Freedom of Information Requests

Questions (734)

Micheál Martin

Question:

734. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of FOI requests his Department has received since January 2018; the number of refusals; the number that have been appealed and that are ongoing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30561/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Freedom of Information (FOI) data requested is set out in the table that follows. 

In relation to your request for data concerning appeals, I have included data on both internal reviews carried out within my Department and on appeals to the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC). If a requester is not satisfied with the response of my Department to any aspect of his/her request for information he/she can seek to have the decision re-examined. The internal review of an FOI decision is carried out by a more senior member of staff within my Department. Following the outcome of the internal review, if a requester is unhappy with that decision, he/she has the right to appeal the decision to the OIC.

Number of FOI.....  

 1 January 2018 to 5 July 2018

 Requests received

 214  

 Refused

 28

 Ongoing

 43

 Decisions reviewed internally

 20

 Decisions appealed to OIC  

 8  

The figure in the “ongoing” column arises as, under the FOI Act, my Department has in most cases four weeks to make a decision and issue a response. There are also a number of provisions in the FOI Act which allow for the completion of requests outside of the standard four week time frame, including where the request is for a large number of records and the requirement for third party consultation.

Vacancies on State Boards

Questions (735)

Micheál Martin

Question:

735. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of vacancies on State boards under the remit of his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30578/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The vacancies in the boards of State bodies falling under the aegis of my Department are set out in the table attached.

I propose to fill these positions on the basis of nominations from third party organisations for specified vacancies as set out in legislation and through the Public Appointments Service (PAS) on www.stateboards.ie.

Department: Agriculture, Food and the Marine Current State Board vacancies as of 10 July 2018

Title of Board

No of vacancies

Aquaculture Licences Appeals Board

1

An Bord Bia

3

Bord Iascaigh Mhara

0

Bord na gCon

1

Coillte

0

Horse Racing Ireland

0

Irish National Stud

0

Marine Institute

0

National Milk Agency

0

Sea Fisheries Protection Authority

0

Teagasc

0

Veterinary Council of Ireland

0

Farm Partnerships

Questions (736)

Tom Neville

Question:

736. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason an application for partnership by persons (details supplied) was refused; if the file will be reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30614/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

A Registered Farm Partnership (RFP) shall consist of at least two people, one person from category (i) below and one or more person(s) from categories (i) or (ii):

(i). a person who has been engaged in the trade of farming on farm land owned or leased by that person, consisting of at least 3 hectares of useable farm land, for at least 2 years immediately preceding the date of formation of the partnership, and

(ii). A natural person with an appropriate agriculture qualifications whose contribution to the farm partnership entitles him/her to at least 20% of the profit sharing arrangement; and who works in the farm partnership for at least 10 hours per week.

Following consideration of the application, to which the Deputy refers, it was decided that this application did not meet the criteria for going on the Department's register of RFPs. This information was clearly conveyed to the applicants.

Young Farmers Scheme

Questions (737)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

737. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if guidance will be offered on a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30695/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Under the TAMS Young Farmer Capital Investment Scheme payment claim in question, there were a number of receipts deemed ineligible for grant approval as they did not comply with the Terms and Conditions of the scheme as outlined below:

1. The applicant had claimed for grant approval on a receipt that was not paid.

2. The applicant had claimed a receipt that was not paid at the time he lodged his payment claim.

3. The applicant had claimed a discount which was given.

The applicant has detailed these issues in the appeal letter submitted and his reasons for claiming these amounts. The appeal letter will be considered by a Regional Inspector. The applicant will be notified in due course of the findings.

GLAS Applications

Questions (738)

Tom Neville

Question:

738. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a GLAS payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30698/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The above named was approved into GLAS 1 with a contract commencement date of 1st October 2015 and has received all payments in respect of 2015 and 2016.

