Question No. 355 answered with Question No. 302.

Redundancy Payments

Question No.357 withdrawn.

Questions (356)

Willie O'Dea


356. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection the expected level of redundancy payments the State will have to make as a result of the closure of Mount Carmel hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5535/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

Statutory redundancy pay is calculated at 2 weeks’ pay per year of service plus a bonus week, subject to a pay cap of €600 per week. It is the responsibility of the employer to pay statutory redundancy to all eligible employees. I understand that approximately 320 people will be made redundant as a result of the closure of Mount Carmel hospital. It is likely that the vast majority of these staff will qualify for a statutory redundancy payment.

In order to qualify for a statutory redundancy payment, an employee must: have at least two years continuous service; be in employment which is insurable under the Social Welfare Acts; be over the age of 16; and have been made redundant as a result of a genuine redundancy situation. As no applications for statutory redundancy payments have yet been received from the provisional liquidators it is not possible to estimate the cost that will be incurred by the Social Insurance Fund with respect to these payments.

Where an employer can prove to the satisfaction of my Department that he/she is unable to pay the statutory redundancy to his/her eligible employees the Department will make lump sum payments directly to those employees. That will raise a debt against the employer which the Department will seek to recover. Where an employer is in liquidation the Minister for Social Protection is a preferential creditor in respect of any payments made under the redundancy payments scheme.

Question No.357 withdrawn.

Job Initiatives

Questions (358)

Jim Daly


358. Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide an update on the progress of the gateway scheme to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5547/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

Gateway was introduced by the Department of Social Protection to deliver on the policy objectives set out in Pathways to Work and is designed to bridge the gap between unemployment and re-entering the workforce. Responsibility for delivery of this initiative rests with individual county and city councils. Gateway has a target to provide for 3,000 placements focusing on those who have been unemployed for 24 months or more. Participants are currently being selected by a random process conducted by the Department of Social Protection for recruitment by county and city councils.

Progress on the roll-out has been slower than anticipated. Delays in the main relate to the on-going staff restructuring processes of county and city councils, the ongoing engagement with stakeholders, particularly Trade Unions, and operational matters relating to securing resources, identifying work and supervisory cover as well as Garda vetting. So far some 1,600 work placements have been identified in councils in the initial phase of the rollout. While small numbers have started work, progress is expected to accelerate in the coming weeks. Despite the obstacles identified above, the initial placement of participants on Gateway commenced in Louth county council in early December with the first placements beginning in Limerick council on 20th January. County and city councils have given assurances of accelerating the recruitment process to fill all places identified and to meet the target of 3,000 placements at an early date.

Social Welfare Fraud Data

Question No. 360 answered with Question No. 302.

Questions Nos. 361 and 362 withdrawn.

Questions (359)

Jim Daly


359. Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Social Protection the savings made by her Department for 2012 and 2013 by way of welfare control measures; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5548/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The Department’s control work is measured in terms of control savings. Control savings are used as a performance indicator for year-on-year activities and are an estimate of the value of the various control activities across the schemes in payment. They refer to future expenditure that would have been incurred but for this control work. Without this control work the social welfare expenditure would over time increase by this amount.

The vast majority of people on social welfare are claiming the correct entitlement due to them. However, a small minority is not and a range of measures are employed by the Department to ensure that social welfare fraud and abuse is minimised and that its control activity is appropriately focused. In this regard, fraud detection and control systems have been refined and enhanced in recent years and are subject to continuing review. Overall, this is resulting in less opportunity to commit fraud and less chance of claims being in payment at an incorrect rate through fraud or error.

Approximately 1.1 million reviews were carried out in both 2012 and 2013. The control savings achieved in 2012 were €669m and in 2013 were €632m. This outcome demonstrates that the Department’s more intense control focus in recent years is having a positive impact on the level of fraud and error in the social welfare system.

Question No. 360 answered with Question No. 302.
Questions Nos. 361 and 362 withdrawn.

