Social Welfare Benefits Eligibility

Questions (377)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

377. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Social Protection her views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding entitlements to social protection payments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30665/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The entitlement to social protection payments of people who own their own business, as referred to by the Deputy, depends on whether the individual pays PRSI as an employee or self-employed. In general a person who owns their own business is classified, for PRSI purposes, as self-employed.

Self-employed persons are liable for PRSI at the Class S rate of 4% which entitles them to access long-term benefits such as State pension (contributory) and widow's, widower's or surviving civil partner's pension (contributory).

Self-employed workers whose businesses fail or suffer from reduced demand or who do not have constant or continuous employment, may access social welfare support by establishing entitlement to assistance-based payments such as jobseeker's allowance. They can apply for the means-tested jobseeker's allowance if their business ceases or if they are on low income as a result of a downturn in demand for their services. In general, their means will take account of the level of earnings in the last twelve months in determining their expected income for the following year and, in the current climate, account is taken of the downward trend in the economy. As in the case of a non-self-employed claimant for jobseeker's allowance the means of husband/wife, civil partner or co-habitant will be taken into account in deciding on entitlement to a payment.

One-Parent Family Payment Appeals

Questions (378)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

378. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to the impact of recent legislative changes affecting recipients of one-parent family payment as in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9 who stands to lose their one-parent family payment which will leave them with a low paid part-time job that is below the basic rate of social welfare meaning their only option will be to give up their employment and sign on for jobseeker's allowance; if there is any mechanism in her Department to review the impact of what are ostensibly activation measures that in fact have the opposite effect and result in the withdrawal of persons from the workforce and make them even more dependent on welfare; if she will instruct her Department to examine all possible ways in which the person may be able to retain their employment and receive income support from her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30667/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

As a result of the reforms to the one-parent family payment (OFP) scheme, once an OFP recipient's youngest child reaches the relevant threshold age, they will no longer be entitled to the OFP payment. Should they still have an income support need, they will be required to apply for another social welfare income support payment from my Department. In order to qualify for another social welfare payment they must first meet the conditionality associated with that payment. It is worth noting that lone parents have always had to make the transition from OFP to another social welfare payment, as entitlement to OFP has always been based on the age of their youngest child.

For lone parents who will lose their entitlement to the OFP payment from 4 July, 2013 and who have a youngest child aged 14 years or over, as is the case with the client in question, a number of alternative options to the OFP payment are available. These customers can apply for the jobseeker’s allowance (JA), with the full conditionality of that scheme applied. This includes satisfying the scheme rule whereby JA is payable only where a person is fully unemployed for four out of any seven days. In situations where the working patterns of these customers do not conform to this rule, other options are offered. They may be able to re-organise their current hours of employment to satisfy the JA scheme conditionality or secure an increase in their working hours in order to qualify for the family income supplement (FIS) – which requires individuals to work a minimum of 19 hours per week.

If they are unable to meet either the JA or FIS scheme rules, and if they continue to have an income support need, they may have recourse to the supplementary welfare allowance (SWA), which, subject to satisfying a means test, is paid at €2 lower than the basic rate of the OFP payment (€186 per week compared to €188 per week - respectively) but which has the same additional increases for each qualified child (€29.80 per week per child).

My Department is in contact with customers whose OFP payment is due to end to advise them of their options and I understand that this has included the person referred to in the Deputy's question.

The current reforms to the OFP scheme are essential to achieve the necessary progressive outcomes for lone parents and their children – who are over-represented, compared to other social groups, in terms of poverty risk. These reforms aim to provide the necessary supports to lone parents to help them to escape poverty and social exclusion, participate in education and training, develop their skills set, enter the workforce or broaden their existing working commitments and, ultimately, attain financial independence and social well-being for both themselves and their families.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals

Questions (379)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

379. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection if a decision has been made on an application for domiciliary care allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30680/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

An application for domiciliary care allowance was received from the person concerned on the 14 December 2012. This application was referred to one of the Department's Medical Assessors who considered that the child was not medically eligible for the allowance. A letter issued on the 25 February 2013 advising of the decision.

