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].
Question Nos. 1 to 66, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 67 to 83, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 84 to 93, answered orally.

Road Safety

Brendan Smith

Question:

94 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he intends to review the safety standards on our motorway network with particular reference to the provision of rest and refreshment areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32149/12]

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding for the national roads programme. The provision of rest and service areas is a statutory matter for the National Roads Authority under the Roads Acts 1993 to 2007.

The NRA currently provides two types of facilities — rest areas and service areas. The rest areas are the short sections of roadway provided off a motorway/dual carriageway where drivers can safely pull in to rest, change drivers, make a phone call or carry out other activities which would not be safe to do while driving. While Rest Areas do not provide any facilities other than the opportunity to park safely, they are numerous and dotted all along the motorway/dual carriageway network.

Service Areas provide facilities such as restaurants, toilets, showers, parking and refuelling facilities. There are currently three on line service areas operational at Lusk and Castlebellingham on the M1 and at Enfield on the M4. The NRA has initiated a PPP tender process in relation to a second tranche of on line service areas — these service areas are planned for M6 motorway east of Athlone, the M9 motorway south of Kilcullen, and the operation of a third service area on the proposed M11 motorway north of Gorey.

As the standards applicable to rest and service areas are a matter for the NRA, I have referred the Deputy's question to the NRA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if a reply is not received within ten working days.

Road Maintenance

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

95 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the degree to which he might be prepared to recognise the shortfall in funding experienced by various local authorities, affecting the maintenance of the local road network in both urban and rural areas; if he will consider providing some extra facilities in recognition of the situation even if this meant diverting funds identified for national or regional works; if he might be prepared to examine the priorities of each local authority in this regard and in view of the degree to which the general public, on a daily basis, requires the use of road, footpath and other traffic management facilities at local level, if he might be in a position to set targets in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32111/12]

While the NRA, in association with the relevant road authorities, is responsible for the national road network, the improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is a statutory function of each road authority in accordance with the provisions of section 13 of the Roads Act 1993.

In the case of the national network the Exchequer provides all the funding while works on regional and local roads are to be funded by the relevant local authority from its own resources supplemented by State road grants. Since 1997, over €6.8 billion has been provided by the Exchequer to local authorities for works on regional and local roads. These funds were in addition to local authorities' own contributions.

State funding to assist local authorities to maintain regional and local roads is apportioned as equitably as possible on the basis of factors such as route lengths and population densities. The initial selection of works as between regional and local roads within its area of responsibility is for the most part a matter for the relevant local authority, and I believe it would be a retrograde decision to take this role away from them. The members of each local authority are ‘on the ground', and have a far better appreciation of the priorities in their own local area than officials in my Department.

In the current financial circumstances my priority is to protect previous investment in the roads network and ensure that the distribution of available funding is done in the most targeted manner possible. In this context my Department is supporting the use by local authorities of pavement management systems to identify priorities for future road works on the regional and local road network.

In relation to any proposal to increase funding to local roads, the total amount of capital and current funding for National, Regional and Local Roads is €885m this year. It will decrease to €533m next year and to €492m by 2016. In this context, if increase funding were to be made available for local roads it would be a question of cutting funding for other roads to a far greater extent. I have no proposals to do this.

Tourism Promotion

Joe McHugh

Question:

96 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide an update on his efforts to generate spin-off tourism from the London 2012 Olympic Games. [32049/12]

Micheál Martin

Question:

103 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has been invited to attend the Olympic Games in London; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26511/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 96 and 103 together.

Myself and Minister Varadkar have been invited to attend the Olympic Games in London and I look forward to supporting our athletes and promoting Ireland as a destination to visit. We will attend some events on different, non-overlapping days and only one Minister from the Department will be present at any stage.

Tourism Ireland, which has responsibility for the overseas promotion of Ireland as a tourist destination, has been rolling out a busy programme of activity to target a wide range of potential visitors around the world in the run-up to and during the 2012 Games. This includes working with the official Olympics tour operators in a number of markets to offer package extensions for their clients attending the Games. A series of itineraries for the thousands of accredited and non-accredited media has also been developed, encouraging them to come here either before, during or after the Games.

Furthermore the Games provide a significant opportunity in terms of targeting Londoners who may wish to escape the congestion and disruption in the city. With this in mind, Tourism Ireland has launched a significant advertising push targeting Londoners by presenting Ireland as the ideal destination to escape to for the duration of the Olympics. Social media including Facebook and Twitter is also being used to create an awareness of the key sporting events and festivals taking place across Ireland this Summer.

Of course, on the sporting side many countries used Irish facilities to train in the lead up to the Games themselves. In particular, several countries availed of facilities at the National Aquatic Centre while other events prior to the Games themselves in sports such as hockey, sailing and athletics attracted competitors from overseas to Ireland.

John Halligan

Question:

97 Deputy John Halligan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will work with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, in the interests of promoting tourism, to ensure that the jetty and safety railing on Dalkey Island are repaired and made safe to allow visitors to the island this summer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32102/12]

The Deputy's question relates to the provision of tourist capital funding to Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council in respect of the jetty and safety railings on Dalkey Island. The issue raised by the Deputy, in relation to the repair of the jetty on Dalkey Island, is the responsibility of the relevant local authority. As mentioned in my response to Parliamentary Question 88 earlier, if a local authority identifies a project which has the potential to increase visitor numbers and which they believe would be eligible for tourism capital funding, they should engage directly with Fáilte Ireland, who have responsibility for the operation of the Tourism Capital Investment Programme. I understand that no application has been made by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council in relation to this facility. The Deputy should engage with the local authority directly on this matter in the first instance.

State Airports

Niall Collins

Question:

98 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when he expects to have completed the process of separating Shannon from the Dublin Airport Authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32135/12]

Martin Ferris

Question:

136 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport in view of changes at Shannon Airport, the way he will ensure and facilitate adequate access and continuous development and improvement of tourism figures and the tourism product to the mid west and the west; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32080/12]

Pat Breen

Question:

145 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide an update on the restructuring of Shannon Airport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31652/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 98, 136 and 145 together.

As the Deputies will be aware, following the Government decision in principle on 8th May last to separate Shannon Airport from the Dublin Airport Authority and merge it with a restructured Shannon Development, I have, alongside my colleague the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, established a Steering Group of senior officials from five key Departments to bring forward proposals for the implementation of that decision.

As part of the restructuring of Shannon Development, the latter's functions in relation to enterprise supports, both for domestic companies and inward investment, will transfer to Enterprise Ireland and the IDA respectively while the agency's tourism functions, including Regional Tourism Offices, will transfer to Fáilte Ireland. These changes will bring a more integrated, streamlined and focussed discipline to the delivery of both enterprise support and tourism services in the region.

The Steering Group is being assisted by two Task Forces, the membership of which was announced last month. The Aviation Business Development Task Force will seek out and evaluate aviation-linked business opportunities that could be associated with the new merged entity while the Change Management Task Force will develop proposals for transitional arrangements and for the appropriate corporate, managerial and operational structures of the new entity, including matters related to IT, HR, Finance and property. This latter Task Force will also draw up proposals for the transfer of Shannon Development functions to the IDA, Enterprise Ireland and Fáilte Ireland.

In addition, arrangements are being put in place for consultation with other stakeholders, such as IBEC and ICTU with whom preliminary consultations have already taken place.

These groups are now up and running and I understand that they have already mapped out a busy schedule of work over the coming months to examine the range of issues that must be assessed in some detail in order to arrive at the best way forward for the new entity at Shannon. This will of course include examination of potential measures to maintain and improve access through the airport itself.

The two task forces have been asked to submit their proposals to the Steering Group in November this year and when those have been evaluated by the Group, both myself and Minister Bruton will revert to Government before the end of the year with detailed proposals including an implementation strategy for the merger.

Sporting Events

Jim Daly

Question:

99 Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has considered or made efforts to attract major sporting events to Ireland; if it would be possible to see rugby world cup games or European soccer tournaments take place here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32052/12]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

736 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which he has had been in contact with the various national and international sporting organisations with a view to hosting suitable events in this country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32403/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 99 and 736 together.

This question relates to hosting international sports events in Ireland. The Programme for Government includes a commitment that event tourism will be prioritised in order to continue to bring major events to Ireland. As well as bringing spectators to our shores, the hosting of sports events such as the Ryder Cup, the Tall Ships Race, Volvo Ocean Race or the Solheim Cup can provide a great showcase for Ireland. Fáilte Ireland continues to support the holding of sports and other events that can boost tourism.

The normal procedure in regard to the hosting of an international sporting event is that the Irish affiliate of the relevant governing body will bid to host the event in Ireland. In the case of rugby or soccer tournaments, any bid would be made by the IRFU or the FAI. I have expressed my support to both organisations for any bid that they decide to make.

Where appropriate, the State Tourism agencies will provide advice and assistance to the sporting body which is seeking to secure an international event. In certain cases it may also be appropriate for Fáilte Ireland to provide financial support towards the event, in return for a contractually-agreed package of tourism and publicity benefits.

I am supportive of the efforts of the State Tourism Agencies and the National Governing Bodies of Sport to attract suitable international events, subject, of course, to overall Government financial constraints and an assessment of the costs/benefits involved in any particular project.

Sporting Organisations

Willie O'Dea

Question:

100 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has undertaken a review of the remuneration of personnel within major sporting organisations that receive State funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32141/12]

I have no official function in relation to the remuneration of personnel within the major sporting organisations. This is a matter for the individual sporting organisations, which are independent, autonomous bodies.

Sports Facilities

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

101 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he or any agencies operating under his aegis have carried out a study into the provision of sporting facilities for disabled children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32090/12]

Neither my Department nor any of the agencies operating under its aegis have carried out any study into the provision of sporting facilities for disabled children. However, the Programme for Government includes a commitment that in planning legislation the Government will promote and support universal design whereby all environments can be used to the greatest extent possible by all people, regardless of age, ability or disability. I believe that all new publicly funded sports developments and the redevelopment of existing facilities should be designed to be accessible to people with disabilities. I can inform the Deputy that I launched a special initiative in 2011 to provide grants to local authorities for enhanced disabled access and energy efficiency measures in swimming pools. More than €14m has been allocated to local authorities by my Department under this initiative.

Tourism Promotion

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

102 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will work with Fáilte Ireland in the interests of promoting tourism, to ensure that there is no cut to the opening hours of the James Joyce Museum at the Martello tower in Sandycove; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32101/12]

The James Joyce Tower and Museum was operated by Dublin Tourism up to the end of 2011 but is now the 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.

However, I understand from Fáilte Ireland that the tower and museum was open through Bloomsweek, and, outside of these dates, groups will 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 they are currently in discussions with Dun-Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council with a view to the Council taking over the permanent operation, promotion and marketing of the Joyce Tower and Museum in 2013.

Question No. 103 answered with Question No. 96.

Wild Atlantic Way Project

Joe McHugh

Question:

104 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide an update on the wild Atlantic way project. [32048/12]

The matter raised by the Deputy is an operational matter for Fáilte Ireland and 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.

However, I am informed by Fáilte Ireland that the first phase of the project is being implemented, at a cost of €1.8m, on a pilot basis in Connemara. Fáilte Ireland are currently working on the development of a single brand for the Wild Atlantic Way and will partner with local authorities along the West Coast to identify the precise route.

I further understand that the route plan will be delivered through four regional steering groups, comprised of Fáilte Ireland, the Local Authorities, the National Roads Authority and other key stakeholders. There will be extensive trade and public consultation as part of this process. Work will then begin on the detailed planning of the various sections of the route. Interpretation and infrastructure plans, like the pilot plan recently launched for Connemara, will be prepared for each section along the Wild Atlantic Way.

Road Traffic Accidents

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

105 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the actions he is taking to address the rise in road deaths in 2012 in comparison with the same period in 2011; if he has met with the CEO of the Road Safety Authority in respect of these figures; if he is satisfied that adequate funding is being allocated to all bodies with responsibility for maintaining road safety; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30509/12]

Andrew Doyle

Question:

712 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to address the increased road safety statistics to date in 2012 that are up on this time in 2011, as of 26 June 92 people had died on our roads in 2012, which this compares to 84 deaths on this same date period in 2011 and in June 2012 alone 23 people have died in comparison to 15 in 2011. [31954/12]

Andrew Doyle

Question:

723 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to address the increased road safety statistics so far this year that are higher than this time last year (details supplied). [32336/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 105, 712 and 723 together.

The number of road deaths in recent years has decreased due, mainly, to the implementation of the actions contained in the Road Safety Strategy 2007-2012. The core objective of the Strategy was to reduce the number of road fatalities to no greater than 60 fatalities per million population by the end of 2012, an average of 21 fatalities per month or 252 fatalities per annum. This was achieved in 2009, with 238 deaths recorded. The number dropped to 212 in 2010 and to a record low of 186 in 2011, an average of 16 road fatalities per month. In the first five months of 2012 the monthly average reduced further, to 14. To put that in context, when the Strategy was being developed in 2006, the monthly average was over 30.

Sadly, the month of June has gone very much against recent trends, with 25 lives lost the first time that the monthly target has been exceeded since October 2010. When you look at the monthly records over time, you will find occasional sharp fluctuations, followed by a return to the normal trend, but we do need to look closely at the details of these accidents to see if there is any pattern to the increase and the RSA and the Gardai are doing so.

The RSA is currently in the process of developing the next Road Safety Strategy which will include measures to ensure that Ireland continues to build positively on road safety performance for the remainder of the decade and beyond. This Strategy will seek to drive new and ongoing measures to ensure that road safety standards do not slip. The RSA is working closely with my Department in preparing the next strategy, which will cover the period 2013 to 2020. Discussions with key stakeholders are taking place and a public consultation process has begun. I urge anybody who feels they have a contribution to make in this area to contact the RSA and provide an input. When the consultation processes have been completed, I expect to receive a submission from the RSA with draft proposals later this year.

I am satisfied that funding to the RSA and the Medical Bureau of Road Safety, the bodies under my remit, is sufficient to maintain the continued implementation of the Road Safety Strategy.

Airport Landing Slots

Timmy Dooley

Question:

106 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on the strategic importance or otherwise of Aer Lingus’ landing slots at Heathrow Airport, London, England; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32127/12]

Historically, much connectivity was provided to/from Ireland via Heathrow Airport because routes from Ireland to Heathrow were amongst the earliest to be developed. However, other options are available now with a wide range of connectivity options available through other hubs in Europe and the US and through new hubs in the Gulf Region which now have direct services to/from Ireland.

It is important to state that the State does not own nor has it control over landing or take-off slots at Heathrow Airport. Access by airlines to landing and take-off slots at EU airports where there are capacity limitations, including Heathrow, is governed by EU Regulations. Aer Lingus has access to quite a large number of slots at London Heathrow on the basis of ‘grandfather rights', that is, it has acquired the rights to these slots because it has been operating services to Heathrow for a long number of years and before Heathrow became as congested as it is today. More recently, Aer Lingus has also acquired additional slots. However, Aer Lingus and any other airline, cannot hold slots in perpetuity unless they comply with the requirements of the EU Regulations governing the allocation of slots.

Aer Lingus can use the slots it currently has access to at Heathrow for whatever services it wishes; the Government's minority shareholding does not allow it to dictate what services the slots are to be used for. Neither is the minority shareholding sufficient on its own to prevent Aer Lingus from disposing of Heathrow slots should it choose to do so.

Equality Issues

Brian Stanley

Question:

107 Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he or any of the agencies operating under his aegis have carried out studies in the issues of gender discrimination in Irish sport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32087/12]

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

113 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he or any agencies operating under his aegis has carried out any study on racism in under age football; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32088/12]

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

122 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he or any of the agencies operating under his aegis has carried out any study on the efforts being taken by the GAA to combat racism in Gaelic games; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32089/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 107, 113 and 122 together.

The Irish Sports Council (ISC), which is funded by my Department, is the statutory body responsible for the promotion, development and coordination of sport. The ISC was established on a statutory basis on 1st July, 1999, and the functions of the Council are outlined in Section 6 of the Irish Sports Council Act 1999. Section 6(e) provides the statutory responsibility for initiating and encouraging research concerning either or both competitive sport and recreational sport.

Research into sport issues is a matter for the Irish Sports Council. I have referred the Deputy's question to the Council for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a reply has not been received within ten days.

Rail Services

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

108 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide an update on the Luas BXD project. [32113/12]

Paschal Donohoe

Question:

128 Deputy Paschal Donohoe asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide an update on the progress that has been made to date on progressing the Luas BXD project. [31975/12]

Paschal Donohoe

Question:

144 Deputy Paschal Donohoe asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will give an indication as to when construction work will begin on the extension of the Luas BXD to Broombridge, Dublin. [31976/12]

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

149 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide an update in the progress made with the Luas BXD and any meetings he has had with public and private transport interests to ensure the best link up of services. [32098/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 108, 128, 144 and 149 together.

Following the establishment of the National Transport Authority (NTA) on 1st December 2009, the provision of infrastructure projects in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA), such as LUAS BXD, now comes under the remit of the NTA.

Luas BXD to Broombridge was designed to be a key element in an overall integrated transport network for Dublin. It will create a Luas network by joining the Luas Red and Green Lines and will also link with rail services from Maynooth and Dunboyne and with existing Quality Bus schemes which enter or cross Dublin City Centre. It will also in time interchange with future key projects such as Dart Underground and Metro North.

The project has been prioritised under the Governments's 5-year capital plan —Infrastructure and Capital Investment Programme 2012-2016 — Medium Term Exchequer Framework — which was published in November 2011.

Funding has been included in my Department's capital allocation to 2016 to cover the cost of commencing the main construction works in 2015 and for pre-construction enabling works in 2013 and 2014. Construction is expected to take 4 years. However, key decisions and actions which will determine the precise construction start date must await the outcome of the planning process which is currently ongoing.

Departmental Staff

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

109 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of staff members awaiting redeployment in his Department and agencies under his aegis. [31972/12]

In the period 1st January 2011 to date in 2012, 31 members of staff redeployed out of my Department. This, together with the level of staff retirements has positioned my Department's staff number below its Employment Control Framework target. There are currently two Department staff on the Resource Panel awaiting redeployment. One is on secondment to another organisation and the other is due to resume from a career break.

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

Question No. 110 answered with Question No. 90.

The Gathering

Martin Heydon

Question:

111 Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide an update on progress made regarding The Gathering; his views on the best ways for local community groups to become involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32053/12]

Jerry Buttimer

Question:

124 Deputy Jerry Buttimer asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the plans in place to involve the regions in The Gathering; the interaction there has been between local authorities, his Department and Fáilte Ireland to develop local initiatives for The Gathering; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31948/12]

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

130 Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide an update on The Gathering; and the way his Department intends to engage with local communities. [31978/12]

Michael Colreavy

Question:

132 Deputy Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the plan or arrangements he has put in place for The Gathering 2013 and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32085/12]

Damien English

Question:

146 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position regarding The Gathering project and the importance of the participation of the community and voluntary sector to the success of The Gathering. [31848/12]

Tom Fleming

Question:

704 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if funding will be made available to organisations in County Kerry that wish to put on specific events for The Gathering; to whom applications should be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32005/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 111, 124, 130, 132, 146 and 704 together.

The Gathering Ireland 2013 aims to be the biggest tourism event ever held in Ireland, bringing in 325,000 extra visitors. Every community in Ireland is invited to get involved. Ultimately the Gathering's success will hinge on the participation of the public and in particular the mobilisation of local communities to create their own events and utilise their own overseas connections.

Gathering Community Meetings to mobilise these communities are currently underway and will be held throughout Ireland in the months ahead. Local Gathering organisations are being set up in every county, comprising sporting bodies, cultural organisations, local authorities, local development companies and representative bodies.

All are welcome to attend the community meetings which offer an opportunity for local people to learn more about ‘The Gathering' and how they can be involved. Anyone with ideas for a ‘Gathering' can pledge them on the night or after the meeting. They can also access tools and supports online to help them to organise their Gatherings. Meetings have already been held in Roscommon, Castlebar and Ennis and another is scheduled for tomorrow in Tralee. Details of other upcoming community meetings are available online atwww.thegatheringireland.com. While direct financial supports are not envisaged,the website also provides online supports and ideas for those interested in setting up their own event as well as some examples of local Gathering events underway.

Community projects already underway throughout Ireland include clan gatherings; twin town trips; school and work reunions; genealogical projects; family reunions and outreach initiatives where local communities will contact people who have left the county and invite them back for a special celebration.

Support for the Gathering is also gaining momentum with a number of well-known Irish personalities pledging their support, including Pierce Brosnan, Liam Neeson, Maeve Binchy and Paul O'Connell. A large number of companies and organisations have already got involved, including Google and Facebook, while KPMG and PwC have confirmed they will hold their international alumni events in Ireland. I expect many more events to be put in place in the run-up to 2013.

Road Improvement Schemes

Brendan Griffin

Question:

112 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will be supportive of future applications from Kerry County Council to widen Listry Bridge on the R563 Killarney to Milltown Road; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32023/12]

The maintenance and improvement of regional and local roads is a statutory function of each road authority in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. The carrying out of works on these roads is a matter for the relevant local authority to be funded from its own resources supplemented by State road grants. The initial selection and prioritisation of projects to be funded is also a matter for the council.

It is open to Kerry County Council to include the Listry Bridge project in its submission for consideration for funding under the Specific Improvement Grants Scheme in 2013 when applications are sought by the National Roads Authority in due course. This application, together with all other applications under this grant category will be considered, having regard to compliance with the eligibility criteria, the need to prioritise projects, competing demands from other local authorities and the funds available for the scheme in 2013.

Question No. 113 answered with Question No. 107.

Penalty Points System

Michael Moynihan

Question:

114 Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he expects to implement in full the recommendations of the report of the review of the penalty points system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32155/12]

I recently published the Review of the Irish Penalty Points System, which was conducted by my Department. The Review contains recommendations for the adjustment in the level of penalty points for certain road traffic offences. I have asked the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications to examine the Review and provide me with comments on its recommendations. Once I have received the Committee's input I will consider the adjustment of penalty points further and make a further statement at that point.

Question No. 115 answered with Question No. 90.

Tourism Promotion

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

116 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has carried out any studies of the potential tourism impact of the creation of a cultural quarter incorporating the Moore Street national monument and surrounding areas, Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32079/12]

As the Deputy is aware, I had the opportunity to tour the major sites connected with the 1916 Rising in O'Connell Street, Moore Street and Parnell Street. I did this as a guest of some of the descendants of participants in the Rising. The 1916 Rising was an important event in our history and is of great interest both domestically and internationally. In this context, I asked Fáilte Ireland to carry out an assessment of the potential interest from domestic and international visitors in the 1916 Rising and the possibility of developing a walking trail focused around the sites connected with the week of the Rising. I understand that key officials in Fáilte Ireland have since visited the sites and I expect the assessment will be completed in the coming months.

Driving Licences

Dessie Ellis

Question:

117 Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans for the tendering of the ID photograph element of the new driver licence card; and the measures he will take to ensure that there will be no detrimental effect on jobs already providing this service. [32092/12]

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) is responsible for the introduction of the new plastic card driving licence and will also, from January 2013, be the national driver licensing authority. The new system of driver licensing will require the RSA to tender for customer interface services. I understand from the RSA that they intend to ask tenderers for this service to offer their own proposals for the capture of photo ID.

Tourism Promotion

Denis Naughten

Question:

118 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will review the current strategy for supporting tourism in the underdeveloped regions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31606/12]

The Government recognises that tourism is important to all regions, employing an estimated 180,000 people, many in rural areas. The best way to increase visitors to all regions is to increase overall visitors to the country as a whole. That is why the Government is providing over €143 million to support tourism in 2012 across a range of activities including overseas and domestic marketing, investment in tourism product and vital business supports to develop tourism across Ireland, in both rural and urban areas.

Furthermore in recognition of the vital contribution of tourism to employment, economic activity and foreign revenue earnings, in tandem with the Visa Waiver scheme and the cut in employer's PRSI, the VAT rate on a range of labour-intensive tourism services was reduced from 13.5% to 9% enhancing the competitiveness of our tourism product.

In addition, The Gathering Ireland 2013 will be held next year to attract a targeted 325,000 overseas visitors to all parts of Ireland. Communities in all regions will have an important role to play. Ultimately the Gathering's success will hinge on the participation of the public and in particular the mobilisation of local communities to create their own events and utilise their own overseas connections. Gathering Community Meetings to mobilise these communities are currently underway, the first of which was held in Roscommon on 6th June, and more will be held throughout Ireland in the months ahead. Local Gathering organisations are being set up in every county.

I know from a previous question from the Deputy on this topic that he regards the River Shannon as the focus for the region he represents and that he believes that regional tourism structures should reflect this. In this regard, I am happy to inform him that Roscommon in common with most of the counties along the Shannon forms part of the Fáilte Ireland lakelands region.

Question No. 119 answered with Question No. 89.

Sport and Recreational Development

Seán Crowe

Question:

120 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his expectations for Ireland in the London Olympics; the programmes in place to ensure maximum Irish success at the games; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32083/12]

The Irish Sports Council (ISC), which is funded by my Department, is the statutory body responsible for the promotion, development and co-ordination of sport, including the High Performance programme. The ISC was established on a statutory basis on 1st July, 1999, and the functions of the Council are outlined in Section 6 of the Irish Sports Council Act 1999.

The subject matter of this question, i.e. Ireland's representation at the London 2012 Olympics and the programmes in place, is a matter for the Irish Sports Council. I have referred the Deputy's question to the Council for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a reply has not been received within ten days. I would like to take this opportunity to wish all our athletes every success in the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London.

Driving Licences

Jim Daly

Question:

121 Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the progress that has been made in relation to the introduction of the new credit card sized driving licence; when he expects its introduction to take place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32051/12]

Jerry Buttimer

Question:

131 Deputy Jerry Buttimer asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the progress that has been made on the legislative and practical changes which have to be implemented to facilitate credit card sized driving licences; when such licences will be available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31949/12]

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

141 Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position regarding his plans for the introduction of the credit card sized plastic driving licence. [31977/12]

Damien English

Question:

709 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position regarding the introduction of the credit card sized, plastic driving licence; if he will outline the engagement he has had to date with the relevant stakeholders concerning the proposed project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31849/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 121, 131, 141 and 709 together.

The introduction of a plastic, credit-card style, driving licence from January 2013 is a requirement under EU legislation, and Ireland is on course to introduce it on time. Following from a decision of this Government in May of 2011, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) was given responsibility for this project. At the same time, the Government decided in the interests of efficiency and best use of resources that the system for issuing driver licences, currently diffused through the local authorities, should be centralised in the RSA. Legislation to make the RSA the national driver licensing authority was recently passed by the Oireachtas.

My Department has been working closely with the RSA and other key stakeholders to ensure both the timely delivery of the new format of licence and a smooth transition to the new centralised driver licensing system. A group consisting of representatives of my Department, the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, and the City and County Managers Association, as well as the RSA, has been monitoring and facilitating progress to ensure that both the plastic licence and centralised driver licensing systems proceed as planned.

Question No. 122 answered with Question No. 107.

State Agencies

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

123 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the rationale for a body such as the Irish Aviation Authority operating as a semi-commercial body which sets its own charges and pay scales. [32096/12]

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) is a commercial semi-state body established under the Irish Aviation Authority Act 1993 and has two main functions, firstly the provision of air traffic management and related services in Irish controlled airspace, and, secondly, the regulation of safety in the civil aviation industry in Ireland.

These functions are inherently of an operational nature as distinct from policy. As such, there is a regular and ongoing day-to-day operational interaction with commercial and other entities in the aviation sector, domestically and internationally. When the IAA was being established almost twenty years ago it was considered that the delivery of its services to its airspace customers would be enhanced and more efficient and effective if it were operating in a commercially orientated environment where operational decisions could be made quickly and responsively.

The IAA does not receive State funding and generates sufficient revenue to cover all of its payroll and other costs through charges and fees raised from its airline customers and regulatory clients. The IAA's air navigation charges are amongst the lowest of States in Eurocontrol and I am satisfied that the IAA is operating its commercial remit in a satisfactory fashion. Furthermore, certain of the IAA's charges are either subject to national regulations or set within an EU regulatory framework. The CEO's salary has been capped in accordance with the Government decision on pay ceilings for CEOs of Semi State and senior public sector posts.

Question No. 124 answered with Question No. 111.

Tourism Employment

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

125 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which he and his Department have succeeded in achieving job retention or job creation targets identified to date; the objectives achieved in this regard to date; the extent to which favourable comparison can be made on an annual basis over the past four years to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32112/12]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

732 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which he expects to be in a position to maximise job creation prospects through the medium of road, rail and air transport with particular reference to the need for competitiveness; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32399/12]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

734 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which he has had discussions with the hotel, restaurant and transport sectors in the context of retaining existing jobs and maximising employment in the industry in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32401/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 125, 732 and 734 together.

The Action Plan for Jobs 2012 is designed to have 100,000 more people in work by 2016 and 2 million people in work by 2020. The net 100,000 jobs over the next five years to 2016 will be created via direct jobs in manufacturing (20,000) and internationally traded services (30,000) plus an additional 50,000 indirect spin-off jobs.

A key commitment in my Department's Statement of Strategy 2011-2014 is to increase tourism numbers to 8 million by 2015. The Trade, Tourism and Investment Strategy of 2010 envisaged that this would result in an additional 15,000 directly employed in tourism.

Earlier this year I set out on my Department's website details of the progress that I and my Department have made since my appointment (http://www.dttas.ie/pressRelease.aspx?Id=503.) As regards employment, the latest CSO Quarterly Household Survey shows an increase in seasonally adjusted numbers in the accommodation and food services sector of around 8,700 in Quarter 1 of 2012 as compared to Quarter 1 of 2011.

Sport and Recreational Development

Pearse Doherty

Question:

126 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the plans in place to ensure the development of fencing here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32086/12]

The Irish Sports Council (ISC), which is funded by my Department, is the statutory body responsible for the promotion, development and co-ordination of sport. This includes statutory responsibility for the recognition of sporting organisations as National Governing Bodies of sport and the allocation of funding to those bodies. The ISC was established on a statutory basis on 1st July, 1999, and the functions of the Council are outlined in Section 6 of the Irish Sports Council Act 1999.

The development of fencing is a matter for the Irish Sports Council. I have referred the Deputy's question to them for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a reply has not been received within ten days.

Question No. 127 answered with Question No. 89.
Question No. 128 answered with Question No. 108.
Question No. 129 answered with Question No. 90.
Question No. 130 answered with Question No. 111.
Question No. 131 answered with Question No. 121.
Question No. 132 answered with Question No. 111.

Public Transport

Catherine Murphy

Question:

133 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position regarding the DART underground project; if he will confirm that it is his intention to prioritise the project for access to infrastructure funding opportunities which are likely to arise at European level in the near future; if he will provide an updated estimate of the capital costs of this project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32104/12]

Due to the reduction in funding available for transport projects arising from the difficult economic situation, the DART Underground programme has been postponed for consideration in advance of the next capital programme which will cover the period from 2016 onwards.

However, DART Underground remains a key element of the overall transport integration strategy as it would deliver a quantum improvement in rail accessibility to the city centre with benefits for each of the four rail corridors radiating from the city centre.

The DART Underground is currently part of the Trans European Network (TEN-T) Belfast-Dublin-Cork Priority Project. I have ensured that it will be included in the updated Core Ten-T Network currently under discussion and have also proposed that it be designated part of a specific Core Corridor under the Regulation governing the next round of Ten-T funding for the period 2014-2020.

To date, €10m has been allocated from the Ten-T Budget to cover the design and development process, geotechnical investigations and various technical surveys and studies. Most of the work for which funding was allocated has already been completed and €5.5m has been claimed to date with the balance likely to be claimed in 2012.

Any further claims for funding for DART Underground from the TEN-T budget in the future would firstly be dependent on a decision to proceed with the project and to provide Exchequer funding for construction in the 2014-2020 period. This decision will be considered when the next capital programme is being prepared.

Notwithstanding the uncertainty around the overall project at this time there may be some limited scope within available resources to continue to fund some associated works such as re-signalling which have capacity and other benefits for the Core Corridor as standalone projects. I will, therefore, keep this under review in the context of TEN-T funding as a case can be made that these associated projects should qualify for TEN-T funding in advance of the overall project proceeding.

Based on the outline Business Case, dated April 2010, the estimated overall cost of DART Underground would be in the region of €4.1billion with the tunnel element which was proposed as a PPP accounting for €2.6billion and associated electrification, resignalling and rolling stock costing around €1.5 billion. However, these figures are not likely to be relevant in 2016 and will need to be updated as part of the overall project review in advance of the next capital programme.

Sale of State Assets

Clare Daly

Question:

134 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on Ryanair’s attempt to take a majority stake in Aer Lingus; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32105/12]

Gerry Adams

Question:

156 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide an update on his plans to sell off Aer Lingus; and the recent offer from another Irish-based company. [32094/12]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

728 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his preferred options in the context of the future structure and ownership of Aer Lingus; if he intends to exercise any particular options available to him; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32395/12]

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

729 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the extent to which he has determined a policy that is in the best interest of air travellers, the Irish taxpayer and the need to comply with national and international legislation in the context of the future ownership of Aer Lingus; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32396/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 134, 156, 728 and 729 together.

I refer the Deputies to my response to Priority Question 84.

These questions relate to Ryanair's proposed takeover bid for Aer Lingus. In an announcement to the Irish Stock Exchange on 19th June, the board of Ryanair announced its intention to make an all cash offer for 100% of the share captial of Aer Lingus. Under the Takeover Rules, Ryanair must issue its formal offer document to Aer Lingus shareholders by 17th July setting out in detail the terms of its offer. As the Government is a minority shareholder in Aer Lingus, under Irish Takeover Panel Rules, there are restrictions on what any member of the Government can say in relation to the proposed offer at this time. For the moment, like all shareholders, the Government will await the formal offer from Ryanair and also the response of the Board of Aer Lingus.

In considering the formal offer, when it is made, the Government will take account of four factors:

1. The views of the regulatory authorities in relation to any bid;

2. What is best for passengers in terms of connectivity and air fares;

3. What is best for taxpayers in terms of the price we can get for the stake;

4. What is best for the economy overall in terms of competitive access to services in and out of Ireland.

Road Network

Brendan Griffin

Question:

135 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he envisages the construction of the new road, N22, from Ballyvourney to Macroom, County Cork, in the coming years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32024/12]

This Question is in relation to the N22 Ballyvourney to Macroom PPP Scheme. 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 don't receive a reply within 10 working days.

Question No. 136 answered with Question No. 98.

Job Creation

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

137 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to develop a Department specific job creation plans; and if he will outline any initiative for job creation he plans to bring forward. [32095/12]

The Action Plan for Jobs 2012 sets out in considerable detail the Government's approach to job creation. It places particular emphasis on tourism as one of the key sectoral areas for the generation of employment. It also recognises the role that infrastructure investment — including in the transport area - plays in underpinning employment growth. My focus as Minister is on successfully implementing the actions for which I have responsibility under the overall Government plan rather than on the development of a separate stand-alone job creation plan for my Department.

Questions Nos. 138 and 139 answered with Question No. 90.

