Ministerial Transport

Questions (491)

Niall Collins

Question:

491. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Defence 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. [30550/13]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

In accordance with Government Decision of 15 March 2011, I retain a State car and Garda drivers in my capacity as the Minister for Justice & Equality.

The Government Chief Whip and Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach and the Department of Defence, Paul Kehoe T.D., is assigned two civilian drivers who were appointed in May 2011. The costs associated with the drivers since May 2011 is set out below. Any mileage and car related expenses paid to Minister of State Kehoe are a matter for the Department of the Taoiseach.

Year

No of Drivers

Total Costs

2010

Nil

Nil

2011

2

€60,217

2012

2

€103,198

2013 to date

2

€48,982

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (492)

Niall Collins

Question:

492. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Defence the total costs of photography incurred by his Department in 2011, 2012 and to date 2013 in tabular form per event. [30566/13]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

The total costs for photography paid by the Department in 2011, 2012 and 2013 to date is set out in the table below.

Date

Occasion

Company

Cost

25/3/2011

Ministerial File Portrait Package

Maxwell Photography

€393.25 (Including VAT)

9/11/2011

Launch of Winter Ready Campaign

Maxwell Photography

€849.42 (Including VAT)

21/11/2012

Launch of Winter Ready Campaign

Fennell Photography

€116.85 (including VAT)

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, following an EU-level advertised procurement process, has established a Framework Agreement comprising five firms for the provision of photography services. The Framework was established in February 2012 and is open for use by all Government Departments and Offices. My Department avails of this Framework Agreement for photography needs.

I am satisfied that the usage and costs incurred in the hiring of photographers represents value for money. I remain committed to an overall policy of reducing costs and maximising efficiencies.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (493)

Niall Collins

Question:

493. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Defence the details and costs of any newspaper supplements his Department has been involved with in 2011, 2012 and to date in 2013. [30582/13]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

My Department has not incurred any costs in relation to newspaper supplements in 2011, 2012 and to date in 2013.

Ministerial Transport

Questions (494)

Niall Collins

Question:

494. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Defence the total cost including maintenance and usage of the Government jet in 2010, 2011, 2012 and to date in 2013. [30594/13]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

The Ministerial Air Transport Service (MATS) is primarily provided by the Gulfstream IV and Learjet 45 aircraft, which were specifically acquired for that purpose. The Casa maritime patrol aircraft have also been used infrequently for MATS missions where no MATS aircraft has been available for operational or technical reasons. My Department follows the normal practice in the aviation business of costing aircraft by reference to the average cost per flying hour under two headings:

- The direct cost which includes costs which are additional to those associated with having the aircraft and which only arise when the aircraft is flown including maintenance, fuel and support services such as catering, cleaning services and airport handling charges.

- The total cost which is the direct cost plus the costs associated with having the aircraft, including depreciation and personnel costs.

The average hourly costs figures were revised in 2011, the previous revision was in 2009, to reflect the changes in the variables used to calculate the costs such as salaries, flying hours, depreciation and support costs. A further revision is currently being carried out by my Department and these figures will be published shortly.

Details of the average hourly costs for each aircraft, as revised in 2011, are contained in the tabular statement below.

Aircraft

Average Direct Cost Per Hour €

Average Total Cost Per Hour €

Gulfstream IV

3,270

3,790

Learjet 45

1,940

4,200

Casa

2,800

4,210

Details of the average hourly costs for each aircraft, as revised in 2009 and applicable in 2010, are contained in the tabular statement below:

Aircraft

Average Direct Cost Per Hour €

Average Total Cost Per Hour €

Gulfstream IV

4,050

7,890

Learjet 45

1,270

2,950

Casa

1,335

2,820

Details of hours flown per aircraft type for the years in question are contained in the tabular statement below:

Year

Type

Hours

2010

Gulfstream IV

186.83

Learjet 45

160.75

Casa

NIL

2011

Gulfstream IV

120.50

Learjet 45

72.42

Casa

5.50

2012

Gulfstream IV

206.08

Learjet 45

131.83

Casa

NIL

2013 (up to 31 May)

Gulfstream IV

136.42

Learjet 45

76.33

Casa

NIL

The Programme for Government contained a commitment to introduce a new code of practice for the use of the Government jet, ensuring transparent and cost effective travel. In line with this commitment, information relating to the MATS is now published on my Department’s website and is updated on a monthly basis.

