Mortgage Arrears Rate

Questions (276)

Michael McGrath

Question:

276. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of residential and buy to let mortgages outstanding at Irish Bank Resolution Corporation at the time of its liquidation; the number of mortgages in arrears for greater than 90 days and 180 days; the total value of mortgages outstanding at IBRC; the value of mortgages in arrears of greater than 90 and 180 days; the plans for the disposal of the mortgage book; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8666/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

Detailed information in relation to the Bank’s financial performance, including information on provisioning, is published semi-annually in the Bank’s interim report and annual report and accounts. The Bank’s 2011 Annual Report, pages 169-173, provides detailed disclosure on the Bank’s residential mortgage portfolio. More recent information can be found in the Bank’s Interim Report 2012, page 72. It is Bank policy not to publish any additional confidential commercially sensitive financial information which could potentially have a detrimental impact on asset recovery.

IBRC Liquidation

Questions (277)

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

277. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Finance his views regarding the winding down of Irish Bank Resolution Corporation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8721/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

As the Deputy will be aware, on 7 February 2013 the Oireachtas passed legislation (Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Act 2013), appointing joint Special Liquidators to IBRC with immediate effect to wind up its business and operations. A key element of the restructuring of the Promissory Notes was the liquidation of IBRC. The disappearance of the former Anglo Irish Bank and former Irish Nationwide Building Society from our financial, political and social landscape was long overdue. They became emblems of a culture of cronyism that undermined the confidence in both our economy and our political system. They became a stain on our international reputation and dent to our national pride. There are numerous benefits from the arrangement that have been undertaken. There are efficiency gains from housing ‘legacy assets’ in a single vehicle, NAMA. Exceptional Liquidity Assistance and the inherent risk associated with short term borrowings has also been removed from the Irish banking landscape. There is also an expected reduction in the underlying deficit by c.€1 billion per annum over the coming years with a reduction in government debt over time.

The Special Liquidation Order, made under the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Act 2013, is no different from other liquidations and for employees in IBRC their employment was terminated with immediate effect following the passing of the Act on Thursday 7th February. There is no doubt that this will have come as a shock to the employees in the bank. It is unfortunate that it was not possible to give more notice on this matter and I regret the abruptness of how this decision was communicated to the management and staff. However it was imperative to keep the matter confidential due to the scale, sensitivity and complexity of the economic issues involved. As previously stated I want to acknowledge, with much appreciation, the significant efforts the directors and staff of IBRC have made to the stabilisation of, and maintenance of value in, IBRC. Nonetheless, unlike in other liquidations many of the employees have been be re-hired by the Special Liquidator, some of whom will be employed for the duration of the liquidation on such terms as he may determine.

The Special Liquidators have confirmed to IBRC staff that there will be no termination of contracts within the first 3 months of the liquidation. Some staff may be offered positions with NAMA or with other purchasers of the assets, to continue to manage the loan portfolios.

NAMA Investment Funds

Questions (278)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

278. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he will confirm the number of completed transactions where the National Asset Management Agency has provided so-called vendor finance; the total value of such finance provided and the total amount of such finance presently outstanding. [8752/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by NAMA that it envisages that it will make up to €2 billion in vendor finance available, mainly in Ireland, on commercial terms to purchasers of commercial properties securing its loans. The further details sought by the Deputy relate to the commercial dealings of NAMA and publication or otherwise of this information is a matter for NAMA in the context of commercial objectives and in the context of how it can best meet those objectives.

NAMA Loan Offers

Questions (279)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

279. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he will set out the safeguards that the National Asset Management Agency has in place to prevent loans which it sells to third parties being re-sold to the original debtors who might be in default of loans to NAMA. [8753/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by NAMA that when it approves the sale of any loan or approves the sale of any secured property by a debtor or receiver, it requires a confirmation that the purchaser is not connected to the relevant debtor. NAMA advises that the term ‘connected’ is widely defined to cover anyone acting on the debtor’s behalf. This is to ensure that the transaction can be truly considered to be at arm’s length. Having ensured, as far as possible, that such primary sales are not made to the relevant debtors or to connected parties, NAMA advises that it has no legal right to intervene in any further future sales of the loan or property in question.

NAMA Loan Book

Questions (280)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

280. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the reason the National Asset Management Agency has not provided potential purchasers of its Project Aspen and Project Club loan portfolios with standard valuations; and if such an omission is considered to be detrimental to the prospects of NAMA maximizing income from the disposals. [8754/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

NAMA advises that methodology and strategies applied in the case of any given loan sale is determined after consultation and discussion with the appointed loans sale advisor. The approach adopted in any particular case will be determined by the ultimate objective of maximising sales proceeds.

