Heritage Centres Funding

Questions (418)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

418. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if an organisation (details supplied) in Dublin 5 qualifies for heritage funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21449/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

Grant funding for the protection of the built and natural heritage is provided by my Department via a number of schemes which are either directly administered or delivered through local authorities and agencies. In 2014 the Heritage Council, which my Department funds, re-instated its community grants scheme. It is primarily a matter for the Heritage Council to allocate its funding appropriately given competing priorities within the heritage sector. I understand that the application deadline for funding under the Heritage Council’s community grants scheme has passed for 2014. However, the organisation in question should contact the Heritage Council directly to ascertain their eligibility for funding under any of the Council’s programmes now, or in the future. In addition, I understand that in certain circumstances some local authorities may also offer funding in this regard. As with the Heritage Council, it is a matter for the local authorities in question to allocate their funding appropriately. I suggest that the organisation contact Dublin City Council directly to ascertain their eligibility for funding from that source.

My Department also funds targeted initiatives for music which are channelled through Music Network. These include a national music day and a national music instrument scheme. Love: Live Music Day, the national music day, is an annual celebration of all forms of music in Ireland. It aims to promote access to live music for all, regardless of location through free nationwide music events. The musical instrument scheme operated by Music Network assists individuals and groups to purchase musical instruments. Further details are available at www.musicnetwork.ie.

State Bodies Abolition

Questions (419)

Seán Fleming

Question:

419. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of State agencies and public bodies that have been merged or abolished in each year since 2011, under the remit of his Department; the annual savings associated with each body; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21788/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Public Service Reform Plan published by the Government on 17 November 2011 outlined a series of rationalisation measures relating to agencies and other public bodies. Some of those measures related to a certain number of the bodies funded from my Department's Vote Group. In this regard, my Department conducted a critical examination of the structure and operation of the institutions included in the Public Service Reform Plan and developed a comprehensive and practical approach to the implementation of the various Government Decisions in this area. This was endorsed by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. An overall total of €20 million in savings was targeted in the Public Service Reform Plan from enhanced service efficiencies and value-for-money. It is expected that approximately €1 million of this will be achieved initially across the institutions involved in the reform programme which are funded from my Department's Vote Group, with further savings to be identified as the various cost saving measures are implemented.

In the immediate term, savings are being made primarily in three ways:

- Through the ending of payments to Chairpersons and members of boards or advisory councils;

- Through a programme of shared services between institutions, including, for example, in retail, security, marketing, procurement and storage; and

- Through the provision of services by my Department to some institutions, including human resources services and financial services, thus relieving those institutions of the need to incur a cost in accessing these services.

In that regard, the functions of Culture Ireland were merged fully into my Department during 2013 and the Board was replaced with an Expert Committee whose members provide their time on a pro bono basis. In addition, the term of office of the Placenames Commission expired in October 2012 and was replaced by an Expert Committee which also operates on a pro bono basis.

Furthermore, a formal Framework for Co-operation and Improved Services between the National Gallery of Ireland, the Irish Museum of Modern Art and the Crawford Art Gallery was developed and endorsed by Government. Arising from that, the three Galleries signed a formal Service Level Agreement outlining a number of specific measures to share a number of services across the three Institutions. Legislation has been prepared to give effect to these changes and to reduce the number on boards, enshrine pro bono service and also gender equality on each board.

In December 2013, a new Human Resources Shared Services Unit was established in my Department to provide HR support to the National Museum of Ireland. Work is continuing between the National Museum of Ireland, the National Library of Ireland and the National Archives of Ireland to improve co-operation between these institutions and to progress shared services. Legislation to formally enact these changes and changes to board structure is being progressed. I am satisfied that this programme of change has made a significant contribution to achieving the savings targets set out in the Public Service Reform Plan, while at the same time enhancing the operations of the bodies concerned.

Public Sector Staff Remuneration

Questions (420)

Seán Fleming

Question:

420. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of public servants employed in his Department on a lower pay scale to their colleagues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21817/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

As the Deputy will be aware, the reduced scales for persons recruited to certain direct entry grades in the public service, as implemented in Department of Finance Circular 18/2010, were withdrawn with effect from 1 November 2013, following the issue of Department of Public Expenditure Circular 2/2014 on 30 January 2014. There are currently five full-time staff in my Department and 18 in bodies under its aegis, who are being paid on the reduced scales. I understand that, while Circular 2/2014 included details of revised pay scales for direct-entry grades to the Civil Service, details of the revised arrangements for other grades will shortly be finalised.

