test. He can do this by contacting the FÁS Wexford Office (Tel: 053 9143602). This contact should be made without delay to facilitate the lessons. I am unsure what the "five certificates" mentioned in the attached correspondence refer to. Should the Deputy wish to forward me further detail I will have it investigated and get back to him directly.

School Staffing

Stephen S. Donnelly

Question:

64 Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a breakdown of new teachers hired in the primary sector by training institution from which they obtained their teaching qualification, for each of the previous five years. [29825/12]

The information sought by the Deputy in respect of new primary teachers is not readily available.

Schools Building Projects

Brendan Ryan

Question:

65 Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress that has been made in identifying a suitable site for a new build in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Dublin which is part of the five-year building programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29898/12]

My Department has sought the assistance of, and is working closely with, the relevant Local Authority in relation to identifying and acquiring a suitable site for the proposed school referred to by the Deputy. Due to commercial sensitivities attaching to site acquisitions generally, I am not in a position to comment further at this time.

Brendan Ryan

Question:

66 Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he will take in the short to medium term to progress a school’s (details supplied) in County Dublin new build requirement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29899/12]

As the Deputy will be aware, I recently announced a programme for the delivery of school buildings over the next five years as part of a major investment programme. I can confirm that a project for a new building for the school to which the Deputy refers was included in that announcement. The timeline for when work will proceed on the proposed building is indicated in my announcement. Each project is listed in the year in which it is expected the project concerned will proceed to construction which in this case is 2015/16. I can confirm that my Department has sought the assistance of, and is working closely with, the relevant Local Authority in relation to identifying and acquiring a suitable site for the school in question. Due to commercial sensitivities attaching to site acquisitions generally, I am not in a position to comment further at this time.

Brendan Ryan

Question:

67 Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the building works application for a school (details supplied) in County Dublin; his plans for this school to be progressed to stage 1 in the very near future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29900/12]

The building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is at an early stage of architectural planning. My Department has been in contact with the Board of Management and their Design Team, who are working on the Stage 1 Design, to arrange a meeting at which the design options will be reviewed. This is an integral part of my Department's Design Team Procedures and is intended to expedite the progression of such projects through the design stages of architectural planning.

Schools Refurbishment

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

68 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the schools in Dublin 5, 13 and 17 that have been approved for works under the summer works scheme; the works that will be carried out at each school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29917/12]

As the Deputy is aware, the Government's Medium Term Infrastructure and Capital Investment Framework, which was published on 10th November last, sets out the demographic challenge facing the education system. 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.

In view of the need to ensure that every child has access to a school place, the delivery of major school projects to meet future demographic demands nationally will be the main focus for capital investment in schools in the coming years. The five year programme announced on 12 March last is focused on meeting those demographic needs. In the context, therefore, of the financial constraints imposed by the need to prioritise available funding for the provision of essential school accommodation, it is not possible for me to advance with a summer works programme this year.

Appointments to State Boards

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

69 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the appointments he made to State agencies and boards under the remit of his Department for the years 2010, 2011 and to date in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29918/12]

The attached document provides the relevant details of all appointments (and re-appointments) made to bodies under the aegis of my Department since my appointment as Minister on the 9th of March, 2011.

Breakdown of appointments since March 2011

Agency Name

Number Appointments /re-appointments

Names

Notes

Education Finance Board

2 re-appointments7 appointments

Mr. Sean Benton (Chairperson) Mr. Peter OrmondMr. Stephen McCarthyMs Norah GibbonsMs Inez BaileyMs Bernadette FahyMs Marian DunningtonMr. James QuinnMs Dolores Rooney

This Board is effectively a caretaker board which will serve for a number of months pending the establishment of the Statutory Fund. It is envisaged that the new Fund will assume the functions of the Board and the Board will be dissolved when the fund is set up. Mr. Ormond and Ms Fahy are re-appointments.

Foras Áiseanna Saothair

1 appointment

Mr. Michael Moriarty

Mr. Moriarty, who is General Secretary of the IVEA, was appointed in July 2011 because of his expertise in the area of Vocational Education which will be particularly useful in the context of the future integration of the FÁS training division and the VECs and the creation of SOLAS, the new further education and training authority.

Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC)

11 re-appointments(See Note 1)

Mr. Donal O’Rourke (Chairperson) Dr. Padraig WalshMs Margaret O’ConnellMr. Rory O’SullivanMr. Joseph O’LearyMs Deirdre KeyesMs Bridie DalyMs Margaret MernaghMr. John MulcahyMr. Tony PetitMs Shira Mehiman

As FETAC’s term of office expired in December 2011, and to meet with statutory obligations, eligible members of the outgoing Board were re-appointed to the Board until such time as the new QQAAI is established. All 11 re-appointed in December 2011.

Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC)

2 appointments8 re-appointments(See Note 1)

Dr. Maria Hinfelaar (1st appointed 9/6/2011)Mr. Aengus Ó Maoláin (1st appointed 1/7/2011)Prof. Séamus Smyth (Chairperson)Dr. Finola Doyle-O’NeillDr. Marion PalmerDr. Íde Ní FhaoláinMs Mary Mc GlynnDr. Diarmuid O’Callaghan

As HETAC’s term of office expired in December 2011, and to meet with statutory obligations, eligible members of the outgoing Board were re-appointed to the Board until such time as the new QQAAI (see note 1) is established. All 8 re-appointed on 21st December 2011.

Higher Education Authority

7 appointments3 re-appointments

Mr. Gary Redmond (President USI)Prof. Anthony StainesMs Siobhan HarkinMr. Gordan RyanMs Kathleen Lough (re-appointed)Mr. Paddy CosgraveDr. Brian ThornesDr. Mary Canning (re-appointed)Mr. Bahram BekheradniaDr. Jim Mountjoy

Mr. Redmond was re-appointed in July 2011 by virtue of his re-appointment as President of the USI. All other members appointed by Government on 6th March 2012.

Irish Research Council

12 appointments

Dr. David Lloyd (Chair) Prof. John BrewerMr. Ivan CoulterProf. Anita MaguireProf. Orla FeelyProf. Alan SmeatonDr. Thomas CooneyProf. Caroline FennellProf. Rowena PeccheninoProf. Sheila GreeneProf. Sean RyderDr. Eucharia Meehan

The two councils IRCHSS and IRCSET were stood down on the 18th of March 2012 and a new body the Irish Research Council (IRC) came into being on the 19th March 2012.

Léargas

7 appointments1 re-appointments

Mr. Michael McLoughlin (Chair) Ms Fidelma CollinsMr. Hugh MacConvilleMr. Stephen GouldingMs Gillian BoyleMs Geraldine SkellyMr. Cormac DoranMs Catherine Hazlett

Ms Geraldine Skelly was reappointed to the board in May 2012, Mr. Cormac Doran and Ms Catherine Hazlett were appointed to the board in May 2012 and all others were appointed on the 12th June 2012.

National Council for Curriculumand Assessment

25 appointments

Brigid McManus (Chairperson) Declan Kellehen, (Vice Chairperson)Michael Redmond (Vice Chairperson)Clive ByrneDeirbhile Nic CraithMarie GriffinNóirín HayesChristina HenehanPhilip IrwinBernie JudgeDr. Daire KeoghMarie Therese KilmartinMary LillisPádraig MacFhlannchadhaDr. Rose MaloneHilary McBainPatricia McCrossanDr. Kara McGannJim MooreMichael O’BrienSeán Ó CoinnBryan O’ReillySr. Betty O’RiordanBríd Uí RiordánEileen Salmon

All 25 members of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment were appointed on the 1st of April 2012

National Council for Special Education

1 appointment

Ms Maureen Costello

Director of the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) appointed in September 2011.

National Qualifications Authority of Ireland

1 appointment5 re-appointments(See Note 1)

Mr. Gary Redmond (1st appointed 24/6/2011)Prof. Anne ScottMs Marie BourkeMr. Eamon DevoyMs Audry DeaneMr. Tony Donohue

All re-appointed on 31st March 2011 with exception of Mr. Redmond.

State Examinations Commission

5 Appointments

Mr. Richard Langford (Chair)Mr. Joe Harrison (Deputy Chair)Mr. Martin CarneyDr. Brian FlemingDr. Caroline Hussey

Mr. Langford and Mr. Harrison were appointed to the board on the 3rd of April 2012, all others appointed on the 1st of May 2012

Skillnets Ltd

1

Mr. Mícheál Ó Fiannachta

A Departmental official appointed in June 2011.

Teaching Council

37

Michael Ó Gríofa (Chair)Dympna MulkerrinsEimear Marie ColeBrid Ní RaghallaighJohn ConlonCatherine O’ConnorMilo WalshDerbhile De PaorDiarmuid Ó MurchúMs Anne McElduffMr. Declan KelleherLily CroninChristopher MaginnNoel BuckleyBernadine O’SullivanFergal McCarthyMarie HumphriesKieran ChristieMr. Michael BarryMs Elaine DevlinMr. Bernie RuaneMr. Michael GillespieProf Michael HayesMs Marie McLoughlinDr. Andrew McGradyDr. Joe O’HaraMs Eileen FlynnDr. Ken FennellyMs Joan RussellMr. Patrick McVicarMs Áine LynchEleanor PetrieMarie ClarkeFrank TurpinDr. Séan RowlandDeirdre MatthewsBrendan McCabe

All 37 members of the Teaching Council board were appointed on the 28th of March 2012

Note 1: The Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC) the Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC) and the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI) are to be merged to form a new body to be known as the Qualifications and Quality Assurance Authority of Ireland (QQAAI) in the coming months.

Teaching Council of Ireland

Finian McGrath

Question:

70 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the issues raised by a person (details supplied) regarding the application for conditional registration with the Teaching Council and his Department for fashion industry practice course. [29930/12]

Each person appointed to a teaching post should be registered with the Teaching Council. As the Deputy may be aware, the Teaching Council is the body with statutory responsibility for regulation of the teaching profession. The Teaching Council's registration regulations are set out on its website and provide details of the requirements for those wishing to register on the basis of qualifications suitable for the further education sector (as teachers of courses or programmes leading to FETAC or equivalent awards). From 1 April 2013, a person applying to be entered on the register as a teacher in the further education sector must also have attained a Council approved further education teacher education qualification in accordance with Regulation Five. As the Council is an independent body, it would not be appropriate for me to intervene in individual cases. The matter should be taken up directly with the Council.

State Examinations

Ray Butler

Question:

71 Deputy Ray Butler asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a review will take place of the higher level, leaving certificate project maths paper 2 in view of the confusion it caused to all students undertaking it; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29970/12]

Comments and observations regarding test instruments are an intrinsic part of the feedback that SEC would normally expect to receive in any year. The well-tried methodology in place to deal with issues that arise in the course of the examination process is the development of the marking scheme by the Chief Examiner and his college of examiners in light of the circumstances of that year's examinations. All observations received in relation to any subject are reviewed by the relevant Chief Examiner in the context of preparing the marking scheme for that subject.

Schools Recognition

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

72 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide an update on the recognition of a new multi-denominational school in the Portobello area of Dublin for the Portobello Educate Together school start-up group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29979/12]

As the Deputy will be aware, in June 2011 I announced that 20 new primary and 20 new post-primary schools are to be established up to 2017 across a number of locations. This announcement did not include a proposal to establish a new primary school in the area referred to. However, my Department will continue to monitor enrolments in the Portobello area to ensure that there is sufficient school accommodation to meet any projected future demands.

