Coillte Teoranta Harvesting Rights Sale

Questions (204)

Joan Collins

Question:

204. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if there are any legal considerations, obstacles or obligations, particularly in relation to environmental impact assessments in his consideration of the possible sale of the harvesting rights of Coillte; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21891/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Further to the Government decision that a concession for the harvesting rights to Coillte’s forests be considered for sale, NewERA, Coillte, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and my Department have worked to examine the financial and other implications of developing the potential of Coillte’s forest assets. This process includes the consideration of the legal position with regard any potential sale of harvesting rights.

The process is at an advanced stage and, aside from the valuation of the forestry assets, a number of issues are being considered in relation to the possible harvesting rights concession. These include, inter alia, the possible impact on the timber industry, public access to recreational land, environmental and social impacts and consequential implications for the company. This whole process is a very complex one and it is not possible at this stage to pre-empt the outcome of the analysis. As I have said previously, the Government will proceed with caution in relation to this matter and no final decision has been taken, as yet. The outcome of the overall analysis will be considered by the Government upon its completion.

Missing Persons Hotline

Questions (205)

Joan Collins

Question:

205. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will provide an update in the 116000 missing child number. [21628/13]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

The 116000 Missing Children Hotline is operated by the ISPCC in liaison with a cross-sectoral Project Team, chaired by my Department.

I am delighted to confirm that the phased implementation of the service, which commenced in December 2012, operating on a reduced hours pilot basis, has now become a full-time 24/7 service since Monday the 22nd of April 2013.

In addition I can confirm that:

- Memoranda of understanding between the ISPCC and the HSE, my Department and the Gardaí, respectively, were finalised in advance of the commencement of the pilot in December 2012.

- The funding received from both the EU Daphne fund and from my Department includes, in the establishment costs, the national promotion and advertisement of this Hotline service.

- The 116000 Missing Children Hotline service will be officially launched in Ireland on the 5th of June 2013.

Youth Services

Questions (206, 207)

Derek Keating

Question:

206. Deputy Derek Keating asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if her attention has been drawn to the impact of the cut in youth services in the Clondalkin, Palmerstown and Lucan areas; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the frontline services that are dealing with youth pregnancy, serious crime, drug addiction and anti-social behaviour are a vital part of response to the developing problems in young persons' lifestyles at present; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21685/13]

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Derek Keating

Question:

207. Deputy Derek Keating asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her policy in responding to youth pregnancy, youth crime, alcohol consumption and school absenteeism; if her attention has been drawn to the impact of the cuts for frontline workers in the youth services in Clondalkin, Palmerstown, Lucan and Newcastle; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21686/13]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 206 and 207 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 People's 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.

The savings required under the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure in respect of 2013 amounted to €5.393m. 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 any necessary reductions in funding.

In 2013, youth funding amounting to almost €1.5 million has been allocated to services in the Clondalkin and Lucan area. This includes:

Youth Affairs Funding 2013

Special Projects for Youth

€363,219

Young Peoples Facilities Services Fund 1

€479,965

Young Peoples Facilities Services Fund 2

€666,373

Youth Information Centre

€49,001

Traveller Development

€33,545

The funding allocated for the provision of youth services in Co. Dublin including the Lucan and Clondalkin areas is administered by Co. Dublin VEC on behalf of my Department. I understand that Co. Dublin VEC has consulted with the projects in the Clondalkin/Lucan area and assured them of their continued support for the projects in managing the resources available in the most effective and efficient way.

In addition, Co. Dublin VEC disperses small grant support, funded by my Department, to local voluntary youth clubs in the Lucan & Clondalkin areas. The Deputy should note that under the Comprehensive Review of expenditure, I have ensured that there has been no cut to the total national funding being provided by my Department to support the local voluntary youth club grant schemes as this funding plays an important role in supporting volunteer-led youth groups and in promoting and leveraging valuable voluntary activity in youth work.

My Department administers a range of measures to support vulnerable young people and it works closely with the youth sector, the Departments of Education and Skills, Health, Social Protection, Justice and Equality on shared policy objectives to promote healthy behaviours among young people, prevent early school leaving and to promote positive outcomes for them. These measures include the National Youth Health Programme which provides a broad-based, flexible health promotion/education support and training service to youth organisations and to all those working with young people in out-of-school settings. These youth services are often first point of contact for young people and can be important reference points for them in matters to do with care, health and welfare. My Department provides funding, under the Young People's Facilities and Services Fund, for the Late Night League Programme which supports soccer leagues at various locations across Dublin to encourage young people to become involved in local activities thus reducing anti-social behaviour involving young people in selected areas. The programme focuses on young people aged 13-21, promotes healthy lifestyles and takes place in disadvantaged areas during prime anti-social hours such as Friday nights. The initiative uses football as a tool for social inclusion and learning and has proved to be very successful in communities.