Social Welfare Appeals Status

Questions (363)

Brendan Griffin


363. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection if a decision has been made on an invalidity pension application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5673/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 25 June 2013. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought from the Department of Social Protection. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 24 January 2014 and the case will be referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral hearing.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

Mortgage Interest Supplement Scheme Payments

Questions (364)

Tom Fleming


364. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of recipients of the mortgage interest supplement; if she will review and reconsider the decision to wind down existing recipients in this scheme over a four-year period as this measure will impose severe hardship and an inability to financially cope for the majority of these householders; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5687/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The original purpose of the mortgage interest supplement scheme was to provide short term support to eligible people who are unable to meet their mortgage interest repayments in respect of a house which is their sole place of residence. The supplement assists with the interest portion of the mortgage repayments only. There are currently approximately 10,000 people in receipt of mortgage interest supplement for which the Government has provided €17.9 million for the scheme in 2014.

The Government wants to provide an environment where mortgage holders can pay for and stay in their home but, where people have a genuine difficulty in meeting their financial commitments, they will have a framework to address and resolve that difficulty in an appropriate and fair way having regard to the particular circumstances of the case. The Government’s strategy to assist those in mortgage difficulty is built around the following measures, as recommended in the 2011 Interdepartmental Mortgage Arrears Working Group (Keane Group), in four main distinct areas: lenders providing sustainable and durable resolution options to their borrowers; a social housing response (Mortgage to Rent); comprehensive advice to borrowers; personal insolvency reform.

In the context of the overall strategy, the continued payment of mortgage interest supplement does little to assist recipients in improving the long term difficulty in addressing their mortgage problem and provides little incentive for the lender to provide sustainable solutions. The Keane Group’s over-arching theme was that the mortgage interest supplement scheme is not an appropriate long term support and should become a time bound payment with an appropriate exit strategy to be formulated for the recipient.

Under the Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears, lenders are obliged to put in place Arrears Support Units to deal with borrowers under the MARP. The most appropriate way in which customers experiencing short term mortgage difficulties can be supported is through engagement with their lender under this process. Lenders must explore all options for repayment arrangements in order to determine which options are viable for each particular case. These options include interest only arrangements and deferring payment of all or part of the instalment repayment for a period.

As part of the fiscal adjustment required for Budget 2014, provision was made for the discontinuation of entitlement to mortgage interest supplement for all new applicants from 1 January 2014. Existing customers are not affected by this measure and may retain entitlement to the scheme over the next four year period. However, it would be expected that during this four year period, existing customers would no longer require this support through sustainable solutions being put in place, securing employment or exit strategies sponsored by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, namely the Mortgage to Rent scheme.

I have no plans to reverse this decision as I am satisfied that the range of supports implemented by this Government, including the range of information and guidance resources available, are appropriate in assisting those facing mortgage difficulties.

Community Employment Schemes Data

Questions (365)

Willie Penrose


365. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Social Protection the annual cost per participant of the community employment scheme as administered by her Department; the amount of the cost that is incurred at each of the levels, administration/management by her Department at national level, at local Department of Social Protection office level, at sponsor employer level; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5700/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Social)

The annual cost per participant of the Community Employment (CE) scheme is based on social welfare rates with an additional payment of €20 per week. This amounted to €267m in 2013. In addition to the participant costs, a grant for Supervisors who manage the CE scheme amounted to €56.8m was drawn down in 2013. A total of €4.5m training costs was incurred for CE participants over the same period. The material costs, covering the administration of the scheme, are based on actual receipted expenditure and in 2013 amounted to €12.9m. A breakdown of material costs by Division, for 2013, is shown in Table 1.

Table 1: CE Material Costs by DSP Division, 2013


CE Material Costs €(m)

Cork Central


Dublin Central


Dublin North


Dublin South


Mid Leinster


Midlands North


Midlands South


Mid West


North East


North West


South East


South West






CE projects are typically sponsored by groups wishing to benefit the local community, namely voluntary and community organisations and to a lesser extent public bodies involved in not-for-profit activities. These management committees do not receive any fees for their service. There were 22,575 participants and 1,368 CE Supervisors on CE at the end of December, 2013.

National Monuments

Questions (366)

Maureen O'Sullivan


366. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht acting on his undertaking under preservation order No. 1 of 2007, if he will ensure that a date is set immediately for the agreed inspection and assessment of the 1916 national monument, in the national interest. [4860/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Question No. 415 of 15 January 2014.