Departmental Legal Cases Data

Questions (421)

Seán Fleming

Question:

421. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of legal cases that have been served against his Department arising from disputes regarding pay and conditions of public servants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21831/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

I assume that the Deputy is referring to matters before the court. As the Deputy will be aware, my Department was established on 2 June 2011. It has not been served with any legal proceedings arising from disputes regarding pay and conditions of public servants since that date.

Public Sector Staff Data

Questions (422)

Seán Fleming

Question:

422. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the current average age of full-time staff in his Department; the way this compares with the average age of public servants in each year from 2010 to 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21842/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

I understand that the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform will provide the information requested by the Deputy in respect of the staff of my Department. With regard to bodies under the aegis of my Department, I am advised the average age of full-time staff in such bodies is currently 46.73 but that records are not maintained of the average age of staff for previous years.

Ministerial Travel

Questions (423)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

423. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will provide details of all official foreign trips he and Ministers of State in his Department intend to take between now and the end of 2014; if he will detail whom they will be meeting with on these trips; the purpose of the trip; the duration of the trip; if there are plans to use all of these trips to promote Ireland as a good place for doing business and as a destination for foreign direct investment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21854/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

I would like to advise the Deputy, that both I, as Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and my colleague, Deputy Dinny McGinley, Minister of State, undertake foreign trips from time to time in order to fulfil our official duties. Every effort is made to maximise the opportunities that such trips present to promote Ireland and full itineraries are planned in conjunction with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Two official overseas engagements have been confirmed in my diary between now and the end of this year as set out below.

My attendance at this year's International Famine Commemoration, which is due to take place in New Orleans between 6 and 9 November of this year, has been confirmed. My attendance at this event arises from my role as Chair of the National Famine Commemoration Committee, which was established by Government to commemorate the victims of the Great Irish Famine with an annual National Famine Commemoration Day, as well as a parallel overseas event. The itinerary for this year's International Famine Commemoration is currently being developed in consultation with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Irish Consulate in Atlanta and further details will be announced in due course.

My attendance at the Education, Youth, Culture and Sports (EYCS) Council meeting, which is due to take place in Brussels between 20 and 21 May, has also been confirmed. I can advise the Deputy that, as of now, Minister of State McGinley has no overseas engagements confirmed to the end of this year. The Deputy will appreciate, however, that further overseas engagements could potentially be proposed for either the Minister of State or for me over the course of the remaining months of this year.

Inland Fisheries

Questions (424)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

424. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding fishing licences and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20891/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I am advised by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) that The South Western River Basin District (SWRBD) ‘Managed Community Rainbow Trout fisheries’ programme is run as a community initiative and is not a commercial venture. Permit sales from these fisheries do not cover the operational costs. The budget allocated each year to this programme by IFI subsidises these fisheries for the benefit of the communities in which they reside. The closure of Lough Caum, while unfortunate from a tourism and local angling viewpoint, was necessary due to reduced funding for the ‘Managed Community Rainbow Trout fisheries’ programme for 2014. As all lakes are stocked from the rearing-on facility at Inchigeela on a weekly basis, the cost of continuing to stock Lough Caum, which is the furthest lake away from this facility, is prohibitive.

Semi-State Bodies

Questions (425)

Seán Fleming

Question:

425. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the number of commercial semi-State companies under the aegis of his Department; the current value of the pension fund assets held by each commercial semi-State company; the latest funding position of each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20901/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

There are seven Commercial Semi State Companies under the aegis of my Department: An Post, Bord Gáis Eireann, Bord na Mona, EirGrid, ESB, RTE and TG4. Any issues regarding pension funds for these companies are an operational matter for each company. I understand that the Annual Reports of the companies contain details on the pensions schemes, including assets and liabilities, and are available in the Oireachtas Library.

Regulatory Bodies

Questions (426)

Clare Daly

Question:

426. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the reason ComReg oversees An Post but yet has no role with regard to companies (details supplied); the steps he will implement to ensure a more level playing field amongst these service providers. [20925/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The postal services market has been fully open to competition since 1 January 2011. The 2011 Act charges the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), as the postal regulator, with the promotion of the development of the postal sector and particularly the availability of the universal postal service, the promotion of the interests of users and the facilitation of the development of competition in the sector. Under the 2011 Act, An Post is statutorily required, as the designated universal service provider, to provide a universal postal service. The essential element of this obligation is the collection and delivery of mail to every address in the State on every working day. The companies referred to by the Deputy are not designated universal service providers and do not accordingly come under the same provisions of the 2011 Act as An Post.

