Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Appeals

Questions (588)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

588. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a decision has been made on an appeal to the disadvantaged area appeal committee in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10055/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The person named is one of a number of applicants under the 2012 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, whose cases are impacted by the requirement of a minimum stocking density of 0.3 livestock units per forage hectare in 2011 and who applied for and were refused derogation in this regard. The person named subsequently submitted additional information to my Department which showed that this requirement had been satisfied, thereby allowing processing to be recently finalised. Payment will shortly issue to the nominated bank account.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments

Questions (589)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

589. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when payment under the 2012 disadvantaged area scheme will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10090/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The holding of the person named has recently been confirmed as having met the minimum stocking density requirements of the Scheme, following processing of the 2012 Sheep Census. This has enabled processing of the 2012 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme application to be finalised, with payment due to issue shortly to the nominated bank account.

Agricultural Colleges Data

Questions (590)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

590. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will provide details in tabular form, by college and course, the number of students who attended agricultural colleges in each of the years 2006 to 2011; if he will provide details for each college of the number of teaching personnel for those years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10092/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Under the Agricultural (Research, Training and Advice) Act, 1988, Teagasc has responsibility for the provision of education and training services to the agricultural sector. These services are delivered through a network of agricultural colleges, regional education centres and in collaboration with three privately-owned colleges. Within the various colleges and at local level, Teagasc provide a wide range of courses in agriculture, horticulture, equine studies and forestry. It is a matter for Teagasc to prioritise activities in the delivery of education and training services and to allocate resources in accordance with these priorities.

I understand from Teagasc that the data is not readily available in the format requested. They have agreed to assemble the data, and on receipt, I will arrange for it to be forwarded to the Deputy.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Appeals

Questions (591)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

591. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a decision has been made on a disadvantaged area scheme appeals committee in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10114/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The holding of the person named has recently been confirmed as having met the minimum stocking density requirements of the Scheme, following receipt of outstanding evidence relating to sheep on the holding. This has enabled processing of the application to be finalised, with payment issuing to the nominated bank account on the 14 February, 2013.

Agriculture Schemes Payments

Questions (592)

Finian McGrath

Question:

592. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if all the land that has no entitlements currently were to be taken into account, what would be the average single farm payment per ha; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10146/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The 2010 SPS database, which my Department has used to model various CAP reform proposals, shows an average payment per hectare of €272. If all land declared for which farmers did not hold Single Payment Scheme entitlements were included, the average payment per hectare would be reduced to €265.

Departmental Agencies Staff Remuneration

Questions (593, 594)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

593. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will provide details of the payment of bonuses or other performance related payments and or allowances made to the staff of agencies under the aegis of his Department with a yearly breakdown from 2008 outlining the overall amount paid in each year period and the number of staff that received such payments and or allowances. [10158/13]

View answer

Thomas Pringle

Question:

594. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will provide details of payments made to the CEO or equivalent of all agencies under the aegis of his Department including details of any bonuses, pension entitlements or any other remuneration paid to him or her in 2012. [10175/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 593 and 594 together.

Queries on bonuses, other performance related payments and allowances to staff in the State Bodies should be directed to the State Bodies themselves.

The details of the salaries of the Chief Executive Officers of the twelve State Bodies operating under the aegis of my Department for 2012 are outlined in the table below. In relation to two Commercial State Bodies – Coillte and the Irish National Stud - the salaries of the Chief Executive Officers are paid from the companies own resources as they do not receive funding from my Department. No bonuses were paid to Chief Executives of State Bodies under the aegis of this Department in 2012.

Body/Agency

2012

Non-Commercial

Aquaculture Licensing Appeals Board

This Board does not have a CEO. A Higher Executive Officer in my Department is Secretary to the Board

An Bord Bia

Salary €160,082

Bonus €0

Bord Iascaigh Mhara

Salary €129,512

Bonus €0

Benefit in Kind €4,212

Marine Institute

Salary €146,221

Bonus €0

National Milk Agency

Salary €85,600

Bonus€0

Sea Fisheries Protection Agency

€15,918 Chairman of SFPA held this position for 2 months of 2012.