Schools Building Projects

John Browne

Question:

73 Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a proper classroom will be provided to facilitate ASD classes at a school (details supplied) in County Wexford. [29990/12]

The project to provide an ASD unit at the school referred to by the Deputy is at an early stage of architectural planning. My Department is awaiting receipt of a Stage 2a submission (Developed Sketch Scheme) from the school's Design Team. Due to the financial constraints imposed by the need to prioritise the limited funding available for the provision of additional school accommodation to meet increasing demographic requirements it has not been possible to advance all school building projects concurrently. The project referred to by the Deputy was not included in the five year construction programme announced in March. Schools which have not been included in five year construction programme, but which were announced for initial inclusion in the building programme will continue to be progressed to final planning stages in anticipation of the possibility of further funds being available to the Department in future years.

Pension Provisions

Michael McGrath

Question:

74 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when revised pension arrangements for new public sector staff will come in to force; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30046/12]

I understand that the Deputy is referring to the proposed Single Public Service Pension Scheme for new recruits to public service employment. This new scheme is being legislated for by way of the Public Service Pensions (Single Scheme) and Remuneration Bill 2011, which is a major wide-ranging and complex piece of legislation.

Following enactment and commencement, the new scheme will apply to all future new entrants in all areas of the public service including the civil service, education sector, health sector, local authorities, Gardaí, Defence Forces, regulatory sector, non-commercial State bodies, Oireachtas and the judiciary. I am taking this Bill giving effect to the Single Scheme at Committee Stage on 21 June. I can assure the Deputy that I am committed to pressing forward with the Bill to introduce the new scheme with a view to ensuring that it becomes law as soon as possible.

Departmental Correspondence

Brendan Griffin

Question:

75 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his views on correspondence (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29827/12]

The correspondence referred to has been forwarded to the appropriate officials of my Department for their attention.

Departmental Expenditure

Sean Fleming

Question:

76 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the discussion he has had with the Department of Social Protection and the Department of Health in respect of the overruns in current expenditure in their Departments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30002/12]

Officials in my Department are in regular communication with line Departments with regard to monitoring current expenditure. Departments and Offices report on net current expenditure issues from the Exchequer immediately prior to the end of each month and these figures are monitored against the published Expenditure profiles. In addition, officials from my Department meet regularly with these Departments to hold joint financial performance management meetings to monitor financial progress.

Competition Authority

Robert Dowds

Question:

77 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the total number of investigations, prosecutions and convictions, and the total number of custodial sentences imposed on businesses and persons found to be in breach of the Competition Act 2002 for each of the years 2002 to 2011, inclusive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30067/12]

Section 29 (3) of the Competition Act 2002 provides that the Competition Authority is independent in the performance of its functions. Under section 30(1)(b) of that Act, the Competition Authority is responsible for investigating alleged breaches of the Act. As investigations and enforcement matters generally are part of the day-to-day operational work of the Authority, I have no direct function in the matter.

Details of the undertakings who were held by the Courts to have breached competition law together with relevant offences and penalties are contained in the Annual Reports of the Competition Authority. These Reports have been laid before each House of the Oireachtas and are also available on the Authority's websitewww.tca.ie. These Reports also contain information on the number of complaints received by the Authority in the year.

I am aware that the total number of fines imposed on individuals and businesses under the Competition Act 2002 is four, ranging from €50,000 to €80,000 and totalling €260,000. In addition twenty five fines were imposed between 2006 and 2012 under the Competition Act 1991, as amended, ranging from €1,500 to €35,000 and totalling €293,500. Under the Criminal Law Act 1997, three fines totalling €75,000 were imposed on individuals for aiding and abetting breaches of the Competition Acts, also since March 2006. 32 fines in total were imposed for competition law offences, including aiding and abetting offences.

The total number of jail terms imposed on persons for breaching the Competition Act 2002 was two of 15 months duration each. Both sentences were suspended for five years. In addition, since March 2006, six jail sentences ranging from three months to two years and totalling 51 months were imposed on individuals under the Competition Act 1991, as amended. All six of the sentences were suspended. A further three jail sentences ranging from six months to fifteen months and totalling 33 months were imposed under the Criminal Law Act 1997 since March 2006 for aiding and abetting breaches of the Competition Acts. All three of these sentences were suspended. In total therefore 11 jail sentences, all suspended, were imposed.

Domiciliary Care Allowance

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

78 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if and when an appeal will be determined in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare in respect of their application for domiciliary care allowance; if an oral hearing can be granted in respect of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29826/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 18th October 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 17th January 2012 and the case has been referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an 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.

Disability Allowance

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

79 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection when payment will issue in respect of an application for disability allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Waterford; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29837/12]

Despite a thorough search of our records we have no trace of an application for disability allowance from the person concerned having being received in the Department. On foot of your recent representations, which included a copy of the relevant disability allowance application form, a decision will be made in this case and the person notified in writing of the outcome in due course.

Rent Supplement Scheme

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

80 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the correct level of rent support payable in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; if any arrears are owned in this instance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29838/12]

The person concerned is in receipt of rent supplement of €666.00 per month which is the entitlement assessed based on the information submitted to the Department. The person concerned is also repaying €40.00 per month in respect of an assessed overpayment. There are currently no arrears due in this case.

Carer’s Allowance

Sean Fleming

Question:

81 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Laois may expect a decision on a review of an appeal for carer’s allowance in view of the time taken; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29839/12]

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

There has been a very significant increase in the number of appeals received by the Social Welfare Appeals Office since 2007 when the intake was 14,070 to 2010 and 2011 when the intake rose to 32,432 and 31,241 respectively. This has significantly impacted on the processing time for appeals which require oral hearings and, in order to be fair to all appellants, they are dealt with in strict chronological order. While every effort is being made to deal with the large numbers awaiting oral hearing as quickly as possible, it is not possible to give a date when the person's oral hearing will be heard, but she will be informed when arrangements have been made. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Rent Supplement Scheme

Martin Heydon

Question:

82 Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason rent allowance has been reduced in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29887/12]

The person concerned had their rent supplement claim reassessed on 15th March 2012 to take account of part-time earnings and the rent supplement entitlement has been reduced accordingly.

Stephen S. Donnelly

Question:

83 Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Social Protection in the case of parents who have separated and have agreed joint custody, but have not gone through a legal separation, and where one or both of the parents is applying for rent supplement, if they are each entitled to receive rent supplement adequate to house themselves plus the children they are jointly caring for; if it is the case that, in the absence of a judicial separation, the parent with less custody for example three days per week is not entitled to rent supplement to cover the cost of renting a home to house the children as well; and if this is the case, if she will justify this situation, and explain the reason it should not be sufficient, for example, to get a notarised document certifying that the parent has custody of the children on the appropriate number of days per week in order to qualify as a family for rent supplement purposes. [29893/12]

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.

Every claim for rent supplement is determined having regard to the particular circumstances of the applicant. Persons seeking a rent supplement must, firstly, 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.

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. In such cases, documentation is normally required showing that a joint custody arrangement is in place and being availed of before a decision can be made. The fact that one parent is in receipt of rent supplement would not, in itself, preclude the other parent from being entitled to assistance towards their rent.

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

84 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 348 of 12 June 2012, the amount by which the earnings of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare are deemed to exceed the limit in question; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29895/12]

The person concerned was disallowed jobseeker's allowance as his means were deemed to be in excess of the statutory limit based on earnings and on spousal earnings. His weekly means have been assessed at €371.08 which is €58.28 in excess of the scheduled rate for a person of his circumstances. If the person concerned is not satisfied with the decision of the deciding officer it is open to him to appeal the decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office in writing, citing his grounds for appeal.

Community Employment Schemes

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

85 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of community employment schemes in Dublin 5, 13 and 17 in 2010/2011 and 2012; the number of participants on each scheme; the level of funding provided to each scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29912/12]

The number of community employment schemes in Dublin 5, 13 and 15 in 2010/2011 and 2012, together with details of the number of participants and the funding provided to each scheme is set out in the attached table. The funding to be provided for 2012 is not yet finalised, pending the outcome of an on-going financial review of the Community Employment Scheme.

Dublin 5 — Community Employment Schemes

Scheme

Number of Participants 2010

Funding Provided 2010

Number of Participants 2011

Funding Provided 2011

Number of Participants 2012 (in progress)

Artane/Beaumont Resource Centre

36

€25,871.66

34

€33,945.37

32

Donnycarney Youth Project Ltd

17

€7,027.64

17

€21,616.15

17

Edenmore Drug Intervention

23

€24,548.24

23

€22,223.00

23

Grangemount Ltd

32

€34,370.30

32

€28,909.00

30

Kilbarrack Coast Community Programme

32

€44,726.65

32

€43,400.48

32

KLEAR

32

€42,697.43

40

€30,779.98

40

Little Sisters of the Poor

20

€14,743.02

20

€13,333.00

20

St. Monica’s Youth Centre

16

€9,457.13

15

€11,021.38

16

Dublin 13 — Community Employment Schemes

Scheme

Number of Participants 2010

Funding Provided 2010

Number of Participants 2011

Funding Provided 2011

Number of Participants 2012 (in progress)

Baldoyle CE Services Ltd

16

€17,553.19

19

€18,821.05

20

Sutton Dinghy Club

16

€20,005.22

15

€11,188.00

15

TARGET

20

€26,062.73

24

€23,027.02

20

Dublin 17 — Community Employment Schemes

Scheme

Number of Participants 2010

Funding Provided 2010

Number of Participants 2011

Funding Provided 2011

Number of Participants 2012 (in progress)

Darndale/Belcamp Initiative Ltd

53

€64,757.68

63

€63,013.00

53

North Dublin School Boys and Girls League

18

€20,328.55

18

€16,245.00

19

Northside Centre for the Unemployed

53

€59,693.40

59

€42,278.59

62

Northside Travellers Support

16

€19,120.43

16

€16,912.56

16

Bonnybrook Family Centre Coolock Dev. Council

53

€45,590.47

53

€58,288.88

53

Bonnybrook Youth Resource Centre

16

€21,770.56

16

€21,114.36

16

Darndale Integrated Childcare

44

€57,102.00

44

€66,684.91

44

Dublin North East Communications/NEAR FM

20

€24,719.16

24

€17,979.90

21

Moatview/Fairfield Development Association

25

€19,584.29

29

€22,346.60

25

Northside CE Network Support

37

€25,328.24

28

€34,888.63

22

Northside Community Childcare

51

€59,513.08

51

€55,631.00

51

RASP

27

€35,856.60

29

€37,622.00

29

Speedpak — Northside Partnership

33

€45,100.00

36

€43,960.00

32

The Dean Swift Sports Club

18

€19,168.65

21

€13,356.00

18

Tromcheile

41

€46,107.29

44

€42,514.00

41

Supplementary Welfare Allowance

Michael McNamara

Question:

86 Deputy Michael McNamara asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Clare will receive notification of their supplementary welfare allowance claim; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29981/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 24th 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. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 17th April 2012 and the case will be referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an 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 Appeals

John Browne

Question:

87 Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Social Protection when an appeal decision will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wexford. [29992/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 12th 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. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 04th May 2012 and the case will be referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an 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.

