Motor Tax Collection

Questions (592)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

592. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to introduce a levy on HGV vehicles; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24674/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I have no plans to introduce a levy on heavy goods vehicles.

For the Deputy's information consideration is being given to the introduction of a pay as you go motor tax regime for HGVs. I draw his attention to my response to Parliamentary Question 964 of May 27th.

Taxi Regulations

Questions (593, 594)

Arthur Spring

Question:

593. Deputy Arthur Spring asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on whether the current protocol and regulations for the taxi industry meet the requirements and needs of the taxi driver. [24675/14]

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Arthur Spring

Question:

594. Deputy Arthur Spring asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on whether the current regulations are prohibitive to new entrants to the taxi industry; if the new regulations mean there are further set-up/on-going costs to taxi drivers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24676/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 593 and 594 together.

The regulation of the small public service vehicle (SPSV) industry is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA) under the provisions of the Taxi Regulation Act, 2013. My role relates to the overall policy for the sector.

There have been many changes to the policy framework for the sector in recent years through the implementation of the recommendations of the Taxi Regulation Review Report, 2011. In particular the introduction and commencement of the Taxi Regulation Act 2013, together with the new SPSV regulations introduced by the NTA, gives the necessary legal underpinning to many of the actions recommended in the Review Report. The aim is to allow consumers to have confidence in the SPSV sector while also ensuring that legitimate and professional taxi operators and drivers can be rewarded fairly by operating under a regulatory regime that is adequately enforced.

I have referred your specific queries regarding the costs associated with setting-up in the SPSV industry to the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not get a response within 10 working days

Superannuation Schemes

Question No. 596 answered with Question No. 584.

Questions (595)

Michael McGrath

Question:

595. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport being taken to resolve the major dispute involving the Irish airlines superannuation scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24704/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

Resolution of the funding difficulties in the Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme (IASS), where there is a deficit of over €760 million, is a matter for the Trustees, the companies participating in the Scheme, the members and the Pensions Board. The deficit in the scheme has arisen over the years as the companies and the members did not put enough into the scheme to match the benefits that were expected/promised. Resolution of the issues will involve contributions from all the parties involved.

The trustees of the IASS announced in February that they had decided in principle on a number of changes to address the funding difficulties of the scheme. The trustees, who are central to any solution to the funding difficulties, are required by law to act in the best interests of all members: active, deferred and pensioner.

Following consultations among the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, IBEC and ICTU, an Expert Panel was established on the 3rd of March to carry out an investigation of how the industrial relations issues relating to the scheme could be resolved.

On the 30th of May, the Expert Panel updated the Departments, IBEC and ICTU on progress to date. The Panel has confirmed that it has had a productive round of engagements with the various stakeholders. The Expert Panel is expected to submit their final report within the next week.

Question No. 596 answered with Question No. 584.

Driving Test Waiting Lists

Questions (597)

Brian Walsh

Question:

597. Deputy Brian Walsh asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if an early appointment to complete a rigid truck driving test can be facilitated in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24800/14]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

Driver testing is the statutory responsibility of the Road Safety Authority, and I have no role in relation to individual cases. I have therefore forwarded the question to the Authority for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response has not been received within ten days.

Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries

Questions (598, 605, 606, 608, 609)

Colm Keaveney

Question:

598. Deputy Colm Keaveney asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if he will initiate an investigation into the circumstances of the death and burial of an estimated 800 children, who had been residents of the Tuam mother and children home run by the Bon Secours order; if he will make funding available from his Department in order to raise a suitable memorial over the site; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24093/14]

View answer

Micheál Martin

Question:

605. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if he or his Department received a report from Adoption Rights Now outlining concerns regarding adoption in Ireland since 1922 and about high mortality rates amongst infants in particular institutions; the actions that have been taken since he received the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24397/14]

View answer

Michael P. Kitt

Question:

606. Deputy Michael P. Kitt asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the action he will take and the role his Department will play in probing the deaths of children in the mother and children home in Tuam, County Galway and in other mother and baby homes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24511/14]

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Dominic Hannigan

Question:

608. Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs his plans regarding the situation of the discovery of the deaths of children that has been uncovered in the mother and baby home in Tuam, County Galway; when his Department learned of the number of deaths of children in the mother and baby home in Tuam; if this home received State funding, if so, the amount in each year it received funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24792/14]

View answer

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

609. Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs his plans to increase the number of files that can be made available to mothers whose children were in mother and baby homes; his plans to increase the number of files about the mothers, fathers and families of adults who were in mother and baby homes; if any discussions have taken place with the Health Service Executive and any religious organisations to make this happen; if so, which religious organisations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24798/14]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 598, 605, 606, 608 and 609 together.

The revelations in Tuam, Co Galway have brought to the fore the situation in other Mother and Baby Homes throughout the country. The practices in Mother and Baby homes have to date not featured prominently in the various reviews and investigations which have dealt with many of the past abuses which were inflicted on vulnerable citizens, many of them women and children.

