Courts Service Issues

Questions (190)

Willie Penrose

Question:

190. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the timeline envisaged for the refurbishment of the courthouse in Mullingar, County Westmeath, which has been deemed not suitable for Circuit Court and higher court settings for the past number of years; when it is likely that such courts will be in a position to resume sitting in Mullingar; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45334/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

In July 2012, the Government announced an infrastructure stimulus package which includes the provision of new or refurbished courthouses in Mullingar, Drogheda, Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Wexford and Letterkenny.

As the Deputy is aware, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts, including the provision of accommodation for court sittings, is the responsibility of the Courts Service which is independent in exercising its functions. In order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has informed me that they are currently working with the National Development Finance Agency and the Office of Public Works with a view to bringing these projects to the market shortly. The projects are to be procured and delivered through a Public Private Partnership.

In relation to the proposed Mullingar Courthouse project, the Courts Service has stated that the plan is to refurbish and extend the existing courthouse at Mullingar to provide a three courtroom venue, a new court office and associated facilities. I am informed that the refurbished courthouse will be suitable for sittings of the circuit and higher courts as required. It is anticipated that it will be completed in late 2016.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Eligibility

Questions (191)

Tom Fleming

Question:

191. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will review the recent decision to reduce area aid payments from 34 ha to 30 ha in respect of lowland farmers in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44911/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The decision to reduce the maximum payable area under the 2013 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was made in Budget 2013, with the changes being published in the Scheme Terms and Conditions, at which time my decision to increase funding for the 2013 Scheme to €195 million was also taken. This increase in funding reflects my commitment to the protection of farming in disadvantages areas, most particularly the smaller farmers whose livelihoods are most dependent on this Scheme. I decided to focus on the protection of the smaller and most disadvantaged, including mountain sheep holdings, whose payments have remained unchanged. Making some minor technical changes, in addition to reducing the maximum area payable from 34 to 30 hectares, allowed me to increase the overall provision in 2013 compared to 2012.

However, this reduction in the maximum payable area is not applicable to farmers in mountain areas and, indeed, the changes introduced to the 2013 Scheme mean that almost two-thirds of farmers have had no change in their income resulting from this change.

Forestry Sector

Questions (192)

Áine Collins

Question:

192. Deputy Áine Collins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if farmers who are not allowed forestation on their lands because of the hen harrier will be compensated. [44914/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The implementation of the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive, under which Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) are designated, is a matter in the first instance for the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht is commencing the development of a Threat Response Plan (TRP) for the conservation of the hen harrier. The plan is expected to take approximately two years to complete and forestry will form a significant element of the Plan. The Forest Service will be liaising closely with the NPWS in the formulation of the TRP on aspects relating to afforestation, felling and replanting. It is also understood that the NPWS will engage in a formal public consultation process in relation to the Plan, which it will announce at the appropriate time.

As development of the TRP progresses, and in advance of its completion, opportunities may arise – possibly in late 2014 - to pursue an interim arrangement to allow for the limited issuing of afforestation approvals in some hen harrier SPAs. Until then, the Forest Service will not be in a position to approve any afforestation projects within these SPAs. My Department does not provide compensation for the consequences of such designations.

Sea Lice Controls

Questions (193)

Noel Grealish

Question:

193. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine how he proposes to protect the livelihoods of the 130 people on 32 fishing boats in Galway Bay dependent on the high-value sustainable crab, lobster and shrimp fisheries from the impact of the use of pesticides required to kill infestations of sea lice, which are also crustaceans, by the operators of the proposed Galway Bay open-cage salmon farm; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44920/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

An application by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) for an aquaculture licence for the cultivation of finfish near Inis Oirr in Galway Bay was received by my Department last year. The application and its accompanying Environmental Impact Statement are being considered under the provisions of the 1997 Fisheries (Amendment) Act and the 1933 Foreshore Act. All applications for aquaculture licences are referred to a wide range of consultees for comment. These include, inter alia, the Marine Institute, Inland Fisheries Ireland, the Department of Environment Community and Local Government, Fáilte Ireland, An Taisce and the National Parks and Wildlife Service. In addition the legislation provides for a period of general public consultation. My Department's Engineering Division also provides technical advice on each application.

In relation to sea lice, Ireland's sea lice control protocols are operated by the Marine Institute. These protocols are considered to be more advanced than those operated in other jurisdictions for the following reasons:

- The inspection regime is totally independent of the industry.

- Data obtained as a result of inspections is published and made widely available.

- Treatment trigger levels are set at a low level.

In 2008, the State introduced a new Pest Management Strategy, supplementing the control regime already in place. This has resulted in a steady decline in average sea lice numbers on farmed salmon since its inception.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Appeals

Questions (194)

Michael Creed

Question:

194. Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the position regarding a disadvantaged areas scheme appeals committee decision on a minimum stocking density in respect of a person (details provided) in County Cork; if he will confirm that the medical evidence submitted has been taken into account in determining this case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44940/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The person named is one of a number of applicants under the 2013 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme whose cases were impacted by the requirement to have achieved a minimum stocking density of 0.3 livestock units per forage hectare in 2011, and who applied for and were refused derogation in this regard. The person named subsequently appealed unsuccessfully to the independently chaired DAS Appeals Committee who, having reviewed all documentation, including medical evidence, concluded that there were insufficient grounds to overturn the decision. In notifying the person named of the decision of the Committee, the person named was advised of their right to pursue the matter with the Office of the Ombudsman.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments

Questions (195)

John O'Mahony

Question:

195. Deputy John O'Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive a disadvantaged areas scheme payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44998/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Payment under the 2013 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme has not yet issued to the person named as the holding has not yet satisfied the Scheme minimum stocking density requirements. As soon as the holding concerned is confirmed as having met these requirements, the case will be further processed with a view to payment at the earliest possible date thereafter.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments

Questions (196)

Paul Connaughton

Question:

196. Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a person (details supplied) in County Galway will receive payment in view of the fact that the inspection of the commonage in question has now taken place and a new decision has been made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44999/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

A ground inspection of the commonage in question has recently been completed. The results are currently being examined and will be finalised as soon as possible. Once this process is completed the Single Payment-Disadvantaged Area Scheme applications of the person named will be processed with the intention of issuing any outstanding payments as soon as possible.