IBRC Liquidation

Questions (281, 282, 283, 284)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

281. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he will confirm that the Special Liquidator of Irish Bank Resolution Corporation will sell loans to the original borrowers at a discount to the amounts outstanding on such loans. [8755/13]

View answer

Pearse Doherty

Question:

282. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he will confirm that the Special Liquidator of Irish Bank Resolution Corporation will sell loans to the original borrowers at a discount to the amounts outstanding on such loans, even in circumstances where such loans are in default or in breach of the terms of the loan, including loan to value covenants. [8756/13]

View answer

Pearse Doherty

Question:

283. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he will confirm the criteria the Special Liquidator of Irish Bank Resolution Corporation will use in deciding whether or not to sell loans now, or to allow such loans to be transferred to the National Asset Management Agency. [8757/13]

View answer

Pearse Doherty

Question:

284. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he will confirm the manner in which the Special Liquidator of Irish Bank Resolution Corporation will sell loans; if there will be a tender for panels of loan sales advisers and if so, when such a tender will be issued. [8758/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 281 to 284, inclusive, together.

As the Deputy will be aware, on 7 February 2013 the Oireachtas passed legislation (Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Act 2013), appointing joint Special Liquidators to IBRC with immediate effect to wind up its business and operations. It is too early in the process to speculate on the potential financial outcome of the liquidation process, however I can confirm that due consideration was given, in preparatory work on the liquidation of IBRC and the legislation passed earlier this month, to ensuring the best possible outcome for the Irish taxpayer. As part of the role of the liquidators, the assets of IBRC will be valued independently before being sold. Any assets not sold to third parties (including loan counterparties and other financial institutions) at or above the valuation price will be sold to NAMA at the independent valuation. This ensures a ‘floor’ price on the assets of IBRC and that where required, assets with limited sale potential can be worked through in the medium term by NAMA rather than sold at any price. The Government’s approach in this area is consistent and focused on the best outcome.

IBRC Liquidation

Questions (285)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

285. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he will lay before Dáil Éireann copies of directions issued to the National Asset Management Agency pursuant to the NAMA Act and the liquidation of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation. [8759/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I will lay the relevant directions to NAMA before Dáil Eireann this week.

Black Economy

Questions (286)

Seamus Kirk

Question:

286. Deputy Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Finance if he has noted the decision of the elected members of councils (details supplied) who have passed motions calling on the Government to focus on tackling the black market and illicit trade which is estimated to cost the taxpayer €861 million each year; the action he will take; if he has issued a response to the elected members in each of Councils in relation to this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8790/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

As regards representations, it is the policy in my Department that, when any such communication is received, its contents are noted and details circulated to the relevant officials, and to the Revenue Commissioners, as appropriate. A response is then prepared and issued. The Revenue Commissioners are very mindful of the unfair competitive advantage to be gained by those businesses that do not fulfil their tax obligations. Revenue’s tax and duty compliance programmes are under constant review to ensure that they are focussed on the areas of greatest risk, including risks from the shadow economy.

The Revenue Commissioners are pursuing a programme that is dealing in a very determined way with tax evasion in all its forms through a range of compliance and audit interventions including targeted special projects. A variety of methodologies are used by Revenue to identify those who are operating in the shadow economy including covert surveillance, cold calls to businesses and venues as well as prearranged aspect queries on specific items. In addition, joint operations are conducted with the Department of Social Protection using Joint Investigation Units and there is a strong focus on cash businesses, given its potential high-risk nature.

In 2012, Revenue carried out more than 537,000 compliance interventions, yielding more than €492 million. Considerable success has been achieved in combating the illegal trade in tobacco products. In 2012, Revenue’s Customs Service seized a total of 95.6 million cigarettes from 8,108 seizures. A further 5,276 kilograms of other tobacco products were taken in 2012 from 1,395 seizures. There were 22 convictions on indictment, and 110 summary convictions, during the year for offences related to the smuggling or sale of illicit cigarettes and tobacco.

In addition to the on-going enforcement action against the illegal fuel trade, steps are being taken to ensure enhanced control and supervision at all stages of the fuel supply chain. Key actions include a strengthening of the licensing arrangements for businesses selling auto-fuel, and of the enforcement of licensing requirements. In addition, new licensing requirements have been applied to persons dealing in marked fuels, with effect from 1 October 2012. As well as these important licensing changes, a requirement operates from 1 January 2013 for all fuel traders to make electronic monthly returns to Revenue on their fuel transactions. This will facilitate Revenue in detecting unusual or anomalous patterns of activity.

