Irish Water Appointments

Questions (379)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

379. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he at any time perceived a serious conflict of interest arising over the practice of senior local authority executives, active or retiring, transferring to the new utility company, Irish Water, on substantial new salaries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15272/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The Water Services Act 2013 provided for the establishment of Irish Water as a subsidiary of Bórd Gáis Éireann to be formed and registered under the Companies Act.

A fundamental underpinning of the water reform programme is to ensure that the skills and experience built up over many years in local authorities are put to best use for the long-term benefit of the customer and that there is no negative impact on service to customers during the transition. The Water Services (No.2) Act 2013 transferred statutory responsibility for water services to Irish Water and provided for local authorities to act as agents for Irish Water, with this relationship being expressed through Service Level Agreements. Staff in local authorities conducting work under these arrangements from 1 January 2014 remain employees of local authorities. As such, no staff transferred from local authorities or from other public sector positions to Irish Water. Any employees of Irish Water who came from the local authority sector or from the public service sector immediately prior to taking up a post with Irish Water applied for advertised posts and were recruited through a competitive process.  

Irish Water is currently recruiting to build up its internal capabilities and the number of staff employed is an operational matter for the organisation. It was agreed by the Steering Group for the Water Sector Reform Programme that, to ensure skills within the sector were fully availed of in building up the new organisation, competitions for positions in asset management, capital delivery and operations would be restricted to staff in the partner organisations i.e. Bord Gáis Éireann, local authorities and my Department in the first instance. Open competitions are held for all other positions and details of these are available on Irish Water's website www.water.ie.

Staff taking up employment in Irish Water are not entitled to avail of the 2013 local authority voluntary redundancy scheme, under the terms of that scheme. I understand that no other restrictions apply to public service workers taking up employment through competitive competition in State companies.

Community Development Initiatives

Questions (380)

Luke 'Ming' Flanagan

Question:

380. Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide details of the financial allocations to community fora for the year 2014; his plans for alterations to the role and functions of those community fora during the current year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15274/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Section 46 of the Local Government Reform Act 2014 replaces section 127 of the 2001 Local Government Act with a new section which enables local authorities to take all appropriate steps to consult with and promote effective participation of local communities in local government. One of the principal implementing provisions will be the adoption by each local authority, in accordance with Regulations to be made under the Act and the issuance of Guidelines from my Department, of a framework for public participation in local government, which will set out the mechanisms by which citizens and communities will be encouraged and supported to participate in the decision-making processes of the local authority. The adoption of the framework is a reserved function.

The current community structures, Community & Voluntary Fora, in respect of citizen engagement with local government, are being funded for the first six months of 2014. From July 2014, funding for structured citizen engagement will be a matter for the local authorities, having regard to the local government reform programme and any evolving new structures arising from the framework. Details of financial allocations, which were paid on 6 March 2014, covering the activities of the Fora for six months, are set out in the following table:

Local Authority Area

Allocation

Carlow County Council

€4,390

Cavan County Council

€5,350

Clare County Council

€5,350

Cork City Council

€7,270

Cork County Council

€11,900

Donegal County Council

€7,270

Dublin City Council

€15,270

Dún Laoghaire - Rathdown County Council

€9,320

Fingal County Council

€9,320

Galway City Council

€5,350

Galway County Council

€7,270

Kerry County Council

€7,270

Kildare County Council

€7,270

Kilkenny County Council

€5,350

Laois County Council

€5,350

Leitrim County Council

€4,390

Limerick City Council

€5,350

Limerick County Council

€7,270

Longford County Council

€4,390

Louth County Council

€5,350

Mayo County Council

€7,270

Meath County Council

€7,270

Monaghan County Council

€5,350

North Tipperary County Council

€5,350

Offaly County Council

€5,350

Roscommon County Council

€5,350

Sligo County Council

€5,350

South Dublin County Council

€11,900

South Tipperary County Council

€5,350

Waterford City Council

€4,390

Waterford County Council

€5,350

Westmeath County Council

€5,350

Wexford County Council

€7,270

Wicklow County Council

€7,270

-

€228,220

Mountain Rescue Service

Question No. 382 answered with Question No. 372.

Questions (381)

Brian Walsh

Question:

381. Deputy Brian Walsh asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will outline details of all funding provided by his Department to mountain rescue organisations over the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15288/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

In 2007 a Funding Scheme to Support National Organisations in the Community and Voluntary Sector was developed. This Scheme amalgamated and replaced previous Schemes operated under the White Paper on Supporting Voluntary Activity. Applications under this new Scheme were invited from community and voluntary organisations that operate at a national level with evidence of a nationwide membership. This Scheme ceased at the end of 2010 and a new three year funding Scheme was announced in December 2010 and commenced in July 2011. This Scheme will cease in June 2014, with a new Scheme commencing from 1 July 2014. Applications for this Scheme were received during February 2014 and the assessment process is currently on-going.