Waterways Ireland Remit

Questions (367)

Joe Higgins


367. Deputy Joe Higgins asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will support the proposal from Waterways Ireland to increase the cost of the annual mooring permit, houseboat permits, and the introduction of fixed penalty notices and District Court fines for those unable to pay; his views on the matter with particular reference to the impact on tourism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4902/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

Waterways Ireland undertook a public consultation process on the proposed bye-laws which closed at 3pm on 3 February. Waterways Ireland will now consider all written submissions before finalising the approach they intend to take in relation to the new bye-laws. A final outcome may be either to refrain from making the bye-laws or with my consent make the bye laws with or without modification. I will make my views known when I receive and have considered the final detailed proposals from Waterways Ireland.

Our waterways make a vital contribution to tourism, attracting visitors from around Ireland and from abroad. There are over 14,000 registered boat owners on the seven waterways managed by Waterways Ireland. The proposed bye-laws are intended to support the investment already made by Waterways Ireland in new infrastructure and facilities along the Royal and Grand Canals and on the Barrow system. The objective is to enhance Waterways Ireland’s ability to manage, care for and maintain these waterways. This will help to develop them as a vibrant recreational and tourist amenity for all waterway users.

Turbary Rights

Questions (368)

John O'Mahony


368. Deputy John O'Mahony asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive their legal fees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4933/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

The individual referred to in the Deputy’s Question applied to sell his interest in land within a site designated as a special area of conservation, under the voluntary bog purchase scheme administered by my Department. I am advised that my Department has recently issued a payment in respect of legal fees in this case to the Chief State Solicitor’s Office, which will issue this payment to the applicant’s solicitor.

Appointments to State Boards

Questions (369, 370)

Catherine Murphy


369. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will itemise in tabular form the occasions on which his Department has engaged the services of external professional advice such as a company (details supplied) on the appointment of persons to State boards; if he will list the fees paid in respect of such services; the persons who were ultimately appointed on foot of advice received; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4981/14]

View answer

Catherine Murphy


370. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will identify any instances where a person appointed to a State board after recruitment advice was received from professional external consultants was subsequently deemed to be unqualified for the duties and responsibilities attached to the role; the costs incurred in obtaining advice in respect of each such instance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4997/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 369 and 370 together.

My Department has not engaged any company to provide the services referred to by the Deputy.

Information and Communications Technology

Questions (371)

John Deasy


371. Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the apps his Department or attached agencies have been involved in developing for smartphones and other multimedia devices in the past three years; the cost and the software developer employed in each case. [5453/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

My Department has been directly involved in the development of two Apps, one of which is still under development. Details are provided in Table 1 below:

Table 1:


Cost to Department

Software Developer

Development and delivery of GPS-enabled 'Dublin Culture Night' Smartphone/iPhone application


Temple Bar Cultural Trust (TBCT)

Interactive application for use on a mobile device by staff working on the collection of scientific information about designated habitat sites (in development).

€42,000 to end-2013

Kainos Software Ltd

The information sought by the Deputy in relation to Apps developed by bodies and agencies funded from my Department's Vote Group for smart phones and other multi-media devices is set out in table 2 below.

Table 2:



Cost to Body

Software Developer

Heritage Council

'Heritage Week' free iPhone/Android app to showcase events during National Heritage Week 2013

€23,437 (excluding VAT)


Waterways Ireland

'Lakeland Treasures' - a guide to 10 heritage attractions in the Lough Ree area is a pilot, free iPhone app, due to be launched shortly

€18,450 (including VAT and 1 year’s maintenance and updating fee)

Nimble Tours

Foras na Gaeilge

'Anseo' - an app for iPads and smart phones to enable users to engage with other Irish speakers

€10,500 (a grant under a Foras na Gaeilge scheme)

Diaga Teo

Chester Beatty Library

'Treasures of the Chester Beatty Library’ - a free iOS app to showcase the library's collection

€14,790 (including VAT), funded by a Cultural Technology grant from my Department


National Gallery of Ireland

App for 2013 exhibition 'Treasured Sheets'

App for 2013 exhibition 'Sketchbooks of Jack B. Yeats'

€21,697 (including VAT), including funding of €15,350 from my Department

€6,888, (including VAT)

Acoustiguide Ltd

Design Factory Ltd

National Museum of Ireland

Key contributor to the smartphone and tablet apps for 'A History of Ireland in 100 objects'

Audio guides and illustrated audio guides of the Treasury Exhibition.

Large touch screens to display bilingual illustrated glossaries in 'The Treasury' exhibition

No cost to the NMI.



