Stádas na Gaeilge san Eoraip

Questions (355)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

355. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Peadar Tóibín den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta an aontaíonn sé le cinneadh a Roinne gan an cúrsa samhraidh ‘Aistriúchán Cáipéisí Dlí agus Cáipéisí Stáit eile’ a cheadú; an aontaíonn sé go bhfuil an cinneadh sin ag teacht salach ar ráitis éagsúla ó pholaiteoirí san Eoraip agus sa bhaile le tamall anuas nach bhfuil dóthain aistritheoirí ann le fáil réidh leis an mhaolú ar úsáid na Gaeilge san Aontas Eorpach; an féidir leis an Aire a chur in iúl go hoifigiúil go bhfuil an Rialtas chun a iarraidh ar an Aontas Eorpach anois gan an mhaolú a athnuachan ag deireadh 2016; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [24605/14]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

Beidh cinneadh le tógáil faoi dheireadh na bliana 2015 faoi thodhchaí an mhaolaithe atá i bhfeidhm faoi láthair maidir le húsáid na Gaeilge in institiúidí an Aontais Eorpaigh. Sa chomhthéacs seo, tá plé ar bun ag mo Roinn le páirtithe leasmhara éagsúla, institiúidí an Aontais Eorpaigh san áireamh, ar mhaithe le moltaí sonracha a fhorbairt maidir leis an gcur chuige is fearr i dtaca leis an maolú. Beidh an cheist seo le breithniú ag an Rialtas in am trátha.

Mar chuid de straitéis an Rialtais chun a chinntiú go mbeidh foireann leordhóthanach cháilithe ann chun freastal ar na riachtanais a eascraíonn as an nGaeilge a bheith aitheanta mar theanga oifigiúil agus oibre de chuid an Aontais Eorpaigh, cuireann mo Roinn maoiniú substaintiúil ar fáil faoin Tionscnamh Ard-Scileanna Gaeilge i gcomhar réimse de shainchúrsaí tríú leibhéal. Is trí na hinstitiúidí tríú leibhéal a thagann faoin Údarás um Ard-Oideachas a dhéantar na cúrsaí seo a mhaoiniú go príomha.

Mar chuid den Tionscnamh Ard-Scileanna Gaeilge, tugadh maoiniú fosta do chomhlacht príobháideach chun an gearrchúrsa atá luaite ag an Teachta a reachtáil. Chun cloí le dea-chleachtas maidir le rialacha soláthair phoiblí, ní miste tairiscintí poiblí a lorg dá mbeifí chun a leithéid de chúrsa a reáchtáil amach anseo.

Tá an Tionscnamh Ard-Scileanna Gaeilge faoi athbhreithniú ag mo Roinn i láthair na huaire i gcomhthéacs an mhaolaithe i leith na Gaeilge in institiúidí an Aontais Eorpaigh. Agus an t-athbhreithniú sin críochnaithe, déanfar cinneadh maidir leis na cúrsaí atá de dhíth chun freastal ar riachtanais na n-institiúidí Eorpacha. Táthar ag súil próiseas tairisceana a fhógairt do sholáthar na gcúrsaí sin amach anseo.

Ministerial Responsibilities

Questions (356)

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

356. Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will list in tabular form all legislation and specific sections therein that refer to powers delegated to the Minister of State with special responsibility for Gaeltacht Affairs; if he will detail the title of the civil servants who are responsible for reporting directly to said Minister of State and what they are responsible for; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24608/14]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

The legislation, together with the specific sections therein, that refer to the powers delegated to the Minister of State with responsibility for Gaeltacht Affairs are set out in the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Delegation of Ministerial Functions) Order 2013 (Statutory Instrument No. 94 of 2013), which can be accessed on the Irish Statute Book website at http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/2013/en/si/0094.html. In order to be of assistance to the Deputy, the Schedule contained in that Order is set out in the following table (with Part 1 referring to Acts, Part 2 referring to provisions of Acts and Part 3 referring to Regulations):

SCHEDULE

Part 1

Housing (Gaeltacht) Acts 1929 to 2001

Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act 1956 (No. 21 of 1956)

Údarás na Gaeltachta Acts 1979 to 2010

Official Languages Act 2003 (No. 32 of 2003)

Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Powers and Functions) Acts 2003 and 2007

Gaeltacht Act 2012 (No. 34 of 2012)