Funding under the Scheme provides for core operating costs comprising staffing costs, administration costs and on-going running costs and priority has been given to organisations providing key services to the disadvantaged. Mountain Rescue Ireland successfully applied for funding under both the 2007 Scheme and also the current Scheme that commenced in July 2011. The funding amounts provided in each of the past five years are contained in the table below.

Year

Funding provided €

2009

72,000

2010

64,800

2011

60,600

2012

70,000

2013

65,940

Question No. 382 answered with Question No. 372.

Building Regulations Application

Question No. 384 answered with Question No. 358.

Question No. 385 answered with Question No. 372.

Questions (383)

Derek Nolan

Question:

383. Deputy Derek Nolan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the impact new building regulations will have on architectural technicians and designers; if he will consider implementing a grandfather clause for architects currently excluded from the new register of architects who could prove they have worked as an architect for seven years or more; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that this clause is in practice in other EU countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15293/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I refer to the reply to Question No. 492 of 21 January 2014. The position is unchanged.

Question No. 384 answered with Question No. 358.
Question No. 385 answered with Question No. 372.

Pyrite Panel Report Implementation

Questions Nos. 387 and 388 answered with Question No. 372.

Questions (386)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

386. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the reason he did not implement the pyrite report recommendations on the building regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15345/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The new Building Control Amendment Regulations which came into effect on 1 March 2014 are in line with the principles of the relevant recommendations in the report of the Pyrite Panel. The Panel recommended the development of a mandatory certification system which would recognise the importance of inspections, product certifications and site supervision taking proper account of the risk associated with design, materials and construction. The Panel also recommended that the system of independent inspections, carried out by building control officers, should be strengthened to complement the mandatory certification process

The Building Control Amendment Regulations 2014 now require greater accountability for compliance with the Building Regulations in the form of statutory certification of design and construction, lodgement of compliance documentation, mandatory inspections during construction and validation and registration of certificates. I am satisfied that these measures are appropriate and will ensure a greater emphasis on competence, professionalism and quality in our construction industry thereby ensuring that homeowners and construction clients can rely on getting the high quality homes and buildings they expect and deserve.

A new online Building Control Management System (BCMS) which has been developed by local authorities came into operation on 1 March 2014 in line with the commencement of the new Regulations. The system will provide a common platform for clear and consistent administration of building control matters across the local authority sector; it will facilitate the risk analysis of all projects for which commencement notices are received which will inform each building control authority's own inspection arrangements thus ensuring that available inspection resources are used to optimum effect.

The enhanced professionalism and accountability arising from the arrangements under the new Regulations will lead to improved quality and reduce risk within the construction sector. This will in turn lead to market conditions more conducive to insurers and a wider availability and use of latent defects insurance. However, I have undertaken to explore the potential for latent defects insurance on construction projects as part of the wider reform of building control arrangements.

Questions Nos. 387 and 388 answered with Question No. 372.

Asbestos Remediation Programme

Questions (389)

Seán Crowe

Question:

389. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to historic dumping sites of asbestos in the Athy, County Kildare area. [15349/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The primary responsibility for the management of any waste, including costs for removal or disposal, lies with the holder of the waste, i.e. the natural or legal person in possession of the waste, or the producer of the waste. The Waste Management Act 1996 imposes a general duty of care on holders of waste, under which a person may not hold, transport, recover or dispose of waste in a manner that causes, or is likely to cause, environmental pollution. In addition, in the case of hazardous waste, a holder of waste is required, without delay, to inform both the local authority concerned and the EPA of any loss, spillage, accident or other development concerning that waste which causes, or is likely to cause, environmental pollution. Enforcement actions against illegal waste activity are a matter for the local authorities and the Office of Environmental Enforcement (OEE) within the Environmental Protection Agency.

Asbestos is a hazardous waste and its management requires care, including in respect of relevant health and safety requirements. Further general information on asbestos, including disposal, can be obtained from the Environmental Protection Agency's website: http://www.epa.ie/whatwedo/advice/asbestos/. I have not received any specific complaints in relation to dumping of asbestos in the area referred to.

Local Authority Staff Data

Questions (390)

Seán Crowe

Question:

390. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the number of applications for extra staff that have come from Kildare County Council in the past three years, particularly for the library service. [15350/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

My Department operates a delegated sanction from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for implementation of the moratorium on recruitment in local government. Any exceptions to the moratorium in local authorities require sanction from my Department.

