Heritage Projects

Questions (482)

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

482. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if any State funding is available for the replacement of the roof of a church (details supplied) whose main building is 150 years old and whose bell tower is 200 years old in view of the importance of the building to Ireland's built heritage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22988/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

Grant funding for the protection of built heritage is provided by my Department via a number of schemes, which are either directly administered or delivered through local authorities and agencies. My Department recently made available a fund of €5 million under the Built Heritage Jobs Leverage Scheme for the repair and conservation of protected structures under the Planning and Development Acts 2000-2012. This fund will support a significant number of projects across the country and employment in the conservation and construction industries. The scheme will operate throughout 2014 and is administered by the local authorities. Although the deadline for applications to the scheme has passed, I would refer the Deputy to the local county council, which will be able to clarify if the church in question might be added to the council’s reserve list of applicants, or if other sources of funding for conservation are available from the council itself. The conservation officer in the county council will generally be able to advise of funding available for conservation works to protected structures in the area in question and it is advisable for interested parties to remain in contact with the council on an ongoing basis.

The Heritage Council, which my Department funds, also operates a 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 in 2014 the Council is not providing direct grant aid for protected structures, due to the availability of funding from the Built Heritage Jobs Leverage Scheme. However, the church vestry in question should contact the Heritage Council directly to ascertain if the church is eligible for funding under any of the Heritage Council’s programmes now, or in the future.

Special Areas of Conservation Criteria

Questions (483)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

483. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht when he intends announcing the compensation package for farmers in the Twelve Bens and Maam Turk Mountains; the amount of the proposed compensation; if it will cover those who were in the NPWS scheme as well as those who were in REPS; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23219/14]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

The 5 year grazing intervention in the 12 Bens/Garraun Complex and Maumturk Mountain Complex Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) ran from the 1 November 2008 until the 31 October 2013. This intervention ceased on 1 November 2013. An issue arose in relation to farmers who experienced a funding gap from the closing date for application to join AEOS 3 (7th of December 2012) until the AEOS 3 contract commenced (1st of May 2013). I have agreed to cover this funding gap. My Department has recently written to the 56 farmers who applied to join AEOS 3 and were accepted into that scheme. My Department will pay these farmers, upon receipt of a signed declaration, the amount accruing for this period had they been in approved AEOS 3 plan. These equates to €1,666 for each farmer who abided by the grazing intervention.

My Department has already fulfilled the financial commitments to all other farmers in the area who were in REPS or in the NPWS Farm Plan Scheme, upon receipt of the appropriate paperwork.

Commemorative Events

Questions (484)

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

484. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if the commemoration committee in his Department has considered the proposal for a sculpture piece by (details supplied) for the centenary of the 1916; if he has approved the proposal or not; if not when a decision is likely to be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23222/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

I am aware of the proposal referred to by the Deputy and would be pleased to see the project progress to completion. The Deputy will appreciate, however, that, as memorials to be located in public space, sculptures cannot be considered solely on their artistic merit. Issues of location and context are essential features of any proposal that is brought forward for consideration. Making use of all available capital resources, the progress of certain projects, including those outlined in my statement on the Budget in the House on 16th October 2013 and several others included in the statement by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform on 13th May 2014, has been prioritised with a view to their completion for the centenary of the Easter Rising. Accordingly, I am not in a position at this time to commission sculptures nor arrange for new monuments in the context of the centenary commemorations.

National Parks Projects

Questions (485)

Clare Daly

Question:

485. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will take action to save Killarney National Park oak woods by instructing the National Parks and Wildlife Service to follow the work of volunteers who systematically cleared the area of rhododendrons, which are now beginning to seed again and undermine the work of thousands of volunteers. [23346/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Arts)

My Department carries out an annual targeted programme in Ireland’s National Parks to manage the invasive species referred to, which, in some areas, has replaced native shrub and grows in dense thickets, thereby excluding native vegetation and limiting natural tree regeneration. The extent of the problem varies from property to property and, having regard to the very dynamic nature of this invasive species, my Department's targeted management programme is routinely monitored and adjusted with a view to ensuring optimum efficacy. The work involved is carried out by outside specialist companies, staff of my Department and, in some cases, by volunteer groups under staff direction and supervision.

