Ministerial Meetings

Questions (142)

Joe Higgins

Question:

142. Deputy Joe Higgins asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will report on his meeting with Down Syndrome Ireland on 25 June 2013; and if he will provide the resource hours to children with Down's syndrome as requested by Down Syndrome Ireland. [32536/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Deputy will be aware of this Government's ongoing commitment to ensuring that all children with special educational needs, including children with Down's syndrome, can have access to an education appropriate to their needs. The policy of my Department is to secure the maximum possible level of inclusion of students with special educational needs in mainstream primary and post-primary schools, or where a special school or special class placement may be required to ensure such placements are provided for. Pupils with Down's syndrome attending mainstream schools may receive additional teaching support in primary schools, either under the terms of the General Allocation Model (GAM) of teaching supports, if the pupil's educational psychological assessment places the pupil in the mild general learning disability/high incidence disability category, or through an allocation of individual additional resource teaching hours which are allocated by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), if the child is assessed as being within the low incidence category of special need, as defined by my Department's Circular Sp Ed 02/05. Pupils with Down's syndrome may be allocated resources under the category of mild general learning disability, or under the categories of moderate general learning difficulty or Assessed Syndrome, in conjunction with another Low Incidence disability. The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has a formal role under the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN) Act, 2004 in advising me in relation to any matter relating to the education of children and others with disabilities. My Department requested that the NCSE consider the issue of whether Down's syndrome should be reclassified as a low incidence disability in all instances, regardless of assessed cognitive ability, in the context of its preparation of comprehensive advice on how the educational system supports children with special educational needs in schools. The NCSE report on Supporting Children with Special Educational Needs in Schools has now been published and is available on the NCSE website www.ncse.ie. The report recommends that under the new resource allocation model proposed by the NCSE in its report, children should be allocated additional resources in line with their level of need, rather than by disability category. The NCSE has recommended that in the short-term, pupils with Down's syndrome pupils who are in the Mild General Learning Difficulty (Mild GLD) category should continue to be supported by schools' Learning Support allocation in the same way as other pupils with a Mild GLD. The NCSE policy advice did not recommend that an exception should be made for children with Down's syndrome who are in the mild general learning difficulty range, over other children who are in the mild range and who also may have other co-morbid conditions. However, the NCSE report states that it is confident that the introduction of a new allocation model will overcome the difficulty posed by all children with mild general learning disabilities, including children with Down's syndrome, who have additional difficulties and who can be supported according to their level of need and in line with their learning plan process. In the meantime, schools are reminded that they can differentiate the level of learning support granted to ensure that available resources are used to support children in line with their needs. I have requested the NCSE to immediately proceed to establish a Working Group in order to develop a proposal for consideration for a new Tailored Allocation Model, which is set out as one of the principal recommendations of the report. In the course of my recent meeting with Down Syndrome Ireland a number of issues were raised which I consider merit further examination. Accordingly I have asked my officials to consider these issues further and to provide a full response to Down Syndrome Ireland on the issues raised as soon as possible.

School Services Staff

Questions (143)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

143. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if there is a protocol or guideline in place governing the appointment of voluntary classroom assistants at primary and second level; if not, his plans in relation to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32607/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Responsibility for the recruitment and selection of school personnel (including volunteers) rests with the Board of Management. If the Board of Management of a school decides to engage a person (whether on a voluntary or paid basis) to assist or supplement the classroom teacher, the Board must ensure that appropriate selection procedures have been followed and that the person is suitably qualified to undertake the duties concerned. In this regard, good practice involves the checking of recent employment records, qualifications, experience and names of referees. In relation to Garda vetting, all schools are also required to comply with the vetting arrangements, including those relating to volunteers, as set out in my Department's Circular 0063/2010. It should be noted that the teaching staff and principal remain responsible for the provision of the curriculum and must exercise effective control over the planning and content and delivery of lessons and the assessment of pupil progress. The class teacher continues to be responsible for the supervision of pupils in situations where an external tutor or other individual is working with the class and the class teacher therefore must remain with the pupils during such periods.

