Air Corps Equipment

Questions (409)

Clare Daly

Question:

409. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Defence if the Irish Air Corps was in possession of a Fouga Magister aircraft in 1968. [24661/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The Air Corps was not in possession of a Fouga Magister aircraft in 1968. It took possession of six of these aircraft in 1975 and they remained in service until 1999.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Applications

Questions (410)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

410. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the numbers of persons currently awaiting to have new herd numbers allocated or dormant ones reactivated; the current maximum waiting time for numbers to be allocated; if he will provide details of the implications of delays on the awarding of disadvantaged area aid payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24091/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Currently, there are 308 applications for new herd numbers and 434 applications for reactivation of herd numbers awaiting final processing. The waiting time for herd numbers to be allocated is dependent on a number of factors, including the volume of applications received at any given time, the return of fully completed applications, legal documentation and provision of cattle testing and handling facilities. In this context, it should be noted that there was a significant increase in applications this year, associated with the closing date for the Single Payment and Disadvantaged Areas Schemes. Every effort is being made by my Department, in so far as possible, to expedite the processing of applications.

To be eligible under the 2014 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, applicants are required, among other requirements as specified in the Terms & Conditions governing the 2014 Scheme, to hold a valid herd number issued by this Department, or have applied to their Local DVO for a herd number on, or before, 15 May 2014. Therefore, eligibility under the DAS is not affected once the herd number application has been lodged before this date.

Legislative Measures

Questions (411)

Seán Fleming

Question:

411. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the legislative provisions in respect of his Department that have been passed by the Oireachtas since 2011 but have not come into effect to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24143/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Since this Government took office my Department has published two Bills, all of which have been enacted:

- Veterinary Practice (Amendment) Bill (28 July 2011) and

- Animal Health and Welfare Bill (25 April 2012)

The Forestry Bill was published on 24 April 2013 and it is planned to go through the Oireachtas before the summer. The Johnstown Castle Agricultural College (Amendment) Bill was published on 15 May 2014 and is due to go through both houses of the Oireachtas soon.

Animal Welfare

Questions (412)

Noel Grealish

Question:

412. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if there are any threats as per the Animal Welfare Bill to the welfare of dog breeds listed under the Control of Dogs Act regulations 1998; and if he will provide clarity on which pounds do and do not rehome or release the breeds listed in the aforementioned legislation. [24206/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I am not aware of any risks to the specific breeds referred to arising from the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013. The Control of Dogs Regulations, 1998, which were made under the Control of Dogs Act 1986, and the Control of Dogs (Amendment Act) 1992 fall outside the remit of my Department. Accordingly, this is a matter for my colleague, the Minister of Environment, Community and Local Government.

The legislation in respect of pounds comes under the responsibility of the Department of Justice and Equality and is a matter for that Department.

Agriculture Scheme Payments

Questions (413)

Simon Harris

Question:

413. Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the amount of an allocation that will be in place for the grassland sheep payment; if he will provide details of his proposals in relation to this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24261/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Grassland Sheep Scheme is based on Article 68 of the current EU Regulation 73/2009 which governs direct payments in the form of the Single Payment Scheme. As of 1 January 2015 that Regulation is superseded by EU Regulation 1307/2013 and consequently there is no longer any legal basis for the continuation of the Grassland Sheep Scheme in its present form.

In developing the shape of the new system of Direct Payments in Ireland, I have been very conscious of the needs of sheep farmers, in particular those who farm on hill and commonage land. In general, sheep farmers hold low value entitlements under the current Single Payment Scheme and will benefit significantly from the model of convergence that is to be applied in Ireland where those with a low Initial Unit Value will see the value of their entitlements increase over the period of the scheme.

When determining the Initial Unit Value of a farmer’s entitlements under the Basic Payment Scheme in 2015, Regulation 1307/2013 gives Member States the option to take into account any payment the farmer received in 2014 under Article 68 schemes such as the Grassland Sheep Scheme. This option is only available where the Member State is not applying voluntary coupled support to the sector concerned under the new CAP.