The Communications Regulation (Postal Services) Act 2011 requires that any person who is providing or intending to provide a postal service shall, before doing so, make a notification to the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg). The term “postal services” is defined by the 2011 Act as “services involving the clearance, sorting, transport and distribution of postal packets”. The two distinguishing features of a “postal packet” are that it is addressed and that is has been accepted or intended for transmission by post. ComReg has concluded that “Document Exchange” and “Express and Courier services” and the delivery of unaddressed advertising material lack certain constituent features by which to be deemed “postal services”. An Post is listed on the ComReg Register of Authorised Postal Service Providers whereas the companies referred to by the Deputy are not listed.

Post Office Network

Questions (427)

Heather Humphreys

Question:

427. Deputy Heather Humphreys asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will provide an update, following on from recent consultations, on the steps the Government is taking to see what additional business and services can be provided through local post offices; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20963/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I refer to the reply to Priority Question No. 111 [19991/14] of 6 May 2014. The position is unchanged.

Broadband Service Provision

Questions (428)

Heather Humphreys

Question:

428. Deputy Heather Humphreys asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if the contract for the "3" national broadband service which was awarded in 2008 has been monitored; if the terms of the contract have been fulfilled; if his attention has been drawn to the areas serviced by this contract who still have no broadband service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21007/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The broadband service contracted under National Broadband Scheme (NBS) is a basic, affordable, product in keeping with EU State Aid clearance for the Scheme in September 2007. Broadband services under the NBS are available since October 2010 from “3”, the NBS service provider, to persons with a fixed residence or fixed business in all of the designated 1,028 NBS Electoral Divisions. The NBS service is provided primarily by means of a wireless solution, with the NBS satellite service utilised in a small number of cases for technical reasons associated with the location of the premises. The combination of both the wireless and satellite services ensures that broadband is available throughout the NBS coverage area.

My Department has well-established monitoring arrangements in place to ensure that the NBS delivers the minimum specified service or better to all users. Throughout the period of the contract detailed statistical reports, including traffic and utilisation data and service parameters including network availability, speeds, contention and latency are submitted by “3” and analysed by my Department. Upgrades of the network and its capacity are automatically triggered at contractually agreed levels of traffic to ensure that the quality of the broadband service is maintained.

On a periodic basis, my Department conducts its own field tests of the service levels received at premises of those customers who have contacted my Department in relation to their service performance. The findings of the Department's field tests are the subject of formal response by “3” and remedial measures are taken, where necessary, to ensure that all NBS customers enjoy the quality of broadband service foreseen in the NBS contract. Furthermore, on an annual basis, my Department undertakes a detailed audit of NBS implementation which includes a technical, financial and systems audit as well as inspection of serving sites.

The NBS contract guarantees service levels and imposes a service credit regime on “3”, with significant financial consequences in the event that minimum specification service levels are not met. The NBS contract also provides that where NBS customers do not receive the minimum guaranteed service, as set out in the terms and conditions of their contract, they are entitled to service rebates. My officials operate a dedicated NBS mailbox, which NBS customers can contact by email at nationalbroadbandscheme@dcenr.gov.ie, with any comments or complaints they may have about their NBS service. My Department will then liaise with “3” personnel at its Head Office in Dublin to remedy any service performance issues and ensure that the service delivered is within the specified contractual limits.

Television Licences Data

Questions (429)

Michael Lowry

Question:

429. Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will assist in securing information from RTE on the percentage of re-runs shown in the period from January through to March of 2014, in view of the fact that a high number of television licences are being paid through the Department of Social Protection; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21062/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

RTÉ is an independent national public service broadcaster whose remit and obligations are set out in Section 114 of the Broadcasting Act 2009. Section 98 provides that the company shall be independent in the pursuance of these objects, subject to the requirements of the Act. As such, I, as Minister, have no function in the management of RTÉ’s day to day affairs, including in relation to programming matters. However, I have referred the matter to the company for direct reply to the Deputy.

Broadband Service Provision

Questions (430)

Tom Fleming

Question:

430. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will investigate and examine the poor level of broadband service in Glencuttane, Beaufort, County Kerry (details supplied); his views that this is an appalling level of service in 2014 and is causing a huge inconvenience to all users and needs to be addressed immediately; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21066/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Government’s National Broadband Plan, which I published in August 2012, aims to radically change the broadband landscape in Ireland by ensuring that high speed broadband is available to all citizens and businesses. This will be achieved by providing a policy and regulatory framework that assists in accelerating and incentivising commercial investment; and a State-led intervention for areas where it is not commercial for the market to invest.

During the preparation of the Next Generation Broadband Taskforce report, which concluded its deliberations in 2012, service providers noted the importance of planning and consent processes in facilitating the roll out of infrastructure to support the provision of telecommunications services. I would point out that the Local Authority has a strong role to play in facilitating the roll-out of the necessary infrastructure to help enable service availability throughout the Country. In the case of County Kerry, I note that the County Development Plan recommends against siting a mast within 1km of dwellings. I understand that this is contributing to difficulties in providing good quality broadband and telecommunications services generally in the county.

