Pharmacy Regulations

Questions (215)

Jackie Cahill

Question:

215. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Health if the proposals by an organisation (details supplied) regarding pharmaceutical assistants will be debated in Dáil and Seanad Éireann and-or brought before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health; the procedures by which the proposals will either be ratified or declined; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14471/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Pharmacy Act 2007 established the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI) and the functions of the Society are set out in the Act. The functions of the PSI are carried out on its behalf by the Council of the Society.

Section 30 of the Pharmacy Act 2007 provides for an exception to the general provision in the Act which requires the sale and supply of medicines at a pharmacy to be conducted under the personal supervision of a registered pharmacist, and specifies that no offence is committed where a registered pharmaceutical assistant “acts on behalf of a registered pharmacist during the temporary absence of the registered pharmacist”.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (Temporary Absence of Pharmacist from Pharmacy) Rules 2019 were developed by the PSI in accordance with Section 30 of the Pharmacy Act 2007, which also permits the Council to make rules as to:

What may or may not be done by a registered pharmaceutical assistant when acting on behalf of a registered pharmacist; and

What constitutes the temporary absence of a registered pharmacist.

On 08 March 2019, the PSI submitted the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (Temporary Absence of Pharmacist from Pharmacy) Rules 2019 to me for my consent, in accordance with the requirements of the Pharmacy Act 2007. These were accompanied by a lengthy submission detailing the PSI’s rationale for the drafting of the Rules.

Under the Pharmacy Act 2007, my role in relation to this process is limited to the consideration of any such Rules once submitted for my consent.

Rules approved by the Minister under Section 30 are required, under Section 76 of the Act, to be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas. Section 76 also sets out how the Oireachtas may proceed in relation to the approved Rules.

Matters to be brought before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health are for the Committee to determine.

Health Services Expenditure

Questions (216)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

216. Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Health the expenditure plan linked to the Sláintecare action plan; the costs by year dedicated to each action point in the plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14477/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The purpose of the Action Plan is to set out a timeline for the delivery of outputs to support the completion of the Sláintecare strategic actions on a programme and project basis. The Action Plan details the outputs that are to be delivered over 2019, with progress to be measured and reported on a biannual basis.

All the actions committed to be delivered in 2019 are intended to be achieved from the existing agreed expenditure estimates for 2019. The actions included in the Sláintecare Action Plan are underpinned by the commitments in the HSE's National Service Plan, which provides detailed breakdowns of 2019 deliverables, alongside costings of these deliverables.

I can confirm that within Programme 4.4, the programme that will manage the Sláintecare budget, a ring-fenced amount of €20 million has been set aside for the establishment of an Integration Fund in 2019. The Integration Fund will focus on supporting the development of existing and new best practice projects that are capable of being scaled nationally, and which promote the engagement and empowerment of citizens in the care of their own health, scale and share examples of best practice and processes for chronic disease management and care of older people and encourage innovations in the shift of care to the community or provide hospital avoidance measures. This Fund was launched on March 22nd, 2019 and project submissions with a focus on community care and integration of care across all health and social care settings are now being sought.

Disease Management

Questions (217)

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

217. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Health the supports available to persons with Lyme disease; the advances made over the past 12 months in terms of recognition of Lyme disease here; the supports available to general practitioners regarding same; the facilities available to public patients to test for the disease; the status of proposals to extend the medical card to persons with chronic Lyme disease; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14482/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Lyme disease (also known as Lyme borelliosis) is an infection caused by a spiral-shaped bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. Lyme disease is a notifiable disease in Ireland since 2012. Lyme disease is a well-recognised infection, which is familiar to GPs and hospital specialists (especially those specialising in Infectious Diseases, Neurology, Dermatology Cardiology and Microbiology). Accordingly, such specialists would be very familiar with how to manage such patients, and as a result, all physicians deal with Lyme disease, as they would with any other infectious disease for which they have responsibility.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) and the Department of Health have highlighted the issue of Lyme disease, and how to prevent tick bites and Lyme disease, since 2008. The HPSC publishes significant amounts of information on Lyme disease on its website - hpsc.ie - for the general public and health professionals. In addition, Public Health physicians give talks at medical conferences to junior physicians as part of their continuing medical education, bringing the issue of Lyme disease (along with the other wide range of infectious diseases) to the attention of established physicians and doctors in training. Also, the HPSC holds a Lyme Awareness Day each year to highlight this issue and is constantly adding new material to its website.