Given the links of organised criminality with the illegal fuel trade, Revenue works closely with An Garda Síochána in combating it. Searches undertaken as part of intelligence-led operations have resulted in a considerable number of seizures of diesel and the closure of laundering plants, particularly in border counties. In 2012, 11 oil laundries were detected and shut down and 199,000 litres of oil were seized along with 27 vehicles, 2 fork-lifts and 5 trailers. There were 10 arrests in the course of these operations. 57 premises were closed in 2012. In addition to the fuel seized at laundries, a further 902,087 litre of fuel were seized during the year, the greater part from retail outlets or in the course of delivery to them.

Much of the focus of the Joint Investigation Units (JIUs) is on shadow economy activity and their operations include targeting illegal traders at markets and at seasonal events (Christmas fairs, outdoor concerts etc.). During 2012, over 3,000 outdoor checks/visits/inspections were carried out by the JIU teams including 168 multi-agency operations. The Revenue Commissioners hold regular meetings with trade and representative bodies through The Hidden Economy Monitoring Group where the risks posed by shadow economy activities are discussed. The most recent meeting took place on January 30th.

Changes are frequently made in tax legislation aimed at counteracting shadow economy activity. Two examples from 2012 include the introduction of the electronic Relevant Contracts Tax regime and an enhanced penalty regime for employers who fail to operate PAYE regulations fully. If any members of a Council wish to bring specific information on shadow economy activity to the attention of the Revenue Commissioners, they may contact Planning Division, Bishop’s Square, Redmond’s Hill, Dublin 2, or at the direct line (01) 4244276.

Financial Services Ombudsman

Questions (287)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

287. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a breakdown of levies paid by each credit institution to the Financial Services Ombudsman in 2010, 2011 and 2012 [8799/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

The method of calculating the levies which regulated financial services institutions provide to the Office of the Financial Services Ombudsman to carry out its duties are set out in Statutory Instrument Number 506 of 2012. I have been informed by the Office of the Financial Services Ombudsman that the details of the actual amount which each such institution pays is given on the basis that this information will be retained in confidence by the Office. However, I can confirm that the total amount of levy collected in each of the years is as follows:

Year

Amount of Levy

2010

1,191,784

2011

838,600

2012

1,228,669

IBRC Staff

Questions (288, 295, 296)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

288. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance if he will ensure that staff at an organisation (details supplied) will be entitled to the same terms and conditions as colleagues who left on an earlier package in view of the alleged commitments given to current staff members on this matter; if he will ensure that staff are kept fully updated on their current employment situation in view of the special liquidation process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8802/13]

View answer

Finian McGrath

Question:

295. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will ensure that all staff in Irish Bank Resolution Corporation are treated in a fair manner following the special liquidation; and if he will end the uncertainty for the staff. [8891/13]

View answer

Derek Nolan

Question:

296. Deputy Derek Nolan asked the Minister for Finance in view of the liquidation of Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, the steps he will take to ensure that IBRC workers' rights under previous agreements are protected; if the value of their severance terms will be retained; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8978/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 288, 295 and 296 together.

As the Deputy is aware, the legislation surrounding liquidation ranks employees as preferential creditors in respect of certain amounts owing to them on a winding up, including accrued wages and salaries, holiday pay, sick pay, statutory redundancy, pensions contributions and claims for damages arising from accidents. The special liquidators were promptly in contact with staff on Thursday 7th February and unlike in other liquidations, the majority of employees have be re-hired by the special liquidator, for a minimum period of 3 months, to ensure an orderly wind-down of the business.

The special liquidators have said that it is their key priority that all employees are fully kept up to date on all developments during the course of the special liquidation. They have indicated that their approach will be to talk with employees directly either in small groups or on a one to one basis and they also plan to communicate by email general updates to employees during the course of the special liquidation.

Excise Duties Reliefs

Questions (289)

Jack Wall

Question:

289. Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance his views on a submission (details supplied) regarding an excise rebate; the actions he plans to take to address the issues raised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8812/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

The proposal to introduce an auto-diesel excise duty relief for licensed road hauliers that I announced in the Budget was, initially, confined to licensed and tax compliant hauliers. However having received a number of submissions from, and on behalf of, private coach operators seeking to have this relief extended to them, the Deputy will now be aware, having seen the Finance Bill, published last week, that I have extended the relief to the licensed passenger transport sector. The maximum amount of the relief will be 7.5 cents per litre and will be price dependant.

