Nitrates Directive Issues

Questions (213)

Dan Neville


213. Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if an official in his Department will contact a person (details supplied) in County Limerick regarding a single farm payment and fine; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21044/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The person named was the subject of a nitrates inspection by my Department, on behalf of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government, on 15 February 2012. This inspection recorded breaches under the nitrates regulations relating to the inadequate collection of manure, inadequate management of storage facilities for manure and the stockpiling of farmyard manure on land in contravention of regulations regarding the maintenance of buffer zones. As a result a penalty of 20% was recorded against the applicant’s 2012 direct payments. The applicant was notified of this decision on 23 February 2012.

The applicant requested a review of this decision and the outcome of the review, which was to uphold the original decision, was notified by letter dated 5 October 2012. The applicant was also advised of the right to appeal the outcome of the review to the independent Agriculture Appeals Office, within three months of the date of the review letter. My Department understands that no such appeal was lodged. My Department is in the process of contacting the person concerned to restate the position.

In terms of assisting the person concerned to become compliant in the future, I would draw attention to the Farm Advisory System,FAS, under which my Department approves and trains advisors on the detail of the requirements under the various cross compliance measures. A list of approved FAS advisors is available on my Department’s website.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Applications

Questions (214)

Éamon Ó Cuív


214. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a decision will issue on an application in respect of a person (details provided ) for the disadvantaged area scheme 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21081/13]

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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 to have achieved 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. It is understood that the committee’s adjudication on this appeal will be notified to the appellant in writing in the coming days.

Public Sector Pensions Expenditure

Questions (215)

Mary Lou McDonald


215. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will provide in tabular form information on lump sum payments (details supplied) paid to retiring public sector workers between March 2011 and March 2013. [21581/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The information requested by the Deputy in respect of staff who retired from my Department in the relevant period is set out in the table following. It is important to note that these are gross lump sum payments and may be subject to certain deductions.

The parallel information in respect of the State bodies under the aegis of my Department is a matter for the bodies themselves.

Gross Lump Sums Paid between 1 March 2011 and 31 March 2013

Lump Sum amounts range

Numbers Paid

10,000 – 20,000


20,001 – 30,000


30,001 – 40,000


40,001 – 50,000


50,001 – 60,000


60,001 – 70,000


70,001 – 80,000


80,001 – 90,000


90,001 –100,000


100,001 – 150,000


150,001 – 200,000


200,001 – 250,000


Over 250,000




Inter-Country Adoptions

Questions (216)

Andrew Doyle


216. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will outline the details of any bilateral agreements with Mexico for inter-country adoption; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20955/13]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

Mexico has ratified the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. As such, no bilateral agreement is necessary. The Adoption Authority has advised that the National Central Authority in Mexico has indicated its willingness to accept dossiers from the Adoption Authority.

Youth Work Projects Funding

Questions (217, 218)

Sandra McLellan


217. Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the reason she, at a recent Irish Presidency conference where the theme was quality youth work and social inclusion, gave a commitment to youth work at the European level, while at the same time she cut funding to quality youth work projects at the national level; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20978/13]

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Sandra McLellan


218. Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs in view of fact that at the recent Irish Presidency conference on quality youth work and social inclusion a set of conclusions was agreed with the expressed aim of influencing EU policy, if she will now support the Irish youth sector to make these conclusions a reality for marginalised young people; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20979/13]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 217 and 218 together.

The Youth Affairs Unit of my Department provides a range of funding schemes, programmes and supports to the youth sector. Funding of some €53.498m is available in 2013 to support the provision of youth services and programmes to young people throughout the country including those from disadvantaged communities. Targeted supports for disadvantaged, marginalised and at risk young people are provided through the Special Projects for Youth Scheme, the Young Peoples Facilities and Services Fund Rounds 1 and 2 and Local Drugs Task Force Projects. These funding schemes support national and local youth work provision to some 400,000 young people and involve approximately 1,400 paid staff and 40,000 volunteers working in youth work services and communities throughout the country. This funding allocation includes an amount of €1 million for fit-out, refurbishment works or building enhancement projects for the start-up of new Youth Cafés. It also includes €1.35m for a Local Youth Club Grant Scheme which supports youth work and youth activities in local communities. The funding for the local youth clubs grants has not been cut in 2012 or 2013. These grants are made available to all local youth clubs and groups through local Vocational Education Committees.

The savings required under the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure in respect of 2013 amounted to €5.393m on the funding that was available for the provision of youth services in 2012. Having regard to the savings requirements identified in the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure, my Department has tried to ensure that, in the determination process for the allocations, the front line youth services, particularly those for the most vulnerable young people are protected as far as is possible from the impact of these necessary reductions in funding.