I have decided to apply this provision in Ireland as a means of safeguarding the value of the payments received under the Grassland Sheep Scheme for those farmers concerned. The Grassland Sheep Scheme is the only Article 68 scheme that is being incorporated into the calculation of entitlements under the new Basic Payment Scheme. If such incorporation does not take place the value of such payments would simply remain in the national fund and would be redistributed generally among all farmers who establish entitlements.

The incorporation of the Grassland Sheep Scheme payment into the calculation of a farmer’s Initial Unit Value in 2015 will obviously result in a higher entitlement value for the farmers concerned from the start of the Scheme rather than relying solely on the gradual process of convergence to increase the unit value over the five year period up to 2019. Our analysis confirms that as a result of this provision the group of farmers who receive the Grassland Sheep Scheme will have an immediate financial benefit in 2015 as part of their payment under the Basic Payment Scheme.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments

Questions (414)

Seán Kyne

Question:

414. Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when an agri-environment options scheme payment will issue in respect of a person (details supplied); the result of an inspection undertaken on their farm; and the penalty if any to be applied. [24301/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The person named was approved for participation in the 2011 Agri-Environment Options Scheme with effect from 1 September 2011 and full entitlements have issued in respect of the 2011 and 2012 Scheme years.

During a 2013 inspection, the person named was deemed non-compliant in respect of the Traditional Stone Wall Maintenance action which resulted in a double-the-difference penalty being imposed. The total amount of Traditional Stone Wall found on inspection was 460 m and this will form the basis of future payments. A letter issued to the person named notifying them of the inspection findings and setting out the appeal option. As no appeal was received my Department is processing the file on the basis of the inspection findings with the intention of issuing payment, less penalty, as soon as possible. Annual payments will be reduced by approximately €65 and the penalty in respect of the non-compliances will not exceed €130.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments

Questions (415)

Michael Moynihan

Question:

415. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when the outstanding agri-environment options scheme payment will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24322/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The person named was approved for participation in the 2011 Agri-Environment Options Scheme with effect from 1 September 2011 and full entitlements have issued in respect of the 2011 and 2012 Scheme years.

The person named was selected for a ground inspection which took place on 3 December 2013. A letter issued to the person named requesting additional information required to complete the Inspection process. This information has been received by officials in my Department and the Inspection process will now be finalised. Following the completion of the Inspection process, the file will be processed for payment based on the Inspection findings with the intention of issuing payment as soon as possible.

Beef Data Programme

Questions (416)

John O'Mahony

Question:

416. Deputy John O'Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason a person (details supplied) in County Mayo was told a beef data programme scheme application was not received; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24385/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department has no record of having received any application under the 2014 Beef Data Programme for the person named. If the person named did send in an application for this Scheme, he will need to write into the Beef Schemes Section, Old Abbeyleix Road, Portlaoise outlining his case and supplying the required certificate of postage of the application, as outlined in the Terms and Conditions of the Scheme. The certificate required under the Terms and Conditions is a Swiftpost receipt. Ordinary certificates of postage cannot be accepted as there is no facility to track these certificates and, therefore, it is not possible to verify that the document was posted on the date stated.

Live Exports

Questions (417)

Dara Calleary

Question:

417. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on the current agreement on cattle exports to the UK; if he is satisfied that enough is being done to promote this trade; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24405/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

As the Deputy is aware, the free movement of goods and services within the Single Market means that no specific agreement on live cattle exports is required with other member states. My Department attaches considerable importance to the live export trade and, over the years, has been very active in facilitating shipments abroad. Live exports serve a dual purpose as a means of satisfying legitimate market demands for live animals and providing alternative market outlets for farmers. Total live exports to date this year are 140,000 head of which 24,000 went to the UK , an increase of some 3,370 head or 16% up on the comparable period in 2013. Of this 24,000, some 17,000 went to Northern Ireland which is an increase of 10% on the same period in 2013.

