Commencement Matters

Regional Airports

I am delighted to see that there has been a substantial increase in tourism over recent years. In 2015, 29.8 million passengers passed through Irish airports. Of these, more than 24 million or 83.8% of the total passed through Dublin. Cork handled 6.9% and Shannon 5.6% while the remaining airports were responsible for only 3.7%. Passenger numbers to Cork continue to fall annually. The Shannon Airport Authority has worked very hard to increase throughput of 1.68 million in 2015 but this is far from the 2.95 million it handled in 2008. This is neither desirable nor sustainable and is certainly very far from the kind of regional development we need.

In 2015, the number of overseas visitors reached 8 million, an increase of more than 14% on the previous year and in February and March 2016, there was a 16% increase on the corresponding period last year. In 2015, tourists spent €4.1 billion with the airlines and ferry companies earned €1.3 billion, a huge boost to the national economy. The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport believes that the tourism industry is directly responsible for providing 205,000 jobs in Ireland, with the accommodation and food sector providing 137,000 of these. The challenge we face is to manage and grow this very valuable resource. Dublin Airport is operating at or beyond full capacity while the regional airports are capable of handling much greater numbers than they do now. The chairman of the International Airlines Group, IAG, Willie Walsh, has aired his concerns about bottlenecks in Dublin. He believes this could have a negative impact on future expansion by IAG at the airport.

I am aware of the Dublin Airport Authority plan to invest €320 million in constructing a second runway, but it will not be operational until 2020 at the earliest. Difficulties with the transport infrastructure between the airport and the city centre still need to be addressed.

Dublin hotels had a room occupancy rate of 82% in 2015 - much higher than the rest of the country. In Limerick, which has the lowest average room rate in the country, the occupancy rate was 68.3%. We all know how difficult it can be to get hotel accommodation in Dublin for most of the year. In addition, average room rates in the capital have increased from €77 in 2010 to €111 in 2015, and the rate has subsequently increased further. We could face cost and capacity issues going forward unless more tourism activity is redirected towards the regions.

Apart from Dublin, Shannon is the only airport that has direct flights from the United States, a growing market. It provides excellent facilities and ease of access to Limerick city, and is strategically located on the Wild Atlantic Way. Surely it makes sense to assist the airport authority in marketing it as an alternative to Dublin. The airports in Kerry, Knock and Donegal can be promoted as gateways to the Wild Atlantic Way from Britain and Europe, while Cork and Waterford, as well as Dublin, provide easy access to Ireland's Ancient East - indeed, Cork would serve both attractions. There are excellent accommodation and catering facilities available in all of those locations.

I maintain that there is an opportunity to greatly increase tourism visitor numbers by highlighting and promoting the use of regional airports to access the numerous attractions around the country. We should strive to develop this very valuable resource, not at the expense of Dublin, but to the benefit of the regions. I request the Minister to favourably consider the points I have made and look forward to hearing his response.

I thank Senator Maria Byrne for raising this important subject. I agree with much of what she said, and although I am very new in the Ministry I am still rather staggered by the number of people who prefer to come to Dublin despite the inconvenience and the expense. Senator Byrne put her finger on many of the difficulties. Hotel rooms are a major difficulty but people still seem to pay those sorts of prices. I suppose the problem is that the hotels themselves might be killing the golden goose and we may get to a point where they go over the top. Perhaps Cork, Shannon and other places will benefit as a result, and the market might even itself out, but at the moment there is no sign of that happening.

I also share Senator Byrne's puzzlement about the fact that Cork, Shannon and other airports do not seem to attract the passenger numbers one might expect because of the lack of capacity at Dublin Airport and the crowded conditions there. That has not happened yet. I am looking at the entire airport scenario. Many of the airports are not commercially viable. They are not working very well and they need to get subventions from the State to survive, but they are a very useful add-on and contribute to the prosperity of local communities. There is no doubt about that, even if they make a commercial loss. That has been Government policy for some time.