Departmental Bodies

Catherine Murphy

Question:

140 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide a breakdown of the annual Exchequer fund to the National Transport Authority in 2010, 2011 and to date in 2012; if he will also provide with the information a table indicating the individual spend by project either wholly or partially funded through the NTA in respect of the same years; if he will give details of the total financial commitments to current and planned projects; if he will provide a breakdown of the total numbers of staff working in the NTA by grade and annual remuneration and the total numbers of staff who may have availed of early retirement this year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32116/12]

The National Transport Authority (NTA) was established on 1st December 2009. In accordance with the Dublin Transport Authority (DTA) Act 2008, the functions of the NTA include securing the provision of public transport infrastructure projects in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA). Since the start of 2011 the NTA has also administered the Regional Cities and Accessibility Grants programmes on behalf of my Department.

The capital funding provided to the NTA by my Department for infrastructure projects in the GDA in 2010 and 2011 was as follows:

Year

Amount (€m)

2010

359.7

2011

211

The allocations under the capital investment programme to 2016 are as follows:

Year

Amount (€m)

2012

130

2013

153

2014

149

2015

145

2016

150

The exact allocations on a project/ programme basis are decided from year to year, in accordance with the progress on individual projects and programmes and having regard to overall priorities in the capital programme.

The following table sets out the NTA funding in the period 2010-2012 (to end-June) under the principal project categories.

Year

Light Rail (Luas /metro)

Heavy Rail

Bus measures

Integration/ Traffic management/ Support

ITS (Leap card)

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

2010

109.85

194.5

3.27

36.96

15.09

2011

21.57

98.08

23.98

61.79

5.58

2012(to date)

11.15

11.50

0.01

6.02

2.94

In relation to the Regional Cities and Accessibility Grants programmes managed by the NTA on behalf of my Department €21.6m was provided in 2011 and €15.5m has been allocated in 2012.

Further details on NTA's spending on individual projects in 2011 is available on their websitehttp://www.nationaltransport.ie/projects-schemes/transport-projects/.

With regard to the Deputy's queries on staffing in the NTA the following tables set out the position:

Grade

Number of staff

Clerical Officer (Civil Service equivalent)

5

Senior Staff Officer (Local Authority equivalent)

1

Executive Engineer (Local Authority equivalent)

1

Assistant Engineer (Local Authority equivalent)

4

Executive Engineer (Local Authority equivalent)

7

Executive Officer (Civil Service equivalent)

9

Higher Executive Officer (Civil Service equivalent)

1

Resident Engineer (Local Authority equivalent)

1

Senior Executive Engineer (Local Authority equivalent)

1

Senior Staff Officer (Local Authority equivalent)

2

Technical Grade F

1

Assistant Principal (Civil Service equivalent)

3

County Engineer (Local Authority equivalent)

2

Law Agent (Local Authority equivalent)

1

Principal Officer (Civil Service equivalent)

4

Senior Engineer (Local Authority equivalent)

6

Senior Executive Officer (Local Authority equivalent)

2

Unique Technical

4

Assistant Secretary (Civil Service equivalent)

3

CEO

1

Total

59

Salary

Number of salaries paid by National Transport Authority

10k-20k

41

20k-30k

3

30k-40k

2

40k-50k

12

50k-60k

10

60k-70k

5

70k-80k

3

80k-90k

10

90k-100k

5

100k-115k

3

115k-125k

2

125k-150k

3

Over €150k

1

Total

59

1Relates to staff on incentivised career breaks.

Total numbers of staff who may have availed of early retirement this year: 0.

Question No. 141 answered with Question No. 121.

Penalty Points System

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

142 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will report on new proposals to reform the penalty points system; if reform of the penalty points system will be included in the road taffic Bill 2012; when this Bill will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30510/12]

I recently published the Review of the Irish Penalty Points System, which was conducted by my Department. The Review contains recommendations for the adjustment in the level of penalty points for certain road traffic offences. I have asked the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications to examine the Review and provide me with comments on the recommendations. Once I have received the Committee's input I will consider the adjustment of penalty points further.

Any changes to the penalty points system arising from this process, which require primary legislation, will be included in the next Road Traffic Bill that I hope to publish by the end of the year.

Question No. 143 answered with Question No. 90.
Question No. 144 answered with Question No. 108.
Question No. 145 answered with Question No. 98.
Question No. 146 answered with Question No. 111.

Public Transport

Seán Kyne

Question:

147 Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide an update on the progress of the National Transport Authority’s review of the public service obligation bus contracts system. [31912/12]

The Deputy's question relates to the review by the National Transport Authority (NTA) of the Public Service Obligation bus contracts. The issue raised is a matter for the NTA and I have referred the Deputy's question to the Authority for attention.

As the Deputy is aware, the NTA is responsible for, among other things, securing the provision of public bus services. In accordance with the relevant legislation, direct award contracts for bus services for the discharge of public service obligations were awarded by the NTA to Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann for an initial period of 5 years, from 1st December 2009.New contracts for the provision of these bus services are required to commence from 1st December 2014.

A consultation process as required by the legislation, has commenced and the purpose of this public consultation is to seek the views of the public and interested parties, including users of the public bus services, on the approach to be adopted in relation to these new contracts. A public consultation document and questionnaire is available to download from the NTA's website.

Public Bike Schemes

Michael Colreavy

Question:

148 Deputy Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide an update on the progress made in developing urban bike schemes in other cities throughout the State in conjunction with city councils. [32099/12]

I am committed to exploring a range of mechanisms to seek to secure public bikes schemes in other cities in the state, building on the success of the Dublin Bikes scheme. While schemes in other cities are technically feasible, their commercial viability would require a collaborative approach with the private sector. Funding provision to meet the capital investment costs of the roll-out of public bikes in other cities has been identified within the 5-year capital funding allocation for Smarter Travel and Carbon Reduction Measures. However, operational funding is not available from within the constrained current funding allocation. My Department is currently exploring options to meet operating costs of schemes 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 City Councils through the provision of additional advertising space within their cities. 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.

Question No. 149 answered with Question No. 108.

Penalty Points System

Patrick Deering

Question:

150 Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide details of the proposed changes to the penalty points system. [31974/12]

I recently published the Review of the Irish Penalty Points System, which was conducted by my Department. The Review contains recommendations for the adjustment in the level of penalty points for certain road traffic offences. I have asked the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications to examine the Review and provide me with comments on its recommendations.

Once I have received the Committee's input I will consider the adjustment of penalty points further and make a further statement at that point.

Departmental Staff

Pearse Doherty

Question:

151 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to scale down wages in his Department and in agencies under his Department among the top earners. [32093/12]

Policy making in relation to the terms and conditions, including determination of salary rates, for all public servants including staff in the State agencies under the aegis of my Department is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

Road Network

Andrew Doyle

Question:

152 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide an update in public private partnership processes for national roads in particular an update on the current position of the N11 improvements in County Wicklow. [31950/12]

This PQ is in relation to PPP road schemes and the N11 Arklow/Rathnew Scheme in particular.

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 don't receive a reply within 10 working days.

Question No. 153 answered with Question No. 93.
Question No. 154 answered with Question No. 91.
Question No. 155 answered with Question No. 90.
Question No. 156 answered with Question No. 134.

Sports Facilities

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

157 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the funding, if any, he has made available to the funding of outdoor gyms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32084/12]

Minister of State for Tourism and Sport (Michael Ring TD): In July 2011, the Department invited local authorities to apply for sports capital funding for ‘shovel ready projects' with the following projects being of special priority:

MUGA — rubber based games areas to be used typically for 5-a-side soccer, basketball, tennis and volleyball;

Mini-pitches — artificial grass pitches suitable for sports such as 5 to 7-a-side soccer, GAA or rugby, tennis or volleyball;

Outdoor gym equipment.

A total of 111 separate allocations were made with a total value of €4.5m. Details on all of these allocations can be found on the Department's website www.dttas.ie.

Sick Pay Scheme

Simon Harris

Question:

158 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Taoiseach the procedures in place to manage sick leave in his Department; the sick leave entitlement in place in his Department; the combined amount of sick days taken by staff in his Department in 2011 and to date in 2012; the financial cost of this sick leave; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31610/12]

The Taoiseach: My Department takes an active approach to managing sick leave consistent with the relevant Department of Public Expenditure and Reform sick leave circulars. These also set out the sick leave entitlements of staff in my Department.
The following table sets out the details requested regarding the number of sick leave days taken. It also includes notional costs which are calculated on the basis of the salaries of the staff who took sick leave and the number of sick days involved. In practice, no significant additional costs arose for my Department through the employment of replacements or substitutes or otherwise.

Year

Number of Sick Leave Days

Cost*

2011

1,402

€243,298*

2012 (to end May)

501

€60,635*

*These are notional costs rather than representing additional expenditure as a result of sick leave.

Croke Park Agreement

Simon Harris

Question:

159 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Taoiseach the tangible results that have been delivered in his Department through the implementation of the Croke Park agreement; the implementation plan in place in his Department to ensure reforms envisaged through this agreement are delivered on; if he is satisfied with the pace of reform in his Department and the agencies under his remit; the further reforms the taxpayer and Irish citizens may expect to witness in the running of his Department and its agencies through the public sector reform agenda; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31611/12]

The Taoiseach: My Department submits regular reports to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform regarding progress with implementation of its Action Plan under the Public Sector Agreement 2010-2014, which includes the Action Plan for the National Economic and Social Development Office (NESDO), the only agency under the aegis of my Department.
I am satisfied with the level of progress being achieved and with the plans for further implementation of the Agreement in my Department and NESDO.
Some examples of specific actions taken in my Department under the Agreement include:
reductions in core staff numbers and budgets;
establishing an Office of the Tánaiste and Programme for Government Office from within existing resources;
redeployment of staff, including the transfer of staff and functions relating to public service reform from my Department to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform last year and establishment of an enhanced EU Division in my Department;
bringing in a number of staff with specialist skills into my Department to enhance its policy capacity;
reductions in uncertified sick leave; and
improved implementation of the Performance Management and Development System.
Some examples of progress made by NESDO include:
significant reductions in its budget;
greater use of electronic communications and new technology; and
improved business planning arrangements.

Ministerial Transport

Robert Dowds

Question:

160 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Taoiseach the extent of money spent on Ministerial transport in his Department for each of the years 2009, 2010 and 2011. [31612/12]

The Taoiseach: There has been no expenditure by my Department on Ministerial transport from 2009 to date.

Irish Language

John Deasy

Question:

161 Deputy John Deasy asked the Taoiseach if he will provide details of the total expenditure by his Department on providing services through the Irish language in each of the past five years. [31635/12]

The Taoiseach: The total expenditure by my Department on providing services through the Irish language in each of the past five years is detailed in the following table:

Year

2007

€18,474.48

2008

€21,025.31

2009

€21,295.27

2010

€11,205.96

2011

€12,506.55

2012 (Jan-June)

€8,904.85

Legal Cases

Timmy Dooley

Question:

162 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Taoiseach if he will quantify in tabular form, by year of commencement, all legal cases pending against his Department. [31790/12]

The Taoiseach: There is only one legal case pending against my Department. It concerns an appeal to the Supreme Court, which was lodged in July 2010, by the Commissioner for Environmental Information against a High Court judgement overturning her decision to direct release of a record covered by Cabinet confidentiality.

Departmental Staff

Paudie Coffey

Question:

163 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Taoiseach if he will provide in tabular form the number of persons that receive remuneration from his Department by way of wages, salaries, pensions, grants and other Departmental funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31859/12]

The Taoiseach: Some 210 staff are currently in receipt of salaries or wages from my Department. This figure includes staff currently working in my Department, some staff from my Department on secondment to other organisations and staff from my Department in receipt of payments under the incentivised career break scheme.
All pension payments for staff who retired from my Department are made by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and my Department does not make any such payments.
No other people or organisations are currently in receipt of remuneration from my Department on an ongoing basis.
My response to Parliamentary Question Number 162 (Ref: No. 28949/12) which was answered on 19 June 2012, provided details of the one-off grant payments made by my Department from 2009 to date.

Departmental Staff

Sean Fleming

Question:

164 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Taoiseach if he will provide a list of all allowances and the payment rates of those allowances paid to staff in his Department that are subject to income tax and the list of allowances and the payment rates paid to staff that are not subject to income tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31970/12]

The Taoiseach: Details of the allowances paid to staff in my Department which are subject to income tax are set out in the following table.

Name/Description of Allowance

Payment Rate

Press Officers “on-call” Allowance

5 hours overtime at double-time every week

Private Secretary to the Taoiseach Allowance*

€24,427 per annum

Assistant Private Secretary to the Taoiseach Allowance / Private Secretary to Minister of State Allowance / Private Secretary to Leader of the Seanad Allowance

€19,653 per annum

Shift Allowance

1/6th gross salary

Minister of State Allowance

€17,205 per annum

Half rate Private Secretary to Taoiseach Allowance

€12,214 per annum

Private Secretary to Secretary General Allowance

€10,370 per annum

Half rate Private Secretary to Minister of State Allowance

€9,827 per annum

Personal Assistant to Special Advisers Allowance

€7,125 per annum

Taoiseach’s Diary Secretary Allowance

€7,125 per annum

Half rate Private Secretary to Secretary General Allowance

€5,185 per annum

Paper Keeper Allowance

€3,176 per annum

Franking Allowance

€1,783 per annum

Machine Allowance

€848 per annum

Child Allowance**

€113 per child, per annum

*Current Private Secretary is also in receipt of another allowance so this allowance is abated as per relevant Circulars.
**Only payable to certain staff recruited before 1979.
Other allowances paid to staff in my Department are a clothing allowance of €444 per annum which is payable to a small number of Protocol/Government Press Office staff, an annual footwear allowance of €65 per annum which is payable to Service Officers for outdoor duties and a Tea/Meal Allowance of €4.10 which is paid to Service Officers when they work late on Dáil sitting days.
All allowances being paid by my Department are under review by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform as part of the central initiative being undertaken by that Department.

Appointments to State Boards

Timmy Dooley

Question:

165 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Taoiseach the names of all appointments made to State boards under his remit; the boards to which they were appointed since March 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32248/12]

The Taoiseach: Since coming into office on 9 March 2011, I have made appointments to the National Economic and Social Council (NESC) only, as set out in the following table. No remuneration is paid for membership of NESC.
NESC Board Membership

Name

Organisation

Date ofAppointment

Mr. Martin Fraser, Chairperson of NESC

Secretary General, Department of the Taoiseach

August 2011

Mr. John Shaw, Deputy Chairperson of NESC

Assistant Secretary, Department of the Taoiseach

January 2012

Prof. Edgar Morgenroth

Associate Research Professor, Economic and Social Research Institute

June 2011

Prof. John McHale

Economist, National University of Ireland, Galway

June 2011

Prof. Mary Daly

Department of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, Queen’s University Belfast

June 2011

Prof. Anna Davis

Department of Geography, Trinity College Dublin

June 2011

Prof. Seán Ó Riain

Department of Sociology, National University of Ireland, Maynooth

June 2011

Dr. Michael O’Sullivan

Head of UK Research and Global Asset Allocation, Credit Suisse, London

June 2011

Ms Mary Walsh

Chartered Accountant

June 2011

Dr. Michelle Morris

Senior Lecturer, School of Applied Social Science, University College Dublin.

July 2011

Mr. Shay Cody

IMPACT

September 2011

Mr. John Murphy

Secretary General, Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

November 2011

Mr. Seán Ó Foghlú

Secretary General, Department of Education and Skills

February 2012

Mr. John Moran

Secretary General, Department of Finance

March 2012

Departmental Expenditure

John Deasy

Question:

166 Deputy John Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide details of the total expenditure by his Department on providing services through the Irish language in each of the past five years. [31629/12]

Year

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012 (to date)

Translation Costs

€15,685.39

€21,402.35

€10,511.53

€43,118.49

€2,696.16

Driving Licences

Dara Calleary

Question:

167 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a lack of mutual recognition of driving licences exists between Ireland and the Canadian province of Quebec; if his further attention has been drawn to the fact that this lack of mutual recognition is causing many Irish emigrants their jobs in Quebec; his plans to rectify this problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31671/12]

Dara Calleary

Question:

168 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade in view of the fact that thousands of Irish persons, including 5,000 on the work experience programme, are entering Canada each year, his plans to assist Irish community organisations in Montreal that are campaigning for the Government to secure an agreement with the Quebec provincial authorities to recognise Irish driving licences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31673/12]

Dara Calleary

Question:

169 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the position regarding the efforts to secure recognition of the Irish driving licence in the Canadian province of Quebec; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31675/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 167 to 169, inclusive, together.

Matters relating to the processing of driving licences in Ireland and reciprocal exchange agreements are the responsibility of the Road Safety Authority which falls under the aegis of the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport.

I am aware of the issues relating to driving licences in Quebec and in other provinces across Canada. In particular, the matter was brought to my attention when I visited Canada (Quebec and Ontario) over the St. Patrick's Day period and met with some of the newly arrived young emigrants at the Irish Canadian Immigration Centre in Toronto.

Driving licences in Canada are issued on a provincial rather than federal basis. Therefore, in response to requests from a number of people seeking to exchange their Irish driving licences for a Canadian licence, our Ambassador in Canada contacted all the main provincial authorities to establish details of their driving testing schemes and their willingness to enter into a reciprocal driving licence exchange scheme. To date a number of provinces including Quebec and Ontario have indicated their interest in entering into an agreement with Ireland and my Department has brought this information to the attention of the RSA.

I have also brought the matter to the attention of the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and assured him that my Department and the Embassy in Ottawa will continue to work with him to deliver a positive outcome.

Passport Applications

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

170 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the procedures to be followed in respect of a passport application in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31701/12]

Each application for a passport, which is received by the Passport Service, is processed in accordance with the provisions of the Passports Act 2008 (the Act). Details of the various requirements are outlined in the Passport Application Form Notes which accompany each application form. These are also available on the Department's websitewww.passport.ie

As regards the person in question, I can confirm that an application for a passport was received by the Passport Service on 16 April, 2012. It did not, however, fully meet with the requirements of the Act and thus could not be finalised for passport issue. Accordingly, the Passport Service wrote to the applicant's mother on 25 April, 2012 to inform her of this decision and to advise her of the requirements, which are needed to progress the application. No reply has been received to date from her.

It should be noted that new application form, which has been sent to her, has been pre-registered on the passport system so that on its receipt by the Passport Service, it will be automatically linked into the information and content of the first application.

In light of this, I would recommend that the applicant's mother should reply to the Passport Service's letter of 25 April, 2012 and complete the forms that have been given to her. To help her with this, she can refer to the sources of information in respect of the completion of application forms which is mentioned above or she may contact the Deputy Passport Officer in Balbriggan, Mr. Brian Mulligan (tel. 01.673.3247 — emailbrian.mulligan@dfa.ie) who is familiar with the application details.

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

171 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if the protocols for the issuance of emergency passports to minors out of hours have changed recently and, if so, the reason for the change; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31731/12]

My Department provides a Duty Officer Service outside normal office hours to deal with matters requiring immediate attention, including the issue of passports in situations of genuine urgency or emergencies. The nature of this service is currently under review in the context of budgetary pressures and the review of allowances being conducted by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

There have been some necessary changes over the past twelve months to the rules covering the issuing of passports out of hours. Stricter measures have been put in place to combat passport fraud and to prevent children being taken from the State without authorisation.

If parental authorisation is secured, an emergency passport may be issued to a minor out of hours where the Duty Officer is satisfied that the proposed journey is related to the death or serious injury or illness abroad of a close relative or a medical emergency relating to the applicant themselves.

Legal Cases

Timmy Dooley

Question:

172 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will quantify in tabular form, by year of commencement, all legal cases pending against his Department. [31784/12]

The details of legal cases pending against my Department and the year of commencement of each case are set out in the following table.

Year

2002

2006

2009

2010

2011

2012

Number of cases

1

2

1

4

1

1

Departmental Expenditure

Paudie Coffey

Question:

173 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide in tabular form the number of persons, non-governmental organisations and quangos, that receive remuneration from his Department by way of wages, salaries, pensions, grants and other departmental funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31858/12]

Paudie Coffey

Question:

174 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide a list in tabular form of every quango and non-governmental organisation that received any moneys from his Department in 2009, 2010 and 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31882/12]

I propose to answer Questions Nos. 173 and 174 together.

My Department is responsible for two Votes — Vote 28 (Foreign Affairs) and Vote 27 (International Cooperation).

The Department necessarily works with a wide range of partners in pursuit of its strategic goals. In some cases, this involves the provision of funding to associations, organisations or other bodies.

In addition to these organisations, further funding, generally in relatively small amounts, is made available through our Mission network for local programmes and projects. In the time available it has not been possible to collate a list of these beneficiaries.

In all cases the number of organisations and the amount of support is kept under review and opportunities for savings are actively explored. It should be noted that in the case of many of the larger payments made by my Department the sum involved is an assessed mandatory contribution representing Ireland's share of the running costs of organisations such the UN and its agencies and other international bodies.

Under Vote 27 — International Cooperation — my Department manages the Government's official programme of development assistance, Irish Aid. This involves the provision of funding and support for a wide of range of organisations engaged in development cooperation.

Organisations funded include UN Agencies, Programme Country Governments, large Irish and International development Non-Governmental Organisations, Missionary Organisations, other International and Multilateral Organisations, and smaller civil society based organisations, all of which are focused on the fight against global poverty and hunger.

Funding is provided to partner organisations following a rigorous appraisal process by Irish Aid. All funding applications must meet strict and transparent criteria, have clearly identified specific objectives and have demonstrable results that will have a sustainable and positive impact on improving the lives of some of the world's poorest communities.

Based on the trend over the past three years, on average, Irish Aid funds in excess of four hundred organisations annually. Approximately one third of Irish Aid funding is channelled through Non Governmental and Missionary Organisations, a third through UN Agencies and other Multilateral Organisations, while the remainder is channelled through other International Development Organisations and Programme Country Government systems. A detailed analysis of spending under the aid programme is provided each year in the Irish Aid Annual Report.

In addition to the individual reviews that form a normal part of my Department's approach to funding, an overall review of funding was carried out last year as part of the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure, which resulted in some savings being achieved. Information regarding remuneration and salaries for 2009 and 2010 can be obtained Department's appropriation accounts prepared by my Department on an annual basis which are published on the website of the Comptroller and Auditor Generalhttp://www.audgen.gov.ie. Pensions payable to former staff of my Department are administered by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Departmental Staff

Sean Fleming

Question:

175 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will provide a list of all allowances and the payment rates of those allowances paid to staff in his Department that are subject to income tax and the list of allowances and the payment rates paid to staff that are not subject to income tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31964/12]

Details of allowances paid in my Department are set out in the following table. As the Deputy will be aware, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform is currently reviewing all allowances paid in the public sector and it is expected that the outcome of that review will be considered by Government in the near future.

Allowances common to more than one Department

Allowance

Number of recipients (in 2011)

Estimated total cost per annum

Taxable Y/N

Child Allowance€2.16 per week per child

36

€6,441

Y

Delegates Allowance

119

€141,092

Y

Driver (Van) Allowance€52.21 per week PPC rate or€49.58 per week modified rate

4

€10,449

Y

Franking Machine Allowance€34.29 per week PPC rate or€32.60 per week modified rate

6

€10,383

Y

Key Holder Allowance€35.67 per week PPC rate or€33.91 per week modified rate

10

€14,083

Y

Paperkeeper Allowance€54.58 per week PPC rate or€51.84 per week modified rate

3

€8,372

Y

Personal to Holder AllowancePayable to former Revenue staff who transferred to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade under decentralisation

11

€25,793

Y

Private Secretary to Minister Allowance€20,685 per annum PPC rate or€19,653 per annum modified rate

2.5

€51,712

Y

Private Secretary to Secretary General Allowance€10,951 per annum PPC rate or€10,405 per annum modified rate

1

€10,951

Y

Services Officer Supervisory Allowance (Deputy Head Service Officer)€64.26 per week PPC rate or€61.07 per week modified rate

4

€13,079

Y

Shift Allowance (Communications Centre) 1/6th of salary

3

€20,789

Y

Shift Allowance (Passport Office Balbriggan Production Facility)1/6th of salary

10

€60,000

Y

Shoe Allowance€60 per annum per Services Officer

28

€1,625

N

Switchboard AllowancePaid after 30 hours worked on switchboard€36.09 PPC rate or€34.32 modified rate

13

€7,724

Y

Unsocial Hours Allowance€42.18 per week PPC rate or€40.08 per week modified rate

3

€6,471

Y

Personal Pension Contribution (PPC) scales apply where officers were employed since 6 April 1995, pay the class A rate of PRSI and make a personal pension contribution.

Allowances specific to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Allowance

Number of recipients

Estimated total cost per annum

Taxable Y/N

Consular/Diplomatic Duty Officer Allowance

1 per week

€36,826

Y

Passport Office Dublin Duty Officer Allowance

2 per week

€88,104

Y

Passport Office Cork Duty Officer Allowance

1 per week

€33,470

Y

ICT Unit On Call Allowance

1 per week

€40,500

Y

Deputy Head of Division Allowance €4,750 per annum

6

€28,500

Y

Perm Rep Brussels On Call Allowance

1 per week

€22,000

Y

PCW Allowance 1% of salary

12

€7,651

Y

Gratuity for Public Holiday Allowance€100 per Public Holiday or€200 for Christmas Day and St Stephen’s Day

3 each Public Holiday

€4,200

Y

Press Officer Allowance

1

€2,413

Y

Chief of Protocol Clothing Allowance

1

Up to €2,000 maximum

N

Meal Allowance€10 per function per Cleaner

14

€600

N

Allowances paid to officers serving at missions abroad

Foreign Service Allowances are designed to offset the additional costs that arise for officers when they are temporarily posted abroad. The three main components of the Department's system of foreign services allowances are as follows.

Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) is designed to defray costs associated with living in cities where the cost of living is higher than in Dublin, based on data provided by an independent external consultancy. Because the COLA is linked to salary and notional net take-home pay it has been reduced in line with salary reductions in the civil service and with increases in taxation in recent years.

Local Post Allowance (LPA) provides assistance towards the additional indirect costs arising from the representational role of officers. This allowance, which varies according to marital status and grade, is payable at all locations abroad. Officers serving in designated "hardship" posts may also be entitled to a hardship allowance as part of their LPA. Where payable, this hardship element takes account of factors such as personal security and political tension, health, environmental factors, climate and isolation.

Children's Foreign Allowance (CFA) compensates officers for additional costs incurred with regard to their children aged under 18, or under 21 and in full time education.

Allowance

Number of recipients (excluding staff seconded from other Departments)

Estimated total cost per annum

Taxable Y/N

Cost of Living Allowance

325 approx at any one time

€2,394,000

N

Local Post Allowance

as above

€5,557,000

N

Child Foreign Allowance

Approx 128 officers in respect of 224 children (January 2012)

€709,000

N

Foreign Service Allowance Other

Approx 16 officers at any one time

€156,000

N

In addition, the following additional allowances may be paid to officers in particular circumstances, usually in the form of refunds for vouched expenditure or paid directly on behalf of officers:

Allowance

Number of recipients (excluding staff seconded from other Departments)

Estimated total cost per annum

Taxable Y/N

Rent Allowance

265 approx at any one time (excludes staff in directly provided accommodation)

€7,937,000

N

Furniture Allowance

Approx 50 in 2011

€97,773

N

School Fees Assistance

Approx 46 officers in respect of 76 children (January 2012)

€1,062,000

N

Representational Allowance

Payable at all Missions in relation to vouched expenditure on official representational activities — allocated to individual officers at discretion of Head of Mission

€2,033,000

N/A

Health Insurance top-up

Approx 318 officers and 335 dependents (January 2012)

€811,000

N

Other Medical

Approx 50 cases in total in 2011

€65,000

N

Detention Allowance (payable for a limited period to officers while seeking accommodation on taking up duty abroad)

Approx 60 officers and families where relevant (2011)

€140,109

N

Disturbance Allowance (to assist officers with the necessary costs associated with return from posting)

Approx 57 officers and families where relevant (2011)

€280,237

N

Temporary Accommodation costs (payable while officers seek permanent accommodation at posting location abroad)

Approx 60 cases (2011)

€284,030

N

Passport Applications

Dara Calleary

Question:

176 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the provisions that exist for the renewing of a child’s passport in circumstances whereby the child’s parents, although married, are temporarily residing in different countries from each other (details supplied) and, therefore, preventing one party from signing the consent form on the passport renewal application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32066/12]

The Passports Act, 2008 provides that the Minister for Foreign Affairs must be satisfied that before issuing a passport that each person who is a guardian of the child consents to the issuance of that passport.

In this case, the parents are married. Under Irish law they are the legal guardians of their child. Accordingly, their witnessed consent, albeit provided from different locations, must be provided.

The list of acceptable witnesses for the signing of this consent is quite extensive and is not limited to police officers. It includes a member of the clergy, medical doctor, lawyer, bank manager, elected public representative, notary public/commissioner for oaths, peace commissioner, school principal/vice principal or accountant who is personally known to the signatory or is identified to witness by someone known to them. The father of the child in question may, therefore, may wish to use one of these witnesses for his consent.

EU Presidency

Ray Butler

Question:

177 Deputy Ray Butler asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the current state of planning for Ireland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union; the level of engagement that has taken place with Cyprus to date; the outcomes of those meetings; the level of engagement with our trio partners in Lithuania and Greece; the outcome of meetings with our trio partners; the currently envisaged priories for the trio programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32164/12]

Presidency preparations are now at an advanced stage and have been operating at an intense level for more than a year. The principal focus across a very wide range of policy areas and Council formations will be on stimulating sustainable economic growth and job creation across Europe.

On 1 June a draft calendar of meetings to be held in Brussels during the Presidency was circulated to partners. In parallel planning is proceeding in consultation with Government Departments on the meetings that will be held in Ireland during the period. Regular contact with Cyprus and our Trio partners, Lithuania and Greece, has been maintained at ministerial and senior official. The Taoiseach and I have both informally discussed Presidency planning with our Cypriot colleagues. Most recently, Minister of State Creighton met her Cypriot counterpart, Deputy Minister Mavroyannis, in Horsens in Denmark on 13 June and the new Lithuanian Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs in Brussels at the end of May. Since coming into office, I have travelled to Athens and Vilnius while the Minister of State has travelled to Vilnius and Nicosia where we have had the opportunity to discuss Presidency preparations. We are looking forward to engaging with our counterparts in the Greek administrations. The meetings are important for ensuring clarity on the issues we want to prioritise and continuity of business between Presidencies.

At official level, discussions have been held in Brussels and in capitals between the Trio partners to discuss our 18-month joint programme. A further meeting at the level of Permanent Representatives will be held in Brussels in July before each partner submits to the Council Secretariat the issues they propose to prioritise during their Presidency. The Council Secretariat has responsibility for drafting the Trio programme which will be circulated to Member States in the autumn for their consideration.

The Trio programme will be framed within the context of the overall EU agenda and will also reflect the progress made by the Cypriot Presidency. However, there are a number of clear overarching priorities that will form the backdrop to our contribution to the Trio programme as well as to the development of our national Presidency programme.

We will seek to prioritise those proposals which are clearly related to the jobs and growth agenda across all policy areas. The Irish Presidency will also work to finalise agreement on those aspects of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) process that remain outstanding at the start of 2013. The MFF will set out the EU budget for the period 2014-2020 and has linkages to many policy issues of direct national importance to Ireland including the Common Agricultural Policy, the Common Fisheries Policy and Horizon 2020 (the EU's future framework programme for research and innovation). The Presidency will make every effort to contribute to the restoration of macroeconomic stability across the EU through the implementation of the Union's new economic governance procedures. In this context, Ireland will have the responsibility for managing in Council the European Semester, the process through which Member States coordinate their economic and budgetary policies. Work will continue at all levels of Government over the coming months to refine and develop the programme, in close cooperation with partner states, the European institutions and civil society.

Ireland has held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union on six previous occasions and we earned the reputation for being impartial and efficient managers of the EU agenda. It is a reputation we will seek to uphold next year.

Appointments to State Boards

Timmy Dooley

Question:

178 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the names of all appointments made to State boards under his remit; the boards to which they were appointed since March 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32242/12]

There are no state boards under the remit of my Department.

Tax Clearance Certificates

Jack Wall

Question:

179 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare is paying the correct tax and universal charge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32310/12]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the Tax Credit Certificate issued on 19 December 2011, notifying the taxpayer's respective employers of the relevant tax credits, tax rate bands and Universal Social Charge rate bands is in accordance with the taxpayer's entitlements as claimed.

Tax Code

Gerald Nash

Question:

180 Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Finance if he will examine the removal of VAT on e-books used for educational purposes in order to encourage the greater use of information and communications technology in schools; if he will provide the figures on the loss of VAT receipts to the Exchequer if VAT on e-books was removed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32365/12]

Regina Doherty

Question:

204 Deputy Regina Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider reviewing the VAT rate on educational books, in hard and soft copy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32305/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 180 and 204 together.

The VAT rating of goods and services is subject to the requirements of EU VAT law with which Irish VAT law must comply. In Ireland the zero rate applies to printed books, including atlases, children's picture, drawing and colouring books and books of music. It is possible for Ireland to apply the zero rate to printed books because Ireland applied the zero rate to these books on and before 1 January 1991, and the EU VAT Directive provides a derogation for such exceptional VAT treatment to continue to apply. However, the VAT Directive does not allow goods and services to apply at the zero rate which were not in place at that rate on 1 January 1991. As e-books were not applied at the zero rate in 1991 it is not possible to apply the zero rate to them now.

Furthermore, under the EU VAT Directive, all digitised publications, regardless of their rate when printed (for example, a book liable at zero rate), are treated as the supply of a service liable at the standard rate of VAT, which in Ireland is 23%. E-books, online newspaper subscriptions and online information services purchased via download over the Internet are also considered the supply of services liable for VAT at the standard rate. There is no option under EU VAT law to exempt e-books from VAT or to apply a reduced rate to them. While it is possible to reduce the standard VAT rate on e-books to below 23%, such a reduction would have to apply to all goods and services at the standard VAT rate, which accounts for the majority of activity liable to VAT, and would be excessively costly to the Exchequer.

Proposed Legislation

Dara Calleary

Question:

181 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Finance when the proposed betting (amendment) Bill will be published; if he will publish the heads of the Bill in advance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32433/12]

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.

Irish Language

John Deasy

Question:

182 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of the total expenditure by his Department on providing services through the Irish language in each of the past five years. [31628/12]

In response to the Deputy's question the total amount of expenditure by my Department on providing services through the Irish language for the period in question is €16,860.19. This expenditure relates to the translation of the budgets and white papers for each of the years in question and the cost translation of the four year plan. The following table outlines the expenditure for the translation of each of the budgets and the four year plan.