Bonus €0

Teagasc

Salary €160,082

Bonus €0

Veterinary Council of Ireland

The salary of the Chief Executive Officer is on par with that of a Principal Officer

Commercial

Bord na gCon

Salary €162,917

Bonus €0

Pension €37,004

Other €15,264

Total €215,185

Coillte

Salary €265,252

Bonus €0

Pension €78,015

Other €27,352

Total €370,619

Horse Racing Ireland

Salary €191,000

Bonus €0

Pension €48,000

Other €8,000

Total €247,000

Irish National Stud

Salary €133,419

Bonus €0

Pension €30,250

Car Allowance €24,000

Total €187,669

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Appeals

Questions (595)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

595. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a decision has been made on a disadvantaged area scheme appeals committee in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10201/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The person named is one of a number of applicants under the 2012 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, whose cases are impacted by the requirement of a minimum stocking density of 0.3 livestock units per forage hectare in 2011 and who applied for and were refused derogation in this regard.

The person named subsequently availed of the option to appeal to the independently chaired DAS Appeals Committee. The Committee has adjudicated on this appeal and the person concerned has been notified of the unsuccessful outcome, in writing, on 22 February 2013. As advised in the letter, it is open to the person named to pursue the matter with the Office of the Ombudsman.

Live Exports

Questions (596)

Joe McHugh

Question:

596. Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will provide an update in the renewed trade of live cattle to Libya. [10217/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

A shipment of 2882 cattle from Ireland is currently en route to Libya. While I understand that further trade with Libya is likely, this is a commercial matter and not one in which my Department has any direct involvement.

Single Payment Scheme Payments

Questions (597)

Michael Creed

Question:

597. Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason a person (details supplied) in County Cork has yet to be paid their 2008 single farm payment; if he will make arrangements for immediate payment of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10219/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Under the terms and conditions of the Single Payment Scheme, an applicant, as well as meeting the Scheme criteria, is required to comply with EU regulatory requirements relating to cross compliance in the areas of public, animal and plant health, environment and animal welfare.

In this case, application by the person named under the Single Payment Scheme is currently being reviewed arising from an earlier investigation which lead to prosecution and conviction under animal disease and identification legislation. The applicant will be notified of the outcome of this process, including details of any outstanding monies due following application of any penalties arising, as soon as possible. Following this, the applicant will have available the normal right of access to the internal review process and, if necessary, to the independent Agriculture Appeals Office.

Sheepmeat Sector

Questions (598)

Joe McHugh

Question:

598. Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on current sheep prices; the work that he is doing to improve prices; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10222/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The market performance of the sheep sector, in common with other agricultural sectors, is a function of supply and demand. I am aware that sheep prices for the year 2013 to date are disappointing for producers and are running at around 17% below the 2012 level for the corresponding period. This decline is reflected also in other EU member states and can be attributed to a number of factors including increased imports from New Zealand and the impact of austerity in Europe on demand generally. However, I would like to put the current difficulties in context.

After successive years of decline, 2011/12 saw an important turning point for the Irish sheep industry. It was a period when confidence grew on the back of incremental growth in the national breeding flock. This brought about increased throughput at farm and processing level. During that same period Irish sheep exports delivered double digit growth and retail sales of Irish lamb have grown steadily. These developments are in sharp contrast to other Member States, where sheep meat production and domestic consumption have been falling.

Throughout 2012 a higher demand from both the domestic and export markets were evenly matched with supplies, particularly during the peak periods of hogget and main season lamb supply. Slaughterings in 2012 were up 12%, or 260,000 head to 2.43 million sheep. This included 68,000 extra hoggets, 160,000 extra lambs and 32,000 additional ewes and rams slaughtered in 2012.

On another positive note, exports of Irish sheep meat registered a solid performance in 2012 where total value rose by 7% to €205 million. Seventy percent of our production was exported, the vast majority of which was destined for the EU market. Just over 42,000 tonnes were exported to over 24 individual markets across the globe in 2012. France and the UK continue to be our core export markets representing three quarters of our volume exports. Strong increases in shipments were recorded to Belgium, Germany and Sweden as exporters continue to secure new business and grow volume with existing customers. Despite the ongoing pressure on retail meat sales in Ireland, lamb held its own, with data from Kantar Worldpanel showing a rise of almost 4.5% for the 52 week period ending November 2012.