Ministerial Transport

Questions (495)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

495. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Defence the number of times on a yearly basis, a helicopter aircraft from the Irish Air Corps landed at the helicopter landing pad on top of Government Buildings at Merrion Street, Dublin, between 26 June 1997 and 8 March 2011 as part of the ministerial air transport service; the passengers for which each landing was conducted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30611/13]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

The Air Corps did not use the helicopter landing pad on top of Government Buildings during the period in question.

Departmental Properties

Questions (496)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

496. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Defence the amount of funding his Department has allocated for the upkeep and maintenance of properties owned by his Department and the Irish Defence Forces in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30698/13]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

The Defence property portfolio consists of a diverse range of facilities from conventional military barracks to forts, camps, dwelling houses and land. The principal assets are occupied barracks and a portfolio of 20,000 acres, mainly the Curragh land, Glen of Imaal and Kilworth Camp which are used for military training. Approximately €7.4M was spent by my Department in 2012 on general upkeep and maintenance of properties and lands. The expenditure was incurred in various areas including environmental maintenance and a wide range of works including minor non-capital building works such as maintenance of roads and squares within barracks and sundry other works including the painting and repairing of buildings as required.

Building works of a capital nature at military installations are also provided for under the Buildings (Capital) programme. These works range from projects involving major enhancement of existing facilities to projects which involve the provision of new facilities. The amount expended under this heading by the Department in 2012 was €5.5m.

Fodder Crisis

Questions (497)

Heather Humphreys

Question:

497. Deputy Heather Humphreys asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the practical steps and short to medium term interventions that can be and are being taken by his Department and TEAGASC to work towards trying to ensure that the fodder crisis that affected the farming community does not happen again to the same extent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30014/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

It is important that we do as much as we can over the next few months to ensure that Irish farmers are not faced with the same issues and difficulties next Winter as experienced earlier this year in sourcing adequate fodder for their animals. Accordingly, Teagasc’s Interagency Fodder Committee is currently monitoring the fodder situation while also examining and co-ordinating the next steps required to ensure that there is a strategic approach to fodder production and conservation to ensure continuity of supply.

I have also asked the Interagency Fodder Committee to report to the High Level Implementation Committee of Food Harvest 2020 which I chair, on the outlook for the rest of this year and also to detail the actions being taken to ensure adequate fodder is available for next Winter.

It is also important that farmers are maximising grass production and fodder conservation in the coming period and I have asked Teagasc to prioritise this policy in their advisory campaigns over the summer months. In this context, adjustments to the Nitrates regulations recently agreed with the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government will provide support to farmers to maximise grass growth and conservation into next Autumn.

Animal Welfare Issues

Questions (498)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

498. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the extent of any outstanding issues regarding compliance arising from accommodation provided in respect of animal welfare regulations in respect of a sow unit in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30051/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The person concerned is an approved applicant under the TAMS Sow Welfare Scheme. The applicant now wishes to alter the dimensions of the building in respect of which approval has issued to him under the Scheme. In these circumstances, a confirmatory letter from the relevant local authority or, in its absence, revised planning permission from that authority will be required before grant payment can be made. The applicant will, of course, have to comply with the other provisions of the Scheme before payment can proceed.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments

Questions (499)

Jim Daly

Question:

499. Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when the agri-environment option scheme payment will be paid for 2011 and 2012 in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30077/13]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The person named was approved for participation in the Agri-Environment Options Scheme with effect from the 1st September 2010. 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, have to be completed before any payment can issue. The person named was also selected for a ground Inspection which took place on the 12th May 2011. During this Inspection, areas of non-compliance with the terms and conditions of the scheme were noted in relation to the Tree Planting – Standard action which resulted in a penalty being imposed. The person named appealed this decision and he was informed in writing dated 30th November 2012 that he was successful. Subsequently full payment totalling €959.18 issued in respect of 2010 – 75% payment issued on 29th April 2013 and the balancing 25% payment issued on 29th May 2013.