I do not know whether it is worth spending an enormous amount of money transferring people from one place to another. I do not know at the moment and I do not think Senator Byrne would expect me to do so at this stage in my sojourn in the Department, by means of the incentives and attractions to which she referred, because I do not know enough about it yet. However, I will do shortly and I will consider such matters over the summer to see whether there are any fundamental changes that might be made. I do not promise anything, but I am just saying the Senator is kicking at an open door if she has new ideas. The point she made is a very good one, and there are certain problems related to the concentration of tourism in Dublin which we are trying to address.

My Department is committed to strong regional dispersal in tourism. It is vital for the sector to increase the geographical spread of activity as well as lengthening the season and increasing activity outside the peak summer months. With Dublin city accommodation close to full capacity at peak times, it is especially important to provide visitors with credible, compelling and attractive reasons to travel outside Dublin. None the less, it is important to recognise that Dublin is the main point of arrival for visitors coming to Ireland from abroad and should continue to be promoted as a destination in itself and as a gateway to the rest of Ireland.

Further growth in tourism nationally is being progressed under the tourism brand experiences, namely, the Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland's Ancient East and Dublin: A Breath of Fresh Air. These geographically based brand propositions have been designed to achieve international cut-through, secure customer attention and promote the regional spread of visitors. They are tailored towards the most promising consumer segments in overseas source markets and utilise their natural and built assets to grow tourism to that region.

Of course, air connectivity between Ireland and the UK, continental Europe and further afield is critically important for further tourism growth. Thankfully, our efforts are well placed to attract and accommodate increased passenger numbers. Cork and Shannon airports play a vital role in providing regional access. In addition to Dublin, Shannon is one of the only airports in Europe to offer US pre-clearance facilities, allowing US bound passengers to clear all US entry controls prior to departure, giving the airport a significant competitive advantage in its efforts to retain and promote transatlantic services. Furthermore, Cork Airport is launching nine new routes and services in 2016 and passenger numbers are expected to make a good recovery this year.

In addition to Cork and Shannon, the national aviation policy, published by my Department last August, acknowledges the role played by regional airports in Donegal, Ireland West Airport Knock, Kerry and Waterford. It recognises that they promote a level of international connectivity to support the tourism and business sectors in their regions and confirms that these four regional airports are being given the opportunity to grow to a viable self-sustaining position.

In this regard, my Department's latest regional airports programme 2015-19 will continue to support safety and security measures, where appropriate, at these airports. An extra €10 million in capital funding is provided in the programme for Government for the regional airports, in addition to the €28 million already provided in the capital plan 2016-22 which will enhance my Department's ability to further support the four airports.

With the specific goal of encouraging regional access and enhancing the geographical spread of tourism, my predecessor last year announced a specific funding allocation under the regional co-operative marketing programme to support co-operative marketing activity to points of entry outside of Dublin. Under this programme, €1 million has been made available to Tourism Ireland in 2016 for co-operative marketing activity, to encourage new access and maximise the potential of existing air and ferry services to the regions.

As well as the €1 million being provided by my Department, local authorities and tourism interests in the regions added to the funding for routes serving their access points. The fund was also matched by carriers and overseas partners for maximum benefit. The €1 million fund leveraged an additional investment of €1.5 million. This generated promotional activity worth a total of €2.5 million for regional access and delivered visitors directly to the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland's Ancient East. As a result of all of the measures outlined, I am confident that Ireland will welcome increased numbers of visitors outside Dublin this year and beyond.

I thank the Minister for his reply. It is very positive that he acknowledged he is aware that most tourists come through Dublin. There is a problem with bed capacity. I welcome that the Minister has acknowledged it is something he is willing to examine. I look forward to hearing about whatever plans he has for the future.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

I will give the Minister of State a brief synopsis of this matter. The Holy Angels Day Care Centre opened in Carlow in 1978 in the basement of Carlow's old district hospital by a Presentation nun, Sister Columba. She was given a cheque for £100 from the south east health board and with the names of five children with special needs from the local area, Holy Angels was set up to provide a day care service for children with special needs of preschool age, that is, those aged from 18 months to six years of age. In 1983, a new site was bought in Straw Hall at a cost of £52,000, on which prefabs were erected.