IBRC Liquidation

Questions (290)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

290. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the investigation into a company (details supplied) which the Chartered Accountants Regulatory Board found did have a role to answer as auditors of Anglo Irish Bank, following the liquidation of IBRC. [8831/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I have been advised that the liquidation of IBRC will not affect disciplinary action being undertaken by the Chartered Accountants Regulatory Board (CARB), in accordance with the Bye-Laws of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland, in relation to Ernst & Young in respect of their former role as auditors of Anglo Irish Bank. In September 2011 further to a report by the Special Investigator, Mr John Purcell, formal complaints in relation to Ernst & Young were referred by CARB’s Complaints Committee to its Disciplinary Panel. The disciplinary hearings in respect of the formal complaints are being deferred at the request of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to avoid prejudicing any criminal proceedings arising out of the circumstances giving rise to CARB’s investigations into various matters in relation to Anglo Irish Bank.

Section 6 of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Act provides as follows:

“(6) (a) The Special Liquidation Order, and any other thing done under the Special Liquidation Order or pursuant to instructions issued or any directions given to a special liquidator pursuant to this Act -

(i) does not affect any proceedings taken, investigation undertaken, or disciplinary or enforcement action undertaken by the Bank, the Director of Public Prosecutions, An Garda Síochána, the Director of Corporate Enforcement or any regulatory authority, in respect of any matter in existence at the time the Special Liquidation Order was made or other thing was done, and does not preclude the taking of any proceedings, or the undertaking of any investigation, or disciplinary or enforcement action, by the Bank, the Director of Public Prosecutions, An Garda Síochána, the Director of Corporate Enforcement or any regulatory authority, in respect of any contravention of an enactment or any misconduct which may have been committed before the Special Liquidation Order was made or the other thing was done.

(b) In this subsection “regulatory authority” includes -

(i) the Irish Stock Exchange,

(ii) the Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority,

(iii) a prescribed accountancy body (within the meaning of Part 2 of the Companies (Auditing and Accounting) Act 2003)(Emphasis added), and

(iv) any other authority which regulates, or which may investigate or prosecute, any person under or by virtue of any enactment, rule of law or contract.”

Excise Duties Yield

Questions (291)

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

291. Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Finance the amount that is expected to be raised from the increase in excise duty on a bottle of wine introduced in Budget 2013. [8841/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

The €1 increase on excise duty on a bottle of wine announced in Budget 2013 is expected to yield €60 million.

Departmental Correspondence

Questions (292)

Patrick Nulty

Question:

292. Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Finance if he will publish details of discussions between the previous Government and the European Central Bank, in particular regarding whether the ECB expressed a view on the Irish Government not letting any of the Irish banks collapse prior to the introduction of the State banking guarantee; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8867/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

It is the policy of my Department to publish as much correspondence as possible where the publication of the correspondence is in the public interest and where it is reasonably practicable to do so. For example my Department has released under the Freedom of Information Act 1997 correspondence from the then Minister for Finance to the EU Commissioner on Economic and Monetary Affairs, the Managing Director of the IMF and the President of the European Central Bank. However, as the Deputy can appreciate, occasions can arise where it is not possible to publish all the records held by the Department. For example under Section 24(2)(e) of the Freedom of Information Act 1997 as amended by the Freedom of Information Act 2003 my Department cannot release information that has been communicated in confidence from, to or within an institution or body of the European Union. Also under Section 24(2)(f) of the same Act my Department cannot release records of an Institution or Body of the European Union which contains information the disclosure of which is prohibited by the Institution or Body.

IBRC Staff

Questions Nos. 295 and 296 answered with Question No. 288.

Questions (293, 294)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

293. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance the number of staff from the old Irish Bank Resolution Corporation that the National Asset Management Agency expects to re-employ; the length of time he expects staff contracts to last; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8872/13]

View answer

Terence Flanagan

Question:

294. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance when he expects the National Asset Management Agency to draw up a new business plan as a consequence of the liquidation of the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8873/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 293 and 294 together.

I am advised by NAMA that as it will not have visibility on the portfolio to be acquired until late August, following the completion of a loans valuation and sales process by the Special Liquidators, it is premature at this stage to comment on the matters raised by the Deputy.

Questions Nos. 295 and 296 answered with Question No. 288.

Financial Services Ombudsman

Questions (297)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

297. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a breakdown of fines imposed on each credit institution, including compensation awards, by the Financial Services Ombudsman in 2010, 2011 and 2012. [8987/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Finance)

Firstly, I must point out that the Financial Services Ombudsman is independent in the carrying out of his duties. I have no role in the day to day workings of the office. I have been advised by the Office of the Financial Services Ombudsman that the information requested by the Deputy is retained in confidence by the Office. However, the Financial Services Ombudsman has informed me that the Compensation awarded by the Ombudsman from 2010 to 2012 is as follows:

Year

Compensation

Total Finding issued

Upheld

Partly Upheld

Not Upheld

2012

348,461

897

108

156

633

2011

259,386

905

140

145

620

2010

618,921

643

154

36

453

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (298)

Robert Dowds

Question:

298. Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Education and Skills if special needs assistants may assist their assigned pupils with academic tasks, while at all times being under the direction of the teacher; if not, if he will explain the reason and if he will consider reviewing the current procedures in the context of the new public service agreement which is currently under negotiation. [8056/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) are allocated to schools by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) in order to provide for the care needs of children with special educational needs attending such schools. The policy of my Department in relation to the SNA scheme is set out in Circular 07/02, which also provides details regarding the role and duties of an SNA.