Tighter global supplies that characterised the sheepmeat markets in 2011/12 have eased slightly as global production edges up 1% to 13.6 million. Good pastures and favourable lambing conditions in Australia and New Zealand have reversed four years of declining output. Production in both countries is forecast to grow by 3-5% this year. Due to the ongoing austerity in Europe and with an increase in the availability of cheaper lamb from the southern hemisphere, in comparison with 12 months ago, the price differential between New Zealand and EU lamb has been widening since summer 2012. The carryover of UK hoggets into 2013 has also put downward pressure on prices in the early months of 2013.

Today’s consumer seeks value and is prepared to switch to a cheaper protein option. Lamb is perceived as a relatively expensive meat and Bord Bia promotion campaigns play an important role in positioning lamb as a preferred choice. Increasing the frequency of purchase of Irish lamb and encouraging shoppers to look for the Bord Bia Quality Mark on-pack when shopping will be the key objective of the Bord Bia 2013 lamb promotions. Promotional activities will include radio advertising, which will be undertaken around Easter, announcing the arrival of early season lamb amongst consumers. Similarly, a series of promotional activities to include PR, publicity and in-store activities will be undertaken to coincide with peak availability of new season lamb. The TV advert highlighting the unique flavour of Irish lamb due to our ideal climate will play a central role in our 2013 promotions.

Overall numbers of lamb producers in the Bord Bia Lamb Quality Assurance Scheme (LQAS) stand at just over 9,300, which roughly equates to 45% of our national throughput. I recently launched the Sheep Technology Adoption Programme (STAP), which I believe will be a key element in driving the ambitious target for the sheepmeat Sector in Food Harvest 2020. The STAP is intended to provide participants with the knowledge and the skills necessary to improve on-farm technical efficiency in a number of key areas. The sheep sector is a key part of the Agrifood sector, especially in marginal land areas and there is huge scope to improve farm incomes through focusing on issues such as grassland management, financial management, breeding, health and welfare and environmental efficiency. The STAP provides an opportunity to grow the membership base of the LQAS amongst lamb producers, while also promoting the adoption by farmers of best practice in the various aspects of sheep farming. I have allocated €3 million to the STAP for 2013, with a maximum payment of €1,000 per participant. Though the Grassland Sheep Scheme was due to expire at the end of 2012, I decided to extend it for another year and am providing some €14 million for this purpose in 2013. The scheme will be funded from unspent Single Farm Payment funds. I am also providing for a continuation of the sheep fencing scheme in the amount of €3 million this year to enable many farmers in the sheep sector to complete the necessary investment works in order to maintain competitiveness and introduce increased efficiencies on their farm and so secure the future of their enterprises. I am confident that all of these initiatives will be of significant assistance in developing a strong and sustainable sheep sector for the future.

Agriculture Schemes Payments

Questions (599)

Paul Connaughton

Question:

599. Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the total number of farmers in the beef technology scheme in County Galway yet to be paid; if his attention has been drawn to an issue in relation to data inputting which appears to be causing a problem and which is putting farmers under severe pressure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10240/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Under Food Harvest 2020, ambitious development targets were set for a number of agricultural sectors, including the beef sector. In this context, €5m of Exchequer funding was made available in 2012 for the establishment of a Beef Technology Adoption Programme (BTAP) to encourage the adoption of best management practice on beef farms.

In order to qualify for the 2012 Beef Technology Adoption Programme, applicants were required to have satisfied one of the following criteria:

- Farmers with suckler cows must be current participants in the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme (AWRBS), that is, they must have received payments under the Scheme on 2010 born calves and have applied to participate in ICBF HerdPlus prior to applying for the Programme.

- Beef farmers without a suckler herd must have applied to participate in ICBF HerdPlus prior to applying for the Programme. Any farmer finishing animals to slaughter must have applied for membership of the Beef Quality Assurance Scheme (BQAS) before the application date for this Programme and must be a member of the scheme by 31 October 2012. He/she must also have finished a minimum of 15 cattle to slaughter in 2011.

Nationally, 5,685 applicants satisfied the entry requirements, 731 of which were from County Galway. In addition to the entry criteria, however, applicants were also required to attend a minimum of five Discussion group meetings/approved National Events and successfully complete two Tasks, selected from a menu of eight Tasks. Of the 731 Galway Programme participants, 164 are currently not paid. All unpaid cases are being reviewed and, where eligibility is confirmed, payment will issue; those confirmed as unsuccessful will be advised accordingly, in writing. In common with all Schemes/Programmes operated by my Department, those who are found to be unsuccessful will be afforded the right of appeal.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments

Questions (600)

Áine Collins

Question:

600. Deputy Áine Collins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when he expects payments to be made to successful applicants of the 2013 agri-environment options scheme. [10321/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

An application under the Agri-Environment Options Scheme from the person named was received in my Department on 14th November 2012.

