Question No. 816 answered with Question No. 785.

Transport Infrastructure Provision

Questions (817)

Eamon Ryan

Question:

817. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if the NTA has agreed with the developer of the site above the proposed Charlemont Street metro station to provide the underground structures needed to facilitate such a future development of its underground station as per the final preferred route alignment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24088/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

As the Deputy is aware, the construction works relate to a private development being constructed by a private company pursuant to a planning permission granted by An Bord Pleanála. Details of that planning permission and conditions attached thereto are available to view on the website of An Bord Pleanála.

I understand that the particular development is now subject to judicial proceedings taken by persons against the private developer and I do not propose to comment on the matter whilst those proceedings are taking place.

Dublin Bus Fleet

Questions (818, 819, 820, 821, 822)

John Curran

Question:

818. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if the exact low emission technology for the future purchasing of Dublin buses has been determined; the work being prepared for the implementation of no longer purchasing diesel only buses from July 2019 onwards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24127/19]

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John Curran

Question:

819. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when he expects the low emission bus trials to be complete; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24128/19]

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John Curran

Question:

820. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of fully electric buses being piloted as part of the low emission technology bus trials; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24129/19]

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John Curran

Question:

821. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of hybrid diesel buses being piloted as part of the low emission technology bus trials; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24130/19]

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John Curran

Question:

822. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the locations in which the low emission bus trials are taking place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24131/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 818 to 822, inclusive, together.

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport. The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure in the Greater Dublin Area, including PSO bus fleet procurement. Project Ireland 2040 commits us to end the purchase of diesel-only buses for our urban PSO bus fleets from next month (July 2019). To that end the NTA has advertised its intent to enter into a new bus purchase framework agreement to purchase hybrid buses in the short term.

The medium and longer term approach to the NTA's procurement of low-carbon buses will be informed by a range of matters, including the outcomes of the Low-Emission Bus Trials recently undertaken by my Department. Testing took place on the No. 9 route in Dublin City, operating from Broadstone depot and on the No. 207a route in Cork city, operating from Capwell depot. As part of the trial, three hybrid-electric double-deck vehicles and two full (battery) electric buses (single-deck) from a range of suppliers were tested. The operational phase of the low-emission bus trials has now concluded and the findings are currently being assessed. I expect that summary findings will be made available by my Department in the coming weeks.

The NTA's procurement strategy will also be informed by the recently revised Clean Vehicles Directive, which legislates at EU level for the purchase of vehicles by public authorities, including the purchase of public urban buses. The Directive sets procurement targets for Member States, including for the purchase of buses.

I am pleased to see fulfilment of our commitment to ending the purchase of diesel-only buses for the urban PSO bus fleets and I am satisfied that our on-going research on the medium and longer term technology potential, along with EU Directive requirements, will inform the NTA's approach to its bus purchase programme in the years ahead.

Sports Capital Programme

Questions (823)

John Curran

Question:

823. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when he expects to make an announcement on allocations for the sports capital programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24140/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The 2018 round of the Sports Capital Programme closed for applications on Friday 19th October last. By that deadline, a record 2,337 applications were submitted seeking a total of €162m in funding.

186 of these applications were for projects that were deemed invalid under the 2017 round of the programme that subsequently submitted corrected documents. These applications were assessed first and approximately €7m in allocations to 170 projects were announced on the 17th January.

619 equipment only applications were assessed next and 466 allocations with a value of €9.8m were announced to these organisations in May.

Work is now underway in assessing the remaining applications for capital works.

For the first time applicants who submitted incorrect documentation under this round are being given the opportunity to correct their application during the assessment period. While there will be no undue delay in completing the assessment process, in view of the opportunity to correct documentation, the record number of applications received and the detailed information contained in each application, it is likely to take a number of months to have all applications assessed. Accordingly, I expect that it may be the third quarter of this year before the full set of allocations under this current round of the programme are announced.