Administrative checks involving a number of sections within the Department take place on all GLAS claims. All cases must clear validation checks before payment can issue. Department officials are continuing to work proactively to complete the checks in this case. Once this case clears validations the 2017 advance payment will be made. GLAS payments are being made on a weekly basis.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Eligibility

Questions (739)

Paul Kehoe

Question:

739. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the process for a landowner and dry stock farmer to apply for a disadvantaged area payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30779/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Applications for the Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme (formerly the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme) are made annually via the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) application process.  For each year that a farmer wishes to apply they must tick the appropriate box on the online BPS application system.  The application process for 2018 opened in early February with a closing date of 15 May.  Applications are made via my Department's online application system at www.agfood.ie

In order to apply for the ANC scheme the applicant must meet a number of eligibility criteria, such as holding a valid herd number and farming at least 3 ha of eligible disadvantaged lands.

Coillte Teoranta

Questions (740)

Bobby Aylward

Question:

740. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if funding will be made available through Coillte for required repair and maintenance of paths at an amenity (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30788/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Coillte was established as a private commercial company under the Forestry Act, 1988 and day-to-day operational matters, such as the management of its forest estate, are the responsibility of the company.

The matter was, however, raised with Coillte who advise that funding is available to carry out minor repairs following the recent harvesting operation. The company added that the repair and maintenance works will be scheduled once harvesting in the area is complete.

Animal Welfare

Questions (741)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

741. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 726 of 20 March 2018, if China and Pakistan are on the list of export destinations that Bord na gCon considers to provide the expected levels of greyhound care and management as defined within Bord na gCon’s code of practice; the number of greyhounds exported directly or indirectly to these countries in the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30824/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Bord na gCon is a commercial State Body established in 1958 under the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958, chiefly to control greyhound racing and to improve and develop the greyhound industry. Bord na gCon is a body corporate and a separate legal entity to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

As outlined in the previous reply to the Deputy, Bord na gCon has no control of events outside the jurisdiction of Ireland and has no statutory function regarding the regulation of greyhound exports. Bord na gCon has repeatedly stated that it does not support the export of greyhounds to destinations where the standard of care for greyhounds falls below that required under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013, and the Welfare of Greyhounds Act 2011 and its associated Code of Practice.

Information received from my department's local offices indicates that health certificates have been issued for the direct export of greyhounds to China as follows:

2014 - 2; 2015 - 0; 2016 - 9; 2017 - 0; 2018 - 0.

No health certificates have been issued for the export of greyhounds to Pakistan.

It is not possible to supply numbers of greyhounds exported indirectly.

Food Exports

Questions (742)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

742. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will report on efforts to expand markets for Irish food production in China, India and south east Asia; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30870/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The pursuit and development of new markets for Irish agrifood exports is of course an ongoing and central component of the strategic development of the agrifood sector, as evidenced by its placement right at the centre of Food Wise 2025, the industry’s strategy for development over the coming decade. Indeed, this is all the more relevant after the UK’s decision to leave the EU, which presents significant new challenges for the agrifood sector in particular. 

Food Wise 2025 outlines the huge potential for growth in agrifood exports to new and emerging markets, particularly in Asia, Africa and the Gulf region.

In keeping with the priorities outlined in Food Wise 2025, I led a very successful Trade Mission to Japan and South Korea in November 2017.   This was a very opportune time to bring a delegation of Ireland’s food leaders to this part of the world, given that the EU has concluded a Free Trade Agreement with South Korea as well as concluding an Economic Partnership Agreement with Japan in December 2017.  Japan and South Korea are markets of high potential for beef, pigmeat and sheepmeat exports, and so it is important that we raise the profile of Irish agrifood enterprises that already have access to these markets, and make progress in negotiating access for others.

Following a further Trade Mission to the US and Canada last February, I led a Trade Mission to China in May.  This was an extremely successful mission in the development of our ever-growing partnership with China. For example, being present at one of the World’s largest food trade exhibitions in Shanghai allowed me to reinforce the positive messages about the quality and sustainability of Irish agrifood exports to Asian buyers.  I also met with three senior Chinese Ministers and three Vice-Ministers over the course of the week. The value of our agrifood exports to China in 2017 reached just under €800 million. There is a clear ambition on both sides to further build co-operation between Ireland and China on many levels, including trade, and I will continue to do all I can to maximise this potential. 