Cost of providing services through the Irish Language

Budget

Cost of Translation for budget and white paper

Cost of Translation for four year plan

2007

Nil

2008

€3,977.97

€854.70

2009

€4,081.53

2010

€3,282.90

2011

€3,221.83

€1,441.26

Credit Availability

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

183 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 163 of 28 February 2012, if he will provide an update regarding banks lending to small and medium enterprises; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31641/12]

As I stated in my reply to PQ 163 of 28 February 2012, the banking system restructuring plan creates capacity for the two Pillar Banks, Bank of Ireland and AIB, to provide lending in excess of €30 billion in the next three years. SME and new mortgage lending for these banks is expected to be in the range of €16-20bn over this period. This lending capacity is incorporated into the banks' deleveraging plans which allow for repayment of Central Bank funding through asset run-off and disposals over the period to 2013. The Government has imposed SME lending targets on the two domestic pillar banks for the three calendar years, 2011 to 2013. Both banks were required to sanction lending, including lending for working capital purposes, of at least €3 billion in 2011, €3.5 billion this year and €4 billion in 2013 for new or increased credit facilities to SMEs. Both banks achieved their 2011 targets.

The Credit Review Office (CRO) reviews decisions by the pillar banks to refuse, reduce or withdraw credit facilities (including applications for restructured credit facilities) from €1,000 up to €500,000. The Credit Review Office is overturning 60% of the decisions referred to them, supplying €6.9m of credit, supporting 683 jobs in the SME sector. I would appeal to SMEs who have been refused credit by banks to avail of the services of the CRO.

In terms of the pillar banks' progress in achieving the 2012 targets, the information reported to my Department and the CRO is commercially sensitive. As such there is limited specific detail that can be divulged on the tracking of the banks' performances. However, Head of the CRO John Trethowan notes in his eighth quarterly report that combined loan sanction levels in quarter one are broadly similar to the figures for quarter one last year. Lending transactions recorded by the two banks in quarter one are 15% lower than quarter one last year. He goes on to state that these numbers are a function of a number of variables:

(i) A softness in demand for lending reported by the banks, and observed by both the Mazars survey and recent Central Bank reporting;

(ii) Borrowers paying down debt rather than seeking new loans;

(iii) The tighter credit conditions in banks.

The Deputy should be aware that the Microenterprise Loan Fund Bill was published on 22 June and my colleague the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation is taking the legislation through the Oireachtas at present. The scheme, which is expected to be operational from early Autumn, will facilitate up to €40million in additional lending to microenterprises over the next five years. Furthermore, the Government is in the process of facilitating up to €150m per annum of additional credit through the Temporary Partial Credit Guarantee Scheme, designed for SME's who, because of lack of collateral or because of the specialised sector they operate in, face difficulties in accessing bank credit.

National Asset Management Agency

Pearse Doherty

Question:

184 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide the figure for the total amount of staple finance provided by the National Asset Management Agency, split by country; the average interest rate charged by NAMA; the average yield on the property sold; the maximum percentage of the sale price financed by NAMA and the maximum length of time over which the staple finance is to be repaid. [31659/12]

As previously advised to the Deputy, there is no single standard set of terms for stapled debt which NAMA may offer to parties acquiring commercial property from NAMA borrowers or receivers. Terms quoted will vary to reflect the attributes of various commercial property categories and individual properties, the varying strengths of tenants and leases, and the strength of counterparties/property purchasers. NAMA advises that only strong and reputable counterparties will be considered for stapled finance. For instance, NAMA advises that for prime investment properties, that is properties whose investment characteristics include, for instance, good location and strong tenants on leases with long maturity at realistic rents, which would qualify for the most generous loan terms, NAMA may offer up to 70% of the purchase price for a period of 5 years at a typical interest margin of 3% over cost of funds. NAMA further advises the first sale of property using staple finance provided by the Agency was that of No 1 Warrington Place in Dublin; that there are a number of further such sales in the pipeline; and that NAMA envisages that it will make up to €2 billion in staple finance available to purchasers of commercial properties controlled by its debtors and receivers in markets in which those debtors and receivers hold commercial properties. The Agency advises that the further detail sought by the Deputy is commercially sensitive and that disclosure of the information would impede NAMA's ability to negotiate the best possible outcome for the Irish taxpayer in each disposal undertaken by its debtors and receivers.

Pearse Doherty

Question:

185 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance further to ParliamentaryQuestion No. 60 of 13 June 2012, if he will advise in relation to residential property, andapart from the National Assets Management Agency 80-20 deferred payment initiative, the total value of deferred payments sanctioned by NAMA; the maximum length of time forwhich payment is deferred and the average interest rate charged on deferred payments. [31660/12]

NAMA has advised me that the information sought by the Deputy is commercially sensitive me but also that the instances are few where NAMA has provided this facility. Disclosure of the information would undermine NAMA's future negotiation position in respect of the disposal of residential properties under the control of its debtors and receivers and could thereby reduce the realised proceeds for the Irish taxpayer from such sales. Full details of NAMA's 80:20 Deferred Payment Initiative are available on the Agency's website,www.nama.ie.

Pearse Doherty

Question:

186 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the consideration he gave to the concession added in the most recent memorandum of understanding on specific economic policy conditionality whereby the National Asset Management Agency is now required as a term of the bailout, to redeem €7.5 billion of senior bonds by the end of 2013. [31661/12]

I can advise the Deputy that there were commitments on NAMA in previous Troika documentation. The May 2011 Memorandum of Understanding with the Troika included a target for the disposal of assets by NAMA by the end of 2013. The NAMA Board had set a target of repaying €7.5bn of the NAMA Senior Bonds in issue by the end of 2013. In the most recent meetings with the Troika it was agreed that the Memorandum of Understanding be amended to align to this more appropriate, but closely related, target.

The debt repayment target is considered to be a more appropriate measure to monitor than asset disposals, which can be impacted by currency and other external factors. The Troika seek progress reports on the target at the quarterly meetings with NAMA.

Tax Yield

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

187 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide the latest figures on the total earnings of the top 10,000 income earners; the average earnings of that group; and the total amount of tax on earnings paid by that group, in absolute terms and in percentage, effective tax rate, terms. [31742/12]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the information requested in respect of the top 10,000 income earners, estimated by reference to the income tax year 2012, is as follows:

Top 10,000 income earners

Gross income

€5,959 million

Average earnings

€595,900

Amount of income tax

€1,715 million

Effective tax rate

29%

It should be noted that the figures for tax and effective tax rate only relates to income tax and do not take account of additional liability to PRSI and Universal Social Charge.

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

It should be noted that Gross Income is as defined in Revenue Statistical Report 2010.

A married couple who has elected or has been deemed to have elected for joint assessment is counted as one tax unit.

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

188 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide the latest figures on the total earnings of the top 1% of income earners; the number of earners in that group; the average earnings of that group, and the total amount of tax on earnings paid by that group, in absolute terms and in percentage, effective tax rate, terms. [31743/12]

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

189 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide the most up to date figures on the total earnings of the top 10% of income earners, the number of earners in that group; the average earnings of that group; the total amount of tax on earnings paid by this group, in absolute and percentage, effective tax rate, terms. [31744/12]

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

190 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide the most up to date figures on the total earnings of the top 20% of income earners; the number of earners in that group; the average earnings of this group; the total amount of tax on earnings paid by this group, in absolute and percentage effective tax rate, terms. [31745/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 188 to 190, inclusive, together.

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the information requested in respect of the top 1% of income earners, top 10% of income earners and the top 20% of income earners estimated by reference to the income tax year 2012, are set in the following table:

Top 1% of income earners

Top 10% of income earners

Top 20% of income earners

Number of income earners

21,650

216,500

433,000

Gross income

€8,742 million

€29,600 million

€43,300 million

Average earnings

€403,760

€136,710

€100,000

Amount of income tax

€2,463million

€7,080 million

€9,294 million

Effective tax rate

28%

24%

21%

It should be noted that the figures for tax and effective tax rate only relates to income tax and do not take account of additional liability to PRSI and Universal Social Charge.

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

It should be noted that Gross Income is as defined in Revenue Statistical Report 2010.

A married couple who has elected or has been deemed to have elected for joint assessment is counted as one tax unit.

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

191 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance the number of income earners that earn more than €100,000 per year; and the additional yield to the Exchequer if the effective minimum tax rate in all earnings in excess of €100,000 was increased to 50%. [31746/12]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the number of income earners earning more than €100,000 per year, estimated by reference to the income tax year 2012, is 113,500. As the Deputy is aware, the top rate of income tax is 41 per cent, which applies to single individuals earning in excess of €32,800, married one-earner couples earning in excess of €41,800 and married two-earning couples earning in excess of €65,600 (the tax band of €65,600 to married couples with two incomes in 2012 is transferable between spouses up to a maximum of €41,800). Other streams of income are taxed at different rates, such as deposit interest income, which is liable to a 30 per cent rate of tax. Therefore, it is assumed that the Deputy is referring to the introduction of a third rate of income tax of 50 per cent to be applied on the portion of incomes in excess of €100,000 per annum.

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the estimated full year yield to the Exchequer, estimated by reference to 2012 incomes, of the introduction of a new 50% rate would be of the order of €490 million. This figure is an estimate from the Revenue tax-forecasting model using latest actual data for the year 2009, adjusted as necessary for income and employment trends in the interim. It is, therefore, provisional and subject to revision. For the purposes of this estimate it is assumed that the threshold for the proposed new tax rate would not alter the existing standard rate band structure applying to single and widowed persons, to lone parents and married couples. However, major issues would need to be resolved as to how, in practice, such a new rate could be integrated into the current system and how this would affect the relative position of different types of income earners.

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

Legal Cases

Timmy Dooley

Question:

192 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Finance if he will quantify in tabular form, by year of commencement, all legal cases pending against his Department. [31783/12]

In response to the Deputy's question the following table gives the details requested by the Deputy. The information has been provided by the Chief State Solicitors Office using the Chief State Solicitors Office/ Attorney Generals Office case management system which includes all cases where the Department of Finance or Minister is listed as a client of the Chief State Solicitor's or Attorney General's Office.

The number of cases listed includes both cases where a Court Record Number (CRN) has been assigned to the case and cases which have yet to have a Court Record Number assigned to them. The number of cases listed includes cases initiated by the Minister of Finance or Department of Finance. The number of cases listed also includes non litigation cases in which the Department of Finance is involved e.g. property transactions.

Table of cases by year of Commencement

Year

CRN has been assigned

CRN has not been assigned

Total number of cases

1990

Nil

1

1

1995

Nil

1

1

1997

1

Nil

1

2000

2

1

3

2001

1

2

3

2002

1

Nil

1

2004

4

2

6

2005

Nil

1

1

2006

1

2

3

2007

2

2

4

2008

2

1

3

2009

1

13

14

2010

6

24

30

2011

10

51

61

2012 to date

11

17

28

In addition to the information provided to me by Chief State Solicitors Office the State Claims Agency have provided the following information.

Under the National Treasury Management Agency (Amendment) Act, 2000, the management of personal injury and property damage claims against the state, including the Department of Finance and of the underlying risks was delegated to the NTMA. When performing these functions, the NTMA is known as the State Claims Agency (SCA).

The Department of Finance legal claims pending, under management by the SCA (Data is reflective of the position as of 29/06/2012):

Claim Notified Date

Claim Count

2009

1

Total:

1

National Asset Management Agency

Pearse Doherty

Question:

193 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance , following the announcement by the National Asset Management Agency of its intention to demolish a block containing 12 apartments in Longford, if he will provide details of the type of apartments involved and the condition of the property, as well as the condition of the property; when NAMA acquired the underlying loans on the property; the steps taken by NAMA to protect and maintain the property, including the amount of money spent on the property; the sales and marketing activity undertaken by NAMA to dispose of the property; if NAMA considered a sales contract which would oblige the buyer to put the property in a sellable rentable condition; if he will explain the reason the property was not made available for auction; the costs NAMA expects to spend on the property in future, including an accounting for the demolition costs; if he will provide details of NAMA’s efforts to make use of the property for social housing in the context of the waiting list of 335 families in Longford. [31909/12]

I am advised by NAMA that it acquired loans secured on this property in December 2010; that the property, comprising two-bedroom duplex units and three-bedroom apartments, was poorly constructed, had been subject to continuous vandalism and anti-social behaviour, including the removal of all fixtures and fittings; and had become a significant source of concern for neighbouring residents. I am further advised by NAMA that the property is located on a flood plain and in the middle of an industrial estate. As a result of its condition and location, NAMA advises that the investment required to bring the property to a habitable state and to the point that it could be sold, in the unlikely event that a willing buyer exists, would be such as to make the investment uneconomical and that it is questionable whether structurally such works could in fact be undertaken. In any event, NAMA advises that Longford County Council, in detailing the Category 4 remediation works to be taken as part of the agreed site resolution plan in respect of this development, set out a requirement that the apartment block be demolished.

NAMA has advised me that to undertake the necessary remediation on this development, including the proposed demolition of this block, it had first to take enforcement proceedings over the property, which was a protracted process involving the reinstatement of an Isle of Man holding company. NAMA further advises that it has expended no monies to date on the apartment block other than monies incurred in the general remediation and upkeep of the overall development in which it is located; and that it has made a provision of €150,000 for all demolition and remediation works relating to the block.

NAMA advises that decisions relating to the provision of social housing are a matter for the relevant housing authorities; that it has identified over 3,000 residential units as being available and potentially suitable for social housing and that the onus is now on housing authorities to determine the suitability of these units for the provision of social housing within their functional areas.

Departmental Staff

Sean Fleming

Question:

194 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a list of all allowances and the payment rates of those allowances paid to staff in his Department that are subject to income tax and the list of allowances and the payment rates paid to staff that are not subject to income tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31963/12]

The following table outlines the details of allowances paid out in my Department between pay period 2011/27 and 2012/27:

Pay Code Description

Total

Allowance subject to Tax

Higher Duty Allowance Pre 95

21339.91

Y

Assistant Head Service Officer Allowance

2653.36

Y

Footwear Allowance

2405.00

N

Franking Machine Allowance

1818.96

Y

Delegates Allowance

49174.73

Y

Higher Duty Allowance Full PRSI

42574.40

Y

Private Secretary (Non Pen Pre-95)

38917.60

Y

Machine Allowance

23414.32

Y

Special Allowance (Variable)

2060.64

Y

Seniority Allowance AHCPS 1% — Mod.

36477.08

Y

Keyholder Allowance

10048.16

Y

Extra Attendance/General

323.10

Y

Telephonist Allowance

17.14

Y

Cost Of Living Allowance (Tax Free)

5934.10

N

Local Post Allowance (Tax Free)

864.05

N

Rent Allowance

26794.00

N

Child Allowance (132)

2052.73

Y

APTH — Allowance Personal To Holder

750.48

Y

Private Secretary Allowance Post ‘95

2308.57

Y

Retro Private Secretary Pre-95

-1019.35

Y

Retro — Higher Duty

878.87

Y

Retro — Assistant Head Services Officer

163.74

Y

Retro Machine Allowance

176.49

Y

Retro Special Allowance

-39.74

Y

Retro Private Secretary Post ‘95

209.87

Y

Retro Cost Living Allowance Tax Free

97.88

N

Retro Local Post Allowance Tax Free

246.87

N

Please note that the majority of non taxable allowances are allowances that have been awarded to staff members who are on secondment to a posting abroad as part of their terms and conditions.

National Asset Management Agency

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

195 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance if he will explain the justification for the National Asset Management Agency stating that businesses which possess other viable businesses in a group are considered eligible to pay requested increases in rent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32008/12]

In agreeing to requests for rent abatements from its debtors, NAMA must in all instances be cognisant of the overriding requirement to preserve the value of collateral supporting its loans. The Agency seeks to ensure this by implementing rent abatements under the terms set out in its Guidance Note on Upwards Only Commercial Leases, which is available on its website,www.nama.ie. The terms of the Guidance Note are intended to deal with situations where tenants of NAMA debtors can demonstrate that the rents payable under their current leases are in excess of current market levels and that, in consequence, the viability of their business is threatened. This situation clearly does not arise in the case of businesses that are profitably trading or part of a profitably trading group that are in a position to honour their current contractual arrangements on rent, nor was it ever intended that the Guidance Note on Upwards Only Commercial Leases would confer benefit on such businesses.

NAMA advises that the judicious implementation of rent abatements can support the achievement of its objective of preserving the value of its properties securing its loans by (1) ensuring that qualifying tenants remain in business and continue to thereby generate rental income and (2) by safeguarding jobs and economic activity in general. The Agency points out that as rent abatements are typically agreed for an initial fixed period of no more than twelve months and are thereafter subject to ongoing assessment by reference to factors such as turnover and business profitability, any short-term loss of rental income arising from abatements is likely to be more than off-set by these long-term benefits. Agreement to rent abatements outside of the terms of the Guidance Note would, in contrast, prove contrary to the requirement on the Agency to protect the position of Irish taxpayers by extracting the best possible returns on its acquired loans and underlying property assets.

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

196 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a business with a licence that may stipulate that the proprietors can be asked to leave within one month’s notice will find itself in financial difficulty in view of the fact that it must pay three months rent up front to the National Assets Management Agency in advance even though it does not have security of tenure; his views on whether, alongside three months rent up front, a request of a 100% increase in rent on that business can place it in jeopardy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32009/12]

It is important to point out that NAMA has placed no such requirement on any tenant nor has it requested a rent increase in any case. I presume the Deputy is referring to specific commercial lease terms entered into freely by a tenant and landlord and which are better addressed between the parties. As previously advised to the Deputy, NAMA has acquired loans from the five participating institutions and is not the owner/operator of the underlying 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. 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. On the issue of rent abatements, as I also outlined in my reply to this matter previously, 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. By the end of May 2012, the Agency had approved 145 applications for rent reductions under these Guidelines with just 4 applications refused. I am happy that this system is working well and NAMA is playing a leading role.

Tax Rebates

Emmet Stagg

Question:

197 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Finance when a tax rebate will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare [32075/12]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that tax and Universal Social Charge refunds will issue to the person concerned shortly.

National Asset Management Agency

Pearse Doherty

Question:

198 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 165 of 26 June 2012, the average percentage interest rate paid by the National Asset Management Agency on its senior bonds in the calendar year of 2011; if he will provide a breakdown of the interest paid including the interest calculated by reference to the six-month Euribar interest rate specified in the bonds’ terms sheets plus any hedging, derivatives or other costs associated with the senior bonds incurred by NAMA; and if he will provide the interest rate applicable to NAMA’s subordinated bonds for the same period. [32172/12]

The average percentage interest rate paid by the National Asset Management Agency on its senior bonds in the calendar year of 2011 was 1.4654%. As per the published fourth Quarter 2011 accounts, in 2011 NAMA paid interest on its senior bonds of €423.3 million and interest on derivatives where hedge accounting is applied of €58.3 million. To date NAMA has not made an interest payment on the NAMA subordinated bonds. The rate of interest on the NAMA Subordinated debt was set in March 2010 at 5.264%.

Tax Code

Damien English

Question:

199 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Finance his views on the taxation policies outlined in the recent Department of Health public consultation on the Your Health is Your Wealth — Health and Wellbeing Framework 2012-2020, including but not limited to, implementing a policy of regular tobacco tax increases with a portion of the revenue ring-fenced to fund extra anti-smuggling measures and a major programme of cessation activities, introducing a levy on tobacco industry profits to account for the full cost of smoking to the economy and introducing an environmental tax on cigarette packets, levied on tobacco manufacturers, to account for the environmental impact of tobacco related litter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32211/12]

The contents of the Report on Public Health Policy Consultation Submissions have been noted. I would point out to the Deputy that many of the recommendations are not related to taxation. To the extent that they are it is normal practice that the findings of such a report will fall to be considered, along with other relevant factors and issues, when the taxation of cigarettes is being examined in the context of the annual budget.

School Management

Michael McGrath

Question:

200 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the reason for the changes in section 20 of the Finance Act 2011 relating specifically to school principals and boards of management of schools now acting as principal contractor on school building projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32220/12]

Michael McGrath

Question:

201 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the additional supports and or resources that are being made available to school principals and school boards of management in relation to section 20 of the Finance Act 2011, which has added an administrative burden as school principals and school boards of management now need to contact the Revenue Commissioners in relation to any school building projects, schools now need to register for VAT with the Revenue Commissioners and schools now need to liaise on a constant basis with the Revenue Commissioners on school building projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32221/12]

Seán Kyne

Question:

209 Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Finance if he will outline the rationale for the changes in section 20 of the Finance Act 2011 relating specifically to school principals and boards of management of schools now acting as principal contractor on school building projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32500/12]

Seán Kyne

Question:

210 Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Finance if any, additional supports and or resources are being made available to school principals and school boards of management in relation to section 20 of the Finance Act 2011 which has added an administrative burden as school principals and school boards of management now need to contact revenue in relation to any school building projects, schools now need to register for VAT with revenue, and schools now need to liaise on a constant basis with revenue on school building projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32501/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 200, 201, 209 and 210 together.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that Relevant Contracts Tax (RCT) is a withholding tax system that operates in the construction, forestry and meat processing sectors. Principal contractors are defined in the legislation (section 530A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997) as including "any board or body established by or under statute and funded wholly or mainly out of funds provided by the Oireachtas". As such, school Boards of Management are principal contractors for the purposes of RCT.

I am also informed that Finance Act 2011 did not introduce any change in terms of the obligations of Boards of Management to operate RCT. Principal contractors, including school Boards of Management are, and always were, required to deduct tax from the payments made to subcontractors and pay it over to Revenue. As it is recognised that it would be undesirable to deduct tax from compliant subcontractors, provision is made for compliant subcontractors to receive payments without deduction of tax. The need to ensure tax compliance by subcontractors is particularly important where the Exchequer is the ultimate source of the funds being paid out by school Boards of Management and other principal contractors. RCT plays an important role in ensuring tax compliance by subcontractors in these sectors.

From 1 January 2012, the Revenue Commissioners have substantially modernised the operation of RCT following the introduction of a dedicated online facility which offers principal contractors a fast, efficient and paper free system. This has streamlined the process for the submission of information and payments to Revenue and has had the effect of significantly reducing the administrative burden associated with RCT.

I am further informed by the Revenue Commissioners that they are aware of the difficulty some school Boards of Management may be having in fulfilling their obligations under the RCT system. Revenue has met with the Department of Education and Skills regarding the obligations of Boards of Management under the RCT system and has also met with representatives of some Boards of Management. In addition, local Revenue offices have been contacting Boards of Management who are likely to be in receipt of State funding for construction projects with a view to assisting them with their RCT responsibilities. Detailed guidance notes regarding the operation of RCT by school Boards of Management are being prepared and will soon be made available on the Revenue website and also made available to the Department of Education and Skills.

Finally, having regard to the pressures on the public finances, it is important that the RCT system is implemented correctly in order to minimise tax evasion in the construction sector particularly where the project involves substantial State funding. The new online system introduced by Revenue has significantly simplified the RCT process for principal contractors, including school Boards of Management.

Appointments to State Boards

Timmy Dooley

Question:

202 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Finance the names of all appointments made to State boards under his remit; the boards to which they were appointed since March 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32241/12]

In response to the Deputy's Question the following are details of appointments made in the period in question.

Board Appointments

Name of Body

Name of appointee

Date appointed/reappointed

Disabled Drivers Medical of Appeal

Dr. Angela McNamara

Re-appointed on 7th November 2011

*Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC)

Mr. Roger McGrealMr. Oliver Ellingham

15th November 201110th October 2011

Fiscal Advisory Council(established June 2011)

Mr. Sebastian BarnesProfessor Alan BarrettDr. Donal DonovanProfessor John McHaleDr. Roisin O’Sullivan

7th July 2011

National Asset Management Agency

Mr. John Mulcahy

7th March 2012

National Treasury Management Agency Advisory Committee

Mr. John Moran

6th March 2012

National Pensions Reserve Fund Commission

Mr. Maurice Keane

5th February 2012

State Claims Agency Policy Advisory Committee

Dr. Noel WhelanMs Wendy ThompsonMr. Charlie HardyMr. Fachtna Murphy

1st July 2012

* The Directors of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation were appointed by the Board of the Bank with my approval.

Mortgage Interest Relief

Joe McHugh

Question:

203 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the 2004 to 2008 mortgage interest relief scheme announced in budget 2012; his views on the performances of individual banks and finance houses in respect of the implementation of the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32282/12]

This is a matter for the Revenue Commissioners who are responsible for the administration of mortgage interest relief through the tax relief at source system. I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that they continue to work with all qualifying lenders to ensure that the necessary software changes to lenders' Tax Relief at Source (TRS) systems are in place at the earliest possible date. The speed with which the required software changes can be developed and implemented varies from lender to lender. The vast majority of lenders have now successfully completed testing of their software programmes and have passed on the 30% rate. Where , in relation to any lender, there is reason for concern about the pace of implementation having regard to all of the circumstances, Revenue is in direct contact with the lender concerned to ensure the necessary changes are implemented as a matter of urgency.

As an interim relieving measure a 25% rate available in the ICT systems was applied to all eligible accounts from January last. Once the necessary software changes are implemented each lender implements the 30% rate in full, and also credits any balance of relief due for earlier months.

Question No. 204 answered with Question No. 180.

Banking Operations

Michael McGrath

Question:

205 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance his views regarding the length of time it is taking banks to clear cheques and credit a customer’s account; and from the point of view of retail businesses, the length of time it is taking for credit card receipts to appear in the account of the business; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32412/12]

I have been informed by the Central Bank that the clearing cycle for a cheque should be no longer than three business days, with a bar on returning a cheque unpaid being set at five business days. However it should be noted that this clearing cycle may be shorter in some circumstances (in particular, where the accounts of the payer and the payee are both held with the same branch of the same bank). As to the related matter of when a bank will permit a customer to draw against a cheque lodged to his or her account, this is a matter for decision for each bank based on its own risk management arrangements and would be outlined in the relevant terms and conditions. With regard to credit cards, a number of steps must be completed before a retailer's bank account is credited following acceptance of a payment by credit, debit or pre-paid card from a customer.

Once the card has been inserted into the point of sale (POS) terminal at the counter and verified by PIN (or in some circumstances by signature), this device transmits the card data and transaction amount to the retailer's acquirer. The acquirer routes a request for payment to the bank that issued the card to the customer and — assuming that all is in order (e.g. that the cardholder has sufficient credit, that the card has not been reported as lost or stolen, etc.) — the card-issuing bank authorises the transaction and an authorisation code is sent back to the retailer via the acquirer.

Later on (the exact timing and the frequency of this step will depend on the arrangements agreed between the retailer and the acquirer), the retailer will, in batch process capture and transmit the data relating to all authorised card transactions in a given period to the acquirer. The acquirer will process these transactions via the relevant card scheme (e.g. VISA, MasterCard) and collect the total amounts due to the retailer from all the card-issuing banks. The card issuing banks will then transfer these amounts via the card schemes to the acquirer who will, in turn, pay these on to the retailer's bank. That bank then credits the retailer's account to complete the process. Value is normally given to the retailer on a ‘next day' basis following completion of the batch transaction processing.

Ministerial Meetings

Patrick Nulty

Question:

206 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Finance the number of times he and the officials in his Department have met with the tobacco industry and their representatives since he has taken office; if he will provide details, in tabular form, of the dates of each meeting, the names of the organisations and representatives involved, the titles of the Departmental officials involved; the reason for each meeting and the matters discussed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32441/12]

Since taking Office, I have not met with representatives of the tobacco industry. Such meetings have been attended by my officials. The following table set out the information requested by the Deputy in relation to meetings held with representatives of the tobacco industry since I took Office in March 2011.

Date of Meeting

Tobacco Industry Representatives present

Titles of Department Officials present

Reason for meeting and topics discussed

19/9/11

JTI Ireland:Finance Manager IrelandCorporate Affairs Manager

Assistant Principal, RevenueAssistant Principal,Dept. FinanceHEO, Revenue

Range of issues including developments in the tobacco market, the taxation of tobacco products, EU Directives and issues arising and tobacco smuggling

17/10/11

Philip Morris International:Corporate Affairs Manager IrelandDirector of Corporate Affairs UK and IrelandCorporate Affairs Manager UK

Principal, Dept. FinancePrincipal, RevenueAssistant Principal,Dept. Finance

Range of issues including developments in the tobacco market, the taxation of tobacco products, EU Directives and issues arising and tobacco smuggling

3/11/11

Irish Tobacco Manufacturers Advisory Committee:CEO John Player/ImperialCEO PJ Carroll/BATCorporate Affairs Director JTISecretary ITMAC

Principal, Dept. FinancePrincipal, RevenueAssistant Principal,Dept. Finance

Range of issues including developments in the tobacco market, the taxation of tobacco products, EU Directives and issues arising and tobacco smuggling

30/5/11

JTI Ireland:Finance ManagerFinance DirectorMarketing DirectorCorporate Affairs Director

Principal, RevenueAssistant Principal,Dept. Finance

Range of issues including developments in the tobacco market, the taxation of tobacco products, EU Directives and issues arising and tobacco smuggling

National Asset Management Agency

Pearse Doherty

Question:

207 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a breakdown by National Asset Management Agency participating institutions of the €2 billion of NAMA senior debt redeemed by the agency, which was announced on 27 June, 2012. [32451/12]

NAMA have advised that following their recent decision to repay €2bn senior debt, the funds received by each institution is as follows:

Institution

Amount

AIB (incl. EBS):

€1,392m

BOI:

€351m

Permanent TSB:

€191m

IBRC:

€66m

Total:

€2,000m

Pearse Doherty

Question:

208 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the consideration the National Asset Management Agency gave to its overriding objective of addressing the serious threat to the economy caused by the banking and property crisis, before taking the decision to redeem €2 billion of its senior debt, announced on 27 June, 2012. [32452/12]

One of the primary objectives of NAMA is the repayment of the cost of the loans acquired from the Participating Institutions and the cost of the working and development capital expenditure on the assets attached to the loans. I am advised by NAMA that through its activities, including a phased and orderly asset disposal programme and investment in residential and commercial projects underlying its loans, it is well advanced in terms of meeting this overriding objective. The recent repayment of €2 billion of its senior debt, which brings the total redeemed to date to some €3.25 billion, is further evidence of this and the Agency has advised that it is firmly on course to meet its first major milestone of repaying €7.5 billion of Senior Bonds by the end of 2013.

Questions Nos. 209 and 210 answered with Question No. 200.

Skills Shortages

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

211 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the specific actions have been taken to address the skills shortage in the technology sector, where there currently exists significant under-employment, and which was highlighted by a briefing to Cabinet earlier this year by a senior manager in a major internet company invested and located here. [31685/12]

The joint Government-Industry ICT Action Plan, which I launched in January this year, was developed as a direct response to specific skills shortages in the ICT sector. The Plan outlines a range of short, medium and long term measures to develop a sustainable domestic supply of high quality ICT graduates to support the further expansion and development of the ICT sector and support innovation and growth across other sectors of the economy.

As part of the Plan, 750 places have been made available on new Higher Diploma Level 8 Conversion ICT Programmes which began rolling out in higher education institutions across the country from March 2012. Access is free of charge to participants who will obtain a level 8 higher diploma. Graduates of these programmes will be available in early 2013. In addition, 530 people with a qualification at level 8 or Master's level in ICT are now due to graduate from the first phase of Springboard. A further 2,200 places on ICT programmes from certificate to masters degree level are now open for applications as part of Springboard 2012.

In terms of medium term graduate supply, the indications are that the message is getting through to those applying for full time higher education that Technology courses (including Science, Computing and Engineering)offer good opportunities for graduates in today's job market. This year's CAO applications data shows that first preference applications to Technology courses are showing an increase in total proportion of discipline choices from 17.7% in 2011 to 19.8% in 2012. In numerical terms, the number of students applying to study Technology courses increased from 11,370 in 2011 to 12,230 in 2012, a percentage increase of 7.5%. Other actions provided for in the Plan are also underway including the establishment of a new high level Academic Industry Foresight Group chaired by John Hennessy, Chair of HEA, and with strong high level industry membership.

Higher Education Grants

Tom Fleming

Question:

212 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will award a student grant in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31615/12]

The decision on eligibility for a student grant is a matter for the relevant grant awarding authority. The Deputy will appreciate that in the absence of all of the relevant details that would be contained in an individual's application form and supporting documentation, it would not be possible for me to say whether or not a student should qualify for a maintenance grant.

Officials in my Department have been in contact with SUSI which has confirmed that an application was received from this student on 15 June 2012. Processing of this application has commenced and the student will be notified directly of the outcome in due course.

Irish Language

John Deasy

Question:

213 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide details of the total expenditure by his Department on providing services through the Irish language in each of the past five years. [31626/12]

The only costs incurred by my Department in relation to providing services through the Irish language were in respect of the translation of documents and the provision of Irish language training to staff.

It is a requirement of the Official Languages Act that documents setting out public policy proposals, annual reports, statements of strategy, and matters considered to be of major public importance, are communicated by Government Departments in both Irish and English.

The table sets out the translation costs and the Irish language training costs incurred by my Department for the past five years. The translation expenditure includes the cost of translating documents from English to Irish and from Irish to English. The Deputy should note that these figures also include some translations into languages other than Irish or English. The cost element in respect of translations to languages other than Irish or English is not significant.

Cost of Providing Services through Irish

Expenditure (€)

Year

Translation

Irish language Training

Total Cost

2012 to date

50,505.63

0

50,505.63

2011

145,004.16

13,453.10

158,457.26

2010

138,251.00

15,350.00

153,601.00

2009

152,196.79

3,135.00

155,331.79

2008

156,060.40

23,630.00

179,690.40

After School Support Services

Martin Ferris

Question:

214 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Education and Skills the funding available for after school support services, involving child care and help with homework (details supplied). [31643/12]

All recognised national schools running costs are met by my Departments schemes of capitation and ancillary service grants. Schools receive capitation funding in January and June, and the ancillary services grant in March. The amount paid to an individual national school by way of capitation and ancillary services grants is determined by the school's enrolment, subject to a minimum grant in respect of schools with enrolments up to 60 and a maximum grant in the case of schools of 500 or more.

The Deputy may wish to note that Circular 40/2009 clarifies issues relating to the allocation of funding for primary schools. The circular states that capitation funding provided for general running costs and funding provided for caretaking and secretarial services may be regarded as a common grant from which the Board of Management can allocate according to its own priorities. Given the scale of our economic crisis, I have no scope to introduce new or additional funding measures to assist schools generally or for specific purposes, such as those referred to by the Deputy.

School Staffing

Dara Calleary

Question:

215 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills the projected number of schools as of 25 June 2012 that will have one teacher in September 2012. [31668/12]

There are currently 19 one teacher schools in the primary school system. Based on information available to my Department there will be 16 such schools in the coming school year 2012/13.

Dara Calleary

Question:

216 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills the supports available to one-teacher schools to allow for the full implementation and monitoring of all child protection procedures and requirements in the school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31669/12]

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

The new procedures incorporate significant improvements to the previous school guidelines and are intended to better ensure consistent and uniform implementation of Children First across all schools. The improvements include a new template child protection policy, a requirement that all primary schools fully implement the Stay Safe programme and also put in place improved oversight arrangements at Board of Management level.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) on the recently published Child Protection Procedures has been offered to all Designated Liaison Persons or Deputy Designated Liaison Persons appointed since 2009. The Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) provided a one day Child Protection seminar in local Education Centres with a total of 44 seminars arranged to date. My Department also provided funding for substitution cover for attendance at these seminars. In addition, a two-hour evening information workshop on the revised procedures was provided by PDST to all other Designated Liaison and Deputy Designated Liaison Persons in order to give an update on the key changes and requirements. A total of 35 information sessions have been arranged across the network of education centres. Furthermore, the Child Abuse Prevention Programme continues to provide staff training and additional support and advice for schools and boards of management on the Stay Safe Programme, on the development of child protection policies and protocols and on liaising with relevant agencies in health and education.