It is fully recognised by me and my Government colleagues that we need to establish the truth. As has been announced, active consideration is being given to the best means of addressing the harrowing details emerging regarding the children who died many years ago in Mother and Baby Homes and the many questions raised regarding these deaths.

We will properly review these issues and we will not confine this review to Tuam.

My colleagues and I have tasked officials from key Government Departments with scoping these issues so that Government can make decisions on the precise content, format and method of organising this review. Relevant Government Departments have met and are working together in preparation for the Government’s early consideration and determination of the best course of action.

The cross-departmental initiative underway will examine these matters and report to Government on how they might be addressed. Departments involved include the Department of Justice and Equality, the Department of Health, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, the Department of Education and Skills, the Department of Social and Family Affairs and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. Amongst the decisions to be made by Government in finalising arrangements as part of its overall deliberations on the format and conduct of the review will be the assignment of lead responsibility for implementation.

Such scoping work is essential if fully informed decisions are to be made and matters are to be dealt with effectively. This is the experience in effectively initiating successful review processes in recent years. The work will proceed speedily and promptly. It will consider all of the issues which have arisen and the particular factors which the review will need to take into account including, for example, the passage of time. Government will be kept up to date and expects to have the product of this consideration before the end of the month.

I will provide a further update to the Deputy in the coming days.

Sexual Offences Data

Questions (599, 607)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

599. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs further to Parliamentary Question No. 646 of 27 May 2014, his plans to address the funding crisis of rape support services to ensure that the State is in compliance with the directive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24340/14]

View answer

Thomas Pringle

Question:

607. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if he will provide funding to the Rape Crisis Network Ireland that will enable this best practice, whole of governance resource to survive beyond 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24567/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 599 and 607 together.

The Question from the Deputy makes reference to Parliamentary Question No. 646 of 27 May 2014. This Parliamentary Question was replied to by my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality, Ms Frances Fitzgerald T.D. The Minster, Deputy Fitzgerald replied to the Deputy in relation to the implementation of the EU Victims of Crime Directive including those who have suffered from sexual violence as policy for this area rests with her Department. The EU Victims of Crime Directive requires member states to establish free of charge and confidential specialist support services for victims. I am replying to the Deputy in relation to the funding of Rape Crisis Centres and Refuges.

Responsibility for the funding of the Rape Crisis Centres and Refuges previously funded by the HSE became the responsibility of the new Child and Family Agency upon its establishment on 1st January, 2014. In 2013 the HSE spent over €17 million on the provision of domestic and sexual violence services.

This included the funding of 60 services throughout the country comprising:-

- €10m for 20 Crisis Refuges

- Over €4 million for 16 Rape Crisis Centres

- Almost €3.5 million for 24 Support Services.

Funding in 2014 for Domestic, Sexual and Gender based Violence Services has been retained at 2013 levels.

Rape Crisis Network Ireland had a two year service level agreement with the HSE which expired on 31st December, 2013, but was extended to 31st March, 2014 to allow for establishment of the Child and Family Agency, the appointment of a Programme Manager for Domestic, Sexual and Gender based Violence Services and to enable the Agency to tender for future support services to support frontline agencies. The Agency has advised that this contract has now been extended, with revised conditions to the end of 2014.

The Child and Family Agency is currently undertaking a review of Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence service provision and will be developing a strategic plan later in 2014, to support the delivery of effective and accessible services over the coming years. The Programme Manager for Domestic, Sexual and Gender based Violence Services in the Agency will work with the Agency Head of Procurement to establish a tender process, due to begin in September, for longer-term provision of support to front-line agencies from 2015. All qualified providers, including the Rape Crisis Network Ireland, may tender for this new contract.

School Completion Programme

Questions (600)

Brendan Ryan

Question:

600. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if funding for school completion programmes in DEIS schools is ring fenced from cuts in 2014; if not, if it can be ring fenced and protected for this year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24650/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

The School Completion Programme (SCP) aims to retain young people in the formal education system to completion of senior cycle and to generally improve the school attendance, participation and retention of its target cohort. The SCP is a targeted intervention aimed at those school communities identified through the Department of Education and Skills’ DEIS Action Plan for Educational Inclusion. It involves 124 locally managed projects and related initiatives operating across 470 primary and 224 post-primary schools to provide targeted supports to approximately 36,000 children and young people. The programme's project model approach gives local communities the autonomy to devise innovative approaches to address the needs of young people most at risk of early school leaving.

As with all major spending programmes, the School Completion Programme budget was subject to examination under the terms of the 2011 Comprehensive Review of Expenditure (CRE). This process identified a requirement for savings of 6.5% per annum across the programme over the period 2012 to 2014.

Since its establishment the Child and Family Agency has had operational responsibility for the School Completion Programme, including the allocation of funds to projects within the programme. I am advised that proposals have yet to be formulated by the Agency in relation to the funding for SCP projects in the coming 2014/2015 academic year. As an initial step the Agency has invited all SCP Projects to commence planning for the next cycle of the programme within the available funding parameters. The Agency will continue to work closely with Local Management Committees, schools and local SCP co-ordinators to assist projects through this process.