The person concerned subsequently lodged an appeal against this decision. As part of the appeal process, the case was reviewed by a second Medical Assessor on the 12 June 2013 who confirmed the opinion that the child was not medically eligible for the allowance. The file was forwarded to the Social Welfare Appeals Office on the 21 June 2013 to have the appeal processed.

Pension Provisions

Questions (380)

Niall Collins

Question:

380. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Social Protection if and when the Labour Relations Commission recommendations (details supplied) will be implemented; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30746/13]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The Labour Court recommended in July 2008 (LCR19293) that an agreed pension scheme should be introduced for Community Employment (CE) scheme supervisors and assistant supervisors, and that such a scheme should be adequately funded by FÁS. Notwithstanding the positions of the Department (who now has responsibility for CE) in rejecting that liability for these costs to be met from public funds, this matter has been the subject of discussions with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the unions representing CE supervisors. In the event that funding was required from the Department of Social Protection, the implementation of the claim is not considered sustainable in light of the current and ongoing fiscal environment and the requirement to contain and reduce public expenditure. The costs of the introduction of any scheme are likely to be of the order of €3m per annum with retrospective costs of the order of at least €30m.

It should also note that the Department of Social Protection is not the employer of CE supervisors and such employees are not public servants. Neither was FÁS or the Department of Social Protection a party to the Labour Court dispute on this matter. The responsibilities of the sponsoring organisations and the individuals concerned must also be recognised when considering pension provision arrangements.

Jaunting Car Operators

Questions (381)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

381. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will consider creating a new entrance (details supplied) to Killarney National Park to facilitate jarveys; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30320/13]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

When the Mission Road was developed a new jaunting car entrance into the Park was provided nearer to the jaunting car stand located at the Kings Bridge entrance

The location of this new entrance is just beyond the end of the Cherry Tree Drive at Killarney House and was chosen carefully in order to preserve the integrity of the landscape adjacent to Killarney House and to avoid interference with plant collections and tree collections in that area.

I do not consider that the new entrance suggested in the question would be in keeping with the plans for the redevelopment of Killarney House and Gardens for which the local authority has indicated a decision to grant planning permission.

Údarás na Gaeltachta Expenditure

Questions (382)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

382. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 384 and 385 of 14 May 2013, if he will provide a breakdown as requested by person and year. [30233/13]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

At the outset, I wish to inform the Deputy that the payment of salaries and expenses is a day-to-day matter for Údarás na Gaeltachta and that the staff are paid in accordance with the relevant published pay scales. The Deputy will be aware that is not normal practice to provide personal details in relation to individuals who are so employed.

Topical Issue Debate

Questions (383)

Micheál Martin

Question:

383. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of Dáil Topical Issue debates submitted to his Department following selection by the Ceann Comhairle since March 2011; the number of topical issues taken directly by him; the number of topical issues taken by a junior Minister in his Department; the number of issues taken by a Minister not from his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30335/13]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

The information sought by the Deputy in relation to topical issues is outlined in tabular form in the following table.

-

The number of Dáil topical issue debates following selection by the Ceann Comhairle since March 2011

The number of topical issues taken directly by him

The number of topical issues taken by a Junior Minister in his Department

The number of issues taken by a Minister not from his Department

Total

14

5

7

2

Irish Music Promotion

Questions (384)

Seamus Kirk

Question:

384. Deputy Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the current strategy in the protection and promotion of national Irish music; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30526/13]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

I assume that the Deputy is referring to Irish traditional music in his question.

Comhaltas Ceoltoirí Éireann and the Arts Council are two organisations that play significant roles in the protection and promotion of Irish traditional music. Both organisations receive funding from my Department to carry these roles but are independent from my Department in the operation of their schemes and initiatives.

Details are available on their respective websites:-

Comhaltas Ceoltoirí Éireann - www.comhaltas.ie

The Arts Council – www.artscouncil.ie.

