School Staff

Questions (86)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

86. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a matter in relation to a school (details supplied) in County Kerry. [41415/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

In Budget 2019, school leadership is again supported with an additional release day for teaching principals in primary schools and a further four additional release days for teaching principals in schools with special classes. These additional release days will be effective from 01 September 2019.

This builds on measures in previous budgets, including €0.4 million made available in Budget 2018 to fund almost 4600 additional release days for teaching principals in primary schools. This funding has provided for an increase in the number of release days available to teaching principals in the 2018/19 school year to 17, 23 or 29 days depending on the size of the school.

I recently announced an extension to the arrangements for schools with teaching principals to cluster their release days into full-time posts, with one teacher covering the release days of all the schools in the cluster. Up to 50 principal release cluster posts will be put in place for the current school year. This measure will assist teaching principals to more effectively plan their release days for the benefit of the school.

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

Questions (87)

John Lahart

Question:

87. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to review the criteria that must be met by students with regard to SUSI grants particularly in the case of students that miss out on a grant by very small amounts. [41426/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The assessment of means under my Department's student grant scheme is based on gross income from all sources, with certain social welfare and health service executive payments being exempt.

In the assessment of means, a deduction can be made for holiday earnings made by the applicant from employment outside of term time but within the reference period. I increased the value of this income disregard from €3,809 to €4,500 in the 2016 scheme.

The student grant scheme contains a number of qualifying thresholds for various grant values. These gradations allow students just over a threshold margin, to remain in receipt of a grant, albeit at a reduced rate that reflects their relative income vis-à-vis other applicants.

If an individual applicant considers that she/he has been unjustly refused a student grant or that the rate of grant awarded is not the correct one, she/he may appeal, in the first instance, to SUSI.

Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down in writing by SUSI and remains of the view that the scheme has not been interpreted correctly in his/her case, an appeal may be submitted by the applicant to the independent Student Grants Appeals Board within the required timeframe.

Students in third-level institutions experiencing exceptional financial need can apply for support under the Student Assistance Fund. This Fund assists students, in a sensitive and compassionate manner, who might otherwise be unable to continue their third level studies due to their financial circumstances. Information on the fund is available through the Access Officer in the third level institution attended. This fund is administered on a confidential, discretionary basis.

Data Protection

Questions (88)

John Lahart

Question:

88. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the interpretation by SUSI in respect of GDPR regulations when making representations on behalf of students and their families with respect to grants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41427/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

As a centralised national service, SUSI implements a process through which student grant applicants and other parties to their application can consent to the sharing of their personal data with each other and with third parties, including public representatives, for the purpose of responding to queries submitted on behalf of applicants and parties to applications.

This process seeks to reasonably balance the efficient handling of applicant queries and third party representations with SUSI’s parallel obligation to ensure that each individual’s personal data is processed fairly and lawfully.

A grant awarding authority processes personal data for the purposes laid down in the Student Support Act 2011 and annual Student Grant Schemes and regulations made thereunder. This data includes information submitted as part of a grant application and other relevant data required for the purpose of assessing and reviewing applications in order to make decisions under the legislation.

In order to give a full response to a query from a public representative on behalf of a person who is a party to an application it may be necessary to release not only that person’s data, but also data relating to other persons named or identified in the application form i.e. the student applicant, their parents, partners, spouse, siblings, etc.

As a data controller under the Data Protection Acts the awarding authority is obliged to ensure the protection of the personal data which it collects and must decide on appropriate means of safeguarding that data, including in line with the requirements of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Therefore, for SUSI to respond effectively to a representation from a public representative on an individual application in a manner that is fully compliant with data protection law, SUSI must be satisfied that all individuals concerned have consented to the release of their personal data to a third party.

Reflecting the enhanced rights of data subjects to be able to access and exercise control of their data under GDPR, SUSI has implemented a more streamlined process for the management of applicant party consent. A fully online consent process has been developed whereby applicant parties can give, withdraw and update their data sharing consents at any time through the applicant’s online SUSI account, both in respect of each other and in respect of third parties including public representatives.