Departmental Funding

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Questions (824)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

824. Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the funding available to run cabling underground on main streets of towns; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24238/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme. Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, the planning, design and construction of individual national road projects is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

Noting the above position, I have referred your question to TII for a direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of each local authority, in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from local authorities' own resources supplemented by State road grants. The regional and local road grant programmes funded by my Department are focused on the maintenance, rehabilitation and improvement of regional and local roads. They do not include for the undergrounding of overhead cables which would be considered as street enhancement works and fall broadly within the urban amenity functions of the relevant local authority.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Domestic Violence Refuges Provision

Questions (825)

Catherine Martin

Question:

825. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of women's refuge centres in each county; the number of the centres that have capacity for children; the number of the centres that are suitable for individuals with disabilities in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23865/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency provides funding and coordination supports to some 59 organisations that deliver a range of services to victims of domestic, sexual and gender based violence throughout the country.

In 2019, €25.3 million is being allocated to Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence services, an increase of €1.5 million over 2018.

I have requested Tusla to respond directly to the Deputy on the specific matters raised with regard to refuge centres for women.

Childcare Services

Questions (826)

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

826. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the position with regard to publishing the childminding action plan; if the concerns of a person (details supplied) about the impact it may have on certain childminders will receive a response; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23265/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

The Childminding Action Plan is at an advanced stage of development, and I hope to publish the Plan shortly. The Plan will follow through on Government commitments made in First 5, the Whole-of-Government Strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families, which include commitments to extend the regulation to all paid, non-relative childminders on a phased basis over the lifetime of the Strategy (2019-2028), building on the report of the Working Group on Reforms and Supports for the Childminding Sector. This extension of regulation will make National Childcare Scheme subsidies available to more parents and childminders.

Childminders play a central role in the provision of both early learning and care and school-age childcare in Ireland. I can assure the Deputy, and the person whose concerns the Deputy has communicated, that the Childminding Action Plan will recognise the role, function and contribution of childminders and will facilitate their development through proportionate and targeted regulation.

The Childminding Action Plan will be firmly rooted in the Working Group report ‘Pathways to a Quality Support and Assurance System for Childminding’. I established the Working Group on Reforms and Supports for the Childminding Sector in 2016 and asked it to submit short, medium and long-term recommendations for reform and support for the childminding sector. The Working Group submitted its report to me in 2018, and since then officials in my Department have been developing an Action Plan on the basis of the Working Group's recommendations. Like the Working Group's report, the Action Plan will contain short, medium and longer-term actions.

Given the evidence on the benefits of quality childminding for children, and the continued support for childminding among parents, I am keen to extend regulation to allow childminders to take part in the National Childcare Scheme at the earliest possible opportunity. Clearly this requires extensive planning, consultation and a range of supports to be in place.

National LGBTI Strategy

Questions (827)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

827. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will provide a progress report on each action outlined in the LGBTI+ National Youth Strategy 2018-2020, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23348/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

An implementation report of the LGBTI+ National Youth Strategy 2018-2020 will be compiled after end June 2019, which marks the first year since publication and launch of the strategy. It is envisaged that the report will be published in late quarter 3/early quarter 4 of 2019.

Homeless Persons Data

Questions (828)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

828. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the steps taken to ascertain the level of LGBT youth homelessness; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23349/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

While my colleague, the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, has primary responsibility for reducing and ultimately eliminating homelessness, I am committed to helping children and families experiencing homelessness as part of a whole-of-Government response to this problem.

As the Deputy will be aware, children and families experiencing homelessness are supported by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. Tusla do not gather data on sexual orientation or gender identity in this context. 

The LGBTI+ National Youth Strategy was published in June 2018.  It is intended to provide specific additional measures to support the lives of LGBTI+ young people. Goal One of the Strategy aims to create a safe, supportive and inclusive environment for LGBTI+ young people. Under this Goal a funding scheme for service providers, including some homeless services was available immediately following publication of the Strategy. The measure was intended to improve their understanding of, and ability to engage with, LGBTI+ young people.  

In 2018 Focus Ireland received capacity grant funding from DCYA to implement evidence based LGBTI+ training for its staff working with young LGBTI+ people.  It had a particular focus on supporting those who identify as trans.

Goal Three of the Strategy aims to better understand the lives of young LGBTI+ people to ensure evidence informed policy making into the future. Earlier this year my Department commissioned a landscape analysis of existing research and data as relevant to Irish LGBTI+ youth. The results of this research will be published in due course.

Our response to homelessness overall is a test of our compassion as a society. We need to eliminate child and family homelessness. While we work towards this we must provide the assistance necessary to help these children and families live in a way that goes some way to addressing the challenges of the situation. 