Turf Cutting Compensation Scheme Applications

Questions (385)

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

385. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht when will compensation issue to a person (details supplied) in County Offaly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30538/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

The individual referred to in the Deputy’s Question has applied for compensation under the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme, administered by my Department. The qualifying criteria for this scheme are that:

- the claimant must have a legal interest in one of the 53 raised bog special areas of conservation – ownership or turbary right;

- the claimant must have been the owner or entitled to exercise turbary rights on the land in question on 25 May 2010;

- the turbary on the site must not be exhausted;

- the claimant must have been cutting turf on the land in question during the relevant five year period; and

- no turf cutting or associated activity is ongoing on the property.

From an examination of the application submitted to my Department, it appears that the turbary on the applicable site is exhausted.

My Department has recently written to the applicant setting out its decision on the application.

Pension Provisions

Questions (386)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

386. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will outline the details of pension payments in respect of persons (details supplied) in counties Donegal and Galway. [30544/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

The details of pension payments in respect of the persons referred to by the Deputy are protected under the Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003. Therefore, Údarás na Gaeltachta is not in a position to supply the information requested. I am advised that all such payments are made in accordance with the relevant contractual arrangements.

Departmental Funding

Questions (387)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

387. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the total amount of money provided in funding either individually to the person or company (details supplied) since its establishment, from Údaras, Foras na Gaeilge, and any other public funding body, Irish language or otherwise. [30545/13]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

The Deputy will appreciate that the details sought by him are extensive and, accordingly, it has not been possible to collate the requested information in the time available. Údarás na Gaeltachta and Foras na Gaeilge have been requested to supply the relevant information directly to the Deputy as soon as possible. My Department will also forward the relevant information directly to the Deputy when it becomes available.

Ministerial Transport

Questions (388)

Niall Collins

Question:

388. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the total cost of ministerial transport in his Department in 2010, 2011, 2012 and to date 2013; the number of drivers employed in each year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30547/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht was established on 2 June 2011, following substantial Departmental reconfigurations. The amount spent on drivers and Ministerial transport, covering both Minister and Minister of State at my Department, in the period from 2 June 2011 to date in 2013 was as follows:

Year

Amount

2 June 2011 to 31 December 2011

€139,756.42

2012

€236,699.31

2013 to date

€102,326.60

All such expenditure has been incurred in full conformity with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform guidance on such matters.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (389)

Niall Collins

Question:

389. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the total costs of photography incurred by his Department in 2011, 2012 and to date 2013 in tabular form per event. [30563/13]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

The following table lists the occasions on which photographers were booked for events for the period since the establishment of my Department in June 2011 to date, the photographers or photographic companies engaged, and the actual or estimated cost associated with each specific occasion. The total cost amounts to €6,662.06.

This includes costs both for the booking of photographers and some general ancillary costs, such as postage, etc, where relevant. In a small number of cases, final invoices are still awaited.

TABLE: Cost incurred by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in relation to the engagement of photographers to cover Ministerial/Departmental events from June 2011 to date

Occasion

Photographer

Cost

Edinburgh Festival Fringe event

Alastair Devine

€362.23

Launch of Introduction of Architectural Heritage of County Galway

Joe Travers

€100

Culture Night, Dublin

Maxwell Photography

€599.25

2011 National Famine Commemoration, Clones

Philip Fitzpatrick

€400

2011 Open House Dublin, Lir Theatre, in conjunction with the Irish Architecture Foundation

Alice Clancy

€0.00*

2011 National Famine Conference, Dublin

Bernie McMahon (Mac Innes Photography)

€370.87

Release of White-Tailed Sea Eagles, Killarney National Park

Valerie O'Sullivan

€120

Launch of National Biodiversity Plan, Botanic Gardens, Dublin

Mac Innes Photography

€283.75

British-Irish Council Ministerial Meeting (Minority Languages Sector), Co Donegal