My Department will continue to invest in this important programme of work with a view to creating conditions in our National Parks that are conducive to the protection and re-establishment of native species and, particularly, our native woodlands. To this end, my Department is reviewing current practice to ensure the most effective use of the available resources.

Fishing Licences

Questions (486)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

486. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if it is possible to get a licence under conservation for fishing eels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22422/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Conservation of Eel Fishing (Prohibition on Issue of Licences) Bye-law No. 858, 2009 prohibited the issue of eel fishing licences in any Fishery District. This Bye-law was introduced following the requirement for Ireland and other EU Member states to draw up an Eel Management Plan (EMP) under the 2007 EU Eel regulation (1100/2007).

The International Council for Exploration of the Sea (ICES) advised in 2011, that glass eel recruitment had fallen to 5% of their 1960-1979 level in the Atlantic region and precariously less than 1% in the North Sea area. The very latest ICES advice (2013) indicates that the annual recruitment of glass eel to European waters has increased marginally over the last two years to 1.5% of 1960-79 levels in the North Sea area, and to 10% in the Atlantic area. In Ireland, scientific studies also show that recruitment has been declining since the mid-1980s, for example in the 2000-2011 period, the glass eel catch in the Shannon was at 2% of the pre-1980 level. In addition, the status of the European Eel in Ireland has been defined by the United Nations as critically endangered.

Based on comprehensive scientific assessment of eel stocks nationally and a review of Ireland’s EMP in 2012 it was recommended that the closure of both the commercial and recreational eel fisheries be continued in line with the conservation imperative. In the light of these recommendations, the prohibition on issuing eel licences was continued in the Conservation of Eel Fishing Bye Law No. 312, 2012.

The 2012 review included a robust public consultation during which many issues were raised and considered. Full details of the outputs of the public consultation are available on the Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) web site. Similar reviews were carried out across the EU as the eel stock is endangered throughout Europe.

The review of scientific and management advice and inputs from the public consultation informed a decision to continue with the cessation of the commercial eel fishery and closure of the market for the period from 2012 to 2015. Ireland’s EMP will be reviewed again next year

I understand that a number of former eel fishermen have been engaged by the ESB to undertake Trap and Transport operations to mitigate the impact of hydropower schemes as part of the eel management plan and that this activity still continues.

Departmental Staff Redeployment

Questions (487)

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

487. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his plans to close a depot (details supplied) in County Offaly; if staff will be redeployed to other locations; and, if so, where will staff be relocated to; the reason for this closure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22560/14]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

Issues relating to accommodation and staffing are day-to-day operational matters for public bodies, in this instance Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI). Accommodation is one of the most significant cost components of public sector organisations and it is incumbent on all agencies to achieve economy and efficiency. In this context the Board of IFI has commenced a strategic rationalisation of its properties and facilities.

IFI's nationwide responsibilities in terms of the inland fisheries resource is delivered across a range of locations. I understand that as part of the strategic rationalisation initiative of the Board, consideration is being given to whether properties are either in a poor state of repair or are not strategically located. I am advised that IFI has identified certain leased properties for surrender as they are not in optimal locations in the context of effective service delivery. In this regard IFI advise that the current leased base in Birr is to be discontinued and the employee based there relocated within the contiguous area; either to the IFI Roscrea facility or to a home office.

I am further informed that this rationalisation is being undertaken in conformity with established public financial and other procedures, and that IFI consistently engages with all staff on these matters through the normal Industrial Relations channels.

I have arranged to have this question and reply copied to IFI with whom the Deputy can raise any further query directly. I will provide contact details to the Deputy.