The Government's National Broadband Plan which I subsequently published, commits to addressing barriers to deployment in order to maximise investment by the commercial sector and assist in enhancing the quality of services. Local Authorities have an important role to play in this regard, particularly in facilitating the provision of infrastructure that supports wireless and fixed line services.

Since the publication of the Plan, investments by the commercial sector are underway and in some instances have been accelerated in both fixed line and wireless high speed broadband services. Commercial operators combined have either invested, or committed to invest, over €2 billion in their Irish networks, delivering high speed broadband to homes and businesses. For example:

- Eircom is rolling out a €400m investment in a Next Generation Access Fibre Network that offers speeds of up to 100Mbps. Service is already available to over 800,000 addresses, with planned coverage to reach 1.4m addresses by 2016.

- UPC has invested over €500m in upgrading its cable network. Over 700,000 homes can already access minimum broadband speeds of 120Mbps and up to 200Mbps. Businesses can access speeds of 500Mbps.

- ESB is engaged in a new project allowing a fibre network to be rolled-out on its existing electricity infrastructure. It is understood that discussions between ESB and Vodafone to form a new Joint Venture Company are at an advanced stage. The company has initial plans to construct a fibre network directly to 450,000 premises outside of Dublin and it is expected that details will be announced over the coming weeks.

- Mobile operators have launched 4G high speed mobile broadband services following ComReg’s multiband spectrum auction. There has also been continued investment by all operators in enhancing and broadening 3G services and network improvements.

- Fixed wireless operators are continuing to invest in high speed point-to-point wireless broadband.

- The broadcaster Sky has entered the broadband market, increasing choice for consumers.

Of the estimated 2.3 million premises in Ireland, approximately 1.4m are expected to be served by these commercial next generation broadband services over the coming years.

This accelerated roll out of high speed services by the commercial sector means that the addressable area required by the State intervention has been reduced by 30% since the National Broadband Plan was launched. While the commercial developments are welcome the acceleration of investment is largely contained to cities and towns. The speeds that are available in these areas are demonstrably better than those that are available in more rural areas.

On 25 April, I signalled the Government's commitment to a major telecommunications network build-out to rural Ireland, with fibre as the foundation of its investment under the National Broadband Plan. This commitment is a clear expression of Government’s determination to address the connectivity challenge in rural Ireland in a meaningful and sustainable way.

Central to the strategy will be a fibre build-out to locations in every county in the State identified as having no existing or planned enabling fibre network. It is intended that the fibre will be delivered directly to access points for homes and businesses, where service providers can utilise the fibre to provide high speed services to end users. The fibre build-out will also ensure that fibre is deployed to strategic locations on each route such as schools, business hubs and health facilities. The fibre build out will be part of an end-to-end strategy that will address all parts of Ireland that cannot access commercial high speed broadband services.

I have published a county-by-county list of towns and villages which have already been identified for a fibre build-out. This is an indicative list and is subject to the completion of the comprehensive mapping process currently underway. Further locations may be identified as this process continues. Similarly, it may be determined that some locations on the list will be addressed by the commercial sector and will therefore not require State intervention. Currently I envisage that a total of 59 areas in County Kerry will be included in the proposed fibre build-out. The list is available on my Departments website www.dcenr.gov.ie.

In tandem with the fibre build-out, the Strategy will include measures to respond to aggregated community demand for services, and the provision of access services in the most remote areas where fibre roll out may be insufficient to stimulate commercial investment or may be cost-prohibitive. Intensive design work is ongoing in the Department with a view to publishing an end-to-end implementation strategy later this year, together with the outcome of the mapping exercise which will identify the areas that require intervention. A full public consultation will take place once the strategy is published and EU State Aids clearance will be required for the intervention strategy once finalised. It is expected that the detailed procurement process will take place in 2015 with a view to commencing construction of the fibre network and provision of services in the areas that require intervention as quickly as possible.

The EU Commission’s guidelines on state aid for high speed broadband infrastructure preclude member states from intervening in regions in which private investors have demonstrated plans to roll out their own infrastructure within the following three years. In this regard it is noted that at least one network operator has published a programme to roll out 33 fibre-based broadband networks in County Kerry, which includes rolling out those services in Beaufort by July 2016. I fully share the concerns of local representatives about the quality of broadband in rural areas. I intend to ensure that rural Ireland enjoys similar opportunities to urban areas by ensuring an end-to end market intervention with fibre as a core component. In committing to a fibre build-out at the heart of this strategy, the Government is acknowledging that broadband is the key infrastructure of the 21st century.