Tommy Curran

€80

Launch of Treaty Online Project, National Archives, Dublin

Mac Innes Photography

€341.83

Ballycroy National Park Whaling Exhibition

Eamonn O'Boyle

€320

Official Opening of Burren National Park Information Centre, Corofin

Nicholas Mac Innes

€550

Association of Performing Arts Presenters Conference 2012 event

Erin Baiano

€347.89

Commemoration at Teampallín Bán Famine Graveyard

Domnick Walsh Photography

€205.70

Launch of Ireland's Memorial Records 1914-1918 at national Museum

Lensmen

€209.10

Launch of Culture Connects initiative

Maxwell

€397.29

Presentation of coin find to National Museum

Maxwell

€466.17

Launch of Arts in Education initiative

Maxwell

€276.75

Display of coin find in National Museum at Collins Barracks

Maxwell

€413.28

Launch of Century Ireland website

Maxwell

€362.85

Seoladh Scéim Oiliúna Peile & Iománaíochta ar an gCeathrú Rua

Pixsheáin

€147.60

Dublin Launch of Venice Artist Biennale April 2013

Lensman & Associates

€307.50

* Part of a package of two events for the price of one

The hiring of photographers for Ministerial or Departmental events is dependent on a number of factors. These include the nature of the engagement, the expected level of media interest and the national/regional scope of the subject. At all times, value for money is a critical consideration in the context of the booking of photographers.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (390)

Niall Collins

Question:

390. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the details and costs of any newspaper supplements his Department has been involved with in 2011, 2012 and to date in 2013. [30579/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

In 2012 the Department sponsored two supplements with The Irish Times. These were a supplement to commemorate Home Rule at a cost of €11,229 and a supplement entitled 'How Women Won the Vote' at a cost of €9,800.

Natural Heritage Areas

Questions (391)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

391. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht when he plans to update the National Heritage Plan, 2002 to 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30640/13]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

Following on from the National Heritage Plan, 2002-2007 and over the course of the last five years, my Department’s responsibilities for the development of policies for the protection and promotion of our built and natural heritage has been actively concentrated on various on-going policy developments responding to the many current challenges for each of the sectoral areas within my Heritage remit.

Whilst my Department has no plans to develop an overall heritage plan updating the National Heritage Plan of 2002 to 2007 at this stage, this situation will be kept under review.

Angling Restrictions

Questions (392)

Martin Ferris

Question:

392. Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the reason restrictions on salmon and trout fishing remain in force on the River Bride when they have been lifted on other tributaries of the River Blackwater. [30602/13]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

Ireland manages salmon stocks generally on an individual river basis due to the fact that each river contains a genetically unique stock, which migrates to sea as juveniles and returns to the same river in adulthood to spawn. The conservation imperative means that exploitation of salmon of each river is only permitted where the independent Standing Scientific Committee (SSC) for Salmon determine that the stock in that river is above the Conservation Limit (CL).

I can also inform the Deputy that the genetic data for the Bride indicates that the salmon population is similar to, but not identical to, the Blackwater. The Bride is a substantial river catchment with an average declared rod catch over the 2002-2006 period of 79 salmon. Therefore the SSC assess the Bride as a fishery in its own right and advice is provided on that basis. On the contrary the other tributaries (the Glenshelane and Finnisk) are small catchments with an average of zero and one salmon recorded respectively in the rod catch over the 2002-2006 period. This fact and the fact that genetic analysis indicates no evidence that the salmon populations in these tributaries and the salmon populations in the main Blackwater are different from a biodiversity perspective means they do not warrant separate management.

The Bride was open for angling over the 2003-2006 period and the reported catch is set out in the table following. Rod catches were low and the estimated salmon run was below the then Bride CL of 1,379 salmon and consequently the river was closed for angling from 2007 onwards.

Further analysis was carried out by Inland Fisheries Ireland through the use of catchment wide electro-fishing in the Bride in 2008 and 2010 to determine juvenile salmon fry abundance. This gave an average of 17.55 salmon fry over both years, indicating good salmon spawning activity. These results enabled the SSC to recommend that the river re-open for catch and release angling in 2011 and 2012 and thereby generate additional rod catch information on the likely salmon run. Low rod catches were recorded in 2011 and 2012.