The initial processing of the applications has been completed and acknowledgement letters have issued to all applicants. The detailed actions listed in each application are currently being recorded and all applications will be ranked and selected according to the predetermined selection criteria. This process is expected to take several weeks and letters will issue to all applicants informing them of the outcome of the selection process in due course. In the event that any queries arise on the application of the person named during this process officials in my Department will be in direct contact with the person named.

Under the EU Regulations governing the Scheme and other area-based payment schemes, a comprehensive administrative check, including cross-checks with the Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS), must be completed before any payment can issue. I expect that this process will be undertaken with a view to commencing payments to the successful applicants towards the end of the year.

Meat Processing Plant Inspections

Questions (601)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

601. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will restore the inspection levels at meat processing plants to 2010 levels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10416/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The onus of compliance with EU food safety regulations, including traceability requirements, rests in the first instance with food business operators. My Department maintains a permanent presence in approved slaughter plants. Regular visits are made to other Department approved meat plants. The frequency of these inspections in plants other than slaughter plants, which focus primarily on food safety requirements, is determined by a risk assessment, as required under EU legislation, which is conducted for each plant. My Department has been able to reduce the number of inspections at non-slaughter meat plants, where there is no permanent supervisory presence, by moving to a more robust and rigorous targeted system of official controls, based on the risk assessments mentioned above. Official controls and inspections levels are monitored independently by the EU Food and Veterinary Office and by the FSAI under service contract.

Food business operators in Ireland are responsible inter alia for carrying out checks to ensure that their ingredients come from approved plants. In meat plants that operate under the supervision of the Department, official controls are conducted on these checks to verify their effectiveness. An annual audit of imported products is carried out in each Department approved meat plant. The audit includes physical identity, labelling and documentary checks. This includes product originating both in EU Member States and third countries. Labelling and documentary checks also form part of the routine checks conducted by Department officials.

Under the Department’s National Residue Programme, and including tests on bovine samples carried out by processors, up to 30,000 samples taken at farm and factory level and covering a wide range of food stuffs are tested annually. These tests relate to microbiological and chemical standards, their primary focus being on food safety. These are fully in accordance with EU testing requirements.

In addition the Product Official Sampling and Testing (POST) programme is a microbiological testing programme on samples taken from Department approved ready-to-eat food, meat product, minced meat and meat preparation plants i.e. added value plants. This is part of the official verification of food safety controls in the plants concerned as provided for in Regulations (EC) 852/2004, 854/2004 and 2073/2005. A total of 1,600 samples are taken annually and the sampling and testing is risk based.

The number of inspections has not been found to be inadequate as compliance with existing food safety and food hygiene requirements was not an issue in relation to the mislabelling of meat products uncovered by the recent FSAI survey. It is clear however that the focus of checks henceforth will also need to include food authenticity and the EU wide programme of DNA testing recently agreed will provide the basis for consideration of future action in this respect.

In the meantime, in the light of recent developments, officials from my Department and the FSAI met with the meat processing sector on 14th February to agree a national protocol for DNA testing of meat to be applied at retail, catering and processing level in Ireland. This testing will provide further reassurance to Irish consumers and consumers of Irish food abroad about the authenticity of ingredients in our meat based products. DNA testing will apply from now on as part of routine food testing across the country. The following categories of food are being tested – pre-packaged beef products on sale to the final consumer or to mass caterers, beef products offered for sale without pre-packaging to consumers or to mass caterers and meat ingredients used in processed beef products.

Agriculture Schemes Payments

Questions (602)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

602. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a person (details supplied) in County Cavan will be paid their funding under the animal welfare scheme farm discussion group for 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10421/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

In order to qualify for the 2012 Beef Technology Adoption Programme, applicants were required to have satisfied one of the following two criteria:

- Farmers with suckler cows must be current participants in the Suckler Cow Welfare Scheme (AWRBS), that is, they must have received payments under the Scheme on 2010 born calves and have applied to participate in ICBF HerdPlus prior to applying for the Programme.

