Hospital Services

Questions (166)

Brendan Smith

Question:

166. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Health if a request from an association (details supplied) for additional investment in services will be considered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41472/18]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

With regard to the request for additional support for Neurology services referred to by the Deputy, the level of funding available for the Department of Health in 2019 was set out in the Estimates yesterday and the quantum of services to be provided by the HSE will now be considered as part of National Service Planning process.

Dental Services Provision

Questions (167)

Louise O'Reilly

Question:

167. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health when full dental services will be provided in Carrick-on-Suir primary care centre; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41476/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply to the Deputy.

Services for People with Disabilities

Questions (168)

Louise O'Reilly

Question:

168. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health the funding provided by the HSE to an organisation (details supplied) in County Sligo in 2016 and 2017, in tabular form. [41477/18]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Government is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives, provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose, and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives. This commitment is outlined in the Programme for Partnership Government, which is guided by two principles: equality of opportunity and improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.

As the Deputy's question relates to a service issue, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply to the Deputy.

Services for People with Disabilities

Questions (169)

James Browne

Question:

169. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Health if consideration will be given to an application by a group (details supplied) for funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41492/18]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Government is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives, provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose, and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives. This commitment is outlined in the Programme for Partnership Government, which is guided by two principles: equality of opportunity and improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.

As the Deputy's question relates to service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply to the Deputy.

Healthcare Infrastructure Provision

Questions (170)

James Browne

Question:

170. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Health the details of each building project at each development stage including new builds, extensions and improvements; the cost of each project by county in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41493/18]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The HSE is preparing its draft Capital Plan for 2019 and on completion it will be submitted to my Department for consideration. It requires my approval together with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. When approved the HSE will publish the schedule of projects on its website.

As with all capital projects, the further development of the health care infrastructure must be considered within the context of the overall capital envelope available to the health service. Plans for capital investment are in the course of being finalised, and details will be made available once this process is complete. The HSE is concentrating on applying the funding available for infrastructure development in the most effective way possible to meet current and future needs.

Agriculture Industry

Questions (171)

Carol Nolan

Question:

171. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if provision will be made in budget 2019 to provide low cost loans to farmers. [41473/18]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

In his Budget speech my colleague the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe TD, formally announced progress in relation to the development of the “Future Growth Loan Scheme” for SMEs, including the primary agriculture and seafood sectors. This is a key Government Brexit response for which I had provided €25million in funding in 2018.

The Food Wise 2025 strategy outlines the agri-food sector’s unique and special position within the Irish economy and its potential for future growth. Brexit is obviously a significant challenge given our unique exposure to the UK market. Farmers, the seafood sector and food businesses will need to focus on competitiveness and innovation in order to continue the growth in Irish agri-food exports, which reached a record €13.6 billion in 2017. The Scheme forms an important part of the Government’s Brexit response alongside the “Brexit Loan Scheme”, the provision of additional resources to the agri-food and enterprise State Agencies and an intensification of Minister-led trade missions to access and develop new markets.

The Scheme, which will be administered by the SBCI and backed by a European Investment Fund counter-guarantee, will bring previously unavailable 8 to 10 year unsecured investment finance to the Irish market at competitive interest rates. I am working with colleagues the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, and Minister Donohoe, to bring up to €300million of loans to the market.

This is a long-awaited source of finance for young and new entrant farmers, especially the cohort who do not have high levels of security. It will also serve smaller-scale farmers, who often do not have the leverage to negotiate for more favourable terms with their banking institution. Along with the likes of Milk Flex, this Scheme will form part of a comprehensive investment package for farmers. I am also delighted to be able to include the seafood sector in the Scheme

Food companies have identified long term investment finance of up to ten years as a critical need which is currently unavailable in Ireland. I am pleased that the Government have been able to deliver this product and its effects will be felt all along the food production chain.

My Department is providing 40% of the funding so an overall agri-food package of €120million will be available. However, unlike previous Schemes, this can be reviewed and adjusted according to demand.

Further details will be provided in the coming months. The Scheme is expected to be in place in early 2019 and will run for three years from its launch date.