In 2005, a needs assessment was carried out and the school was told that the current site would not allow for expansion due to the number of children being looked after. In 2007, the Holy Angels received a donation of a site from a businessman in Carlow. Following that, the HSE assigned a design team to have plans drawn up. In 2011, the HSE told the Holy Angels it could go to tender but in 2012, the HSE came back and advised that the Holy Angels could not have this until the site was in its name. This was the first we had heard of that. The site had been given, everything was going ahead and it was at the design stage. We then met with the then Minister for Health, Deputy Leo Varadkar, in Carlow. He said that he could not believe this and that the HSE, as far as he was aware, did not need to have the site in its name before progressing.

It is now 2016. There are 35 children in the Holy Angels, ranging from 18 months up to six years of age. There is a waiting list of 20-plus. In addition, the roof is leaking, the doors need to be fixed and the floor needs to be replaced. The school has been waiting 11 years for capital funding for a new school. It has been overlooked for years and is now at the stage where it cannot expand or take in the children who need to attend the school. It is 38 years since the school opened and it has gone from the basement of an old school to prefabs and it is still in prefabs. This is 2016 and there are children with a disability, the most vulnerable in our society, still in prefabs. I wanted to give the Minister of State a rough idea of how the Holy Angels started as this is just not good enough.

The Holy Angels has a great manager and staff and a great fundraising committee, which has been fundraising to help with the building of the new school. Some €4 million is what it is looking for. As I said, the site has been donated and the school has been given several commitments that it will be given this €4 million to build a new school but it has not happened. It is unacceptable that again Carlow is totally forgotten. We have a school, or prefabs, with a leaking roof and floors in need of replacement. It is absolutely appalling that young children and babies are still in prefabs. I will bring this up every month because this cannot be allowed to happen in this day and age. I am ashamed to say that 38 years on, no funding has been given to this preschool. It is unacceptable.

I am sure Tír na nÓg has been in contact with the Minister of State too. It is a respite centre. I will give the Minister of State a rough synopsis of this as well.

The Senator will not have the time to do that.

Her four minutes are up. Very quickly.

It is the same situation.

Get to the point. The time is up.

Finish. Does the Senator want to say another sentence?

This is so important because unless one knows the particular details-----

The Chair is bound by timing.

Can I have two more minutes, please, a Leas-Chathaoirligh?

I am afraid I cannot allow the Senator two more minutes but she should do the best she can.

To give a rough outline, Tír na nÓg was set up in 2005. It is a respite service for the children of Carlow and was opened for 11 years. It first opened with ten children and then it had 42 children attending it. It was a weekend service with a waiting list of 30 or so. It was closed by the HSE in December 2015 and because of the need for the service, a weekend one was put in place but with no overnights, just some half days. We are now asking the Minister of State to have this respite centre opened. A new site was donated, again by a businessman. It will only cost €350,000 to build this respite centre. Again, we were given the go-ahead from the HSE to get plans drawn up.

The Holy Angels is in dire need of a new school and Tír na nÓg respite centre has closed, with only €350,000 needed to build a new respite centre. Approximately 60 children are looking to attend it, so this is not good enough. I ask the Minister of State to consider this and come back to me.

I thank Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor for her question and congratulate her on being elected to the Seanad. I wish her well in the future.

I will outline my initial reaction when I heard about this. It is not acceptable to wait 11 years for capital funding and to have children with disabilities in prefabs. There seems to be some confusion about the figures. The Senator spoke about €4 million and then about €350,000 for Tír na nÓg.