Developer contracted by Royal Irish Academy

Developed in-house

Developed in-house

Irish Film Board

'Media Hub' app, which allows users to watch streamed short films and trailers and keep up to date with the latest film industry news

€12,371 (including VAT)


Planning Issues

Questions (372)

Martin Heydon


372. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the progress that has being made on a national landscape strategy; when he expects to be in a position to finalise the strategy; the way it will impact on future planning proposals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5544/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

Following on from work in this area by an interdepartmental Steering Group chaired by my Department, and taking into account submissions arising from the public consultation in respect of the National Landscape Strategy Issues Paper, I expect to bring proposals to Government later this year with a view to finalising the National Landscape Strategy for publication. The primary role of planning authorities and the consultative roles of other bodies and persons in decision-making relating to such issues will continue to be governed by the provisions of the Planning and Development Acts 2000 - 2012. However, one of the objectives of the National Landscape Strategy will be to assist in the achievement of greater consistency in decision making across the country when dealing with issues of landscape.

Heritage Sites

Questions (373)

Terence Flanagan


373. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if funding is available for the preservation of a building (details supplied) in Dublin 5; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5585/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

My role, as Minister for Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht with regard to the protection and management of our built and natural heritage, is set out in the provisions of relevant legislation, as are the role of local authorities and the responsibilities of owners as regards heritage assets. Part IV of the Planning and Development Act 2000 provides for the protection of architectural heritage and gives local planning authorities primary responsibility to identify and protect architectural heritage by including structures on the Record of Protected Structures. The making of an addition to, or a deletion from, the Record of Protected Structures is a reserved function of the relevant planning authority, in this case Dublin City Council.

The building referred to by the Deputy, which is now privately owned, is not recorded on the Record of Protected Structures for Dublin and therefore is not eligible for funding under my Department’s funding schemes for the conservation of our built heritage, which are currently focussed on structures which are protected under the Act. Currently, significant taxpayer investment has been set aside for a number of capital projects which are of significance in the context to which the Deputy refers. However, given the many competing priorities for funding relating to these matters, it will not be possible to financially support every such proposal.

I understand that An Bord Pleanála granted planning permission in 2011, which is still valid, for a change of use which provides for the retention of the building in question and the erection of a plaque. However, I would refer the Deputy to the website of An Bord Pleanála for exact details of the permission granted.

Seirbhísí Aeir Fóirdheonaithe

Questions (374)

Éamon Ó Cuív


374. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta cén uair a bheidh an tuarascáil atá á réiteach don Roinn maidir leis an ngá atá le haersheirbhísí fóirdheonaithe go hÁrainn réidh; cén uair a fhoilseofar í; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [5628/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

Tá súil agam go mbeidh an tuarascáil sin réidh faoi dheireadh mhí Aibreáin 2014. Tá sé i gceist go bhfoilseofar é ina dhiaidh sin.

Salmon Hardship Scheme

Questions (375)

Dara Calleary


375. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the position regarding fishing rights on the Owenmore River, Bangor, County Mayo; the timeframe for the reopening of the river to licence holders; his plans for a compensation scheme for affected licence holders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4856/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

Ireland’s salmon rivers are managed on an individual basis by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) as each salmon river has a genetically unique stock. Management is based on the advice of the Independent Standing Scientific Committee (SSC) for Salmon. Available surpluses (if any) in each river are calculated annually for each individual river based on the scientific analysis and managerial advice.

The SSC has advised that stock of salmon in the Owenmore river, Bangor fishery district has failed to reach its conservation limit in the last two years of the normal five year average calculation used in all such assessments. For this reason and in line with the conservation imperative, activity resulting in salmon mortality, regardless of method, is not permitted in this river or the common embayment during the 2014 season. Angling, however is permitted on a catch-and-release basis only in the waters of the Owenmore river. This reflects the relative status of the stocks of this river.

I am advised by IFI that they will continue to monitor the stocks annually. IFI will also continue to develop the management strategy for the relevant rivers with a view to identifying the extent of any recovery arising from the cessation of the harvesting of salmon and any stock rehabilitation works undertaken.

The Salmon Hardship Scheme was introduced by the State following a decision to cease the commercial mixed stock salmon fishery in the sea. This scheme was targeted at commercial salmon fishermen who were active in the fishery at the time and funding was provided to fishermen for them to leave the fishery and diversify into some new activity. The scheme closed for applications on 31st December 2007. In the current financial circumstances there is no prospect of revisiting such a scheme. I have asked senior management at IFI to meet with the local fisherman as soon as possible.