SNAs and teachers have separate yet complementary roles. The class teacher is responsible for educating all pupils in his/her class, including any pupil with a special educational need. In this task, the teacher may be supported by a learning support teacher and/or resource teacher. SNAs are allocated to schools to enable them to support pupils with disabilities who also have significant care needs. The deployment of SNAs within schools is a matter for the individual Principal/Board of Management. SNAs should be deployed by the school 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 Deputy will be aware that my Department has published a Value for Money (VFM) and Policy Analysis Review of the Special Needs Assistant scheme. This review is available on my Departments website: www.education.gov.ie. The Review has shown that the SNA Scheme has been successful in supporting schools in meeting the needs of students with disabilities who also have significant care needs. However, the review also found that the allocation process is generally not well understood within schools and by parents nor is the purpose of the Scheme fully understood. The review recommended that the SNA scheme should be restated to ensure an efficient allocation of SNA resources and to clarify the 'care' nature of the SNA role for parents, schools and professionals. However, the review did not recommend expanding the role of the SNA.

My Department has established a working group which is presently implementing the recommendations of the SNA Value for Money report. I can also advise the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has a formal role under the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN) Act, 2004 to advise me as Minister in relation to any matter relating to the education of children and others with disabilities. The NCSE have been asked to provide comprehensive policy advice on how the education system can best support children with special educational needs. This advice will guide the preparation of a plan on how aspects of EPSEN can be implemented, including the prioritising of access to children with special needs to an individual education plan. I can advise that this advice will consider:

- the identification and assessment of children with special needs

- the nature of supports provided for children- the way in which supports are allocated to schools and

- how these supports are configured.

The advice from the NCSE is expected in the coming months. It is my intention that the significant resources to support children with Special Educational Needs are deployed to ensure the best possible outcomes for students. The advice will be a key input into achieving this goal.

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

Questions (299)

Dara Calleary

Question:

299. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills the process that applies to student grant applications in the event of a separation maintenance agreement being in place (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8074/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Deputy will appreciate that in the absence of the full details that would be contained in an individual application form, it is not possible for me to say whether or not the payment in question should be included as reckonable income for the students in question. In general, however, maintenance payments are reckonable income for student grant purposes. In common with all other sources of reckonable income, the full amount is taken into consideration for every individual student applying for a grant. However, the income limits for grant eligibility are increased relative to the number of students in a family applying for a grant.

Schools Building Projects Applications

Questions (300)

Billy Timmins

Question:

300. Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding emergency funding in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8081/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The management authority of the school referred to by the Deputy submitted an application for funding under my Department's Emergency Works Scheme for a new roof and new window surrounds for their school building. As the scope of works for which funding was sought is outside the terms of the scheme it cannot be considered for funding. The school authority has been informed of this decision.

The Board of Management have been informed that my Department would be willing to consider an application for scaled back works. Should such an application be received it will be assessed and the school authority will be advised of the outcome.

Student Grant Scheme Appeals

Questions (301)

Paul Connaughton

Question:

301. Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a decision will issue on an appeal to the student grants appeal board in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8088/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Officials in my Department have confirmed with Student Universal Support Ireland, (SUSI) that the student in question appealed its original decision to the appeals officer in SUSI on 15th January, 2013 and that a decision on foot of this appeal will issue to the student in the coming days.

Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down, in writing, by SUSI, and remains of the view that the scheme has not been interpreted correctly in his/her case, an appeal form outlining the position may be submitted by the applicant to the independent Student Grants Appeals Board.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

Questions (302)

Paul Connaughton

Question:

302. Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the outcome of a grant application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8092/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Officials in my Department have confirmed with Student Universal Support Ireland, that on 13th February 2013, a request for further documentation was issued to the student referred to by the Deputy. When the requested documentation is returned the student will be notified directly of the outcome.

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

Questions (303, 304)

Paul Connaughton

Question:

303. Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Education and Skills if it is the case that Student Universal Support Ireland appeals can take up to 30 days for the application to be approved for appeal and that the appeal can take a further 30 days in order that persons now in the system may be facing a further delay of two months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8093/13]

View answer

Paul Connaughton

Question:

304. Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a person (details supplied) in County Galway who completed the first year of a course failed an exam and repeated five months of first year is ineligible for a Student Universal Support Ireland grant for first year, or alternatively for first year and five months of second year, in view of the fact that their period of study never extended into second year of the first course and no grant was obtained for either five months repeat period or the first year of the course now being studied; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8095/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 303 and 304 together.