Rural Broadband Scheme

Questions (488, 492)

Noel Coonan

Question:

488. Deputy Noel Coonan asked the Minister for Communications; Energy and Natural Resources when an area (details supplied) in County Tipperary will be considered for inclusion on the rural broadband strategy announced on 25 April 2014 as it is not currently listed for inclusion; when it is envisioned that the area will be included for high speed broadband; the reason the area did not feature on the list; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22121/14]

View answer

Seán Fleming

Question:

492. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Communications; Energy and Natural Resources if he will provide a timescale for when proper broadband will be introduced to a location (details supplied) in County Laois; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22206/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 488 and 492 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 under way 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 under way. 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 79 areas in County Tipperary, including the area of Newtown and 20 areas in County Laois, including Errill Village are to 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 rollout 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 43 fibre-based broadband networks in County Tipperary, including Roscrea, and 21 such networks in County Laois 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.

Post Office Network

Questions (489)

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

489. Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his plans to ensure the future prosperity and sustainability of the post office network; if he will confirm that there are no plans to close Erne Street Upper post office in Dublin 2; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22124/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

Insofar as plans for the development of the post office network are concerned, I refer to the reply to Priority Question No. 111 [19991/14] of 6 May 2014. The position is unchanged.

The issue of post office closures is an operational matter for the board and management of An Post and one in which I have no statutory function. I will ask An Post to respond directly to the Deputy in relation to Erne Street Upper post office.

Internet Safety

Questions (490)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

490. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources further to Parliamentary Question No. 357 of 11 February 2014, if he will provide an update regarding the findings of the Internet Content Governance Advisory Group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22188/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Internet Content Governance Advisory Group has held 10 meetings to date and is currently finalising its report which I expect to receive by the end of this month. I intend to bring this report to Cabinet and the Joint Oireachtas Committee in due course.

Postcode Implementation

Question No. 492 answered with Question No. 488.

Questions (491)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

491. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the actions he will take to address the concerns of the Data Protection Commissioner regarding the introduction of the new postcode system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22190/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

Data protection issues have been part of the debate on postcodes since the establishment of a National Postcodes Board in 2005 to examine the introduction of postcodes in Ireland. There has been engagement with the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner on the issue of postcodes generally at various points since then.

I have stated clearly that the necessary protections will operate around the use of Eircodes to ensure that data protection legislation is complied with. Holders of personal data are bound by Data Protection legislation on how they store and use this data, and the introduction of Eircodes will not alter this obligation.

The necessary actions will be undertaken to ensure that the Eircode project complies with the data protection framework during both the implementation phase of the project and the operational phase post launch in Spring 2015.

Question No. 492 answered with Question No. 488.

Cóid Phoist

Questions (493)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

493. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Cumarsáide, Fuinnimh agus Acmhainní Nádúrtha cén socrú atá déanta aige maidir le postchóid i mBaile Átha Cliath, áit a n-úsáideann daoine ‘D’ le haghaidh ‘Dublin’ agus ‘BÁC’ le haghaidh ‘Baile Átha Cliath’ faoi láthair roimh uimhir an cheantair; an leanfar den dá nós seo leis na postchóid nua, mar shampla ‘BÁC04 123’ agus ‘D04 123’ ar Bhaile Átha Cliath 4; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [22449/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

Nuair a úsáidfear Eircodes ní bheidh aon athrú i gceist maidir le seoltaí reatha. Tá seoltaí i nGaeilge san áireamh. Ceapadh Eircode le bheith neodrach ó thaobh teanga de. Ar chúiseanna oibríochta áfach, léireofar códphoist reatha Bhaile Átha Cliath mar an chéad trí charachtar sa chód seacht gcarachtar.

Commission for Energy Regulation

Questions (494)

John Halligan

Question:

494. Deputy John Halligan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources following the establishment of the Commission for Energy Regulation, the extent of the authority this body has to direct energy providers to make changes to its processes and its dealings with customers based on its findings; if there is a penalty for non-compliance with the directions of the CER where it has found in favour of a complainant and advised an energy provider to implement its decisions; the number of complaints in relation to Electric Ireland that have been received by the CER since its establishment; his views regarding a case (details supplied) where Electric Ireland executives refused to respond directly to a customer's complaint and further to this declined to implement the findings of the CER following a formal complaint and assessment of Electric Ireland's dealings with a complainant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22591/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The regulation of the electricity and gas market is the responsibility of the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER), which is an independent statutory body. I have no function in the matter of customer complaint resolution.

