Occupational Therapy Waiting Lists

Question No. 262 answered with Question No. 257.

Question No. 263 answered with Question No. 261.

Question No. 264 to 266, inclusive, answered with Question No. 257.

Questions (261, 263)

Margaret Murphy O'Mahony

Question:

261. Deputy Margaret Murphy O'Mahony asked the Minister for Health the number of persons on the occupational therapy treatment waiting list by time periods and age category (details supplied) by LHO area in CHO 4 at the end of September 2019 or latest date available in tabular form. [40504/19]

View answer

Margaret Murphy O'Mahony

Question:

263. Deputy Margaret Murphy O'Mahony asked the Minister for Health the number of persons on the occupational therapy treatment waiting list by time periods and age category (details supplied) by LHO area in CHO 6 at the end of September 2019 or latest date available in tabular form. [40506/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 261 and 263 together.

As these questions relate to service matters, I have arranged for them to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply.

Question No. 262 answered with Question No. 257.
Question No. 263 answered with Question No. 261.
Question No. 264 to 266, inclusive, answered with Question No. 257.

Future Growth Loan Scheme

Questions (267)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

267. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of farmers, in addition to food businesses, that have applied to the future growth loan scheme which opened in March 2019 until the end of quarter 3 2019; the number of farmers and such businesses that have been sanctioned financing to date; and the value of same in tabular form. [40483/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Future Growth Loan Scheme will support strategic long-term capital investment in a post-Brexit environment by SMEs, farmers and fishermen. The Scheme is open for eligibility applications to the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland since 17th April 2019. 

The Scheme was developed by my Department and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, in partnership with the Department of Finance, the SBCI and the European Investment Fund (EIF). It will be delivered through participating finance providers and make up to €300 million of investment loans available to eligible Irish businesses, including farmers and the agri-food & seafood sectors.

The loans will be competitively priced with an initial maximum loan interest rate of 4.5% for loans less than €250,000. The loans are for terms of 8-10 years and unsecured up to €500,000. This type of innovative finance, which has been previously unavailable in the Irish market, will support strategic long-term investment in a post-Brexit environment.

A minimum loan amount of €100,000 applies up to a maximum of €3,000,000 per applicant. However, considering the needs of Irish farmers, I have negotiated a specific minimum of €50,000 for them.

This is a long-awaited source of finance for young and new entrant farmers, especially the cohort who do not have high levels of security. It will also serve smaller-scale farmers, who often do not have the leverage to negotiate for more favourable terms with their banking institution.

The following table details the position at close of business on 30 September 2019.

 

No. of approved applications

No of loans sanctioned

Value of Loans Sanctioned at bank level

Total

1,283

270

€43.8m

Farmers

509

151

€16.7m

Food Businesses

145

22

€5.9m

Fallen Animal Collection Scheme

Questions (268)

Seán Fleming

Question:

268. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the subsequent changes that were introduced including the introduction of the 125km rule was made via a statutory instrument or through another mechanism further to the review of the fallen animal TSE subsidy scheme undertaken in 2013; if so, the name and website link of the statutory instrument. [40194/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Fallen Animal TSE Subsidy Scheme is an integral part of the infrastructure underpinning Ireland’s successful livestock and meat processing industries.  The Scheme ensures primarily that fallen bovine animals over 48 months, which must be BSE-tested in accordance with EU legislation, are disposed of in compliance with all animal and public health and environmental regulations.

A review of the Fallen Animal TSE Subsidy Scheme was undertaken in 2013, in consultation with stakeholders. This review took into account TSE testing requirements, Animal By-Product (ABP) regulations, budgetary considerations, the need to maintain competition and the need for an adequate collection and disposal infrastructure including the availability of adequate rendering capacity especially in the event of a serious (Class A) disease outbreak.