Dara Calleary

Question:

217 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills the supports available to one-teacher schools to allow for the full implementation and monitoring of all health and safety procedures and requirements in the school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31670/12]

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) is the national statutory body with responsibility for ensuring that health and safety requirements are met by all employers, including schools. The Authority also provides information and advice to organisations to assist them in ensuring that their responsibilities in respect of health and safety in the workplace are met. The HSA has published a number of resources specifically for schools to support them in managing health and safety in the school environment. It also provides a number of online training courses specifically for the school sector. Further details on the advice, resources and training courses available from the HSA can be obtained by contacting the HSA at the local number 1890 289 389 or from the HSA's websitewww.hsa.ie.

School Patronage

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

218 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the role his Department will play in assessing the preferred patronage for the new primary school to be established in the Dublin 2/4 area; if he will examine or consider any changes to the existing schools patronages; and the direct communications he expects to have with parents living in the catchment area before the new school is built. [31688/12]

As the Deputy may be aware, in June 2011, I announced the need for the establishment of 20 new primary schools to cater for increased demographics across a number of locations up to 2017, including the Sandymount/ Ringsend area in Dublin 2/4.

I also announced new arrangements for the recognition and determination of patronage of these new primary and post-primary schools. The new arrangements published by my Department provide a balanced approach to allow applications to be made by prospective patrons for the establishment of schools. The criteria used in deciding patronage of the new schools place a particular emphasis on parental demand for plurality and diversity of patronage. This consideration will have regard to the patronage of the existing schools in an area.

School Accommodation

Brendan Griffin

Question:

219 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if additional classroom accommodation will be provided in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31689/12]

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that my Department has approved funding for the construction of a mainstream classroom as well as accommodation for pupils with special educational needs at the school to which he refers. A letter confirming this approval has issued to the school authority.

Free Fee Scheme

Derek Keating

Question:

220 Deputy Derek Keating asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will examine the situation in which a person (details supplied) in County Dublin, is being deprived of their educational entitlements and are being charged such large fees because of a bureaucratic mistake; if he will advise on how this can be corrected; if his Department will ensure that this situation does not arise again; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31697/12]

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

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

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

European Globalisation Fund

Catherine Murphy

Question:

221 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will confirm that funding promised from the European Globalisation Fund to support former construction workers had to be returned in June 2012 due to the apparent inability of county enterprise boards to disperse the grants; if so, the amount of money that was returned; if he will confirm that applicants were informed at the time of application that county enterprise boards would only forward funding in cases where the applicant was training or engaging in activities in the same sector in which they previously held employment; if not, if he will propose compensation for these applicants who were approved for funding outside this category in good faith; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31707/12]

The three European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) programmes in support of almost 9,000 redundant workers made redundant in subsectors NACE 41 (Construction of Buildings), NACE 43 (Specialised Construction Activities) and NACE 71 (Architectural Services) of the construction industry between 1 July 2009 and 31 March 2010, ended on 9 June 2012. Various service providers are preparing the submission of their claims and as such, the Department does not yet have total expenditures for these programmes. Final reports on these programmes together with statements of certified final expenditure are required to be submitted to the European Commission by 9 December 2012. A full picture of reimbursements will only emerge after that time and no monies have been returned to the EU in the interim.

In relation to the role of the County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs), this is generally to support manufacturing and internationally traded services in the micro enterprise sector where export earnings can be achieved and where State investment can achieve optimal returns. The criteria under which funding is available from the CEBs is based on factors such as the sector of the economy in which an enterprise is operating or intends to operate, and the size or proposed size of the enterprise. CEBs can assist in the establishment, and/or development, of new and existing enterprises from individuals/sole traders, companies and community groups subject to certain eligibility criteria. In addition, CEBs provide a range of business advice, training and one-to-one mentoring supports.

The CEBs had responsibility for the delivery of the enterprise support element of the EGF programmes for construction industry subsectors NACE 41, 43 and 71. Under these programmes, micro-enterprises could be supported in line with national policy, having due regard to any deadweight or displacement concerns. Under these particular EGF programmes, both financial and non-financial assistance, such as mentoring and training and development services, which was provided to EGF eligible redundant workers seeking to develop and progress business start-ups, was required to support core CEB activities within normal CEB parameters. However, in this context there was no requirement made by the CEB that a business proposal must have been limited to the particular sector or activity in which the worker was employed prior to redundancy.

Schools Building Projects

Tom Fleming

Question:

222 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide the up-to-date progress report in respect of the provision of a new school (details supplied) in County Kerry as per Parliamentary Question 165 of 22 November 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31717/12]

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that the school to which he refers is among those I announced in March to proceed to construction as part of my Department's five year capital investment programme.

The accommodation brief for the school has been finalised and the project has been devolved to the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA) for delivery. The NDFA is currently reviewing the project with a view to tendering for a Design Team in the near future.

School Management

Brendan Smith

Question:

223 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the guidelines and supports his Department has offered schools and school boards of management for complying with new procedures set out in section 20 of the Finance Act 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31735/12]

Brendan Smith

Question:

224 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his Department has issued a circular to schools explaining the implications of section 20 of the Finance Act 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31736/12]

Brendan Smith

Question:

225 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has requested additional resources and funding from the Department of Finance in order to assist schools and school boards of management in complying with the additional administrative responsibilities for schools outlined in section 20 of the Finance Act, 2011. [31737/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 223 to 225, inclusive, together.

On the approval of construction contracts where school authorities are the client, my Department advises the school authorities in detail of the new requirements that have been introduced by the Revenue Commissioners in relation to the operation of Relevant Contracts Tax (RCT) and which are required to be complied with.

In the first instance an explanation of the background to the new requirements is provided. In this regard, RCT is a tax regime applicable to construction contracts in which tax is deducted by a principal contractor from payments due to a contractor for construction operations. RCT applies to main contractors in their dealings with sub-contractors. The Revenue Commissioners have now decided that with effect from the 1st January 2012 school Boards of Management are regarded as "Principal Contractor". This means that the Board of Management undertaking works funded by the Department will be responsible for complying with RCT requirements and VAT returns when making payments to their contractor. The Revenue Commissioners have introduced a mandatory electronic RCT system for all principal contractors in the RCT system, so that all filings and notifications must be done online through the Revenue Online System (ROS).

Full details of these new requirements are available onwww.revenue.ie or from the local Revenue Office. School authorities are further advised of the guidelines that should be followed to ensure compliance with Section 20 of the Finance Act 2011.

1. Register online for the Revenue Online Service (ROS).

2. Register with Revenue as a Principal Contractor and for Value Added Tax (VAT).

3. Obtain the Contractor's tax reference number and proof of identity.

4. Prior to commencement of construction, notify Revenue of the Contract (Contract Notification).

5. Prior to discharging any payment to the Contractor, notify Revenue of the payment (Payment Notification).

6. Obtain a Deduction Authorisation from Revenue specifying the tax to be deducted from the Contractor.

7. Provide the Contractor a copy of the deduction Authorisation.

8. Deduct the applicable amount of tax from payments due to the Contractor.

9. File RCT returns and pay the deducted amount to Revenue.

10. File monthly VAT returns and pay the VAT to Revenue.

11. Obtain and keep a Deduction Summary — Periodic Return at the end of each return period.

As the compliance outlined above involves school authorities with construction contracts interacting with the Revenue Commissioners on a regular basis, my Department considers that any issues or queries arising from the new procedures are directed by school authorities to the Revenue Commissioners.

School Staffing Appeals Mechanism

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

226 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a school (details supplied) in County Cork; the appeal mechanism available to the school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31771/12]

The staffing schedule is the mechanism used for the allocation of classroom teachers to all primary schools. It operates in a clear and transparent manner and treats all similar types of schools equally irrespective of location. There has been no change to the mainstream staffing allocation of the school referred to by the Deputy for the 2012/13 school year. The school has 19 classroom teachers in the current school year and will have the same number for the coming school year 2012/13.

The configuration of classes and the deployment of classroom teachers are done at local school level. My Department publishes annual statistics on class size data for each school. The most recent statistics are for the 2010/11 school year.

The national average class size is 23.9 pupils. However, with over 20,600 classes in over 3,100 primary schools throughout the country there will always be variations in class sizes at individual school level. My Department's guidance to local school management is that such variations should be kept to the minimum.

Legal Cases

Timmy Dooley

Question:

227 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will quantify in tabular form, by year of commencement, all legal cases pending against his Department. [31781/12]

It is not possible to provide the information requested in the time available. A reply will issue to the Deputy as soon as the information is to hand.

School Transport

Tom Fleming

Question:

228 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will make available an additional bus to accommodate the increase of 18 students attending Causeway comprehensive school, County Kerry, from the Abbeydorney and Ardfert area next September; if not, if he will alternatively reorganise transport to cater for the changes in school capacity and attendance figures, that is, that the nearest school with capacity available would become their primary designated school and provide the adequate transport required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31838/12]

Under the terms of my Department's Post Primary School Transport Scheme children are eligible for transport where they reside not less than 4.8 kms from and are attending their nearest education centre as determined by the Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.

Bus Éireann, which operates the School Transport Scheme on behalf of my Department, determine eligibility by measuring the shortest traversable route from a child's home to the relevant education centre. Bus Éireann are currently processing applications for school transport for the 2012/13 school year. The number and size of vehicles required will be determined by the number of eligible pupils whose applications are finalised by the deadline date at the end of July. Children who are not eligible for school transport may apply for transport to a particular school on a concessionary basis in accordance with the terms of the scheme.

Children who applied for enrolment in their nearest school but who did not secure a place may have their school transport eligibility considered by reference to the distance they reside from their next nearest school. This consideration will only apply where my Department is satisfied that the child's nearest school does not have the capacity to enrol additional first year pupils.

Higher Education Courses

Patrick Nulty

Question:

229 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason the Higher Education Authority has decided to discontinue the teaching of carpentry apprentice classes at a college (details supplied) in Dublin 15, in particular in view of the fact that the college has the most state-of-the-art equipment for this purpose in the country; if he will publish all relevant documentation outlining the case for this decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31856/12]

The sharp decline in apprentice recruitment and significant levels of redundancies in many apprenticeship trades over the past three years has resulted in a dramatic fall off in the number of apprentices requiring education and training in the institutes of technology and colleges of further education. The requirement for Carpentry and Joinery provision has been particularly affected, having fallen from a high of 168 blocks nationally in 2008 to an expected national requirement for 15 blocks in 2012.

In light of the collapse in demand for this trade and following close consultations with the education providers and FÁS, the Higher Education Authority (HEA) has allocated Carpentry and Joinery provision to a reduced number of colleges on a regional cluster basis for the 2012/13 academic year. As part of this process some colleges, including the Institute of Technology Blanchardstown (ITB), will cease provision in this trade.

In line with the commitment in the Government's Action Plan for Jobs, a review of the apprenticeship training model is being undertaken during 2012.

Departmental Funding

Paudie Coffey

Question:

230 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide in tabular form the number of persons, non-governmental organisations and quangos, that receive remuneration from his Department by way of wages, salaries, pensions, grants and other Departmental funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31860/12]

Paudie Coffey

Question:

232 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a list in tabular form of every quango and non-governmental organisation that received any monies from his Department in 2009, 2010 and 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31880/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 230 and 232 together.

The information requested by the deputy it available in the published annual estimates for the Department. As follows is a list of the Agencies under the remit of my Department. Annual reports and accounts of these bodies for the financial years 2009, 2010 and 2011 are available on their websites.

List of Agencies

An Chomhairle um Oideachais Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochtawww.cogg.ie

Commission into Child Abusewww.childabusecommission.ie

Education Finance Boardwww.educationfinanceboard.com

Foras Áiseanna Saothairwww.fas.ie

Further Education and Training Awards Councilwww.fetac.ie

Grangegorman Development Agencywww.ggda.ie

Higher Education and Training Awards Councilwww.hetac.ie

Higher Education Authoritywww.hea.ie

Irish Research Councilwww.ircset.ie

Léargas — The Exchange Bureauwww.leargas.ie

National Centre for Guidance in Educationwww.ncge.ie

National Council for Curriculum and Assessmentwww.ncca.ie

National Council for Special Educationwww.ncse.ie

National Qualifications Authority of Irelandwww.nqai.ie

Residential Institutions Redress Board (RIRB) www.rirb.ie

Residential Institutions Review Committee (RIRC)See RIRB website

Skillnets Ltdwww.skillnets.ie

State Examinations Commissionwww.examinations.ie

The Teaching Councilwww.teachingcouncil.ie

Education Schemes

Paudie Coffey

Question:

231 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of persons in County Waterford that have applied for the Springboard initiative since its inception; the number of persons that have participated in the scheme in County Waterford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31874/12]

Since it was launched in May 2011, a total of 206 people with an address in County Waterford have applied for a place on a Springboard course.

Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) is providing a number of courses under the programme. Almost 50 people have been supported to undertake Springboard 2011 courses in WIT and the institute has been approved to provide a further 234 places under Springboard 2012.

In addition, many Springboard courses are delivered on line, enabling people to access them regardless of where they reside in the country. Full details regarding individual programmes, including modes of delivery, are published on the dedicated Springboard information and applications websitewww.springboardcourses.ie.

Question No. 232 answered with Question No. 230.

Schools Building Projects

Michael McGrath

Question:

233 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills when it is planned to have a new school (details supplied) in County Cork up and running; if he will advise the steps that are being taken to identify a suitable site and or temporary accommodation for the school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31891/12]

A new school will be established in the area referred to by the Deputy in September 2013. My Department is currently liaising with the local authorities to identify a potential site for this new primary school.

Special Educational Needs

Michael McGrath

Question:

234 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the provision he has made to ensure that the special needs of a child (details supplied) in County Cork will be fully met when he commences second level school this coming September. [31892/12]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), for processing applications from schools for special educational needs supports including resource teaching and Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support, to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's established criteria for the allocation of such supports and the staffing resources available to my Department.

All schools had been advised to apply to the NCSE for resource teaching and SNA support for the 2012/13 school year by 16th March, 2012 and schools are currently being notified by SENOs of their resource teaching and SNA allocation for 2012/13, based on the number of valid applications received and, in the case of SNA support, the extent of the care needs of qualifying children.

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

Education Schemes

Joan Collins

Question:

235 Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the application of a school (details supplied) to be on the list as one of the five pilot areas surveyed; whether the areas Dublin 6, Dublin 6W, Dublin 8 and Dublin 12 included in the potential surveyed areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31900/12]

Eric J. Byrne

Question:

264 Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question number 220, of the 26 June 2012, is it envisaged that Dublin 6W and 12 will be included in the first round of surveys; if not, the reason for same; when the results of the surveys will be available and the time frame for divestment, especially in regards to a site for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32345/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 235 and 264 together.

Surveying will be carried out in five pilot areas initially in October this year and surveys in the balance of the forty four areas will take place in November. The 44 initial areas where surveys of parental preferences will be carried out include the Dublin 6 and 8 districts.

The outcome of the initial surveys will then be made available to the relevant school patrons who will be asked to come forward with divesting options in line with parental preferences within the areas. Full details of the Action Plan that I announced recently in response to the report of the Advisory Group to the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector are available on my Department's websitewww.education.ie.

School Staffing

Terence Flanagan

Question:

236 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding proposed cuts in teaching posts in a school (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31902/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): The criteria used for the allocation of teachers to schools is published annually on my Department’s website. The key factor for determining the level of staffing resources provided at individual school level is the staffing schedule for the relevant school year and pupil enrolments on the previous 30 September. The staffing schedule for the 2012-2013 school year, Circular 0007/2012, is available on my Department’s website. The staffing arrangements in schools for the 2012/2013 school year can also be affected by changes in their enrolment, the impact of budget measures and the reforms to the teacher allocation process. The existing staffing appeals criteria have been extended to enable limited phasing arrangements for schools where the combination of budget and reform measures impact in a particularly adverse manner on a school’s overall allocation. Details of the criteria for appeal are contained in the Department’s Staffing Circular 0007/2012. The final staffing position for all schools will ultimately not be known until the Autumn. At that stage the allocation process will be fully completed and all appeals to the Staffing Appeals Board will have been considered.
The configuration of classes and the deployment of classroom teachers are done at local school level. My Department publishes annual statistics on class size data for each school. The most recent statistics are for the 2010/11 school year. The national average class size is 23.9 pupils. However, with over 20,600 classes in over 3,100 primary schools throughout the country there will always be variations in class sizes at individual school level. My Department's guidance to local school management is that such variations should be kept to the minimum.

Special Educational Needs

Brendan Smith

Question:

237 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will review the special needs assistant allocation to a school (details supplied) in Dublin 9, in view of the complex special needs of the children involved and the difficulties the school will have in coping with reduced resources; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31905/12]

I wish to explain that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), for processing applications from schools for special educational needs supports including Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support, to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's established criteria for the allocation of such supports and the staffing resources available to my Department.

SENOs are currently notifying schools of their SNA allocation for 2012/13, based on the number of valid applications received and the extent of the care needs of qualifying children.

The NCSE has confirmed that the SNA allocation for the school in question for the 2012/13 school year is a sufficient level of support to cater for the care needs of all qualifying children in the context of the applications received for the 2012/13 school year.

It is important to note that a school's allocation of SNA support may alter from year to year as pupils enrol or leave a school or where a child's care needs have diminished over time.

If a school is notified of a change in SNA support this is either because the number of qualifying children has changed or the assessed needs of the qualifying children have changed.

The NCSE may only allocate SNAs to schools where valid applications meet the qualifying criteria.

SNAs should be deployed by schools in a manner which best meets the care support requirements of the children enrolled in the school for whom SNA support has been allocated. It is a matter for schools to allocate support as required, and on the basis of individual need, which allows schools flexibility in how the SNA support is utilised.

The NCSE is developing an appeals process which I understand will be in place when the schools re-open in September 2012.

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

Departmental Expenditure

Sean Fleming

Question:

238 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a list of all allowances and the payment rates of those allowances paid to staff in his Department that are subject to income tax and the list of allowances and the payment rates paid to staff that are not subject to income tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31961/12]

The tabular statement gives details of allowances paid to staff at my Department in addition to their basic remuneration. All the allowances are subject to PAYE with the exception of the footwear allowance and the Home Office Allowance as the rationale for these payments is to recoup staff for costs they personally incur in carrying out their official functions.

List of Allowances Paid to Some staff Members at the Department of Education and Skills

Ref

Type of Allowance

Value Per Annum

Subject to P.A.Y.E.

1

Children’s Allowance

€114 per child

Yes

2

Home Office Allowance

€700

No

3

Footwear Allowance

€65

No

4

Key Holder Allowance

€600

Yes

5

Franking Allowance

€1,700

Yes

6

Machine Allowance

€2,300

Yes

7

Private Secretary Allowance to Minister

€19,653

Yes

8

Private Secretary Allowance to Secretary General

€10,951

Yes

9

Programme for Competitiveness at Work Allowances (P.C.W.)

€2,830 and €3,250

Yes

10

Foreign Delegates Allowance

€5,800

Yes

Student Grant Scheme

Anthony Lawlor

Question:

239 Deputy Anthony Lawlor asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to establish a student loan scheme for postgraduate students who are no longer eligible for a maintenance grant; if so, the progress that has been made and when it is expected to have such a scheme in place; if not, if he has considered introducing a student guarantor scheme to assist struggling post graduate students; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31987/12]

A number of financial institutions already offer loans for postgraduate studies. My Department is pursuing ongoing discussions in relation to the potential development of further competitive loan packages that could be availed of by those who would previously have qualified for post-graduate maintenance grant support.

Schools Building Projects

Timmy Dooley

Question:

240 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Education and Skills when construction will commence on new primary school buildings at a location (details supplied) in County Meath. [31998/12]

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that the schools to which he refers are among those I announced in March to proceed to construction as part of my Department's five year capital investment programme.

The accommodation briefs for these schools have been finalised and the projects have been devolved to the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA) for delivery. The NDFA is currently at tender for the appointment of a Design Team for these projects with appointments expected shortly.

School Staffing

Joe McHugh

Question:

241 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Education and Skills if part-time work, primary school teaching, entitles teachers to panel rights for September 2012; if he will provide an update on his plans for reconfiguring panels on a national basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32003/12]

The arrangements for panel access for fixed term (temporary), substitute and part-time teachers are set out in Department Circular 0012/2012 which is available on my Department's website. The panels set up in accordance with the arrangements set out in this circular will be used for appointments to full-time permanent teaching posts but only where those posts are not otherwise required to facilitate the redeployment of surplus permanent and CID holding teachers.

National Council for Special Education

Patrick Nulty

Question:

242 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the National Council for Special Education falls under the remit of the Ombudsman for Children; if not, the reason for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32027/12]

The Office of the Ombudsman for Children was established under the Ombudsman for Children Act 2002 by the Minister for Health and Children. From June 2011, responsibility for the Ombudsman for Children Act 2002 was transferred to the Minster for Children and Youth Affairs.

I understand that the Office of the Ombudsman for Children has been in contact with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs regarding the issue referred to by the Deputy. I also understand that under the Act the inclusion of the National Council for Special Education within the remit of the Ombudsman for Children would require a draft Order to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas and a resolution approving this order to be approved by each such House.

The Department of Children and Youth Affairs has advised that it intends to consult with my Department and with the Ombudsman for Children before finalising a proposal on this matter.

Pending such deliberations, the Office of the Ombudsman for Children and the NCSE have agreed an interim process through which any concerns which are brought to the attention of the Office will be brought to the direct attention of NCSE for response.

School Staffing

John McGuinness

Question:

243 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a full-time class assistant position will be restored in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; if a decision will be expedited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32029/12]

I presume that the Deputy is referring to the Special Needs Assistant (SNA) positions in the school in question.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), for allocating resource teachers and SNAs to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's established criteria for the allocation of such supports and the staffing resources available to my Department.

All schools had been advised to apply to the NCSE for resource teaching and SNA support for the 2012/13 school year by 16th March, 2012 and schools are currently being notified by SENOs of their resource teaching and SNA allocation for 2012/13, based on the number of valid applications received and, in the case of SNA support, the extent of the care needs of qualifying children.

It is a matter for schools to monitor and utilise their allocation of resource teaching support to best support the needs of qualifying pupils, in accordance with my Departments guidance. Similarly, SNAs should be deployed by schools in a manner which best meets the care support requirements of the children enrolled in the school for whom SNA support has been allocated. It is a matter for schools to allocate support as required, and on the basis of individual need, which allows schools flexibility in how the SNA support is utilised.

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

Special Educational Needs

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

244 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on whether the absence of screening for hearing problems in infants at maternity hospitals has left certain children with hearing issues now at a developmental disadvantage due to late detection; if these children whose hearing issues were not detected early will now be entitled to additional learning support; and if provisions are being made for these children now in the form of developmental aids such as resource teachers. [32033/12]

Firstly I wish to advise the Deputy that the Health Service Executive (HSE) is responsible for Audiology services including screening of children for hearing problems. The Deputy may wish to contact my colleague, the Minister for Health and Children or the HSE directly relating to his query in this regard.

The EPSEN and Disability Acts set out clearly the role and functions of the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) and the HSE and their staff in carrying out assessments and with regard to the provision of services for children with special educational needs.

My Department, either directly or through the NCSE, provides for a range of supports in schools to enable them to cater for students with special educational needs, including pupils who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, in order to ensure that, wherever a child is enrolled, s/he will have access to an appropriate education. These supports may include additional Resource Teachers, Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) and specialist equipment, depending on a child's level of assessed needs.

Assessment reports carried out by relevant professionals are provided by schools to the SENOs as part of the application process for support. The consideration of these reports is an integral part of determining the extent of supports to be provided for pupils with special educational needs. However, whereas health reports provide valuable assistance to education providers in identifying a diagnosis or identifying appropriate interventions, health staff are asked not to include references to the specific quantum of educational resources in their reports, but should state the outcome of tests carried out and the range of needs of the child as clearly as possible.

The NCSE circular 03/08 clarifies the respective roles and functions of the NCSE and the HSE and their respective personnel in carrying out assessments and sanctioning resources to support children with special educational needs. All schools have the names and contact details of their local SENO. Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available onwww.ncse.ie.

School Transport

Pat Breen

Question:

245 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a person (details supplied) in County Clare has not been facilitated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32060/12]

Under the terms of my Department's Post Primary School Transport Scheme children are eligible for transport where they reside not less than 4.8 kms from and are attending their nearest education centre as determined by my Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.

Bus Éireann, which operates the School Transport Scheme on behalf of my Department, determine eligibility by measuring the shortest traversable route from a child's home to the relevant education centre.

Children who are not eligible for school transport may apply for transport to a particular school on a concessionary basis in accordance with the terms of the scheme. The charge for children availing of transport on a concessionary basis can be paid in two instalments in July and December.

Children who applied for enrolment in their nearest school but who did not secure a place may have their school transport eligibility considered by reference to the distance they reside from their next nearest school. This consideration will only apply where my Department is satisfied that the child's nearest school does not have the capacity to enrol additional first year pupils.

Pat Breen

Question:

246 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a person (details supplied) in County Clare has not been facilitated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32062/12]

Under the terms of my Department's Post Primary School Transport Scheme children are eligible for transport where they reside not less than 4.8 kms from and are attending their nearest education centre as determined by my Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.

Bus Éireann, which operates the School Transport Scheme on behalf of my Department, determine eligibility by measuring the shortest traversable route from a child's home to the relevant education centre.

Children who are not eligible for school transport may apply for transport to a particular school on a concessionary basis in accordance with the terms of the scheme. The charge for children availing of transport on a concessionary basis can be paid in two instalments in July and December.

Children who applied for enrolment in their nearest school but who did not secure a place may have their school transport eligibility considered by reference to the distance they reside from their next nearest school. This consideration will only apply where my Department is satisfied that the child's nearest school does not have the capacity to enrol additional first year pupils.

Schools Building Projects

Tom Fleming

Question:

247 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 166 of 22 November 2011, if he will provide a detailed report in respect of the provision of a new school in Miltown, County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32070/12]

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that the school to which he refers is among those I announced in March to proceed to construction as part of my Department's five year capital investment programme.

The accommodation brief for the school has been finalised and the project has been devolved to the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA) for delivery. The NDFA is currently engaging with the school with a view to advancing the project in the near future.

Special Educational Needs

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Question:

248 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a child (details supplied) in County Donegal has been refused resource hours. [32178/12]

I wish to advise the Deputy that in primary schools teaching supports for pupils with special education needs are provided though two channels. Under the terms of the General Allocation Model (GAM) of teaching supports, schools are resourced to cater for pupils whose educational psychological assessment places them in the mild general learning disability/high incidence disability category. Seperately the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) allocates additional resource teaching hours to schools for children who have been assessed within the low incidence category of special need, as defined by my Department's Circular Sp Ed 02/05.

All mainstream Primary schools have been allocated additional teaching resources under the GAM to cater for children with high incidence special educational needs.

All schools had been advised to apply to the NCSE for resource teaching support for the 2012/13 school year by 16th March, 2012 and schools are currently being notified by SENOs of their resource teaching allocation for 2012/13, based on the number of valid applications received.

It is a matter for schools to monitor and utilise their allocation of resource teaching support, including supports allocated under the GAM, to best support the needs of qualifying pupils, in accordance with my Departments guidance. All schools have the names and contact details of their local SENO. Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available onwww.ncse.ie.

Schools Building Projects

Seamus Kirk

Question:

249 Deputy Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a school (details supplied) in County Louth in view of their extension plans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32183/12]

The building project referred to by the Deputy is currently at an early stage of Architectural Planning.

The Design Team was appointed earlier this year and has commenced stage 1 (Preliminary Sketch Design) of the design process. My Department held a preliminary meeting with the Board of Management and its Design Team in May to expedite the progress of the project through Architectural Planning. Following this meeting my Department is awaiting the submission of stage 1 design works from the Board of Management and their Design team.

School building projects, including the one referred to by the Deputy, which have not been included in the five year construction 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.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

250 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the provision of a new school and attendant facilities at a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; when it is expected the programme might be accelerated in view of the urgent need and the seriously deficient facilities currently in existence; if he will authorise the advancement of plans with a view to the provision of the promised alternative facilities at the earliest possible date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32186/12]

The delivery of the proposed replacement school building at the school referred to by the Deputy has been devolved to Co. Kildare VEC. The VEC has appointed a Design Team and the building project for the school is currently at an early stage of architectural planning.

The project is included on the 5 year construction programme and is scheduled to proceed to tender and construction in 2013.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

251 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the need to upgrade and extend and or replace the facilities at having particular regard to the demographics of the area, the replacement of prefabricated structures and the possibility of engaging with the school management authorities with a view to identifying the best possible options to advance and progress any proposals at the earliest possible date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32187/12]

My Department has received an application for an extension from the school in question which has been assigned a Band 2 rating in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for large scale building projects.

The Deputy will appreciate, that in view of the financial constraints imposed by the need, as outlined in the Five Year Plan, to prioritise available funding for the provision of essential school accommodation to meet demographic demand, it is not possible to indicate at this point when a project for the school in question will be progressed.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

252 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills when it is likely that the plan to replace permanently existing and proposed temporary buildings at a school (details supplied) in County Kildare with particular reference to the identification of a strategic plan incorporating adjacent and available extra site facilities, the adoption of a specific timescale for the provision of the facilities promised by his predecessor; if the relevant section of his Department has had an opportunity to carry out a full evaluation of the requirements for the urgent replacement of the facilities outlined; if he expects to be in a position notwithstanding the current economic situation to advance the project to its development stage at an early date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32188/12]

My Department has received an application from the school referred to by the Deputy for capital works to provide an extension. Due to the limitations of the school's site, additional land will be required to facilitate an extension. In this regard, my Department is currently in the process of acquiring additional land which is adjacent to two existing schools, one of which is the school referred to by the Deputy. However, due to commercial sensitivities relating to site acquisitions generally, I am not in a position to comment further at this time.

The Deputy will appreciate, that in view of the financial constraints imposed by the need, as outlined in the Five Year Plan, to prioritise available funding for the provision of essential school accommodation to meet demographic demand, it is not possible to indicate at this point when a project for the school in question will be progressed.

In the meantime, the school was invited to partake in the Prefab Replacement Initiative. However, for various reasons, the school has indicated that it is unlikely to be in a position to participate in this initiative.

School Curriculum

Regina Doherty

Question:

253 Deputy Regina Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consider embedding information technology within the secondary school curriculum; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32204/12]

The curriculum in post-primary schools is devised on the basis that ICT is not a subject but rather a tool to be integrated into the teaching and learning across all subjects.

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment has developed an ICT framework which sets out a structured approach to ICT in curriculum and assessment. This sets out the types of learning appropriate for students during the period of compulsory education, and provides a guide to teachers for embedding ICT across the curriculum. Therefore, it is not time bound.

The overall implementation of ICT in schools is supported by the National Centre for Technology in Education which provides for extensive training and guidance for schools on the integration of ICT into teaching and learning.

I am currently leading the reform of the Junior Cycle. A Framework for the revised Junior Cycle has been prepared. It contains 24 Statements of Learning which students should experience. One of the Statements of Learning aims to ensure that all students "use ICT effectively and ethically in learning and in life".

The reform will also allow for the introduction of optional school developed short courses of 100 hours duration. This will provide a new opportunity for schools to progress the provision of short courses to enhance students' ICT skills which will be embedded in all their learning. Such courses could include software programming and coding, if a school so chooses.

Teaching Qualifications

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

254 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will examine the situation in which students are requiring private tuition or grinds to achieve the basis of the course material that they are being taught, in view of the economic difficulties facing families and the cost of grinds; if he will engage with representatives of all of the education stakeholders to assess ways in which this matter can be addressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32223/12]

My focus is on supporting schools to provide a high quality of education that enables students to reach their full potential. The Teaching Council Act, 2001 was enacted to promote teaching as a profession, to promote the professional development of teachers and to maintain and improve the quality of teaching in the State.

We issued a Circular (31/2011) to management authorities of post-primary schools in May 2011 which stated that "people appointed to teach are registered teachers with qualifications appropriate to the sector and suitable to the post for which they are employed".

Teachers in Post-Primary schools must provide their relevant qualifications to be registered by the Teaching Council. My Inspectorate carries out a variety of school evaluations which, inter alia, examine the quality of teaching and learning.

While I respect the right of parents to make choices for their children's education, I do not believe that it should be necessary to pay for grinds. I recognise that in certain circumstances, such as a prolonged illness, additional tuition may be useful for a child. I also recognise that revision courses, whether organised within schools or outside, can help children with their study, if they build upon previous work.

The institutions which give grinds are private commercial enterprises and they do not come under the jurisdiction of my Department. In addition, the right of parents to make choices for their children in relation to their education must be respected.

Special Educational Needs

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

255 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Education and Skills the supports that will be in place for a student (details supplied) in County Cork due to commence secondary school in September; if the projected support is considered to be inadequate the appeal mechanism open to the parent or school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32233/12]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), for processing applications from schools for special educational needs supports including resource teaching and Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support, to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's established criteria for the allocation of such supports and the staffing resources available to my Department.

All schools had been advised to apply to the NCSE for resource teaching and SNA support for the 2012/13 school year by 16th March, 2012 and schools are currently being notified by SENOs of their resource teaching and SNA allocation for 2012/13, based on the number of valid applications received and, in the case of SNA support, the extent of the care needs of qualifying children.

It is a matter for schools to monitor and utilise their allocation of resource teaching support to best support the needs of qualifying pupils, in accordance with my Departments guidance. Similarly, SNAs should be deployed by schools in a manner which best meets the care support requirements of the children enrolled in the school for whom SNA support has been allocated. It is a matter for schools to allocate support as required, and on the basis of individual need, which allows schools flexibility in how the SNA support is utilised.

The NCSE is developing an appeals process which I understand will be in place when the schools re-open in September 2012.

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

Appointments to State Boards

Timmy Dooley

Question:

256 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Education and Skills the names of all appointments made to State boards under his remit; the boards to which they were appointed since March 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32239/12]

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 Curriculum and 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.

School Transport

Billy Kelleher

Question:

257 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason parents were not informed in advance of entrance exams that their children would not be eligible for school transport if they attended a school outside their catchment area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32251/12]

Changes to the Post Primary School Transport Scheme were announced in Budget 2011 and derive from recommendations in the Value for Money Review of the School Transport Scheme.

The main change to the current scheme means that from the 2012/13 school year, school transport eligibility for all pupils newly entering a post primary school will be determined by reference to the distance they reside from their nearest Post-Primary Education Centre having regard, as heretofore, to ethos and language.

In general, children who are currently eligible for, and who are availing of school transport, will retain their transport eligibility for the duration of their post primary education cycle unless there is a change in their current circumstances.

Children who are not eligible for school transport may apply for transport to a particular school on a concessionary basis in accordance with the terms of the scheme.