- Beef farmers without a suckler herd must have applied to participate in ICBF HerdPlus prior to applying for the Programme. Any farmer finishing animals to slaughter must have applied for membership of the Beef Quality Assurance Scheme (BQAS) before the application date for this Programme and must be a member of the scheme by 31 October 2012. He/she must also have finished a minimum of 15 cattle to slaughter in 2011.

Following validation of the application of the person named, it was established that he did not meet either of the qualifying criteria outlined above and he was advised of this position by letter dated 30 May 2012.

Foster Care Policy

Questions (603)

Michael McGrath

Question:

603. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if grandparents generally have any right to have some level of access to their grandchildren who are in foster care arrangements in circumstances where the children's parent is deceased; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10152/13]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

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

Foster Care Agencies

Questions (604)

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

604. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will detail the accredited adoptive agencies handling inter country adoptions in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013; the level of State funding provided to these agencies together with the number of inter country adoptions completed by each agency; the number of adoptions anticipated by each agency; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9782/13]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

Since the commencement of the Adoption Act, 2010, in November 2010 three agencies have been accredited by the Adoption Authority to facilitate intercountry adoptions: ARC, Family Bridge Adoptions and Helping Hands Mediation Agency. To date there have been no adoptions entered on the register of intercountry adoptions in relation to these agencies. The Adoption Authority advises that ARC expects to receive the first referrals from Bulgaria shortly and Helping Hands hopes to commence its intercountry adoption programme with Vietnam in the coming months.

In 2011 ARC was awarded €230,000 in National Lottery Funding from my Department. The HSE has not funded ARC to date. Family Bridge Adoption has not received any State funding to date.

Helping Hands received €5,000 in National Lottery Funding from my Department earlier this year to cover costs associated with travel required to conclude the necessary accreditation process. In addition, the HSE has funded Helping Hands to the order of €280,000 for 2010, €205,170 for 2011 and €190,000 for 2012 .

A number of issues in relation to accredited agencies are being examined by my Department in consultation with the Adoption Authority and the HSE; however, no decision in relation to future funding of accredited agencies has been made.

Early Child Care Education

Questions (605)

Michelle Mulherin

Question:

605. Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will examine the operation of the early childhood care and education scheme which allows payment for three hours a day for tuition but nothing for planning the practical detail and implementation of the curriculum for the children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9899/13]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme was introduced in January 2010 and provides for one free pre-school year for all eligible children in the year before commencing primary school. The Government has made a very significant commitment in maintaining the pre-school year on a universal and free basis despite the current budgetary situation. The universal nature of this programme is critical for childhood development by providing every child with early learning and preparation for school.

The objective of the ECCE programme is to make early learning in a formal setting available to eligible children in the year before they commence primary school. Services participating in the programme are required to promote age-appropriate activities and programmes. The payment made to a service is for the provision of services, including preparatory and supportive work such as engagement with parents, training and organisation.

Issues relating to workforce development, curricular support and capitation, will be considered as part of Ireland's first-ever Early Years strategy, work on which is at an advanced stage.

Early Child Care Education

Questions (606)

Michelle Mulherin

Question:

606. Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will consider re-instating the choice for parents of extending the early childhood care and education scheme to 50 weeks; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9901/13]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme was introduced in January 2010, and a number of transitional measures were included to make it more acceptable to the childcare sector. One of these measures related to the number of weeks over which the free pre-school year could be provided. At that time, approximately 30% of children in the relevant age-cohort were in full daycare. Therefore, in order to facilitate full daycare services in the early years of the programme, services were permitted to choose between providing a 38 week or a 50 week model.

I should emphasise that the ECCE programme is designed as an educational programme for children. It was always intended, once the programme had bedded-down, to introduce a standard 38 week model. This is primarily because this is the optimal model in terms of ensuring a high-quality early years experience for pre-school children. The Síolta and Aistear frameworks were developed to support this objective. The ECCE programme is designed to be delivered across 38 weeks. It is difficult to see how the curriculum can be delivered across a 50 week period when the children spend less time (generally 2 hours 15 minutes per day) availing of it.

My focus is on improving the quality of childcare services. For this reason, therefore, services participating in the ECCE programme are now required to provide the programme on the basis of 3 hours per day, 5 days per week, over 38 weeks. It is not mandatory that children attend every day but, where they do not, the capitation fee is reduced accordingly.