One-Parent Family Payment

John Browne

Question:

88 Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Social Protection when an appeal decision will issue on a single parent allowance claim in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wexford. [29999/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 28 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. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 17 May 2012 and the case has been referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an 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.

Rent Supplement

Martin Heydon

Question:

89 Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will review a case of entitlement to rent allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare who did not receive the allowance from the period when their tenancy commenced; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30004/12]

The person concerned failed to satisfy the Department that he was in private rented accommodation for 6 out of 12 months prior to the commencement of his tenancy, as required under the qualification rules for Rent Supplement. The person concerned subsequently obtained a housing need assessment from Kildare County Council dated 10 May 2012 and rent supplement was awarded in accordance with this assessment.

Community Employment Schemes

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

90 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Social Protection the community employment schemes currently operating in counties Louth and Meath; the number of participants in each; if all value for money reviews have been completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30005/12]

The information sought by the Deputy in relation to Community Employment (CE) schemes is set out in the following tables:

County

Current Projects

Current Participants

Current Supervisors

LOUTH

29

731

43

MEATH

15

366

20

Total

68

1,619

94

Project Reference

Sponsor

County

Current Participants

Current Supervisors

221239579

ARDEE COMMUNITY EMPLOYMENT PRO

Louth

27

1

201122765

THE FANE COMMUNITY GROUP

Louth

22

1

221239269

ANNAGASSAN/C’BELLINGHAM DEV LTD

Louth

14

1

221122685

DROGHEDA AREA WOMENS NETWORK LTD

Louth

15

1

221122764

DROGHEDA FOOTBALL SCHEME LTD.

Louth

19

1

221122775

MILLMOUNT COMMUNITY SERVICES L

Louth

28

2

221129035

WOMEN’S LIFESTYLE DEV GROUP LTD

Louth

19

1

221229051

COMMUNITY SERVICES TRUST LTD

Louth

19

1

221229060

DROGHEDA HOMELESS AID ASS LTD

Louth

15

1

221229069

DROICHEAD ARTS CENTRE

Louth

16

1

221229072

DROGHEDA WOMENS AND CHILDRENS REFUGE

Louth

16

1

221239239

NTH DROGHEDA COMMUNITY EMP LTD

Louth

29

2

221239248

DROGHEDA RESOURCE CENTRE

Louth

34

2

221239297

DROGHEDA YOUTH DEVELOPMENT

Louth

18

1

221239308

DROGHEDA YOUTH DEVELOPMENT

Louth

27

1

221239398

SVDP ST FRANCIS CONFERENCE

Louth

15

1

201122581

SWAP

Louth

36

2

201122599

AVE. RD. AREA COMM.DEV. GROUP

Louth

32

2

201122762

MOUNT OLIVER AND DISTRICT CE LTD

Louth

30

1

201229048

HOLY FAMILY COM.DEV.GROUP

Louth

16

1

201229050

ST. JOSEPHS DEV. GROUP

Louth

34

2

201239290

DUNDALK ICTU CENTRE LTD.

Louth

42

2

201239293

CENTRAL CE SCHEME

Louth

26

2

201229053

INNISKEEN/WEST LOUTH DEV.GROUP

Louth

24

1

221229093

MID LOUTH CE LTD

Louth

55

3

201117128

REDEEMER DEVELOPMENT GROUP

Louth

37

4

221239537

DUNLEER CE DEVELOPMENT COMPANY LTD

Louth

20

2

201117147

COOLEY COMMUNITY PROJECTS LTD

Louth

27

1

221122766

TOGHER COMM.PROJECT GROUP

Louth

19

1

241002581

ATHBOY DEVELOPMENT GROUP LIMITED

Meath

19

1

241122741

BALLIVOR COMMUNITY CHILDCARE L

Meath

17

0

221122673

DULEEK DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION LTD

Meath

22

1

241122696

ENFIELD CE LIMITED

Meath

14

1

241109827

KELLS(A)PROJECT CE SCHEME LTD.

Meath

15

1

241122651

ALZHEIMER SOCIETY NE REGION

Meath

23

2

241239296

DPP COMMUNITY PROJECT Ltd

Meath

16

1

241139119

NAVAN TRAVELLERS WORKSHOPS LTD

Meath

20

1

241239272

NAVAN EMPLOYMENT DEV PROJECTS

Meath

69

3

241239656

SPORTS DEVELOPMENT PROJECT LTD

Meath

37

2

241122795

OLDCASTLE/MOYLAGH CE SCHEME LD

Meath

19

1

241139299

M.K.K.D. (MEATH) LIMITED

Meath

14

1

221122783

CSS COMMUNITY GROUPS LTD

Meath

30

2

241122740

SUMMERHILL C.E. FÁS GROUP LTD.

Meath

23

1

241122752

TRIM INITIATIVE DEVELOPMENT AND ENTERPRISE LTD

Meath

28

2

The financial review of CE Schemes is very nearly completed. The outcomes of the review will be communicated to CE sponsoring organisations directly by staff in the Department in the coming weeks. The Department is committed to supporting the CE Programme and the valuable contribution it makes to the provision of services to individuals and communities.

Turbary Rights

Frank Feighan

Question:

91 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the position regarding a person (details supplied) in County Leitrim, who sold bog in a national heritage area to his Department in 2009 and has not yet received payment; if they can now opt for the present compensation scheme. [29888/12]

The land referred to by the Deputy is located in a natural heritage area designated in 2003.

In 2010, the then Government decided that turf-cutting should come to an end on raised bog natural heritage areas at the end of 2013. However, in accordance with the Programme for Government, the situation regarding the 75 raised bog natural heritage areas will be reviewed in conjunction with the Peatlands Council and decisions will be made in advance of the cutting season in 2014.

In April 2011, the Government made a decision to put in place a compensation scheme for those who have been required to cease cutting on the 53 raised bog special areas of conservation. My Department is giving priority to implementing this scheme, which is not applicable to sites in natural heritage areas. In the circumstances, and in light of the decision to review the approach to these areas more generally, the issue of any further purchase of land or rights in natural heritage area bogs, including the land referred to, is being kept under review.

Film Industry Development

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

92 Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if his attention has been drawn to any change in the Irish Film Board’s regional support programme which was successfully used to encourage film making in the regions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29931/12]

The Irish Film Board (IFB) is the statutorily independent agency responsible for the promotion and development of the Irish film industry. I have no responsibility for any of the day-to-day operational matters of the IFB, including the allocation of resources to any support programmes. This is a matter for the Board and management of the IFB. However, I understand that the IFB no longer operate a specific regional support scheme and that all supports for production funding are now allocated from one scheme, covering all of the country.

Turbary Rights

Catherine Murphy

Question:

93 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of items of turf-cutting equipment detained by an authorised officer of his Department or by the Garda Síochána under Art 35 (3) of the Habitats Regulations in 2011 and 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29932/12]

Catherine Murphy

Question:

94 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of persons who have been identified by his Department to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine as cutting turf on raised bog special areas of conservation in 2011 broken down by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29933/12]

Catherine Murphy

Question:

95 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of prosectutions been initiated for offences under the Habitats regulations as a result of the cutting turf on raised bog special areas of conservation in 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29935/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 93 to 95, inclusive, together.

I wish to advise that my Department did not initiate any prosecutions or report anyone to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine last year for cutting turf on raised bog Special Areas of Conservation (SAC). In addition, I understand that no items of turf cutting equipment were detained by my Department last year or this year to-date. Activity by An Garda Síochána is not the responsibility of my Department.

Better Energy Homes Scheme

Martin Ferris

Question:

96 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the number of persons who have been refused the better energy home scheme grant because they were late in submitting their paper work. [29971/12]

The Better Energy Programme is administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). The Better Energy Homes scheme provides financial assistance to householders who wish to improve the energy performance of their homes. Fixed grants are provided towards the cost of a range of measures including attic insulation, wall insulation, heating systems upgrades, solar thermal panels and accompanying Build Energy Ratings certificates. Since commencement in March 2009 the scheme has disbursed over €138m in grants and supported the installation of over 320,000 energy efficiency measures in 127,000 homes.

The number of applications which have been declined because the grant claim was not received within the six-month grant eligibility period is 1,051 or less than 1% of the total applications to the scheme. Out of the 1,051 grants declined, approximately two-thirds of the applicants subsequently appealed, with 349 appeals successful. The total number of grant claims which were ultimately refused due to offer expiry is 667, with 35 applications remaining pending.

Inland Fisheries

Thomas Pringle

Question:

97 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources further to Parliamentary Question No. 434 of 1 May 2012, in relation to a study conducted by Inland Fisheries Ireland (details supplied) his views on the way such a conclusion could be reached, in view of the fact that the study in question did not address the issue of lice larvae emanating from farmed salmon as the source of infection was not examined in the publicily funded experiment and that no information was presented regarding the origin of the parasite; his views on the nine year study carried out by the Marine Institute of Ireland on the same topic, including the causes of the mortality of wild salmon. [29906/12]

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) have advised that, as regards the issue of sea lice from marine salmon farms, an important scientific study conducted by IFI on the impact of sea lice infestation of outwardly migrating salmon smolts from a number of rivers on Ireland's West Coast was published earlier this year. I am advised that the basis for all the conclusions in the scientific study is set out in the study itself. I have organised for a copy to be forwarded to the Deputy and IFI scientists are available to discuss the report with the Deputy if he so wishes. I am also informed that the study, which cites a number of relevant and internationally respected scientific papers, was subject to robust peer review in the context of its publication in the prestigious "Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences".

Regarding the Marine Institute study cited by the Deputy, I understand that this refers to papers assessing the results of all the field experiments on the release of emamectin-treated salmon smolts protected against sea lice and non-protected control groups. I am advised that findings in this study, in relation to the impact of sea lice infestation on marine survival of wild salmon, correspond in some respects to findings of the IFI study (2012) in that both studies found broadly similar results on this issue. The findings in the IFI study also indicate that sea lice emanating from marine salmon farms can be among the factors causing increased marine mortality of salmon.

Dormant Accounts Fund

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

98 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will confirm, if the veil, or rather the stone wall of secrecy that pertains to Central Bank of Ireland dormant accounts inspection reports, in contrast, say, to the regime that obtains in relation to Central Bank of Ireland themed reviews and inspections, remains equally impermeable whether the consulting inspectors, in this case Pricewaterhouse Coopers, return findings of probity or findings of untoward accounting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30015/12]

I am advised that the Central Bank is bound by strict confidentiality requirements under Section 33AK(1)(b)(i) of the Central Bank Act 1942, as amended, regarding disclosure of supervisory information relating to financial institutions. The Central Bank has developed a framework for reviewing, assessing and mitigating risks which have emerged in various industry sectors and across individual financial institutions. The overall themes or findings which emerge are published on the Central Bank’s website; however, specific issues relating to individual institutions are not published. Dormant Account inspections do not fall under the category of themed reviews and inspections, and are a responsibility delegated to the Central Bank under Section 22 of the Dormant Accounts Act, 2001.

