Agriculture Scheme Payments

Questions (138)

Seán Kyne

Question:

138. Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason the sheep grassland payment for 2013 in respect of a person (details enclosed) was withdrawn; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23932/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Payment under Grassland Sheep Scheme for 2013 issued on 17 December 2013 to the nominated bank account of the person named.

Bord na gCon Remit

Questions (139)

John Browne

Question:

139. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he has carried out an independent report on the greyhound industry and if so, when it will be available and its findings made public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23936/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

A review of certain matters relating to Bord na gCon has been commissioned by my colleague the Minister of State, Mr Tom Hayes, TD. The aim of this review is to ensure that appropriate arrangements are in place to facilitate the growth and development of the greyhound racing industry into the future. The review encompasses the policy, governance and regulatory framework and the financial situation of Bord na gCon. The report documenting the findings of the review will assess the current situation with regard to Bord na gCon and will make recommendations as to any changes required to best place the industry to meet the challenges that lie ahead in a very dynamic and challenging environment. This review is progressing very well but more detailed investigations were considered appropriate by the external consultants conducting the review on a number of specific issues that arose as part of the analysis undertaken. The consultants have agreed to undertake this additional analysis at no extra cost to the Exchequer. It is anticipated that a draft report, including the additional analysis, will be completed by mid June. On receipt of the draft report, my Department will have to review and consider the contents and any action required prior to publication.

Farm Sizes

Questions (140)

Seán Kyne

Question:

140. Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his attention has been brought to a report by international NGO Grain which shows an increasing rapidity in the decline in the number of small farms and a corresponding rise in the number of corporately-owned and large scale farms; and if he is satisfied that the newly-agreed Common Agricultural Policy contains sufficient measures to support small farms in keeping with the traditional focus of European agriculture. [23944/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department is aware of the report referred to by the Deputy. The term ‘small farm’ has different meanings in different countries, so I think it is more meaningful to focus on the distinction between family farms and large-scale corporate farms.

In relation to Ireland, the CSO’s Census of Agriculture in 2010 showed that there were almost 140,000 farms in Ireland, a decline of only 1% in farm numbers since the previous Census of Agriculture in 2000. The average farm size in 2010 was 32.7 hectares, and 99.8% of farms were in family ownership. I am confident that the CAP reform agreement successfully concluded during the Irish Presidency last year will ensure a range of supports for family farming in Ireland and in the EU as a whole.

On the global scale, given that there are 500 million family farms in the world, the sustainable development of agricultural productivity on family farms must be a priority if global issues associated with food and nutrition security, poverty and hunger are to be addressed. In this regard Ireland supports the introduction of policies targeted at family farmers which facilitate access to land, water, finance, and appropriate mechanisms for knowledge and technology transfer. In particular, as women make up 43% of the global agriculture labour force and their role in family farms is crucial to farm productivity, policies aimed at reducing the gender gap in terms of access to resources and opportunities for women should be prioritised.

2014 has been designated as International Year of the Family Farm and events have taken place in Ireland and internationally to highlight the importance of this topic.

Milk Quota Trading Scheme

Questions (141)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

141. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the position regarding an application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wexford who has sought to sell milk quota; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23954/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Milk Quota Trading Scheme was the main mechanism for the transfer of quota between milk producers. The sixteenth and final stage of the scheme was announced on 17 December 2013, and had a closing date for receipt of applications of 7 February 2014.

As this was the final opportunity for quota holders to dispose of their quota, the closing date was, as an exceptional measure, extended to 7 March 2014 in order to accommodate sellers who had missed the original deadline.

The named person’s application was not received in the Department until 31 March, the date on which I announced the results of the scheme. Unfortunately it was not possible at that point to include the application.

On 1 April, the named person was informed of the situation in the course of a telephone conversation with an official of my Department.

Bovine Disease Controls

Questions (142)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

142. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the compensation available in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wexford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23955/14]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

At present compensation is available to suckler cow farmers who have multiple cases of persistently infected (PI) calves in their herds in order to encourage the early disposal of these calves. The compensation scheme offers these farmers €100 for the second and subsequent calves removed from suckler herds to a knackery.

My Department is currently finalising a review of the BVD Compensation Programme. I will contact you when this review has been completed.