My officials understand from Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) that the grant application from the student in question was unsuccessful and that she appealed this decision to its appeals officer on 30th January 2013. The decision of the appeals officer issued to the student on 18th February 2013 which is within the 30 day statutory timeframe set down in the Student Support Act 2011.

The student's application is currently being re-assessed on foot of the appeals officer's decision and the outcome will be communicated to the student as promptly as possible. The Deputy will appreciate that in the absence of all of the relevant details that would be contained in an individual's application, including those relating to repeat periods of study, it would not be possible for me to say whether or not a student would qualify for a grant.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

Questions (305)

Paul Connaughton

Question:

305. Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a decision has been made on the Student Universal Support Ireland grant application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8096/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Officials in my Department have confirmed with Student Universal Support Ireland that in the case of the first named student, a final course acceptance form is awaited to enable his grant application to be processed to finality. A request for this issued to the student.

In the case of the second named student, a revised award letter issued on the 11th February, 2013.

Ministerial Appointments

Questions (306, 307, 308)

Shane Ross

Question:

306. Deputy Shane Ross asked the Minister for Education and Skills the details of all appointments made by him to all State agencies, commercial bodies and all other appointments made by him since taking office, including the State owned banks and the judiciary. [8117/13]

View answer

Shane Ross

Question:

307. Deputy Shane Ross asked the Minister for Education and Skills the details of the qualifications of all the appointees made by him to all State agencies, commercial bodies and all other appointments made by him since taking office including the State-owned banks and judiciary for the appointments they have accepted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8135/13]

View answer

Shane Ross

Question:

308. Deputy Shane Ross asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of appointees and the percentage of appointments made by him to all State agencies, commercial bodies and all other appointments made by him since taking office including the State owned banks and the Judiciary that were subject to a public applications process. [8153/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 306 to 308, inclusive, together.

Details of Membership of Boards and appointment dates can be downloaded from my Department's website, this information is updated when any relevant changes occur. http://www.education.ie.

In accordance with Government policy, expressions of interest have been sought through the Public Appointments Service (PAS) from suitably qualified and experienced persons for consideration for appointment to the following boards of Bodies operating under the aegis of my Department. Leárgas Ltd – The Exchange Bureau; The Higher Education Authority (HEA); Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI); The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA); The State Examinations Commission (SEC); The Teaching Council Grangegorman Development Agency (GDA); National Council for Special Education (NCSE).

Three appointments were made to the Board of Foras Áiseanna Saothair (FÁS), these vacancies were not published on PAS. Appointments to the Board of FÁS were made after consultation with the Minister for Social Protection and the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

It should be noted that Board appointments, while made by me as Minister, are not in all cases made at my sole discretion. Individuals may be nominated for appointment by various organisations as specified in the relevant statute of the body concerned. The Deputy should further note that in making any direct Ministerial appointments, I am not necessarily confined to those who make such expressions of interest but will ensure that all of those appointed have the relevant skills and competencies for the positions. In making any direct Ministerial board appointment, all of those appointed are obliged to have the relevant qualifications/experience for the positions. In that respect regard is given to the body or agency in question and its particular area of responsibility as well as ensuring that the board members have an appropriate mix of skills and experience in such areas as corporate governance, legal expertise, financial expertise.

The information requested on the number of appointees and the percentage of appointments made that were subject to the PAS process is outlined in the following table.

Details of Boards appointed from PAS

Name of Board

Number of Vacancies [Note 1]

Appointments made from members of the public who applied through the PAS process

% subject to a public applications process

Léargas

10

0

0

Higher Education Authority (HEA)

9

2

22

Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI)

8

3

38

State Examinations Commission (SEC)

5

2

40

Teaching Council

3

0

0

National Council for Curriculum & Assessment (NCCA)

3

2

67

Grangegorman Development Agency (GDA)

6

3

50

National Council for Special Education (NCSE)

13

2

15

Note 1: It should be noted that Board appointments, while made by the Minister, are not in all cases made at his sole discretion. Individuals may be nominated for appointment by various organisations as specified in the relevant statute of the body concerned.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (309)

Michael McCarthy

Question:

309. Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the provisions available for the continuing education of a student (details supplied) in Dublin 24 with special needs; his views that this acceptable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8165/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The child referred to by the Deputy will be assessed by a Psychologist nominated by the National Educational Psychological Service. My Department will provide home tuition on an interim basis pending the completion of that assessment and a decision about the child's placement in school.

