Community Development Initiatives

Questions (488)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

488. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the changes that are being made to community development schemes; the number of schemes currently operating in Dublin North-East and Dublin North-Central; the number of schemes that have closed since 2011 in Dublin North-East and Dublin North-Central; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21447/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The proposals outlined in Putting People First - Action Programme for Effective Local Government seek to position local government “as the primary vehicle of governance and public service at local level – leading economic, social and community development, delivering efficient and good value services, and representing citizens and local communities effectively and accountably”.

As part of the programme of reform of local government, Local Community Development Committees (LCDCs) are being established in all local authority areas.  These Committees, comprising public-private socio-economic interests, will have responsibility for local and community development programmes on an area basis.  They will develop, co-ordinate and implement a more coherent and integrated approach to local and community development than heretofore, with the aim of reducing duplication and overlap and optimising the use of available resources for the benefit of citizens and communities.

The Local and Community Development Programme (LCDP) is my Department’s main community development scheme which covers all areas of the country including the areas referred to. It is the largest social inclusion intervention of its kind in the State, having replaced the Local Development Social Inclusion Programme and the Community Development Programme in 2010. Total funding of €281m has been allocated to the LCDP since it was introduced 2010.

The current Programme officially ended at the end of 2013 having operated for four years and is being implemented by the national network of Local Development Companies on a transitional basis for 2014 with a budget of €47m pending the roll out of a new Social Inclusion Programme in January 2015. In 2014, over €10.7m has been allocated to groups to deliver services under the LCDP in the Dublin region; individual allocations are outlined in the following table. No LCDP funded schemes have closed since 2011 in the areas in question.

Ballyfermot/Chapelizod Partnership Company Limited

€619,238

Ballymun/Whitehall Area Partnership

€721,201

Blanchardstown Area Partnership Limited

€884,866

Canal Communities Partnership

€853,588

Fingal Leader Partnership Company Limited

€363,686

Northside Partnership Limited

€1,119,336

Rathmines Pembroke Community Partnership Limited

€676,921

South Dublin County Local Development Company

€2,044,785

Southside Partnership DLR Limited

€1,074,127

Tolka Area Partnership Limited

€1,037,545

Dublin Inner City Community Development Projects

€1,361,191

The new Programme is one of my key priorities and its budget for next year will be decided in the 2015 Estimates process. In accordance with the Public Spending Code, best practice internationally, legal advice and in order to ensure the optimum delivery of the services to clients, the Programme will be subject to a public procurement process, which is due to commence shortly.

Water Services Funding

Question No. 491 answered with Question No. 470.

Question No. 492 answered with Question No. 457.

Questions (489, 490)

Emmet Stagg

Question:

489. Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government in the interest of increasing conservation of water, and in the context of budget 2015, if he will examine the provision of grants for the harvesting of rainwater to include the purchase price of water butts, pump filters, piping and valves. [21501/14]

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Michael McGrath

Question:

490. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his plans to introduce a grant scheme for householders who wish to establish a water conservation system to recycle rain water in an effort to reduce their consumption of tap water; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21506/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 489 and 490 together.

The Programme for Government sets out a commitment to the introduction of water charges based on usage above a free allowance. The Government considers that charging based on usage is the fairest way to charge for water and it has, therefore, decided that water meters should be installed in households that are connected to public water supplies. International evidence has shown that where meters have been installed, significant reductions have been achieved in the level of consumption and this is also borne out by the water savings achieved with metering in the group water sector. I understand that a comprehensive water conservation programme will be undertaken by Irish Water and will cover the full spectrum of measures including customer awareness and education campaigns about water conservation.  

I am fully supportive of technologies which contribute to the conservation of water. Rainwater harvesting has the potential to benefit the environment and contribute to reducing the cost of water services for certain uses. However, the introduction of a grants scheme for any purpose must be managed within current budgetary constraints and, in so far as the funds administered by my Department are concerned, there are currently no plans to introduce a scheme for the installation of rainwater harvesting systems.

Question No. 491 answered with Question No. 470.
Question No. 492 answered with Question No. 457.

Unfinished Housing Developments

Question No. 494 answered with Question No. 457.