A number of changes were introduced to the collection of fallen animals under the scheme in 2013. Those included enhanced compliance provisions and putting limits on the distance for material from fallen animals over 48 months can be transported while maintaining a competitive aspect to the market including a provision whereby animal collectors would have a choice of at least two rendering plants for disposal of fallen animal material.

These changes were introduced by amendment to the terms and conditions of the fallen animal scheme. There was no requirement for a Statutory Instrument for this purpose.

Aquaculture Licence Applications

Questions (269)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

269. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a decision in relation to a licence application by a person (details supplied) will be reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40278/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department considers all applications for aquaculture licences in accordance with the provisions of the 1997 Fisheries (Amendment) Act, the 1933 Foreshore Act and applicable EU legislation. The licensing process involves consultation with a wide range of scientific and technical advisers as well as various Statutory Consultees. The legislation also provides for a period of public consultation.

In addition, the legislation governing aquaculture licensing provides for an appeals mechanism. Appeals against licence decisions are a matter for the Aquaculture Licences Appeals Board (ALAB) which is an independent statutory body. Full details of the appeals process can be obtained at: http://www.alab.ie/appealsprocess/

A Determination has been made in respect of the specific application referred to by the Deputy. As the statutory appeal period has not expired in respect of this specific application, it would not be appropriate for me to comment further at this time.

Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme

Questions (270)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

270. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a TAMS application by a person (details supplied) will be reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40335/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

An application was received from the person named under tranche 13 for the Dairy Equipment Scheme which passed the initial administrative checks but was not selected for approval under the ranking and selection process. The application then rolled over to tranche 14 and again did not pass the ranking and selection under this tranche. This application will now roll over again for consideration under tranche 15.   It is open to the person named to submit a new application bearing in mind that an applicant will receive additional marks where the costs provided are below the reference costs and the scheme requirements regarding deposits.   

The person named also applied for grant aid under tranche 15 for the Animal Welfare Safety and Nutrient Storage Scheme of TAMS II.   This application has been subject to and passed the administrative checks required and will be subject to the ranking and selection process after the closure of tranche 15 on 4 October 2019 when all applications submitted under tranche 15 have been subject to these checks.  Ranking and selection is the process of ranking each application in each tranche using certain pre-defined criteria.  Details of this criteria for all TAMS II measures including the Animal Welfare Safety and Nutrient Storage Scheme are available on the Department's website.

Beef Industry

Questions (271)

Brendan Smith

Question:

271. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the progress to date in implementing the measures announced following recent negotiations with farming organisations and the meat sector in relation to the urgent need to improve price returns to farmers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40446/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

There have been a series of formal negotiations with beef stakeholders, facilitated by my Department, since early August, culminating in an agreement being reached between stakeholders on Sunday 15 September.

The parties to the Agreement reached on 15 September are:

- Meat Industry Ireland

- Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association

- Macra na Feirme

- Independent Farmers Organisation of Ireland

- Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association

- Beef Plan Movement

- Irish Farmers Association

- Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association

 The full text of the Agreement is available at:

https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/media/migration/farmingsectors/beef/Agreement15September170919.pdf.

The Agreement involves a number of interventions which will provide immediate benefit for beef producers, as well as a range of strategic measures which seek to address structural imbalances in the sector.

Beef producers will benefit from an immediate increase in a range of bonuses. This will increase the level of bonus being paid on certain animals, as well as significantly increasing the number of animals which are eligible for a bonus. The cumulative effect is that over 70% of all steer and heifers slaughtered will now be eligible for a bonus on top of the base price paid. 

A number of actions in the area of market transparency, beef promotion and strengthening the position of the farmer in the supply chain are included in the Agreement. These measures set a course towards greater clarity for all stakeholders involved in the beef supply chain, primarily farmers. 

My Department is also proactively engaging with several potential beef Producer Organisations, which have to potential to strengthen the bargaining power of beef farmers in the supply chain. The first beef Producer Organisation was official recognised by my Department on 11th September.