The National Educational Welfare Board, under my Department, provides a range of measures to promote attendance at school and to support families where children are experiencing difficulty in attending school. Over €26m has been provided nationally in 2013 for the School Completion Programme, which is administered by my Department and operates as a key support within the Department of Education and Skills DEIS action plan. Four local school completion projects are funded in the Clondalkin Lucan area with over €1m being invested in 2013 to support students attending the 22 schools participating in these programmes.

My colleague, Minister Shatter, has overall responsibility in the area of crime and anti-social behaviour and his Department funds a range of youth services, in particular Garda Youth Diversion Projects and Young Person Probation Projects, in areas of greatest need with a specific youth crime intervention approach, targeting those involved in or at risk of offending behaviour through early intervention work. These services are linking with other youth services provided by my Department to support effective crime prevention approaches.

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

Child Care Reports

Questions (208)

Denis Naughten

Question:

208. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the reason for the delay in publishing the results of the audit produced on foot of the recommendations in the report on the Roscommon Child Care Case; the reason the results of this audit, produced on foot of an inquiry are to be amalgamated with two further audits; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21742/13]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

The HSE has informed my Department that the report of the child neglect audit, which is a composite report including the findings from the Roscommon area, is now expected to be published in June. I am conscious that an earlier date was provided by the HSE in the recent past and am concerned to ensure this report is finalised and available as quickly as possible. I have asked my officials to contact the HSE again to seek a final and definitive publication date for this important report. I will contact the Deputy directly when these details are confirmed. The report is a composite work covering three audits in Roscommon, Waterford and Dublin. A decision was taken within the HSE to produce this composite report as the best means of disseminating the learning from the three projects. The report will be based on a sample of 30 cases examined from each of the three areas subject to audit.

The decision to publish a composite report along with the time taken by the HSE to ensure that all of the recommendations are being actioned were factors in determining the publication date of the report.

Youth Services

Questions (209)

Denis Naughten

Question:

209. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the steps being taken to protect frontline youth services in view of the projected 50% cut in the budget between 2009 and 2014; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21743/13]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

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 People's 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.

The savings required under the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure in respect of 2013 amounted to €5.393m which equated to almost a 10% reduction on 2012 funding available for the provision of youth services. 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 any necessary reductions in funding.

My Department has tried to be as equitable as possible in achieving these savings. In considering how best to manage within the reduced budgets available, organisations are being asked to consider the scope for reducing administration costs and overheads, if this is at all possible, in order to maintain the front line youth services for young people. I have met, and continue to meet with, many youth organisations and groups to try and see how we can work together to minimise the impact of these necessary savings in order to ensure that the provision of quality youth services to young people is sustained in these challenging times.

A comprehensive Value for Money and Policy Review of youth funding has been commenced in my Department and it is anticipated that the findings of this report will inform the future development of youth programmes and services.

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 co-ordination 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.

Child Care Services Provision

Questions (210)

Denis Naughten

Question:

210. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will confirm that all childcare services provided by persons employed outside the child’s own home will be subject to the provisions of the Children First Bill; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21744/13]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

The Deputy will be aware that I published the Draft Heads and General Scheme for the Children First Bill 2012 on the 25th of April 2012 and immediately referred the Heads of Bill to the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children for consideration and advice. The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children published its report in July 2012.

As part of the Joint Committees consultation process a number of submissions were received. Overall there was a welcome that the legislation would increase the focus on child protection. The contributions in the main came from organisations already implementing Children First.

Submissions were not all in agreement and many points emerging needed to be considered and reconciled. This involves consideration of policy and operational issues, including those pertaining to childminders, as well as the best legal approach to achieving Children First objectives. In this regard, officials within my Department have consulted with a number of organisations and individuals and I recently met with a number of key stakeholders to discuss the complex issues that have arisen. I have also taken the opportunity to consult with a number of experts in relation to the development of the policy in this area. These discussions will inform the preparation of enhanced policy proposals that is currently underway.

The framework is now focused on the safety and protection of children generally, the provision of safe services for children, co-operation amongst professionals and organisations where children are at risk of neglect and abuse and finally mandating key individuals to report child abuse known to them. The latter objective is aimed at removing ambivalence, reluctance or refusal by people and organisations in positions of trust and authority to report child abuse and co-operate with the relevant authorities. The Bill will create a range of responsibilities and duties on organisations and individuals and these will be detailed in the legislation. The precise requirements on varying sectors, organisations and individual professions, including inter alia child care providers, is currently under consideration and part of an ongoing process.

A further reason for reviewing the policy is to ensure that the related and relevant legislation will be compatible with and will complement the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act and the Criminal Justice (Withholding Information on Crimes Against Children and Intellectually Disabled Persons) Act.

It is my intention to submit further proposals to Government as soon as possible with a view to the drafting of the Children First Bill as a priority.