Higher Education Institutions

Questions (310, 311)

Dara Calleary

Question:

310. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has adopted as policy the proposed amalgamation of the Church of Ireland Teacher College of Education into a new campus in Drumcondra, Dublin. [8171/13]

View answer

Dara Calleary

Question:

311. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has had any direct engagement, or consultations, with principals, teachers, board of management members, or parents of children in primary schools under Church of Ireland, Presbyterian and Methodist control in respect of his proposal to amalgamate the CICE with other colleges on a new campus in Drumcondra, Dublin. [8172/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 310 and 311 together.

I have accepted the recommendations set out in a report commissioned by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) on the structures of initial teacher education. The purpose of the report was to identify possible new structures to improve initial teacher education in Ireland so that it is comparable with the best in the world. The international panel of education experts recommended that teacher education be provided in six "centres for teacher education". Currently there are 19 state funded providers of ITE (and three non-state funded) offering more than 40 college programmes in primary and post-primary teaching. The new collaborations recommended by the international panel will mean that there will be a smaller number of centres for ITE offering education across multiple sectors from early childhood to primary, to post primary to adult education. These centres for teacher education will also possess a critical mass in terms of research capacity which is not always possible in smaller institutions.

The review panel suggested the Church of Ireland College of Education would be suitably positioned to join any of the first three new configurations. In the course of consultation, I have advised the college authorities that while I cannot support all colleges remaining on their current campus, I am happy for them to negotiate their own destiny, consistent with their desire to protect their ethos within the broad parameters of the HEA report. As you are aware, CICE publicly signalled its intention to join DCU, St Patrick's College, Drumcondra and the Mater Dei Institute and I understand discussions are ongoing.

Irish Language Issues

Questions (312)

Simon Harris

Question:

312. Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow will qualify for an Irish exemption in second level school as a result of their special educational needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8226/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

In primary and post-primary schools recognised by my Department the study of Irish is compulsory however, there are certain limited circumstances whereby an exemption from the study of Irish may be granted.

In this regard my Department's Circular M10/94 for pupils attending post-primary schools outlines the circumstances whereby an exemption from the study of Irish may be granted. Under the terms of this Circular delegated authority to grant exemptions, within the conditions laid down, is vested in the school management authorities of recognised post-primary schools. Where a school has a query on how the Circular should be applied in respect of any particular application they may seek the advice of my Department's Inspectorate.

In respect of the case referred to by the Deputy the parents of the child should make a written application for an exemption to their child's school. If the application is being sought on the grounds of a specific learning disability the application should be supported with a psychologist's report carried out by a qualified psychologist not more than two years prior to the application for an exemption.

Student Support Schemes Issues

Questions (313)

Tom Fleming

Question:

313. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consider introducing a new emergency scheme to assist students who are experiencing exceptional financial hardship and who will be left with no other option but to withdraw from college/university unless they receive urgent assistance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8261/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Students in third-level institutions experiencing exceptional financial need can apply for support under the Student Assistance Fund. This Fund assists students, in a sensitive and compassionate manner, who might otherwise, due to their financial circumstances, be unable to continue their third level studies.

Information on the fund is available through the Access Officer in the third level institution attended. The Access Officers themselves will also continue to provide support and advice to students to enable them to continue with their studies.

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

Questions (314)

Michael McCarthy

Question:

314. Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Education and Skills with regard to Student Universal Support Ireland the reason the basic supplementary welfare allowance is not allowable as a payment for means testing for the grant in view of the fact that it is a social welfare payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8303/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Persons in receipt of the supplementary welfare allowance may apply for a student grant. Assuming that students satisfy all of the relevant terms and conditions of the student grant scheme, eligible students on this payment qualify for the standard rate of grant. Tuition fees and the student contribution are also paid on their behalf where these arise.

The supplementary welfare allowance doers not qualify a student for the special rate of maintenance grant because it is considered to be a short-term payment.

School Transport Eligibility

Questions (315)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

315. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding school transport in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8321/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Under the terms of my Department's Primary School Transport scheme children are eligible for transport where they reside not less than 3.2 kms from and are attending their nearest national school as determined by the Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.

Children who are not eligible for school transport, under the terms of the scheme, may avail of transport on a concessionary basis subject to a number of a conditions including the availability of spare seats on an existing service and the payment of the annual charge.

Bus Éireann which operates the School Transport Scheme, on behalf of my Department, has advised that they have been in contact with the family in question regarding this matter.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (316)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

316. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills following on from the announcement of capital funding for a school (details supplied) in County Dublin, when he expects this school to be built; the capacity of the school; the date on which he expects enrolment to take place; and any other information about this school that he has at his disposal relevant to its immediate future. [8329/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The delivery of a new 1,000 pupil post-primary school referred to by the Deputy has been devolved to Co. Dublin VEC. The project is in Architectural Planning and is expected to become available for September 2014. The VEC have advised that they expect to be in a position to take a maximum of 120 1st year pupils for September 2014.