Aquaculture Licence Applications

Questions (172)

Gerry Adams

Question:

172. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when the Marine Institute of Ireland will complete assessments pursuant to the EU birds and habitats directive in respect of a person (details supplied) who has applied for a licence to harvest oysters. [41266/18]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The application for an aquaculture licence referred to by the Deputy is in respect of a site located in Carlingford Lough, which is designated as Carlingford Shore Special Area of Conservation (SAC) under the EU Habitats Directive and Carlingford Lough Special Protection Area (SPA) under the EU Birds Directive (Natura 2000 sites).

All aquaculture activities in Natura site areas require an Appropriate Assessment to be carried out before any aquaculture licensing determinations can be made. My Department is working with the Marine Institute and the National Parks and Wildlife Service to achieve full compliance with the EU Birds and Habitats Directives through a multi-annual work programme. This data collection programme, which is substantially complete, together with the setting of Conservation Objectives, will enable all new and renewal aquaculture applications to be assessed.

Conservation Objectives have been set for the Carlingford Shore SAC and the Carlingford Lough SPA. The next step in the process is the carrying out of an Appropriate Assessment by the Marine Institute. This is being progressed and my Department has been advised by the Marine Institute that the Appropriate Assessment Report should be available, at the latest, during Quarter 1, 2019. While the Appropriate Assessments are carried out on a bay by bay basis, each licence application within the bay must be assessed individually.

Addressing the issue of aquaculture licensing in Natura 2000 areas is a key priority for my Department and the Deputy can be assured that every effort is being made to expedite the completion of the process in Carlingford Lough having regard to all the complexities involved.

Harbours and Piers Development

Questions (173, 174, 175)

Pat the Cope Gallagher

Question:

173. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the works proposed for Killybegs Harbour centre will proceed as planned in 2018 and 2019; if the next phase of the deep sea dredging works will be tendered for in the last quarter of 2018 as already committed to; if the funding for the project is ring-fenced and secure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41299/18]

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Pat the Cope Gallagher

Question:

174. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the €10 million required for the Killybegs Harbour centre is budgeted for in the 2019 estimates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41300/18]

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Pat the Cope Gallagher

Question:

175. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the timeframe for the tendering and complete delivery of the next phase of the Killybegs Harbour centre extension specifically the deep sea dredging which will prepare for works including the construction of the extension to the harbour and provision of a harbour wall; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41301/18]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 173 to 175, inclusive, together.

Killybegs Fishery Harbour Centre is one of the six designated Fishery Harbour Centres which are owned, managed and maintained by my Department under Statute.

The Fishery Harbour Centre (FHC) has been attracting increasing levels of fishing, commercial cargo and cruise liner activity and the need for additional berthage has been recognised. The Smooth Point project, when complete, will provide an additional 120 metres of sheltered berthage to a depth of -9.0m Chart datum in Killbegs FHC. In addition to facilitating the increased activity, it would also enable relocating larger fishing from the Blackrock Pier to the new berthage area.

Because some of the material to be dredged was contaminated, the project was divided into two phases. Work on phase 1 of the project which entailed the dredging and removal of the contaminated commenced in 2017 and has been completed in 2018 at a cost of approximately €6.5m.

€3.5m was allocated for phase 1 in 2018 however as additional work was carried out as part these works an extra €0.7m had to be allocated in 2018 to complete it bringing the expected total spend in 2018 to €4.2m.

It is now proposed to issue tenders for phase 2 in 2019, with works commencing next year and a completion date in 2020. This phase involves the dredging of the remaining uncontaminated material and construction of the 120 metres of berthing space. The final costs of phase 2 will only be determined following the competitive tendering process, however it is estimated to be in the region of €9m.

The funding available for the Fishery Harbour Centre capital programme for 2019 has been increased by €6.284m to €27.284m All developments in the six Fishery Harbour Centres are considered under annual capital programmes on the basis of available Exchequer funding. No decisions on the detailed capital programme for 2019 have been taken at this stage. That said, I can assure the Deputy that I am committed to tendering for and commencing Phase 2 of the project at Smooth Point in 2019 and completing it in 2020.

Fisheries Protection

Questions (176)

Clare Daly

Question:

176. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority has made representations to the Department of Defence or the Naval Service in regard to the number of boardings carried out by the Naval Service in 2018. [41321/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I am not aware if the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) has made representations to the Department of Defence or the Naval Service in relation to the matter referred to by the Deputy.

