Question No. 115 withdrawn.

Rent Supplement Scheme Applications

Questions Nos. 117 and 118 withdrawn.

Questions (116)

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

116. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will approve an application for rent allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; if she will expedite same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14395/14]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The client concerned made application for a rent supplement on 19 March 2014 and has been requested to provide further information in order to process her claim. A decision will be notified to this client immediately following receipt of same.

Questions Nos. 117 and 118 withdrawn.

Wildlife Rangers

Questions (119)

Clare Daly

Question:

119. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht his views on the fact that 80% of wildlife crime has been found to occur on Sundays and that National Parks and Wildlife Service rangers have ceased carrying out enforcement work on that day; the steps he will take to ensure adequate enforcement of legislation in this specialist area.; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14403/14]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

Officials of my Department monitor compliance with the Wildlife Acts across the country on an ongoing basis, including at weekends where resources allow and carry out patrols and site visits to enforce the various provisions of these Acts, as required. They also investigate reports of breaches of the Acts. Members of An Garda Síochána are also empowered under the Acts to investigate alleged offences and to prosecute if they see fit. My Department has no evidence to suggest that 80% of wildlife crime occurs on a Sunday.

Wildlife Protection

Questions (120)

Michael Creed

Question:

120. Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 133 of 5 December 2013 and 121 of 12 December 2013, if the interdepartmental working group to oversee the formulation of a threat response plan dealing with the hen harrier population has yet been established; if he will provide details of the officials involved in the working group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14449/14]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

In preparation for the drafting of a Threat Response Plan for the Hen Harrier, my Department has contracted a raptor specialist to undertake site and wider countryside risk assessments informed by the identification of the current pressures and threats affecting the hen harrier population in Ireland. Since mid-2013, the specialist has been compiling hen harrier related population and habitat data and its analysis to identify gaps in these datasets and in current understanding of ecological processes relating to hen harrier. Informed by this work, my Department is in the process of developing individual sectoral risk assessments and the first of these, focusing on forestry, is on schedule to be delivered by May. This will be followed by similar assessments focusing on agriculture and wind farms. In parallel to this work, detailed habitat maps for the various Hen Harrier Special Protection Areas and being prepared. These are due to be finalised in June. This information will be required to allow the development of appropriate objectives for the Plan.

The interdepartmental working group to oversee the development of the plan will require the products of these various work streams to undertake its task. I will shortly be writing to relevant Ministerial Colleagues requesting nominations from their Departments to sit on the working group and I would envisage that its first meeting will be held shortly thereafter.

Departmental Staff Expenses

Questions (121)

Clare Daly

Question:

121. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the protocol in respect of assistant principal and principal officers using their private cars and claiming unvouched expenses when official cars are available in his Department; if he has received any complaints regarding same; and the oversight that is in place to deal with same. [14837/14]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

My Department has a number of official vehicles which are used by staff of the National Parks and Wildlife Service based in the regions and by archaeologists in the discharge of their official duties. As the Deputy will appreciate, staff whose duties include working in remote terrain that may be difficult to reach in some instances may require access to specialist vehicles from time to time in order to carry out their duties. The allocation and usage of official vehicles is strictly monitored in accordance with the Department's Policy and Basic Rules on Use of Official Vehicles.

All travel and subsistence within my Department, including that by assistant principal officers and principal officers, is undertaken in accordance with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform guidance on such matters. All travel budgets within my Department are allocated according to need and compliance with these budgets is closely monitored. I am not aware of any complaints regarding these matters.