Broadband Service Provision

Questions (431, 432, 433)

Seamus Kirk

Question:

431. Deputy Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources on foot of the recent announcement regarding the rural broadband scheme, his plans for the type of broadband for the Annagassan area in County Louth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21092/14]

View answer

Seamus Kirk

Question:

432. Deputy Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will provide a full breakdown of all areas in County Louth who will have access to fibre optic broadband; the date set for the roll-out of this scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21093/14]

View answer

Robert Troy

Question:

433. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will ensure broadband is provided for Rathconnell, Clonlost, Macetown and Cullion in County Westmeath. [21132/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 431 to 433, inclusive, together.

Since market liberalisation in 1999, the provision of telecommunications services, including broadband services are delivered in the first instance through private sector operators who operate in a fully liberalised market, regulated by the independent regulator, the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg). The market has developed into a well-regulated market, supporting a multiplicity of commercial operators, providing services over a diverse range of technology platforms. Details of broadband services available in each County including Counties Louth and Westmeath can be found on a number of websites, including the websites of individual commercial operators.

The Government’s National Broadband Plan, which I published in August 2012, aims to radically change the broadband landscape in Ireland by ensuring that high speed broadband is available to all citizens and businesses. This will be achieved by providing:

- a policy and regulatory framework that assists in accelerating and incentivising commercial investment, and

- a State-led intervention for areas where it is not commercial for the market to invest.

Since the publication of the Plan, investments by the commercial sector are underway and in some instances have been accelerated in both fixed line and wireless high speed broadband services. Commercial operators combined have either invested, or committed to invest, over €2 billion in their Irish networks, delivering high speed broadband to homes and businesses. For example:

- Eircom is rolling out a €400m investment in a Next Generation Access Fibre Network that offers speeds of up to 100Mbps. Service is already available to over 800,000 addresses, with planned coverage to reach 1.4m addresses by 2016.

- UPC has invested over €500m in upgrading its cable network. Over 700,000 homes can already access minimum broadband speeds of 120Mbps and up to 200Mbps. Businesses can access speeds of 500Mbps.

- ESB is engaged in a new project allowing a fibre network to be rolled-out on its existing electricity infrastructure. It is understood that discussions between ESB and Vodafone to form a new Joint Venture Company are at an advanced stage. The company has initial plans to construct a fibre network directly to 450,000 premises outside of Dublin and it is expected that details will be announced over the coming weeks.

- Mobile operators have launched 4G high speed mobile broadband services following ComReg’s multiband spectrum auction. There has also been continued investment by all operators in enhancing and broadening 3G services and network improvements.

- Fixed wireless operators are continuing to invest in high speed point-to-point wireless broadband.

- The broadcaster Sky has entered the broadband market, increasing choice for consumers.

Of the estimated 2.3m premises in Ireland, approximately 1.4m are expected to be served by these commercial next generation broadband services over the coming years.

This accelerated roll out of high speed services by the commercial sector means that the addressable area required by the State intervention has been reduced by 30% since the National Broadband Plan was launched. While the commercial developments are welcome the acceleration of investment is largely contained to cities and towns. The speeds that are available in these areas are demonstrably better than those that are available in more rural areas.

On 25 April, I signalled the Government's commitment to a major telecommunications network build-out to rural Ireland, with fibre as the foundation of its investment under the National Broadband Plan. This commitment is a clear expression of Government’s determination to address the connectivity challenge in rural Ireland in a meaningful and sustainable way.

Central to the strategy will be a fibre build-out to locations in every county in the State identified as having no existing or planned enabling fibre network. It is intended that the fibre will be delivered directly to access points for homes and businesses, where service providers can utilise the fibre to provide high speed services to end users. The fibre build-out will also ensure that fibre is deployed to strategic locations on each route such as schools, business hubs and health facilities. The fibre build out will be part of an end-to-end strategy that will address all parts of Ireland that cannot access commercial high speed broadband services.

I have published a county-by-county list of towns and villages which have already been identified for a fibre build-out. This is an indicative list and is subject to the completion of the comprehensive mapping process currently underway. Further locations may be identified as this process continues. Similarly, it may be determined that some locations on the list will be addressed by the commercial sector and will therefore not require State intervention. Currently I envisage that a total of 16 areas in County Louth and 39 areas in County Westmeath will be included in the proposed fibre build-out. The list is available on my Department's website www.dcenr.gov.ie.