Billy Kelleher

Question:

258 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Education and Skills the plans he has in place for the pupils of a school (details supplied) in County Cork who cannot afford the weekly bus fare to allow them attend secondary school in Fermoy, having discovered there is no place for them at the catchment school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32252/12]

Under the terms of my Department's Post Primary School Transport Scheme children are eligible for transport where they reside not less than 4.8 kms from and are attending their nearest education centre as determined by my Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.

Children who applied for enrolment in their nearest school but who did not secure a place may have their school transport eligibility considered by reference to the distance they reside from their next nearest school. This consideration will only apply where my Department is satisfied that the child's nearest school does not have the capacity to enrol additional first year pupils.

In the case referred to by the Deputy my Department is examining the position regarding enrolment capacity at the school in question.

Billy Kelleher

Question:

259 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will ensure a reduced rate on the weekly bus fare for low income families who cannot secure a place for their children at their catchment school due to the late notice given to parents on this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32253/12]

Changes to the Post Primary School Transport Scheme were announced in Budget 2011 and derive from recommendations in the Value for Money Review of the School Transport Scheme.

The main change to the current scheme means that from the 2012/13 school year, school transport eligibility for all pupils newly entering a post primary school will be determined by reference to the distance they reside from their nearest Post-Primary Education Centre having regard, as heretofore, to ethos and language.

Children who are not eligible for school transport may apply for transport to a particular school on a concessionary basis in accordance with the terms of the scheme.

The current school transport charge for eligible and concessionary post primary children is €350 per annum subject to a family maximum of €650. This charge can be paid in two instalments in July and December. Eligible children who hold valid medical cards (GMS Scheme) are exempt from these charges.

Children who applied for enrolment in their nearest school but who did not secure a place may have their school transport eligibility considered by reference to the distance they reside from their next nearest school. This consideration will only apply where my Department is satisfied that the child's nearest school does not have the capacity to enrol additional first year pupils.

School Textbooks

Regina Doherty

Question:

260 Deputy Regina Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he intends to introduce the use of ebooks and digital facilities to ease the burden on parents buying new editions of books; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32281/12]

Encouraging the deployment of high-quality curriculum-relevant digital resources is a clear priority for the ICT in Schools programme. This programme currently delivers a wide range of digital content through the Scoilnet.ie portal, promotes the development of teacher skills in content development and sharing through the national ICT CPD programme, and supports school leaders in developing "elearning plans" for the integration of ICT in teaching and learning in local practice.

In this context, I am fully aware of developments in the digital textbook publishing industry and I believe that the digital format has the potential to add significant value to teaching and learning for the future. In the case of textbooks specifically however, it must be recognised that it is publishers rather than my Department which decide how their intellectual property is to be disseminated. I appreciate that this market is in a particularly rapid phase of evolution at the moment, with a range of digital file formats, content licensing models and portable device platforms in active competition.

In these circumstances, I do not believe it would be in the best interest of schools for my Department to prescribe a single national model for the integration of ebooks at this moment in time. I believe it is important for schools, in conjunction with parents, to retain local autonomy in deciding whether to recommend their pupils purchase ebooks and how best to manage their integration into classroom practice over the medium and long terms. I know that a number of schools have already begun to trial the use of different kinds of ebooks on a local basis. I am pleased to see schools taking such steps, and I would remind them that they may choose to allocate the existing book grant provided by my Department towards purchase of electronic books if they so wish.

Special Educational Needs

Martin Ferris

Question:

261 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a person (details supplied) in County Limerick was refused a special needs assistant. [32316/12]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), for processing applications from schools for special educational needs supports including resource teaching and Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support, to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's established criteria for the allocation of such supports and the staffing resources available to my Department.

All schools had been advised to apply to the NCSE for resource teaching and SNA support for the 2012/13 school year by 16th March, 2012 and schools are currently being notified by SENOs of their resource teaching and SNA allocation for 2012/13, based on the number of valid applications received and, in the case of SNA support, the extent of the care needs of qualifying children.

The NCSE may only allocate SNAs to schools where valid applications meet the qualifying criteria.

SNAs should be deployed by schools in a manner which best meets the care support requirements of the children enrolled in the school for whom SNA support has been allocated. It is a matter for schools to allocate support as required, and on the basis of individual need, which allows schools flexibility in how the SNA support is utilised.

The NCSE will have some 264 available posts for allocation throughout the school year in respect of late or emergency cases arising or new diagnoses. It is open to schools to contact their local SENO in this regard, using the contact details available onwww.ncse.ie.

Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available onwww.ncse.ie.

Schools Building Projects

Noel Grealish

Question:

262 Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a site has been identified for the new secondary school for Claregalway, County Galway; if negotiations have commenced with a landowner for the purchase of a site for the new secondary school for Claregalway; if a site for the new temporary school building for Claregalway secondary school has been identified; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32325/12]

As the Deputy will be aware, my Department 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. My Department is now considering what options are available locally to allow the school to commence operation, pending the delivery of a permanent accommodation solution. In relation to the permanent site, a number of site assessments have been carried out to date which did lead to discussions with a number of land owners. However, due to commercial sensitivities attaching to site acquisitions generally I am not in a position to comment further in relation to the site acquisition process at this time.

FÁS Training Programmes

Tom Fleming

Question:

263 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of persons in County Kerry who received offers of training from FÁS in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and to date in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32338/12]

The information requested by the Deputy is in the following table. Details of persons in County Kerry who received offers of training from FÁS in each year from 2008 to 2011, and to date in 2012, are as follows:

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

Total

Training Offered

(Co. Kerry)

1,107

2,385

3,594

3,420

1,625

12,131

Question No. 264 answered with Question No. 235.

Higher Education Grants

Eric J. Byrne

Question:

265 Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reasons a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12 is not eligible for the maintenance grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32349/12]

The decision on eligibility for a student grant is a matter for the relevant grant awarding authority. The Deputy will appreciate that in the absence of all of the relevant details that would be contained in an individual's application form and supporting documentation, it would not be possible for me to say whether or not a student should qualify for a maintenance grant.

Officials in my Department have been in contact with SUSI which has confirmed that an application was received from this student on 13 June 2012. The student will be notified directly of the outcome in due course.

Schools Building Projects

Sandra McLellan

Question:

266 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a school (details supplied) in County Cork does not have basic facilities which are normal for a school with ten teachers and four resource/learning support teachers; the funding he plans to put in place to address this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32367/12]

The building project referred to by the Deputy is currently at an advanced stage of architectural planning. The Stage 2(b) submission (Detailed Design) was submitted to my Department in May and is currently under review.

Schools which have not been included in the 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.

However, 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.

To ensure that every child has access to a school place, the delivery of projects to meet the increasing demographic demands will be the main focus for capital investment over the next 5 years, particularly in those areas where it has been identified that most future demographic growth will be concentrated.

In the meantime, for works that are of a very urgent nature, it is open to the school authorities to consider if the works in question might qualify for funding under my Department's Emergency Works Scheme. An emergency is deemed to be a situation which poses an immediate risk to health, life, property or the environment which is sudden, unforeseen and requires immediate action and, in the case of a school, if not corrected would prevent the school or part thereof from opening. Details of the Scheme, together with an application form for grant assistance, can be accessed on my Department's website atwww.education.ie.

School Curriculum

Anthony Lawlor

Question:

267 Deputy Anthony Lawlor asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 81 of 25 April 2012, the position regarding the background paper on ePortfolios and when will this paper be available to the public. [32418/12]

Anthony Lawlor

Question:

268 Deputy Anthony Lawlor asked the Minister for Education and Skills if there will be an open tendering process to facilitate the introduction of ePortfolios for the reformed junior certificate cycle; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32419/12]

Anthony Lawlor

Question:

269 Deputy Anthony Lawlor asked the Minister for Education and Skills in terms of the ePortfolio software to be used for the reformed junior certificate cycle, if he will ensure that this will be compatible with all hardware devices used by students, taking into consideration that many schools are rolling out IT programmes which promote particular devices (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32420/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 267 to 269, inclusive, together.

A number of approaches are under consideration in relation to the revised Junior Cycle. I am considering a range of issues in greater detail including the eportfolio. Decisions on this will be made within the context of the overarching approach taken to Junior Cycle reform. It would be premature of me to provide a view at this point in relation to appropriate hardware or software until the topic is discussed in the context of the Junior Cycle Review.

Special Educational Needs

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

270 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will instruct the National Council for Special Education to extend the schools’ appeals process it intends to have in place for the 2012-13 school year allocation process to parents. [32422/12]

As I advised the Deputy last week, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is developing an appeals process which I understand will be in place when schools re-open in September 2012.

The Deputy will appreciate that I cannot speculate on the details of the process until it has been finalised by the NCSE.

However, I understand that appeals will be considered on the following grounds: (i) That Department of Education and Skills' policies were not adhered to or (ii) That due account of the evidence of educational needs of the child (in relation to additional teaching hours) and care needs of the child (in relation to SNA support) or the resourcing available within the school was not taken into account when applying the Department of Education and Skills' policy or (iii) A combination of (i) and (ii) above.

I have arranged for the NCSE to inform the Deputy directly when the details of the process are finalised.

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

271 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a list of the 2012-13 resource teachers and special needs assistant posts allocations and the schools to which they have been allocated in the Dublin 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 areas. [32423/12]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), for processing applications from schools for special educational needs supports including Resource Teaching and Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support, to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's established criteria for the allocation of such supports and the budgetary and staffing resources available to my Department.

SENOs are currently notifying schools of their Resource Teaching and SNA allocations for 2012/13, based on the number of valid applications received and, in the case of SNA support, the extent of the care needs of qualifying children.

The NCSE has published information in relation to resource teaching and SNA allocations on a county by county and school by school basis on its websitewww.ncse.ie. The information requested by the Deputy is therefore available on the NCSE website.

School Transport

Pat Breen

Question:

272 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a person (details supplied) in County Clare has been refused a bus ticket; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32508/12]

Changes to the Post Primary School Transport Scheme were announced in Budget 2011 and derive from recommendations in the Value for Money Review of the School Transport Scheme.

The main change to the current scheme means that from the 2012/13 school year, school transport eligibility for all pupils newly entering a post primary school will be determined by reference to the distance they reside from their nearest Post-Primary Education Centre having regard, as heretofore, to ethos and language.

In general, children who are currently eligible for, and who are availing of school transport, will retain their transport eligibility for the duration of their post primary education cycle unless there is a change in their current circumstances.

Children who are not eligible for school transport may apply for transport to a particular school on a concessionary basis in accordance with the terms of the scheme.

Coastal Protection

Sandra McLellan

Question:

273 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when emergency funding will be made available to replace a collapsed section of seawall and reinforce a section of the R634 formerly the N25 main road in and out of Youghal, County Cork, which has been partially closed to traffic since the 9 May; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31664/12]

An application was submitted by Cork County Council in May, 2012 under the OPW's Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme for funding to undertake works at the location concerned.

Following an examination of the application and supporting documentation, the OPW concluded that the structure that collapsed and adjacent structures are not primarily coastal erosion protection structures. They would be classified more correctly as slope stabilisation, facing and /or retaining structures which are necessary to stabilise the very high and steep slopes seaward of the road. In our view this application has nothing to do with preventing flooding.

The funding of repairs to such structures for the mitigation of landslides does not fall within the remit of the OPW. The OPW has written to Cork County Council advising them of this.

Public Sector Pay

Patrick Nulty

Question:

274 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the Government will pay increments to public sector employees to which they are contractually entitled to, as they fall due in the coming year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31855/12]

The Government has reaffirmed the key commitments under the Public Service Agreement 2010-2014 in relation to pay and job security for serving public servants. These commitments are contingent on delivery of the necessary flexibilities and reforms to public service delivery that are required under the Agreement. The Budget process has outlined the Exchequer expenditure programme for 2012 and the necessary allocations have been made to Departments. Any further Budgetary measures, should they arise, are a matter for consideration by Government. The vast majority of persons who are on incremental pay scales are the lower paid and people who have been recruited to the public service more recently. I reiterate my view that there are fairer ways to control the cost of public pay, given that only a proportion of public servants, in particular lower paid and front line staff, would be affected by a suspension of increments.

Office of the Ombudsman

Charles Flanagan

Question:

275 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to act on the recommendation of the Constitutional Review Group 1996 which proposed a constitutional status for the Office of the Ombudsman in order that the office would be seen to be independent and to be able to operate without being influenced by Government action; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32014/12]

The proposal referred to in the Deputy's question, does not comprise part of the Government's programme of constitutional reform contained in the Programme for Government or the work programme recently announced for the Constitutional Convention by the Taoiseach. As the Deputy may be aware, in his statement on the issues to be to be examined by the Constitutional Convention the Taoiseach stated that the Government is aware that there have been calls for a more comprehensive work programme for the Convention but the Government's view is that the Convention should deal first with the specific topics in the Programme for Government. The Taoiseach also said that Government is prepared to consider whether other topics could be considered at a later date in the light of experience, and that he will consult with Opposition representatives and the Chairperson of the Convention at the appropriate time.

Freedom of Information

Billy Kelleher

Question:

276 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans, if any, to extend the provisions of the Freedom of Information Acts to more State agencies, as promised in the programme for Government and recently advocated by the Ombudsman; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32160/12]

The Deputy will be aware of the significant commitments given in the Programme for Government to restore the Freedom of Information Act, to extend its remit to other public bodies including the administrative side of the Garda Síochána, subject to security exceptions and to extend the Act to ensure that all statutory bodies, and all bodies significantly funded from the public purse, are covered.

It is planned to bring proposals to Government shortly to secure approval to draft amending Freedom of Information legislation.

Flood Relief

Michael McGrath

Question:

277 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the position regarding a flood relief project (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will confirm when a decision on funding is expected. [32426/12]

Discussions are ongoing between the Office of Public Works and Cork County Council regarding the application under the Minor Flood Mitigation Works Scheme for funding to implement flood alleviation measures in the area concerned. A decision on the application will be made in due course.

EU Funding

Seán Kyne

Question:

278 Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform in the context of the new focus of the structural fund elements of the EU multi-annual financial framework which favours supporting transnational programmes across multiple member states, the efforts being taken to ensure that Ireland is not precluded from the benefits of such funding on account of our geographical status. [32499/12]

The purpose of EU Regional/Cohesion policy is to reduce the significant economic, social and territorial disparities that still exist between Europe's regions. The budget for the 2007-2013 round is €347bn. Most of this budget is allocated for those countries and regions whose gross domestic product per capita is less than 75% of EU average (81.5% for convergence objective). The remainder is for all other countries and regions (16.5% for regional competitiveness and employment objective) and for cooperation across borders (2.5% for territorial cooperation objective). The overall budget and country allocation is agreed between the EU Commission and Member States in advance of the programming period.

Ireland has been allocated in total €901m in Structural Funding for the 2007-13 Programming period with €750 million assigned to the Regional Competitiveness and Employment (RCE) Objective. Ireland's National Strategic Reference Framework (approved by the European Commission in July 2007) sets out the strategic context within which the €750m block of funding may be applied; the delivery is via three operational programmes, the National ESF Human Capital Investment OP, managed by the Department of Education and Skills, and the Border Midland and Western (BMW) and Southern and Eastern Regional ERDF (S&E) OPs, managed by the BMW and S&E Regional Assemblies. The balance of €151m is for smaller Territorial Cooperation programmes including the PEACE III (Ireland/NI), INTERREG IVA (Ireland/NI and Western Scotland) and the Ireland Wales Programme.

For the purposes of EU Structural and Cohesion Funds, Ireland is designated into two NUTS (Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics) II regions, namely the BMW Region and the S&E Region. Of the €750 million allocated to Ireland under the RCE, €458 million has been allocated to the BMW Region (due to its phasing in status — moving from convergence (less developed) to regional competitiveness and employment (more developed) status) and €292 million to the S&E Region.

The future of Cohesion policy is being framed in the context of the current economic downturn, and the challenge of an integrated Cohesion policy is to address this. Ireland agrees that Cohesion policy will be a key policy instrument in achieving the EU 2020 Strategy Priorities for Smart, Sustainable and Inclusive Growth. This will set the strategic direction for future policy. My strong view is that interventions must be focused on employment, research and innovation, education, combating poverty, climate change and energy.

The Commission last year published its proposals for the next round of funding covering the period 2014-2020. The Commission's proposal is to allocate €376bn to Cohesion policy instruments, an increase on the allocation for 2007-2013. This proposal must be seen in the context of the wider negotiations on the EU Budget, however, where there will be pressure to reduce the overall size of the budget.

The breakdown of the Commission's proposal is set out in the table.

Proposed Cohesion Budget Allocation for 2014-2020All figures in constant 2011 prices

Total proposed budget 2014-2020 Of which

€376 bn

Convergence regions·Transition regionsCompetitiveness regionsTerritorial cooperationCohesion fundExtra allocation for outermost and sparsely populated regions

€162.6 bn€39 bn€53.1 bn€11.7 bn€68.7 bn€926 million

Connecting Europe Facility for transport, energy and ICT

€40 bn plus €10 bn ring fenced inside the Cohesion Fund

My aim will be to maximize Ireland's allocation and ensure that we continue to benefit from Cohesion policy. I have been arguing strongly that Cohesion funding has had a major impact on key economic and social programmes throughout the country and that funding for 2014-2020 must be maintained to help secure Ireland's recovery.

Irish Language

John Deasy

Question:

279 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will provide details of the total expenditure by his Department on providing services through the Irish language in each of the past five years. [31633/12]

As the Deputy is aware my Department was established on 6 July 2011 and I am happy to provide the Deputy with details from that date. The expenditure incurred in the provision of services through the Irish Language in the year ended 31 December 2011 was €4870.98. To date in 2012 expenditure in the amount of €1199.37 has been incurred.

Question No. 280 withdrawn.

Croke Park Agreement

John Lyons

Question:

281 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the expected level of savings through adjustments from the Croke Park agreements in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31767/12]

The estimates allocation and overall budgetary process will set out the approach to be taken to Government expenditure in 2013. This framework does not assign specific savings targets to those areas that are covered by thePublic Service Agreement 2010-2014. However, Paragraph 1.16 of the Agreement does provide for an annual review of the savings generated from its implementation. Two such reviews have been undertaken by the Implementation Body for the Agreement to date. On 13th June last, the Body published its Second Annual Progress Report in respect of Year 2 of the Agreement (12 months ending March 2012) which found, inter alia, that:

Pay bill Savings of €650m were achieved during the year under review (Apr 2011 to Mar 2012) driven largely by the reduction in staff numbers, or €521m net of an estimate for the maximum possible post-February recruitment over 2012. An estimated €810m in sustainable pay bill savings has therefore been achieved during the first two years of the Agreement.

Administrative efficiency (or ‘non-pay') savings totalling €370m were reported for the review period. Adding non-pay savings presented in last year's Report totalling €308m, gives a total of €678m in non-pay savings in the first two years of the Agreement.

Public Sector Pay

John Lyons

Question:

282 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the cost of increments in 2013, 2014 and 2015 for people in the public sector who are currently in the following earning bands salary plus allowances/bonus, less than €20,000; in increments of €5,000 from €20,000 to €100,000; €100,000-€125,000; €125,000-€150,000-€200,000; greater than €200,000; if he will further provide separate tables to be provided for office holders, Deputies, judges, civil servants, public servants, those in the wider public sector including commercial semi-State bodies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31768/12]

I refer to my reply to Parliamentary Question Nos. 274, 288 and 289 on 11 January 2012.

Legal Cases

Timmy Dooley

Question:

283 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will quantify in tabular form, by year of commencement, all legal cases pending against his Department. [31788/12]

In response to the Deputy's question the following are the number of legal cases pending against my Department:

Year

Number of Cases

2005

1

2006

1

2011

2

2012

1

In the matter of the cases commenced in 2005, 2006 and one of the 2011 cases originally the Minister for Finance was a co-defendant in this case and under section 13 of the Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act 2011 I am the successor to the Minister for Finance in these cases.

One of the cases commenced in 2011 has been appealed to the Supreme Court following a judgment delivered in my Department's favour in March 2012. I have been advised that the current waiting time for appeals to be heard in the Supreme Court is currently in excess of 36 months.

Labour Court Recommendations

Sean Fleming

Question:

284 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when he will give approval to the payment of an award approved by the Labour Court which is waiting sanction for payment from his Department (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31829/12]

The matter referred to by the Deputy is an issue that in the first instance falls to my colleague, the Minister for Education and Skills to deliberate on and, where appropriate, to consult with and/or to seek the approval of my Department.

In the particular case referred to by the Deputy this consultation process by the Department of Education and Skills and my Department is still ongoing.

Departmental Expenditure

Paudie Coffey

Question:

285 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will provide in tabular form the number of persons, non governmental organisations and quangos, that receive remuneration from his Department by way of wages, salaries, pensions, grants and other Departmental funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31861/12]

In response to the Deputy's question no non-governmental organisations or quangos are in receipt of remuneration from my Department. Grants-in- Aid are provided to both the ESRI and the IPA and details of the amounts paid to each can be found in the Revised Estimates Volume (REV) which is published annually. As at 31 May, 2012 there were 310 staff on the payroll in my Department. The current number of staff is under the limit permitted under the Employment Control Framework for my Department. 23 staff have retired since my Department was established in July of last year and are in receipt of pensions which are paid from the Superannuation Vote which is under the remit of my Department. The details as requested by the Deputy are summarised hereunder.

Staff

Pensioners

Non Governmental Organisations

Quangos

310

23

0

0

Paudie Coffey

Question:

286 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will provide a list in tabular form of every quango and non governmental organisation that received any monies from his Department in 2009, 2010 and 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31886/12]

As the Deputy is aware my Department was established on 6 July 2011 and I can confirm that since that date no quangos or non-governmental organisations have received monies from my Department.

Grants-in-Aid are provided to both the ESRI and the IPA and details of amounts paid can be found in the Revised Estimates Volume (REV) which is published annually.

Social Impact Bonds

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

287 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he has held any discussions with interested bodies, either domestic or foreign, regarding the establishment of social impact bonds here; if the scoping exercise of the potential of social impact bonds has been completed; if he still on track to pilot at least one area this year; the level of investment that might be required for the pilots and the level of saving that may accrue to the Exchequer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31911/12]

The Government Programme for National Recovery 2011-2016 contains the commitment to establish a new model of financing social interventions — called Social Impact Bonds — that share audited exchequer savings with charitable and voluntary organisations (Section 2.13.4), as well as a commitment to examine outcomes-based contracts with community organisations to help reduce re-offending by young people, based on the social impact bond model in the U.K. (section 3.33.5). Social impact investing works by identifying public sector benefits that can be achieved by tackling social problems early and raising private capital to fund these interventions up-front. The State will only agree to repay investors if agreed outcomes are achieved.

An Advisory Group, chaired by the former Secretary General of the Department of Community Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Mr. Gerry Kearney, was established in August 2011 to explore the potential for social impact investing in Ireland. My department was represented on the Advisory Group. The group has been assisted by a project team consisting of members from Clann Credo — the Social investment Fund, the Centre for Effective Services and Social Finance Ltd (a UK based promoter of social impact investing). A scoping exercise was conducted by the project team under the guidance of the advisory group to help assess the potential of social impact investing in Ireland. The conclusion is that social impact investing is both desirable and feasible in Ireland subject to piloting some projects that have emerged from the scoping exercise as projects that are likely to provide improved social outcomes than can deliver social value and public sector benefits.

The scoping exercise undertaken by the Advisory Group is a welcome piece of work which has identified some opportunities which have the potential to progress to pilot social impact investment projects. I consider that if these opportunities are to progress further to a formal pilot phase then the senior management of the relevant government departments and agencies will have to carry out a full assessment of the proposals and recommend whether or not a project should proceed to a formal pilot phase. That assessment should have regard to what the appropriate outcomes are, what metrics should be put in place to measure outcomes, what financing arrangements are appropriate for particular projects and other due diligence and legal arrangements that are appropriate.

My department has written to the departments seeking their assessment of the projects relevant to them; how they measure up, what additional exchequer savings are achievable from the proposed interventions and how, and by whom, they should be measured and monitored. Given that cross-departmental and cross-agency issues may arise in some of the potential pilot projects, how such issues and arrangements are dealt with also needs to be considered and addressed.

A steering committee will be established to oversee this next stage of development. This committee will be charged with assessing the responses from departments and overseeing the organisational arrangements that are necessary to deliver social impact investment projects. The committee will include representatives from the Advisory Group who have overseen the scoping work to date and representatives from line departments under whose aegis potential projects are being considered for the next stage as well as representatives from this Department.

Public Sector Pay

Gerry Adams

Question:

288 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of persons in the public sector in receipt of salaries in excess of €100,000 who are in receipt of increment pay increases. [31941/12]

I refer to my replies to Questions Nos. 274, 288 and 289 of 11 January 2012.

Departmental Staff

Sean Fleming

Question:

289 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will provide a list of all allowances and the payment rates of those allowances paid to staff in his Department that are subject to income tax and the list of allowances and the payment rates paid to staff that are not subject to income tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31968/12]

The table that follows this reply shows the allowances and payment rates that are appropriate to certain staff in my Department. In many cases, the actual payment rate may be determined by the grade, point of pay or period covered by the claim. This is the reason for different rates for the same allowance. The rates referred to cover the pay period between June 2011 and June 2012. All allowances are calculated and paid in accordance with the rules governing the schemes.

Allowance

Description

Rates

Payable Per

Subject To Income Tax

Allowance Personal to Holder

Payable to staff who are now in this Department and were part of the integration agreement in the Office of the Revenue Commissioners

€14.10-€45.48

Fortnight

Yes

Child Allowance

Only payable to staff in the Civil Service since pre 31/12/1978 in respect of children up until the age of 16. Payment can continue unit the age of 21 if they remain in fulltime education

€4.33

Fortnight

Yes

Higher Duties

Payable on a temporary basis to staff carrying out duties appropriate to a higher grade

€24.34-€983.05

Fortnight

Yes

Maternity Allowance

Paid to ensure that the member of staff received the appropriate rate of maternity benefit

€64.47

Week

No

Private Sec.

Payable to staff carrying out duties appropriate to the post of Private Secretary. In certain circumstances former Private Secretaries may be entitled to a reduced payment

€188.33-€792.83

Fortnight

Yes

Seniority Allowance AHCPS

Seniority Allowance: Agreed to under PCW for AHCPS grades

€48.60-€121.46

Fortnight

Yes

Special Allowance

Allowance payable to Employee Assistance Officers to take account of the particular duties of the role

€174.76-€234.13

Fortnight

Yes

Luke 'Ming' Flanagan

Question:

290 Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of civil servants dismissed in the period 1 January 2000 to 30 June 2006; and the number of civil servants dismissed in the period 1 July 2006 to 31 December 2011 by the Government and by a Minister for the Government . [31985/12]

The Civil Service Disciplinary Code sets out the procedures for dealing with dismissals in the Civil Service. Prior to 2006, disciplinary and dismissal procedures were as set out in Circular 1/1992. Under these procedures, it was the responsibility of the Government to decide whether a civil servant should be dismissed. Under these procedures, my Department submitted each case to the Government and so had an overview of the number of dismissals in the Civil Service. During the period 1 January 2000 to 30 June 2006, there were 15 dismissals under these procedures. During the period 1 July 2006 to 31 December 2011, there were four dismissals under these procedures. In the latter period where disciplinary proceedings had already commenced prior to 4 July 2006, the case continued to be dealt with under the disciplinary procedures in Circular 1/1992. Under the provisions in the Civil Service Regulation (Amendment) Act 2005, each Secretary General/Head of Office has the authority, responsibility and accountability for carrying out a range of duties in their Departments/Offices. Among these are the management of all matters pertaining to the appointment, performance, discipline and dismissals of staff below the grade of Principal. The Disciplinary Code was revised in July 2006 to reflect the legislative changes and procedures for discipline and dismissals are now detailed in Circular 14/2006. Therefore, my Department is not generally consulted about discipline and dismissals cases as it was in the past under the previous Code (Circular 1/1992). Accordingly, my Department does not have the details in relation to dismissals under the revised procedures introduced in 2006.

Sports Facilities

Timmy Dooley

Question:

291 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when construction will commence on a project (details supplied) in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31997/12]

Tenders have been received for the first stage of the playground scheme. This comprises civil engineering work such as soil excavation, site preparation and drainage. The Local Authority has also been asked to make a contribution to the cost of this project as is normal in other areas where the OPW develops playgrounds. When Meath County Council has advised us of this, the matter can hopefully be progressed.

Departmental Staff

Pearse Doherty

Question:

292 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of civil servants dismissed in the period 1 January 2000 to 30 June 2006. [32000/12]

Pearse Doherty

Question:

293 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of civil servants dismissed in the period 1 July 2006 to 31 December 2011 by the Government and by a Minister for the Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32001/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 292 and 293 together.

The Civil Service Disciplinary Code sets out the procedures for dealing with dismissals in the Civil Service. Prior to 2006, disciplinary and dismissal procedures were as set out in Circular 1/1992. Under these procedures, it was the responsibility of the Government to decide whether a civil servant should be dismissed. Under these procedures, my Department submitted each case to Government and so had an overview of the number of dismissals in the Civil Service. During the period 1 January 2000 to 30 June 2006, there were 15 dismissals under these procedures. During the period 1 July 2006 to 31 December 2011, there were four dismissals under these procedures. In the latter period where disciplinary proceedings had already commenced prior to 4 July 2006, the case continued to be dealt with under the disciplinary procedures in Circular 1/1992. Under the provisions in the Civil Service Regulation (Amendment) Act 2005, each Secretary General/Head of Office has the authority, responsibility and accountability for carrying out a range of duties in their Departments/Offices. Among these are the management of all matters pertaining to the appointment, performance, discipline and dismissals of staff below the grade of Principal. The Disciplinary Code was revised in July 2006 to reflect the legislative changes and procedures for discipline and dismissals are now detailed in Circular 14/2006. Therefore, my Department is not generally consulted about discipline and dismissals cases as it was in the past under the previous Code (Circular 1/1992). Accordingly, my Department does not have the details in relation to dismissals under the revised procedures introduced in 2006.

EU Funding

Patrick Nulty

Question:

294 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 303 of 22 May 2012, if he will outline, in tabular form, the projects on which the 52% of EU Structural Funds under the 2007-2013 round, which have not yet been drawn down, will be spent; if he will further outline the timeframe by which applications were made for each amount of money of funds not yet drawn down; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32072/12]

As I explained in my reply of 22 May 2012, Ireland has been allocated a total of €901 million in EU Structural Funding for the period 2007-13. Of this, €750 million is assigned to the Regional Competitiveness and Employment objective, and the balance to Territorial Co-operation programmes, including the PEACE III (Ireland/NI), INTERREG IVA (Ireland/NI and Western Scotland) and the Ireland Wales Programme. Ireland's national strategic reference framework, which was agreed with the Commission in 2007, sets out the strategic direction for investment of the funds in Ireland under the Regional Competitiveness and Employment objective. This is being delivered through three operational programmes — the National ESF Human Capital Investment operational programme, which is managed by the Department of Education and Skills, and the Border, Midland and Western and Southern and Eastern Regional ERDF operational programmes, which are managed by the two regional assemblies. The general programme priorities in Ireland are the promotion and encouragement of innovation, the knowledge economy, enterprise, research and development, increasing activation of the labour force and increasing the participation and reducing inequality in the labour force.

Each operational programme has an indicative financial plan which sets out how the funds will be spent over the programming period at priority level. It should be noted that there is a time lag between expenditure being incurred and a claim for reimbursement being submitted to Brussels as there is a certification, verification and audit process to be completed to ensure compliance with the regulations. Flexibility is allowed under the regulations to move funding within and between priorities under each OP. It should be noted that the eligibility period is 1 January 2007 to 31 December 2015. I attach for the Deputy's information for each operational programme on the total amounts allocated to date at priority/sub-priority/theme level; and the indicative financial plans at priority level. While it is not possible at this point in the programming period to identify the specific projects which will benefit from co-financing, the indicative sub-priority/themes are set out in the table provided to the Deputy. It is expected that the overall objectives of each programme will be achieved and that Ireland will drawdown all the funding we have been allocated.

Appointments to State Boards

Timmy Dooley

Question:

295 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the names of all appointments made to State boards under his remit; the boards to which they were appointed since March 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32246/12]

The following appointments have been made to bodies under the aegis of my Department:

An Post National Lottery

Name of Appointee

Date Appointed

Mr. Donal Connell — ChairmanMr. Peter Quinn — Director

re-appointed February 29th 201216 February 2012

On 22 November 2011, I reappointed Mr. Connell as chairman until 29 February 2012 to allow him time to appear before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform. Mr. Connell appeared before the Committee on 14 December 2011 and his re-appointment as Chairman has been ratified with effect from 29 February 2012.

Civil Service Arbitration Board

Name of Appointee

Date Appointed

Mr. Turlough O’Donnell, S.C. (Chair)Mr. Gerard BarryMr. Tom WallMr. George MayburyMr. Hugh O’Flaherty

1 July 2011

In accordance with the Government's recent decision, the new procedures for appointment to State boards dictate that expressions of interest are invited from people who are interested in being appointed to the boards of State bodies and agencies operating under the Department's aegis. People being proposed for appointment as chairpersons of State bodies or agencies may be required to make themselves available to the appropriate Oireachtas committee to discuss the approach they will take to their role as chairperson and their views about the future contribution of the body or board in question. Following that discussion, decisions will be taken by either the Government or myself, as appropriate, to confirm the nominee as chairperson. In the case of the Civil Service Arbitration Board, the new procedures were not used and the Chairman was not interviewed by Oireachtas. The conciliation and arbitration scheme for the Civil Service, the Permanent Defence Forces, the Garda and teachers sets out the nomination process for the board and its appointment by the Government.

Public Appointments Service

Name of Appointee

Date Appointed/Re-appointed

Mr. Eddie Sullivan, ChairmanMr. Des Dowling, Assistant Secretary — Department of the Environment, Community and Local GovernmentDr. Deirdre O’Keeffe, Assistant Secretary — Department of Justice and EqualityMs Patricia Coleman, Director — Department of Public Expenditure and ReformMr. Seán McGrath — National Director of HR in the HSE (has since resigned)Ms Judith Eve — former Chairperson the Civil Service Commissioners, Northern IrelandDr. Eddie Molloy — Management ConsultantMr. Dan Murphy, former General Secretary of the PSEUMr. Bryan Andrews as CEO of the PAS holding office on an ex officio basis. Replaced by Ms Fiona Tierney, CEO, PAS

1 September 201120th March 2012 — on appointment as CEO

The appointments were not made using the new procedures and the previous Chairman was reappointed to the role on the new board. The reason for not following the new procedures in relating to board appointments is that the Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act, 2004 states that I, as Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (in consultation with Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, the Minister for Health and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence) should appoint members of the Board of the Public Appointments Service. The Board is meant to be representative of our client base. The majority of the board is therefore civil or public servants, nominated by the relevant Minister. There is also a union representative nominated by ICTU. I reappointed the outgoing Chairman and the two external members were appointed by me because of their expertise in strategic change and public service recruitment respectively.