School Curriculum

Questions (89)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

89. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills the way in which the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, NCCA, developed curriculum for religious education serves to meet the religious instruction requirements of the Catholic Church with regard to circular 0013/2018; the reason this feature of the curriculum is necessary for multi-denominational and ETB schools; if students will be able to opt out of these classes; if not, the reason this is the case in view of the fact that they are designed to meet the religious instruction requirements of one particular faith; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41471/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Department has clarified the requirements set out in a circular 13/2018, which set out an approach to the arrangements that are made for religious instruction and worship in Education and Training Board (ETB) and Post Primary Community schools.

ETB and Post Primary Community schools are multi-denominational schools that provide for their local communities regardless of their composition. It may have been reasonable when these schools were originally established for a school to assume that its pupil population was predominately Catholic and to arrange religious instruction accordingly. However, this is no longer an appropriate approach. In a changing context the constitutional right not to attend religious instruction must be given effect through changed practices.

The Department has issued a further circular to schools clarifying the requirements set out previously. The first key clarification is that where a school intends to provide religious instruction/faith formation, parents must give consent before admission to the class. This means that opt out does not arise because the parent has requested a place in the religious instruction class. The other significant clarification is that classes following the NCCA Religious Education syllabuses cannot have any element of religious instruction or worship, which also means that opt out does not arise.

Religious Education is an examinable subject just like History or Geography for example. It aims to develop the students’ ability to examine questions of meaning, purpose and relationships, to help students understand, respect and appreciate people’s expression of their beliefs, and to facilitate dialogue and reflection on the diversity of beliefs and values that inform responsible decision-making and ways of living. Crucially, it is not delivered from any one religious perspective. Under no circumstances can religious instruction / faith formation be taught during this class in Education and Training Board (ETB) and Post Primary Community schools.

Commencement of Legislation

Questions (90)

Denise Mitchell

Question:

90. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to commence Part 9 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41398/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

Part 9 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 provides for a number of amendments to the Civil Registration Act 2004, all of which have yet to be commenced.

Sections 92, 93, 95 and 99 of the 2015 Act provide for the registration and re-registration of the birth of a donor-conceived child. These sections cannot be commenced until Parts 2 and 3 of the 2015 Act are brought into operation by the Minister for Health, who has indicated that he intends to commence these Parts as soon as possible. Officials from my Department, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, and the Department of Health are working to coordinate the scheduling of the commencement of these sections.

The commencement of other sections of Part 9 of the 2015 Act is dependent on provisions of the Civil Registration (Amendment) Act 2014 being commenced by the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

Citizenship Ceremonies

Questions (91)

Robert Troy

Question:

91. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if a person (details supplied) will be included in the next conferring ceremony. [41307/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that an application for a certificate of naturalisation has been received on behalf of the person referred to by the Deputy. This application has entered the final stage of processing.

The prescribed fee and documentation have been received. However the GNIB card received indicates that the person's permission to reside in the State expired on 17 June 2018. All non-EEA nationals are required to keep their permission to remain in the State up to date at all times, and to have such permission registered. Failure to do so may adversely affect an application for a certificate of naturalisation.

A letter issued on 8 October 2018 requesting a GNIB card showing an up to date permission to remain. Once this is received the certificate of naturalisation will issue by registered post. As the person referred to by the Deputy is a minor there is no requirement to attend a citizenship ceremony.

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to the INIS of my Department by e-mail using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. This service enables up to date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek information by way of the Parliamentary Questions process. The Deputy may consider using the e-mail service except in cases where the response from INIS is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Citizenship Applications

Questions (92)

Robert Troy

Question:

92. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to introduce a language test as part of the citizenship application; if so, the way in which such a test will operate; when it will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41443/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Migrant Integration Strategy 2017-2020 provides the basis for a comprehensive framework for action by Government Departments and other Public Bodies to promote the successful integration of migrants and contains 76 specific commitments across a range of policy areas. These include:

- Access to citizenship;

- Public services and social inclusion;

- Education;

- Employment and pathways to work;

- Health;

- Community integration;

- Political participation;

- Promoting intercultural awareness and combating racism and xenophobia;

- Volunteering;

- and Sport.