Youth Work Projects Funding

Questions (829)

Michael McGrath

Question:

829. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the supports and grants available to local organisations wishing to establish and run a youth centre in their community; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23458/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

My Department administers a range of funding schemes and programmes to support the provision of youth services to young people throughout the country including those from disadvantaged communities. The funding schemes support national and local youth work involving approximately 1,400 youth work staff working in youth services and communities throughout the country.

The current allocated funding for the youth sector in 2019 is €60.4m; this represents a 2.5% increase on the 2018 allocation. This additional funding will be used to support programmes in areas where there are disadvantaged young people and where there is a pressing need for targeted services to meet the needs of young people. 

The Local Youth Club Grant Scheme, which supports youth work activities at a local level, is a part of these funding schemes.  These grants are made available to all youth clubs and groups through their local Education and Training Boards (ETBs). Each year, in the region of 1,700 local youth clubs are eligible to apply under the scheme. The Scheme is intended to support the operation of volunteer-led youth projects.

As the Deputy is aware my Department is currently managing the most significant reform of youth services ever undertaken. This will provide an opportunity to identify need and to focus funding on young people most in need of intervention.

Future development and investment in youth services will be informed by the mapping exercise completed in 2017, which mapped youth service provision across the State as well as an Area Profiling, Needs Assessment and Service Requirement tool which was designed in collaboration with the Education and Training Board (ETB) sector and was officially launched in January 2019. This mapping and tool will assist the Department and the relevant ETBs in developing a detailed social demographic profile in terms of both population numbers and deprivation levels.  My Department is committed to working with ETBs to identify requirements in their area and facilitate decisions on service requirement by reference to evidenced need.

Adoption Services Provision

Questions (830, 831)

Micheál Martin

Question:

830. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her views on whether Tusla’s information and tracing service for adopted persons is sufficiently well resourced; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23574/19]

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Micheál Martin

Question:

831. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the average and longest waiting time for persons to be assigned a tracing social worker by Tusla’s adoption information and tracing service by service area. [23575/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 830 and 831 together.

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, will receive Exchequer funding of over €787m in 2019. This represents an increase in funding of some €34m over 2018, and is the fourth year in succession that Tusla has received a significant increase it its funding. I strongly support the work of Tusla, and I am committed to supporting the Agency in meeting the needs of all children and families.

Tusla operates an adoption information and tracing service at various locations throughout the country, as well as funding services provided by a number of adoption agencies and societies. The adoption information and tracing service oversees a broad spectrum of enquiries from a wide range of people, including adopted people, birth parents, adoptive parents, siblings of adopted people and other birth relatives and people raised in long- term foster care. The service operates on a limited-statutory basis within the wider legal framework of the Adoption Act 2010 and assists each of these categories of person with their information and tracing enquiries.

As part of their Key Service Improvement Areas in 2019, Tusla has agreed to aim for a 10% reduction in the cases awaiting allocation for adoption information and tracing services. This is in the context of a dramatic increase in people seeking information or looking to trace their birth relatives.

Applicants seeking an Information and Tracing Service from Tusla are prioritised based on nationally agreed priority categories. Tusla assigns cases a priority category on receipt and review of the application form. Tusla has provided the data below, which represents the current, longest waiting time for allocation to a social worker across the five Regions for Q1 2019. Variation in waiting times between the Regions, and across the categories is influenced by a number of operational and demand-led factors.

Priority category 1 is based on a National Adoption Contact Preference Register match (NACPR) and the age threshold of birth parent (>70years). The longest waiting times for priority category 1 are as follows:

DML - 2 months, DNE - 14 months, South East - 5 months, South West - 9 months, West - 3 months.

Priority category 2 includes applicants with a medical condition (non-life limiting) or individuals who were previously in care. The longest waiting times for priority category 2 are as follows:

DML - 2 months, DNE - 24 months, South East - 8 months, South West – 1.5 months, West - 9 months.

General applicants are treated as priority category 3. The longest waiting times for priority category 3 are as follows:

DML - 3 months, DNE - 40 months, South East - 18 months, South West – 30 months, West - 12 months.

As data returns are collected and reported quarterly, Tusla do not calculate average waiting times as part of the dataset.