Legal Services

Dara Calleary

Question:

296 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the co-ordinated action that he has taken to address the issue of legal fees incurred by the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29722/12]

Over the past few years, my Department has been engaged with the State's law offices, which are critically involved in the engagement of legal services, with a view to pursuing reductions in overall costs and increasing competitive forces. Reductions in fee levels are being achieved through a number of different measures. In accordance with the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009 and the Government decision of 3 February 2009 which provided for an 8% reduction in professional fees payable by Government Departments and State Agencies, an 8% reduction to all legal fees with effect from 1 March 2009 was applied to Legal counsel fees in the Chief State Solicitor's Office; Brief and Refresher fees in the Director of Public Prosecution's Office; Payment of Witness Expenses; State Solicitors fees (this came into effect on 5th May 2009); Criminal and Civil Legal Aid fees including barrister, private practitioner, medical and legal fees; and Tribunal fees. Subsequently, on foot of budget 2010, a further 8% reduction with effect from 1 January 2010 was applied to legal counsel fees in the Chief State Solicitor's Office; Brief and Refresher fees in the Director of Public Prosecution's Office; and Criminal and Civil Legal Aid fees.

In more recent times, this path has been pursued further. A fee reduction of 10% on Criminal Legal Aid fees was applied with effect from 13 July 2011 and 1 October 2011 for District, and Circuit and Higher Courts, respectively. Changes in the structure of the day 1 fee in the District Court, a reduction of 50% in the rate paid in respect of travel and subsistence and a reduction of 50% in the rate paid for sentence fees in respect of adjourned sentence hearings in the Circuit and higher courts were also applied. A pre-approval process prior to engaging expert witnesses and a time limit of 24 months for submission of fee claims were introduced. In October 2011, a further 10% reduction was applied to brief and refresher fees paid by the Director of Public Prosecution' Office to reduce the level of fees in parallel with the reductions applied to fees payable under the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme. A further 10% reduction was applied to Tribunal fees on 1 March 2012. The Legal Aid Board has served notice on the Bar Council of its withdrawal from the existing agreement with the Bar Council on Civil Legal Aid fees and its adoption of new arrangements which will have the effect, over time, of significantly reducing fees payable to barristers.

Enhanced mechanisms for rigorous examination of claims have also been introduced in both the Chief State Solicitor's and the Director of Public Prosecution's Offices. In relation to procurement policy, the position is that legal services are not exempt from public procurement rules and many authorities tender for their legal services. To raise awareness in this regard, my Department, following consultations with the Attorney General's Office, will shortly issue a circular underlining the importance of competitive tendering for such services to all public bodies. In addition, the National Procurement Service set up a working group on legal services earlier this year to examine ways to assist public bodies that procure legal services and to examine how resources can be leveraged to achieve best value for money. The Working Group consists of representatives from the National Procurement Service, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the Department of Justice and Equality, the Chief State Solicitor's Office and the Office of the Attorney General.

Croke Park Agreement

Micheál Martin

Question:

297 Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he has met the social partners recently in connection with the Croke Park agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30312/12]

I have had no recent meetings with the social partners in relation to the Croke Park Agreement, which is an agreement reached between the Government as an employer and the unions and associations representing public servants. It is not an agreement made in the context of social partnership.

Irish Language

John Deasy

Question:

298 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will provide details of the total expenditure by his Department on providing services through the Irish language in each of the past five years. [31631/12]

The total expenditure by my Department and its Offices in relation to the provision of services through the Irish language in each of the past five years is as follows: 2008, €63,872; 2009, €85,350; 2010, €42,461; 2011, €48,424; and 2012, €12,989 (to date). The recorded expenditure in 2009 was higher than in other years, due in part to the translation into the Irish language of information leaflets; new forms and website content for the Companies Registration Office.

Visa Applications

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

299 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation his views on the possibility of establishing a visa scheme specific to persons working in the technology and related sectors, which will have specific criteria for admission so that it will not be open to abuse but will allow Irish companies and foreign technology companies investing here to recruit the necessary skilled personnel from abroad. [31683/12]

Current Government policy is to issue new employment permits in respect of jobs requiring key skills, where there is a recognised scarcity of suitably skilled workers. A significant range of job categories within the technology and related sectors are eligible across the employment permit schemes. The issue of any employment permit is predicated on a job offer from a prospective Irish employer who has made every effort to recruit an Irish or EEA national for the post. In considering applications, the Department takes cognisance of applications submitted with the support of the IDA. For specified highly skilled and strategically important occupations, where a skills shortage exists, Green Card employment permits may be issued. The Green Card permit is issued to the employee and allows his or her employment in the State by the named employer in the occupation specified on the permit. It may be issued for a period of two years. The employee may apply for immediate family reunification and an application for long-term residence may be made after two years. No labour market needs test (e.g. newspaper and FÁS/EURES advertising) is required prior to making an application. Sensibly, it is a requirement that no more than 50% of staff employed by a company in Ireland may be employment permits holders.

The Department also operates an Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) scheme. This scheme is designed to facilitate the transfer of senior management, key personnel or trainees who are foreign nationals from an overseas branch of a multinational corporation to its Irish branch. Only 5% of the workforce may have ICT Permits. However for startups this may be waived on a case by case basis for an initial period. No labour market needs test is required in respect of an application for an Intra-Company Transfer permit. Certain criteria apply in the case of ICTs. Application forms and information in relation to the criteria that apply in the case of all employment permit types including green cards and ICTs are available on my Department's website. The Government has no plans at present to lift employment permits restrictions for non-EU nationals nor is there evidence that the current policy impedes inward investment. Visas are a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality.

Enterprise Support Services

Willie O'Dea

Question:

300 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will provide in tabular form the number of Enterprise Ireland supported job announcements each week since the start of the year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31722/12]

Enterprise Ireland publishes all job announcements on its website as they are announced. A full list of job announcements since the beginning of this year is available atwww.enterprise-ireland.com/en/News/PressReleases.

The following additional information was provided under Standing Order 40A

Enterprise Ireland's objective is to drive the growth of client companies in overseas markets which in turn will support existing jobs and job creation in Ireland. Enterprise Ireland (EI) partners with entrepreneurs, Irish Businesses, and the research and investment communities to develop Ireland's international trade, innovation, leadership and competitiveness. The ultimate goal is increased exports, employment and prosperity in Ireland.

EI actively works with viable companies to help them to both sustain and create jobs. A total of more than 162,000 people (full and part-time) directly rely on Enterprise Ireland client companies for their employment. Where a client company wishes to publicly announce new jobs created, Enterprise Ireland can facilitate this announcement by issuing a press release on the development.

The accompanying table provides information on the jobs announcements made by Enterprise Ireland since January 2012.

Month

Number of jobs

Company name

13-01-2012

250

Eishtec, Waterford

10-01-2012

12

Blueface, Dublin

16-01-2012

30

Sysnet Global Solutions, Dublin

16-01-2012

45

Openjaw, Dublin

17-05-2012

37

Copperfasten, Co. Galway

23-05-2012

65

Dawn Meats, Waterford

25-05-2012

40

Technopath Ballina, Co. Tipperary

25-06-2012

30

EirGen Pharma, Waterford

25-06-2012

45

Danone Baby Nutrition, Wexford

Job Creation

Willie O'Dea

Question:

301 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will provide in tabular form the number of Industrial Development Agency supported job announcements each week since the start of the year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31727/12]

Details of all IDA Job and Investment announcements for 2012 and previous years are available on the IDA Ireland website (www.idaireland.com).

Work Permits

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

302 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation further to Parliamentary Question Number 67 of 21 June in respect of a work permit application (details supplied) if he will reconsider the application on the basis that the criteria outlined in his previous reply have been met by the applicant in that the position on offer is a highly skilled, highly paid position, the position requires specialist/scarce skills that cannot be filled elsewhere, the employer does not have more than 50% of its workforce drawn from non-EEA nationals, that adequate efforts were made to recruit and train Irish/EEA nationals for the position, that the person for whom the application for a work permit was made was not the only employee in the company as previously outlined, that numerous applications have been sent to the Department regarding this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31756/12]

My officials advise me that this Work Permit application was refused on the 15th December 2011 on the grounds that it is current Government policy to issue new employment permits only in respect of:

highly skilled, highly paid positions or;

non-EEA nationals who are already legally resident in the State on valid employment permits or;

positions requiring specialist or scarce skills, expertise or qualifications which cannot be filled elsewise and

where an employer does not have more than 50% of its workforce drawn from non EEA nationals

Furthermore permits are issued in respect of employment where it is established that a minimum salary of €30,000 per annum is on offer, based on a 39 hour week.

It appeared that insufficient efforts were made to recruit/train an Irish or EEA National for this position. New work permit applications can only be considered where it is established that the position has been advertised with FÁS/EURES for a period of 8 weeks and that this advertisement has been flagged as a work permit vacancy and advertised for at least six days in both local and national newspapers.

Finally, it also appeared from the information provided that this employee was already working for the company without having a valid employment permit and that the company had no other employees.

The applicant was notified of this decision in writing and of their right to appeal this decision within 21 days. As no appeal was received in the Employment Permits Section this matter is now at an end. However it is open to the applicant to make a new application in this instance, addressing in particular the issues raised at the time of refusal the matter will be given further consideration.

Legal Cases

Timmy Dooley

Question:

303 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will quantify in tabular form, by year of commencement, all legal cases pending against his Department. [31786/12]

I can advise the Deputy that the information requested in terms of the number of legal cases pending against my Department is set out in the table below.

Year of Commencement

No. of Cases

1996

1

2009

3

2011

4

2012

5

I would point out in addition that the State Claims Agency which, pursuant to Section 9 of the National Treasury Management Agency (Amendment) Act, provides a claims management function for State authorities, including Government Departments, is managing a number of claims against my Department. It has not been possible, in the timeframe, to obtain from the Agency the number of cases that are pending against my Department.

Departmental Funding

Paudie Coffey

Question:

304 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will provide in tabular form the number of persons, non-governmental organisations and quangos that receive remuneration from his Department by way of wages, salaries, pensions, grants and other departmental funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31862/12]

Paudie Coffey

Question:

306 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will provide a list in tabular form of every quango and non-governmental organisation that received any moneys from his Department in 2009, 2010 and 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31884/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 304 and 306 together.

I am interpreting the Deputy's questions as relating to persons and bodies to which my Department provides funding through the Vote, including in respect of either their operational costs or agreed programmes of activity.

The number of civil and public servants employed and remunerated by the Department its Offices and Agencies was 2,822 at the end of 2011, with a limit of 2,668 posts set for 2012.

The number of retired public servants in receipt of a pension payment directly from the Department its Offices and Agencies was 1,331 at the end of 2011, with an estimated 1,438 pensioners being paid by the end of 2012.

The following table sets out the Offices, Agencies and other Bodies for whom funding was provided through my Department's Vote in the years 2009, 2010 and 2011. There is no anticipated change to the list in respect of 2012.

2009

2010

2011

Forfás

Forfás

Forfás

InterTradeIreland

InterTradeIreland

InterTradeIreland

IDA Ireland

IDA Ireland

IDA Ireland

Enterprise Ireland

Enterprise Ireland

Enterprise Ireland

Craft Council of Ireland

Craft Council of Ireland

Craft Council of Ireland

Shannon Development (SFADCo)

Shannon Development (SFADCo)

Shannon Development (SFADCo)

Science Foundation Ireland

Science Foundation Ireland

Science Foundation Ireland

Tyndall Institute

Tyndall Institute

Tyndall Institute

Irish Universities Association

Irish Universities Association

Irish Universities Association

Irish Bioethics Council

Irish Bioethics Council (part 2010)

——

County Enterprise Boards

County Enterprise Boards

County Enterprise Boards

National Standards Authority of Ireland

National Standards Authority of Ireland

National Standards Authority of Ireland

ICTU

ICTU

ICTU

FÁS

FÁS (to May 2010)

——

Irish National Organisation for the Unemployed

Irish National Organisation for the Unemployed (to May 2010)

——

Labour Relations Commission

Labour Relations Commission

Labour Relations Commission

Competition Authority

Competition Authority

Competition Authority

National Consumer Agency

National Consumer Agency

National Consumer Agency

Companies Registration Office

Companies Registration Office

Companies Registration Office

Registry of Friendly Societies

Registry of Friendly Societies

Registry of Friendly Societies

Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority

Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority

Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority

Labour Court

Labour Court

Labour Court

Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement

Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement

Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement

National Employment Rights Authority

National Employment Rights Authority

National Employment Rights Authority

Health and Safety Authority

Health and Safety Authority

Health and Safety Authority

National Framework Committee for Work Life Balance Policies

National Framework Committee for Work Life Balance Policies

——

——

Personal Injuries Assessment Board (pensions only)

Personal Injuries Assessment Board (pensions only)

——

Higher Education Authority(for PRTLI Programme)

Higher Education Authority(for PRTLI Programme)

There are a number of representative advisory Groups and Councils for which the Department or one of its Agencies provides secretariat support. The Department may, where appropriate, be represented on these bodies. The costs associated with these bodies (detailed below) are, in general, met from the resource allocations of the Department or of the Agency that hosts the Groups. However, the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) reports jointly to me and to the Minister for Education and Skills. The costs of the EGFSN are met from the National Training Fund, which is administered by the Minister for Education and Skills.

Advisory Group/Council

Advisory Council for Science, Technology and Innovation

Expert Group on Future Skills Needs

Irish National Accreditation Board

National Competitiveness Council

Office of the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government

Advisory Group for Small Business

High level Group on Business Regulation

Company Law Review Group

Job Creation

Paudie Coffey

Question:

305 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will provide in tabular form the number of Government supported jobs that were created in the counties of Waterford, Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford, Tipperary, Cork, Limerick, Clare, Galway, Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal, Mayo, Cavan, Monaghan, Louth, Meath, Westmeath, Longford, Offaly, Laois, Wicklow, Dublin, Roscommon, Kildare and Kerry in 2010 and 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31872/12]

The figures in respect of jobs created in 2010 and 2011 in Enterprise Development agency-assisted companies, including companies supported by the County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) are set out in the table accompanying this reply.

The Government's Action Plan for Jobs has set a target of supporting the creation of 100,000 net new jobs over the period 2012 to 2016, with the longer term objective of having 2 million people at work by 2020. I recently announced the progress which has been made in this regard so far this year. Meanwhile, I am already getting suggestions and proposals in relation to preparing the Action Plan for 2013, which I am examining and will bring to Government later this year.

Jobs Created in Companies supported by the Enterprise Development Agencies and the County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs)

County

No of Jobs Created in 2010

No of Jobs Created in 2011

Waterford

774.5

782.5

Carlow

527.5

536

Kilkenny

225

365.5

Wexford

607.5

472

Tipperary

507

487

Cork

2,884

3,464

Limerick

836

908

Clare

632.5

601

Galway

1,559.5

2,001

Sligo

360.5

414

Leitrim

147.5

156

Donegal

631

1,000

Mayo

582

476

Cavan

548.5

541.5

Monaghan

410.5

502.5

Louth

401.5

980

Meath

452

739

Westmeath

477

806.5

Longford

215

243.5

Offaly

387.5

454.5

Laois

200.5

299

Wicklow

513.5

399.5

Dublin

10,029

9,758.5

Roscommon

149

286.5

Kildare

1,742

789.5

Kerry

571

827.5

Total

26,371.5

28,291

Question No. 306 answered with Question No. 304.

Job Initiatives

Seamus Kirk

Question:

307 Deputy Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will consider a strategy initiative to increase the potential of call centre development here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31926/12]

Seamus Kirk

Question:

308 Deputy Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of persons employed in the call centre industry here; the value of this industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31927/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 307 and 308 together.

In the Action Plan for Jobs 2012, the Government has identified a number of key sectors where Ireland can gain competitive advantage in global markets, including the area of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) which takes in call centres. Ireland has an opportunity to operate as a Centre of Excellence for BPO and Shared Services specifically targeting key knowledge intensive services and building domain expertise, e.g. Community Management and Analytics (games), Document Management Services for regulated sectors, Contract Research Outsourcing and Legal Process Outsourcing.

The customer contact industry continues to be an invaluable source of employment creation from multinational companies locating in Ireland across a range of industry sectors including finance, IT, life sciences and e-commerce. As an increasingly important component in the way companies differentiate themselves, the customer contact centre has evolved into a multi-functional, multi-lingual environment, an early adaptor of new digital technologies and servicing a global customer base. According to the Contact Centre Management Association of Ireland (CCMA), which has carried out research (published in 2011) into the role of contact centres throughout Ireland, the sector employs more than 29,000 people, with a spread of over 100 contact centre operations nationwide. CCMA findings show very positive results against the backdrop of a challenging economic climate and emphasise a focus on growth and business retention within the sector.

IDA Ireland has a value proposition to attract customer support companies to locate in Ireland as part of its overall strategy to attract FDI. This strategy has proven successful and Ireland is now home to a broad range of companies based in different industries servicing multiple markets. Examples of such companies include Google, Facebook, Lufthansa,Cook Medical, Hertz, EMC, Merrill Lynch, EA Games and Riot Games. Recent announcements by Paypal and Zenimax further endorse the successful strategy being pursued by IDA Ireland.

Many large scale indigenous firms have ‘in-house' contact centres to service their customer base. These include firms such as VHI, Aer Lingus, UPC and range from small scale to larger scale. They offer services direct to consumers ranging from reservations, to problem solution, cross selling and up-selling. In addition, a number of indigenous call centre operations have grown substantially in the last ten years. Enterprise Ireland currently supports 14 Irish companies in the space that employ approximately 4,000 people.

Departmental Staff

Sean Fleming

Question:

309 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will provide a list of all allowances and the payment rates of those allowances paid to staff in his Department that are subject to income tax and the list of allowances and the payment rates paid to staff that are not subject to income tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31966/12]

The accompanying table sets out the taxable and non-taxable allowances in the nature of pay that are currently being paid to staff in my Department and the Offices and Agencies for whom my Department provides payroll services. The rates payable are sanctioned by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. An annualised amount has been provided where possible. In respect of some of these allowances, a range has been provided where the rates reflect grade or where there are two rates depending on whether the individual joined the civil service pre- or post- 1995.

Separate to these allowances, the Department also pays travel and subsistence allowances in accordance with the rates set out by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. These payments are not taxable and are not in the nature of pay.

Allowance Name

Annualised amount paid fortnightly

Annualised amount paid weekly

Taxable (Yes/No)

Payable through Payroll either weekly or fortnightly:

Child’s Allowance

€113 per child

Yes

Private Secretary to Secretary General

€10,404.92

Yes

Private Secretary to Minister/Minister of State

€19,652.65-€20,685.30

Yes

Higher Duty Allowance (across a range of grades)

€6,111.06 — €8,197.99

€2,847.98 — €3,186.63

Yes

Out of Normal Working Hours Allowance

€7,767.25 — €8,175.82

Yes

Special Duty Allowance(Agency)

€22,866.05 — €39,281.88

Yes

Special Duty Allowance(across a range of grades)

€673.39 — €1,122.53

Yes

Industrial Relations Officer Allowance

€10,555.23 — €11,109.12

Yes

Patents Allowance

€651.99 — €781.91

Yes

Assistant Head Services Officer Allowance

€3,186.63

Yes

Franking Machine Allowance

€1,701.06 — €1,789.25

Yes

Key Holder Allowance

€1,727.15 — €1,861.26

Yes

Paper Keeping Allowance

€2,705.10 — €3,186.63

Yes

Payable through Payroll once a year:

Footwear Allowance

€65 annually

No

Payable through Payroll in respect of attendance at eligible meetings:

Delegates Allowance (Finance Circular 28/2009)

Varies according to number of nights

Varies according to number of nights

Yes

In addition, the Department pays for a number of staff on secondment to the Department of Foreign Affairs in respect of posts in Brussels, Geneva and London. The following non-taxable allowances are payable through the Department of Foreign Affairs payroll:

Cost of Living AllowanceLocal Post AllowanceChild Foreign AllowanceSchool Fees

Work Permits

John McGuinness

Question:

310 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if a work permit will be approved in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [32030/12]

My officials advise me that this permit application was refused on 28th June 2012 on the basis that new employment permit applications are currently only considered for highly skilled, highly paid positions or for positions where there is an officially recognised scarcity of supply in relation to a particular qualification or occupation type. New and renewal applications may also be considered in respect of non-EEA nationals already legally resident in the State on a valid employment permit.

In addition new Employment Permit applications are normally only considered where it is established that a minimum salary of €30,000 per annum is on offer based on a 39 hour week.

The applicant was advised of the decision in writing and of their right to appeal this decision within 21 days of the decision being made. I would advise the applicant to make further contact with my Department concerning the status of their application.

Appointments to State Boards

Timmy Dooley

Question:

311 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the names of all appointments made to State boards under his remit; the boards to which they were appointed since March 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32244/12]

I refer the Deputy to the following appointments.

Health and Safety Authority (HSA)

Mr. John Newham, Principal Officer, Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation was appointed to the Board of the Health and Safety Authority on the 10th April 2012.

Shannon Development

Mr. Stephen Curran, Principal Officer, was appointed to my Department on 9 January 2012 and was subsequently appointed to the Board of Shannon Development on 23 February 2012.

Forfás

Mr. John Murphy, Secretary General of the Department was appointed to the Board of Forfas with effect from 18th January 2012.

The Industrial Development legislation provides that the Director General of Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) serves on the board of Forfas. Professor Mark Ferguson therefore became a member of the Forfas Board on taking up his position with SFI with effect from 18th January 2012.

National Standards Authority of Ireland Board (NSAI)

Ms Barbara O'Leary and Mr. Terry Landers were appointed to the Board of NSAI on 6th March 2012. Both appointments were publicly advertised and Ms O'Leary and Mr. Landers both applied through the expressions of interest process.

Two Staff Representatives, Ms Anne Clarke and Mr. Kierán Cox, were also appointed by Minister Bruton following an open election within the agency.

Competition Authority

While it does not have a typical board structure, the Competition Authority consists of a Chairperson and up to four other members who act as an executive board. The Competition Acts 2002 to 2010 set out the requirements pertaining to appointments to the Authority. Chairperson: I re-appointed Mr. Declan Purcell as Chairperson of the Competition Authority on 1st July 2011 and following his retirement, I subsequently appointed Ms Isolde Goggin as Chairperson following her selection by the Public Appointments Service (PAS) who publicly advertised this position. I appointed Ms Noreen Mackey and Mr. David McFadden as temporary members of the Authority in July 2011 and I subsequently re-appointed both from 1st October. On 9th August 2011, I re-appointed Mr. Ciarán Quigley as a temporary member of the Authority. These temporary appointments were made in accordance with the Competition Acts 2002 to 2010 and did not require to be publicly advertised.

Advertisements for three full time members of the Competition Authority were published in June 2011 and following the completion of the PAS selection process for these posts I appointed Mr. Stephen Calkins and Mr. Gerald FitzGerald from December 2011 and Mr. Patrick Kenny from January 2011.

Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority

Seven appointments were made to the Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority (IAASA). Mr. Dave Martin and Mr. Kevin O'Donovan were both appointed as nominees of the Prescribed Accountancy Bodies on the 26 May 2011. Ms Sylvia McNeece of the Irish Pension Board, Ms Deirdre Behan of the Revenue Commissioners, Ms Mairead Devine of the Central Bank, Ms Marie Daly of the Irish Business and Employers Confederation and Mr. Sean Hawkshaw of the Irish Association of Investment Managers were all appointed as nominees of the Designated Bodies on the 3rd January 2012.

National Consumer Agency

Ms Isolde Goggin was appointed to the Board of the National Consumer Agency in November 2011.

Ms Goggin's appointment as Chairperson of the Competition Authority and Chairperson designate of the new body which will be established on foot of the merger of the Competition Authority and the National Consumer Agency reflects the Government's commitment to the rationalisation of State agencies.

PIAB

Two appointments were made to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB).

One was the re-appointment of Ms Ann Fitzgerald in her capacity as Chief Executive of the National Consumer Agency, which is a statutory position on the Board.

In the case of the second appointment, it was considered appropriate to have a representative from the Department on the Board and Ms Breda Power, Assistant Secretary, was appointed.

Science Foundation Ireland

Dr. Rita Colwell and Professor Martina Newell-McGloughlin were both reappointed to the Board of Science Foundation Ireland with effect from 26th of July 2011. Dr. Colwell and Professor Newell-McGloughlin are internationally renowned scientific experts in the Life Sciences and Biotechnology sectors.

InterTrade Ireland

The InterTradeIreland Board expired on the 12th December 2011.

The Minister, Deputy Richard Bruton, nominated four new members to that Board. These members included the following: Mr. Martin Cronin Chairman; Mr. John Corbett; Mr. Kevin Norton; Ms Mairead Sorenson.

These four members were subsequently appointed to the Board on the 13th December, 2011 by the North South Ministerial Council.

Both Mr. Brendan Butler and Ms Patricia McKeown who served on the last Board were re-appointed on the 13th December, 2011.

IDA Ireland

I recently made the following two appointments to the Board of IDA Ireland: Alan W. Gray and Mary Campbell. Ms Mary Campbell was identified following consultations with IDA Ireland to nominate a person with relevant financial expertise for my consideration for appointment to the Board.

Enterprise Ireland

There have been no new appointments to the Board of Enterprise Ireland since March 2011, however, the expression of interest campaign for Enterprise Ireland closed on 1st of June.

As the Deputy is aware I recently launched a further expressions of interest campaign in respect of Board vacancies that have arisen or are due to arise over the coming months. In this respect, my overriding focus is to find the best people for particular board appointments. In making appointments I will have regard to the expertise and experience of individuals, the balance of skills and attributes in terms of the overall composition of the board, the gender balance of the board and the availability and commitment of people to serve on the board.

Industrial Relations

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

312 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding the Industrial Relations (Amendment) (No. 3) Bill 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32405/12]

Mechanisms such as Registered Employment Agreements that allow for the legal extension of voluntarily negotiated collective agreements throughout a particular sector are widespread in almost all EU Member States. In the 21 EU Member States where it is legally possible to extend collective bargaining agreements universally across a particular sector, such extension is normally conditional on arrangements for establishing the consent of the parties and their representative status through specific conditions or thresholds that must be met before a collective agreement can be extended throughout a sector.

In most instances the test used to establish whether employers are representative is to focus on the number of workers in the particular class, type or group that are employed by the employers subscribing to the agreement affecting that category. This is the test that has been introduced in the Industrial Relations (Amendment) (No. 3) Bill 2011 and is given further emphasis as a priority consideration in any decision to register a sectoral agreement.

The issues of uncertainty that have arisen regarding the interpretation of the statutory requirement in Section 27 of the Industrial Relations Act, 1946, were the subject of a detailed commentary and of several recommendations in the Report of the Independent Review of Employment Regulation Orders And Registered Employment Agreement Wage Setting Mechanisms (The Duffy Walsh Report). The commentary in the Report outlined how the original provision in Section 27 of the Industrial Relations Act 1946 regarding the representativeness of the parties to an agreement had given rise to controversy, especially in scenarios where a group of employers might constitute a minority of the total number of relevant employers but could, nonetheless, employ the majority of the workers normally employed within the relevant sector.

In this context, the Government accepted the recommendations made by the Independent Review for changes to be made to the provisions of Section 27 of the Act of 1946 to provide that the question of whether a party an agreement is substantially representative should depend

in the case of trade unions, on the degree to which they are representative of workers to whom the agreement relates which should be measured by reference to the union's membership in the employment or sector concerned.

in the case of employers or employer organisation, the extent to which they could be regarded as representative which should be weighted by size, measured by the number of employees normally employed.

Accordingly, Section 27 of the Act of 1946 is amended by the 2011 Bill to give effect to this.

While there is a statutory requirement in the Act of 1946 that the parties to an REA are substantially representative of the industry to which it relates at the time of registration there is currently no requirement that they remain representative. Accordingly, Section 29 of the 1946 Act is being amended to address this anomaly and provides that the Labour Court may cancel the registration of an REA where it is satisfied that either the trade union(s) or employer parties have ceased to be substantially representative of workers or employers in the sector to which the agreement relates.

Citizen Information Services

Michael Colreavy

Question:

313 Deputy Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Social Protection when the Citizens Information Board Strategic Plan 2012 to 2015 is due to be published; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31825/12]

The Citizens Information Board has informed me that they will submit their draft Strategic Plan 2012-2015 to me following consideration by the Board at its next meeting. When the Strategic Plan is approved a copy will be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas and published on the Citizens Information Board website www.citizensinformationboard.ie.

Irish Language

John Deasy

Question:

314 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide details of the total expenditure by her Department on providing services through the Irish language in each of the past five years. [31634/12]

It is an objective of my Department to provide a quality customer service in both Irish and English in response to customer demand. It is not possible to completely isolate all of the costs for the provision of services in the Irish language within the total cost of service provision in every instance.

The cost of providing some elements of service through the Irish language can be identified. These include the provision of staff training in spoken and written Irish, the translation of forms, leaflets and other documentation, and expenditure on advertising in the Irish language. The data in the following tables shows expenditure in relation to these areas in each of years 2007 to 2011.

Expenditure Area

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

Irish Language Training

€59,300

€35,300

€9,900

€6,800

€3,200

Translations

€81,000

€93,000

€49,000

€46,000

€83,000

Advertising in Irish

€61,300

€41,000

€12,000

€11,000

€3,000

Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance Scheme

Michael Creed

Question:

315 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social Protection if persons (details supplied) in County Cork are entitled to the back to school clothing and footwear payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31639/12]

The back to school clothing and footwear allowance (BSCFA) entitlements of some 115,350 families in respect of 205,125 children have now been automatically established with reference to their primary scheme entitlement and with no application form required. Letters have issued to the people identified in this way, informing them of their entitlement and notifying them that payment will issue in week commencing 16 July.

Customers who do not receive an automated payment are required to complete anapplication form which will be processed from a centralised unit in the Department. A text message acknowledging receipt of application forms will issue to everyone who submits a claim form.

If the persons concerned have not already received a letter from the Department they should now complete a claim form and return it to PO Box 131. I can assure the Deputy that every effort will be made to process applications promptly.

Rent Supplement Scheme

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

316 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will expedite a rent supplement review in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31658/12]

Following receipt of outstanding documents required for the rent supplement review, this claim has been reassessed and payment (including arrears of one month) will issue on 28th June 2012. The person concerned has been notified of the decision.

Pension Provisions

Michael McGrath

Question:

317 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection her views on the drop in the number of persons in occupational pension schemes in recent times; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31665/12]

Recent figures released by the Pensions Board highlight that the number of individuals with occupational pension schemes stands at 771,878 as at April 2012. This figure represents a reduction of approximately 5% on 2010 occupational pension coverage figures. However, it does not include the latest figure of 198,028 for those with Personal Retirement Savings Accounts which has increased by almost 11,000 on 2010 levels.

A decline in occupational pensions can be expected due to the increase in unemployment and contractions in the economy over recent years. However, the Government is committed to increasing pension coverage and will continue with the implementation of long-term policy aimed at promoting better pensions security and long-term stability of pensions.

Back to Work Placement Programme

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

318 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if a person (details supplied) qualifies for the back to work placement programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31677/12]

The Work Placement Programme is available to unemployed people whether they are in receipt of a social welfare payment or not. If the person concerned wishes to participate in the programme, she should register for the programme at her local Employment Services Office (FAS Office), Main Street, Newbridge, Co. Kildare.

Invalidity Pension

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

319 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if she willre-examine, review-refer for appeal-oral hearing eligibility for invalidity pension on foot of medical evidence in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Offaly; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31678/12]

Invalidity pension is a payment for people who are permanently incapable of work because of illness or incapacity and who satisfy the contribution conditions.

This department received a claim for invalidity pension for the person concerned. The medical evidence provided by the claimant in support of his claim was examined by a medical assessor who expressed the opinion that he was not eligible for invalidity pension as he does not satisfy the medical criteria. The application for invalidity pension was disallowed by a deciding officer. The applicant submitted further medical evidence and requested a review of the decision to refuse his invalidity pension claim. On completion of the necessary investigations relating to all aspects of the review of his claim a decision will be made and he will be notified directly of the outcome.

Question No. 320 withdrawn.

Disability Allowance

Patrick Nulty

Question:

321 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Social Protection if a disability allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15 can be expedited; the reason for the undue delay in their file being forwarded by the Department to the appeals office;if an urgent oral hearing will be granted; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31711/12]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that the Disability Allowance appeal for the person concerned was withdrawn on 27th June 2012 on the basis of a revised decision.

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

Community Employment Schemes

Sean Fleming

Question:

322 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will publish the report on the financial review of community employment that she indicated will be available this month; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31716/12]

The CE Financial Review Report will be published later in July. CE scheme sponsors are currently being individually notified of their revised materials and training allocations for 2012.

Carer’s Allowance

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

323 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of applications for carer’s allowance received, granted and refused within the last year, how these figures compare with the previous three year period; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31718/12]

The information requested is contained in the table.

Number of Carer's Allowance Applications

Year

Number Decided

Number Awarded

Number Disallowed

2009

17,957

10,730

5,776

2010

16,629

8,769

6,972

2011

13,886

7,467

5,227

2012 (January-May)

4,993

2,850

2,143

Carer's allowance is a demand-led scheme and the number of awards in any given period reflects the extent to which the applications received met the statutory conditions for the scheme.

Domiciliary Care Allowance

Robert Troy

Question:

324 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will expedite a domiciliary care appeal in respect of a person (details supplied). [31719/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 7th 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 29th 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 Scheme

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

325 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will expedite an application for rent supplement in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31724/12]

There is no record in the Department of an application for Rent Supplement from the person concerned.

One-Parent Family Payment

Jack Wall

Question:

326 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to the fact that one parent family allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wexford delivered in person by the appellant to her local social welfare office on 2 March, 2012, remains unrecorded in the social welfare appeals office; if she will take steps to determine the reason for the delay in forwarding this appeal to the appeals office; if she will ensure that the appellant is not disadvantaged by this delay in terms of having her appeal determined in a timely fashion; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31732/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that 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. On receipt of an appeal in the Social Welfare Appeals Office, the appeal is returned to the local office or line section for this purpose. On occasion, appellants bring their appeal to the local office for forwarding to the Appeals Office. To short circuit the process described above, the Deciding Officer will examine the grounds of appeal and if appropriate revise the original decision. In the event that the original decision is not being upheld, a submission is prepared and submitted with the appeal and the claim papers to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.

In this case, the appeal from the person concerned was received in the local office in March. There was a subsequent need to refer it to an Inspector to establish if the points raised in the appeal warranted a change in the decision. The Deciding Officer decided not to change the original decision and the papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 19th June 2012. The case will now 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.

Question No. 327 withdrawn.

Jobseeker’s Benefit

Michelle Mulherin

Question:

328 Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an appeal against refusal for jobseeker’s benefit in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo and if she will expedite the matter. [31752/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 23rd April 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 25th April 2012 and the case was referred to an Appeals Officer on 21st May 2012 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.

Carer’s Allowance

Brendan Griffin

Question:

329 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection if a decision has been made on a request to review an application for carer’s allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31758/12]

The application for carer's allowance from the person in question was refused on two grounds. Firstly that, on the basis of the evidence supplied, the applicant was not providing full time care and attention to the care recipient and secondly that the care recipient is not so disabled as to require full time care and attention as prescribed in regulations.

