Comhairle na Tuaithe

Questions (158)

Sandra McLellan

Question:

158. Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his views on the establishment of an access to the countryside advisory council and the appointment or designation of county council officials as access officers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29911/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Comhairle na Tuaithe (The Countryside Council) was established in 2004 with a primary focus on the priority areas of:

- access to the countryside,

- developing a countryside code and

- developing a countryside recreation strategy.

Comhairle na Tuaithe comprises representatives of the farming organisations, recreational users of the countryside and state bodies with an interest in the countryside. From this the National Countryside Recreation Strategy was published in 2006 and “Leave No Trace” has recently been established as the prevailing code for recreational users of the countryside.

Comhairle na Tuaithe has provided a valuable forum bringing key stakeholders together building trust and co-operation. Access to the countryside for recreational users has proven to be an on-going problem for private landowners, state landholders, recreational users and tourists alike but issues have been significantly progressed through the efforts of Comhairle na Tuaithe and the introduction of the Walks Scheme. While the organisations represented on Comhairle na Tuaithe have individual views on many of the issues to be progressed, the National Countryside Recreation Strategy reflects the consensus view of its members.

Meetings are chaired by my Department. The group meets regularly to discuss and progress matters relating to rural recreation and activity tourism. My Department also sit on the National Trails Advisory Committee which oversees best practice in relation to trail planning and development.

Through Service Level Agreements between my Department and Local Development Companies, Rural Recreational Officers are employed to raise awareness of the walking and activity/recreation product, and to facilitate tourism and marketing initiatives, and they have negotiated and managed Walks Scheme maintenance contracts with over 1800 landowners, all on a permissive access basis. Work has recently commenced on renewing these maintenance contracts for a further five year period. The Rural Recreation Officers now represent a unique resource locally for providing best practice in trail maintenance, management, marketing and the development of a broad range of rural recreation and activity tourism products.

In light of the committees already in place and the very significant level of progress made through Comhairle na Tuaithe I feel that the establishment of an Access to the Countryside Advisory Council and the appointment or designation of county council officials as access officers is not warranted. There are approximately 620 trails throughout the country listed on the Irish trails website which are all based on permissive access.

Control of Dogs

Questions (159)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

159. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he intends to amend or rescind the Control of Dogs (Restriction of Certain Dogs) Regulations 1991; if so, when it is likely to happen; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29700/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The regulations referred to in the Question were revoked and replaced by the Control of Dogs Regulations, 1998 . These regulations were subsequently amended by the Control of Dogs Regulations, 2011 and the Control of Dogs Regulations, 2013.

The regulations relating to dog control, which include regulations regarding restrictions on certain breeds of dogs, are under constant review by my Department to ensure that they are fit for purpose.

I have no plans at present further to amend or rescind these regulations at this time.

Local Authority Housing Issues

Questions (160)

Dessie Ellis

Question:

160. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide in tabular form for each respective year the number of persons from Ballymun, County Dublin, that were taken off the local authority housing list and provided with housing in the past ten years. [29723/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The information requested which relates to the allocation of dwellings to households qualified for social housing support, is not available in my Department.

This is a reserved function of the relevant local authority , which is carried out in accordance with the local authority’s allocation scheme.

Local Authority Housing Waiting Lists

Questions (161)

Dessie Ellis

Question:

161. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if any persons currently housed under the rental accommodation scheme are also on housing waiting lists with the local authority; and the reason for same. [29724/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

My Department does not hold information on the number of households on local authorities’ waiting lists. This figure continuously fluctuates as households are allocated housing and new households apply for housing support.

Since the commencement of Section 19 of the Housing Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2009 on 1 April 2011 formal legislative recognition is given to rental accommodation availability agreements as a form of social housing support. As a consequence, RAS tenants do not fall to be assessed under the new eligibility requirements set for new applicants for social housing.

In recognition that RAS is a relatively new form of social housing support, and that some RAS tenants may have had expectations about access to local authority rented accommodation, households accommodated in RAS prior to the commencement of Section 19 have access to a special transfer pathway to other forms of social housing support, which includes traditional social housing.

Commercial Rates Issues

Questions (162)

Brian Stanley

Question:

162. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will outline in tabular form the total moneys raised from commercial water rates for each local authority for the years 2010, 2011, 2012 and to date in 2013. [29751/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

2010 is the latest year for which audited local authority Annual Financial Statement data is available.

The information requested, sourced from the audited 2010 Annual Financial Statement, is set out in the following table.