Payment in respect of the 2011 Scheme year is also subject to a similar administrative checking process which includes verification of capital investments through checks on receipts. During these checks area discrepancies were discovered. These issues have now been resolved and I expect payment in respect of 2011 to issue shortly. Following payment in respect of the 2011 scheme year the checking process in respect of 2012 will get under way.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Appeals

Questions (500)

Paul Connaughton

Question:

500. Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a decision will be made on an appeal for disadvantaged area payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30102/13]

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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 were impacted by the requirement to have achieved a minimum stocking density on their holding in 2011 of 0.3 livestock units per forage hectare and who applied for, and were refused, derogation in this regard. The person named was notified of this decision on 16 October 2012.

However, the person named recently successfully appealed this decision, following which processing of the 2012 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme application was recently finalised. Payment will shortly issue to the nominated bank account.

Fodder Crisis

Questions (501)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

501. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the efforts he has made to draw down financial support from the EU crisis fund to alleviate the severe financial difficulties encountered by farmers here following the recent fodder shortage crisis. [30122/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The EU Solidarity Fund is not available as a source of assistance to farmers to alleviate difficulties which have arisen from the fodder situation. The EU Solidarity Fund is primarily confined to major disasters which have lasting repercussions on economic stability, living conditions and the natural environment. The EU Solidarity Fund only intervenes for non-insurable public emergency operations, such as repair of damaged public infrastructure, costs of rescue services, clean up operations etc. Unfortunately, a fodder crisis does not fall within the field of application of the Fund as laid down. It has been further clarified that compensation for private damage, including to businesses and farmers, is not eligible for Solidarity Fund assistance.

Fodder Crisis

Questions (502)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

502. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the measures he intends to take in the time ahead to assist farmers impacted by the fodder crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30123/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

It is important that we do as much as we can over the next few months to ensure that Irish farmers are not faced with the same issues and difficulties next Winter as experienced earlier this year in sourcing adequate fodder for their animals. Accordingly, Teagasc’s Interagency Fodder Committee is currently monitoring the fodder situation while also examining and co-ordinating the next steps required to ensure that there is a strategic approach to fodder production and conservation to ensure continuity of supply.

I have also asked the Interagency Fodder Committee to report to the High Level Implementation Committee of Food Harvest 2020 which I chair, on the outlook for the rest of this year and also to detail the actions being taken to ensure adequate fodder is available for next Winter.

It is also important that farmers are maximising grass production and fodder conservation in the coming period and I have asked Teagasc to prioritise this policy in their advisory campaigns over the summer months. In this context, adjustments to the Nitrates regulations recently agreed with the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government will provide support to farmers to maximise grass growth and conservation into next Autumn.

Common Agricultural Policy Reform

Questions (503)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

503. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans under the Common Agricultural Policy, Pillar 2, to compensate farmers who have lost out financially following the phasing out of the REP scheme and cuts to disadvantaged area payments. [30124/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 under which the current disadvantaged areas and agri-environment schemes are co-funded by the EU is coming to an end. The policy framework for the next programming period 2014-2020 is under negotiation at present and, when finalised, a new Rural Development Plan will be put in place. At that stage, I will examine all of the options and opportunities available to ensure that the maximum benefit is derived from the funding available.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Applications

Questions (504)

Finian McGrath

Question:

504. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if, under his proposals for Common Agricultural Policy reform, farmers who were previously precluded from receiving remuneration for afforestation on their land prior to 2005 will receive any remuneration for afforestation via direct payments or annual premiums under the new CAP regime; if not, if he will consider making financial provision for farmers with afforested land under the greening element of the new CAP, or if he has any proposals to introduce a carbon sequestration payment for farmers whose land has been afforested for more than ten years thus having a fully developed canopy and significant environmental value; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30174/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

An application under the 2011 Agri-Environment Options Scheme from the person named was received in my Department on the 12th May 2011. 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, must be completed before any payment can issue. The person named selected Form N on the application, indicating that he had designated Natura/Commonage lands. During the checking process on the application submitted, issues were identified in relation to the Natura Owned parcel declared which resulted in this action being ineligible under the Terms and Conditions of the Scheme. Without this action the eligibility requirements of the scheme had not been met and the application was rejected. On the 9th July 2012 a letter issued to the person named setting out this decision and providing him with the option to submit an appeal.