The change to the 38 week model only was introduced in September 2012 and all participating services have successfully made the transition to the new arrangement. There are no proposals to re-introduce the 50 week model.

Child and Family Agency Remit

Questions (607)

Jack Wall

Question:

607. Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the position regarding the family resource centre programme (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9932/13]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

The Government has approved the Heads of the Child and Family Support Agency Bill and has also agreed to the priority drafting of this Bill. The necessary legislative and organisational preparations are being prioritised so that the Agency can be established as soon as possible. The Agency, upon establishment, will assume full statutory responsibility for a range of child and family services currently provided by three separate agencies; namely the HSE, the Family Support Agency and the National Educational Welfare Board.

The Government's consideration of these matters was informed, by the content and recommendations of the Report of the Task Force on the Child and Family Support Agency which I published in July 2012. The Task Force considered that the Agency needs to be as broadly based as possible and should include a range of prevention, early intervention, family support and therapeutic care interventions. It is my intention that the Agency will have a role in supporting families and communities. I can assure the Deputy that the new Agency will build on the excellent work undertaken by the Family Support Agency over the last decade, and that a community based approach will form an integral part of the new Child and Family Support Agency.

Funding of over €23.5 million has been provided to the Family Support Agency (FSA) for 2013. This includes a dedicated provision of over €14 million in respect of the Family Resource Centre Programme in 2013. Under the programme some 106 Family Resource Centres will receive funding from the FSA this year. The FSA, like all other State bodies, has been asked to make savings across all the programmes which it administers. In this context the Family Resource Centres have been asked to focus, in particular, on identifying the scope for greater efficiency and for reduction in the administration and overhead costs associated with the day-to-day running of the centres.

The composition of the Board of the Child and Family Support Agency is currently under consideration. It will reflect the broad ranging nature of the Agency's responsibilities. In line with best corporate governance, the criteria for Board membership will be focused on ensuring that Board members have the requisite mix of experience and competencies needed to steer such a large organisation providing a diverse range of personal services.

The establishment of the new Agency and the wider transformation of children's services represents one of the largest, and most ambitious, areas of public sector reform embarked upon by this Government.

Adoption Records Provision

Questions (608)

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

608. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of persons that have registered with the National Adoption Contact Preference Register since its inception; the number that have been matched; the percentage of birth parents that registered the following preferences, willing to meet, exchange of letters or information or contact by phone, no contact but willing to share medical information, no contact but willing to share some information, no contact at the moment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10093/13]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

The National Adoption Contact Register (NACPR) was established in 2005 to assist adopted people and their natural families to make contact with each other, exchange information or state their contact preferences. Applicants decide, through a range of information and contact options, how they wish to proceed. It is intended that the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2013 will provide for placing the National Contact Preference Register on a statutory basis. I hope to submit the draft Heads of Bill to Cabinet for approval shortly.

At the end of 2012 there were 7224 adopted people and 3165 natural relatives registered with the NACPR. Just over 600 “matches” in total have been generated, i.e. over 600 adopted persons have been matched with one (or more) natural relatives. In 2012 the Information and Tracing Unit processed 542 new applications to join the Register, which resulted in 54 “matches”.

The Authority advises that around 80% of the natural relative applicants are parents, around 10% of them choose to have no direct contact, but may be willing to exchange some information. A majority of those choose to be discretely informed if a "matching" application was received and some of those changed their contact option when subsequently informed that a match had occurred. The Authority advises that people can, and do, change their minds about the type and extent of contact that they want and the Authority are happy to amend their applications accordingly.

The Adoption Board published a review of the operation of the Register from 2005 to 2007 in November 2007. This review contains detailed information about the register and is available on the Information and Tracing section of the Authority website,www.aai.gov.ie.

Departmental Agencies Staff Remuneration

Questions (609)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

609. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will provide details of the payment of bonuses or other performance related payments and or allowances made to the staff of agencies under the aegis of her Department with a yearly breakdown from 2008 outlining the overall amount paid in each year period and the number of staff that received such payments and or allowances. [10160/13]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

The information requested by the Deputy is not held in my Department. I have asked my officials to liaise with the agencies under the aegis of my Department to obtain this information and to forward it to you shortly.