Questions (493)

Pat Deering

Question:

493. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the total amount of funding allocated under the public safety initiative for unfinished housing estates on a county basis in the past 12 months. [21535/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

The information requested is set out in the following table.

Public Safety Initiative Funding - May 2013 to April 2014

County

Amount

Donegal

€481,095.87

Fingal

€2,508.00

Offaly

€34,850.00

Cork

€9,988.00

Longford

€52,402.95

Sligo

€21,620.00

Kilkenny

€37,525.50

Limerick

€28,239.94

Louth

€42,222.00

Leitrim

€83,297.65

Total

€793,749.91

Question No. 494 answered with Question No. 457.

State Bodies Mergers

Questions (495)

Seán Fleming

Question:

495. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government 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. [21793/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

My Department’s agency modernisation/rationalisation programme has seen the number of agencies reduce from 21 to 11. A further reduction to 9 is planned for 2014 with the merger of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland and the dissolution of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority. The details are set out in the following Table.

Action

Status

Merge Local Government Computer Services Board & Local Government Management Services Board

Completed August 2012, new Local Government Management Agency established.

Merge 2 Regeneration Agencies in Limerick into Local Authorities

Completed in July 2012.

Subsume An Chomhairle Leabharlanna into existing public body

Completed November 2012 – subsumed by Local Government Management Agency

Comhar to be integrated into the National Economic and Social Council.

Completed January 2012

Merge the Affordable Housing Partnership, National Building Agency and Centre for Housing Research into a new body

Completed August 2012 - Housing and Sustainable Communities Agency established

Discontinue the Dormant Accounts Board

Completed December 2012

Merge Environmental Protection Agency and Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland

Preparatory work well advanced. Merger to be completed later in 2014, following enactment of underpinning legislation

Dissolve the Dublin Docklands Development Authority

To be completed late in 2014 following enactment of necessary legislation

Fire Services Council

Functions assimilated into the Department in 2011

Rent Tribunal to merge with the Private Residential Tenancies Board ( PRTB)

Administrative functions transferred to the Private Residential Tenancies Board, pending the enactment of the necessary legislation

The savings achieved through the rationalisation programme to date include savings in terms of annual operating costs of the order of €1m arising from the dissolution of An Chomhairle Leabharlanna and an annual saving on rent for the Housing and Sustainable Communities Agency of €150,000, due to the transfer of the properties of An Chomhairle to the Housing Agency. In addition, the NBA headquarters was sold in March 2012 for €2.84 million and savings arising from the Rent Tribunal/PRTB merger are estimated at €70,000 – €100,000 annually. The most significant savings arising in the Department’s group of agencies flow from the reduction in staff numbers, which have fallen to 690 as of end of Q1 2014, the latest date for which figures are available, as compared to a peak of 951 at the end of 2008 – a reduction of 261 (27%).

Departmental Staff Remuneration

Questions (496)

Seán Fleming

Question:

496. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government 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. [21822/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Staff in my Department are paid in accordance with Department of Finance and/or Department of Public Expenditure and Reform Circulars on the matter.

A provision was introduced which took effect from 1 January 2011 for a 10% reduction in salary scales in respect of persons recruited to direct entry grades in the civil service. There are 3 staff in my Department on such reduced salary scales.

The Haddington Road Agreement provided that, in order to address the imbalance between those who entered the Public Service since 2011 and those who entered before that date, revised incremental salary scales would be prepared for such persons. My Department will apply these revised salary scales to the relevant staff when they are finalised.

Departmental Legal Cases Data

Questions (497)

Seán Fleming

Question:

497. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government 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. [21835/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

No legal cases have been served against my Department arising from disputes regarding pay and conditions since my appointment as Minister in March 2011.

Departmental Staff Data

Questions (498)

Seán Fleming

Question:

498. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government 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. [21847/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

My colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform is providing information separately regarding the average age of civil servants across the Civil Service. In the case of my Department, the average age of civil servants from 2010 to date is set out in the following Table. The current average age of public servants, excluding civil servants, serving in my Department is 48 years, which has been consistent over the years in question.