The Scientific Advisory Committee of the HPSC established a Lyme Borreliosis Subcommittee to look at ways of increasing public awareness - that Subcommittee is due to report before the summer. Part of the work of the Lyme Borreliosis Subcommittee is to ensure that all GPs are familiar with identifying and managing Lyme disease.

Tests used in Ireland conform to all international standards. Clinical laboratories in Ireland operate to the highest quality standards. Testing for Lyme disease in such laboratories is to an internationally accredited level. Microbiologists in all major centres would be familiar with Lyme testing and the tests they use are internationally recognised and eminently effective at differentiating those who truly have Lyme disease from those who truly have not. As testing and treatment for Lyme borelliosis is widely available in all major hospitals in Ireland there is no need for people to travel abroad.

The Department has no plans to extend medical cards for people with Lyme disease.

Basic Payment Scheme Eligibility

Questions (218)

Michael Moynihan

Question:

218. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the criteria used to define a parcel of land as scrub for the purposes of the basic payment scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14350/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Under the Basic Payment scheme, any portion of a land parcel which is covered in dense non-grazable woody shrubs, with no interspersed grazing is described as scrub. The species included in deciding if an area is to be described as scrub are shrubs such as blackthorns, whitethorns, briars, gorse and other non- grazable woody shrubs, which have invaded the area. Such areas are considered ineligible for payment under the Basic Payment Scheme.

Beef Industry

Questions (219)

Denis Naughten

Question:

219. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the measures he is taking through engagement with the beef industry and An Bord Bia to ensure that the historic 2% reduction between hot and cold weights is no longer applied; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14378/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The application of a 2% reduction between hot and cold weights is enshrined in EU legislation. Article 7 (1) of Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2017/1182 states that classification and weighing shall be carried out in the slaughterhouse at the time of determining the warm weight of the carcass.

Article 14 states that the carcass weight to be taken into account for reporting the market price shall be the cold weight which shall correspond to the warm weight as referred to in Article 7(1), less 2 %.

The legislation goes on to say that slaughterhouses carrying out classification shall communicate to the supplier of the animal the carcass weight, specifying whether it relates to the warm or cold weight.

The legislation provides for a modification of the 2% deduction in the case of pigs. Any modification shall be justified on the basis of scientific data. No such provision was provided for in this 2017 legislation for beef carcasses.

Meat Processing Plants

Questions (220)

Denis Naughten

Question:

220. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on whether it is not possible for factories to comply with the legal regulations set down for beef carcase trim; the steps he is taking to address this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14379/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The rules on trimming of carcases at meat plants are well established, and their execution is monitored by classification and control experts in my department.

In addition, the department has worked closely with meat plants to provide training in the standards required and has provided a photographic template illustrating acceptable and unacceptable trimming practices.

The controls applied by my department significantly exceed EU requirements. In 2019, they have been supplemented by additional monitoring by departmental staff in factories. These controls indicate a high level of compliance with the rules, and that the system functions effectively. This combination of significant engagement and additional monitoring and control has led to high levels of awareness of the necessary trim specification.

The nature of the manufacturing environment, differences in carcase shape and composition, and other variables, can result in variations in carcase trim between individual carcases from time to time. Where these exceptional cases involve trimming outside of specification, control officials require the meat plants to take immediate corrective action. In cases where my department forms the view that such errors are systematic or intentional, they may apply an on-the-spot fine. From 2019, Meat Industry Ireland has indicated that processors will introduce a payment to farmer suppliers to reflect any loss in cases where such a fine is applied.

Basic Payment Scheme Payments

Questions (221)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

221. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason for the delay in basic farm payments being issued to a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14403/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department has been in correspondence with the representatives of the deceased person named on a number of occasions, with a view to processing this transfer. The Department is currently waiting on some information requested from the representatives on the 14th of March to facilitate further processing of this case.