These and the other missions that my Department are planning for the latter half of 2018 will serve to enhance and improve our existing levels of market access in these destinations.  They will also help to promote Ireland’s reputation as a producer of high quality, safe and sustainably produced meat and dairy products.

The destinations are also in keeping with the market prioritisation exercise that was completed by Bord Bia in December 2017, at my request. This exercise identified opportunities in new and more mature markets, and will provide valuable market intelligence both for industry operators and policy makers as we continue to navigate the very uncertain environment created by Brexit.

The Indian market is traditionally seen as a difficult market for Irish food and drinks exports to penetrate, due to restrictions in quotas, high tariffs and non-tariff barriers.  However, I am pleased to note that Irish exports have increased in recent years. In 2013 total Irish agrifood exports amounted to just over €1m, while in 2017 this has increased to €5.2m.  I also note that the Kerry Group opened a facility in India in 2012 producing consumer food ingredients for the Indian market. The potential revival of the EU-India FTA could also see opportunities increasing for Irish product with the removal of tariffs. 

My Department will continue to monitor this and of course seek out and identify new markets, and I am also ready to respond as appropriate to other opportunities that may arise.

Agriculture Scheme Payments

Questions (743)

Paul Kehoe

Question:

743. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason persons (details supplied) did not receive a payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31025/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The person(s) named were beneficiaries under the 2006 Capital Investment Scheme for Marketing and  Processing of Certain Agricultural Products. The beneficiaries were amongst 76 applicants to emerge from a highly competitive selection process covering six sectors.

The selected beneficiaries were required to formally accept the offer of grant aid and to indicate the project completion date to my Department. The beneficiaries concerned indicated a completion date of September 2009 in their 'Acceptance of conditions of Grant to Beneficiary' letter. Time extensions to the company were granted during the economic downturn.

Following this extension, on 10th July 2013, my Department issued written confirmation for the beneficiaries to proceed with the original project regarding the purchase of equipment, provided that the project was completed and claimed for by 31st October 2013 and that the accompanying 'Declaration of Undertaking' was signed and returned to my Department. No signed undertaking was received.

Subsequently, my Department wrote again to the beneficiaries on 12th November 2013, advising that the Department would presume that no additional claim for grant would be made by the beneficiaries as no undertaking had been received.  At the request of the beneficiaries, officials from my Department, met with them to discuss the possibility of modifying the remaining element of the original plan.  At that meeting, the beneficiaries gave an undertaking to revert to my Department with clarification on whether they ultimately planned to complete their investment.  No such clarification was received and on 20 February 2016 officials from my Department issued a revocation letter to the beneficiaries, indicating that monies already paid, amounting  to €172,477.50 would not be recovered but that the remaining unclaimed grant aid would be revoked.

In March 2017, the beneficiaries wrote to my Department, stating that they were not appealing the decision as indicated in the letter of 20 February 2016 but seeking a review of the decision to revoke the remainder of the grant aid award. 

In April 2017, officials from my Department carried out an inspection of the beneficiaries premises, where the inspecting officer confirmed that the remaining elements of the original project were not completed and therefore not eligible for payment.

In May 2017, officials from my Department wrote to the beneficiaries, indicating that the remaining elements of the original project had not been completed and advised them of their right to appeal this decision to the Office of the Ombudsman. My Department's records show that the beneficiaries did not avail of this option to appeal to the Ombudsman.

Departmental Staff Recruitment

Questions (744)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

744. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of public sector jobs offered as internal competitions or restricted to existing Civil Service or public service staff in his Department in 2017 and to date in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31541/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

In 2017, 318 new staff joined my Department.  Of those staff, 64 were existing Civil/Public Servants joining my Department as a result of promotion competitions run by the Public Appointments Service (PAS) and 45 were existing Civil/Public Servants who transferred to my Department on request at their current grade.  94 staff were promoted following internal competitive processes. 

To date in 2018, 149 new staff have joined my Department. 28 of these were existing Civil/Public Servants joining my Department as a result of promotion competitions run by the Public Appointments Service and 36 were existing Civil/Public Servants who transferred to my Department on request.  14 staff have been promoted following internal competitive processes this year.