In tandem with the fibre build-out, the Strategy will include measures to respond to aggregated community demand for services, and the provision of access services in the most remote areas where fibre roll out may be insufficient to stimulate commercial investment or may be cost-prohibitive. Intensive design work is ongoing in the Department with a view to publishing an end-to-end implementation strategy later this year, together with the outcome of the mapping exercise which will identify the areas that require intervention. A full public consultation will take place once the strategy is published and EU State Aids clearance will be required for the intervention strategy once finalised. It is expected that the detailed procurement process will take place in 2015 with a view to commencing construction of the fibre network and provision of services in the areas that require intervention as quickly as possible.

The EU Commission’s guidelines on state aid for high speed broadband infrastructure preclude member states from intervening in regions in which private investors have demonstrated plans to roll out their own infrastructure within the following three years. In this regard it is noted that at least one network operator has published a programme to roll out 21 fibre-based broadband networks in County Louth and 19 such networks in County Westmeath by July 2016. I fully share the concerns of local representatives about the quality of broadband in rural areas. I intend to ensure that rural Ireland enjoys similar opportunities to urban areas by ensuring an end-to end market intervention with fibre as a core component. In committing to a fibre build-out at the heart of this strategy, the Government is acknowledging that broadband is the key infrastructure of the 21st century.

Departmental Communications

Questions (434)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

434. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if any telephone calls in or out of his Department are being, or ever have been recorded, and if so, if he will provide details of the systems used to record and store such calls, the cost to his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21230/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

My Department does not have and has never had a system or policy in place to record incoming or outgoing telephone calls. The issue of storing or costs does not, therefore, arise. My Department in common with most business entities has a voice mail system which enables callers to record a message to leave on the voicemail system if an official or service is temporarily not contactable. This, in common with all voicemail systems, is to facilitate call back and customer service and it is at the discretion of the caller whether or not to leave a message.

Broadband Service Provision

Questions (435, 440, 441)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

435. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources when it is proposed to ensure all areas of the country have a minimum broadband service of 30 mbps; the expected date of the completion of the roll-out of this service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21383/14]

View answer

Brendan Smith

Question:

440. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if his attention has been drawn to the widespread concern about the poor quality of broadband service available for households and businesses in an area (details supplied) in County Cavan; if he will outline the proposals to improve broadband connectivity without further delay in this general area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21442/14]

View answer

Michael Moynihan

Question:

441. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the position regarding the national broadband plan in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21511/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 435, 440 and 441 together.

The Government’s National Broadband Plan, which I published in August 2012, aims to radically change the broadband landscape in Ireland by ensuring that high speed broadband is available to all citizens and businesses. This will be achieved by providing:

- a policy and regulatory framework that assists in accelerating and incentivising commercial investment, and

- a State-led intervention for areas where it is not commercial for the market to invest.

Since the publication of the Plan, investments by the commercial sector are underway and in some instances have been accelerated in both fixed line and wireless high speed broadband services. Commercial operators combined have either invested, or committed to invest, over €2 billion in their Irish networks, delivering high speed broadband to homes and businesses. For example:

- Eircom is rolling out a €400m investment in a Next Generation Access Fibre Network that offers speeds of up to 100Mbps. Service is already available to over 800,000 addresses, with planned coverage to reach 1.4m addresses by 2016.

- UPC has invested over €500m in upgrading its cable network. Over 700,000 homes can already access minimum broadband speeds of 120Mbps and up to 200Mbps. Businesses can access speeds of 500Mbps.

- ESB is engaged in a new project allowing a fibre network to be rolled-out on its existing electricity infrastructure. It is understood that discussions between ESB and Vodafone to form a new Joint Venture Company are at an advanced stage. The company has initial plans to construct a fibre network directly to 450,000 premises outside of Dublin and it is expected that details will be announced over the coming weeks.

- Mobile operators have launched 4G high speed mobile broadband services following ComReg’s multiband spectrum auction. There has also been continued investment by all operators in enhancing and broadening 3G services and network improvements.

- Fixed wireless operators are continuing to invest in high speed point-to-point wireless broadband.

- The broadcaster Sky has entered the broadband market, increasing choice for consumers.

This accelerated roll out of high speed services by the commercial sector means that the addressable area required by the State intervention has been reduced by 30% since the National Broadband Plan was launched. While the commercial developments are welcome the acceleration of investment is largely contained to cities and towns. The speeds that are available in these areas are demonstrably better than those that are available in more rural areas.

On 25 April, I signalled the Government's commitment to a major telecommunications network build-out to rural Ireland, with fibre as a cornerstone of its investment under the National Broadband Plan. This commitment is a clear expression of Government’s determination to address the connectivity challenge in rural Ireland in a meaningful and sustainable way.