On 11 June 2012, the applicant's file was referred to an investigative officer of the Department for further examination and confirmation that all conditions for receipt of carer's allowance are satisfied.

In addition, the applicant has also submitted further information in relation to the medical criteria of the application which has been sent to the medical assessor for further consideration.

On completion of the necessary investigations relating to this review of her claim a decision will be made and the person in question will be notified directly of the outcome.

Child Care Services

Mick Wallace

Question:

330 Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Social Protection the progress that has been made to date in the development of her credible, bankable plan for Scandinavian-style child care; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31764/12]

Mick Wallace

Question:

332 Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will guarantee that, in the intervening period before the introduction of a system of Scandinavian-style child care, no parent who moves from the one parent family payment to jobseeker’s allowance will have their payment cut because they are deemed not to meet genuinely seeking work requirements if they cannot source child care; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31766/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 330 and 332 together.

An Inter-Departmental Sub-group on School-Age Child Care was set up earlier this year. This group consists of representatives from my Department, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs — which is the lead Department in relation to child care policy and provision — and the Department of Education and Skills. The role of the group is to quantify the school-age child care needs of social welfare income support recipients, initially for lone parents, and to define the best model for the provision of these services. The model, and accompanying proposals, will then be submitted to the Government for approval.

The model will address the child care requirements of children aged between 7 and 12 (inclusive). The model will also address the school-age child care required during both the school-term and the school holidays.

When the youngest child of a lone parent reaches the age of 7, if the parent is still in need of income support, they can apply for a jobseeker's payment — which is paid at the same basic rate as the one parent family payment (OFP) (€188 per week), and which has the same additional increases for each additional qualified child (€29.80 per child per week) — and receive the activation supports attached to that payment. They will then be profiled and their individual needs will be assessed. This will facilitate the agreement of a progression plan with these customers, the development of their case management to assist them to either improve on existing skills or learn new ones, and their gradual move towards or entry into the workforce.

Should lone parents decide to make an application for jobseeker's allowance (JA) they will have to meet the eligibility criteria of the JA scheme. At present, this includes that they must genuinely be seeking work. Specifically in relation to childcare requirements, the Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) programme provides subsidised childcare for low-income families including many social welfare recipients. An individual who is unemployed can avail of this subsidised childcare. This programme enables individuals with young children who are in receipt of OFP or JA to seek employment but it also provides them with subsidised childcare should they secure low income employment.

In advance of the OFP payment ceasing, lone parents can also apply for the back-to-education allowance (BTEA), the back-to-work enterprise allowance (BTWEA) or, if the parent is in employment of over 19 hours per week, for the family income supplement (FIS), or for another appropriate payment.

Employment Support Services

Mick Wallace

Question:

331 Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Social Protection the progress that has been made to date on the development of a case management approach to the pathways to work scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31765/12]

The Pathways to Work Programme comprises five strands, one of which is a commitment to have more regular and on-going engagement with our unemployed customers with a view to assisting them in their return to work. The National Employment and Entitlements Service established within the Department will integrate the benefit payments services of the Department with the employment services formerly with FÁS. This integrated approach is based on a case management approach with the objective of providing a more customised and personal service to customers.

It is the intention of the Department to profile all new applicants for unemployment payments with a view to assessing their probability of exit from the Live Register. This profiling process is currently being rolled out across the network of the Department's offices and will be completed by the end of October. This is the first step in developing a case management approach across the network of the Department's offices.

The profile of the customer will determine the next set of interactions with them. These interactions will include a group engagement session to set out both the entitlements and responsibilities of the customer and to schedule them for one to one support. The group engagement process is underway in a large number of locations and is scheduled to reach the target of 30,000 people receiving this service by the end of 2012.

Targeted one to one engagement with customers based on their profile is being rolled out as part of the new NEES offices. The development of a case management approach will be an iterative process with improvements being developed as the roll out continues across the network of the Department's Offices. Four offices are currently being prepared to deliver a fully integrated service in Arklow, Sligo, Tallaght and Parnell Street, Dublin. A further 10 offices are scheduled to deliver the service by the end of the year.

Question No. 332 answered with Question No. 330.

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Tom Hayes

Question:

333 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will issue on a claim for jobseeker’s allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31773/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 18th June 2012 and will be referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on 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.

Invalidity Pension

Michael Creed

Question:

334 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will confirm receipt of a valid invalidity pension appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31774/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 13th June 2012. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. When received, the appeal in question 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.

Legal Cases

Timmy Dooley

Question:

335 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will quantify in tabular form, by year of commencement, all legal cases pending against her Department. [31789/12]

There are currently 25 legal cases pending. These are quantified by year of commencement in the following tabular statement.

In addition, there are 28 cases lodged with the State Claims Agency in relation to individual personal injury, health and safety and similar matters. 7 of these relate to 2012, 8 relate to 2011, 5 relate to 2010, 6 to 2009 and 1 each date from 2008 and 2007.

Tabular Statement

Legal Cases Commenced in 2012

Legal cases commenced 2011

Legal Cases Commenced 2010

15 cases pending

6 cases pending

3 cases pending

Legal Cases Commenced in 1999

1 case pending

Rent Supplement Scheme

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

336 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the progress to date in the determination of an appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare who is in urgent need of assistance by way of the rent supplement scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31803/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 19th June 2012. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. When received, the appeal in question 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.

Invalidity Pension

Sean Fleming

Question:

337 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection when an appeal for invalidity pension will be approved in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31819/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 3rd November 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 28th March 2012 and the case has been referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on 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 Benefits

Sean Conlan

Question:

338 Deputy Seán Conlan asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason persons who are made a ward of court are discriminated against when making a social welfare application on the basis that the assets, land they own, but have no control over, are prevented from obtaining any social welfare payment; if she has intention to rectify this injustice by amending the current rules and regulations which apply to these persons; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31826/12]

There is no question of discrimination against persons who are made a Ward of Court. A person who is a Ward of Court is treated in the same manner as any other claimant.

In calculating a person's possible entitlement to a means tested social assistance payment, account is taken of any cash income the person may have, together with the value of property and capital, apart from the family home.

The purpose of the means test is to ensure that resources are targeted most effectively for those who do not have social insurance cover and do not therefore qualify for social insurance payments.

Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance

Barry Cowen

Question:

339 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for back to school clothing and footwear allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in Offaly. [31833/12]

The back to school clothing and footwear allowance (BSCFA) entitlements of some 115,350 families in respect of 205,125 children have now been automatically established with reference to their primary scheme entitlement and with no application form required. Letters have issued to the people identified in this way, informing them of their entitlement and notifying them that payment will issue in week commencing 16 July.

Customers who do not receive an automated payment are required to complete an application form which will be processed from a centralised unit in the Department. A text message acknowledging receipt of application forms will issue to everyone who submits a claim form.

If the person concerned has not already received a letter from the Department they should now complete a claim form and return it to PO Box 131. I can assure the Deputy that every effort will be made to process applications promptly.

Barry Cowen

Question:

340 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for back to school clothing and footwear allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Offaly. [31834/12]

The back to school clothing and footwear allowance (BSCFA) entitlements of some 115,350 families in respect of 205,125 children have now been automatically established with reference to their primary scheme entitlement, with no application form required. Letters have issued to the people identified in this way, informing them of their entitlement and notifying them that payment will issue in week commencing 16 July.

Customers who do not receive an automated payment are required to complete an application form which will be processed from a centralised unit in the Department. A text message acknowledging receipt of application forms will issue to everyone who submits a claim form.

If the person concerned has not already received a letter from the Department they should now complete a claim form and return it to PO Box 131. I can assure the Deputy that every effort will be made to process applications promptly.

Barry Cowen

Question:

341 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for back to school clothing and footwear allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Offaly. [31835/12]

The back to school clothing and footwear allowance (BSCFA) entitlements of some 115,350 families in respect of 205,125 children have now been automatically established with reference to their primary scheme entitlement,with no application form required. Letters have issued to the people identified in this way, informing them of their entitlement and notifying them that payment will issue in week commencing 16 July.

Customers who do not receive an automated payment are required to complete an application form which will be processed from a centralised unit in the Department. A text message acknowledging receipt of application forms will issue to everyone who submits a claim form.

If the persons concerned have not already received a letter from the Department they should now complete a claim form and return it to PO Box 131. I can assure the Deputy that every effort will be made to process applications promptly.

Barry Cowen

Question:

342 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for back to school clothing and footwear allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Offaly. [31836/12]

The back to school clothing and footwear allowance (BSCFA) entitlements of some 115,350 families in respect of 205,125 children have now been automatically established with reference to their primary scheme entitlement, with no application form required. Letters have issued to the people identified in this way, informing them of their entitlement and notifying them that payment will issue in week commencing 16 July.

Customers who do not receive an automated payment are required to complete an application form which will be processed from a centralised unit in the Department. A text message acknowledging receipt of application forms will issue to everyone who submits a claim form.

If the persons concerned have not already received a letter from the Department they should now complete a claim form and return it to PO Box 131. I can assure the Deputy that every effort will be made to process applications promptly.

Barry Cowen

Question:

343 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for back to school clothing and footwear allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Offaly. [31837/12]

The back to school clothing and footwear allowance (BSCFA) entitlements of some 115,350 families in respect of 205,125 children have now been automatically established with reference to their primary scheme entitlement, with no application form required. Letters have issued to the people identified in this way, informing them of their entitlement and notifying them that payment will issue in the week commencing 16 July.

Customers who do not receive an automated payment are required to complete an application form which will be processed from a centralised unit in the Department. A text message acknowledging receipt of application forms will issue to everyone who submits a claim form.

If the person concerned has not already received a letter from the Department she should now complete a claim form and return it to PO Box 131. I can assure the Deputy that every effort will be made to process applications promptly.

Invalidity Pension

James Bannon

Question:

344 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Social Protection when an invalidity pension will be paid, following submission of an application in April, in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Longford as this person’s illness benefit will expire on 12 July 2012. [31839/12]

Invalidity pension is a payment for people who are permanently incapable of work because of illness or incapacity and who satisfy the contribution conditions.

A claim for invalidity pension has been received from the person concerned. In order to establish medical suitability a diagnostic report has issued to the person concerned to be completed by his general practitioner or other treating physician. In order to assist the Department to deal with the claim as efficiently and quickly as possible, it is important for a claimant for invalidity pension to ensure that all relevant and up-to-date supporting medical evidence is submitted to the Department at the outset with this diagnostic report.

The completed report (and supporting evidence, if applicable), once received, will be sent to a medical assessor for an opinion as to his medical suitability. When that opinion is received, the Deciding Officer will be in a position to make a decision on the claim and the person concerned will be notified of the outcome.

Departmental Funding

Paudie Coffey

Question:

345 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide in tabular form the number of persons, non-governmental organisations and quangos that receive remuneration from her Department by way of wages, salaries, pensions, grants and other departmental funding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31863/12]

Paudie Coffey

Question:

346 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide a list in tabular form of every quango and non-governmental organisation that received any moneys from her Department in 2009, 2010 and 2011; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31887/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 345 and 346 together.

On 1st June 2012, there were 6,826 people serving in the Department of Social Protection. Having regard to work sharing arrangements, these occupied the equivalent of 6,435 full-time posts.

The three statutory bodies operating under the aegis of the Department are the Social Welfare Tribunal, the Citizens Information Board (CIB) and the Pensions Board. In addition, the Office of the Pensions Ombudsman comes under the remit of the Department.

The grant payments currently made by the Department relate mainly to the CIB and the Pensions Board.

In 2009, the Department made grant payments to the Family Support Agency. The Family Support Agency is now under the aegis of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

The Department also made grant payments to individual Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) companies up to 2009. From 2010 on, MABS companies have been funded by the CIB, which received substantially increased funding on that account.

The Combat Poverty Agency was incorporated into the Office of Social Inclusion in the Department in July 2009 and transferred to the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs in March 2010. Responsibility for the Office of Social Inclusion transferred back to this Department in May 2011.

Details of grants paid by the Department of Social Protection to organisations providing services on its behalf in the past three years are set out in the table below.

Tabular Statement

Year

Number in Receipt

Organisations

2009

24

Citizens Information BoardMABSCombat Poverty AgencyFamily Support AgencyIrish National Organisation for the UnemployedThe Pensions BoardNorthside Community Law CentreNorth West Roscommon CDP LtdPaul Partnership LimerickCorduff CDPWaterford Women’s Community NetworkBere IslandCounty Leitrim partnershipMayo Intercultural Action LtdFinglas South Community Development programmeWest Offaly PartnershipLifford/Clonleigh Resource CentreEqual Access CDPWolfe Tone CDPBlakestown CDPIorrais Le Cheile CDPFatima Regeneration BoardGort family resource CentreNational Adult Literacy Agency

2010

8

Citizens Information BoardFamily Support AgencyIrish National Organisation for the UnemployedThe Pensions BoardNorthside Community Law CentreHealthy Food For AllCROSSCARECommunity Action Network

2011

4

Citizens Information BoardIrish National Organisation for the UnemployedThe Pensions BoardNorthside Community Law Centre

PRSI Contributions

John Lyons

Question:

347 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a refund in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9 in relation to the overpayment of PRSI contributions. [31904/12]

New arrangements relating to PRSI for public and civil servants came into operation with effect from 6 April 1995. Public and civil servants who had been in employment before 6 April 1995 and continued to be so employed without a break in service were insured at the modified rate of PRSI contribution, Class D, whereas new entrants paid PRSI Class A.

Following on from the 6 April 1995 changes, a number of different departments and Boards applied the incorrect rate of PRSI in certain situations. This resulted in an overpayment of PRSI contributions and an underpayment of pension contributions in respect of the employees concerned.

Where the incorrect class of PRSI has been paid the Department of Social Protection refunds the PRSI contributions where the conditions for refund are met. When a PRSI refund is being calculated any benefits paid to the person on foot of the class A PRSI contributions are deducted from the amount of refund due.

The position in relation to the person concerned is that her employer in the Health Services contacted the Department in November 2011 to clarify the correct contribution class for her employment. It was confirmed that she had been paying the incorrect PRSI class since she was made permanent in 1999. A refund of PRSI in respect of the PRSI class A contributions was sought. However, no refund is due in this case as illness benefit paid out exceeds the amount of PRSI refund available.

A four year limit on the return of PRSI contributions was introduced in the Social Welfare and Pensions (No. 2) Act 2009 and has been in effect since 1 January 2010. The time limit governing the refund of PRSI contributions is in line with the arrangements of the Revenue Commissioners governing the refund of tax.

Pension Provisions

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

348 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if and when a State contributory pension will be granted in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31908/12]

This claim has been examined and the person concerned does not satisfy the qualifying conditions for State pension (contributory) which applied on the date that the person concerned reached pension age (66). These were to:-

have entered insurable employment before attaining the age of 56 years.

have at least 156 paid contribution weeks, since entry into insurance, from employment or self-employment.

have a yearly average of at least 10 paid/credited contributions.

According to the records of the Department, the person concerned has a yearly average of 4 contributions from 1952 to 1996; therefore, she does not satisfy the qualifying conditions for State pension (contributory) as outlined.

At least one year self-employment contributions must be paid prior to the person reaching pension age in order to be reckonable for a State pension (contributory). However, in this case, the self-employment contributions were only paid after reaching the age of 66 years.

Carer’s Allowance

Tom Fleming

Question:

349 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a carer’s allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31916/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 8 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 19 June 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.

Supplementary Welfare Appeals

Patrick Deering

Question:

350 Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will issue on an appeal for supplementary welfare allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31917/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 3 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 12 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.

Family Income Supplement

Colm Keaveney

Question:

351 Deputy Colm Keaveney asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will issue on an appeal for family income supplement payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Galway. [31918/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 11 January 2012. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 1 May 2012 and the case has been referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on 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.

Employment Support Services

Seamus Kirk

Question:

352 Deputy Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Social Protection her plans to reduce the qualifying time in the JobBridge scheme from six months to three months in order that industries, including labour intensive areas, may hire additional staff; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31928/12]

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

362 Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Social Protection if a person (details supplied) in County Offaly may apply for an internship on the JobBridge scheme before being three months in receipt of a social welfare payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32006/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 352 and 362 together.

The National Internship Scheme, JobBridge, was launched in July 2011 and is open to organisations in the public, private and community and voluntary sectors.

The Scheme provides internship opportunities of either six or nine months for unemployed people of all skills levels. The Scheme aims to assist individuals in breaking the cycle where they are unable to get a job without experience by providing them with an opportunity to gain valuable experience and acquire relevant knowledge and skills in a working environment.

Since the Scheme was launched, nearly 8,200 internship placements have commenced. There are currently 4,899 interns undertaking placements and there are in excess of 2,100 internship posts currently advertised on the JobBridge website —www.jobbridge.ie.

Eligibility for the Scheme is currently restricted at those in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance, Jobseekers Benefit, One Parent Family Payment, Disability Allowance or signing for credits for 78 days out of the last 6 months. Time spent on certain Government sponsored training may also be taken into account when calculating eligibility. This is to underline the Department's objective which is to prioritise scarce resources at those in receipt of a live claim or on the Live Register with a view to increasing their chances of accessing employment, training and educational opportunities. The person concerned has been in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance since 26 May 2012. In the circumstances, he will be eligible for a JobBridge placement when he has a claim of 78 days.

Social Welfare Appeals

Sean Fleming

Question:

353 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection when an appeal for mortgage interest supplement will be decided in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Laois; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31930/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 6 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 12 April 2012 and the case will be referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on 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.

Question No. 354 withdrawn.

Carer’s Allowance

Sandra McLellan

Question:

355 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will expedite a carer’s application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31938/12]

I confirm that the Department is in receipt of an application for carer's allowance from the person in question.

On completion of the necessary relating to all aspects of the case a decision will be made and the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

Flood Relief

Brian Stanley

Question:

356 Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Social Protection the amount of financial humanitarian assistance allocated as a result of the flooding last autumn, 24 October 2011, that has been allocated on a national and county wide basis; the average allocation; and if an appeal mechanism exists to challenge unsatisfactory allocations. [31939/12]

In the immediate aftermath of the severe flooding experienced in October 2011, the Government put in place a humanitarian assistance scheme to assist households affected by that flooding.

Since these floods, the Department has been providing individuals with emergency payments to offset their immediate needs such as the purchase of food, clothing, fuel and household goods. Payments have also been made in respect of essential household items such as carpets, flooring, furniture and white goods. Funding towards alternative accommodation costs have also been made in certain cases depending on the circumstances of the families.

Larger payments in respect of longer-term needs, such as assisting with the cost of repairing homes and making them habitable again are also being made. This type of payment will take longer as home owners must first establish the cost of repair and engage a builder to carry out the repairs.

From October 2011 to the end of May 2012, a total of 960 payments have been made at a cost of €760,000, with payments averaging at approximately €790. The majority of these payments were made to customers resident in either Dublin or Monaghan.

Any person continuing to experience hardship as a result of the October 2011 floods should contact the local Department of Social Protection representative administering the supplementary allowance scheme who may be able to offer assistance. The humanitarian assistance scheme is a non-statutory scheme and is not covered under social welfare legislation. It is one of a number of social welfare schemes which operates on an administrative basis. Administrative schemes are not appealable under social welfare legislation. However, where a person is dissatisfied with a decision they can request to have their case reviewed by another officer. This review will be carried out by an officer not involved in the original decision.

Carer’s Allowance

Patrick Nulty

Question:

357 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will expedite an application for carer’s allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; the reason for the delay; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31944/12]

The application for carer's allowance from the person in question was refused originally on the grounds that the means for the carer were deemed to be in excess of the statutory limit.

In response to the submission by the person in question of additional information and a request for a review of the original decision, a revised decision has been made on this case and the person concerned will be notified this week of the outcome.

Departmental Staff

Sean Fleming

Question:

358 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide a list of all allowances and the payment rates of those allowances paid to staff in her Department that are subject to income tax and the list of allowances and the payment rates paid to staff that are not subject to income tax; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31969/12]

The following table sets out the allowances currently in payment in my Department and the rates of each allowance. All of the allowances are taxable except for the Special Investigation Unit allowance which is part taxable and part non-taxable. The value of allowances may be set standard values, percentage based or specific to the individual. The great majority of the Department's staff do not receive any of these allowances.

Allowance

Payment Rates€ per week

Child Allowance

€2.17

Call out Availability

€33.90 (class B); €35.67 (class A) (this amount can be shared between a number of people.)

Private Secretary

€376 for HEO grade; €199.41 for EO grade (retained on a sliding scale)

Telephone Rental

Varies (currently ranges from €2.54-€4.46)

Franking Machine

€32.60 (class B); €34.30 (class A)

Keyholder

€33.90 (class B); €35.67 (class A) (this amount can be shared between a number of people.)

Driving

€43.05

Machine Duties

€32.60

Service Officer Supervisory

€54.08-€61.06

Forklift

€34.49

On Call

Varies according to hours worked.

Special Duty

€148.55 to €358.71 (Depending on posting, retained on sliding scale after special duties cease)

Shift

Varies according to duties and basic pay (currently ranges from €92.69 to €265.50)

Paperkeeper

€61.06

Benefit in Kind Mileage

Varies (based on mileage accrued)

Higher Duty

Varies — (difference between current salary and what would be the salary payable on promotion)

Gaeltacht

Varies but equates to 7.5% of Salary: this applies only to former HSE staff

Dual Responsibility

€71.50 (former HSE staff only)

Cleaning

€65.95 (former HSE staff only)

Training

Varies (currently ranges from €15.23 to €58.02: (former HSE staff only)

Travel

€29.32 (former HSE staff)

Personal To Holder Allowance

Varies (carried over to DSP by former Revenue staff)

Special Investigation Unit

€42.40 at Assistant Principal level and €114.31 at Higher Executive Officer / Executive Officer levels

Question No. 359 withdrawn.

Carer’s Allowance

James Bannon

Question:

360 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a carer’s allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31983/12]

I confirm that the Department is in receipt of an application for carer's allowance from the person in question.

On completion of the necessary investigations relating to all aspects of the case a decision will be made and the person in question will be notified of the outcome.

Question No. 361 withdrawn.
Question No. 362 answered with Question No. 352.

Redundancy Payments

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

363 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Social Protection her views on a statutory redundancy case (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32018/12]

The purpose of the Redundancy Payments Scheme is to compensate workers, under the Redundancy Payments Acts 1967 to 2011, for the loss of their jobs by reason of redundancy.

In the first instance, it is up to the employer to determine if a genuine redundancy situation exists. In general, this means that the job no longer exists and the person is not replaced. This can occur where, for example, an employer requires fewer employees to do work of a particular kind, where a company goes into liquidation or receivership, where it is decided to rationalise a company or firm or where a firm simply closes down.

According to the information supplied, the person concerned retired early due to ill health. A person who voluntarily resigns or is dismissed for alleged misconduct or resigns due to ill-health, would not satisfy the legislative conditions governing the redundancy scheme and so could not be viewed to have been dismissed by reason of redundancy. Accordingly, such a person would not be entitled to a statutory redundancy payment.

Sick Pay Scheme

Jack Wall

Question:

364 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection her views on a submission regarding statutory sick pay (details supplied); her plans to address the concerns raised; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32019/12]

Paschal Donohoe

Question:

365 Deputy Paschal Donohoe asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide a progress report on proposals to introduce a statutory sick pay scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32034/12]

Finian McGrath

Question:

377 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection her views on correspondence regarding statutory sick pay (details supplied). [32260/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 364, 365 and 377 together.

The question of introducing a scheme of statutory sick pay, whereby employers would directly meet the costs of sick absence for an initial period of illness is being considered in the context of the need to reform the social welfare system to bring it into line with practices in other countries in this area; the need to address the deficit in the social insurance fund; the need to limit progression from short-term illness to long-term illness or disability; and in the wider context of enhancing the health of the workforce and addressing levels of absenteeism.

A report of a consultative seminar on the feasibility and implications of introducing a scheme of statutory sick pay held in February 2012 is now available on the Department's website athttp://www.welfare.ie/EN/Policy/CorporatePublications/Finance/exp_rev/Pages/consultation.aspx.

Amongst other things, the report reflects the concerns expressed by organisations representing smaller enterprises, such as those raised in the correspondence received by the Deputies, and these very real concerns will be taken into account as the range of complex issues associated with the introduction of such a scheme continue to be considered.

The issues involved will be discussed in the course of the wider process associated with the preparation of Budget 2013 and any decisions which might be taken by Government on the possible introduction of a statutory sick pay scheme will be considered in that context.

Question No. 366 withdrawn.

Disability Allowance

Noel Coonan

Question:

367 Deputy Noel Coonan asked the Minister for Social Protection when an application for disability allowance appeal will be finalised in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32117/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 6th December 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on the 18th April 2012 and the case has been referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on 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.

Departmental Staff

Alan Farrell

Question:

368 Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of appeals officers working in the appeals office at the moment; the number of cases assigned to each officer at this time; the number of applications awaiting assignment to an appeals officer; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32169/12]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that there are 39 Appeals Officers working in the Appeals Office. A new Appeals Officer has just been appointed and will take up duty within the coming weeks. In order to ensure the smooth running of the appeal system, cases are issued to the Appeals Officers on a staggered basis. Therefore the number of cases assigned to individual Appeals Officers at a given point in time will vary considerably. Overall, there are currently 3081 cases assigned to Appeals Officers with a further 3,252 awaiting assignment.

Social Welfare Appeals

Alan Farrell

Question:

369 Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Social Protection the turnaround time for appealing social welfare decisions; the measures being considered or implemented to reduce this time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32170/12]

Based on figures to the end of June 2012, the current average turnaround time for appeals dealt with by way of a summary decision is 26 weeks, and for those requiring an oral hearing is 40 weeks. These processing times are calculated from the registration date of the appeal to the date of its finalisation and include all activities during this period including time spent in the Department for comments by the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal put forward by the appellant and any further investigation, examination or assessment by the Department's Inspectors and Medical Assessors that is deemed necessary. A considerable period of time is added to the process when an oral hearing is required because of the logistics involved in this process.

In an effort to reduce the processing times, the Department has appointed an additional Appeals Officer who will be taking up duty in the coming weeks. Her appointment brings to 13 the number of additional Appeals Officers appointed since 2010. These are in addition to a further 10 Appeals Officers, formerly employed by the Community Welfare Services (CWS) of the Health Services Executive who joined the Office as part of the integration of the CWS appeals services into the Social Welfare Appeals Office. This brings the total number of Appeals Officers to 40. I am assured by the Chief Appeals Officer that she is keeping the methods of operation by which the Social Welfare Appeals Office conducts its business under constant review, and that the processes are continuously being enhanced to reduce the backlogs in the Office and, overall, to reduce the processing times for dealing with appeals.

Community Employment Schemes

Anne Ferris

Question:

370 Deputy Anne Ferris asked the Minister for Social Protection the arrangements being put in place regarding funding for community employment schemes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32171/12]

All CE projects are currently being notified individually of their revised allocations for materials and training. Under the revised arrangements, schemes will no longer be given universal amounts of financial support but instead will be provided with a specific level of support aimed at meeting the particular costs necessarily incurred by them, having regard to the overall level of funding available for CE nationally.

Domiciliary Care Allowance

Billy Kelleher

Question:

371 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a domiciliary care appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32176/12]

An application for domiciliary care allowance was received from the person concerned on the 11th November 2011. This application was referred to one of the Department's Medical Assessors who found that the child was not medically eligible for the allowance. A letter issued on the 7th February 2012 advising of the decision. The person concerned subsequently lodged an appeal against this decision and supplied additional information on the child's condition. As part of the appeal process, the application along with the additional information provided was reviewed by a second Medical Assessor who found the child to be medically eligible for the allowance. The person concerned was notified of the decision on the 26th March 2012 and the allowance is now in payment.

Supplementary Welfare Allowance

Jack Wall

Question:

372 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an appeal against the decision to refuse an application for supplementary welfare allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32195/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 12 June 2012. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. When received, the appeal in question will be referred in 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.

Redundancy Payments

Damien English

Question:

373 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding redundancy repayments in respect of persons (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32197/12]

The purpose of the redundancy payments scheme is to compensate workers, under the Redundancy Payments Acts, for the loss of their jobs by reason of redundancy. Compensation is based on the worker's length of reckonable service and reckonable weekly remuneration subject to a ceiling of €600.00 per week. It is the responsibility of the employer to pay statutory redundancy to all their eligible employees. An employer who pays statutory redundancy payments to their employees is then entitled to a partial rebate from the State. Where an employer can prove an inability to pay statutory redundancy payments to its eligible employees, lump sum payments are paid directly to those employees. Both rebates and lump sums are paid from the Social Insurance Fund.

I am very concerned about the deficit in the Social Insurance Fund. While the Social Insurance Fund is constituted primarily from employer contributions, the taxpayers' contribution is also significant. Significant and increasing amounts have been paid out in redundancy rebates to employers from the SIF in recent years. €152.2 million was paid out in rebates to employers in 2006; €167.4 million was paid in 2007; €161.8 million was paid in 2008; €247.9 million in 2009; €373.2 million in 2010 and €185.3 million in 2011. The amounts paid out in lump sums to employees have also increased.

One of the factors which influenced the Government's decision to revise the rebate rate was the significant cost. In the context of the Budget 2012 deliberations it was decided that the 60% rebate was not sustainable in the current economic climate. As a result, the level of the rebate was reduced to 15% where the date of dismissal for the purposes of redundancy occurred on or after 1 January 2012. In the case of the company concerned the redundancies occurred after that date. While the reduction in the rebate rate may cause difficulties for employers it should be noted that redundancy rebate payments to employers are not common in many EU and other jurisdictions. The new arrangements bring Ireland more closely into line with practice in other countries.

Carer’s Allowance

Simon Harris

Question:

374 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Social Protection the plans in place to rectify the delay being experienced by persons applying for carer’s allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32212/12]

The Department is committed to delivering the best possible service to its customers. Currently the average time taken to award a carer's allowance application is 28 weeks. There are approximately 8,650 new carer's allowance applications registered and awaiting a decision. I acknowledge that the time taken to process carer's allowance claims at present is not satisfactory but I am satisfied that the Department is taking action to resolve the situation.

A major service delivery modernisation project is underway to improve the efficiency of administration of the carer's allowance scheme. This involves the deployment of information technology solutions and associated business process re-organisation. It is anticipated that the new system will introduce significant processing efficiencies and a quicker and more responsive service to the customers. Significant internal resources have been invested in the development and rollout of the new computer system over the past 18 months or so. Full deployment of the new system for carer's allowance has now completed. In tandem with this implementation of the new system, a comprehensive business process improvement exercise has recently commenced, the focus of which is to optimise performance and provide improved customer service. However it is expected to be a number of months before the backlog is reduced to an acceptable level.

Appointments to State Boards

Timmy Dooley

Question:

375 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Social Protection the names of all appointments made to State boards under her remit; the boards to which they were appointed since March 2011; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32247/12]

The three statutory bodies operating under the aegis of the Department of Social Protection are the Social Welfare Tribunal, the Citizens Information Board and the Pensions Board. In addition, the Office of the Pensions Ombudsman (which does not have a board) comes under the remit of the Department.

Social Welfare Tribunal

The Tribunal consists of a Chairman and four ordinary members, two on the nomination of Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) and two nominated by Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC). There has been one appointment made to the Tribunal since March 2011. One of ICTU members resigned in 2011 and on the nomination of ICTU a replacement member, Ms Chris Rowland, was appointed by me from 24 October 2011.

Citizens Information Board

I have made two appointments to the Citizens Information Board since coming into office. Mr. Eugene McErlean was appointed with effect from 7 September 2011. This followed my public request for expressions of interest from suitably qualified and experienced individuals announced in July 2011. On 1 November 2011, I appointed Ms Fiona Ward as the Department's representative on the board.

Pensions Board

I have not made any appointments to The Pensions Board. A new Board was appointed on 21st December 2010 for a period of five years. There are currently two vacancies on the Pensions Board. According to Section 23 of The Pensions Act 1990 as amended, the Board may act notwithstanding one or more than one vacancy among its members.

Rent Supplement Scheme

Stephen S. Donnelly

Question:

376 Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 83 of 20 June 2012, in which she stated that documentation is normally required showing that a joint custody arrangement is in place and being availed of before a decision can be made on rent supplement, if she has issued any instruction; or if her attention has been drawn to any instruction being issued in her Department, that the only documentation that will be accepted in these cases is a court order; if such instruction has been issued, if she will rescind same; if she will specify the forms of documentation that will fulfil this requirement to prove that a joint custody arrangement is in place; and if the latter does not already include a letter form a solicitor, if she will ensure that this is now included as acceptable. [32250/12]

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.

As previously advised every claim for rent supplement is determined having regard to the particular circumstances of the applicant and in a case where parents have joint custody of a child, the needs of both parents to have adequate accommodation are taken into account when an application for a rent supplement is being determined. While documentation is normally required showing that a joint custody arrangement is in place, and being availed of, before a decision can be made, it is a matter for the officer administering the scheme to determine the form of documentation required having regard to the specifics of each case. My Department has not issued any instruction to officers administering the rent supplement scheme on the documentation required for claims where the applicant has joint custody of a child.

Question No. 377 answered with Question No. 364.

Domiciliary Care Allowance

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

378 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if and when a decision will be made in respect of an appeal for domiciliary care allowance lodged by a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32265/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 18 October 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 17 January 2012 and 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.

Carer’s Allowance

John McGuinness

Question:

379 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social Protection the status of an application for carer's allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if she will expedite a positive response [32268/12]

I confirm that the department is in receipt of an application for carer's allowance from the person in question. In the interests of fairness and equity, applications are dealt with by the Department as far as possible in the order in which they are received. On completion of the necessary work relating to all aspects of the case a decision will be made and the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

Domiciliary Care Allowance

Mattie McGrath

Question:

380 Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will issue on a domiciliary care allowance application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32308/12]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an oral hearing of the appeal of the person concerned took place on 13th June 2012 and the Appeals Officer is now considering the appeal in the light of all the evidence submitted, including that adduced at the hearing. The person concerned will be notified of the Appeals Officer decision when the appeal has been determined. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Invalidity Pension

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

381 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the progress to date on a review of an application for invalidity pension in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32351/12]

Invalidity pension is a payment for people who are permanently incapable of work because of illness or incapacity and who satisfy the contribution conditions. This department received a claim for invalidity pension for the person concerned. The medical evidence provided by the claimant in support of her claim was examined by a medical assessor who expressed the opinion that the person concerned was not eligible for invalidity pension as she does not satisfy the medical criteria. Subsequently, the application for invalidity pension was disallowed by a deciding officer. The person in question was notified of this decision and the reason for it.

Further medical evidence was subsequently submitted by the claimant. This additional evidence, along with the original information, was evaluated by a different medical assessor who expressed the opinion that the person concerned does not satisfy the medical criteria. The deciding officer found that there were no grounds to overturn the original decision to disallow invalidity pension and the person concerned was notified of the outcome of this review on 26 June 2012.