Where, following an inspection under the Dormant Accounts Act, there is reason to believe that an institution is in breach of any provision of the Act or there is a material defect in the systems, procedures and processes to check on the identification, notification, transfer, recording and repayment of moneys in dormant accounts, the inspector is required to prepare a report, in writing, and submit a copy of the report to the Minister. I have no indication that such is the case in respect of the reports undertaken by PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

99 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to evidence of practices such as bed and breakfasting account balances being employed within any financial institutions subject to the Dormant Accounts Acts as a means of avoiding making transfers to the Dormant Accounts Fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30016/12]

My attention has not been drawn to any evidence of practices being employed within any financial institutions subject to the Dormant Accounts Acts as a means of avoiding making transfers to the Dormant Accounts Fund. If the Deputy has such evidence, it should be made available to the relevant authorities.

Motor Taxation

Michael McGrath

Question:

100 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his plans to commission a study on the impact of possible changes to the structure of motor taxation in advance of the December budget; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30053/12]

A review of options for the improvement in Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) and motor tax revenues in future years was announced on Budget day, 6 December 2011. Interested parties were invited to make submissions regarding the proposed revision in the current system of VRT and motor tax to adjust CO2 bands and rates in line with technological advances in motor vehicles while maintaining a positive environmental incentive to reduce transport emissions.

The public consultation period ran to 1 March 2012. Submissions were received from motoring representative organisations, motor dealers and other elements of the motoring industry, and also from private individuals. These submissions addressed the likely impact of possible changes to the structure of motor taxation, and I do not propose to commission a separate study. My Department and the Department of Finance are considering the submissions and possible options with a view to bringing proposals to Government.

Control of Dogs

Gerry Adams

Question:

101 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the enforcement action that will be taken by local authorities against dog owners for issues such as dog fouling or dog attacks. [29820/12]

The responsibilities of dog owners in relation to the removal of faeces deposited by dogs in a public place, and in relation to the control of dogs, are set out in the Litter Pollution Act 1997 and the Control of Dogs Acts 1986 and 1992, respectively. These Acts also set out the functions and duties of local authorities in these areas, including powers of enforcement. The ongoing implementation of enforcement actions is a matter for local authorities, primarily through litter wardens and dog wardens.

Household Charge

Anne Ferris

Question:

102 Deputy Anne Ferris asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the position regarding the payment of the household charge in respect of a person (details supplied) who is in receipt of jobseeker’s allowance and purchasing their house from the local authority under the tenant purchase scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29903/12]

The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 and the Local Government (Household Charge) Regulations 2012 provide the legislation underpinning the household charge. The household charge is on a self assessment basis and interpretation of the legislation is a matter for legal advice in individual cases and ultimately a matter for the Courts.

The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 provides for a number of exemptions and waivers from payment of the household charge. The exemptions from payment of the household charge are:

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

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

Voluntary and co-operative housing,

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

Residential property owned by certain charities or discretionary trusts, and

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

The waivers which apply concern:

Owners of residential property entitled to mortgage interest supplement, and

Owners of houses in certain unfinished housing estates.

Noise Pollution

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

103 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he expects the noise nuisance Bill to be published this session; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29914/12]

The Programme for Government includes a commitment to take further steps to address noise pollution,inter alia , through the introduction of fixed payment notices (also known as on-the-spot fines) and provision for mediation procedures between neighbours. The development of new noise legislation by my Department will be considered in the context of this commitment; however, as indicated in the Government Legislation Programme published on 17 April 2012, it is not possible at this time to indicate when the legislation will be published, having regard to other priorities in the area concerned and the broader range of legislative priorities to be progressed across my Department’s remit.

Motor Taxation

Tom Fleming

Question:

104 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will accommodate motorists in County Kerry who are experiencing exceptional financial hardship by allowing them to pay their motor tax on a monthly basis rather than the current minimum period of three months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29978/12]

I have no plans currently to introduce a monthly payment option for motor tax. The current half-yearly and quarterly payment options incorporate a surcharge to cover the higher administrative costs involved in processing such applications. The estimated annual income from the increased charges for half-year and quarterly vehicle licences is in the region of €20m. Were a monthly pro-rata system to be introduced, the loss in income would have to be compensated for elsewhere in the motor tax system, or through the taxation system generally. It would also have a negative transitional impact on the flow of income to the Local Government Fund and consequently on grant allocations to local authorities from the Fund. In considering options for a monthly payment option, regard would also have to be had to the set-up costs in the motor tax system, and increased ongoing administrative and financial costs and controls.

Water Meters

Tom Fleming

Question:

105 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the approximate cost per county for the installation of domestic water meters; if there will be a cost to the consumer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29983/12]

My Department has prepared detailed cost estimates for the metering programme. However, it would be inappropriate to release these estimates in advance of the procurement process. The framework for water charges, including any costs associated with the meter, will be determined as part of the regulatory process.

Irish Water

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

106 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the section of local authorities drainage system that will be the responsibility of Irish Water when operational; if it will be the foul or surface, or both; if only foul, if his attention has been drawn to the fact that in many council areas up to 80% of the drainage system is a combined drain; the person who will be responsible for the maintenance of gullies and so on in event of flooding or other severe weather events. [30012/12]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

107 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government when is it expected that local authority staff will be transferred to Irish Water; if they will be direct employees of Irish Water or on secondment to Irish Water, or will they be contracted out to Bord Gáis. [30013/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 106 and 107 together.

The Government decided in December 2011, based on the recommendations of an independent assessment, to establish a public water utility company, Irish Water, to take over the operational and capital delivery functions of local authorities in the water services area. Following further consideration as to whether Irish Water should be established as a new entity or whether existing bodies in the Semi State sector could undertake the function, the Government decided that Irish Water should be established as an independent state owned company within the Bord Gáis Group. The proposed public utility model represents a major change with significant implications for local government, the water industry in Ireland and its many stakeholders. Bord Gáis Éireann (BGE) has key capabilities that can be brought to bear in the establishment of Irish Water, and these skills within the Bord Gáis Group will be paired with the experience and commitment to service in local authorities and the specific water and wastewater capabilities and expertise that exist in local government to build the new organisation.

A phased transition is proposed to ensure continuity of service and the building of a fit for purpose organisation within a reasonable timescale, and it is also expected that Irish Water will maintain a strong regional and local focus for operational delivery. Service level agreements will be put in place between Irish Water and local authorities and these arrangements will be place until 2017 at the earliest. This will ensure a smooth transition to the new model and guard against the loss of local expertise. It will also mean that the majority of staff will remain in the direct employment of local authorities for a considerable period. The Department has had initial engagement with ICTU, and there will be detailed engagement with Staff and Trade Unions in the rollout of the proposed changes.

Work is now focused on the finalisation of an implementation strategy which will address transformation planning in more detail. The implementation strategy is being developed in collaboration with other relevant Government Departments, local authorities, BGE and NewERA. This strategy will provide the platform for dealing with a broad range of implementation issues during the transitional phase, including dealing with matters which cross the boundaries between Irish Water functions in relation to water services and those functions which will remain the responsibility of local authorities or other State bodies which impact on the water environment. The rollout of the strategy will also involve co-operation with local authorities and staff to ensure that the change is managed well. The strategy will focus on maintaining the delivery of a critical public service during and following a restructuring process, and will give further clarity on the next steps that will be taken in this reform process.

Court Accommodation

Dara Calleary

Question:

108 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to make available funding to carry out essential repair and maintenance work on a property (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29901/12]

I wish to inform the Deputy that under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts, including the provision of accommodation for court sittings, is the responsibility of the Courts Service which is independent in exercising its functions. However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and have been informed by the Service that it has been providing the funding necessary for the ongoing upkeep of the courthouse in Ballyhaunis, including in respect of necessary repairs and maintenance.

Criminal Prosecutions

Robert Dowds

Question:

109 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide figures, in tabular form, of the total number of investigations, prosecutions and successful convictions for each of the following offences in years 2003 to 2011, inclusive, falsification of accounts, offences under the companies act, offences under the Investment Intermediaries Act, money laundering, embezzlement, corruption involving public office holders with three separate tables setting out the figures for investigations, prosecutions and convictions respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29938/12]

The Garda Síochána Act 2005 makes provision for the compilation and publication of crime statistics by the Central Statistics Office, as the national statistical agency, and the CSO has established a dedicated unit for this purpose. I have requested the CSO to provide relevant statistics directly to the Deputy.

I am also informed by my colleague the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation that information in relation to investigations, prosecutions and successful convictions for offences under the Companies Acts 1963-2009, for the years 2003 to 2011 inclusive, are available in the Annual Reports of the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement for those years. The relevant Annual Reports have been laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas and are also available on the website of the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement atwww.odce.ie/en/media_general_publications.aspx.

Garda Investigations

Dara Murphy

Question:

110 Deputy Dara Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality with regard to the Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System) Bill, if this Bill will allow the Garda or other State agencies to retain for the purpose of maintaining a DNA database samples taken during the course of a particular investigation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29814/12]

The Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System) Bill will provide for the establishment of a DNA database, a commitment in the Programme for Government. The database will assist the Garda Síochána in the investigation of crime and in finding and identifying missing and unknown persons. It will do so by providing the Gardaí with a source of high quality intelligence that will facilitate better targeted investigations. The database will be populated by DNA profiles generated from biological samples taken from persons detained in connection with the investigation of serious offences (generally those attracting sentences of 5 years or more) and convicted persons including persons subject to the registration requirements under the Sex Offenders Act 2001.

DNA profiles constitute sensitive personal data. As such, their retention on a database or otherwise constitutes an encroachment on the individual's right to privacy. With this in mind, the Bill will adopt a carefully calibrated approach to their retention and use, taking account of the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights. For example, retention arrangements will distinguish between persons who have been convicted and those who have not been proceeded against or who have been acquitted and between adults and children.

Indefinite retention will generally apply in relation to convicted persons (subject to some special provision for child offenders) whereas persons who have not been proceeded against or who have been acquitted will have an opportunity to apply to the Commissioner for the removal of their profiles from the database in certain circumstances. In the event that they do not do so or their application is refused, default removal periods will apply ranging from 5 to 10 years. The approach adopted in the Bill will maximise the effectiveness of the database in the fight against crime while ensuring that the individual's right to privacy is not infringed in a disproportionate manner.

Naturalisation Applications

Barry Cowen

Question:

111 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly may expect a decision on their application for naturalisation. [29817/12]

I am advised by the Citizenship Division of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that a valid application for a certificate of naturalisation was received from the person referred to by the Deputy in July, 2011. The application is currently being processed with a view to establishing whether the applicant meets the statutory conditions for the granting of naturalisation, such as good character and lawful residence, and will be submitted to me for decision as expeditiously as possible.

It is recognised that all applicants for citizenship would wish to have a decision on their application without delay. Considerable resources are deployed to process applications and these resources together with the necessary administrative arrangements are kept under review. As well as being a significant event in the life of its recipient, the granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation as provided for in law is also a major step for the State which confers certain rights and entitlements not only within the State but also at European Union level and it is important that appropriate procedures are in place to preserve the integrity of the process.

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

Guardian Status

Clare Daly

Question:

112 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to comments made by him in Dáil Éireann on 7 June 2011 (details supplied) if he accepts that many fathers who try to take responsibility for their children and to form and cement relationships with their children, or to involve themselves in their children’s lives, are thwarted by the failure of schools and hospitals to give due regard to their status as guardians as well as the failure of the Family Law Courts to enforce the court orders that they grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29841/12]

Persons who feel they have been discriminated against in access to services on the basis of their family status and/or civil status may avail of the redress mechanism provided under the Equal Status Acts 2000 to 2011 and refer a complaint to the Equality Tribunal. Information and advice is available from the Equality Authority in respect of this legislation and on making such complaints. In view of the independence of these agencies in the exercise of these statutory functions, the Deputy will appreciate that it is not appropriate for me to comment on any particular case.