I will cover all of the major issues in my response.

Again, I thank the Senator for raising the issue of the funding needed to reopen the Tír na nÓg respite centre in Carlow which was closed in December 2015. I welcome the opportunity to outline the current position in regard to this matter. Holy Angels day care centre is a disability agency that provides services, including a preschool service, for children with disabilities in Carlow. The facility is funded on an annual basis by the HSE under section 39 of the Health Act. In 2015, it received funding in the region of €720,000.

As the Senator said, respite services for children in Carlow were previously provided by Tír na nÓg in Carlow. In December 2015, the Holy Angels day care centre advised HIQA and the HSE of the decision of the board of management to close the centre from January 2016 after it received notice from the landlord. On 16 December 2015, the HSE disability services manager wrote to the Holy Angels day care requesting Holy Angels to develop a plan regarding an alternative approach to respite service provision to be completed in consultation with families in receipt of respite and notifying them of the discontinuation of the existing respite service due to lack of premises. The families were also informed that they would be invited to meetings in January 2016 in regard to these respite services.

Tír na nÓg provided respite breaks to 42 children and their families with each client being offered a one to two-night respite break every three months, with the current service open six nights per month. The children range in age from 18 months to 18 years and have a wide range of disabilities from mild to severe. There are additional children on the waiting list. In March 2016, in order to address the current respite provision requirements, an alternative respite provision was set up in partnership with the HSE and Holy Angels and is currently provided, via the Holy Angels, at the Delta centre as an interim arrangement.

The HSE estates unit is actively - I stress the word "actively" - seeking to purchase or rent suitable accommodation for future service provision. It was decided that should the HSE find a suitable residence for respite in either counties Carlow or Kilkenny that services will be provided for both Carlow and Kilkenny from that location until purpose-built accommodation is completed.

The long-term intention of the HSE is to develop a new purpose-built respite service for County Carlow. With this intention in mind, a capital submission was sent to the HSE's capital steering committee in respect of Carlow. The capital steering committee considered the submission on 8 March 2016. There was a problem with the submission because the €20 million available for capital funding in 2016 was targeted and changed to supporting situations that dealt with congregated settings, which is the HSE's priority at the moment and is something that I have pushed personally.

The HSE met the families in Carlow to receive feedback and hear their opinion on the development of a future respite service. This feedback has been incorporated into the specifications that will be used in the process to put in place a new service provider of children's respite care in Carlow. With these specifications, the HSE has committed to the provision of an overnight respite service for children in Carlow.

Has Senator Murnane O'Connor a brief supplementary question?

Yes. I welcome the Minister of State's response but I think we are both suffering from a bit of confusion. The respite service was closed in December 2015 because it was in a private house in a housing estate and the house required improvement works, such as changing the doors, in order to comply with HIQA standards. That is a reason it closed. The facility had great staff. The children who availed of the service miss staying overnight in the facility and they need that option. The Minister of State did not give me any information in his reply.

Is there any timescale? What is going to happen? When is the overnight situation going to be looked at? Is the Minister going to look at the site that has been given? Is the €350,000 coming out of capital projects? Are we getting the money? I do not want to be negative here but I represent Holy Angels as well, which is part of Tír na nÓg. We have spent 38 years in basements and prefabs and it is not acceptable. I do not want to be here again next year asking the Minister where the €350,000 is for us to build Tír na nÓg. We and the children need it so I ask the Minister to come back to me with the answers as to where the funding is that was committed to Holy Angels, as well as the €350,000 committed to Tír na nÓg.

I agree in respect of the broader issue. The Senator asked very important questions on HIQA and the house being closed. The overnight service was an excellent service. I can give her a commitment that I will go back and look again at the issue of the site. She also asked about the €350,000 and the answer is "Yes, absolutely." My role as Minister of State with special responsibilities for disabilities is to find out where this money has gone and why it is not being used for services for people with disabilities. There have been major cuts in the past seven years and the first thing I did when I took over as Minister of State some six weeks ago was to put out the fires of crisis in our services. I have immediately targeted the 1,500 school leavers who come out at 18 and have no service at all. I accept the Senator's point that respite, residential and day services also have to be a priority. I will come back to her on her specific questions.