I am establishing a Beef Market Taskforce to provide the leadership to develop a sustainable pathway for the future of the beef sector in terms of economic, environmental and social sustainability.   The Taskforce will provide for a robust implementation structure for commitments entered into in the Agreement, with timelines and stakeholder engagement.  Furthermore, the Beef Market Taskforce will offer a suitable platform for strategic engagement with key stakeholders, including retailers and regulatory authorities.

I am pleased to announce that I have appointed Michael Dowling as independent Chair of the Taskforce. Its membership will include representatives from my Department, relevant State agencies, farm organisations and the meat industry.  Arrangements for the first meeting of the Taskforce are currently being finalised.

Common Agricultural Policy Negotiations

Questions (272)

Brendan Smith

Question:

272. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the most recent proposals put forward at the EU Agriculture Council in relation to the need to ensure there is no reduction in funding for CAP post-2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40447/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The European Commission has proposed, as part of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2021-2027, that funding for the Common Agricultural Policy should be set at €365 billion.  This equates to a cut of approximately 5% to the CAP budget in the next MFF period 2021 - 2027.  I have previously stated that the proposed cut is unacceptable for Ireland.

Negotiations on the MFF proposals have commenced and are running in parallel to the CAP post-2020 negotiations. The MFF is a critical matter for all Member States and its agreement requires unanimity at the EU Council.  It is clear that there are divergent views among Member States on the appropriate level for the budget.  While some Member States (including Ireland) have indicated their willingness to increase their contributions once they contribute towards areas of added European value, there are others who feel equally strongly that the current proposals, such as they are, are too costly.  

Brexit further compounds the budgetary issue, with some €12 billion per annum in UK net contributions being removed from the budget post-2020. 

I continue to work at building consensus among my agriculture colleagues in Europe with regard to maintaining the CAP budget. In May last year, I co-signed a Joint Memorandum in Madrid, which calls for the CAP budget to be retained at current levels for the EU 27 post-2020.  The memorandum has been supported by up to 20 other EU Agriculture Ministers.  We will continue to work together on this issue as the negotiations for the CAP post-2020 and its budgetary allocations progress.

At the Council of Agriculture Ministers, I have consistently called for an adequate CAP budget to meet the increasing demands being placed on farmers in the context of the post-2020 CAP proposals, for example, in achieving greater climate ambition. Indeed, I made this point most recently at last week's Informal Council meeting in Helsinki.

Ireland will continue to work closely with its EU colleagues to build a consensus around the need to fight for a strong CAP budget as the negotiations progress.

Beef Environmental Efficiency Scheme Funding

Questions (273)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

273. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the value of all approved applications under the beef environmental efficiency pilot; and the value of payments made to approved applicants to date. [40484/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

In January of this year, I launched the Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot (BEEP), with a funding provision of €20m in 2019.  BEEP targets the weaning efficiency of suckler cows and calves - measuring the live weight of the calf pre-weaning as a percentage of the cow's live weight. BEEP had been announced in Budget 2019 as part of the €78m Brexit package for the agri-food industry. As well as clear environmental and climate benefits, BEEP will provide additional farm income at a time of market volatility and uncertainty relating to Brexit.

Some 19,131 farmers registered their interest in participating in the Pilot and they will qualify for payment provided they comply with the requirements to weigh each cow and calf and provide the requisite data to ICBF in accordance with the Terms and Conditions. The €20 million funding available will allow for payment of up to a maximum of €40 per calf.

Some 476,432 calves were registered to these 19,131 herds in the relevant period. 223,753 of these have weights recorded under BEEP to date. Payments to participants who have completed the requirements under the Pilot are scheduled to commence in the coming months.