The SSC reviewed data relating to all salmon rivers in 2012 and a new salmon CL of 1,570 salmon was set for the Bride for 2013. I am advised that the Bride is currently meeting just 59% of its CL and that rivers should open for catch and release angling only when they attain 65% of CL in order to provide an index of the size of the salmon stock. The fishery would need to be achieving greater than 100% of its CL in order for it to generate a surplus an enable it to open as a harvestable fishery on a sustainable basis.

I trust this clarifies the matter.

River Bride

Salmon catch harvest

Salmon caught & released

2003

83

21

2004

58

4

2005

62

0

2006

62

27

2007

Closed

2008

Closed

2009

Closed

2010

Closed

2011

Open catch & release

40

2012

Open catch & release

6

Better Energy Homes Scheme Applications

Questions (393)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

393. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if a better energy home grant will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30180/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) administers the Better Energy Programme. The SEAI has informed my Department that the applicant applied to the scheme for a solar thermal system grant and BER and a letter of offer was issued on the 8 March 2012. A grant expiry reminder letter was sent to the homeowner on the 9 July 2012 advising that under the rules of the scheme the offer would automatically expire on the 9 September 2012, if all documentation was not returned ahead of this date. The SEAI did not receive the grant documentation and consequently the grant expired on the 10 September and a letter issued informing the applicant that the grant had expired.

Following on from this the SEAI received completed paperwork on the 4 October 201,2 which was almost a month after the grant had expired and the grant request was declined due to expiry of offer.

To ensure the transparent use and administration of Exchequer funding, the SEAI is committed to delivering processes and systems, which are clear and efficient, and which operate in a manner that is fair to all applicants. The scheme rules explicitly state that the grant offer, once accepted, remains valid for 6 months from the date of issue of Grant Offer notification. In accepting the grant offer the applicant accepts all conditions of the scheme. It is not possible to make exceptions as to do so would be to alter the terms of the scheme and create a precedent for any other parties who have found themselves ineligible. Therefore the grant cannot be paid for this work as the terms and conditions of the grant offer were not met.

Queries in relation to individual applications are an operational matter for the SEAI and a dedicated hot line can be reached at 1800 250 204. In addition, the SEAI has recently established a specific email address for queries from Oireachtas members, which can be sent to oireachtas@seai.ie and will be dealt with promptly.

Departmental Agencies Board Appointments

Questions (394)

Michael Colreavy

Question:

394. Deputy Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if the mission of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland to provide informed advice to him is undermined by the fact that a non-executive director of a company (details supplied) is setting up a wind energy project in the midland; if a conflict of interest arises; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30303/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

In January of this year I signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with my UK counterpart, Mr. Edward Davey M.P., to explore the potential for export wind based renewable energy from Ireland to the UK. Intensive discussions are being progressed by my Department and its UK counterpart on this matter. Whilst the signing of the MOU indicates a strong statement of intent on the part of both Governments, considerable work remains to be done to put the necessary comprehensive framework in place. This would be necessary in advance of any specific project being implemented and any such project will be subject to all appropriate statutory consents. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has no statutory responsibility in this regard and also has no regulatory role in the area.

In addition, the appointments of the Chair and Directors to the Board of SEAI are made in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Sustainable Energy Act 2002. The Board acts in accordance with the revised Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies published by the Department of Finance in 2009, and all Board members are required to make Statements of Interests under the Ethics in Public Office Acts 1995 and 2001.

Topical Issue Debate

Questions (395)

Micheál Martin

Question:

395. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the number of Dáil Topical Issue debates submitted to his Department following selection by the Ceann Comhairle since March 2011; the number of topical issues taken directly by him; the number of topical issues taken by a junior Minister in his Department; the number of issues taken by a Minister not from his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30337/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The information that the Deputy requires is a matter of public record and is available to view on the Oireachtas website http://oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie/.