A comprehensive Value for Money and Policy Review of youth funding has been commenced in my Department and this report is expected later this year. It is anticipated that this report will inform the provision of funding for youth programmes/services going into the future.

In addition, my Department is developing a new youth policy framework for publication later this year. The new youth policy framework will aim to enhance the provision of youth services and activities and it will, inter alia, promote coordination between government departments and youth sector organisations with a view to maximising the effectiveness of the State funding available to support services for young people in future years.

The EU Youth Conference held in March in Dublin was the highlight of Ireland's EU Youth Presidency and almost 180 young people and policy makers from all 27 Member States jointly discussed social inclusion challenges that impact on young people's lives such as employment and social supports as well as the role of quality youth work.

The Conference, which was organised by my Department in partnership with the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) also provided a major opportunity to showcase the talent and innovation of Ireland's young people and youth sector and almost 100 young people from youth organisations and clubs around the country were involved in supporting the Conference.

I propose that the conclusions from the Conference will be progressed at national level, through the development of the Youth Policy Framework. At EU level, they will inform the policy document on the importance of quality youth work to young people's development which I will bring to the Council of Youth Ministers meeting on 16 May 2013. They will also be progressed under the Lithuanian and Greek Presidencies and will form the basis of a Council Resolution on Structured Dialogue with young people at the end of the Greek Presidency in 2014.

Food Safety Promotion Board

Questions (219)

Andrew Doyle


219. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Health the role of the Food Safety Promotion Board; when the Board last reported to the North-South Ministerial Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20988/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Food Safety Promotion Board, FSPB, is one of six North-South Implementation Bodies established under the Good Friday Agreement in 1999. It is principally charged with tasks involving food safety awareness - through public campaigns, conferences, training and advising professionals and the general public. It is also involved in supporting North -South scientific co-operation and links between institutions working in the field of food safety - laboratories, statutory food safety enforcement agencies, and international and domestic research bodies. Its remit also includes the promotion of specialised laboratory services, North and South.

At the last Health North/South Ministerial Council meeting on 21 November 2012 a comprehensive paper on the CEO’s progress report outlining recent achievements by the board was presented to the Council. FSPB's 2012 Business Plan was cleared at the Education Sectoral Meeting of the North -South Ministerial Council on 27 February 2013.

Mental Health Services Funding

Questions (220)

Robert Troy


220. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health the progress that has been made in respect of the 2012 allocation of €35 million which was ring fenced but not spent; the additional community facilities that have been put in place; if this commitment has now been met; when the 2013 commitment of a further €35 million will be allocated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20859/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The special allocation of €35m provided in 2012 was for the provision of mental health services and was used primarily to further strengthen Community Mental Health Teams in both adult and children’s mental health services, to advance activities in the area of suicide prevention, to initiate the provision of psychological and counselling services in primary care, and to facilitate the transfer of mental health service users from institutional to community based care. 414 posts were approved to implement the €35m package of special measures. As at 29th April, 383 of the 414 posts approved in 2012 have either been filled, are under offer or awaiting clearance. The National Recruitment Service (NRS) of the HSE creates national panels in anticipation of vacancies. On occasion however, it is difficult to fill some posts for various reasons including geographical location, international shortage of some grades, most notably clinical Psychologists etc. The NRS is currently working to ensure that the remaining posts will be filled as soon as possible, subject to appropriately qualified candidates being available.

A further €35m was provided in Budget 2013 for the continued development of mental health services across a range of headings, including the further ongoing development of community services and 477 posts have been approved to implement these measures. Discussions are ongoing within the HSE, and in consultation with the Department of Health to finalise the allocation of these resources and commence recruitment. Business cases from each HSE Region are being finalised and examined, against each of the identified objectives, detailing how the funding is to be spent and the type and number of WTE to be recruited.  It is expected that this process will be concluded in the very near future with a view to recruitment of the additional staff proceeding as soon as possible.

Medical Card Appeals

Questions (221)

Ciaran Lynch


221. Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health if he will review the refusal of a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20872/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Health Service Executive has been asked to examine this matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible.

The Health Service Executive operates the General Medical Services scheme, which includes medical cards and GP visit cards, under the Health Act 1970, as amended. It has established a dedicated contact service for members of the Oireachtas specifically for queries relating to medical cards and GP visit cards, which the Deputy may wish to use for an earlier response. Contact information has recently reissued to Oireachtas members.