Summary - Civil Servants

Year

Average Age

Dec-10

45.57

Dec-11

46.32

Dec-12

46.61

Dec-13

47.54

Ministerial Travel

Questions (499)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

499. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government 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. [21857/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

Details of my currently planned official trips abroad between now and the end of this year are set out in the following Table.

Dates

Purpose of Trip

Location

13-14 May 2014

Informal EU Environment Council meeting

Athens

12 June 2014

EU Environment Council nisterial meeting

Luxembourg

2 July 2014

UN Economic Commission for Europe High Level Segment of the Meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention

Maastricht

7-9 July 2014

High-Level Segment of UN Political Forum on Sustainable Development

New York

Minister of State Jan O’Sullivan has as yet no official foreign trips planned for the current year. Minister of State Fergus O’Dowd may attend the United Nations Environmental Assembly of the UN Environment Programme in Nairobi from 25–27 June 2014 but a final decision in this matter has not yet been made.

Further foreign trips may be added to ministerial schedules as the year progresses. Where ministerial diaries allow, my Department will always contact the relevant Embassy/Consul General to advise of a Minister’s availability to undertake any trade and foreign direct investment promotions as part of visits abroad.

Semi-State Bodies

Questions (500)

Seán Fleming

Question:

500. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Defence 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. [20902/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

There are no semi-State companies under the aegis of the Department of Defence.

Departmental Communications

Questions (501)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

501. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Defence 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. [21231/14]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

No calls in or out of my Department are being, or ever have been recorded.

State Bodies Mergers

Questions (502)

Seán Fleming

Question:

502. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Defence 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. [21791/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The bodies under the aegis of the Department of Defence when the Government took office were the Civil Defence Board, the Board of Coiste an Asgard and the Army Pensions Board. The Civil Defence Board was identified in the Public Service Reform Plan as a body to be abolished and legislation was passed by the Oireachtas in December 2012 for the dissolution of the Board. Its functions transferred back to the Department of Defence from 1st January 2013. The annual savings of almost €60,000 in running costs have been re-allocated to support the 4,500 active volunteers in Civil Defence nationwide.

Coiste an Asgard was the company set up to manage the National Sail Training Scheme. In September 2008, the company’s sail training vessel ‘Asgard II’ sank in the Bay of Biscay. In December 2009, the previous Government announced that the National Sail Training Scheme was to be discontinued and the funding for 2010 was cancelled. Up to and including 2009, the company had been receiving funding from the National Lottery of approximately €800,000 per annum. The formal wind up of the Company including voluntary strike off with the Companies Registration Office was completed in early 2013.

There are no plans to merge or abolish the Army Pensions Board.

Departmental Staff Remuneration

Questions (503)

Seán Fleming

Question:

503. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Defence 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. [21820/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

Under the National Recovery Plan 2011-2014, new reduced pay rates applied with effect from 1st January 2011 to new entrants recruited into certain public service direct entry grades. The number of public servants employed in the Department of Defence on a lower pay scale to colleagues is set out in the following table.

-

Number

Civil Servants

2

Civilian Employees attached to Military Installations

8

Defence Forces

1403

In order to address the imbalance between those who entered the Public Service since 2011 and those who entered before that date, the Haddington Road Agreement set out that revised incremental salary scales would be prepared for same grade entrants to each public service sector.

Department of Public Expenditure & Reform Circular 02/2014: Implementation of Clause 2.31 of the Haddington Road Agreement - Revised Pay Scales and Allowances for Persons Recruited to Certain Direct Entry Grades gives effect to this undertaking and provides for the preparation of revised incremental salary scales for same grade entrants. The revised pay rates will apply with effect from 1 November 2013 when implemented.

Departmental Legal Cases Data

Questions (504)

Seán Fleming

Question:

504. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Defence 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. [21833/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

Pay and conditions for members of the Defence Forces include various allowances relevant to their assignments and their duties. Currently, in this Department, there are forty three (43) legal cases outstanding regarding pay and conditions of public servants. One (1) relates to a Civil Servant and the remainder relate to Defence Forces Personnel. Twenty two (22) of these claims relate to the payment of a specific allowance. The remainder of the cases range from loss of promotion to the loss of allowances. As these cases are presently the subject of legal proceedings you will appreciate that it would not be appropriate for me to comment further on the matters.