Progress on the implementation of the Migrant Integration Strategy is overseen by a Cross-Departmental Monitoring and Oversight Committee chaired by my colleague David Stanton, Minister of State with special responsibility for Immigration, Equality and Integration. This Committee consists of representatives of all Government Departments and Agencies that hold lead responsibility for the implementation of one or more actions under the Strategy. Key voluntary sector organisations working in the field of migrant integration are also represented on the Committee.

Under action point 12 of the Integration Strategy, the introduction of civics and language tests for those seeking citizenship is being examined by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service. I can report that discussions on same within the Cross-Departmental Monitoring and Oversight Committee are at a very early stage of consideration and as such it would be premature to comment on possible outcomes.

Brexit Supports

Questions (93, 94)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

93. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the engagement the Irish Embassy has to support exporters to the United Kingdom; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41320/18]

View answer

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

94. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the supports in place for Irish exporters to the UK in context of Brexit. [41326/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Business)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 93 and 94 together.

Brexit is undoubtedly the most significant challenge facing Irish enterprise in over 50 years. With less than 6 months to go, I was determined to deliver a budget with Brexit at its core, building on the many measures we have already introduced, and responding to the evolving needs of business.

The agencies under my remit have an extensive range of supports available to enable companies to both consolidate market share and continue to pursue new opportunities to grow their market presence within the UK. For 2019, I am allocating an extra €8m to the enterprise agencies and regulatory bodies under my Department, who work with firms at the coalface to develop their supports for business.

A major initiative that my Department is advancing is the €300 million Brexit Loan Scheme, under which accessible finance is made available to businesses at favourable terms.

Enterprise Ireland (EI) supports include:

- a new Online customs Training Programme to be launched shortly to demystify customs procedure. This will be available to all exporters and importers.

- Brexit Advisory Clinics: The purpose of these clinics is to encourage companies to examine their potential exposure to Brexit, to complete the Brexit SME Scorecard and use the Be Prepared Grant to plan their strategic response to Brexit.

- Brexit Scorecard: An interactive online platform to self-assess exposure to Brexit under six business pillars.

- Be Prepared Grant: This grant offers SME clients a grant of up to €5,000 to assist them in preparing an action plan for economic shocks such as Brexit.

- The Agile Innovation Fund: giving companies rapid fast-track access to innovation funding, and up to 50% in support for product, process or service development projects with a total cost of up to €300,000.

- Market Discovery Fund - supports Enterprise Ireland clients research new markets for products and services.

- “Prepare to Export Scorecard”: The Scorecard helps Irish companies with global ambition to self-assess how prepared they are to start exporting.

- Brexit 'Act On' Programme: This funding is to support the engagement of a consultant to draw up a report with tailored recommendations to help clients address weaknesses and become more resilient.

- Strategic Consultancy Grant: This helps client companies to hire a strategic consultant for a set period to assist the company to develop and implement significant strategic initiatives.

- Operational Excellence Offer: Enables Irish companies trading internationally to develop or transform their wider business in order to compete more effectively.

- Irish Advantage Campaign: The aim of the #Irish Advantage export promotion campaign, is to stimulate awareness of Irish products and services and encourage buyers to source from Ireland.

In addition, EI is implementing extensive trade mission and event schedules focussed on further developing in-market expertise and networks, new sectoral opportunities and stimulating demand for Irish products and services through international marketing campaigns.

On 27 September, I led 56 Irish companies on a trade mission to Scotland to explore business opportunities. In April, I led 45 EI clients on the Northern Powerhouse Trade Mission to Manchester to help them maintain their exports and pursue new opportunities. Both of these Trade Missions were organised by staff of the Irish embassy in London.