Part 2

Section 5 (in so far as it relates to the functions transferred by the Irish Language, Gaeltacht and the Islands (Transfer of Departmental Administration and Ministerial Functions) Order 2011 ( S.I. No. 164 of 2011 )) of the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands (Powers and Functions) Act 1998 (No. 7 of 1998)

Cuid VI and Part VIII (in so far as it relates to Cuid VI) of the British-Irish Agreement Act 1999 (No. 1 of 1999)

Section 2 (in so far as it relates to the functions referred to in paragraphs (e), (f) (in so far as it relates to paragraph (e)) and (g) of subsection (1) of that section) of the Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2007 (No. 32 of 2007)

Section 33(3)(c) of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (No. 30 of 2000)

Part 3

Planning and Development Regulations 2001 to 2012

The Minister of State is assisted in exercising the powers delegated to him under the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Delegation of Ministerial Functions) Order 2013 by 3 senior officers - a Director of Irish and two Principal Officers - to whom responsibility for the performance of the relevant functions has been assigned by the Secretary General of the Department under the Public Service Management Act 1997.

Architectural Heritage

Questions (357)

Brian Walsh

Question:

357. Deputy Brian Walsh asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if grant assistance will be provided in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24791/14]

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Written answers (Question to Arts)

Part IV of the Planning and Development Acts 2000, as amended, provides for the protection of architectural heritage. The Act gives primary responsibility to planning authorities to identify and protect architectural heritage, including thatched buildings, by including them on the Record of Protected Structures. Inclusion on the Record of Protected Structures places a duty of care on the owners and occupiers of protected structures and also gives planning authorities powers to deal with development proposals affecting them and to seek to safeguard their future. The architectural conservation officer in the local authority will generally be able to advise of funding available for conservation works to thatched buildings in the area in question and it is advisable for interested parties to remain in contact with their local authority on an on-going basis.

A number of State financial supports provide for the conservation and preservation of heritage structures in general.

In 2014 my Department made available a fund of €5 million under the Built Heritage and Jobs Leverage Scheme for the repair and conservation of protected structures under the Planning and Development Acts 2000-2012. This scheme, which is operated and administered by the local authorities, has included works to 59 thatched structures nationally. I understand that the structure in question is not currently listed on Galway County Council’s Record of Protected Structures and is not, therefore, eligible for funding under this scheme.

The Heritage Council, which my Department also funds, administers a heritage management community grants scheme. Whilst I understand that applications have closed for their 2014 scheme, the Council may be able to advise if the structure would be eligible for funding now or in the future. The Heritage Council’s website is www.heritagecouncil.ie.

The Department of Environment, Community and Local Government also administers a grant scheme for the renewal or repair of thatched roofs of owner occupied houses. I refer the Deputy to that Department for details of eligibility criteria for that scheme.

The level of funding available in 2015 and future years for these schemes will be subject to the normal Budgetary and Estimates processes. As the Deputy can appreciate, the scope for additional funding for the conservation of the built heritage is constrained by the significant reduction in the public finances.

Inland Fisheries Stocks

Questions (358, 363, 364, 366, 367)

Robert Troy

Question:

358. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will ensure compensation is paid to eel fishermen as restrictions are making this type of fishing non-sustainable. [24328/14]

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Ciara Conway

Question:

363. Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will commit to an independent scientific analysis and review of eel stocks on the River Suir in view of the fact that local fishermen are unhappy with the results of previous eel survey stocks and have expressed dissatisfaction with the independence and integrity of such surveys; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24387/14]

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Ciara Conway

Question:

364. Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he recognises the concerns of former eel fishermen on an issue (details supplied); if he proposes to engage further with this group to address the concerns raised; if he will engage with them to work on further support initiatives and alternative avenues that might be open to pursuit in view of the fact that the ban on eel fishing has resulted in a loss of livelihood and culture; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24388/14]

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Robert Troy

Question:

366. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources to set out the current position regarding eel fishing, if any progress has been made regarding a compensation scheme for persons who had to cease eel fishing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24441/14]

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Robert Troy

Question:

367. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will ensure compensation is paid to eel fishermen as restrictions are making this type of fishing non-sustainable. [24494/14]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos 358, 363, 364, 366 and 367 together.

I would also draw the Deputies’ attention to the response to question number 486 of 27 May last which addressed comprehensively many of the relevant issues.