Animal Slaughtering Data

Questions (274)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

274. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of cattle slaughtered to 30 September 2019 which originated from factory feedlots at approved beef exporting plants; and the percentage of such cattle from the total national beef kill in tabular form. [40485/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

As part of the TB eradication programme, beef finishing herds, if they meet the necessary criteria, are allowed to avail of a special status, termed “Controlled Finishing Unit”.  Where a herd meets the criteria to be regarded as a ‘Controlled Finishing Unit’ under the programme, the herd is restricted under the TB Regulations and a special official supervisory and testing protocol is established. Such herds are not exempted from testing, reactor removal or disinfection requirements.

Restricted Controlled Finishing Units are TB tested at least once a year. This Controlled Finishing Unit status arrangement allows the delivery of an effective level of disease risk management while controlling the risk of further disease spread in compliance with animal health legislation, and enabling business continuity in this particular type of enterprise through the inward movement of cattle.  Cattle from Controlled Finishing Unit herds restricted under the TB Eradication programme are only permitted to move to a EU-approved slaughter plant. 

As per data published on my Department's website, the number of cattle slaughtered at approved beef exporting plants in 2019 to 31st August 2019 which originated from Controlled Finishing Units was 212,500.  This represents 17.94% of the total national beef kill in that period.  The corresponding data  to end-September 2019 is not available at present but will be updated and published on the Department's website https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/animalhealthwelfare/animalidentificationmovement/cattle/bovinebirthandmovementsmonthlyreports/) later this month. 

Bord Bia Funding

Questions (275)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

275. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if Bord Bia has applied for an increase in funding for 2020; if so, the amount requested; when the application will be decided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40486/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Funding requests and financial allocations for 2020 for all of the State Bodies under the aegis of my Department, including Bord Bia, will be considered in the context of my Department's Vote within Budget 2020 and will be announced in due course.

National Broadband Plan Expenditure

Questions (276)

Michael McGrath

Question:

276. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the estimated cost of the national broadband plan; the amount paid to date; the expected amount that will be paid between now and the completion of the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40400/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The goal of the National Broadband Plan intervention is to engage a company to build, operate and maintain a high speed broadband network in order to provide access to high speed broadband services to every home, farm, school and business in Ireland – no matter where they are located. Since the Government’s decision on 7 May 2019 to approve the appointment of a preferred bidder to the National Broadband Plan, work has continued to finalise a contract with the preferred bidder, including the finalisation of financial and legal documents. The deployment of the NBP State Intervention network will commence shortly after the contract is concluded with the preferred bidder.

The Bidder has indicated that the NBP State intervention will take an estimated 7 years from the beginning of deployment and in the first year of roll out, the Bidder will deploy approximately 300 Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) across all counties. BCPs will provide a community based high speed broadband service, enhancing online participation and allowing for the establishment of digital work hubs in these locations. The Bidder is aiming to pass 133,000 premises at the end of the second year, with 70-100,000 passed each year thereafter until roll out is completed.

The procurement process has determined that the maximum cost to the State over the 25 year term of the project will be €2.1bn, excluding VAT of €355m and contingency of €480m. The total spend to date on the procurement process and subsequent evaluation of tenders is €28,235,975 (including VAT).

While work continues on finalising the contract and in parallel to this work, I am considering the recommendations of the Joint Oireachtas Communications Committee report which was published recently. I will bring my deliberations of the report to Government in due course.

Inland Fisheries Ireland

Questions (277, 279, 280)

Imelda Munster

Question:

277. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment further to Parliamentary Question No. 2242 of 23 July 2019, if there are third-party completed expressions of interest in the 2019 funding call for instream fishery enhancement works through the midlands permit fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40184/19]

View answer

Imelda Munster

Question:

279. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment further to Parliamentary Question No. 2244 of 23 July 2019, his views on whether Inland Fisheries Ireland will undertake instream fishery enhancement works for brown trout in 2020 in view of the fact the anticipated source of funding for the 2020 instream fishery enhancement programme is coming from the salmon and seatrout rehabilitation, conservation and protection scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40186/19]

View answer

Imelda Munster

Question:

280. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if funding has been awarded to expressions of interest for 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40187/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 277, 279 and 280 together.