Central to the strategy will be a fibre build-out to locations in every county in the State identified as having no existing or planned enabling fibre network. It is intended that the fibre will be delivered directly to access points for homes and businesses, where service providers can utilise the fibre to provide high speed services to end users. The fibre build-out will also ensure that fibre is deployed to strategic locations on each route such as schools, business hubs and health facilities. The fibre build out will be part of an end-to-end strategy that will address all parts of Ireland that cannot access commercial high speed broadband services.

I have published a county-by-county list of towns and villages which have already been identified for a fibre build-out. This is an indicative list and is subject to the completion of the comprehensive mapping process currently underway. Further locations may be identified as this process continues. Similarly, it may be determined that some locations on the list will be addressed by the commercial sector and will therefore not require State intervention. The list is available on my Departments website www.dcenr.gov.ie. Currently I envisage that a total of 59 locations in County Kerry will be included in the proposed fibre build-out. In tandem with the fibre build-out, the Strategy will include measures to respond to aggregated community demand for services, and the provision of access services in the most remote areas where fibre roll out may be insufficient to stimulate commercial investment or may be cost-prohibitive.

Intensive design work is ongoing in the Department with a view to publishing an end-to-end implementation strategy later this year, together with the outcome of the mapping exercise which will identify the areas that require intervention. A full public consultation will take place once the strategy is published and EU State Aids clearance will be required for the intervention strategy once finalised. It is expected that the detailed procurement process will take place in 2015 with a view to commencing construction of the fibre network and provision of services as quickly as possible.

The EU Commission’s guidelines on state aid for high speed broadband infrastructure preclude member states from intervening in regions in which private investors have demonstrated plans to roll out their own infrastructure within the following three years. In this regard it is noted that at least one network operator has published a programme to roll out 33 fibre-based broadband networks in County Kerry by July 2016. It is my intention to ensure that rural Ireland enjoys similar opportunities to urban areas by ensuring an end-to-end market intervention with fibre as a core component. In committing to a fibre build-out at the heart of this strategy, the Government is acknowledging that broadband is the key infrastructure of the 21st century.

Broadband Service Provision

Questions (436)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

436. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his plans to ensure adequate coverage of areas (details supplied) which at present have no broadband coverage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21384/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The provision of mobile telecommunications services networks within the wider competitive electronic communications market is subject to a requirement to secure a wireless telegraphy licence to access the required radio spectrum. The award of such licenses, the imposition of terms and conditions to access that spectrum including the imposition of coverage requirements and the associated monitoring of compliance by licensed providers with those terms and conditions are matters for the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), which is independent in the exercise of its functions. I have no statutory role in the process of allocating licenses for the provision of mobile telephony services.The Government’s National Broadband Plan, which I published in August 2012, aims to radically change the broadband landscape in Ireland by ensuring that high speed broadband is available to all citizens and businesses. This will be achieved by providing a policy and regulatory framework that assists in accelerating and incentivising commercial investment; and a State-led intervention for areas where it is not commercial for the market to invest.

Since the publication of the Plan, investments by the commercial sector are underway and in some instances have been accelerated in both fixed line and wireless high speed broadband services. Commercial operators combined have either invested, or committed to invest, over €2 billion in their Irish networks, delivering high speed broadband to homes and businesses. For example:

- Eircom is rolling out a €400m investment in a Next Generation Access Fibre Network that offers speeds of up to 100Mbps. Service is already available to over 800,000 addresses, with planned coverage to reach 1.4m addresses by 2016.

- UPC has invested over €500m in upgrading its cable network. Over 700,000 homes can already access minimum broadband speeds of 120Mbps and up to 200Mbps. Businesses can access speeds of 500Mbps.

- ESB is engaged in a new project allowing a fibre network to be rolled-out on its existing electricity infrastructure. It is understood that discussions between ESB and Vodafone to form a new Joint Venture Company are at an advanced stage. The company has initial plans to construct a fibre network directly to 450,000 premises outside of Dublin and it is expected that details will be announced over the coming weeks.

- Mobile operators have launched 4G high speed mobile broadband services following ComReg’s multiband spectrum auction. There has also been continued investment by all operators in enhancing and broadening 3G services and network improvements.

- Fixed wireless operators are continuing to invest in high speed point-to-point wireless broadband.

- The broadcaster Sky has entered the broadband market, increasing choice for consumers.

Of the estimated 2.3m premises in Ireland, approximately 1.4m are expected to be served by these commercial next generation broadband services over the coming years.

This accelerated roll out of high speed services by the commercial sector means that the addressable area required by the State intervention has been reduced by 30% since the National Broadband Plan was launched. While the commercial developments are welcome the acceleration of investment is largely contained to cities and towns. The speeds that are available in these areas are demonstrably better than those that are available in more rural areas.

