Forestry Grants

Questions (221)

Michelle Mulherin

Question:

221. Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the position regarding an appeal against a decision of the forest services to seek to recover moneys in relation to a reduced area of plantation in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; if same will be expedited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18450/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The appeal by the person named is currently being examined by the Appeals Committee. Every effort will be made to complete this examination and to notify him of the decision.

Forestry Management

Questions (222)

Martin Heydon

Question:

222. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when Mullaghcreelan Wood, Castledermot, County Kildare, which is under the control of Coillte, is expected to re-open following closure during the storms earlier this year; the remedial work required to ensure public safety; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18464/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Coillte Teoranta was established as a private commercial company under the Forestry Act, 1988 and day-to-day operational matters, such as the management of their forest estate, are the responsibility of the company. The matter was, however, raised with Coillte who advise that the company is currently awaiting felling licence approval from my Department to harvest the windblown areas in Mullaghcreelan. I understand that the company has applied for a felling licence for removal of the windblown area and removal of dangerous trees throughout the property. The company advises that there is a health and safety risk in opening the forest and that the company cannot proceed until such time as a felling licence has been issued. I am pleased to advise that the felling licence concerned was issued by my Department yesterday.

In relation to the removal of trees following the recent storms, the position is that forest owners must have a felling licence before they can fell any trees including those that have suffered wind blow. My Department has received a significant number of felling licence applications following the storms earlier this year and my officials are processing them as expeditiously as possible.

Animal Slaughtering Standards

Questions (223)

Brendan Smith

Question:

223. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his proposals to assist farmers who wish to dispose of horses in view of the poor market returns for such animals at present; if he proposes to introduce a scheme for the depopulation of horses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18509/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Horses identified in accordance with EU and national equine identification legislation, and accompanied by an identification document (passport) compliant with current veterinary requirements are eligible for consideration for slaughter for human consumption. In this regard, a total of 10,711 horses were slaughtered for human consumption in 2013 and up to end March 2014 a total of 2,055 have been slaughtered for human consumption. My Department has put procedures in place for dealing with horses that are not eligible for human consumption, at risk horses and or horses not in compliance with the rules on equine identification. For example, my Department can (i) facilitate the humane disposal of at-risk horses on farm by way of licensed knackeries and (ii) provide emergency funding to assist those horse owners who cannot afford to pay for their humane disposal. Farmers who are facing a critical horse welfare issue can contact my Departments helpline Lo-call 1850 211 990 for assistance. In addition, the on-going work being undertaken by local authorities, in conjunction with my Department via the Control of Horses Act, 1996 has reduced the numbers of abandoned horses throughout the country particularly in urban areas.

My Department continues to remind horse owners of the importance of compliance with equine identification and equine premises registration requirements. Furthermore it is the responsibility of horse owners to ensure the welfare of horses in their ownership and/or their care and to dispose of them appropriately. In this context, horse owners are reminded of the advice of the Farm Animal Welfare Advisory Council that, where an owner can no longer adequately provide for their horse or where the horse can no longer fulfil the purpose for which is was bred, he or she should dispose of the animal.

Child Care Services Funding

Questions (224)

Heather Humphreys

Question:

224. Deputy Heather Humphreys asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if her attention has been drawn to the serious difficulties being caused to child care providers due to the delay in Pobal issuing CETS payments on time; the steps that are being taken to remedy this problem; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18495/14]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

The Childcare Education and Training support (CETS) programme, which is one of a number of childcare support programmes implemented by my Department, provides funding to support parents who are participating in Solas and the Education Training Boards training and education courses with the cost of childcare. Payments under the CETS programme, which are made by Pobal on behalf of my Department, issue as soon as possible after the enrolment of a qualifying child and provide advance payment for 13 weeks care. I understand that the payments which issued in January this year to participating childcare services provided for the period up until the end of March. A further direction issued to Pobal authorising payments for the 13 week period commencing on 1 April and I understand that these payments have now been processed.

I would like also to advise the Deputy that new strands of childcare support under the CETS programme have been introduced including an after-school programme which provides support to social welfare recipients returning to employment and a further strand which provides support to parents participating in Community Employment schemes. My Department is currently reviewing all aspects of the childcare support programmes with a view to ensuring that they are streamlined to provide the best outcome for those dependent on these supports and those providing the services. Officials in my Department are also working intensively to develop an ICT infrastructure to support the efficient and effective administration of all programmes.