An appeal was received in my Department on the 2nd August 2012 and following a review of the file the original decision was upheld. The person named was notified of this decision on the 19th October 2012 and notified of his right to submit an appeal to the Agriculture Appeals Office. There is no record of an appeal from the person named to the Agriculture Appeals Office.

Common Agricultural Policy Reform

Questions (505)

Finian McGrath

Question:

505. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the position regarding an agri-environment option scheme 2 application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30174/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

We are now in the final phase of the negotiations on the reform of the CAP. This week I am chairing the final meeting of EU Agriculture Ministers under the Irish Presidency, and I am seeking to achieve an overall political agreement between the three EU institutions that will shape the development of the sector over the remainder of this decade.

In terms of the future structure of the single farm payment system for Irish farmers - or indeed any other aspect of the CAP reform package - I do not intend to take decisions until the deal is finalised and the full outcome is known. I will then consider all aspects of the new pillar 1 and pillar 2 optional measures, and consult with stakeholders, before I make any decisions at national level.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Applications

Questions (506)

Finian McGrath

Question:

506. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the position regarding an agri-environemnt option scheme 2 application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Donegal. [30176/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

An application under the 2011 Agri-Environment Options Scheme from the person named was received in my Department on the 12th May 2011.

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, must be completed before any payment can issue. The person named selected Form N on the application, indicating that she had designated Natura/Commonage lands. During the checking process on the application submitted, issues were identified in relation to the Natura Owned parcels declared which resulted in this action being ineligible under the Terms and Conditions of the Scheme. Without this action the eligibility requirements of the scheme had not been met and the application was rejected. On the 9th July 2012 a letter issued to the person named setting out this decision and providing her with the option to submit an appeal.

An appeal was received in my Department on the 2nd August 2012 and following a review of the file the original decision was upheld. The person named was notified of this decision on the 19th October 2012 and notified of her right to submit an appeal to the Agriculture Appeals Office. There is no record of an appeal from the person named to the Agriculture Appeals Office.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Applications

Questions (507)

Finian McGrath

Question:

507. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the position regarding an agri-environment option scheme 2 application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Donegal. [30177/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

An application under the 2011 Agri-Environment Options Scheme from the person named was received in my Department on the 12th May 2011. 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, must be completed before any payment can issue. The person named selected Form N on the application, indicating that he had designated Natura/Commonage lands. During the checking process on the application submitted, issues were identified in relation to the Natura Owned parcels declared which resulted in this action being ineligible under the Terms and Conditions of the Scheme. Without this action the eligibility requirements of the scheme had not been met and the application was rejected.

An appeal was received in my Department on the 2nd August 2012 and following a review of the file the original decision was upheld. The person named was notified of this decision on the 31st October 2012 and notified of his right to submit an appeal to the Agriculture Appeals Office. There is no record of an appeal from the person named to the Agriculture Appeals Office.

Plantation Application

Questions (508)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

508. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the position regarding plantation approval in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry. [30269/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Because of the location of the site proposed for planting, specialist inputs were required both from an archaeological and a landscape perspective. This work is now complete and a decision on the application by the person named will shortly be expedited.

Bovine Disease Controls

Questions (509)

Jim Daly

Question:

509. Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will clarify whether the BVD compensation scheme will be made available to both suckler and dairy farmers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30275/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department introduced a compensation scheme for herdowners, who have 2 or more eligible beef breed calves, in suckler herds born on or after 1 January 2013. To qualify, the herdowner must comply with the conditions of the BVD Eradication Programme, the statutory basis for which is set out in S.I. 532 of 2012. In particular, the calves must have had an initial positive or inconclusive test for the Bovine Viral Diarrhoea Virus (BVD), and be removed from the herd, with a date of death notified to the Animal Identification Movement System (AIM). Payment will be made at a rate of €100 in respect of the second and subsequent P.I. calves in suckler herds.

I have decided to confine the scheme to calves from suckler herds because the “payback period” in suckler herds is more than twice that of dairy herds.