As the Deputy may be aware, the monitoring and control of fishing vessels within Ireland’s Exclusive Fisheries Zone are matters for the Irish control authorities. Under the Sea Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Act, 2006, all operational issues of this nature concerning sea fisheries control are, as a matter of law, exclusively for the SFPA and the Naval Service. As Minister I am precluded from getting involved in operational matters including in relation to law enforcement and therefore I have requested SFPA to reply directly to the Deputy on the specific information requested.

GLAS Payments

Questions (177)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

177. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of a GLAS payment for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41337/18]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The person named was approved into GLAS 1 with a contract commencement date of 1 October 2015 and has received payments for scheme years 2015 and 2016.

An issue arose in relation to the 2017 Advance payment which has now been fully resolved. Payment will issue shortly.

Horse Racing Ireland

Questions (178, 179)

Clare Daly

Question:

178. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the person or organisation that holds title to the lands comprising Dundalk racecourse. [41356/18]

View answer

Clare Daly

Question:

179. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his sanction was sought and given prior to Horse Racing Ireland extending a loan to Dundalk stadium management to fund the redevelopment of Dundalk stadium; and if evidence of title over the lands involved was sought and received by Horse Racing Ireland prior to this loan being extended. [41357/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 178 and 179 together.

Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) is a commercial State Body responsible for the overall administration, promotion and development of the horse racing industry.

This matter dates back to 2006 when Horse Racing Ireland were under the aegis of the Department of Sport. It is an operational matter for HRI, and the sanction of the Minister is not required for normal capital investment grants.

I have made enquires and HRI has informed me that in relation to grant funding applications by Dundalk Racecourse, a Certificate of Title was previously provided to their solicitors confirming good and marketable title to the property held by Dundalk Race Company Limited. This is underpinned by a Deed dated 16th day of August 1920 and made in favour of Dundalk Race Company Limited.

A racecourse capital development grant was provided to Dundalk Racecourse in relation to the development of their facilities (with matching funding provided by other parties). As part of this grant, HRI sought and was provided a shareholding in Dundalk Racecourse which broadly matches the term of the grant. No loan was provided by HRI.

Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme Payments

Questions (180)

Robert Troy

Question:

180. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if an ANC payment will issue to a person (details supplied). [41442/18]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The person named submitted a 2018 Basic Payment/Areas of Natural Constraint Schemes application on the 30th March 2018. EU Regulations governing the administration of these schemes require that full and comprehensive administrative checks, including in some cases remote sensing (i.e. satellite) inspections, be completed before any payments issue.

The application of the person named was selected for a Remote Sensing eligibility inspection. This inspection is currently being processed with the intention of issuing any payments due as soon as possible. In the event that any queries arise, officials in my Department will be in contact with the person named.

Poultry Industry

Questions (181, 182)

Brendan Smith

Question:

181. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to amend the scheme of grant aid towards the provision or upgrading of poultry units to include turkey grow houses, which are excluded at present from grant aid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41490/18]

View answer

Brendan Smith

Question:

182. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if grant aid will be introduced towards the provision of new or upgraded poultry units for turkeys in view of the potential of growing this particular market and substitute for imports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41491/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 181 and 182 together.

The poultry sector plays a very important role within the Irish agri-food sector, supporting approximately 6,000 jobs, mainly in rural areas.

Irish production reached record levels in 2017, with 95.5 m birds slaughtered in export-approved plants. This was an increase of 3.9% compared to 2016, with most of the increase evident in broiler and duck production. To the end of September 2018, Irish poultry production has continued to rise, increasing by 1.8m birds, or 2.6% compared to last year.

The value of Irish poultry exports in 2017 increased by 3% to an estimated €278 million (CSO trade data), with the United Kingdom accounting for some 80% of this figure in value terms. Other EU markets now account for almost 10% of Irish exports, with France leading the way. Growth has also been evident in trade with Scandinavia and Spain. Exports to third country markets now amount to 10% of export totals, with South Africa showing the biggest growth for Irish exporters.

The Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2014 – 2020 provides key supports for the development and the competitiveness of the Irish poultry sector. The key areas for support in the RDP for the poultry sector include support for on-farm capital investment under the Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme II (TAMS II) and knowledge transfer and innovation measures, aimed at underpinning farm viability, sustainability and growth through the adoption of best practice and innovative solutions. These programmes will continue to be the main area of support for the poultry sector.