Aquaculture Licence Applications

Questions (222)

Margaret Murphy O'Mahony

Question:

222. Deputy Margaret Murphy O'Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of a shellfish licence application by a company (details supplied) for a mussel farm off Kinsale Harbour, County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14446/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Applications for aquaculture licences are considered by my Department in accordance with the provisions of the 1997 Fisheries (Amendment) Act and (in the case of marine aquaculture) the 1933 Foreshore Act. The assessment process takes full account of all National and EU legislative requirements and reflects the full scientific, environmental, legal, public policy and engineering aspects of each application. The legislation also provides for a period of public consultation which has now concluded in this case.

As the licence application is currently under active consideration by my Department as part of a statutory process, it would not be appropriate for me to comment further on the matter at this time.

GLAS Applications

Questions (223)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

223. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason a company (details supplied) has not received a GLAS payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14453/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

An application in respect of this herd number was approved into GLAS 3 with a contract commencement date of 1 January 2017 and has received the 2017 advance payment including GLAS plus.

A request to transfer the name in which the GLAS contract is held was received by the Department on the 31 January 2019 and the transfer was approved 4 February 2019.

The GLAS contract includes commonage as an action, which requires a commonage management plan (CMP). GLAS officials are working with the GLAS Commonage advisor to update the details of the CMP as a result of the transfer requested.

Once the CMP is updated and when this case clears validations, the further payment will be processed. GLAS payments are continuing to issue on a weekly basis.

Bovine Disease Controls

Questions (224)

Paul Kehoe

Question:

224. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a person (details supplied) can be given authority to sell stock following tuberculosis testing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14460/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The herdowner concerned is scheduled to have a further TB test on his herd on 7th April. The herd will be trade restricted at that date until the test is completed. Subject to the outcome of this test, the herd will then be free to trade again.

Beef Exports

Questions (225)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Question:

225. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the position on export access to markets (details supplied) for the sale of Irish beef. [14464/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Irish beef exports increased from €2,405 million in 2017 to €2,439 million in 2018 and Ireland exported beef to around 70 countries all over the world according to the CSO trade statistics. My officials continue to work towards opening and enhancing access to as many markets as possible. This is a key part of our response to the challenges and uncertainty posed by Brexit, and in line with the market development theme of the Food Wise 2025 strategy.

My Department’s Market Access Information portal, which I launched last year, brings together into one location the full range of open markets and products, and the relevant certification conditions in a user-friendly manner for exporters: http://www.marketaccess.agriculture.gov.ie/

The opening of the Chinese market for Irish beef in 2018 was the culmination of significant work, over a number of years, and I am pleased that six Irish beef plants are currently approved to export beef to China. Exports of Irish beef to China commenced during the summer 2018.

Ireland was the first EU Member State to be granted beef market access to the USA in 2015. In July 2016, my Department received approval to send Beef Intended for Grinding (BIFG), also known as manufacturing beef to the USA. A total of ten Irish plants have been approved for the export of raw intact beef to the US, of which two are also approved for BIFG.

In relation to Morocco there is a bilateral veterinary health certificate in place for beef including minced meat and meat-based products and a small volume of trade took place in 2018.

For the other three countries referred to (Ghana, Thailand and Vietnam), Ireland does not formally have an agreed veterinary health certificates in place. However, beef exports have taken place from Ireland to these countries on the basis of general meat certificates, according to the CSO trade statistics. My officials are currently working on securing bilateral certification in respect of Vietnam and Thailand, as these are markets of interest to the industry.

Data Protection

Questions (226)

Bríd Smith

Question:

226. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if concerns regarding data protection will be reviewed in terms of proposals to transfer data from waste collection companies. [12010/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

My Department has no role in the monitoring and enforcement of data protection legislation. Responsibility for these functions lies with the Data Protection Commission, which is independent in the performance of its functions.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Questions (227)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

227. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the reason hedgerows are not included in the calculation of CO2 emissions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13922/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I refer to the reply to Questions Nos. 541 and 542 of 12 March 2019.

The position is unchanged.

Greenhouse gas emissions and removals associated with land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF), as reported in Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions inventory prepared by the Environmental Protection Agency, include activities associated with afforestation and forestry harvesting, grassland and cropland management under agricultural use, managed and unmanaged wetlands, and other land-use categories. While such emissions are not currently accounted for in relation to the calculation of compliance with Ireland’s emissions targets in the period to 2020, from 2021 onwards these emissions will be integrated into the EU framework for compliance with national emissions targets. It is, therefore, essential that Ireland has robust policies in place to manage emissions and enhance removals from relevant LULUCF sectoral categories.