However, the potential to grow the live trade to the UK even further is constrained by the buying specifications operated by the British retail chains in relation to cattle born in this country and exported live for finishing and processing in that market. The retailers’ longstanding policy is to market British and Irish beef separately. This means that beef must be sourced from animals originating in one country; i.e. born, reared and slaughtered in the same country. In addition, logistical difficulties arise when a small number of Irish-born animals are slaughtered in a UK meat plant. Under mandatory EU labelling rules, these carcases have to be deboned in a separate batch, packaged and labelled accordingly, thereby incurring additional costs for the processor.

While Bord Bia has repeatedly raised this issue with British retailers over the years, they are unlikely to reverse their marketing policy in the short term. Nevertheless Bord Bia, in its ongoing interactions with British customers, will continue to pursue all opportunities to maximise the full potential of the beef and livestock trade with our largest trading partner. In addition Bord Bia actively supports the development of the live export trade through the provision of market information, developing market access and promotional activity. I will continue to engage with my Northern counterpart, Ms Michelle O’Neill, on issues relevant to producers including cross-border trade.

Arising from the two roundtable discussions with key stakeholders which I hosted on 17 April and 3 June, I announced a number of measures to address the challenges currently facing the overall beef sector, including the allocation by Bord Bia of €0.5m to intensify its marketing of Irish beef in the UK, Netherlands and Germany and I understand the bulk of this money will be spent between now and the peak autumn cattle supply period. An additional €85,000 will go towards the UK market, bringing Bord Bia’s total spend for marketing Irish beef in the UK to €0.4 million. The additional expenditure will contribute towards an online promotion on well-known food websites, as well as profiling Irish beef through recipes and competitions. A manufacturing category study is also being carried out to reaffirm the position of Irish beef alongside British beef as an ingredient in value-added ready meals.

The main focus of the roundtable was a report I requested from Michael Dowling regarding the implementation of the Beef Activation Group and consideration of any additional actions required. The report was compiled following intensive consultation with the various stakeholders in the last few weeks and has been published on the Department’s website to allow interested parties to reflect on the recommendations.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments

Questions (418)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

418. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when payment under the 2013 disadvantaged areas based scheme will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Galway; the reason for the delay in issuing this payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24421/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

A review of the land parcels declared by the person named under the 2013 Single Payment Scheme revealed that some of the land parcels declared by the person named contained ineligible features. As the person named submitted an application for a review of my Department’s decision, a visit by a Department official to verify the position was necessary to progress the matter. This verification visit was conducted and the file is being processed. The inspector, however, deemed more declared land to be ineligible as a result of the visit. The extra ineligible land means that the person named has now an over declaration penalty of more than 20% on his Disadvantaged Area claim, and as such will result in no Disadvantaged Area payment issuing. The person named will shortly be advised of the position and will be informed of her right to submit an appeal to the LPIS Appeals Committee.

Departmental Banking

Questions (419)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

419. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the amount of banking charges paid by his Department since 2011; the breakdown of these charges; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24581/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The details of banking charges paid, as requested by the Deputy, are set out in the following table:

-

2011

2012

2013

2014 ( To 31/5/14)

Charges

Electronic Fund Transfers

20,487

13,665

12,520

21,556

Maintenance & Transactions

6,229

4,392

5,117

4,312

Total

26,716

18,057

17,637

25,868

The electronic funds transfer fees mainly relate to the payments issued to some 125,000 farmers annually under the Single Payment Scheme, Disadvantaged Areas Scheme and other schemes.

Ministerial Responsibilities

Questions (420)

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

420. Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine 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 food, horticulture and food safety; if he will detail the title of the civil servants who are responsible for reporting directly to said Minister of State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24622/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The legislation, which is listed in the schedule below, refers to the statutory powers and duties which have been delegated to Minister Hayes in relation to Forestry, Horticulture, the Greyhound Industry and Food Safety under Statutory Instrument No. 371 of 2013. The legislation has been delegated in full and there is no other legislation which has been delegated to him.

As Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine I retain overall responsibility for all the functions of my Department, therefore the Civil Servants within the Department report to me generally and to the Minister of State in respect of the delegated functions.

