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Tuesday, 6 Oct 2020

Written Answers Nos. 313-327

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (313)

Paul Kehoe

Question:

313. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht the advice and position of sporting clubs and organisations in County Dublin to travel outside of the county to participate and play sport while the county is in phase three of Living with Covid-19 National Framework; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28385/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Media)

Under Level 3 of the Government’s Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with Covid-19, no matches or sports events are permitted other than those which are specifically exempted under the Recovery and Resilience Plan. The exemption applies countrywide to elite and professional sport, inter-county GAA, ladies football or camogie matches and any national senior club championships that are already underway. Senior in this context is to be understood as meaning adult. Where these exempted events are taking place in a county operating at Level 3, they must be held behind closed doors with no spectators permitted. The sporting bodies have also been encouraged to postpone or reschedule events and fixtures impacted by a county or region moving beyond Level 2, where possible.

Domestic travel guidance in the Recovery and Resilience Plan states that for Level 3 counties, people should stay in the county apart from work, education and other essential purposes, if appropriate. Travelling outside a Level 3 county to participate in or spectate at matches or sports events is generally not permitted. However, for those individuals and teams who are in an exempted category, it is permitted to travel to participate in a match or sport event. Persons who travel for this purpose are strongly encouraged to avoid all social contacts and to minimise their personal contacts outside the field of play.

As the statutory body with responsibility for the development of sport, Sport Ireland has issued guidance to the sport sector on the practical implications for sport of the various Covid-19 restrictions that have been introduced to date. The guidance issued by Sport Ireland is informed by and aligned with public health guidance developed by the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive.

Sports Capital Programme

Questions (314)

Paul McAuliffe

Question:

314. Deputy Paul McAuliffe asked the Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht when the sports capital grant scheme funding rounds will be opened in 2020 and 2021; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28571/20]

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Written answers (Question to Media)

The Sports Capital Programme (SCP) is the primary vehicle for Government support for the development of sports and recreation facilities and the purchase of non-personal sports equipment throughout the country. The Programme for Government commits to continuing the SCP and to prioritise the investment in disadvantaged areas.

The most recent (2018) round of the SCP attracted a record 2,337 applications. Allocations were announced in January, May and November of last year with a total of over €56 million awarded to 1,648 different projects. All unsuccessful applicants were given the opportunity to appeal the Department’s decision. In relation to the capital grants announced in November, a total of 122 appeals were submitted by the December deadline. The review of these appeals was completed in April with 6 new allocations approved.

The priority to date this year has been to advance all projects previously allocated funding to ensure the facilities are available for use and that the relevant grants are drawn down. In this regard, over €20m has been paid out to over 800 different sports clubs and groups so far this year.

With regard to future rounds of the programme, a full Review of the 2018 round of the SCP has now been completed and the terms and conditions of the next round of the programme will be based on the recommendations in the Review. Work on these terms and conditions is now being finalised and an announcement in relation to the timing of the next round will be made after that is completed.

Departmental Data

Questions (315)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

315. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht the cost to her Department to date of all fines paid by Ireland for non-transposition of EU directives into Irish law; the breakdown, by directive of the lump sum cost and the daily cost of each fine; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28615/20]

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Written answers (Question to Media)

I am advised that my Department is not subject to any EU fines for non-transposition of EU directives into Irish law and has not incurred any costs in this regard during 2019 or to date in 2020.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (316)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

316. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht the level of additional expenditure in 2021, in comparison to 2020, disaggregated by precommitted expenditure, such as demographics, PSSA and so on, Covid-19 related expenditure and Brexit-related expenditure; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28740/20]

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Written answers (Question to Media)

The overall spending allocations for my Department for 2021 will be announced as part of Budget Estimates 2021, which are due to be published on Tuesday, 13 October. As budgetary negotiations are ongoing I am not in a position to comment in any detail on the expenditure that may be included in my Department's 2021 budget allocation.

Sports Capital Programme

Questions (317)

Robert Troy

Question:

317. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht if a capital sports grant appeal by a club (details supplied) will be examined. [28837/20]

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Written answers (Question to Media)

The Sports Capital Programme (SCP) is the primary vehicle for Government support for the development of sports and recreation facilities and the purchase of non-personal sports equipment throughout the country. The Programme for Government commits to continuing the SCP and to prioritise the investment in disadvantaged areas.

The organisation referred to by the Deputy submitted an application under the 2018 round of the SCP. Due to the high level of demand, the bottom scoring 25% of applications in each county were not considered for funding and unfortunately the application from the club in question was not recommended for a grant. The club was informed of the detail of their assessment score and invited to appeal if it was felt that my Department had made a mistake in the assessment. The organisation submitted an appeal which was considered by officials not involved in the original assessment. No changes were recommended on foot of the appeal and the club was informed of this in April 2020.

The appeal's process has now closed for the 2018 SCP and no further appeals are being accepted. It is expected that a new round of the SCP will be open for applications in the near future and it will be open for the club in question to again apply for funding. In this regard, all registered organisations will be contacted directly informing them of the dates when applications will be accepted.

Departmental Contracts

Questions (318)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

318. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht if she has engaged a third-party company in each of the years 2017 to 2019 and to date in 2020 to conduct online and or social media monitoring and or provide reports on social media coverage of her Department; if so, the cost of same; and if the name of the social media platforms being monitored will be provided. [28922/20]

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Written answers (Question to Media)

I have been informed by officials in my Department that no third-party company has been engaged in social media monitoring and, therefore, no expenditure was incurred in relation to social media monitoring in each of the years 2017 to date in 2020. As outlined in a previous reply to Question No. 1113 if 16 June 2020, such work is carried out inhouse by the communications team in the Department, albeit to keep abreast of the level of engagement/reach on the Department's own posts on its own social media platforms.