The CER has a statutory responsibility to provide a complaints resolution service to customers with an unresolved dispute with their supplier or network operator. Following investigation the CER has the power to direct suppliers and network operators to award compensation or to resolve the complaint in a set fashion if the complaint is upheld. Under the provisions of SI No. 463 of 2011 energy undertakings are required to comply with any determination made by the CER in the context of dispute resolution.

If a determination by the CER is not implemented within the required period of 14 days, a payment of €30 to the customer may apply. The CER would also consider instructing a supplier to issue a payment of €30 for each billing period after that, depending on the particular circumstances.

According to the CER, there has never been a case when a supplier has refused to implement a determination issued by it, although there have been cases when the determination was not applied within the 14 days. The supplier is obliged under its licence (Condition 15 of the electricity supply licence & Condition 16 of the natural gas supply licence) to comply with laws and directions. Therefore, a refusal to comply with a determination may be considered a breach of the licence.

The Energy Customers Team was established by the CER in 2006 to deal directly with small business and domestic customers who have complaints and the complaint resolution process is set out at the following link: http://www.cer.ie/customer-care/complaints. This also describes how to make contact with the Team.

The Team issues Annual Reports containing data on customer complaints in the energy sector and they are available on the CER website. The Annual Report for 2012 indicates that in that year the Team logged 3,067 contacts with customers, of which 2,234 were related directly to energy suppliers. The highest number of contacts per supplier was Airtricity with 874, followed by Electric Ireland with 647, BGE with 618, Energia with 56 and Flogas with 39 contacts. When the figures are analysed by contacts per 50,000 customers, Airtricity was first with 84.2 contacts per 50,000 customers, Flogas was second with 53 contacts per 50,000 customers, Energia was third with 51.4 contacts per 50,000 customers, BGE was fourth with 40 contacts per 50,000 customers and Electric Ireland was fifth with 21.8 contacts per 50,000 customers.

With regard to the specific case you cite, the CER has ruled in favour of the complainant and has issued a direction to the supplier in question. While there have been delays and the case is ongoing it is my understanding that the supplier in question has proposed to implement a solution for the customer that is in line with the determination of the CER.

Broadband Service Provision

Questions (495)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

495. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his plans to improve the provision of broadband in the Ballinena, Newcastle West, County Limerick area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22701/14]

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.

Since the publication of the Plan, investments by the commercial sector are under way 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.

The State has previously intervened in the telecoms sector through the Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs) Programme, by constructing three MANs networks in Co Limerick, in Abbeyfeale, Newcastlewest and Limerick city. These networks are all currently in use by telecoms operators, who are making telecoms services available to businesses and citizens in Limerick.

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 under way. 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 48 areas in County Limerick 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 rollout 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 44 fibre-based broadband networks in County Limerick, including the area of Newcastle West 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.

Cable Licensing

Questions (496)

Luke 'Ming' Flanagan

Question:

496. Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if commercial cable companies need a licence to place cables on private property, including private residential properties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22753/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

Operators of cable television networks are required to register as an Authorised Undertaking with the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), in advance of offering services to the public and to comply with the ex-ante operational requirements imposed on authorised undertakings by ComReg, when operating the network to provide services to the public. It is a matter for each cable network provider to secure all necessary authorisations and access agreements to construct any such network in the first instance and my Department has no role in this regard.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Questions (497)

Sandra McLellan

Question:

497. Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if a person is required to purchase a television licence when an appeal has been submitted for carer's allowance since February (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23142/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The sale of TV licences and the associated inspection process is an operational matter for An Post as the Minister's statutorily appointed Agent under the Broadcasting Act 2009. The free TV licence you mention in your letter is part of the Household Benefits Package, which is administered by the Department of Social Protection.

I have asked my officials to bring the circumstances of the case as presented by the Deputy to the attention of An Post.