The 31 Local Enterprise Offices play a pivotal role in supporting micro-enterprises, as they prepare for Brexit. I have allocated an additional €5m to enhance their programme of supports in 2019, up 22% on 2018.

I have also allocated an additional €1m in capital funding to InterTrade Ireland, an increase of 17.5%. This will allow them to step up their support for companies in the border region, North and South, who are particularly exposed to Brexit.

Government’s commitment to preparing the business community for Brexit can also be seen in the series of four “Getting Ireland Brexit Ready” seminars, which are being held this month around the country.

The embassy network is under the remit of my colleague Simon Coveney TD, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Professional Qualifications

Questions (95)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

95. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health if the Royal Life Saving Society, RLSS, first aid qualification will be recognised here. [41293/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council (PHECC) is an independent statutory body with responsibility for professional regulation in the area of pre-hospital emergency care, including the recognition of professional qualifications.

Accordingly, the Deputy's query has been referred to PHECC for direct response.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Questions (96)

Martin Ferris

Question:

96. Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) can expect to have a hip operation at University Hospital Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41288/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive (HSE) is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Section 6 of the HSE Governance Act 2013 bars the Minister for Health from directing the HSE to provide a treatment or a personal service to any individual or to confer eligibility on any individual.

The National Waiting List Management Policy, a standardised approach to managing scheduled care treatment for in-patient, day case and planned procedures, since January 2014, has been developed to ensure that all administrative, managerial and clinical staff follow an agreed national minimum standard for the management and administration of waiting lists for scheduled care. This policy, which has been adopted by the HSE, sets out the processes that hospitals are to implement to manage waiting lists.

In relation to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly.

Orthodontic Services Provision

Questions (97)

Martin Ferris

Question:

97. Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) can expect to receive an orthodontic appointment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41289/18]

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 (98)

Clare Daly

Question:

98. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health when the transition of services from the school age disability team to the progressing children's disability services is likely to be complete. [41302/18]

View answer

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.

Services for People with Disabilities

Questions (99)

Clare Daly

Question:

99. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health the steps being taken to deal with the block in providing assessments by the school age disability team that are running at capacity while children with complex needs appointments are delayed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41303/18]

View answer

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.

Health Services Funding

Questions (100)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

100. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Health if funding for an additional community based diabetes podiatrist in County Limerick will be made available in budget 2019; the reason for the sudden increase of foot ulceration treatment and lower limb amputation in County Limerick (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41306/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Health Services Provision

Questions (101)

Clare Daly

Question:

101. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health his plans to establish a human milk bank here. [41311/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

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

Primary Care Centres Provision

Questions (102)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

102. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Health the primary care centre projects announced on 17 July 2012, in tabular form; the status of each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41314/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As the Health Service Executive is responsible for the delivery of healthcare infrastructure projects, I have asked the HSE to respond to you directly in relation to this matter.

Health Services

Questions (103)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Question:

103. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Health when a trust in care activated in May 2018 in relation to a person (details supplied ) will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41315/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter I have I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Questions (104)

Michael McGrath

Question:

104. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health if a person (details supplied) in County Cork is on a waiting list for a procedure; the number of persons on this waiting list; the expected waiting time; if this procedure is available in the public health system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41316/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive (HSE) is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Section 6 of the HSE Governance Act 2013 bars the Minister for Health from directing the HSE to provide a treatment or a personal service to any individual or to confer eligibility on any individual.

The National Waiting List Management Policy, a standardised approach to managing scheduled care treatment for in-patient, day case and planned procedures, since January 2014, has been developed to ensure that all administrative, managerial and clinical staff follow an agreed national minimum standard for the management and administration of waiting lists for scheduled care. This policy, which has been adopted by the HSE, sets out the processes that hospitals are to implement to manage waiting lists.

In relation to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly.

Services for People with Disabilities

Questions (105)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

105. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health the position regarding the provision of a suitable placement for a child (details supplied) in Dublin 16; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41317/18]

View answer

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.