Home Care Packages Provision

I welcome the Minister of State at the Department of Health, Deputy Helen McEntee, to the House. She has been a staunch supporter of the Alzheimer Society of Ireland, both locally and nationally. There are almost 55,000 people living with dementia in Ireland and I guess that most of us will know somebody, a family member, a relative or a neighbour for whom this is a reality. The numbers are set to grow to 68,000 people in ten years' time so it is a massive challenge for individuals, for their families and for society as a whole. People with dementia need a wide range of supports that reflect the complex and changing needs of the condition. It is important to diagnose it early to plan ahead and then to get access to counselling services and other services which one will need as the condition advances.

My focus today is on home care. Most people with dementia live at home and the majority want to stay there in a familiar environment because familiarity is a really important part of being able to live well with dementia. People want to stay in their homes and in their communities. Pat Hume spoke recently about John, and how important being at home in Derry is to him. A recent report by the Alzheimer Society of Ireland, Age Action and the Irish Association of Social Workers in UCD found that the preference of older people is to stay at home for as long as possible and that more than half of older people could remain in their own homes instead of going into long-term care if more services and home supports were available. It is official Government policy to support people to stay at home but it is not happening. We only need to look at the funding divided between long-term residential care and community-based care to see the reasons for this. Between 2009 and 2015, funding for residential care was increased by €84 million whereas the funding for home care decreased by €11 million. One possible explanation, and an issue that must be addressed, is that there is no statutory entitlement to home care. It is discretionary and when the budgets run out, it runs out.

However, there is an entitlement to residential care under the nursing homes support scheme. Later this week, the Alzheimer Society of Ireland will launch its pre-budget submission calling on the Government to invest €67 million in 2017 for home care supports for people with dementia. This initial investment would meet the needs of 10% of people with dementia who live in the community. It amounts to a mere 6.7% of the total amount spent on long-term residential care.

There have been some positive moves towards better home care for people with dementia and this must be built on for the future. Under the national dementia strategy, €22 million was set aside by Atlantic Philanthropies and the Health Service Executive, HSE, for intensive home care packages. Will the Minister detail how this money is getting through to people? It is one thing to make the argument that money is being set aside but is it reaching people? To date, we understand that 130 home care packages have been provided out of a promised 500. Will the Minister clarify those numbers? People with dementia have a right to their home and family life just like every other citizen. In April, the Alzheimer Society of Ireland and the Irish dementia working group, which is made up of people who have dementia, launched a charter of human rights for people with dementia. During the launch of this important document, Helen Rochford Brennan, who has dementia and is a wonderful advocate for the cause of advancing dementia care in Ireland, said:

Our rights outlined in the charter launched here today are fundamental to us living well but also for our families. We have a right to information, to diagnosis, to post-diagnosis support. We have a right to community based services and home care, and to be cared for in the place of our choice. We have a right to be part of our community, no matter how progressed our dementia is.

However, we need investment for those rights to be realised. Just as somebody once said that one cannot eat scenery, one cannot eat rights unless they are backed with resources. There must be multi-annual centralised funding and there must be entitlement. I call on the Minister to ensure this issue is addressed in the forthcoming budget.

I thank Senator Kelleher for raising this matter and I congratulate her on the work she has done to date. I am aware that she continues to work specifically in this area. As with the other part of my portfolio, mental health, everybody knows somebody who has been affected by dementia, be it a neighbour or friend, and the numbers affected will continue to increase. Also similar to mental health, there is still a stigma surrounding dementia and the lack of information among the public makes it more difficult to tackle that stigma. It is an issue we must work on and I intend to do that.