Hedgerows are an important feature of the Irish pastoral landscape and can play a potential role in carbon sequestration. The latest estimates suggest that the hedgerow length in Ireland is over 600,000 km. On the basis of the information available at the moment, hedgerows could potentially sequester somewhere in the region of 0.1 Mt carbon dioxide to 0.5 Mt carbon dioxide. In order to refine the figures to allow for inclusion in the National GHG Inventory, further remote sensing investigations would be required to create a national detailed inventory of hedgerows. Further hedgerow surveys would also be required to refine classifications and identify appropriate sites. Proposals for research along these lines are under consideration in the Environmental Protection Agency in the context of its 2019 research call.

I am currently preparing an All of Government Climate Plan which will set out the actions which must be taken to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate change. I am working with colleagues across Government to develop new initiatives in electricity, transport and heat, as well as a range of other sectors. I intend that the Plan will also include actions to develop and implement policies to manage emissions and enhance removals from relevant LULUCF sectoral categories.

Broadband Service Provision

Questions (228, 233)

Mary Butler

Question:

228. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to prioritise primary and secondary schools for connection to the fibre optic network as soon as the procurement process for the national broadband plan, NBP, is finalised; when the bidder for the State intervention network will be appointed; when work will commence; the way in which he plans to prioritise the properties particularly adjacent to or in the amber target areas working in conjunction with the mobile phone and broadband task force and broadband officers already in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14302/19]

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Mary Butler

Question:

233. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to prioritise primary and secondary schools for connection to the fibre optic network as soon as the procurement process for the NBP is finalised in particular for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14422/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 228 and 233 together.

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to ensure high speed broadband access to all premises in Ireland, regardless of location. This is being achieved through a combination of commercial investment and a State led intervention.

The NBP has been a catalyst in encouraging investment by the telecoms sector. In 2012, less than 700,000, or 30% of all 2.4 million Irish premises had access to high speed broadband. When this Government came into office, this had risen to 52%. Today, 74% of premises can access high speed broadband.

The AMBER areas of my Department’s High Speed Broadband Map are the target areas for the NBP State intervention. The specific school premises referenced by the Deputy is in the AMBER area and will therefore be covered under the State intervention.

The procurement process to appoint a bidder for the State intervention network is now at the final stage. I will bring a recommendation to Government in relation to the NBP in the coming weeks.

In the event of a contract award, it is likely that deployment will take some years. My Department will engage with the bidder on the most appropriate deployment which will enable premises such as that referenced by the Deputy to gain access to a high speed broadband service.

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 Local Authority Broadband Officers is continuing. 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.

Angling Sector

Questions (229)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

229. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his views on the delivery and status of the national angling forum in view of the fact that there has not been a meeting since May 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14321/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The National Inland Fisheries Forum is established by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) under the Inland Fisheries Act 2010 to provide a mechanism for a wide range of stakeholders to input into the sector generally.

A review of the original Forum, following 3 years of operation, identified that the low attendance from among the 60 members at meetings led to sub-optimal delivery on the Forum’s business. In that regard, the quorum for meetings of the Forum was reduced to address this issue. Following the review, the Forum entered its second iteration in October 26 2017.

Each of the main angling organisations was requested to nominate two members to represent their interests for the duration of the second cycle of the Forum. These nominees were then appointed to the Forum by the then Minister. The process of filling the remainder of vacancies on the new Forum was managed by the Public Appointment Service (PAS). Not all of the nominations available were taken up by the angling organisations and coupled with the PAS process a total of 44 members were appointed

I am advised by Inland Fisheries Ireland that the first meeting of the current Forum took place on 26 October 2017 and 16 of the 44 members attended. Twenty three members and 1 non-member attended the January 2018 meeting. The Forum last met in April 2018 and the meeting was very poorly attended with only 14 of the 44 members in attendance.

The Chair of the Forum recently resigned due to other business commitments. The process to appoint a new Chair is in hand and it is expected that meetings will resume when that process is complete.