Irish Language

Questions (143)

Michael P. Kitt

Question:

143. Deputy Michael P. Kitt asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if official recognition will be given to the Irish sign language; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23789/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Programme for Government includes a commitment to "examine different mechanisms to promote the recognition of Irish Sign Language". This process has already commenced.

The National Disability Authority (NDA) facilitated consultations with the Deaf Community in Ireland in 2012 at my request in relation to actions that could make improvements in the lives of deaf people and submissions received from them were considered for inclusion where possible and appropriate in the National Disability Strategy Implementation Plan (NDSIP) which was published in July 2013.

As part of the follow-up to that initiative, I chaired the first special themed meeting of the National Disability Strategy Implementation Group (NDSIG) on the issue of Irish Sign Language on November 28, 2013. This meeting brought together representatives of relevant Departments, the NDA, the Deaf Community and other relevant stakeholders with a view to further progressing the implementation of the NDSIP in this regard.

The meeting reviewed the current situation across Government Departments and their Agencies with regard to promoting recognition of Irish Sign Language including in service provision and provided the Deaf Community with the opportunity of presenting their experience of interaction with the Public Sector. It also provided a useful opportunity to examine mechanisms which could promote the further use and recognition of Irish Sign Language and understand practical implications for service users. Further to this meeting, the Deaf Community prepared a report to reflect their views on key actions and priorities. This report was submitted for my consideration last month. The intention is that the recommendations from this report, where practicable, will be reflected in the NDSIP through the incorporation of new actions and related performance indicators and timelines where necessary. Progress on all relevant actions will then be monitored as part of the Implementation Plan monitoring process. The focus therefore remains on the identification of mechanisms for the further promotion and recognition of Irish Sign Language with a view to promoting and supporting its use, thereby improving service delivery on the ground, rather than on its designation as an official language.

The existing legislation in Ireland gives a level of recognition and practical measures equal to, or above that, in countries which have formally recognised sign language.

Garda Transport Data

Questions (144)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

144. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of Garda vehicles available at a Garda station (details supplied) in Dublin 5 at the weekends; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23639/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

Decisions in relation to the provision and allocation of Garda vehicles are a matter for the Garda Commissioner in the light of her identified operational demands and the availability of resources.

Responsibility for the efficient deployment of Garda vehicles in each Division is assigned to the Divisional Officer, who may allocate vehicles between stations, as required by operational circumstances. The Deputy will appreciate that a degree of flexibility in allocating and re-allocating vehicles among stations, so as to best match the allocation of resources with policing priorities, is essential to the efficient management of the Garda fleet. As a consequence it is not fully practicable to provide a breakdown of Garda vehicles by individual station.

In that context, I am advised by the Garda authorities that as at 28 May 2014 there were 27 vehicles allocated to the Coolock District.

As the Deputy will be aware, a further €9m was secured towards the end of 2013 for investment in the Garda fleet. This investment resulted in the purchase of 305 new Garda vehicles, at a cost of €5 million. These were in addition to the 133 Garda vehicles which had already been procured during the year. The remaining €4 million has been made available for the purchase and fit out of Garda transport in 2014.

I am advised by the Garda authorities that these new vehicles are currently being allocated across Garda Divisions in accordance with operational requirements throughout the country, including the DMR North Division, which includes the Coolock District.

Public Sector Staff Sick Leave

Questions (145)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

145. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the changes that have been made to Garda sick leave policy; the reason these changes have been made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23641/14]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform signed the Public Service Management (Sick Leave) regulations (SI No 124 of 2014) into law on 6th March 2014. These regulations have been laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas.

These regulations which apply generally across the public service, including An Garda Síochána, introduce a maximum of 3 months (92 days) sick leave on full pay in a year followed by a maximum of 3 months (91 days) sick leave on half pay, subject to a maximum of 6 months (183 days) paid sick leave in a rolling four year period. The regulations also provide for critical illness or injury provisions. It must be pointed out that absences arising from injuries on duty are not covered by these regulations.

The rationale for the introduction of these arrangements was the need to reduce the cost of sick leave for the public service overall, through the better management of sick leave as well as a substantial reduction in the period of time for which paid sick leave will be available.