My Department examines all staffing sanction requests on a case by case basis having due regard to the continued delivery of key services in the context of staffing and budgetary constraints. In considering sanction requests, public safety, maintaining key front line services, and economic issues are given precedence.

My Department received sanction requests in respect of 142 staff from Kildare County Council from 2011 to date. Of these, 5 sanction requests related to the County Library Service, all of which have been approved.

Asbestos Remediation Programme

Questions (391)

Michael McCarthy

Question:

391. Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if there is any funding or grant aid available for the removal of hazardous asbestos; and if he will consider making such funding available in view of the known health risks associated with this material. [15376/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

There is no funding available from my Department or local authorities for the removal of asbestos in buildings.

The prevention of exposure to the harmful effects of asbestos is the focus of occupational safety and health legislation concerning asbestos in the workplace. Specific worker protection Regulations regarding the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to asbestos fibres while at work have been in place since 1989. The current Regulations are the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Exposure to Asbestos) Regulations 2006, which are enforced by the Health and Safety Authority, which comes under the remit of the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. Insofar as the management of asbestos as a waste is concerned, the Waste Management Acts 1996-2013 prohibit any person from holding, transporting, recovering or disposing of waste in a manner which causes or is likely to cause environmental pollution, defined in section 5 of the 1996 Act to include action which would to a significant extent endanger human health.

It is recommended that expert advice should be sought in dealing with asbestos materials and if removal is necessary it should only be done by a competent contractor with the required training.

Human Trafficking

Questions (392)

Denis Naughten

Question:

392. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will propose to the EU Council of Ministers the introduction of mandatory training for airline staff to provide them with the skills needed to detect persons, particularly children, who are being trafficked; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14735/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings 2012-2016, which has been endorsed by the EU Council of Ministers, has among other issues identified the training of front-line actors in the field of human trafficking as a priority and the relevant Irish authorities are committed to working with the European Commission in this regard. This Strategy, which outlines a work programme to the end of 2016, does not propose that training for airline staff in the identification of human trafficking be made mandatory. Focus in the Strategy, is on broader training and awareness raising with front-line staff such as police officers, border guards, immigration and asylum officials, public prosecutors, housing, labour, health, social and safety inspectors, civil society organisations, trade unions and employers organisations among others.

Training for airline and other staff in the transport sector is, I believe, of benefit in the detection of human trafficking. In 2012 the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit of my Department, in consultation with their counterparts in the United Kingdom, developed a training resource for airline staff and this is available on the my Department's dedicated anti-human trafficking website www.blueblindfold.gov.ie. Since that time, joint communications by the Irish and United Kingdom authorities have been made with airlines flying into and out of both jurisdictions seeking their support to help in the fight against human trafficking by providing training to airline staff on the indicators of human trafficking.

The EU Strategy will be the subject of evaluation and renewal in the coming years and the issue of training for staff such as those in the airline industry, whether on a mandatory or voluntary basis, will likely be considered in that context.

Garda Recruitment

Questions (393)

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

393. Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his policy in regard to time served in the Garda Reserve when it comes to recruitment to An Garda Síochána; the number of members of the reserve force who have been interviewed for An Garda Síochána; the number that have been successful; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14713/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Admission and Appointment Regulations provide that, as part of the competitive selection process organised by the Public Appointments Service for full-time membership of An Garda Síochána, "due recognition to any satisfactory service by the person as a reserve member" shall be given to such candidates. This provision was introduced in order to acknowledge the beneficial experience and skills gained by a reserve member and to allow them, at assessments and at interview, the opportunity to highlight that experience and skill. It is important that all persons wishing to join the full time force undergo the same competitive selection and recruitment process. In doing so the integrity of the process is maintained at all stages of the competition.

I am informed that no interviews have yet been held as part of the recruitment process. To date, applicants have completed a number of online assessment tests. Those successful at each stage are called to the subsequent stages of the competition which will ultimately involve further tests, interviews, medical examinations and security checks.

Animal Welfare

Questions (394)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

394. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which there is a provision for training gardaí in the area of animal welfare issues; if he will commit specific Garda personnel for animal welfare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14754/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that training provided to Gardaí included instruction in relation to the Control of Horses and Dogs. This instruction was delivered during the in-service classes students attended at their Divisional Continuous Professional Development Centre. The approach to learning in the new BA in Applied Policing will ensure that students will continue to be proficient in accessing and identifying the relevant legislation, policy documents etc. to enable them to investigate animal welfare issues.

Animal Welfare

Questions (395)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

395. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of members of the farming community who have been prosecuted for animal abuse and animal neglect; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14755/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Garda Síochána Act 2005 makes provision for the compilation and publication of crime statistics by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), as the national statistical agency, and the CSO has established a dedicated unit for this purpose. I have requested the CSO to provide statistics directly to the Deputy.