As the Senator correctly pointed out, it is estimated that there are 55,000 people living with dementia in Ireland today. By 2041, we expect this to increase to more than 140,000 people. Living with dementia presents challenges for those with the condition, their families and their carers. The majority of people with dementia live at home and this requires proper supports and interventions to be put in place. Earlier diagnosis allows for better planning and management of the condition and is in the best interests of those with dementia and their families. It is important that there is clarity about the options that are available, so families and carers can make good choices in an informed way. As both the Senator and I mentioned, there is often a stigma associated with this condition which is largely based on stereotyping and, as a community, we must tackle this.

In December 2014, the Irish national dementia strategy was published with the objective of increasing awareness, ensuring timely diagnosis and intervention and developing enhanced community-based services for people with dementia. The main aim of the strategy is to enable people with dementia to live well in their own homes and communities for as long as possible and it sets out ways of achieving this. People live longer, healthier and happier lives when they are in their homes, regardless of whether they have dementia. Resources should be directed to provide the best possible outcome for those with dementia, their families and carers. The strategy is accompanied by a resourced national dementia strategy implementation programme which is co-funded by the Health Service Executive and Atlantic Philanthropies. This programme represents a combined investment of €27.5 million over the period 2014-17, with Atlantic Philanthropies contributing €12 million and the HSE contributing €15.5 million.

Key elements of this initiative include: €22.1 million for the roll-out of a programme of intensive home supports and home care packages for people with dementia; €1.2 million for the provision of additional dementia-specific resources for general practitioners, who are the critical and initial point of contact with the health system for those with dementia - the resource material will include training materials and guidance on local services and contact points; €2.7 million for measures to raise public awareness, address stigma, and promote the inclusion and involvement in society of those with dementia; and €1.5 million for the establishment of a HSE national dementia office.

A significant element of this investment programme will focus on the delivery of intensive home care packages for people with dementia, with up to 500 people with dementia and their families expected to benefit from these packages over the lifetime of the implementation programme, which will extend over a three year period from 2015 to 2018.

The roll-out of intensive home care packages commenced in January 2015 and monitoring of the allocation and uptake of these packages is ongoing, as the Senator rightly said, with only 133 persons benefiting to date. At present, there are 85 people with dementia in receipt of an intensive home care package, and perhaps I could revert to the Senator specifically on the speed of the uptake and how that is progressing.

In addition to the intensive packages the Health Service Executive, HSE, will continue to provide mainstream home help, routine home care packages and other appropriate community based supports, such as day care, respite, etc., to people with dementia whose needs have been assessed as requiring these supports and within available resources.

I am examining the question of putting this issue on a statutory footing and I would welcome the opportunity to discuss that with the Senator. I am aware that Members of this and the other House will meet with the organisation this week so we will hear more following that meeting. There is still much work to be done, and the focus of our funding needs to change in terms of where it is going. We must make sure it goes to the right place, that is, to keep people in their homes. I look forward to working with the Senator on this issue and I would welcome the opportunity to meet with her.

I thank the Minister of State. I know that is a sincere offer and I will take her up on it. Eighty-five people are getting access to the intensive home care packages but all of us in the Seanad probably know 85 people who need them. The need is vast, and we must make sure that we are getting to the body of people who need that kind of help because people are struggling in the here and now. People have lost faith in strategies. It has been said that we have strategy deficiency implementation disorder in Ireland. We encourage people to believe there is real intent but we must ensure those strategies, commitments and investments are reaching people with dementia to allow them live well, as they wish to and can do, and that their carers are properly supported. I believe that until such time as this service is put on an entitlement and a statutory footing, we will continue to struggle with this it. I welcome the Minister's commitment to work on it.

I agree with the Senator. Through the bodies, groups and individuals I have met in recent weeks, I am aware that everybody is on the same page and knows we have enough reports and strategies. What we need to do now is to implement them. Implementation is key at this stage and we need to make progress on that. The figures are increasing at a high rate within such a short space of time and we have a window to try to deal with it now before it gets out of hand. I look forward to working with the Senator.