Banking Sector Investigations

Questions (144)

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

144. Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when he expects a banking enquiry to be started in order that all the information from the decision to guarantee the banks will be publicly known; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32319/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

Banking Sector Staff Issues

Questions (145)

Joe McHugh

Question:

145. Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if officials who were employed in banks that received bailout and contingency funding from the Central Bank and other State institutions, were bound by the code of the Civil Service that relates to the achievement of an excellent service for Government and the other institutions of the State as well as for the public as citizens and users of public services, based on principles of integrity, impartiality, effectiveness, equity and accountability; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32332/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

The provisions of the Code of Standards and Behaviour for Civil Servants apply to all established and unestablished civil servants. As the officials referred to in the Deputy's question were not appointed Civil Servants the provisions of the Code of Standards and Behaviour do not apply to them.

National Monuments

Questions (146)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

146. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if his attention has been drawn to the current state of national monuments DG025-029001, DG025-029003, DG025-029006, DG025-029004, DG025-029005,  DG025-029002, and their grounds and access roads at present; if he will ensure that access to these national monuments is upgraded and the vicinity in which they stand is enhanced; if he will provide an undertaking to have signage and information on the history of this national monument erected in the vicinity of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32419/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

Ray Church and Cross, at Falcarragh, Co. Donegal, is a National Monument in State ownership (DG025-029001 and 029003) and comes within the statutory remit of the Office Public Works (OPW) as defined in the various National Monument Acts. These structures are therefore afforded the full protection of the State as defined in the legislation.

The other structures identified by the Deputy in his Question (ie: reference nos. 029002, 004 – 006) are not listed on the National Monuments records of Monuments in State care.

Ray Church and Cross monument attracts a certain number of visitors and, for protection and conservation reasons, the Cross has been mounted on the inside of the Church walls. The Cross is cut from a thin sheet of stone, is undecorated and stands over 9m tall. Access to the Monument is by lane/roadway which is privately owned and arrangements are in place to allow OPW staff to access the Monument for care and maintenance. The OPW is not aware of any formalised right of access for members of the public currently; however, there is evidence that visitors may be able to gain access relatively freely.

There are no plans currently to erect signage and information panels in the vicinity of the site.

National Lottery Licence Sale

Questions (147)

Seán Fleming

Question:

147. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if there is a requirement in the tendering process documentation for the National Lottery Licence for the successful applicant to be a registered company here; if companies whose registered offices are not here will be excluded from this process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32439/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

As the Deputy is aware, section 29(1) of the National Lottery Act 2013 provides as follows: the licence holder shall (a) be formed as a company, or (b) if the holder is (at the time of the application for the licence) a company or a company formed in another jurisdiction, form a company, for the sole purpose of operating the National Lottery in accordance with the terms and conditions of the licence and is referred to in this Act as the operator.

There is no question of excluding parties who may be interested in applying for the next licence from the process on the basis that they have not formed a company in this jurisdiction. However, in the event of such a party’s application being successful, the party concerned would be required to form a company in accordance with paragraph 29(1)(b) of the Act prior to the signature date of the next licence.

Public Procurement Regulations

Questions (148)

Seán Fleming

Question:

148. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his views on public bodies granting contracts for works to be carried out here where the companies registered office are in the British Virgin Islands or in other jurisdictions thousands of miles away; his views on whether these companies will be fully compliant with public procurement guidelines such as tax clearance certificates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32441/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

Public procurement is the acquisition, whether under formal contract or not, of works, supplies and services by public bodies. National rules governing public procurement must comply with the relevant EU, WTO and national legal requirements and obligations. Under EU law, public contracts above a certain value must be advertised EU-wide and awarded to the most competitive tender in an open and objective process. The aim of European and national rules is to promote an open, competitive and non-discriminatory public procurement regime which delivers best value for money. It would be a breach of the rules for a public body to favour or discriminate against particular candidates on grounds of location or nationality and there are legal remedies which may be used against any public body infringing these rules.

Public procurement procedures require applicants to meet certain standards when applying for public contracts. In this regard applicants are required to make declarations in relation to their financial standing, their legal standing and in relation to payment of taxes and social contributions.

Prior to the award of the works contract, the successful applicant is also required to produce a current Tax Clearance Certificate from the Revenue Commissioners. Under our national rules, any non-resident contractor being awarded a public contract must provide a Tax Clearance Certificate issued by Revenue confirming that the firm’s tax affairs are in order and that it has complied with its tax obligations in this jurisdiction. Additional information in relation to tax requirements for non-resident contractors can be obtained at revenue.ie.

The management of the tendering process for a public contract is a matter for each contracting authority. It is the responsibility of each contracting authority to ensure that tenderers comply with all the requirements of the process.