SCHEDULE

Part 1

Bee Pest Prevention (Ireland) Act 1908 (8 Edw. 7, c. 34)

Agricultural Produce (Fresh Meat) Acts, 1930 to 1988

Slaughter of Cattle and Sheep Acts, 1934 to 1936

Pigs and Bacon Acts, 1935 to 1988

Noxious Weeds Act 1936 (No. 38 of 1936)

Forestry Acts, 1946 to 2009

Poultry Hatcheries Act 1947 (No. 49 of 1947)

Agricultural Produce (Meat) (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1954 (No. 33 of 1954)

Fertilisers, Feeding Stuffs and Mineral Mixtures Act 1955 (No. 8 of 1955)

Greyhound Industry Acts, 1958 and 1993

Agricultural Produce (Meat) (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1978 (No. 13 of 1978)

Milk (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1979 (No. 24 of 1979)

Bovine Diseases (Levies) Acts, 1979 to 1996

Plant Varieties (Proprietary Rights) Acts, 1980 and 1998

Abattoirs Act 1988 (No. 8 of 1988)

Animal Remedies Act 1993 (No. 23 of 1993)

Welfare of Greyhounds Act 2011 (No. 29 of 2011)

Part 2

European Communities (Caseins and Caseinates) Regulations 1985 (S.I. No. 248 of 1985)

European Communities (Marketing of Vegetable Propagating and Planting Material other than Seed) Regulations 1994 (S.I. No. 159 of 1994)

European Communities (Animal Remedies and Medicated feedingstuffs) Regulations 1994 (S.I. No. 176 of 1994)

European Communities (Labelling of Beef and Beef Products) Regulations 2000 (S.I. No. 435 of 2000)

European Communities (Beet Seed) Regulations 2001 (S.I. No. 142 of 2001)

European Communities (Vegetable Seeds) Regulations 2001 (S.I. No. 306 of 2001)

European Communities (Seed of Fodder Plants) Regulations 2002 (S.I. No. 198 of 2002)

European Communities (National Catalogue of Agricultural Plant Varieties) Regulations 2002 (S.I. No. 525 of 2002)

European Communities (Marketing of Forest Reproductive Material) Regulations 2002 (S.I. No. 618 of 2002)

European Communities (Seed of Oil Plants and Fibre Plants) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 280 of 2003)

European Communities (Dehydrated Preserved Milk) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 298 of 2003)

European Communities (Organic Farming) Regulations 2004 (S.I. No 112 of 2004)

European Communities (Monitoring of Zoonoses) Regulations 2004 (S.I. No. 154 of 2004)

European Communities (Removal of Bovine Vertebral Column) Regulations 2004 (S.I. No. 528 of 2004)

European Communities (Fertiliser) Regulations 2005 (S.I. No. 384 of 2005)

European Communities (Control of salmonella in breeding flocks of domestic fowl) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 706 of 2006)

European Communities (Plastics and other materials) (Contact with food) Regulations 2007 (S.I. No. 587 of 2007)

European Communities (Animal Remedies) (No. 2) Regulations 2007 (S.I. No. 786 of 2007)

European Communities (Control of salmonella in laying flocks of domestic fowl) Regulations 2008 (S.I. No. 247 of 2008)

European Communities (Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies and Animal By-products) Regulations 2008 (S.I. No. 252 of 2008)

European Communities (Pesticide Residues) Regulations 2008 (S.I. No. 565 of 2008)

European Communities (Organic Farming) (Amendment) Regulations 2009 (S.I. No. 30 of 2009)

European Communities (Control of salmonella in broilers) Regulations 2009 (S.I. No. 64 of 2009)

European Communities (Marketing Standards for Eggs) Regulations 2009 (S.I. No. 140 of 2009)

European Communities (Control of Animal Remedies and their Residues) Regulations 2009 (S.I. No. 183 of 2009)

European Communities (Food and Feed Hygiene) Regulations 2009 (S.I. No. 432 of 2009)

European Communities (Notification of Small Hive Beetle and Tropilaelaps Mite) Regulations 2009 (S.I. No. 589 of 2009)

European Communities (Control of salmonella in turkeys) Regulations 2010 (S.I. No. 99 of 2010)

European Communities (Marketing Standards for Poultrymeat) Regulations2010 (S.I. No. 328 of 2010)