The information provided relates to current cases. Providing information on all cases that have been served since 2011 would involve a very considerable allocation of resources as it is not readily available. These figures can be made available to the Deputy at a later stage if he so requires.

Departmental Staff Data

Questions (505)

Seán Fleming

Question:

505. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Defence the current average age of full time public service 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. [21845/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The average age of all personnel in the Permanent Defence Force (PDF) is 35.5 years. The comparison in respect of the PDF for years 2010 to 2013 is shown in tabular form as follows.

Year

2010

2011

2012

2013

Average Age

39.7

38.4

36.6

35.7

The average age of civilian employees attached to military installations is currently 54 years. Data relating to the civilian employee workforce are not maintained in a manner which would facilitate the production of annual age comparisons.

I understand that information in respect of civil servants of the Department of Defence is being provided by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

Semi-State Bodies

Questions (506)

Seán Fleming

Question:

506. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine 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. [20898/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The four commercial semi-State companies under the aegis of my Department are Bord na gCon, Coillte, Horse Racing Ireland and Irish National Stud.

The current value of the pension fund assets and the latest funding position held by each commercial semi-State company is an operational matter for the companies themselves.

Fish Quotas

Questions (507)

Clare Daly

Question:

507. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps he has taken to deal with allegations which have been brought to his attention in relation to massive quota over-fishing and black fish being sold on a weekly basis with the knowledge and inaction of the SFPA. [20927/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Under the Sea Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Act, 2006, the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) is independent in the exercise of its functions and operational matters concerning sea fisheries control are a matter for the SFPA.

I have received letters over the recent past which have made allegations regarding illegal fishing activity. I asked my Department to forward the correspondence to an Garda Síochána who have been requested, given the seriousness of the allegations, to examine all matters set down in the correspondence, as appropriate, in conjunction with the SFPA. I also asked my Department to forward the correspondence to the Chair of the SFPA to work, as appropriate, in conjunction with an Garda Síochána on these matters. The correspondence has been sent on this basis to both an Garda Síochána and the Chair of the SFPA.

Farm Retirement Scheme Applications

Questions (508)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

508. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a person (details supplied) in County Wexford who has participated in ERS 2 scheme and now finds that they cannot establish allocation rights in view of changes being introduced under the new EU Common Agricultural Policy be given a situation of force majure, that is, lease to run its course then entitlements returned to them if force majure is not possible, the options that are available to them. [20949/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Under the terms and conditions of the Early Retirement Scheme, persons who participated in that Scheme are contracted not to return to farming. Such persons may only return to farming if they agree to repay all moneys received under that Scheme.

The person named participated in the Early Retirement Scheme at which time he leased out his entire holding and all entitlements for a period which includes 2013. Consequently he did not receive a direct payment in 2013 and does not have an automatic ‘allocation right’ to receive entitlements under the new Basic Payment Scheme.

In these circumstances the value of the entitlements will be lost to both lessor and lessee unless the entitlements in question are transferred permanently by sale or gift before 15 May 2014 to a person who holds an allocation right, ideally the existing lessee. The Direct Payment Regulation is very clear in its intent that entitlements should not be allocated to persons who are not active farmers. The question of force majeure does not arise in these circumstances.

It should be noted that Minister Noonan recently announced a Capital Gains Tax relief for certain farmers who must dispose of their single farm payment entitlements on foot of changes being introduced under the new EU Common Agriculture Policy (CAP).

My Department issued a letter to the person named on 21st March, 2014 advising him of his options.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Applications

Questions (509)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

509. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a 2013 agri-environment option scheme payment will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20959/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The person named was approved for participation in the Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS 3) with effect from 1st May 2013.

Under the EU Regulations governing the Scheme and other area-based payment schemes, a comprehensive administrative check, including cross-checks with the Land Parcel Identification System, must be completed before any payment can issue. These checks have been successfully completed in respect of 2013 and 75% payment issued to the person named on 7th May 2014. The balancing 25% payment will follow.