In the event of non-compliance with a court order, parties may bring any breach to the attention of the court. The court can only act to enforce or vary an order where the matter is brought back before the court. I made the comments referred to by the Deputy in the context of a debate on non-marital fathers and guardianship in which I also stated that: "there is no major obstacle to the biological father of a child being named as the guardian of the child in circumstances in which the father has an established relationship with that child."

For the very many fathers who take responsibility and who form relationships with their children, there are simple measures they can take to secure their legal responsibilities in relation to the child: either by making a statutory declaration referred to in section 2(4) of the Guardianship of Children Acts 1964-1997 together with the child's mother appointing the father as a guardian, or in the absence of agreement between the parents, by seeking a court order appointing the father as a guardian under section 6A of the Acts.

Rights of the Child

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

113 Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if, in view of the Women’s Aid annual statistics report 2011, which highlights the significant increase in the number of children who witnesses domestic violence and experience assault themselves, if he intends to provide children with a greater voice before the courts, as recommended in the UN convention on the rights of the child; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29883/12]

I will contact the Deputy directly in relation to this matter.

Rights of the Child

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

114 Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to provide for the provision of a comprehensive guardian ad litem service, as contained in the Children Act 1997, for children in access cases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29884/12]

Section 28 of the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964, inserted by section 11 of the Children Act 1997, regarding appointment of a guardian ad litem for a child and provision for separate representation of the guardian ad litem, has not been commenced. Given the extensive costs which would fall on the Exchequer on the provision of a guardian ad litem service for children in family law proceedings, I have no plans to make such provision in the prevailing economic conditions.

Probation and Welfare Service

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

115 Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the probation and welfare service will as was previously the case, assist with the work of the district family courts thus ensuring that the views of children are expressed, heard, recorded and put before the court; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29885/12]

The Probation Service is the lead agency in the assessment and management of offenders in the community. Their role is to work with offenders to challenge and change their behaviour and make good the harm done by their offending. Historically, the Probation Service did hold a role providing reports to the courts in respect of applications for custody and access. Relevant legislation, such as section 47 of the Family Law Act, 1995 allowed probation officers, as well as persons nominated by the Health Service Executive or any other person specified in the order to prepare social reports in family law proceedings. However the involvement of the Probation Service in family law cases was discontinued due to lack of dedicated resources and for policy reasons. There are no plans to re-establish this service.

Garda Strength

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

116 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of vacancies currently at the rank of sergeants, inspectors, superintendents, chief superintendents and assistant commissioner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29910/12]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

129 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which any positions remain to be filled in An Garda Síochána at all rank levels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30022/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 116 and 129 together.

I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that the strength of An Garda Síochána in all ranks on the 31 May 2012, the latest date for which figures are available, was as set out in the following table:

Rank

31/05/2012

Commissioner

1

D/Commissioner

2

A/Commissioner

8

Chief Supt.

38

Superintendent

148

Inspector

284

Sergeant

1,940

Garda

11,160

Total

13,581

While regulations have previously provided for the numbers permitted in each rank, these have been upper ceilings for those numbers, rather than target strengths, and it is therefore not practical to indicate precise levels of vacancies at the different ranks. It is a matter for Government to decide on the number of appointments to senior ranks (above Inspector level), and a matter for the Commissioner to make appointments to ranks up to Inspector level.

I am, however, fully conscious of the importance of maintaining a sufficient strength in the senior ranks to support the investigative, management and supervisory capacity of the Force. To this end I am in ongoing discussions with my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform with a view to agreeing an approach by Government on the appropriate strengths in the senior ranks, taking into account reforms and efficiencies being implemented by the Commissioner. I expect that this will enable the making of a number of senior appointments in the near future.

Traveller Community

Gerry Adams

Question:

117 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to recognise Travellers as a distinct ethnic group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29928/12]

Consideration to recognising Travellers as an ethnic minority is ongoing and I intend that the question will be before the Government for decision as soon as possible.

Legal Aid Service

Paul Connaughton

Question:

118 Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the amount of legal aid paid annually in terms of the most recent figures available for County Galway and that figure as a percentage paid out over the same period nationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29976/12]

I wish to inform the Deputy that although it is not specifically stated, I am assuming he is seeking the figures for the year 2011.

As the Deputy will be aware, legal aid services within this State are divided into two separate categories, namely civil legal aid through the Legal Aid Board under the provisions of the Civil Legal Aid 1995 and criminal legal aid through the Courts and the Judiciary under the provisions of the Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Act 1962.

Relevant details under both categories are set below separately as follows:

Civil Legal Aid

The Legal Aid Board spent €54,207 in County Galway during 2011. This represents 3% of the Legal Aid Board's Private Practitioners Budget.

Criminal Legal Aid

The Deputy should note that details of payments made to barristers are not available because relevant addresses on the Department's payments system are shown only as payments to the Law Library and therefore cannot be differentiated. The information being provided in this category is therefore in respect of solicitors only. A total of €852,114 was paid to Galway Solicitors in 2011, which represents 2.94% of total payments nationally.

Legislative Programme

Jack Wall

Question:

119 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to provide through legislation the protection of State lands such as the Curragh of Kildare from illegal parking, misuses of the facilities and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29982/12]

I will contact the Deputy directly in relation to this matter.

Human Rights Issues

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

120 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to an incident that occurred on 26 June 2011 when a group of adults and children travelled by private bus from Belfast to visit Kilmainham Gaol and Glasnevin Cemetery before which all passengers, before their departure were videoed by police at the pick-up point near Conway Mill in west Belfast: if his further attention has been drawn to the fact that on their return the bus was stopped by the PSNI near Banbridge who entered the bus with video cameras and filmed, that there were around 100 police officers, including some plain clothed, some masked and heavily armed as well as a special search team of British soldiers accompanied by search dogs: if his attention has further been drawn to the fact that nothing of note was found during this search. [29984/12]

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

121 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the persons searched in the Banbridge incident (details supplied) have alleged that a number of personnel later involved in the search operation were present in the gaol in Kilmainham, Dublin during the visit. [29985/12]

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

122 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to any PSNI Officers or British Army personnel operating in the State during the Banbridge incident (details supplied). [29986/12]

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

123 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his policy regarding the operation of PSNI or British Army personnel operating here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29987/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 120 to 123, inclusive, together.

The Deputy will appreciate that I have no function in relation to the incident alleged to have occurred in Banbridge. Neither I nor An Garda Síochána have information to support the allegations relating to this jurisdiction. There is, of course, no question of members of the PSNI or the British Army having lawful authority to act in this jurisdiction. Instead, as I have informed the House previously, An Garda Síochána and the PSNI co-operate very closely in discharging their respective roles.

Garda Stations

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

124 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will ensure the retention of the maximum number of Garda stations throughout the country with particular reference to the need to facilitate the Garda in its efforts to counter the activities of criminal gang operatives who have located in rural areas with obvious consequences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30017/12]

Under the Garda Síochána Acts 2005-2007, the Commissioner is required to submit, before November of each year, a policing plan for the forthcoming year. The Policing Plan for 2013 has not yet been prepared and therefore it is not possible to say at this stage what it may contain, although it is expected that it will contain measures to address the ongoing issue of rationalisation of the Garda station network.

While the latest recorded crime statistics show a decrease in most types of crime during 2011, I am, of course, concerned at the increase in certain categories of crime, notably burglaries and other property crimes. In particular, I share the widespread outrage at recent incidents of aggravated burglary, where elderly people were terrorised in their own homes. Although the overall incidence of crime is generally lower in rural than in urban areas, I am very conscious of the deep distress these disturbing assaults can cause and the fear they give rise to in rural communities.

I welcome the fact that the Garda Commissioner is deploying the resources available to him in a targeted and strategic approach — though the use of such measures as Operation Fiacla — and continues to confront those who are engaging in this form of criminality.

Organised Crime

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

125 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of prosecutions taken against known members of criminal gangs in each of the past three years to date in 2012; the number of successful prosecutions; the number, if any dismissed for lack of evidence of other reasons in the same period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30018/12]

As the Deputy will be aware, membership of organised crime gangs tends to be fluid and offences committed by members of criminal gangs may or may not be connected with an individual's membership of such gangs. It is therefore not feasible to provide the Deputy with the particular information sought. However, the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009, which entered into force on 23 July 2009, introduced a number of provisions which strengthened the law dealing with organised crime.

Since the enactment of that legislation on 23 July 2009, up to 31 May, 2012, I am advised by the Garda authorities that the provisions of the Act have been used on 164 occasions where arrests have been made relating to organised crime. In the same period, eight individuals have been charged under the legislation, six under section 72 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 as inserted by section 6 of the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009 (participating in organised crime) and two under section 71A of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 as inserted by section 5 of the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009 (directing a criminal organisation).

In February, 2012, the two persons charged with offences contrary to section 71A, Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act, 2009 were before the Courts and pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of an offence contrary to section 72 — participating or contributing to certain activities. The Law Officers directed that the other charges be withdrawn and on 11th June, 2012, both persons were sentenced to 9 years imprisonment. The remaining six individuals are still before the Courts.

Garda Strength

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

126 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which he expects to be in a position to maintain the strength of An Garda Síochána in all areas throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30019/12]

The Deputy will be aware that the Commissioner is responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, throughout the organisation and I have no function in the matter. I am informed by the Garda authorities that, as of the latest date for which figures are readily available, the personnel strength of the Garda Síochána was 13,581.

What will ultimately determine the sustainable level of Garda numbers, and therefore establish when recruitment will recommence, is the level of budgetary provision that can be made for the Force. Difficult decisions will continue to have to be made, right across the public sector, in order to bring our public finances back into balance.The decision on when recruitment will re-commence will also take into account the rate of retirements in the Garda Síochána and Government targets, set in the context of the agreement with the EU and the IMF, to reduce the numbers of public servants.

Organised Crime

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

127 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the areas throughout the country most affected by serious or organised crime as identified from criminal activity in each of the past five years to date in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30020/12]

The Garda Síochána Act 2005 makes provision for the compilation and publication of crime statistics by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), as the national statistical agency, and the CSO has established a dedicated unit for this purpose. I have requested the CSO to provide statistics directly to the Deputy.

Anti-Social Behaviour

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

128 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the level and nature of anti-social behaviour or similar reports of bullying and intimidation reported to the Garda at various stations throughout the country; the extent to which such claims have been followed up and/or successful prosecutions taken; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30021/12]

The Garda Síochána Act 2005 makes provision for the compilation and publication of crime statistics by the Central Statistics Office, as the national statistical agency, and the CSO has established a dedicated unit for this purpose. I have requested the CSO to provide statistics directly to the Deputy. Incidents of public disorder and anti-social behaviour reported to the Garda authorities are the subject of investigation and dealt with appropriately, including by juvenile or adult caution, fixed charge penalty notices or initiating criminal proceedings. Any persons found engaging in such behaviour will be dealt with appropriately in accordance the law.