European Communities (Poultry and Hatching Eggs) Regulations 2010 (S.I. No. 564 of 2010)

Diseases of Animals Act 1966 (Control of Salmonella in Ducks) Order 2010 (S.I. No. 565 of 2010)

European Communities (Marketing of Fruit Plant Propagating Material) Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 384 of 2011)

European Communities (Official Controls on the Import of Food of Non- Animal Origin for Pesticide Residues) Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 426 of 2011)

European Communities (Aerial Fertilisation) (Forestry) Regulations 2012 (S.I. No. 125 of 2012)

Destructive Insects and Pests Acts 1958 and 1991 (Chalara fraxinea ) (No.2) Order 2012 (S.I. No. 431 of 2012)

European Union (Cereal Seeds) Regulations 2013 (S.I. No. 217 of 2013)

Agriculture Scheme Payments

Questions (421)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

421. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the position regarding farm payments in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24681/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

A review of the land parcels declared by the person named under the 2013 Single Payment Scheme revealed that several of the land parcels declared by the person named contained ineligible features. While this had an impact on payment under the Single Payment Scheme, as the person named was found to have more land after inspection than the maximum payable area under the Disadvantaged Area Scheme, this payment was not affected. Similarly, this review did not have a bearing on the Grassland Sheep Scheme payment for the person named.

As the person named submitted an application for a review of my Department’s decision, a visit by a Department official to verify the position was necessary to progress the matter. This verification visit was conducted and the file was processed. The applicant was informed of the outcome of this inspection in a letter dated 20th May 2014 and informed of her right to submit an appeal to the LPIS Appeals Committee.

Animal Identification Schemes

Questions (422)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

422. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason he is allowing his Department to restrict persons who are dealing in cattle (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24682/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The requirement for cattle dealers to obtain a Certificate of Compliance prior to the movement of animals from their holding directly to another keeper was introduced from February 1st 2013. This requirement was already in place for many years for all other keepers moving bovines directly from their holding to another holding and was extended to dealers in order to ensure that movements of animals out of all herds, including dealers’ herds, are pre-cleared against data already held by my Department.

Prior to the extension of this requirement to dealers, dealers notified bovine movements out of their herds using the NBAS 31G form and, given that these forms were recorded onto the Animal Identification and Movement (AIM) database post-movement, these movements could not be validated against animal and keeper data already held on the Department’s databases. This measure has strengthened the integrity of data maintained on the AIM system.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme Payments

Questions (423)

Michelle Mulherin

Question:

423. Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason for the delay in the REP scheme 2013 payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; if he will expedite the application and the issue of the payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24711/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The person named commenced REPS 4 in January 2010 and received payments for the first three years of their contract.

REPS 4 is a measure under the 2007-13 Rural Development Programme and is subject to EU Regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications to be completed before any payments can issue. Following the administrative check an area discrepancy was discovered between the Single Farm Payment Scheme application for 2014 and the REPS Agri-Environmental Plan which had resulted in the necessity for further clarification. This issue has now been resolved and the 75% Year 4 payment has now been authorised for payment and will issue shortly. The remaining 25% balancing payment will issue thereafter.

Dublin-Monaghan Bombings

Questions (424)

Micheál Martin

Question:

424. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the representations he has made to Prime Minister Cameron in relation to disclosing top secret documents relating to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24095/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The atrocities which were perpetrated against innocent men, women and children in the bombings in Dublin and Monaghan in May 1974 stand out in our collective memory as particularly bloody episodes in the history of conflict on this island. I know that the resulting pain is still felt by the survivors and the victims' families, despite the passage of 40 years, and our thoughts are with them.

As the Deputy will know the late Mr. Justice Henry Barron carried out a detailed and painstaking inquiry into those awful events and, indeed, other atrocities that took place between 1972 and 1976 in which so many innocent people lost their lives. Related matters were also investigated by a Commission of Investigation carried out by Patrick McEntee SC. While acknowledging co-operation received from the British authorities, both the Barron and McEntee inquiries concluded that they had been limited somewhat by not having access to certain British Government documents which may be relevant to their terms of reference.