On 25 April, I signalled the Government's commitment to a major telecommunications network build-out to rural Ireland, with fibre as a cornerstone of its investment under the National Broadband Plan. This commitment is a clear expression of Government’s determination to address the connectivity challenge in rural Ireland in a meaningful and sustainable way.

Central to the strategy will be a fibre build-out to locations in every county in the State identified as having no existing or planned enabling fibre network. It is intended that the fibre will be delivered directly to access points for homes and businesses, where service providers can utilise the fibre to provide high speed services to end users. The fibre build-out will also ensure that fibre is deployed to strategic locations on each route such as schools, business hubs and health facilities. The fibre build out will be part of an end-to-end strategy that will address all parts of Ireland that cannot access commercial high speed broadband services.

I have published a county-by-county list of towns and villages which have already been identified for a fibre build-out. This is an indicative list and is subject to the completion of the comprehensive mapping process currently underway. Further locations may be identified as this process continues. Similarly, it may be determined that some locations on the list will be addressed by the commercial sector and will therefore not require State intervention. The list is available on my Departments website www.dcenr.gov.ie.

In tandem with the fibre build-out, the Strategy will include measures to respond to aggregated community demand for services, and the provision of access services in the most remote areas where fibre roll out may be insufficient to stimulate commercial investment or may be cost-prohibitive. Intensive design work is ongoing in the Department with a view to publishing an end-to-end implementation strategy later this year, together with the outcome of the mapping exercise which will identify the areas that require intervention. A full public consultation will take place once the strategy is published and EU State Aids clearance will be required for the intervention strategy when finalised. It is expected that the detailed procurement process will take place in 2015 with a view to commencing construction of the fibre network and provision of services as quickly as possible.

I fully share the concerns of local representatives about the quality of broadband in rural areas. I intend to ensure that rural Ireland enjoys similar opportunities to urban areas by ensuring an end-to end market intervention with fibre as a core component. In committing to a fibre build-out at the heart of this strategy, the Government is acknowledging that broadband is the key infrastructure of the 21st century.

Inland Fisheries

Questions (437)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

437. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he is satisfied with the utility and environmental soundness of Inland Fisheries Ireland’s continuing practice of stocking non-native hatchery reared fish from their facility in Cong into the River Erriff. [21395/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I am advised that Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) have undertaken a number of scientific releases of ranched salmon at the River Erriff research station (National Index Sea Trout Catchment) as part of ongoing research into the potential effects of sea lice from marine salmon farms on salmon smolt survival. Results from previous experimental releases have been published in peer reviewed reputable international scientific journals and provide advice to IFI, as the statutory authority for the management and conservation of wild salmonids, on the potential impact of sea lice on increased marine mortality of wild salmon. I am also advised that similar studies are undertaken by the Marine Institute at their Burrishoole facility as part of their research using ranched salmon. IFI have full trapping facilities at the River Erriff research station to remove all returning ranched salmon prior to migrating upstream.

Inland Fisheries

Questions Nos. 440 and 441 answered with Question No. 435.

Questions (438, 439)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

438. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he is satisfied with the actions and policy of Inland Fisheries Ireland in maintaining, promoting and exhibiting on its Facebook site, commentary from persons and organisations that is open to controversy and refutation by reputable scientific evidence and which is potentially damaging to the reputation and commercial interest of the Irish aquaculture industry, including the facilitation of an organised protest at a national seafood conference that was opened by a senior Minister; in view of the liability to which IFI, as a State agency, and his Department are potentially exposed to as a result of such actions. [21396/14]

View answer

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

439. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he is satisfied with the actions and policy of Inland Fisheries Ireland in maintaining, promoting and exhibiting on its Facebook site, commentary from persons and organisations of a potentially defamatory nature in respect of named public servants in view of the liability to which IFI, as a State agency, and his Department are potentially exposed to as a result of such actions. [21397/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 438 and 439 together.

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI), in common with a range of State Agencies and other organisations, participates in social media in order to engage individuals and organisations in its core business areas. I understand that IFI posts on its Facebook page news and information on events and developments of interest to anglers and other stakeholders. It also posts commentary from Regional and National media on matters of interest.

I am advised that IFI have over 4,400 ‘Likes’ on their Facebook page each of which, in accordance with the manner in which social media works, then becomes a potential gateway to the Facebook page of the individual or organisation which posted the ‘Like’ in the first instance. IFI or indeed any public body is not in a position to edit or control the content of these external Facebook pages and cannot take responsibility for the content of private social media pages. I have forwarded a copy of this question and reply to IFI as the matter raised relates to them in the first instance.

Questions Nos. 440 and 441 answered with Question No. 435.