Question No. 129 answered with Question No. 116.
Question No. 130 answered with Question No. 32.
Question No. 131 answered with Question No. 30.
Question No. 132 answered with Question No. 37.

Prison Committals

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

133 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to instances of disregard for criteria appertaining to early release, supervised release or transfer to open prison and on what grounds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30026/12]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

135 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the way it might be possible for a person serving a long sentence in respect of a grievous matter involving loss of life could be transferred to an open prison within a relatively short time; if such matters are provided for in the existing criteria appertaining to prisoners serving sentence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30028/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 133 and 135 together.

My replies to previous Parliamentary Questions explained the criteria which applies including the circumstances when temporary release may be provided and what matters must be taken into account. Candidates for temporary release are identified by a number of different means but primarily on the recommendation of the Prison Governor or the therapeutic services in the prisons. The prisoner, their family, or their legal representative can also apply for consideration of such a concession. Recommendations are also made to me in relation to long term sentence prisoners by the Parole Board though it does not necessarily follow that a prisoner will receive temporary release even if the recommendation is to that effect.

As I stated, when publishing the Report on the escape of a prisoner from Loughan House, the decision to send this prisoner to Loughan House was wrong. At the time, I instructed the Director General of the Irish Prison Service to take all necessary steps to ensure that a mistake of this nature does not reoccur. I have been informed by the Director General that measures have been taken to provide additional oversight in the decision making processes in order to ensure that such a decision cannot be made in the future. Where consideration is being given to the transfer of a prisoner serving a sentence for a homicide related offence to an open centre, that decision must now be made by the Director General of the Irish Prison Service.

All decision making staff and prison governors have been reminded of the need to take appropriate account of all the criteria to be applied to such decision making in a balanced and considered manner.

Criminal Gangs

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

134 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he has observed any indications to the effect that crime gang leaders have an input in respect of prisoner discipline within the prisons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30027/12]

The emergence in recent years of criminal gangs has had significant implications for the management of Irish prisons. Prison management must ensure that the various factions are kept apart and, as far as possible, that gang members do not have influence over other inmates or criminal activities outside the prisons. The Deputy can be assured that gang members are being managed on a daily basis through segregation and separation throughout the prison system. Membership/allegiance to these criminal gangs fluctuates on a continuous basis with some persons breaking links and others becoming affiliated.

I am aware of the difficulties for everyone involved and appreciate the efforts made by prison management and staff to deal with this issue on a daily basis within our prisons. The Irish Prison Service has introduced all possible measures to deal with this and has built up considerable experience in this regard. A number of initiatives have been introduced with a view to preventing identified gang leaders from conducting criminal activities while in custody and also to prevent them exerting inappropriate influence over other persons. For example, the security initiatives undertaken by the Operational Security Group (OSG) have made it more difficult for prisoners to engage in illegal activities while in prison. These initiatives include the introduction of passive and active drug detection dogs and the installation of airport style security including scanners and x-ray machines.

In addition, there is regular contact between the Prison Service and An Garda Síochána to discuss security issues including the operation of criminal gangs. Gardaí are also provided with reports detailing the release dates of this category of prisoner. Furthermore, the Risk Management of Offenders Group within the Irish Prison Service meet on a regular basis to share intelligence and decide in a strategic and collaborative fashion on the placement of leading gang members across the prison estate, having regard to the associated protection issues involved.

Question No. 135 answered with Question No. 133.

Witness Intimidation

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

136 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of recorded instances whereby witnesses appearing for the State in the prosecution of serious gangland associated crimes have not turned up in court for whatever reason in each of the past three years and to date in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30029/12]

I can advise the Deputy that the data being sought is not readily available in my Department. I am making further enquiries with the relevant authorities to see if information of the nature sought is available and I shall be in further contact with the Deputy in this regard.

Prison Service

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

137 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which adequate prison officers are available in view of the current number of prisoners serving sentences at various prisons throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30030/12]

There has been a significant level of staff retirements across the public sector as a whole over the past year with the Prison Service being no exception. The moratorium on public sector recruitment also applies to the Prison Service. While some of the retirements have been offset by a certain level of sanctioned recruitment, the Prison Service has nonetheless had to absorb significant staff losses.

Any shortfall in staffing is managed on an ongoing basis in line with the manpower planning strategy of each prison. The Public Service Agreement 2010-2014, also referred to as the Croke Park Agreement, has put in place a transformation programme as part of the prison reform programme enabling the Prison Service to continue to deliver services at the same or an enhanced level notwithstanding reductions in staff numbers in each prison.

Defence Forces Reserve

Patrick Nulty

Question:

138 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Defence if his attention has been drawn to the impact of the recruitment ban on the Reserve Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29881/12]

Recruitment to the Reserve Defence Force (RDF) is ongoing but limited due to resource constraints. The current budgetary provision provides for approximately 30,000 paid training mandays. In 2011 and 2012, I sanctioned paid training mandays to include support for the training of new recruits to the RDF. This was sufficient to train approximately 400 recruits during 2011 and 2012. The military authorities manage recruitment in this context. The numbers actually enlisted in any one year may not reflect the numbers of recruits trained in that year. In 2011 there were a total of 267 reservists enlisted and up to the end of May 2012 there have been a total of 85 enlistments to the RDF.

Medicinal Products

Joe Higgins

Question:

139 Deputy Joe Higgins asked the Minister for Defence if he will confirm that those members of the Defence Forces who suffer from contraindications to the drug Lariam have never been and are not prescribed that drug within the Defence Forces. [29890/12]

Joe Higgins

Question:

140 Deputy Joe Higgins asked the Minister for Defence if he will explain the continued prescribing of Lariam to the Defence Forces in view of the major neuropsychiatric side-effects from Lariam that have been detailed, including the risk of suicide; his views on whether its prescription to members of the Defence Forces deployed to areas with malaria risk should be discontinued. [29891/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 139 and 140 together.

Lariam is a malaria chemo-prophylactic agent first authorised for use in 1989 by the Irish Medicines Board (IMB), which is the statutory regulatory body charged with regulating the use of medicines to ensure the quality, safety and efficacy of medicines available in Ireland. Research has shown that it is one of the most effective medications for protection against the type of malaria prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa. While certain risks associated with the use of the drug were highlighted in Drug Safety Newsletters in 1996 and 2003, the Irish Medicines Board remained of the view that the benefit/risk profile for the product remained acceptable. The IMB continues to review the safety of this and all medicines on an ongoing basis and updates the product information as appropriate. Lariam remains the medication of choice for the Defence Forces for missions to sub-Saharan Africa and continues to be certified by the Irish Medicines Board.

There are two other IMB-licensed anti-malarial medications (chemoprophylaxis) available to the Defence Forces-Doxycycline and Malarone.

The choice of chemoprophylaxis medication depends on the risk of malaria in the destination, resistance to particular drugs, the profile of the traveller (contra-indications, underlying health conditions, purpose of travel), the duration of travel and finally adherence issues:

a. Doxycycline has to be taken in the absence of dairy products. It has a daily dosage regime. While it can cause minor but troublesome, mainly gastrointestinal side effects, it can also produce sun-sensitivity skin rashes (akin to severe sun burn) in some individuals. This is particularly significant when used in very sunny climes. For this reason it is not recommended for first line use by the Defence Forces in sub-Saharan Africa. It is the anti-malaria chemoprophylaxis of first choice by the Defence Forces in some geographic regions, e.g. Afghanistan;

b. Malarone is unsuitable for use as it is licensed for no more than 28 days continuous use in a malarious area by the Irish Medicines Board (IMB). In this context this prophylactic agent is only suitable for use where the overseas deployment does not exceed 28 days. It has a daily dosage regime. All three of these drugs are recommended by the World Health Organisation and other travel advisory bodies such as the United States Centre for Disease Control.

In accordance with best international practice in prescribing any of these medications, and taking account of the contra-indications, warnings and side effects highlighted by the IMB, the Defence Forces screen all personnel for medical suitability. The screening system rules out personnel from overseas service with certain conditions for example depression, anxiety, neurodegenerative disorders etc., which, as has been indicated by the IMB and other regulatory bodies worldwide, are more likely to precipitate serious adverse reactions to Lariam.

In the case of overseas missions to malarious areas, the medical screening involves a one-on-one assessment of the individual's suitability to be prescribed the selected anti-malarial agent in line with current IMB guidelines. This typically involves review of the individual's previous experience, if any, with the medication. The individual's medical history is also screened for those conditions which have been identified as precipitating serious side effects in association with the medication. In addition, blood tests are carried out to ensure that the liver is healthy, as liver disease is an accepted contraindication to the use of Lariam.

It is the policy of the Defence Forces Medical Corps that personnel who are found suitable for Lariam should commence their medication three — four weeks in advance of their travel. The purpose of this precaution is two-fold — while it allows a slow build up of the medication in the bloodstream, it also permits assessment by the person of their individual reaction to the medication while still in Ireland. During this "probationary" period the individual can consult with a Medical Officer (MO) over any adverse reaction, minor or major. Some minor reactions may be transient but if persistent, or troublesome, the individual will be deemed to have ‘sensitivity' to the medication and will be found not medically suitable for the mission.

Personnel are screened both before and after deployments and all necessary actions are taken to ensure that those with contraindications to Lariam use are deemed unsuitable for overseas service and are not prescribed the medication.

Proposed Legislation

Jack Wall

Question:

141 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Defence his plans to protect the Curragh of Kildare plains; if he will reactivate the Curragh of Kildare Bill that was withdrawn by the last Government; if he or his Department had any meetings or are planning such with interested parties or agencies that use the Curragh of Kildare as part of their activities be they employment commercial or sporting; the decisions that have been made regarding the protection of the plains, its monuments and its further use; if illegal parking or destruction of the plains was discussed or determined; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29980/12]

In relation to the Curragh of Kildare Bill a number of technical issues arose which caused difficulty in progressing the Bill. Also the establishment of the Authority as a separate agency under the aegis of the Department of Defence (as proposed in the Bill) would involve additional costs in terms of staff, accommodation, expenses and payments to members of the Authority, which would be significantly greater than the costs incurred by my Department in administering the Curragh Lands. This Government has targeted the rationalisation of State agencies as a key cost saving measure and in that context it would be inappropriate to establish a separate agency to manage work currently being done by my Department. Given the requirements of administrative efficiency, and the technical difficulties with the Bill I do not consider it prudent to reactivate the Bill. The management and protection of the Curragh plains is an on-going process. The Curragh provides a working environment for three main users, the Defence Forces, the horse-racing and training industry and sheep owners. In recent years there has also been a marked increase in the level of use as a leisure facility mainly because of the population growth in the area.

Officials from my Department meet regularly with the various parties involved in the use and management of the Curragh, for example there have recently been meetings with the Turf Club, the Curragh Golf Club, An Garda Síochána and Kildare County Council. A wide range of issues are discussed at these meetings including the development and protection of the Curragh plains and how best to deal with the day to day issues of illegal parking, dumping, etc.

Also as part of the on-going management of the Curragh my Department officials liaise with various Departments and State Agencies including the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government and the Chief State Solicitors Office to ensure that best practice is adhered to in relation to the development and up keep of the Curragh Plains.

Single Payment Scheme

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

142 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the position regarding extra entitlement in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29813/12]

No formal application under the 2012 National Reserve was received from the person named. The person named wrote to my Department on 13 June enquiring about eligibility under the National Reserve. A reply issued to the person named on 18 June.