Domiciliary Care Allowance

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

382 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Social Protection the date on which a decision will be made on the oral hearing of a domiciliary care allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan; when notification of same will be made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32407/12]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer having fully considered all the available evidence, including that adduced at oral hearing, allowed the appeal of the person concerned who has been notified of the decision. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

383 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Social Protection the average and longest length of waiting times for domiciliary care allowance appeals, from the time of oral hearing to the notification of decision; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32408/12]

On the basis of figures for the first half of 2012, the overall average times taken to process domiciliary care allowance appeals decided by summary decision was 29 weeks and 42 weeks for those requiring an oral hearing. These processing times are calculated from the registration date of the appeal to the date of its finalisation including, in cases requiring an oral hearing, the time between the date of the hearing and the time taken to issue the decision. This period usually comprises a period for reflection by the Appeals Officer on all of the evidence presented, both documentary and adduced at the oral hearing. Statistics on the average and longest length of waiting times for domiciliary care allowance appeals in regard to this period is not maintained. However, unless there are issues to be addressed and clarified which further delay the process, decisions, in general, are usually issued within about 4 weeks of the hearing.

Question No. 384 withdrawn.

School Meals Programme

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

385 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide a comparison of the funding each gaelscoil receives per child in respect of school lunches and snacks, with other schools in the Dublin north west area; and if they receive equal funding per child. [32414/12]

The school meals programme operated by the Department provides funding towards the provision of food services for disadvantaged children through two schemes. The first is the statutory urban school meals scheme, operated by local authorities and part-financed by this Department. The second is the school meals local projects schemes through which funding is provided directly to participating schools and local and voluntary community groups who run their own school meals projects. Details of the options available under the school meals local projects scheme and rates of payment per meal type are shown in the following tabular statement. The amounts payable per meal does not vary between different school types.

School Meals Programme — Food options and payment per child

Meal

Food Options

Breakfast/Snack

€0.60

Cereal, Toast, Scone, Fruit, Yogurt, Milk, Juice-2 Items must be provided

Lunch

€1.40

Filled Sandwich/Roll or Soup and Roll or Salad Plate, plus 2 other items (eg Milk, Juice, Fruit, Yogurt)

Dinner

€1.90

Meat, Potatoes and Vegetables or Chicken Curry or Spaghetti Bolognaise, plus a drink (Milk, Juice, Water)

Employment Support Services

Michael McCarthy

Question:

386 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application under the JobBridge programme in respect of a company (details supplied) in County Cork; if there is any means by which the application could be approved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32417/12]

The company concerned had an internship placement for a 9 month period from 19th September 2011 to 15th June 2012. The company employs 10 full-time employees which allows them to facilitate one intern at any one time. It is a stipulation of the JobBridge programme that once an internship has surpassed 3 months in duration and the host organisation have reached their quota they cannot, without first hiring a paid employee, avail of another intern in the same broad area of activity until a 6 month cooling-off period has elapsed. This is an important obligatory clause which serves to restrict the possibility of host organisations engaging interns on a rolling basis to offset the need to fill an opening with a salaried employee.

Question No. 387 withdrawn.

Invalidity Pension

Pat Breen

Question:

388 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32435/12]

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 on 19th July 2012. The person concerned has been notified of the arrangements for the 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.

Question No. 389 withdrawn.

Jobseeker’s Benefit

Willie Penrose

Question:

390 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding the proposed changes in the eligibility criteria for jobseeker’s benefit as set out in budget 2012; when it is envisaged that these proposed changes will be implemented; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32459/12]

Budget 2012 provided for a change in payment week for jobseeker's benefit. Where a benefit recipient is working part-time or in casual employment their benefit entitlement will be calculated with reference to a 5 day, rather than a 6 day, week. In line with other Budget measures the effect of this measure will not impact on any person whose sole income is from social welfare. It will only apply to those who have earned additional income from working some days during the week.

The effect of this measure will be to reduce the contribution from jobseeker's benefit to the weekly amount of total income and help towards a reduction in the reliance on the welfare system among those who currently avail of a mix of welfare and earned income. As a savings measure, the change will reduce costs within the jobseeker's benefit scheme but the scheme will continue to deliver incentives towards additional employment for part-time and casual workers. It is important to note that the measure applies to jobseeker's benefit only and that recipients of jobseeker's benefit may opt for jobseeker's allowance, which is subject to a means test. This measure will be implemented from 26 July 2012.

The Budget also provided for the inclusion of Sunday working when calculating the amount of jobseeker's benefit/allowance payable. This measure is due to be implemented in 2013.

Gender Recognition

Stephen S. Donnelly

Question:

391 Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Social Protection in view of the fact that it is now just over two years since the Government accepted the High Court declaration that the failure to grant legal recognition to a person (details supplied) in her female gender was a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights; if she will explain the delay in introducing legislation to provide for legal recognition of transgender persons and when this legislation will be introduced. [32460/12]

In order to comply with the High Court judgement the Minister for Social Protection established the Gender Recognition Advisory Group (GRAG) in 2010 to advise the Government on the legislation required to give legal recognition to the acquired gender of transgender persons. The Report of the Group, which recommends a scheme for the legal recognition of transgender persons, was approved by the Government on 12 July 2011, and was subsequently published on 14 July 2011.

Since the publication of the Report, the Department has been working on developing draft Heads of a Bill. In this context, it has engaged in discussions with the relevant medical health professionals and with representatives from interested NGOs. The Department has also sought advice from the Office of the Attorney General on the main issues arising in the context of these meetings. These discussions, and the advice that is received from the Office of the Attorney General, will continue to inform the drafting of the Heads of the Bill.

It is not possible to be definitive at this stage about when I will be in a position to introduce legislation to give legal recognition to the acquired gender of transgender persons as the issues are complex. Upon receipt of the legal advice sought, the Department will be in a better position to give a timeframe for the completion of the draft Heads of the Bill.

Toghcháin d’Údarás na Gaeltachta

Dara Calleary

Question:

392 D’fhiafraigh Dara Calleary den Áire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta maidir le luach €500,000 de choigiltis atá luaite leis an mBille Gaeltachta agus a éireoidh as deireadh a chur le toghcháin Údarás na Gaeltachta, cé mhéid coigilteas airgid a bheadh i gceist dá mbeadh toghcháin an Údaráis ar siúl an lá céanna le toghcháin na gComhairlí Contae. [31621/12]

Nuair a thógtar san áireamh na costais iomlána a bhaineann le toghcháin a reáchtáil d'Údarás na Gaeltachta, ar a n-áirítear costais foirne, fógraíochta, taistil, iompair, aistriúcháin, clódóireachta etc., chomh maith le costais cionroinnte leis na húdaráis áitiúla, meastar nach mbeadh an oiread sin difríochta idir an costas a bhainfeadh le toghcháin d'Údarás na Gaeltachta a reáchtáil leo féin agus an costas a bhainfeadh lena reáchtáil ar an lá céanna leis na toghcháin áitiúla.

Irish Language

John Deasy

Question:

393 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will provide details of the total expenditure by his Department on providing services through the Irish language in each of the past five years. [31620/12]

I assume that the Deputy is referring to expenditure incurred by my Department on the maintenance and promotion of Irish, including expenditure by bodies, such as Foras na Gaeilge and Údarás na Gaeltachta, which support the provision of a range of services through Irish in the Gaeltacht and to the public generally. As the Deputy is aware, the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht was established on 2 June 2011. The tables set out the provisional outturns for 2011 in relation to the Irish language, including expenditure in that year by the then Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs, as well as the spend in 2012 to 30 June.

2011

2011 Provisional Outturns per REV (including D/CEGA)

Irish Language, Gaeltacht and Islands Programme Expenditure

45,949,000.00

North-South Programme Expenditure

15,873,000.00

Administration Subhead (Translation Costs) Expenditure

4,794.91

Total 2011

61,826,794.91

2012

Spend to June 30

Irish Language, Gaeltacht and Islands Programme Expenditure

11,575,296.99

North-South Programme Expenditure

6,114,028.74

Administration Subhead (Translation Costs) Expenditure

1,156.23

Total 2012 to date

17,690,481.96

Total Spend 2011 and 2012 (to date)

79,517,276.87

The Deputy will also be aware that monitoring and management of my Department's expenditure is carried out on a routine basis and, as such, these expenditure figures are provisional and subject to verification internally through my Department's financial management system and, ultimately, by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Legal Cases

Timmy Dooley

Question:

394 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will quantify in tabular form, by year of commencement, all legal cases pending against his Department. [31777/12]

The table below sets out, in tabular form, the number of legal cases pending against my Department, by year of commencement.

Year of commencement

Number of legal cases

2001

1

2003

1

2007

1

2008

1

2009

1

2010

2

2011

5

2012

1

Turbary Rights

John O'Mahony

Question:

395 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht further to Parliamentary Question No 292 of 7 February 2012 and Parliamentary Question 249 of 8 May 2012, the progress made on this case; when a decision will issue and when the applicant may expect payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31804/12]

The individual referred to in the Deputy's Question applied to sell his interest in land within a site designated as a special area of conservation, under the voluntary bog purchase scheme administered by my Department.

In the light of the delays which have arisen in relation to the voluntary bog purchase scheme, I decided that applicants could, if they wished, transfer instead to the compensation scheme established by my Department for those affected by the cessation of turf cutting on raised bog special areas of conservation. This allows applicants to retain ownership of their land holding or rights, while availing of compensation. Officials from my Department wrote to the individual referred to in the Deputy's Question in April to offer him this option, if he wished.

As contracts for sale had been received by my Department, these have recently been forwarded to the Chief State Solicitor's Office to progress the sale.

Departmental Funding

Paudie Coffey

Question:

396 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will provide in tabular form the number of persons, non-governmental organisations and quangos that receive remuneration from his Department by way of wages, salaries, pensions, grants and other departmental funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31864/12]

Paudie Coffey

Question:

397 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will provide a list in tabular form of every quango and non-governmental organisation that received any moneys from his Department in 2009, 2010 and 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31876/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 396 and 397 together.

As the Deputy will be aware, my Department was established on 2 June 2011. It oversees and has policy responsibility for the conservation, preservation, protection, development and presentation of Ireland's heritage and culture. My Department also seeks to promote the Irish language, to support the Gaeltacht and to assist the sustainable development of island communities. Information in relation to the wide-ranging functions of my Department, as well as the programmes and schemes operated by it, can be found on my Department's website atwww.ahg.gov.ie.

A number of State bodies and agencies with responsibilities relating to various aspects of my Department's remit are funded from within my Department's Vote Group, together with a wide range of other bodies and organisations. It would not be feasible to provide the broad sweep of information requested by the Deputy in the context of a Parliamentary Question. However, if the Deputy has a particular question in relation to a specific body or issue, I would be glad to seek to provide the relevant information.

Departmental Staff

Sean Fleming

Question:

398 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will provide a list of all allowances and the payment rates of those allowances paid to staff in his Department that are subject to income tax and the list of allowances and the payment rates paid to staff that are not subject to income tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31957/12]

A list of the allowances and current rates of allowances payable to certain categories of staff in my Department is set out as follows. Allowances are subject to tax with the exception of the eating on site allowance, footwear allowance and the subsistence allowance. For completeness, I should add that a small number of staff in my Department are in receipt of an allowance for the performance of higher duties. The rates payable in these instances relates to the staff member's grade and point on the payscale. It may be noted that allowances, including those listed as follows, are currently under review by the Department of Expenditure and Public Reform.

Allowance

Rate

Payable

Office Accommodation allowance

€19.96 Rate A€12.77 Rate B

Weekly

Housing allowance

€117.26 (post ‘95 entrants)€111.37 (pre ‘95 entrants)

Fortnightly

Senior Rangers allowance

€84.34

Fortnightly

Delegates allowance

Variable

As required

Sunday Premium

Related to salary

As required

Public Holiday

Related to salary

As required

On Call allowance

€19 per week, additional €48.75 per callout

As required

Security allowance

€18.08

Weekly

Personal to holder (Supervisor Guide Glenveigh)

€2,174.64

Annually

Tool allowance

€844

Annually

Meal allowance

€2.11

Daily

Uniform allowance

€199.50

Annually

Weekend (Saturday) allowance

€10.50 (attendance > 4 hours)€5.25 (attendance < 4 hours)

As required

Head Guide allowance

€58.91

Weekly

Senior Foreman allowance

€15.32

Weekly

Personal to holder allowance (General Operative)

€46.97

Weekly

Eating on site allowance

€1.71

Daily

Subsistence allowance

€2.39

As required

Children’s allowance

€113

Annually

Private Secretary to Minister/Minister of State

€20,685 (post ‘95 entrants)€19,653 (pre ‘95 entrants)

Annually

Driving allowance

€2,587

Annually

Franking allowance (Full)

€1,701

Annually

Franking allowance (Half)

€895 (post ‘95 entrants)€850 (pre ‘95 entrants)

Annually

Keyholder

€1, 861 (post ‘95 entrants)€1,769 (pre ‘95 entrants)

Annually

Switchboard allowance

€1,701

Annually

Supervisor (Service Officer)

€2,705

Annually

Footwear allowance

€65

Annually

Paperkeeper

€3,353 (post ‘95 entrants)€3,187 (pre ‘95 entrants)

Annually

Private Secretary to head of Department

€10,951

Annually

Special Duty — Maoirseoir Tithe

€1,855

Annually

Former Revenue Commissioners Staff

Allowance Personal To Holder Inspector of Taxes

Range of €890 — €6,128

Annually

Allowance Personal To Holder CO

Range of €792 — €5,887 (post ‘95 entrants)Range of €755 — €5,593 (pre ‘95 entrants)

Annually

Allowance Personal To Holder Higher Tax Officer

Range €825 — €5,048

Annually

Special Areas of Conservation

Luke 'Ming' Flanagan

Question:

399 Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he stands over his statement that 30% of the protected bogs had already been irrevocably damaged; the reason we should try to protect these bogs if they are irrevocably damaged; if he will name those bogs which he believes to be irrevocably damaged; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32026/12]

The context of the statement referred to by the Deputy related to the Raised Bog Monitoring Project 2004-05 (Fernandez, F, Fanning, M, McCorry, M & Crowley W), which concluded that there had been an overall one-third decrease in the area ofactive raised bog habitat on 48 sites studied over a ten year period. Active raised bog (habitat type 7110), which is a priority habitat under the Habitats Directive, is the area where conditions are right for typical species of raised bog flora and fauna to thrive and for peat to form. This area is very sensitive to drainage arising from turf-cutting and other pressures.

Turf-cutting directly removes one protected habitat type — degraded raised bog still capable of natural regeneration and reduces the area of active raised bog through its effects on the water levels on the high bog. The report noted that while only 1-2% of the high bog had been cut away over the study period, the impact on active raised bog was far more dramatic. The face bank cutting causes direct drainage effects on the adjacent high bog and further drainage is required to dry the spreadground. These drainage effects severely impact active raised bog and evidence of this impact can be regularly observed several hundred meters from the face bank.

Areas of active raised bogs may be restored through blocking drains and other works so that peat formation conditions return — that is, if bogs are not damaged beyond repair. Peat lost by cutting would take thousands of years to recover. Continued cutting and drainage makes restoration more difficult and, unless action is taken now, it is clear that much of Ireland's remaining raised bog habitat will be irrevocably lost.

Willie Penrose

Question:

400 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will outline the level of consultation and discussions he has had with the EU and the Commission in relation to ensuring that areas designated as national heritage areas are not subject to such restrictions that could inhibit persons from harvesting turf for their own use, and in particular that his Department would progress these discussions to a definitive conclusion, which would facilitate persons to utilise these areas for turf cutting without restriction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32201/12]

In May 2010, the then Government decided that turf-cutting should come to an end on all raised bog Natural Heritage Areas (NHAs). The Programme for Government undertook to review the situation with regard to NHAs and the future of turf-cutting on such sites will be considered as part of that review.

It is expected that the review will be completed prior to the commencement of the 2014 turf-cutting season.

Relevant issues in relation to EU law will be fully explored with the European Commission as part of the review process.

Appointments to State Boards

Timmy Dooley

Question:

401 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the names of all appointments made to State boards under his remit; the boards to which they were appointed since March 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32235/12]

The information requested by the Deputy in relation to board appointments since March 2011 is reflected in the table.

Body

Appointments since March 2011

National Gallery of Ireland

Fred Krehbiel

National Concert Hall

Kieran Tobin (Chair)Dearbhla CollinsJohn McGraneLaurie CearrGina MenziesBruce ArnoldMargaret RyanRay BatesAlma HynesArtemis KentDeborah KelleherPeter McEvoyPat HeneghanRachel HolsteadPatricia Slavin

Chester Beatty Library

Patricia DonlonDeclan Downey

Crawford Art Gallery

John Bowen (Chair)Sheila MaguireNoel O’KeefeÚna FeelyJim CorrTim BrosnanTim Lucey

Arts Council

Eimear O’ConnorCiaran WalshMark O’ReganJohn Fanning

*Foras na Gaeilge

Liam Ó Maolmhichíl (Chair)Eoghan Mac CormaicPól CallaghanColm CavanaghÁine Ní ChiaráinBríd Ní ChonghóileLiam KennedySeosamh Mac DonnchadhaTomás Mac EochagáinMarcus Mac RuairiSeán Mícheál Ó DomhnaillDónal Ó hAiniféinTherese RuaneTomás SharkeyCáitríona Ní ShúilleabháinÉamonn Ó Gribín

*Ulster-Scots Agency

Tom Scott(Chair)William LeathamHilary SingletonTrevor WilsonTony CrooksVal O’KellyIda FisherSharon Treacy-Dunne

Heritage Council

Ciara BreathnachTed CreedonCatherine HeaneyFidelma MullaneMichael ParsonsKieran O’Conor

Irish Manuscripts Commission

James McGuire (Chair)Nicholas CannyDavid DicksonDavid EdwardsChris FlynnGreta JonesJames KellyMichael KennedyMáire Mac ConghailJohn McCaffertyAileen McClintockDeirdre McMahonDonal MooreThomas O’ConnorDáibhí Ó CróinínRuan O’DonnellMary O’DowdJane OhlmeyerFiona Ross

National Archives Advisory Council

Paul RouseMary McAuliffe

*Foras na Gaeilge and the Ulster-Scots Agency are agencies of the North South Language Body. The appointments were made by the North South Ministerial Council, on the basis of 50:50 nominations from each jurisdiction.

Energy Prices

Seamus Kirk

Question:

402 Deputy Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if his attention has been drawn to concerns regarding an increase in natural gas prices to the consumer; if he will examine same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32180/12]

Patrick Nulty

Question:

409 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he has entered into discussions with the regulator regarding possible increases in gas prices for consumers, and in particular, the steps he will take to prevent energy poverty as result of any such increase; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31854/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 402 and 409 together.

Responsibility for the regulation of natural gas prices is a matter for the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER), which is an independent statutory body. Bord Gáis Energy's (BGE) gas tariffs for domestic customers continue to be regulated by the CER and reviewed each year. I have no function in the matter.

The largest component of gas prices is the wholesale price of gas. While the international cost of gas fell in 2008 and 2009, wholesale gas prices have been trending significantly upwards in Europe since late 2010. This is driven by geopolitical events in the Middle East and high demand in Asia including Japan in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear incident.

The value of the Euro has decreased considerably against Sterling over the last year. This is a key driver for the likely upward pressure on gas prices given that Ireland purchases virtually all of its gas from Great Britain. Other price pressures include increased financing costs of the networks for BGE, reflecting the high cost of borrowing due to the financial crisis, as well as a reduction in gas volumes as a result of the economic crisis.

The CER and BGE estimate that as a consequence of these factors the increases in wholesale prices are likely to result in increases in gas prices for Irish customers, in October. The extent of the increase has not been quantified as yet. The CER decision to increase regulated gas prices in October 2011 (21.72%) was the first increase in gas prices since September 2008.

Over the coming months the CER will complete its detailed annual review of the BGE tariff. This will involve assessment by the CER of BGE's own submission on gas prices, which has just been received, followed by a consultation beginning in mid July. The level of the likely variation in the tariff will not become clear until BGE's detailed submission is analysed. A decision by the CER is likely to follow at the end of August on whether any variation should be applied to the tariff from 1st October next. In making its decision, the CER will only allow efficient costs and will make every effort to ensure consumers are protected as much as possible. The objective is to ensure that tariffs are cost reflective.

Customers can help reduce the impact of rising prices by shopping around to get the best possible price and service deal from suppliers. They can also take steps to improve the efficiency of their gas usage which delivers demonstrable savings. The CER is also working with gas suppliers to ensure that vulnerable customers are protected through, inter alia, the installation of Pay As You Go meters. The long term policy responses for Ireland to combat vulnerability to high and volatile gas prices continue to be increasing the use of renewables, better energy efficiencies and reducing the reliance of gas in the fuel mix. Implementation of the measures set out in the Government's Energy Affordability Strategy are also key to protecting the interests of vulnerable customers.

The timing for complete deregulation of the residential segment of the gas market, as has taken place in the electricity market, is an issue under active review by the CER. Full deregulation leading to further competition will keep downward pressure on prices for consumers. Ireland is, however, a price taker for gas and the outlook for the European gas market is for a continued rise in the commodity price. Currency exchange trends will continue to have a significant impact, either positive or negative, on gas prices for Ireland.

Water Levels

Luke 'Ming' Flanagan

Question:

403 Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the legislation, Statutory Instrument or other orders under which the water level in Lough Ree was raised in 1979; the authority responsible for controlling the water level at the Athlone weir; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32193/12]

The Electricity (Supply) (Amendment) Act 1934 was enacted for the purpose of ESB further developing the water-storage capacity of Lough Derg, Lough Ree, and Lough Allen on the River Shannon. This legislation remains in effect. There was no statutory order issued specifically in 1979 in respect of Lough Ree.

The 1934 Act allows ESB to draw the water level in Lough Ree to a minimum level of what is referred to as ‘36.88m OD Poolbeg'. OD Poolbeg stands for Ordnance Datum Poolbeg — it is the level above a particular reference point associated with sea level at Poolbeg lighthouse. ESB use OD Poolbeg as a standard in measuring height above sea level.

The level in Lough Ree is about 0.5 m below the level of the weir at Athlone.

Before the increase in the use of leisure craft on the river, the lower level was not a significant issue, but with the increase in the use of the river Shannon as a boating amenity, and the use of various creeks and islands on the lake, there were many complaints from boat owners in the late 1960's and early 1970's of low levels in Lough Ree during the boating season.

As a consequence, in the early 1970's, ESB agreed to maintain a minimum level in Lough Ree of 37.49m from the beginning of April to mid-August each year, 37.19m from mid August to the beginning of October and 38.66m for the winter period, to facilitate navigation on the lake. This decision was made in consultation with the then Department of Transport and Power, the OPW and other stakeholders on the Shannon. This arrangement protects against lake levels going too low for navigation when long dry periods occur. This agreement was formalised in the ESB regulations for the Shannon in 1979.

It should be pointed out that ESB has no interest in maintaining levels in Lough Ree for electricity generation purposes.

The weir at Athlone is owned by Waterways Ireland and operated under instruction from ESB. Its purpose is to assist in maintaining a minimum level on Lough Ree.

Irish Language

John Deasy

Question:

404 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will provide details of the total expenditure by his Department on providing services through the Irish language in each of the past five years. [31624/12]

My Department spent €77,000 approximately in translation and interpretation costs over the past five years broken down as follows: 2007: €27,295; 2008: €17,768; 2009: €9,646; 2010: €16,790; 2011: €5,514. In addition there would have been an element of expenditure related to Irish language requirements across a range of expenditure areas e.g. salaries, printing of reports and statutory instruments, maintenance of website, etc. that is not broken down separately.

Broadcasting Services

Michael McCarthy

Question:

405 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if TV3 has decided whether it wishes to be carried on the SAORSAT service; if the broadcaster is required to make the decision before the digital switch over happens or if it is allowed to decide thereafter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31713/12]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Question No. 468 of 22nd May 2012. The position has not changed.

Michael McCarthy

Question:

406 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will list the remaining sites in west Cork which are being dropped from the existing analogue system and which to date still do not have access to digital transmission; the position regarding SAORVIEW or SAORSAT in areas (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31714/12]

Issues relating to the transmission, coverage and availability of SAORVIEW are an operational matter for RTÉ whose obligations are set out in the Broadcasting Act, 2009. As such I have as no role in these matters, including decisions on sites being used for the provision of SAORVIEW.

I have however been informed by SAORVIEW that overall coverage in County Cork has improved with the introduction of the digital service.

SAORVIEW offers 98% population coverage so by itself fully meets RTÉ's legislative obligations for a replacement national digital TV network to replace the analogue TV network when that switches off on 24 October.

As you are aware, RTÉNL gave a presentation at a special briefing I arranged for Oireachtas members on 21st June 2012. During this briefing the differences between analogue and digital terrestrial transmission were explained, for example, digital uses fewer transmission sites but higher transmission power. Also the fact that it is not possible to provided 100% coverage of digital terrestrial television was explained.

At the same presentation, RTÉNL indicated that SAORVIEW coverage will be further enhanced by the addition of a number of new transmitter sites, including areas of West Cork such as Leap, Bandon, Timoleague, Rosscarbery, Drimoleague, and Mount Gabriel. These sites will be live from October 1st 2012. Further information on coverage is available on the SAORVIEW coverage checker onwww.saorview.ie.

The development and provision of SAORSAT satellite platform is a purely commercial decision by RTÉ and not one in which I have a function. Information on SAORSAT, approved SAORSAT equipment, technical specification and information on professional installation is also available on the SAORVIEW website,www.saorview.ie and also on the RTÉ Networks Limited (RTÉNL) website, www.rtenl.ie.

Legal Cases

Timmy Dooley

Question:

407 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will quantify in tabular form, by year of commencement, all legal cases pending against his Department. [31779/12]

The information which the Deputy requested is set out in tabular form.

Year of Commencement

Legal Case

1999

De Braam Mineral Water Co Ltd -v- BHP World Exploration Inc., Priority Drilling Ltd., Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Ireland and the Attorney General.

2001

Comcast International Holdings Incorporated. Declan Ganly, Ganly International Limited and GCI Limited -v- The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources

2001

Persona Digital Telephony Limited and Sigma Wireless Networks Limited -v- the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources

2002

Digital Rights Ireland Ltd. -v- Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Minister for Justice Equality and Law Reform, and the Garda Commissioner

2005

Shell E&P Ireland Limited -v- Philip McGrath, James B Philbin, Willie Corduff, Monica Muller, Brid McGarry and Peter Sweetman. The State has been joined in proceedings by way of counterclaims on the basis of the validity of the Department’s consents and CAO.

2006

Naseema Hussain Gheewala -v-The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources

2006

Member of staff -v- Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources

2011

Phone Paid Services Association Limited and 4 Others -v- Ireland, The Attorney General, The Minister for Communications and The Commission for Communications Regulation

2011

Case brought by a member of staff which is before the Equality Tribunal -v- Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources

2012

Member of staff -v- Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources

Offshore Exploration

Patrick Nulty

Question:

408 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the steps he is taking to implement the recommendations of the report of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Communications, Natural Resources and Agricultures on offshore oil and gas exploration, in particular the recommendation for an increase in royalty payments to the State from multi-national companies extracting oil and gas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31853/12]

I welcome the recent publication by the Joint Committee on Communications, Natural Resources and Agriculture of its report on offshore oil and gas exploration. The report is a detailed document running to almost 130 pages and makes a total of 11 recommendations. On initial consideration, I can see merit in a number of the recommendations and look forward to discussing the report in more detail in the weeks and months ahead.

In relation to taxation, the report recognises there is a balance to be struck between maximising revenue to the State and incentivising companies to invest in exploration in the Irish offshore. The report goes on to recommend that the rate of tax applying to petroleum production in Ireland should be increased to between 40% and 80%, depending on the profitability of the field. It seems that factors such as high oil prices and advances in exploration technology were key considerations influencing this recommendation. However, high oil prices will not make Ireland any more or less attractive as a location for investment, compared to other countries with oil and gas potential.

Ireland's petroleum potential is largely unproven and this is likely to remain the case until there is a significant increase in the level of exploration activity from the current level of one to two exploration wells per year. While I look forward to debating all of the recommendations in the report in more detail, I remain to be convinced how doubling the maximum tax rate will help attract much need exploration investment to Ireland.

Question 409 answered with Question No. 402.

Departmental Staff

Paudie Coffey

Question:

410 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will provide in tabular form the number of persons, non-governmental organisations and quangos that receive remuneration from his Department by way of wages, salaries, pensions, grants and other departmental funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31865/12]

Paudie Coffey

Question:

411 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will provide a list in tabular form of every quango and non-governmental organisation that received any monies from his Department in 2009, 2010 and 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31878/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 410 and 411 together.

Details of funding for the period in question from my Department to organisations under its aegis are set out in the table. In addition, subscriptions are also paid to a number of organisations operating in the sectoral areas for which my Department has responsibility. The annual total of these subscriptions is also set out in the table.

As part of the 2011 Comprehensive Review of Expenditure, my Department identified appropriate savings to be made in these areas over the coming years.

Table

2009€000s

2010€000s

2011€000s

Grant to Radio Telefís Éireann for Broadcasting Licence Fees (Grant-in-Aid) — (Exchequer neutral)

Current: 204,255

Current :195,000

Current: 182,444

Grant to TG4 (Grant-in-Aid)

Current: 35,233Capital: 900Total: 36,133

Current: 32,252Capital: 1,800Total: 34,052

Current: 32, 750Capital: 3,510Total: 36,260

Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (Grant-in-Aid)

Pay: 5,100Non Pay: 3,250Total: 8,350

Pay: 4,340Non Pay: 3,151Total: 7,491

Pay: 4,733Non Pay: 3,030Total: 7,763

Digital Hub Development Agency

Pay: 614Non-Pay: 1,117Capital: 0Total: 1,731

Pay: 609Non-Pay: 951Capital: 704Total: 2,264

Pay: 609Non-Pay: 1,408Capital: 456Total: 2,473

An Post*

Current: 12,444

Current: 11,943

Current: 12,405

Ordnance Survey Ireland (Grant-in-Aid)**

Current: 4,102Capital: 985Total: 5,087

Current: 4,000Capital: 985Total: 4,985

Current: 6,466Capital: 985Total: 7,451

Inland Fisheries Ireland

Pay: 19,540Non Pay: 7,643Capital: 477Total: 27,660

Pay: 17,688Non Pay: 6,302Capital: 391Total: 24,381

Pay: 17,633Non Pay: 6,517Capital: 825Total: 24,975

Loughs Agency of the Foyle Carlingford Irish Lights Commission

Pay: 1,184Non Pay: 671Capital: 527Total: 2,382

Pay: 804Non Pay: 1,195Capital: 190Total: 2,189

Pay: 1,375Non Pay: 800Capital: 417Total: 2,592

Subscriptions to Organisations

Current: 296

Current: 373

Current: 299

* Vote neutral, payment for collection of the television licence fee

** Payment increased in 2011 to meet OSi pension liability

Sean Fleming

Question:

412 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will provide a list of all allowances and the payment rates of those allowances paid to staff in his Department that are subject to income tax and the list of allowances and the payment rates paid to staff that are not subject to income tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31959/12]

The table lists the taxable allowances paid to staff in my Department; there are no non-taxable allowances paid to staff in the Department. The allowances and corresponding amounts in each case are as approved centrally by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Allowances

Modified Rate

PPC Rate

Child (Annual per child)

€113

Franking Machine (Weekly)Full (15 or more hours)Half (less than 15 hours)

€32.60€16.30

€34.29€17.15

Machine (Weekly)

€34.32

€36.09

Keyholder (Weekly)

€33.90

€35.67

Private Secretary (Annual)Minister/Minister of StateSecretary General

€19,653€10,405

€20,685€10,951

Delegate

First Night

Night 2 to 4

Saturday, Sunday, Public Holiday

Chairperson

Salary— up to HEO level— between HEO and €125,000— above €125,000

€103.69€218.89€211.98

€34.57€64.52€62.49

—€80.65€78.10

€80.65€80.85€78.10

Annual Personal to Holder (APTH) payment relating to integration of grades in the Revenue Commissioners is payable while the officer remains in his/her current grade level. A small number of staff who moved to this Department from the Revenue Commissioners are entitled to the APTH payment. The APTH rates are linked to salary scales.

Broadcasting Services

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

413 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the position regarding financial assistance (details supplied) in respect of persons who will be without television reception when the Saorsat system becomes operational. [32056/12]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Question Nos. 147 to 149, inclusive, of 28 June and as I have stated in previous parliamentary question responses, I do not propose to introduce grant schemes for the purpose of digital switchover.

Pension Provisions

John O'Mahony

Question:

414 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources further to Parliamentary Question No. 428 of Wednesday 14 September 2011, if his Department has progressed this matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32119/12]

The position remains the same as outlined in Question No. 482 of 14 September 2011 and the individual has not contacted my Department since then with the further information required. However, my Department will again make direct contact with the individual and will conduct a new search for his records.

Offshore Exploration

Terence Flanagan

Question:

415 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will deal with a matter (details supplied) regarding oil exploration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32121/12]

Ireland's fiscal and non-fiscal licensing terms were revised in 2007 following a comprehensive review by independent economic consultants. The revised fiscal terms provided for a new supplementary tax, known as a profit resource rent tax, of up to 15% in addition to the 25% corporate tax rate already applying. The revised terms apply to production arising from exploration licences granted since 1 January 2007 and ensure that the return to the State would be up to 40% in the case of very profitable fields. Standard exploration licence 1/11 (Barryroe) is subject to the provisions of the 2007 Licensing Terms.

Ireland's fiscal terms for oil and gas exploration and production are often compared to those of major petroleum countries such as Norway. Unfortunately this is simply not comparing like with like. Norway has over 70 producing oil and gas fields while Ireland has only three gas fields with a fourth in development. Norway is the second largest gas exporter and the seventh largest oil exporter in the world. Ireland on the other hand imports over 95% of our gas and 100% of our oil requirements.

Compared to Norway, Ireland's petroleum potential is largely unproven and this is likely to remain the case until there is a significant increase in the level of exploration activity from the current level of one to two exploration wells per year. Ireland competes with other countries to attract exploration investment and maintains a licensing regime that reflects the risks and rewards of investing in petroleum exploration in the Irish offshore, relative to investing in exploration in other jurisdictions. As a result, Ireland's petroleum taxation rate is deliberately pitched at a level that is consistent with countries such as France, Portugal and Spain, who, like Ireland, have limited petroleum production, rather than with major petroleum producers such as Norway.

Exploring off the west coast of Ireland is expensive due to its remoteness and deep-water depths. Drilling a single deep-water well in the Atlantic can cost in the region of €80m. Limited infrastructure (pipelines, terminal and platforms) makes development costly and negatively affects the commerciality of smaller marginal oil and gas discoveries. Given the high cost and high risk of unsuccessful exploration in the Irish Offshore, it is difficult to make the case that the taxpayer should invest in this high-risk sector at this time. A State exploration company would have to compete with the private sector for exploration licences and there is no reason to believe that it would be any more successful than private industry in choosing the most prospective areas in which to invest. On that basis I consider that it is the industry and not the State that should continue to take the risk associated with investment in exploration for oil and gas.

Electricity Transmission Network

Seamus Kirk

Question:

416 Deputy Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the position regarding the completion time of the interconnector between Ireland and the UK; and if he will make a statement on t