The scientific advice for eels, which underpinned Ireland’s Eel Management Plan (EMP) under the EU Eel regulation (1100/2007), and the comprehensive scientific assessment of eel stocks nationally, referred to in the response of 27 May, were compiled by Ireland’s statutorily independent Standing Scientific Committee on Eels. This independent committee comprises scientists from the Marine Institute, Inland Fisheries Ireland, ESB, the Loughs Agency and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Bio-Sciences Institute (AFBI) Northern Ireland.

I can advise that the overall requirement and objective is to provide, with high probability, a long-term 40% escapement to the sea of the biomass of silver eel, relative to pristine conditions (i.e. if the stock had been completely free of man-made influences including commercial fishing).

In 2011, the status of the European Eel in Ireland was defined by the United Nations as critically endangered. The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) advice is that the eel stock continues to decline and urgent action is needed. ICES advice is that all anthropogenic mortality (e.g. recreational and commercial fishing, hydropower, pollution) should be reduced to as close to zero as possible until there is clear evidence that both recruitment and the adult stock are increasing. In 2011, glass eel recruitment fell to 5% of their 1960-1979 level in the Atlantic region and less than 1% in the North Sea area, and showed no sign of recovery.

In 2012, as required by the EU, a review of the management of Eel in Ireland, including a scientific review by the independent Scientific Committee, was undertaken. This process 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 IFI website.

While I recognise fully the difficulty facing eel fishermen, 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 again be fully reviewed in 2015 from both scientific and management perspectives.

With regard to the Waterford region, I am advised that a survey of eel stocks was carried out in the Waterford estuary in 2009 and 2011 as part of surveys of transitional or estuarine waters under Ireland’s EMP. I am also advised by IFI that telemetry eel tagging studies undertaken in 2012, 2013 and continuing this year will assist in giving a clearer indication of the movement habits of eels in estuaries and improve population density estimates.

The very significant decline in the stock dictated that closure of the fishery be applied for conservation reasons under the Fisheries Acts and there is no property right attaching to public eel licences and consequently the issue of compensation is not relevant or appropriate. Given that context, the Deputies will appreciate that in the current national economic circumstances it is unlikely that funding will be available to the Government to provide for compensation payments.

National Broadband Plan Implementation

Questions (359)

Brian Walsh

Question:

359. Deputy Brian Walsh asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources to outline his plans to improve the broadband service as per the national broadband plan in the area of Galway (details supplied) to ensure businesses will have access to high-speed broadband; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24089/14]

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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 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.

As a result of this accelerated investment the addressable area required by the State-led 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. Consequently, the speeds that are available in these areas are demonstrably better than those that are available in more rural areas.

On 25 April last, I signalled the Government's commitment to a major telecommunications network build-out to rural Ireland, with fibre as the foundation of its investment, as part of the State-led intervention 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 be part of an end-to-end strategy that will address all parts of Ireland that cannot access commercial high speed broadband services.

A comprehensive mapping exercise is underway in my Department which will identify those areas that require a State intervention. I have published a county-by-county list of towns and villages which have already been identified for a fibre build-out. The list is available on my Department's website www.dcenr.gov.ie. Currently, a total of 84 areas in County Galway have been identified as requiring an intervention. This is an indicative list and is subject to the completion of the mapping exercise. 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. I expect that this mapping exercise will be concluded in the autumn.

In tandem with the completion of the mapping exercise, intensive design and planning work is ongoing in my Department with a view to producing a detailed end to end implementation strategy for the State led intervention. It is my intention to conduct a full public consultation on the outcome of the mapping process and the proposed implementation strategy. EU State aid clearance will also be required for the intervention once finalised. This will be followed by a detailed procurement process with a view to commencing construction of the fibre network and provision of services in identified areas as quickly as possible.

I fully share the concerns of local representatives about the quality of broadband in rural areas. 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 and is determined to ensure that all citizens and businesses have access to quality and reliable broadband.

Legislative Measures

Questions (360)

Seán Fleming

Question:

360. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources to set out the legislative provisions in respect of his Department that have been passed by the Oireachtas since 2011 but which have not come into effect to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24146/14]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

Since March 2011 there have been five Bills initiated by me and brought through the legislative process to completion as follows:

- The Access to Central Treasury Funds (Commission for Energy Regulation) Bill 2011, enacted on the 23rd of November 2011, for which all sections have commenced.

- The Energy (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2011, enacted on the 25th of February 2012, for which all Sections except section 17(2)(f) have commenced.