State Examinations

Questions (317)

Robert Troy

Question:

317. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he considered bringing forward the date for publication of the junior certificate results to August to enable students to make an informed decision on subject selection for the leaving certificate cycle; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8337/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The State examinations currently operate within the tightest of timeframes and to maximum capacity. For the 2012 examinations the State Examinations Commission processed 1.9 million individual component results leading to 980,000 subject grades which were awarded to 115,000 candidates. In 2012 the Junior Certificate results were issued on Wednesday 12th September some four weeks after the Leaving Certificate results on Wednesday 15th August.

Of necessity, priority is given to processing the examination results in the higher stakes Leaving Certificate in order to provide the earliest possible issue of results for the benefit of candidates sitting their terminal school leaving examinations and to facilitate offers of college places through the college entry process conducted by the Central Applications Office and the college admissions offices.

The current examinations timetable and results processing schedule maximises the time available to collect and process the written examination scripts and other component results, and to then resolve the problems which arise with regard to individual results. While the examinations operate to extremely tight timeframes the SEC places huge emphasis on operational efficiency, security, and quality at every stage of the operation. Even when the Framework in Junior Cycle is introduced from September 2014 on a phased basis, it is expected that students will receive their School Certificate in the Autumn after the completion of year 3. This new reporting system will commence in Autumn 2017.

School Curriculum

Questions (318)

Eric J. Byrne

Question:

318. Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will confirm the guidelines regarding transition year work experience and if it is allowable for students to engage in work experience one day over the course of the academic year; his views on whether instances of this nature are ideal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8370/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

In relation to Transition Year work experience there are a number of models currently in use by schools. I am aware that a number of schools have changed work experience from a one or two week block release to one day a week for the year. This is a considered response to local needs. Schools are free to interpret the TY Guidelines themselves and to provide their own unique programme for their schools.

Education Policy

Questions (319, 320)

David Stanton

Question:

319. Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 90 of 30 January 2013, if he or the National Council for Special Education have estimates for the prevalence of ASD in the pupil population; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8403/13]

View answer

David Stanton

Question:

320. Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he recognises autism as a specific condition which requires specific supports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8405/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions 319 and 320 together.

I previously advised the Deputy that the NCSE developed estimates on the prevalence of special educational needs as part of its process to advise the Minister on the implementation of the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN), Act 2004.

The Council estimated at that time that up to 18% of the school going population may have a special educational need, as defined under the EPSEN Act, while a more recent NCSE Report: A Study of the Prevalence of Special Educational Needs (2011) estimates that this figure may be even higher that 18% of the pupil population.

With regard to the prevalence of children with autism in the school going population, the NCSE Implementation report, 2006, adopted 0.56% as the prevalence rate for autism. As at that time, there were no reliable studies on the prevalence of autism in Ireland, the NCSE based this on the Task Force for Autism report which recommended that "as an initial target, provision be made for services for at least 20 per 10,000 with Autistic Spectrum Disorder and for 36 per 10,000 with Asperger's Syndrome".

A later international review of the literature of best practice provision in the education of people with autistic spectrum disorder (Parsons et al, 2009) commissioned by the NCSE, found that prevalence rates vary, with some systematic studies showing prevalence rates of up to 100 per 10,000 (1%) of people with ASD.

My Department strives to ensure that a continuum of special education provision is available as required for children with special educational needs. In line with this approach the policy is to promote a child-centred approach to education of all children with special educational needs including those with autism. As each child with autism is unique they should have access to a range of different approaches to meet their individual needs.

Children with autism present with a wide range of needs. Some children are capable of being fully integrated into mainstream schools with additional teaching and/or care assistance. Many are best enrolled in autism-specific classes where more intensive and supportive interventions are required. Some may move from one setting to another as they get older and differing needs/strengths/abilities emerge.

The Deputy will be aware that the establishment of a network of autism-specific special classes in schools across the country to cater for children with autism has been a key educational priority in recent years.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

Questions (321)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

321. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a Student Universal Support Ireland application in respect of a person (details supplied); when first payment will be received; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8411/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Officials in my Department have confirmed with Student Universal Support Ireland that the student referred to by the Deputy is a postgraduate student and he has been awarded a fee grant in accordance with the terms and conditions of the student grant scheme. An award letter issued to the student in this regard on 6th February 2013. Fee grants are paid directly to institutions on students' behalf with payment being made when institutions invoice the grant awarding authority.