Inland Fisheries Stocks

Questions (376)

Luke 'Ming' Flanagan


376. Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will consider reopening commercial eel fishing in areas that are above conservation limits; his views that eel fishing is part of rural life and a continued total ban will result in the loss of the living heritage; if he will commission an impact study on those affected and the possibility of linking sustainable traditional fisheries to heritage tourism and sea food projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5098/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

Ireland's Eel Management Plan (EMP) was accepted by the EU in 2009 under the 2007 EU Eel regulation (1100/2007). The plan outlined the following main management actions aimed at reducing eel mortality and increasing silver eel escapement to the sea: a cessation of the commercial eel fishery and closure of the market, mitigation of the impact of hydropower installations, ensure upstream migration of juvenile eel at barriers, improvement of water quality. The overall requirement and objective is to provide, with high probability, a long-term 40% escapement to the sea of the biomass of silver eel, relative to pristine conditions (i.e. if the stock had been completely free of man-made influences including commercial fishing).

Based on comprehensive scientific assessment of eel stocks nationally and a review of Ireland’s EMP in 2012 it was recommended that the closure of both the commercial and recreational eel fisheries be continued in line with the conservation imperative. The 2012 review included a robust public consultation during which many issues were raised and considered. Full details of the outputs of the public consultation are available on the Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) web site. Similar reviews were carried out across the EU as the eel stock is endangered throughout Europe.

The International Council for Exploration of the Sea (ICES) advised in 2011, that glass eel recruitment had fallen to 5% of their 1960-1979 level in the Atlantic region and precariously less than 1% in the North Sea area. The very latest ICES advice (2013) indicates that the annual recruitment of glass eel to European waters has increased marginally over the last two years to 1.5% of 1960-79 levels in the North Sea area, and to 10% in the Atlantic area. The overall ICES advice is that the indices remain at very low levels compared with historical catches.

In Ireland, scientific studies also show that recruitment has been declining since the mid-1980s, for example in the 2000-2011 period, the glass eel catch in the Shannon was at 2% of the pre-1980 level. The scientific advice both internationally and from Ireland's scientists on the independent Standing Scientific Committee (SSC) for Eels does not support any assertion that stocks "are above conservation limits” and the status of the European Eel in Ireland has been defined by the United Nations as critically endangered.

While I recognize fully the difficulty facing eel fishermen, the review of scientific and management advice and inputs from the public consultation informed a decision to continue with the cessation of the commercial eel fishery and closure of the market for the period from 2012 to 2015. Ireland’s EMP will be reviewed again next year and an opportunity for further consultation with stakeholders will be advanced at that time. I understand that a number of former eel fishermen have been contracted by the ESB to catch eel so as to contribute to "Trap and Transport" operations to mitigate the impact of hydropower schemes as part of the EMP.

Alternative Energy Projects

Questions (377, 384)

Luke 'Ming' Flanagan


377. Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the likely capacity factor of the proposed Cluddaun wind farm over its lifetime; the amount of electricity it would be likely to produce in 2014 if it were in operation now; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5214/14]

View answer

Luke 'Ming' Flanagan


384. Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will ask the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland to estimate, from the data in its recently updated wind atlas, the likely annual electricity production from the proposed Oweninny and Cluddaun wind farms in County Mayo for the turbines considered in the noise analysis of the planning applications, Vesta v90 and Vestas V112, at the hub heights applied for 90 m, 105 m and 120 m; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5062/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 377 and 384 together.

As Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, it is not appropriate for me to comment on the technical details of individual wind farms. The SEAI wind atlas was developed as an information tool for Local Authorities to identify areas suitable for renewable energy in their County Development Plans and for developing their wind energy strategies. The wind atlas provides information on wind speeds in various areas around Ireland. It does not provide analysis of speeds at specific sites, for which specialist wind farm modelling capability, and site specific data, would be required. However, the wind atlas database is available to any private or public entity wishing to carry out an initial analysis of the wind energy potential of a site in Ireland.

As regards access to information on specific sites, I have many times stated the importance of early and transparent engagement between project developers and local communities as the most constructive way of ensuring all parties are fully informed.