Waste Management Regulations

Questions (745)

Seán Fleming

Question:

745. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the section in the legislation which gives powers to local authorities to demand proof from residents that they are using an authorised waste disposal service or have another method in place for dealing with their waste; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30289/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

My role, as Minister, is to provide the legislative and policy framework under which both local authority and Environmental Protection Agency enforcement action is initiated. Enforcement action against illegal waste activity is a matter for the local authorities and the Office of Environmental Enforcement of the EPA as appropriate. Each local authority is responsible for the supervision and the enforcement of the relevant provisions of the Waste Management Act 1996 in relation to the holding, recovery and disposal of waste within its functional area. Local authorities have specific powers under the Act to require measures to be taken, or to take measures directly, to prevent or limit environmental pollution caused or likely to be caused by the holding, recovery or disposal of waste, and to mitigate or remedy the effects on the environment of such activity. Part 19 of the Local Government Act 2001 sets out the powers conferred on Local Authorities to make bye-laws. In addition, section 35 of the Waste Management Act 1996 states that a Local Authority may make a bye-law for the purpose of the proper management of waste or the prevention or control of environmental pollution should it be considered necessary to do so.

Underpinning waste enforcement is state funding for waste enforcement officers. I have made €9 million available from the Environment Fund this year to support the Waste Enforcement Regional Lead Authorities and the recruitment and continued employment of a network of local authority waste enforcement officers. This investment is critical in providing an enhanced response on the ground to other infractions of the waste code.

In terms of monitoring how households manage their waste, certain local authorities have already introduced bye-laws which require householders to sign up to a household waste collection service.

The Regional Waste Management Planning Offices have prepared a template to help standardise bye-laws on the presentation of waste. The draft template bye-laws place the onus of proof on the householder to prove that they are managing their waste correctly by signing up to a waste collection service or providing receipts for the deposit of waste in authorised facilities.  

In addition, the Regional Waste Management Plans contain further measures to identify areas of low collection and to work with communities and collectors to address this issue.

Inland Fisheries

Questions (746)

Maurice Quinlivan

Question:

746. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the action he plans to take after an organisation (details supplied) reported a significant loss of eel elvers at Ennistymon, County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30872/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) is the State agency responsible for the protection, management and conservation of Ireland's inland fisheries and sea angling resources.  I have been informed by IFI that they have no records on this matter and no communication was received in relation to a loss of eels or elvers at the Ennistymon falls in County Clare.          

IFI operate an elver monitoring trap at the falls that is serviced by local staff on a regular basis. No elver mortality was observed by staff during these operations. A large migration run was observed around the 19 May this year with the distribution of elvers in line with previous years.

I would like to reiterate that if people witness a fish kill or fish in distress to please contact the IFI 24-hour Hotline on 1890 34 74 24 (1890 FISH 24 ) or email the details and any photographs to the info@fisheriesireland.ie email address.

Inland Fisheries Ireland

Questions (747)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

747. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to address a problem (details supplied) regarding the lack of tags for salmon; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30891/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) is the state agency responsible for the protection, management and conservation of Ireland's inland fisheries and sea angling resources.  IFI manages salmon stocks on an individual river basis as each of Ireland’s 147 salmon rivers (including river sections and estuaries) has its own genetically unique stock of salmon. IFI is supported in its management role by scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) and Ireland’s independent Standing Scientific Committee (SSC). 

The annual Wild Salmon and Sea Trout Tagging Scheme Regulations, made under the Inland Fisheries Act 2010, provide for the management of Ireland's wild salmon and sea trout fisheries by IFI. Specifically, the Regulations provide for the quotas of fish (surplus to the conservation limits) that can be harvested either commercially or by rod and line from those rivers identified in the Schedule to the Regulations. These Regulations are revised each year taking account of advice from IFI, the Standing Scientific Committee and any submissions received during a 30 day statutory public consultation period.

I have been informed by IFI that commercial draft net fishermen have a quota to harvest salmon at the location specified by the Deputy. This quota is managed by IFI local officers who attend the shoreline daily to ensure that any tags required are issued once the logbooks confirm the catches and previous tags used.