As previously indicated in response to questions tabled by the Deputy project applications are made to Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) under funding schemes within National Strategy for Angling Development (NSAD) which opened earlier this year.

I am advised by IFI that projects are in the final step of the process and awaiting IFI Board approval in line with the process for administering the funding schemes. I also understand that there is one completed third party project application to the Midland Fisheries Fund.

I would expect that details of projects that have been successful in their applications to Inland Fisheries Ireland in 2019 and have been approved by the Board will be notified to my Department and I will be happy will to announce details of the projects shortly.

Sustainable funding schemes available to IFI for disbursement include the Salmon and Sea Trout Rehabilitation, Conservation and Protection Fund, due to the State through the sale of salmon and sea trout licences and the Midland Fisheries Fund, gathered through the sale of permits in the midland fisheries area. Some 50% of this State funding is made available for works related to the funds. The Midland Fisheries Fund does facilitate in-stream fisheries enhancement work in trout fisheries and I understand that works undertaken to improve habitat for salmon and sea trout also benefit other salmonid species.

The Salmon and Sea Trout Rehabilitation, Conservation and Protection Fund is confined to these species in respect of which a licence fee is required. A further sustainable funding mechanism to fund projects related to trout and other species nationally could be considered to if there were similar requirements for those species.

The IFI budget for 2020 has yet to be finalised and I am advised that IFI allocate budget to priority works across the country. IFI has previously undertaken lagarosiphon weed control and stock management in the Western Lakes and is working on the Owenriff for example, and these initiatives are expected to continue.

Inland Fisheries Ireland

Questions Nos. 279 and 280 answered with Question No. 277.

Questions (278)

Imelda Munster

Question:

278. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment further to Parliamentary Question No. 2245 of 23 July 2019, if he will provide a report of the instream fishery enhancement work carried out under the Inland Fisheries Ireland and OPW memorandum of understanding in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40185/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Communications)

The memorandum of 2018 entitled Environmental River Enhancement Programme (EREP) relates to the Shared Service Agreement between the OPW and IFI. This umbrella title covers various series of scientific and habitat management investigations in arterially drained rivers, commenced in 2008. The EREP is the successor to the Environmental Drainage Maintenance or EDM Programme, involving a series of shared studies by OPW and IFI. The EREP, as with the EDM, has undergone significant development and transformation during the period since its inception in 2008. The Shared Service Agreement of 2018 set out a priority, within EREP, of an essential greater focus on scientific investigations within an emphasis on Water Framework Directive (WFD) requirements.

The investigations undertaken in 2018 covered a range of issues, completing a detailed 2-year examination of fish, habitat and barriers in the Inny catchment, continuing a programme of long-term monitoring of sites previously examined in the 1990s, examining options for OPW in regard to management of old channel meanders and of gravel traps among other priorities.

The Shared Service Agreement identified that a number of proposals could be examined annually within EREP in the context of river enhancement. It was also agreed by OPW and IFI that, in line with the WFD, the status of any waterbody where river enhancement works might be proposed would be assessed in advance of undertaking any works.

Waterbody status is assessed under WFD and an Ecological Quality Ratio or EQR is allocated. This is a WFD management process and the EQR identifies if a waterbody is in HIGH, GOOD, MODERATE, POOR or BAD status. Sites identified as being in HIGH or GOOD status are deemed not to require further ‘intervention’ to improve status. The Agreement identified that detailed EQR data would be collected for fish community and for habitat in any waters where works were being proposed, in advance of any determination to proceed.

It is, therefore, a priority that the scientific evidence gathering process, underpinning proposed works, should be advanced and completed before any determination on proceeding with works is finalised. In that regard, and in view of the commencement of the current Shared Service Agreement in 2018, thus far work has concentrated on the essential data gathering element agreed under EREP.

Questions Nos. 279 and 280 answered with Question No. 277.