The investments for the Poultry Sector covered in the PPIS Scheme of TAMS II focus on energy efficient measures such as heat recovery units, solar panels, feed system upgrades, energy efficient upgrades for Poultry houses including insulation, ventilation fans and replacement concrete floors for temperature control. Fixed in water medicine dispensers and water meters are also included in the investment items allowable under the Scheme, as are disease reduction facilities for existing poultry houses.

The Scheme is open to farmers who (i) generate a minimum of 20 production units from farming and (ii) who have a Department identifier. The calculation of Production Units for Intensive Enterprises includes, for Turkeys (fattening), a rate of 3.0 units per 1000 bird places.

Greyhound Industry

Questions (183)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

183. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if action is being taken, including the withdrawal of an animal transportation licence in relation to a person (details supplied). [41513/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department has recently become aware of the report of the Disciplinary Committee of the Greyhound Board of Great Britain regarding the individual referred to. I have asked my Department to investigate the matter and the outcome will be communicated to the Deputy in due course.

Fur Farming

Questions (184)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

184. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a ban on fur farming will be introduced in 2018 in view of the growing level of support for an end to fur farming and the increasing list of countries banning it. [41514/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department has statutory responsibility for the welfare and protection of farmed animals under the European Communities (Welfare of Farmed Animals) Regulations, 2010(Statutory Instrument No 311/2010) and the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013. Irish fur farmers are, in this regard, subject to the same animal welfare legislation as other livestock farmers.

A review of all aspects of fur farming in Ireland was commissioned in November 2011. The Terms of Reference of the Review Group were:

(i) To review fur farming in Ireland taking into account existing legislative provisions for the licensing of mink farming;

(ii) To comment on the economic benefits of the sector;

(iii) To consider the effectiveness of existing welfare controls, and

(iv) To make appropriate recommendations

The Review Group invited submissions from the public and interested parties and considered over four hundred submissions which were received.

The Group concluded that it did not find the arguments in favour of banning the farming of fur animals in Ireland compelling and recommended that instead, fur farming be allowed continue under licence and subject to official control. I accept the findings of the review group and its recommendations.

On foot of the Review Group’s deliberations, my Department introduced more rigorous controls on licence holders in the areas of animal welfare, animal accommodation, security and nutrient management. Licensees are subject to regular inspections, including unannounced inspections by Department officials.

Notwithstanding the position in other countries, given the recommendations from the review group, there are no plans to introduce a ban on fur farming.

Greyhound Industry

Questions (185)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

185. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the subsidising of greyhound tracks with public funds will cease in view of falling attendances at greyhound tracks, the significant financial losses at tracks and the ongoing injuries and deaths suffered by greyhounds. [41515/18]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Bord na gCon (BnG) 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.

A report by Economist Jim Power in November 2017 calculates there are 5,058 full and part-time jobs within the sector, with a further 7,313 greyhound owners deriving economic benefit from the industry. The impact of this employment creates €171 million in additional spending while the greyhound owners contribute €135 million in spending. The national industry therefore contributes €300 million in additional economic activity. For these reasons I have no plans to cease funding for the sector.

BnG has assured me that regulation and welfare are a high priority for the Board with €2 million being spent in these areas in 2017.

In September 2018 BnG announced that a comprehensive, strategic review into the future needs of its 16 licensed stadia to determine the industry footprint of the future is to take place. The review is an integral part of the BnG’s Strategic Plan 2018-2022, which was published earlier this year.

BnG’s five year strategic plan also puts animal welfare at the centre of the industry.

BnG has informed me that so far in 2018, 42 welfare inspections and 302 Inspections of greyhound establishments - including trainers’ kennels and schooling tracks – have been carried out nationwide.

The Government recently approved the Greyhound Industry Bill 2018, which will further improve governance and regulation in the greyhound industry. This legislative framework will allow Bord na gCon to maintain the very positive welfare initiatives that are already in place, as well as implement further progressive measures to allay any public concerns that may exist on welfare within the industry. This Bill, when enacted, will add to existing legislation making the greyhound the most regulated of all canine breeds.