Youth Guarantee

Questions (225)

Robert Troy

Question:

225. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will ensure voluntary youth organisations are involved in the roll-out of the youth guarantee. [18338/14]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

My Department administers a range of funding schemes and programmes to support the provision of youth services to young people throughout the country by the voluntary youth sector. The work of the voluntary youth work sector, in the provision of these services, has a significant contribution to make to the Government’s jobs agenda including the Action Plan for Jobs and Pathways to Work and the implementation of the Youth Guarantee in Ireland. Many youth organisations are working closely with relevant Government Departments and delivering measures to implement the Guarantee for young unemployed people. My Department, in consultation with the youth sector, has developed a ‘Youth Employability Initiative’ which involves the expansion of proven youth work initiatives that increase the employability of marginalised young people in the 15 to 24 age group. It aims to target the hardest to reach young people who are at risk of becoming NEET (i.e. not in employment, education or training) for intensive support to prevent unemployment. The development and expansion of the Youth Employability Initiative is a priority for me, should additional resources become available to my Department for youth services. In this regard, my Department continues to make efforts to secure the necessary resources for the initiative including exploring the potential of the initiative for ESF funding and is liaising with the relevant Government Departments in this regard. My Department will develop a new Youth Strategy in 2014. This Strategy will have its basis in the Children and Young Person’s Policy Framework - Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures which is being launched this week. The Youth Strategy will focus on ensuring greater coordination in policy and provision across Government for young people aged 10 – 24 years and will aim to be responsive to current and emerging issues such as youth employment. My Department continues to work closely with the Departments of Education and Skills, Social Protection and Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, to identify in what ways, the youth sector can contribute to shared policy objectives to address youth employment and the Youth Guarantee and in the context of the Action Plan for Jobs.

Adoption Services Provision

Questions (226)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

226. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will address the issue that Thai social workers may be unaware of six applicants pulling out of the adoption process from Ireland and which may be holding up the process for everyone else on the list meaning an additional wait of up to two or three years if this is not communicated; if she will direct the Adoption Authority of Ireland to make representations to the Thai officials indicating the current active files pending for adoption; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18374/14]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

I have asked the Adoption Authority to reply directly to the Deputy.

Alcohol Pricing

Questions (227)

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

227. Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health when he will introduce legislation to provide for minimum alcohol pricing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18287/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Government has approved an extensive package of measures to deal with alcohol misuse to be incorporated in a Public Health (Alcohol) Bill. These measures are based on the recommendations contained in the Steering Group Report on a National Substance Misuse Strategy, 2012 and include provisions for the introduction of minimum unit pricing for alcohol products. Work on developing a framework for the necessary Department of Health legislation is continuing.

A health impact assessment, in conjunction with Northern Ireland, has been commissioned as part of the process of developing a legislative basis for minimum unit pricing. The assessment will study the impact of different minimum prices on a range of areas such as health, crime and likely economic impact. The study should be finalised by the end of Quarter 2 this year.

Water Fluoridation

Questions (228)

Martin Heydon

Question:

228. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Health his plans to review the process of adding fluoride to water; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18467/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Department of Health keeps the policy of water fluoridation under constant review. As part of this ongoing work, a review of evidence on the impact of water fluoridation at its current level on the health of the population and on the environment is being conducted by the Health Research Board on behalf of the Department. This review will be completed by December 2014. The Department is also collaborating in a University College Cork-led research project, "Fluoride and Caring for Children's Teeth" (FACCT). The study will consider the impact of changes on the oral health of children, following policy decisions relating to toothpaste use by infants and young children made in 2002 and the reduction in the level of fluoridation in drinking water introduced in 2007. In addition, a study on general and oral health findings in adults linked to the duration of exposure to fluoridated water as part of the Irish Longitudinal Study on Aging (TILDA) has commenced its pilot phase.

Medicinal Products Supply

Questions (229)

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

229. Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health if he will continue payment under the DPS for a branded medicine in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork where the generic equivalent is unsuitable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18264/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Health (Pricing and Supply of Medicines) Act 2013, which was commenced in June of last year, provides the statutory basis for the introduction of a system of generic substitution and reference pricing. Under the legislation, the Irish Medicines Board (IMB) has statutory responsibility for establishing and maintaining a list of interchangeable medical products. In doing so, the IMB is required to have regard to a comprehensive set of qualifying conditions, all of which must be complied with before a decision is taken to make a medicinal product interchangeable. In addition, Section 13 of the Act provides that where a branded interchangeable product is prescribed for a patient and the prescriber is satisfied that the medicinal product, should for clinical reasons, be exempted from substitution, the prescriber shall write 'Do not Substitute' on the prescription. In these cases, the pharmacist must dispense what is written on the prescription, i.e. is not permitted to substitute with any product in the same group of interchangeable products. Reference pricing involves the setting of a common reimbursement price, or reference price, for a group of interchangeable products. It means that one reference price is set for each group or list of interchangeable medicines, and this is the price the Health Service Executive (HSE) will reimburse to pharmacists for all medicines in the group, regardless of the individual medicine's prices.

Eligible patients using State drug schemes like the Medical Card or Drugs Payment Scheme will not face any additional costs for products prices at or below the reference price. If a patient would like to receive a particular brand that costs more than the reference price then the patient will have to pay the additional cost of that product. In cases where substitution is prohibited for clinical reasons, patients will not face any additional costs if the prescribed product costs more than the reference price. The HSE is responsible for the administration of the primary care schemes, therefore, the matter has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.