139. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the estimated savings by capping Deputies' salaries at €75,000. [38722/19]View answer
Written Answers Nos. 139-158
139. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the estimated savings by capping Deputies' salaries at €75,000. [38722/19]View answer
140. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the estimated savings by capping Senators' salaries at €60,000. [38723/19]View answer
141. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the estimated savings by reducing the allowances of Ministers and the Taoiseach by 50%. [38724/19]View answer
142. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the estimated savings by withdrawing Oireachtas officeholders' allowances. [38725/19]View answer
143. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the estimated savings by reducing the party leader allowance by 10%. [38726/19]View answer
144. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the estimated savings by withdrawing committee chairperson's allowances. [38727/19]View answer
145. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the estimated savings by withdrawing the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission allowances. [38728/19]View answer
146. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the estimated savings by withdrawing the super junior Minister allowances. [38729/19]View answer
147. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the estimated savings by withdrawing the mobile phone allowances of Deputies and Senators. [38730/19]View answer
148. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the estimated savings by reducing the salary of the Taoiseach and Ministers by 50%, excluding the Deputy portion. [38731/19]View answer
I propose to take Questions Nos. 139 to 148, inclusive, together.
The information requested by the Deputy is as follows:
Estimated annual savings to be made by:
Capping TDs’ salaries at €75,000
Capping Senators’ salaries at €60,000
Reducing the allowances (i.e. salaries excluding TD element) of Ministers and An Taoiseach by 50%
Withdrawing Oireachtas officeholders’ allowances (i.e. salaries excluding TD element)
Reducing the party leader allowance by 10%
Withdrawing committee chairperson's allowances
Withdrawing the Oireachtas Commission allowances
Withdrawing the ‘super junior Minister’ allowances
Withdrawing the mobile phone allowances of TDs and Senators
149. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if his attention has been drawn to recent issues with the operation of the Payroll Shared Service Centre website Core portal; the nature of the issue; the reason it occurred; the steps being taken to address the issue and ensure it does not recur; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38790/19]View answer
I have been informed by the National Shared Services Office (NSSO), who are responsible for the Payroll Shared Services Centre, of recent issues with the payroll system and the Core online portal.
The NSSO have advised that there was a major power incident on Wednesday 28th August 2019 affecting the relevant Government data centre which hosts the Civil Service, and some Public Service, payroll databases. A number of items of key computing hardware were damaged beyond repair in the incident. As a result, the System Recovery plan was immediately activated and all databases were switched over to the System Recovery site in a different Government data centre.
These mitigating actions ensured that all payments have been processed on time since the incident occurred.
The root cause of the incident has been investigated and mitigating measures have been put in place to prevent a recurrence. Damaged hardware has been replaced and prepared for the return of payrolls back to normal.
The NSSO has also advised that they continue to regularly update staff, managers and other stakeholders via direct email. The payroll contact centre continues to be available to take any questions from customers, and updates are posted on the website daily since this incident occurred.
150. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the details of the proposed flood relief works at Kanturk, County Cork; if funding has been approved by the OPW for the works; the timeframe for the commencement and completion of the works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38883/19]View answer
A proposed flood relief scheme at Kanturk has been identified by the CFRAM programme to be progressed, with a preliminary cost estimate of approximately €8.2 million. This proposed scheme comprises the provision of a storage area on the Dalua River upstream of the town, along with Fluvial Flood Defences on the Dalua and Allow rivers, comprising of walls and embankments. This measure also includes the provision of pump stations for managing surface water run-off during a flood event.
The flood relief scheme will be funded from within the allocated €1 billion for flood risk management over the period 2018-2027. While the proposed scheme is not in the first tranche of projects to be progressed, my Office and the Cork County Council will work closely to ensure that it will be commenced as soon as possible within the 10-year timeframe for the programme of investment.
Once consultants are appointed to progress the scheme, consultation with statutory and non-statutory bodies as well as the general public takes place at the appropriate stages to ensure that all parties have the opportunity to input into the development of the scheme.
151. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated full-year cost of universal free travel on the school transport scheme operated by Bus Éireann. [38671/19]View answer
School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills. In the 2018/19 school year there were over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually at a cost of over €200m in 2018.
The purpose of the School Transport Scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school. Children are generally eligible for school transport if they satisfy the distance criteria and are attending their nearest school as determined by the Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.
Children who are eligible for school transport and who hold valid Medical Cards (GMS Scheme) are exempt from paying the annual charge.
In 2018, receipts from school transport charges amounted to some €15.9m or about 8% of the total cost of the scheme provided by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department. If universal free travel was to be provided this would be the additional cost on the scheme.
152. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of capital projects planned to provide extra places in schools for pupils with special needs; if the waiting times for such projects are double the waiting time for building mainstream schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38838/19]View answer
My Department’s school building programme to be delivered as part of the National Development Plan is focused on providing the additional school places needed to ensure that every child, including children with a special educational need have a school place. This includes establishing new schools and extending existing schools in areas where more school places are needed to meet the demand in these areas.
The delivery of special needs places in schools is being prioritised under my Department’s Capital Programme and Additional Accommodation Schemes. The current status of projects being delivered under these schemes may be viewed on my Department's website www.education.ie and this is updated regularly. It is now Department policy to provide classes for pupils with special educational needs in all new schools being established or where a major extension is being provided.
The timing of the delivery of building projects generally may vary and depends on a number of factors including the availability of sites and securing the statutory consents including planning permission, fire and disability access certifications.
153. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the boundaries for the determination of patronage for the new second level school in Blanchardstown, Dublin 15 will be extended to include Waterville (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38236/19]View answer
In order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data, my Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas and uses a Geographical Information System, using data from a range of sources, to identify where the pressure for school places across the country will arise. With this information, my Department carries out nationwide demographic exercises to determine where additional school accommodation is needed at primary and post-primary level.
The school planning areas are used in the demographic exercise as a basis for the assessment of areas of growth and to inform recommendations on the establishment of any new schools required in that school planning area. There are no current plans to revise school planning areas.
As the Deputy will be aware, in April 2018, the Government announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022), including a new post-primary school to be established in 2020 to serve the Blanchardstown_West_Dublin15 and BlanchardstownVge_Dublin15 school planning areas as a regional solution.
A patronage process is run after it has been decided, based on demographic analysis, that a new school is required. This patronage process is open to all patron bodies and prospective patrons. The application process for patrons to run this school has been completed.
Parental preferences for each patron, from parents of children who reside in the school planning areas concerned, together with the extent of diversity currently available in these areas, are key to decisions in relation to the outcome of this process.
New schools established since 2011 to meet demographic demand are required, in the first instance, to prioritise pupil applications from within the designated school planning area(s) which the school was established to serve. This does not preclude schools from enrolling pupils from outside of the designated school planning area where they have sufficient places.
For school planning purposes, Waterville is located in the adjacent Mulhuddart_Tyrrelstown_D15 school planning area. As the Deputy may be aware, a new 1,000 pupil post-primary school was established in 2014 to serve the Mulhuddart_Tyrrelstown_D15 school planning area and had just over 600 pupils enrolled in the 2018/19 school year.
While the recent announcement did not include a new post-primary school for the Mulhuddart_Tyrrelstown_D15 school planning area, the requirement for new schools will be kept under on-going review and in particular will have regard for the increased rollout of housing provision as outlined in Project Ireland 2040. My Department will also continue to monitor areas where the accommodation of existing schools may need to be expanded in order to meet the needs of the local population.
154. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of an application by a school (details supplied) for ASD accommodation; and if these works will be sanctioned. [38260/19]View answer
As the Deputy may be aware, my Department gave grant approval for the construction of a two-classroom SEN Base, at the school to which he refers, under the Additional Accommodation Scheme 2019.
My Department has been actively engaging with the school to resolve issues with the submitted design and proposals put forward in that respect. In the meantime, the school applied for and obtained planning permission for unapproved works. My Department has now written to the school seeking clarification and further information in respect of this development. Once this information is received, my Department will review the project and contact the school directly.
155. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will address a matter (details supplied) regarding the application of a circular; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38265/19]View answer
Circular 0048/2016 refers to Direct entry (recruitment) grades in the Education Sector (Post 1 January 2011 Entrants) Recognition of Previous Public Service in another EU Member State.
This is a matter for the employer.
156. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a school (details supplied) will be approved for the summer works scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38273/19]View answer
I can confirm to the Deputy that, the school referred to, has submitted an application for the Summer Works Scheme (SWS) 2020 onwards for cark parking facilities (Category 10). Commensurate with the level of funding available for SWS 2020 onwards, applications will be assessed on a top down basis in accordance with the prioritisation criteria outlined in the governing Circular Letter for the Scheme. This Circular Letter (0027/2019) is available on my Department's website www.education.ie.
It is my intention to publish a list of successful applicants in Q4, 2019 for works to be carried out in summer 2020.
157. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if there is an appeal process for SNAs who cannot get on a panel; if not, the reason therefor; the reason the supplementary manager of the panels cannot hear appeals from SNAs working within or outside of the system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38319/19]View answer
The supplementary assignment arrangements for Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) were established on foot of proposals brought forward by the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) when the Haddington Road Agreement was being agreed. These supplementary assignment arrangements for SNAs continue to operate under the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018 - 2020, and both unions representing SNAs, namely SIPTU and FÓRSA, have signed up to that agreement.
As set out in the LRC proposals, the supplementary assignment arrangements for SNAs only apply to current SNAs who are notified that they are to be made redundant. Accordingly, the purpose of these arrangements is to facilitate eligible SNAs who are being made redundant by one employer in filling SNA vacancies that may become available in another school / ETB.
Once an SNA with a minimum of one year's service (service in a substitute capacity i.e. covering for maternity leave, sick leave, career breaks, job-sharing etc. does not count) is notified by his/her employer that s/he is to be made redundant then s/he shall be deemed to be a member of a supplementary assignment panel for SNAs. The detailed supplementary assignment arrangements for SNAs for the 2019/2020 school year are set out in Departmental Circular 0030/2019 which issued on 22 May 2019 and which is available on the Department's website at the following address: http://www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Active-Circulars/cl0030_2019.pdf
The operation of this panel is described and outlined in Circular 0030/2019 and it is designed to be as flexible as possible. It enables all eligible SNAs, who have the requisite Panel Form 1 completed by their former employer, to apply for any SNA position that is advertised by a school or an ETB with no sectoral, diocesan or geographical limitations imposed. Every eligible SNA will remain on the panel for two years with a view to getting further employment. If they are not successful over that period of time in obtaining a further SNA position then they will be eligible for a redundancy payment.
Furthermore, an SNA may opt out of this supplementary assignment panel at any point in time triggering the processing of his/her redundancy payment in line with the terms set out in the SNA redundancy scheme (DES Circular 58/06) or any revision of same that is applicable at that time.
It should be noted that this does not prevent any person, including newly qualified SNAs, from applying for SNA vacancies but employers are obliged to give precedence to applicants who are members of the SNA Supplementary Assignment Panel.
The Supplementary Assignment Panel arrangements are reviewed by my Department on an annual basis in conjunction with an independent Supplementary Assignment Manager, the school management bodies and the two unions representing SNA staff (FÓRSA and SIPTU).
My Department has set up a dedicated e-mail address to deal with all queries in relation to the SNA Supplementary Assignment Panel and any queries in respect of the operation of the Panel can be directed to this dedicated e-mail address:
158. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a new school building for a Gaelscoil (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38357/19]View answer
The Deputy may be aware that this project is being devolved for delivery to Cavan and Monaghan Education and Training Board (CMETB). To enable this, my Department has recently issued a Service Level Agreement (SLA) to the ETB for its signature.
The execution of this SLA will allow CMETB to procure a design team to take the project through the various stages of architectural planning and onwards through statutory planning requirements and construction.