The 2012 National Reserve caters for farmers, who commenced farming after 17th May, 2010. Applicants are required to submit a 2012 Single Payment application form detailing all lands which they are currently farming. In addition, applicants are required to meet certain criteria with regard to income limits and educational qualifications. Off-farm income cannot exceed €30,000 and total income, including farm income, cannot exceed €40,000. Applicants must have obtained a FETAC Level 6 Advanced Certificate in Agriculture or its equivalent. The green certificate in farming is regarded as equivalent for this purpose. The closing date for receipt of applications was 15th May, 2012.

The National Reserve is a scarce resource and is only replenished from entitlements that remain unused over a period of two consecutive years. Therefore, applicants who have existing entitlements with a value of €10,000, or greater, will not be eligible for an allocation of entitlements from the 2012 National Reserve.

Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme

Joe Carey

Question:

143 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the position regarding payment under the suckler cow welfare scheme in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29929/12]

The person named registered 32 animals under the 2011 Suckler Welfare Scheme. Payment has issued on 22 of these animals — 6 animals totalling €240 paid on 16/12/11, 3 animals totalling €140 paid on 20/02/12 and 13 animals totalling €520 paid on 12/06/12. There was one set of twins born in 2011 and as there is only one premium per cow paid in any calendar year, the second twin is not paid on. Details of the weaning dates have not been submitted by the person named on the remaining 9 animals. Payment cannot be validated on these animals until all measures are received as outlined in the Terms and Conditions of the Scheme.

Single Payment Scheme

Michael McCarthy

Question:

144 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the position regarding an application for single farm payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29975/12]

An application under the 2011 Single Payment Scheme was received from the person named on 3 May 2011, following processing of which, an advance payment issued on 1 November 2011 with the balancing payment issuing on 1 December 2011. Due to re-calculation of the SPS payment entitlements of the person named, as a result of adjustments made to commonage areas declared, the person named received an additional payment on 21 February 2012. A further payment is due to issue shortly, at which time the person named will have been fully paid.

Poultry Industry

Heather Humphreys

Question:

145 Deputy Heather Humphreys asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the quantity of poultry meat imported over each of the past ten years; the country or countries of origin; if he is satisfied that this product is produced to the same high standards as Irish producers and the Irish industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30031/12]

It is not possible to provide this information in the required time. I will forward it to the Deputy as soon as it is available.

Child Care Services

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

146 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs in view of the fact that child care funding schemes are presenting more demands on child care services to avail of particular training and have certain competencies and that in-service training is often carried out by early childhood staff voluntarily on their own time, the solutions she plans to put forward to address this issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29812/12]

Since the introduction of the Child Care (Pre-School Services) (No 2) Regulations 2006, early years settings that are registered with the HSE have to comply with the Regulations concerning their practice. These Regulations cover the core obligations of the adult practitioner which are set out in Part II, Section 5 and state that:

“A person carrying on a pre-school service shall ensure that each child’s learning, development and well-being is facilitated within the daily life of the service through the provision of the appropriate opportunities, experiences, activities, interaction, materials and equipment, having regard to the age and stage of development of the child and the child’s cultural context”.

While these Regulations do not include a formal requirement for adults to be qualified, the guidelines clearly recognise the relationship between qualifications of staff and meeting the requirements of the Regulations:

“It is acknowledged that many childcare staff have a qualification or are working towards achieving one. In centre-based services, it is considered that the person in charge should aim to have at least fifty percent of childcare staff with a qualification appropriate to the care and development of children. The qualified staff should rotate between age groupings”.

The de-facto standard that exists for childcare practitioners is set out in Síolta, the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education. Standard 11 governs professional practice and states that:

"Practising in a professional manner requires that individuals have skills, knowledge, values and attitudes appropriate to their role and responsibility within the setting. In addition, it requires regular reflection upon practice and engagement in supported, ongoing professional development”.

Within this standard, the recommended minimum educational requirement for adults to be included for the purposes of calculating ratios of adults to children is FETAC Level 5 or equivalent.

The introduction of universal pre-school provision in January 2010 and with it the requirements that pre-school leaders have to have a minimum of a full award at FETAC Level 5 on the National Framework of Qualifications has acted as a major impetus for early years practitioners to acquire qualifications. To assist staff to achieve the full requirement in advance of the September 2012 deadline, arrangements were put in place by my Department to provide a subsidised on-line training initiative. A subsidy of €50 per module was provided which reduced the cost per module to €125.

The early years sector is to be commended on the level of upskilling that has taken place in recent years and which, in the main, has been done voluntarily and in the person's own time. Early Years practitioners have taken responsibility for their own development as practitioners and are to be congratulated on their commitment to life-long learning. Much as I would like to be in a position where I could incentivise all relevant training for early years practitioners, our current economic situation is such that this is not possible. Training standards and quality measures in the early years sector will be addressed in the Early Years Strategy. Work has commenced on developing that strategy.

National Children’s Strategy

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

147 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if a national training programme around the implementation of Síolta and Aistear will be a key feature of the forthcoming national children and young people policy framework (2012-2017); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29844/12]

The purpose of the forthcoming National Children and Young People's Policy Framework is to provide an overarching framework under which policy and services for children and young people will be developed and implemented in the State. The Children and Young People's Policy Framework will build onOur Children — Their Lives, Ireland’s first children’s strategy which was published in 2000, and it will cover the period from 2012 to 2017. The development of a new policy framework will also meet one of the key recommendations in the implementation plan for the Ryan Report.

The new Children and Young People's Policy Framework is being developed in a holistic way to comprehend the continuum of the lifecourse from infancy, through early and middle childhood, to adolescence through to early adulthood. The policy framework will further bring together key policies of relevance to children and young people that are instanced in the Programme for Government including those relating to prevention and early intervention initiatives, early childhood education, breaking the cycle of disadvantage through area based approaches to address child poverty, addressing youth homelessness and aftercare provision, and addressing issues around anti-social behaviour.

As it is an overarching policy framework, it is not a vehicle for developing or setting out an national training programme for any practice frameworks. However, the implementation of quality measures in the early years sector is likely to form part of the Early Years Strategy, one of the age cohort strategies which will be developed under the policy framework. Work has commenced on developing that strategy.

Child Care Services

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

148 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs in view of the low number of voluntary Health Service Executive notified childminders nationally, her plans to regulate this sector by bringing all paid childminders under the childcare pre-school regulations 2006; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29846/12]

I recently announced that my Department has begun work on Ireland's first Early Years Strategy. I have received Government approval for the approach I am taking in developing to this Strategy as an innovative and dynamic blueprint for the future development of Ireland's Early Years sector aimed at providing a coherent approach to seeking to improve the lives of children from birth to age six.

One of the issues of policy which I have identified for consideration in the preparation of the new Strategy is the development of the childminding sector as a fully-integrated component of early childhood care and education, in particular for under-one age group. At present pre-school services are regulated under the Child Care (Pre-School Services) (No.2) Regulations 2006, as provided for under Part VII of the Child Care Act 1991. Services providing care for children who have not yet commenced primary school are required to notify their service to the Pre-School Inspectorate of the Health Service Executive (HSE) and are subject to inspection and report by the Inspectorate on a regular basis. Services covered by the Regulations include full-time, part-time and sessional services as well as childminders taking care of more than three pre-school children from different families in the childminder's home.

Childminders taking care of not more than three pre-school children from different families are not covered by the Regulations, recognising parental choice to place children with friends and neighbours, and the challenges of the over-regulation of the more informal arrangements chosen by parents. The National Guidelines for Childminders, compiled by the National Childcare Co-ordinating Committee which oversees the development of an integrated child care infrastructure throughout the country, provide guidance to childminders on good practice, and assist them to decide whether they are subject to the Regulations, as well as providing other useful information on the role of the childminder in the provision of childcare services.

As is the case with all regulatory requirements, the Child Care Regulations set the minimum standards which services are legally required to comply with. However, my Department is pro-active in monitoring, promoting and developing the highest standards of care and education throughout the sector, including the regulatory environment, given the important role which these services play in this crucial phase of children's lives.

Foreign Adoptions

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

149 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the position regarding Irish citizens adopting children from Florida in the USA; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29973/12]

The Adoption Authority of Ireland posted an update on its website on 15 June 2012 advising that the following procedure should be followed for adoptions from the United States. The Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI) sends an Article 15 Assessment Report on the prospective adoptive parents to a Hague Convention approved Accredited Body nominated in advance by the prospective adoptive parents. The Accredited Body sends an Article 16 Child Report to the AAI. If the AAI approves the proposed placement and the referral is accepted by the prospective adoptive parents, the AAI will issue an Article 17 Placement Approval Notice to the Accredited Body nominated by the prospective adoptive parents. The Accredited Body may then place the child with the prospective adoptive parents.

Prospective adoptive parents should not take custody of a child or accept a placement prior to the Adoption Authority of Ireland issuing an Article 17 Placement Approval Notice. The AAI also advises that the National Central Authority for the United States of America (the State Department) has informed the AAI that the State Department is the only Agency in the USA authorised to issue an Article 23 certificate. Further details will be announced on the Adoption Authority of Ireland's website.

Services for People with Disabilities

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

150 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health if he will grant mobility allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29819/12]

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

Hospital Services

Regina Doherty

Question:

151 Deputy Regina Doherty asked the Minister for Health the impact of the special delivery unit in Our Lady’s Hospital, Drogheda, County Louth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29821/12]

Regina Doherty

Question:

152 Deputy Regina Doherty asked the Minister for Health the impact of the special delivery unit on James Connolly Memorial Hospital, Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29822/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 151 and 152 together.

Improving access for patients to both unscheduled and scheduled care in hospitals across the country is central to the role of the Special Delivery Unit which I established in my Department. Since the SDU become operational in September 2011, it has worked closely with a range of hospitals across the country including Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda and Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown. Both hospitals work closely with the SDU Liaison Officer and there are weekly meetings held with the management teams of both hospitals along with representation from management of the local community services. In addition to discussing current performance issues and trends, the Liaison Officer works with the hospitals to improve patient pathways and develop and improve operational issues.

While the provision of funding is not a core function of the SDU, there are limited resources available to assist hospitals to meet its targets in relation to unscheduled and scheduled care. With regard to unscheduled care (Emergency Departments) funding was made available to Our Lady of Lourdes and Connolly Hospitals as part of the successful SDU initiative in 2011 to ensure that the number of patients waiting in ED was kept to a minimum over the Christmas and New Year periods. A limited amount of funding has also been made available in 2012 to assist the hospitals to meet their targets in relation to trolley waits. In relation to Connolly Hospital, funding related to opening additional bed capacity for short-periods and also to fund an initiative for hospital avoidance for older persons run by the Geriatricians. In relation to Our Lady of Lourdes, funding has been made available for an initiative involving Community/Hospital Liaison, Weekend Liaison Nurse and Home Support to enable earlier discharge home and avoid hospital admissions. In addition, I have made funding available to Our Lady of Lourdes to facilitate the opening of 11 acute medical beds to cover a bed capacity shortage identified by the National Acute Medicine Programme.