This House and Seanad Éireann have unanimously called on the British Government to make this documentation available. It is a matter of regret that, to date, it has not proved possible for access to be made available to such documentation.

The Taoiseach, as he has stated to this House, has raised the matter directly with the British Prime Minister, David Cameron and the Tánaiste has raised the matter with his counterpart, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers. The Government remains in discussions with the British Government in support of the families' request for access to documentation.

National Disability Strategy Implementation Plan

Questions (425)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

425. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will outline the national disability strategy and the way persons with disabilities are being dealt with; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24256/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The National Disability Strategy was launched by Government in September 2004 and underpins the participation of people with disabilities in Irish society by building on existing policy and legislation. The implementation of the Strategy continues to be the focus of Government policy. Key elements include the Disability Act 2005, the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004, the Citizens Information Act 2007 and the Sectoral Plans of six Departments which set out how they will deliver services to people with disabilities.

In line with the Programme for Government commitment a National Disability Strategy Implementation Plan (NDSIP) was published in July 2013, the first such implementation plan to be put in place since the launch of the Strategy in 2004. The Implementation Plan was developed with the identification by Departments of actions, timelines and key performance indicators. Significant discussion was undertaken between the disability stakeholders and Government Departments to reach agreement on the suite of actions contained in the Plan. The Plan sets out the practical measures across all Government Departments that will be taken to advance the Strategy and ensure that available resources are used to best effect and that the needs of those we consider a priority continue to be addressed.

Progress on the Implementation Plan is reviewed by the National Disability Strategy Implementation Group (NDSIG) through thematic meetings which deal with specific issues. Such meetings are attended by all relevant bodies to ensure cross-sectoral input and review. All actions in the Plan relevant to the chosen issue are discussed and the progress made is mapped against commitments in the Plan. Two such thematic meetings were held in quarter 4 of 2013 and focused on the themes of Irish Sign Language and Housing.

Judicial Appointments

Questions (426)

Michael McGrath

Question:

426. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if her approval has been sought or is required for the appointment of an additional taxing master; if she satisfied with the current volume of case work being undertaken by the taxing masters; her plans to overhaul the current system; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24693/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy may be aware, taxing masters are independent office holders attached to the High Court and are appointed by the Government. The positions of the Taxing Master and their offices are governed by the Courts Officers Act 1926 and the Courts (Supplemental Provisions) Act 1961. Their powers and duties are governed by the Courts (Supplemental Provisions) Act 1961 and the Courts and Court Officers Act 1995. There are currently two Taxing Masters who perform functions of a judicial nature in respect of legal costs with the aim of establishing a fair relationship between the services rendered and the cost of those services.

In order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have made inquiries and the Courts Service has informed me that statistics in relation to the taxation of costs in the High Court are published in the Courts Service Annual Report, see details set out in the following table.

Year

Summonses Issued

Certificates Issued

2013

1350

345

2012

1221

367

2011

1820

796

The taxing masters also deliver written and oral rulings in relation to their adjudications.

I am informed that the waiting time for a date for the taxation of costs at present is 10 weeks from the date of issue of a notice of taxation. The Courts Service has indicated that the volume of work being dealt with by the Taxing Masters is such that delays can occur in delivery of considered rulings, particularly in the more difficult cases.

The Legal Services Regulation Bill 2011, which has completed Committee Stage in the Dáil and and in respect of which I expect Report Stage to be completed in the current session, provides for the establishment of a new Office of the Legal Costs Adjudicators to replace the Taxing-Masters' Office. The new Office, headed by a Chief Legal Costs Adjudicator, will modernise the way disputed legal costs are adjudicated upon, with greater transparency. The determinations of the Adjudicators will be guided by Legal Costs Principles. A publicly accessible Register of Determinations, which will include the outcomes and reasons for determinations about disputed legal costs, will be established and maintained. I am considering further amendments in relation to the management and efficiency of the operation of the Office of the Legal Costs Adjudicator under the Bill that I hope to bring forward for Report Stage. The appointment of an additional Taxing-Master does not arise as the necessary reforms are already under way.