- The Electricity Regulation (Carbon Revenue Levy)(Amendment) Bill 2012, enacted on the 25th of May 2012, for which all sections have commenced.

- The Gas Regulation Bill 2013, enacted on the 3rd of December 2013, for which sections 13-20, Schedule 1 and 2, part 4 with the exception of section 38D and part 5 have not yet commenced.

- The ESB (Electronic Communications Networks) Bill 2014, enacted on the 18th of March 2014, which has not yet commenced.

National Broadband Plan Implementation

Questions (361)

Noel Coonan

Question:

361. Deputy Noel Coonan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources further to Parliamentary Question No. 488 of 27 May 2014 if an area (details supplied) in County Tipperary is listed on the rural broadband strategy announced on 25 April 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24294/14]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

Further to my response to Parliamentary Question No. 488 of 27 May 2014, I can confirm that the area of Newtown referred to in the published county-by-county list of towns and villages which have been identified for a fibre build-out is in Nenagh, County Tipperary. As indicated previously, this is an indicative list and is subject to the completion of the comprehensive mapping exercise currently being completed by my Department. 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.

Inland Fisheries Ireland

Questions Nos. 363 and 364 answered with Question No. 358

Questions (362)

Ciara Conway

Question:

362. Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he is satisfied with the current make-up of the Inland Fisheries Ireland board, which, currently, contains no representative to voice the concerns of commercial fishermen and coastal communities; if he will commit to a review membership of the board to include representation of interests of commercial fishermen and coastal communities; if he is satisfied with the level of engagement with commercial fishermen and coastal communities by the IFI; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24386/14]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The principal functions of Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) are set out at Section 7 (1) of the Inland Fisheries Act 2010, which are the protection, management and conservation of the inland fisheries resource. The Act, in defining the membership of IFI provides that the persons to be appointed shall have experience or capacity in one or more areas defined in the Act; and that they shall be appointed with a view to representing the public interest. The current Board membership was appointed in accordance with the provisions of the Inland Fisheries Act 2010. The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources appoints members as follows: 3, including the Chairperson, on his own nomination; 1 nominated by the Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government; 1 nominated by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs; and 3 nominated following advice received from the relevant Oireachtas Joint Committee. The Joint Committee, through the Public Appointments Service, sought expressions of interest for the three positions from individuals who had recognised expertise or a track record in one or more of the areas set out in the Act.

The Act also provides that one Board member is appointed following election by the staff of IFI and that the Chief Executive Officer shall be an ex-officio member of the Board.

While the board is appointed to act in the public interest, the Deputy will be aware that the National Inland Fisheries Forum has been established in accordance with Section 7 (4) of the Act, which makes specific provision for stakeholder input to policy formulation. The Forum includes a broad spectrum of stakeholders with knowledge or expertise in a number of key sectors including commercial fisheries. The 60 members of the Forum were appointed following an open selection process conducted by the Public Appointments Service.

The Forum is designed to provide an opportunity for stakeholders to contribute to management and development policies and is a valuable channel of communication between the stakeholders and management in this regard.

Questions Nos. 363 and 364 answered with Question No. 358.

Broadcasting Sector Regulation

Questions Nos. 366 and 367 answered with Question No. 358

Questions (365)

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

365. Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources to set out his plans to follow in the footsteps of Canada and France to introduce radio quotas for Irish music to be played on Irish radio stations; if the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland could be asked to investigate this possibility; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24400/14]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

Programming obligations are imposed on broadcasters in the Broadcasting Act 2009, which also sets out the objects of the national public service broadcasters. In pursuit of these objects RTÉ and TG4 are charged, inter-alia, with ensuring that programmes reflect the varied elements which make up the culture of the people of Ireland and “have special regard for the elements which distinguish that culture and in particular the Irish language”. RTÉ and TG4 publish detailed commitments on an annual basis setting out how they intend to meet their public service obligations and objects as set out in the Act. The extent to which the commitments entered into by the two public service broadcasters have been met is reviewed annually by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI).