The potential for any changes in the funding allocated to this programme in future years is a matter to be considered in the estimates and budgetary process having regard to the resources available to Government.

School Completion Programme

Questions (601)

Gerald Nash

Question:

601. Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the reason for the funding reduction to the Deeside school completion programme in 2014; if he is concerned at the impact of this reduction on the service; if this decision will be reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24653/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Children)

The School Completion Programme (SCP) aims to retain young people in the formal education system to completion of senior cycle and to generally improve the school attendance, participation and retention of its target cohort. The SCP is a targeted intervention aimed at those school communities identified through the Department of Education and Skills’ DEIS Action Plan for Educational Inclusion. It involves 124 locally managed projects and related initiatives operating across 470 primary and 224 post-primary schools to provide targeted supports to approximately 36,000 children and young people. The programme's project model approach gives local communities the autonomy to devise innovative approaches to address the needs of young people most at risk of early school leaving. I am advised that this project has a budget of €234,798 for the 2013 / 2014 school year to provide targeted supports to students in three post-primary school and four primary schools.

As with all major spending programmes, the School Completion Programme budget was subject to examination under the terms of the 2011 Comprehensive Review of Expenditure (CRE). This process identified a requirement for savings of 6.5% per annum across the programme over the period 2012 to 2014.

Since its establishment the Child and Family Agency has operational responsibility for the School Completion Programme, including the allocation of funds to projects within the programme. I am advised that proposals have yet to be formulated by the Agency in relation to the funding for SCP projects in the coming 2014/2015 academic year. As an initial step the Agency has invited all SCP Projects to commence planning for the next cycle of the programme within the available funding parameters. The Agency will continue to work closely with Local Management Committees, schools and local SCP co-ordinators to assist projects through this process.

The potential for any changes in the funding allocated to this programme in future years is a matter to be considered in the estimates and budgetary process having regard to the resources available to Government.

Child and Family Agency Staff

Questions (602)

Clare Daly

Question:

602. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of staff at TUSLA, the Child and Family Agency, that are currently employed at the social worker management grade; the number of those that are qualified social workers; and the number registered with CORU. [24664/14]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

I have been advised by TUSLA that at 30th April 2014 there were 65.45 whole time equivalent Principal Social Workers employed within local child protection and welfare services of which 100% are qualified social workers and 100% have applied for registration with CORU. Each local area maintains a register of all staff who have been registered including their registration number, the date of renewal and a copy of their completed Patient Safety Awareness Certificate.

There are a number of additional staff employed to work as Principal Social Workers within TUSLA across other services eg. Adoption, Crisis Intervention Service, Assessment Consultation & Therapy Service, etc. all of whom are qualified social workers and all of whom have applied for registration.

An updated response with detailed numbers regarding social work management is being collated and will be submitted to the Deputy by officials in my Department shortly.

Legislative Measures

Questions (603)

Seán Fleming

Question:

603. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the legislative provisions in respect of his Department that has 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. [24145/14]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

Part 5 of the Child Care (Amendment) Act 2011 and a number of sections in Parts 2 and 3 remain to be commenced. A substantial element of the uncommenced sections relates to provisions for special care. Given the legislative framework utilised to manage the interaction between the Child Care Act 1991 and the Health Act 2007, in relation to special care provisions, Regulations under the Health Act 2007 are required in advance of the commencement of these sections. Work is at an advanced stage in my Department in drafting the required Regulations for Special Care Units. I would hope to have the Regulations finalised in the near future, and shortly thereafter to draft a commencement order for the relevant sections of the 2011 Act. Other sections of the Act that are not yet in force are being kept under review as to their commencement in association with relevant policy and service developments.

Adoption Records Provision

Questions Nos. 605 and 606 answered with Question No. 598.

Question No. 607 answered with Question No. 599.

Questions Nos. 608 and 609 answered with Question No. 598.

Questions (604)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

604. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs his plans to amend legislation so that all adopted persons here can access their birth certificate and their adoption files once they turn 18 and become an adult; if he has no such plans, the reasons for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24365/14]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

The Constitutional and legal barriers to providing access to adoption records, including birth certificates, without the consent of the birth mother have been repeatedly highlighted. The Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill will address this matter but the legislature will be constrained in the nature of any access which can be granted to adoption records by these legal issues. My Department is continuing to consult with the Office of the Attorney General on this and on a number of related issues. One reason for the discussions with the Attorney General is to continue to examine precisely how this can be done in the context of strong legal advice about the constitutional protection of the rights of the natural mother to privacy. I will continue to explore how far the Government can go in the legislation to provide for access to information without breaching the Constitution.

I intend to submit the Heads of Bill for Government approval as soon as these issues have been addressed. Once approved by Government, the Heads of Bill will be sent to the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children for its detailed consideration. The process of sending the Heads of Bill to that Committee will ensure that the provisions of the proposed legislation will be subject to public scrutiny and it is open to that Committee to invite submissions from all interested parties.

Questions Nos. 605 and 606 answered with Question No. 598.
Question No. 607 answered with Question No. 599.
Questions Nos. 608 and 609 answered with Question No. 598.