Primary Care Centres Provision

I thank the Minister of State for attending. I raised this matter previously in the House. In 2012, the Fine Gael-Labour Party Government made an announcement about the provision of 35 primary care centres. By way of written response received in December 2015 on one primary care centre in the heart of my constituency in Dublin South-Central, the answer received by the Minister was that the planning was not completed in the timeframe for public private partnership. It is a net issue and I seek the Minister's response on the matter.

The rationale for allocating the primary care centre to Crumlin and Drimnagh was that it was needed; it was not for a political reason. There is a massive need in the community for such a centre. I would like to know when the centre will be commenced, if planning permission has been applied for, if there is a plan in place, and the progress that has been made on that particular centre.

I am taking this matter on behalf of my colleague the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, but if there are specific questions, I ask Senator Ardagh to let me know and we will get back to her. I thank the Senator for raising this issue.

The programme for a partnership Government commits to a decisive shift within the health service towards primary care in order to deliver better care close to home in communities across the country. Enhancing and expanding capacity in the primary care sector is crucial to ensuring delivery of a preventive, joined-up approach to the management of the nation's health and the modernisation of primary care delivery. Primary care centres facilitate the delivery of multidisciplinary primary care services and shift the focus of the health service from a hospital-centric model towards a primary care model whereby services can be delivered more effectively and efficiently. I know the Senator is aware of this. In a fully developed primary care system, 90% to 95% of people's day-to-day health and social care needs can be met in the primary care setting. Essentially, the goal is to provide the right care in the right place at the right time. Primary care centres throughout the country significantly enhance the accessibility of health services in local communities. They enable people get the care they need as close to home as possible.

I can advise the Senator that more than 90 primary care centres are already operational. A further 82 centres are at varying stages of development and will, when completed, significantly enhance and expand capacity in the primary care sector to deliver a preventive, joined-up approach to the management of the nation's health and the modernisation of primary care delivery. These additional primary care facilities across the country will be provided through a combination of direct build, public private partnership, and the HSE's primary care operational lease mechanism.

As the Senator has correctly pointed out, the Crumlin-Drimnagh primary care centre was one of 16 locations selected for delivery through a PPP project. I am advised by the HSE that the Dublin City Council decision to grant planning permission for the development was appealed to An Bord Pleanála by third parties. I am further advised that the planning permission grant from An Bord Pleanála for the development was, however, not received in time for the site to be included in the PPP project. An alternative means of funding the development is through the HSE's capital plan. However, the HSE has advised that it is not in a position to allocate funding to this project until 2020, although further consideration could be given in the context of the 2017 capital review.

Notwithstanding this, there are a number of primary care developments in the area which support the delivery of primary care services in the Crumlin-Drimnagh area. These developments include the extensive refurbishment of the Old County Road health centre in Crumlin, which has recently been completed, and a primary care centre to be provided by way of operational leasing at Cashel Road, Walkinstown. This centre is currently in construction and is anticipated that it will be operational by the fourth quarter of 2017. In addition, a primary care centre is also planned for in Rialto, again for delivery by way of operational leasing. Planning approval has been granted and it is anticipated that construction will commence before the end of the fourth quarter of 2016.

I can assure Senator Ardagh that the development of primary care is central to the Government's objective to deliver a high-quality, integrated and cost-effective health care system. I intend to consider future infrastructure in the context of the implementation of the health commitments in the programme for Government and having regard to the funding available to facilitate such measures.

I would appreciate if perhaps the Minister of State could ask the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, to outline how he would go about including the Crumlin-Drimnagh project in the 2017 capital review plan.

Does the Minister of State wish to add anything? No. I propose that we suspend until 3.30 p.m. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Sitting suspended at 3.20 p.m. and resumed at 3.30 p.m.