Radio and television services, additional to those provided by the national public service broadcasters are matters for the BAI, which is an independent statutory body. Matters in relation to broadcast content on commercial radio are the subject of contractual negotiations between the BAI and commercial radio operators. In submitting their initial licensing applications to the BAI, such broadcasters put forward commitments in regard to how they will deal with a range of broadcast issues including public service commitments and, where appropriate, more specific commitments, for instance, in regard to the playing of Irish music. If they are successful in their licence applications, these commitments form part of the terms and conditions of the relevant broadcaster's actual licence. This policy approach is seen as appropriate in that it deals with the differing requirements of commercial and public service broadcasting. In relation to commercial broadcasters, it is seen as an effective means of leveraging public service type commitments that takes full account of the specific broadcaster’s business proposal. As for public service broadcasters, it provides an iterative approach that is sufficiently flexible to ensure that the changing needs of Irish society continue to be addressed. While I fully support the promotion of Irish music in our broadcasting services, the policy approach taken to this issue must be consistent with EU and Irish regulatory structures. It is also important that it takes account of the right of broadcasters to determine the type of programming and content they wish to broadcast, subject, of course, to meeting relevant licensing and legislative obligations. As I have previously suggested in meetings I have had with Irish music representatives, it is my view that the best approach to be followed on this issue is one of direct engagement with the radio sector with a view to establishing a mutually acceptable treatment of Irish music. To my mind, this is likely to produce a far more successful and sustainable position in regard to the broadcasting of Irish music, rather than seeking the imposition of any arbitrary quota.

Questions Nos. 366 and 367 answered with Question No. 358.

Ministerial Responsibilities

Questions (368)

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

368. Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will list in tabular form all legislation and specific sections therein that refer to powers delegated to the Minister for State with special responsibility for the NewERA project; if he will detail the title of the civil servants who are responsible for reporting directly to said Minister of State and what they are responsible for; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24613/14]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

At my request, the Government delegated certain of my statutory functions in relation to energy and natural resources matters to the Minister of State at my Department, Fergus O'Dowd, who is also Minister of State at the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government. The powers (other than the power to prosecute an offence) and duties conferred on me by or under the enactments, provisions of enactments and the Regulations specified in the appended Schedule of Statutory Instrument, No. 631 of 2011, Energy and Natural Resources (Delegation of Ministerial Functions) (No.2 ) Order 2011, were delegated to Minister of State O'Dowd in December 2011. A number of staff in senior management positions in the Natural Resources area of my Department work closely with Minister of State O'Dowd while reporting through the normal Civil Service reporting structure up to Secretary General level. Details of these staff are appended for the Deputy's information.

SCHEDULE

Part 1

Enactments

Geological Survey Act 1845 (8 & 9 Vict. c. 63), Shannon Fisheries Acts 1935 and 1938, Minerals Development Acts 1940 to 1999, Foyle Fisheries Acts 1952 to 1983, Inland Fisheries Acts 1959 to 2010, Petroleum and Other Minerals Development Act 1960 (No. 7 of 1960), Continental Shelf Acts 1968 to 1995, Ordnance Survey Ireland Act 2001 (No. 43 of 2001), Foyle and Carlingford Fisheries Act 2007 (No. 17 of 2007), Petroleum (Exploration and Extraction) Safety Act 2010 (No. 4 of 2010)

Part 2

Provisions of Enactments

Sections 11 and 16 of the Electricity (Supply) (Amendment) Act 1945 (No. 12 of 1945)

Sections 5, 6 and 10 of the Electricity (Supply) (Amendment) Act 1961 (No. 2 of 1961)

Section 40 of the Gas Act 1976 (No. 30 of 1976)

Sections 17(5) and 23(3) of the Wildlife Act 1976 (No. 39 of 1976)

Section 32 of the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000 (No. 38 of 2000)

Part 9 of the Energy (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2006 (No. 40 of 2006)

Part 3

Regulations

Regulations 42 and 53 of the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 477 of 2011)

Regulations 3, 12(8), 16(2) and (11) (inserted by the European Communities (Water Policy) (Amendment) Regulations 2005 (S.I. No. 413 of 2005)) of the European Communities (Water Policy) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 722 of 2003)

Regulations 18, 19, 20 and 21 (other than for costs) of the European Communities Environmental Objectives (Surface Waters) Regulations 2009 (S.I. No. 272 of 2009)

Regulation 9 of the European Communities Environmental Objectives (Freshwater Pearl Mussel) Regulations 2009 (S.I. No. 296 of 2009)

Regulations 4 and 6 of the European Communities Environmental Objectives (Groundwater) Regulations 2010 (S.I. No. 9 of 2010)