The quota available for commercial draft net fishermen on this river for the 2018 season is 428 fish. Once the quota has been reached fishing will cease. There is no further available quota. The season runs from 1st June to 31st July 2018.

Bord na Móna

Questions (748)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

748. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if Bord na Móna will be repurposed as a dedicated carbon sequestration utility in view of recent weather events (details supplied) and Ireland's projected failure to meet carbon reduction targets; his plans to increase employment there together with elements of other commercial semi-State companies as appropriate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31012/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

Bord na Móna operates as a diversified utility operating in multiple sectors, including power generation, bioenergy, resource recovery, horticulture and fuels. The dual imperatives to finish energy peat production and contribute to economy-wide decarbonisation have had a major impact on the company’s business model and have become the primary drivers of Bord na Móna’s strategic direction over the next decade. Bord na Móna aims to maintain its substantial employment profile as it transforms into a more sustainable business model with a significantly lower carbon footprint. As part of Bord na Móna's plans to leverage their land bank to provide employment opportunities, wind and solar projects are being developed in conjunction with other commercial State companies on sites formerly used for peat harvesting. In addition, Bord na Móna are expanding their operations in the biomass sector which is expected to provide further employment opportunities.

National Broadband Plan Implementation

Questions (749)

Pat Deering

Question:

749. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when a broadband service will be available in Ballydarton, Fenagh, County Carlow. [30049/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Government's National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to ensure high speed broadband access (minimum 30 megabits per second) to all premises in Ireland, regardless of location.  The NBP has been a catalyst in encouraging investment by the telecoms sector. Today, 7 out of 10 of the 2.3 million premises in Ireland have access to high speed broadband. By 2020, 9 out of 10 premises will have access to a high speed broadband connection. This is being achieved via a combination of commercial investment and a State led intervention. In April 2017 I published an updated High Speed Broadband Map which is available at www.broadband.gov.ie. This Map shows the areas targeted by commercial operators to provide high speed broadband services and the areas that will be included in the State Intervention Area under the NBP. The Map is colour coded and searchable by address and eircode.

- The AMBER areas represent the target areas for the proposed State led Intervention under the NBP and are the subject of an ongoing procurement process.

- The BLUE represent those areas where commercial providers are either currently delivering or have plans to deliver high speed broadband services.

- The LIGHT BLUE areas represent eir's commercial rural deployment plans to rollout high speed broadband to 300,000 premises as part of a Commitment Agreement signed with me in April 2017 and available on my Department’s website www.dccae.gov.ie

The map shows that the townland of Ballydanton Co Carlow comprises 21 premises, 17 premises represented as AMBER on the map fall within the NBP Intervention area and 4 premises are in a BLUE area and will therefore be covered by commercial operators. Individuals can access information on the categories of specific premises by visiting my Department’s website, www.broadband.gov.ie, and entering the relevant eircode into the High Speed Broadband Map.

My Department is in a formal procurement process to select a company who will roll-out a new high speed broadband network in the State intervention area.  This process is now in its final stages.

For those premises currently awaiting access to high speed broadband, practical initiatives will continue to be addressed through the work of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce to address obstacles and improve connectivity in respect of existing and future mobile phone and broadband services.

Under this Taskforce, engagement between telecommunications operators and local authorities through the Broadband Officers is continuing to strengthen.  These Broadband Officers are acting as single points of contact in local authorities for their communities.  The appointment of these officers is already reaping rewards in terms of ensuring a much greater degree of consistency in engagements with operators and clearing obstacles to developing infrastructure. The Department of Rural and Community Development maintain a list of Broadband Officers, a link to which is available on my Department's website at this link.

Legislative Measures

Questions (750)

Colm Brophy

Question:

750. Deputy Colm Brophy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if his Department has identified laws which are dependent on or in place as a consequence of Article 41.2 of the Constitution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30095/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

In January this year the Department of Justice and Equality requested my Department to examine whether or not any legislation existed under my Department's responsibility which could be impacted by any change to Article 41.2 of the Constitution. Following that request my Department did not identify any laws which are dependent on or in place as a consequence of Article 41.2 of the Constitution.