Commercial Water Receipts

County Councils

2010

Carlow

691,406

Cavan

1,974,476

Clare

4,719,210

Cork

18,946,022

Donegal

6,341,431

Fingal

8,243,487

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown

6,086,457

Galway

4,419,966

Kerry

7,716,204

Kildare

8,577,062

Kilkenny

3,003,282

Laois

1,847,667

Leitrim

685,838

Limerick

6,836,658

Longford

1,657,701

Louth

2,671,399

Mayo

6,007,719

Meath

3,311,120

Monaghan

1,573,946

North Tipperary

3,096,282

Offaly

1,774,441

Roscommon

2,308,601

Sligo

3,054,356

South Dublin

7,703,925

South Tipperary

2,440,682

Waterford

1,513,759

Westmeath

2,202,721

Wexford

5,505,420

Wicklow

1,751,375

City Councils

2010

Cork

6,056,380

Dublin

22,991,930

Galway

4,019,252

Limerick

5,973,350

Waterford

4,268,589

Town & Borough Councils

2010

Clonmel

556,778

Drogheda

526,658

Kilkenny

5,154

Sligo

0

Wexford

429

Arklow

556,413

Athlone

0

Athy

239,083

Ballina

30

Ballinasloe

575

Birr

270

Bray

1,634,277

Buncrana

0

Bundoran

0

Carlow

616,106

Carrick on Suir

110,208

Carrickmacross

162

Cashel

142,090

Castlebar

0

Castleblayney

0

Cavan

0

Clonakility

0

Clones

0

Cobh

0

Dundalk

809,097

Dungarvan

0

Ennis

0

Enniscorthy

42

Fermoy

0

Kells

818

Killarney

975,660

Kilrush

0

Kinsale

0

Letterkenny

0

Listowel

272,082

Longford

0

Macroom

0

Mallow

0

Midleton

0

Monaghan

1,750

Naas

938,383

Navan

3,331

Nenagh

0

New Ross

0

Skibbereen

0

Templemore

0

Thurles

0

Tipperary

163,318

Tralee

1,009,726

Trim

0

Tullamore

5,431

Westport

0

Wicklow

333

Youghal

0

Public Sector Staff Recruitment

Questions (163)

Brian Stanley

Question:

163. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if Uisce Éireann has employed a press relations officer; if so, the name of the person; and at what cost. [29752/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I have been advised by Uisce Éireann / Irish Water that it has not employed a press relations officer to date. Press matters for Uisce Éireann / Irish Water are currently being handled by Bord Gáis Éireann on its behalf.

Household Charge Collection

Questions (164)

Brian Stanley

Question:

164. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if the deadline date for payment of the household charge, which has been conveyed to the public as being 31 March 2012, is set out in legislation; if this is the case, the Act and section of that Act in which it is included; the deadline date set out in legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29834/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 provides the legislative basis for the Household Charge. Under the Act, an owner of a residential property on the liability date is liable to pay the Household Charge, unless otherwise exempted or entitled to claim a waiver. It is a matter for an owner of a residential property to determine liability and pay the Charge.

The 2011 Act defines the Household Charge liability date as 1 January and, in Section 5, provides that the owner of a residential property is to pay the Household Charge on or before such date as may be prescribed. The Local Government (Household Charge) Regulations 2012 state that a period of 3 months from the liability date is prescribed for the purposes of the relevant provisions of Section 5 of the 2011 Act. As such, payment was due by 31 March 2012, with the exception of owners who paid by direct debit in four instalments on 31 March, 31 May, 31 July and 30 September 2012.

Child Care Services Funding

Questions (165)

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

165. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if officials in his Department have issued directions to the Kildare Leader company that a community child care facility (details supplied) in County Kildare, which had received approval in principle for a proposed development, may not receive funding; if the project, deemed eligible for grant aid by the Kildare Leader company has been deemed ineligible by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29847/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

There are 35 Local Development Companies (LDCs) contracted, on my Department’s behalf, to deliver the LEADER elements of the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 (RDP) throughout the country.

In line with the ‘bottom-up’ approach to rural development the LDCs are the principal decision-makers in relation to the allocation of project funding. Such decisions are made in the context of the local development strategy of the individual groups and in line with Programme’s Operating Rules and EU regulations. The LDCs can approve projects without the approval of my Department.

My Department only becomes involved in a project once the Board of the LDC has approved it and the Board minutes are submitted to my Department for review.

The only exception to this is projects that request funding of €150,000 or more, these projects are required to seek final approval from my Department. Again, however, this is after Board approval. The assessment of these higher value projects usually involves detailed consultations between my Department and the relevant local development company.

The project referred to in the Question is one such project. It was approved by County Kildare LEADER Partnership at their December 2012 Board meeting.  While a list of the projects approved at that meeting, including this project, was submitted to my Department on 21 January, 2013, its eligibility was not reviewed at that time as my Department was awaiting the submission of the entire project file for a full assessment in line with the Programme’s Operating Rules. The project file was received in my Department on 3 May 2013.

The European Commission requires that there is clear demarcation in Member States between various grant schemes to ensure that there is no duplication of funding. In this regard, as there was funding for childcare facilities available from other Government Departments, my Department in setting out the Operating Rules for the RDP excluded projects relating to childcare as eligible activities for funding. The Programme’s Operating Rules state “Aid shall not be awarded or paid in respect of the following mainstream categories…childcare”. I understand that the project in question had previously secured funding from the National Childcare Investment Programme but the project did not proceed.

Following an assessment of the file, County Kildare LEADER Partnership was informed that my Department considered the project ineligible on the grounds that it was for the provision of a childcare facility. The Group has been advised that the decision is open to appeal to a Principal Officer in my Department.

Local Authority Staff Issues

Question No. 167 withdrawn.

Questions (166)

Sandra McLellan

Question:

166. Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if officials of the Local Authority Arts Officers Representative Association, who work as local authority arts officers with Offaly County Council, are prohibited from meeting with elected representatives of Dáil Éireann to discuss local government arts policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29906/13]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Under section 159 of the Local Government Act 2001, each City and County Manager is responsible for staffing and organisational arrangements necessary for carrying out the functions of the local authorities for which he or she is responsible. Therefore, the matters raised in relation to employees of Offaly County Council are a matter for the Offaly County Manager.

Question No. 167 withdrawn.