Department of Communications Energy and Natural Resources

Michael Manley, Assistant Secretary, Natural Resources

Ciarán Ó hÓbáin, Principal Officer, Petroleum Affairs Division

Frank Sheridan, Principal Officer, Exploration & Mining Division

Denis Maher, Principal Officer, Inland Fisheries Division

Koen Verbruggen, Director, Geological Survey Ireland

National Broadband Plan Implementation

Questions (369)

Dara Calleary

Question:

369. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources to outline his views on whether a person (details supplied) in County Mayo, a national broadband scheme customer, is not receiving an adequate service for the premium; if he will outline the download and upload speeds as recommended by the national broadband scheme provider 3 guidelines; his views on whether the person is not receiving this recommended level of service; his plans to resolve such issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24715/14]

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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. Under the terms of the contract which my Department has in place with “3”, the NBS service provider, the NBS mobile wireless service is required to offer minimum download and upload speeds of 2.3Mbps and 1.4Mbps respectively, subject to a maximum contention ratio of 18:1. The NBS satellite service, which is utilised in a small number of cases for technical reasons associated with the location of the premises, offers minimum download and upload speeds of 3.6Mbps and 384 kbps respectively, subject to a maximum contention ratio of 48:1.

As regards service quality, my Department has well-established monitoring arrangements in place to ensure that the NBS delivers the minimum specified service or better to all users. 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 Department has a role where customers have fully utilised the established complaints process and consider that their complaint has not been resolved. 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 service. My Department will then liaise with “3” personnel at its Head Office in Dublin to remedy any service performance issues.

In relation to the customer referred to in the Question, my officials had, directly upon being notified by the customer, contacted the “3” Head Office in Dublin to arrange an investigation into the service issues raised. This investigation initially identified a fault on the mast serving the customer, but as the repair of this fault did not fully resolve the service issues raised '3' arranged for an engineer to visit the customer’s premises. The customer has advised that the service issues are continuing and a further engineer’s visit has been scheduled. My officials will remain in touch with “3” and the customer until such time as the service issues are resolved.

Water Charges Exemptions

Questions (370)

Ciara Conway

Question:

370. Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if carers will be entitled to an extra free water allowance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24399/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

With effect from 1 January 2014, Irish Water is responsible for public water services. The Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013 provides that Irish Water can collect charges from its customers in receipt of water services provided by it. The Act also provides that responsibility for the independent economic regulation of the water sector is assigned to the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) and the CER has been given statutory responsibility for protecting the interests of customers.

The Government has decided, following consideration of proposals in relation to the funding model for Irish Water, to provide a free allowance of 30,000 litres of water supplied and waste water treated per annum for a primary residence on a public supply. The Government has also decided to provide for an additional free allowance to cover the normal usage of water services by every child in their primary residence based on the same qualifying conditions as child benefit, such that water charges will in effect only apply to adults in such households. The Government has also decided that bills will be capped at the relevant assessed charge level for those customers with particular medical conditions which necessitate high water usage. Qualifying medical conditions will be set out, following consultation with the Minister for Health and the Health Services Executive.

In addition to the above, the Government has agreed to put in place further a affordability measures to assist pensioners, persons with disabilities, and carers who receive the Household Benefits Package. The conditions and administrative approach to this additional measure will be developed by the Department of Social Protection.

Legislative Measures

Questions (371)

Seán Fleming

Question:

371. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government to set out the legislative provisions in respect of his Department that have been passed by the Oireachtas since 2011 but which have not come into effect to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24149/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

The following table sets out details of legislation within the remit of my Department which has been passed by the Houses of the Oireachtas since 2011, in respect of which certain provisions have yet to come into effect.

Legislation

Legislative Provision not yet commenced

Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011

Section 48

Local Government Reform Act 2014

Section s 1(23), 32, 44

Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013

Sections 4(partial), 19, 20, 21, 23, 28, 29, 30, 35, 41

Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2012, No. 17 of 2012

Section 10(b),(d) and (e) ; Section 11 (b), (c), (d), (f), (h), (i) and (l)

Local Authority Housing Provision

Questions (372)

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

372. Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government to detail the budgetary provision that has been made to enable local authorities to facilitate tenants who wish to downsize to more suitable accommodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24172/14]

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Written answers (Question to Environment)

There are no funds specifically designated under the Social Housing Investment Programme for the purpose of facilitating local authority tenants wishing to downsize. A number of housing authorities, in the context of the management of their overall social housing stock, have traditionally operated such schemes within their housing programmes.