To date the SDU interventions in relation to unscheduled care have resulted in a reduction in the number of patients waiting on trolleys in ED. In relation to Connolly Hospital, up to 8 June 2012, there has been a reduction of 12.6% in the numbers waiting on trolleys when compared with the same period in 2011. In relation to Our Lady of Lourdes the reduction has been 18%. With regard to Scheduled Care (In-patient and Day Case Surgery) last year, I instructed all hospitals that no person should be waiting more than 12 months for surgery by the end of the year. The scheduled care access targets set for public hospitals for 2012 are that no adult should wait longer than 9 months for surgery, no child should wait more than 20 weeks for surgery and no person requiring a routine GI endoscopy should wait more than 13 weeks.

Our Lady of Lourdes reached the 2011 12 month target with some targeted assistance for a small number of cases from the NTPF. In this year the hospital is progressing towards the 2012 access targets assisted by a targeted programme of support agreed between OLOL and the NTPF. This support is directed towards adult ENT, Urology and GI endoscopy procedures and also towards paediatric ENT and General surgery. These are the areas where the greatest challenges, in terms of faster access times for procedures, exist. Connolly Hospital also reached the end 2011 12 month maximum waiting time target. The hospital has agreed a programme of support with the NTPF in order to ensure delivery of the 2012 maximum access times targets for adults, children and for routine GI endoscopy procedures. This support is focussed on General Surgery, GI endoscopy and on Respiratory Medicine.

Dental Services

Timmy Dooley

Question:

153 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Health when a child (details supplied) in County Clare will be seen by a Health Service Executive dentist for the fitting of braces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29824/12]

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

Drugs Payment Scheme

Catherine Byrne

Question:

154 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Health if the drug nalcrom is still available under the drug payment scheme; if not, the reason for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29829/12]

The company that manufactures the drug Nalcrom has discontinued the product in Ireland and it is no longer authorised for marketing in Ireland. In view of this the product is no longer available for reimbursement under the GMS and community drugs schemes.

In order for a medicinal product to be added to the List of Reimbursable Items maintained by the HSE for reimbursement under the GMS and community drugs schemes it must meet specified criteria. These include the following:

The product must be a medicinal product authorised by the Irish Medicines Board or the European Commission.

The product must be such that it is ordinarily supplied to the public only on foot of a medical prescription.

The product should not be advertised or promoted to the public.

However, the HSE operates a protocol under which unlicensed medicines, which satisfy specific criteria, are made available to patients. A patient who wishes to obtain medication under this protocol should discuss the matter with their pharmacist in the first instance.

Prescription Charges

Brendan Ryan

Question:

155 Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Health further to his earlier commitment to abolish the 50 cent charge on prescription medications payable by medical card holders, his plans for meeting this commitment; when the charge will be abolished; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29836/12]

Medical card holders are required to pay a 50c charge for medicines and other prescription items supplied to them by community pharmacists, subject to a cap of €10 per month for each person or family. Charges are not payable in respect of items supplied under the Long Term Illness Scheme. Prescription charges do not apply to children in the care of the HSE or to methadone supplied to patients participating in the Methadone Treatment Scheme. Prescription charges result in savings to the Health Service Executive of approximately €27 million annually. I regret that due to the current financial climate, I am not in a position to remove the 50c prescription charge, one of my goals on entering office.

Dental Services

Sean Fleming

Question:

156 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) in County Laois will receive orthodontic treatment from the Health Service Executive and much needed braces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29840/12]

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

Medical Cards

Arthur Spring

Question:

157 Deputy Arthur Spring asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) in County Kerry will receive a decision on their medical card application; and if she will expedite the application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29842/12]

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

Home Help Service

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

158 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question Number 518 of 15 May 2012, the date on which the decision to cut a person’s (details supplied) in County Dublin home care package was taken; the procedure by which this was done; if a medical assessment was carried out at the time; if a medical assessment will be carried out now; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29880/12]

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

Medicinal Products

Anthony Lawlor

Question:

159 Deputy Anthony Lawlor asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 620 of 12 June 2012 when the assessment for the availability of resources to provide for the long-term treatment with pradaxa for the prevention of stroke in patients with atrial fibriliation will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29892/12]

Pradaxa is available under the GMS Scheme, the Drug Payment Scheme and other community drugs schemes for the prevention of blood clots in adult patients who have undergone elective hip replacement surgery or elective knee replacement surgery. The HSE is assessing the availability of resources to provide for the long term treatment with Pradaxa for the prevention of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation. This is a complicated process with long term implications.

The HSE wrote to all GMS doctors and community pharmacy contractors in November 2011 to clarify the position in relation to Pradaxa. The HSE will continue to update healthcare professionals in relation to the matter. The HSE does not intend to disturb established therapeutic regimens for patients whose treatment with Pradaxa for the prevention of stroke was initiated prior to the clarification. The HSE hopes to finalise the assessment process as soon as possible.

General Practitioner Services

Patrick Nulty

Question:

160 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Health if he will consider ensuring that the d-doc out of hours GP service is more widely advertised in order that persons who may be in need of the service would be more aware of it; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29896/12]

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

Mental Health Services

Tom Fleming

Question:

161 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Health if he will consider a proposal from the staff of a hostel (details supplied) in County Kerry in conjunction with the Iveragh branch of the Kerry Mental Health Association outlining a vision of mental health services for the Iveragh area into the future that includes the provision of a low to medium support facility consisting of approximately seven to eight places and a respite bed thus ensuring the replacement of the hostel with a step down nursing presence and the introduction of care assistants which will mean that residents and their families will not have to travel up to sixty miles for supports and services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29897/12]

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

Nursing Homes Support Scheme

Billy Kelleher

Question:

162 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health the position regarding the tendering process including timelines to appoint an external body to conduct the review of the nursing homes support scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29904/12]

Billy Kelleher

Question:

163 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health the exact timelines involved with the review of the nursing home support scheme from submission to report date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29905/12]

Billy Kelleher

Question:

164 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health if he intends to meet with Nursing Homes Ireland to consult with them regarding the review of the nursing home support scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29909/12]

I propose to answer Questions Nos. 163 to 164, inclusive, together.

A public consultation process to inform the review of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme commenced on the 14th June. A call for submissions was made in national newspapers and a notice was placed on the Department of Health website. The closing date for receipt of submissions is the 16th July. Nursing Homes Ireland, and any other interested parties, have an opportunity to feed into the review through that consultation process.

When the public consultation process has concluded, the Department of Health will be seeking tenders through the public procurement process for the carrying out of the review. This process takes approximately 4 months. It is anticipated that the review itself will take approximately three months to complete. It is expected that the review will commence in the last quarter of this year and be completed in early 2013.

It is not possible to be more specific about the exact timelines involved at this point. The timeframe for the Request for Tenders being published will be dependent on how many submissions are received and how long it takes to analyse them. Thereafter, the awarding of a contract for the review will depend on how many tenders are received. The more tenders that are received, the longer it will take to evaluate them.

The Terms of Reference for the review of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme are:

Taking account of Government policy, demographic trends and the fiscal situation—

1. To examine the on-going sustainability of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme,

2. To examine the overall cost of long-term residential care in public and private nursing homes and the effectiveness of the current methods of negotiating/setting prices,

3. Having regard to 1. and 2. above, to consider the balance of funding between long-term residential care and community based services,

4. To consider the extension of the scheme to community based services and to other sectors (Disability and Mental Health), and

5. To make recommendations for the future operation and management of the scheme.

As the Scheme is statutory based, the implementation of any recommendations arising from the review may require significant amendments to the Nursing Homes Support Scheme Act, 2009.

Hospital Staff

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

165 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health if additional nursing posts will be provided to Coolock Health Centre, Dublin 5; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29913/12]

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

Nursing Homes Support Scheme

Tom Fleming

Question:

166 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Health the number of applications that were approved in 2009, 2010, 2011 and to date in 2012 for the fair deal scheme; the total cost of the scheme on a year by year basis; the overall cost of the scheme since its introduction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29919/12]

The following table sets out the number of applications received and determined since between the commencement of the Scheme and end-April 2012:

2009 (27th October to end-December)

2010

2011

2012 (to end-April)

Applications Received

5,252

12,697

9,323

3,497

Applications Processed to Conclusion

1,627

11,862

10,671

4,243

Of which: Funding Approved

1,627

11,862

7,959

2,885

Application Withdrawn

Not Available

Not Available

2,712

1,358

The total budget for long-term residential care in 2012, and for each year since the nursing homes support scheme commenced, is set out in the table below. This is effectively the budget for the nursing homes support scheme, albeit that transitional arrangements must also be facilitated from within the budget, i.e. people in contract beds, people who choose to remain on subvention and saver cases in public nursing homes.

2009 (€m)

2010 (€m)

2011 (€m)

2012 (€m)

909

979.2

963

994.7

The total expenditure for each year, according to the Appropriation Accounts audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General, was as follows:

2009 (€m)

2010 (€m)

2011 (€m)

864.7

959.024

Not Available

Orthodontic Services

Joe Carey

Question:

167 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Health the position regarding orthodontic treatment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29972/12]

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

Social Welfare Appeals

Martin Ferris

Question:

168 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Health the position regarding home help refusal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry [30009/12]

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

Tourism Promotion

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

169 Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to the James Joyce Tower and Museum in Sandycove, County Dublin, which is unable to open for the summer months due to staff shortage; if he will acknowledge that the James Joyce Tower and Museum is an integral tourist destination in the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown constituency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29886/12]

The James Joyce Tower and Museum was operated by Dublin Tourism up to 2011 but now falls within the area of responsibility of Fáilte Ireland. Accordingly, I have asked the agency to reply directly to the Deputy. If you do not receive a reply within ten working days, please contact my private office. I understand from Fáilte Ireland that the tower and museum were open throughout Bloomsweek. Outside these dates, groups can be facilitated by prior arrangement, subject to staff availability, until a more permanent arrangement can be put in place. In addition, I am informed by Fáilte Ireland that it is in discussions with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council with a view to the Council taking over the permanent operation, promotion and marketing of the James Joyce Tower and Museum in 2013.

Road Openings

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

170 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when he expects the N3 Belturbet Bypass, N22 Tralee Bypass and the N5 Longford Bypass to be opened to vehicular traffic; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29915/12]

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

Tourism Promotion

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

171 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans for the development of equestrian tourism here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29916/12]

The matter raised is an operational matter for Fáilte Ireland. I have referred the Deputy's question to Fáilte Ireland for direct reply. Please contact my private office if a reply is not received within ten working days.

Cycle Facilities

Seán Kyne

Question:

172 Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide an update on the progress of the engagement with the private sector to co-fund and support a bicycle rental scheme for Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30032/12]

I am committed to exploring a range of mechanisms to seek to secure public bicycle schemes in other cities, including Galway. Although a scheme in a city such as Galway is technically feasible, its commercial viability would require a collaborative approach with the private sector. Funding provision to meet the capital investment costs of a scheme has been identified within the five-year allocation for Smarter Travel and Carbon Reduction Measures Capital funding. However, operational funding is not available from within the constrained current funding allocation. My Department is exploring options to meet the operating costs of a scheme including a sponsorship deal which could prove to be very attractive for a private sector organisation. There is also potential for funding that could be unlocked by Galway City Council through the provision of additional advertising space in the city. However, the potential and extent of funding from advertising will require further examination. Optimal procurement approaches will be determined in the context of the best mechanisms to bridge the operational funding gap.