In relation to monitoring of online media, as outlined in a previous reply to Question No. 88 of 30 September from the Deputy, media monitoring of coverage relating to my Department is carried out on national and regional print and online publications as well as broadcast channels in the Republic of Ireland. This service was provided by Kantar Media from 2017 until February 2020, when the service transferred to LFMI Media/Rue Point Media. Newspaper Licensing Ireland (UK service) provides access to UK based publications.

The information sought by the Deputy in relation to expenditure on media monitoring of the years 2017 to 2019 and to date in 2020 from my Department's administrative budget is set out below, the figures include monitoring of national, regional print publications as well as online publications.

Year

2017

12,093

2018

11,159

2019

13,860

2020

5,263

Total

42,375

Cost is a primary consideration in all decisions related to expenditure on media monitoring.

Departmental Data

Questions (319)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

319. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht the number of staff in her Department on sick leave between March and September by month in 2019 and to date 2020; the pay arrangements that exist for staff on sick leave for an extended period of time; the number of sick days accounted for by her Department over the period; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [28940/20]

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Written answers (Question to Media)

Data supplied to my Department on the Human Resources reporting system is still aligned to the former Department of Culture Heritage and the Gaeltacht. The information is supplied for that Department over the periods in question. It is expected that the Human Resources reporting system for the new Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media will be available later this month once all transferring staff have been reassigned on the National Shared Service Office reporting systems.

The information requested by the Deputy is set out hereunder in tabular format. The data is aggregated and there were varying lengths of absence depending on individual circumstances.

MONTH

YEAR

No of Staff on Sick Leave

No. of Sick Leave Days

March

2019

75

800

2020

60

678

April

2019

71

664

2020

25

492

May

2019

80

777

2020

25

412

June

2019

73

737

2020

27

442

July

2019

77

788

2020

34

492

August

2019

74

812

2020

27

342

September

2019

91

786

2020

26

358

The administrative arrangements for paid sick leave for civil servants are set out in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform Circular 05/2018: Arrangements for Paid Sick Leave, which is available on the DPER website www.circulars.gov.ie.

Wildlife Protection

Questions (320, 322, 329, 330, 361)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

320. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the an Aire Tithíochta, Rialtais Áitiúil agus Oidhreachta the proposal in respect of the seal culling scheme that was recently announced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28315/20]

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Richard Bruton

Question:

322. Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if a proposal to initiate a cull of seals has been considered by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28743/20]

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Catherine Murphy

Question:

329. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the reason for allowing the method of culling seals with high velocity rifles; if all other non-lethal options were considered in relation to the management of seal rookeries; and if a full biodiversity and environmental impact assessment was conducted in relation to the consequences of issuing licences. [28198/20]

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Róisín Shortall

Question:

330. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage his views on the serious environmental and animal welfare concerns raised in relation to the planned pilot seal culling programme by which wild seals will by shot in the sea from boats; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28200/20]

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Seán Haughey

Question:

361. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if he plans to issue licences for seal culls in the near future; if so, the reasons for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28744/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 320, 322, 329, 330 and 361 together.

Neither I nor my Department has any plans to undertake a cull of seals, nor would I agree to it.

Both species of seal in Irish waters - the Harbour or Common Seal and the more numerous Grey Seal - are protected under the EU Habitats Directive. Ireland is obliged to maintain their populations at favourable conservation status. We are also required to monitor these species and report to the European Commission on their conservation status. A standardised monitoring programme has been in place for both since 2009. The most recent report on their conservation status was submitted to the European Commission in April 2019 and is available on the NPWS website (https://www.npws.ie/sites/default/files/publications/pdf/NPWS_2019_Vol3_Species_Article17.pdf ). Both species are assessed as being at favourable conservation status.

Section 42 of the Wildlife Act, 1976 (as amended) provides, inter alia, that where protected wild animals or birds are causing serious damage, persons affected may on application to the Minister seek a permission to take appropriate steps to mitigate the damage. A very small number of such applications in a given year will concern seal damage.

Applications are investigated by local staff to determine if serious damage is being caused and if so the most practical method of controlling the problem. Consideration of the license applications made under Section 42 includes reference to any conservation issues facing the protected species in question. Applications under this section normally involve very small numbers of animals and an environmental impact assessment is not required to issue licenses.

My colleague, the Minister of State, Deputy Malcolm Noonan, will be writing to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Bord Iascaigh Mhara to arrange a meeting to discuss seal conservation and problems for fishermen from seal damage on fishing nets.

Furthermore, I understand that the Irish Seal Group has been re-established and is to meet online in mid-October. The group includes the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department, the Irish Seal Sanctuary, the Irish South & West Fish Producer’s Organisation, the National Inshore Fisheries Forum, BIM and marine mammal researchers from UCC. It will be chaired by the Marine Institute.

The group's main focus will be to agree, where possible, joint research and other recommendations to progress and address the seal-fisheries conflict issues.

Planning Issues

Question No. 322 answered with Question No. 320.

Questions (321)

John McGuinness

Question:

321. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the outcome of the review by his Department of the decision of the European Court of Justice known as the Flemish decree; if the ruling of the ECJ will be reflected in the plans of his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28496/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Under the Guidelines for Planning Authorities on Sustainable Rural Housing 2005, planning authorities are required to frame the planning policies in their development plans in a balanced and measured way that ensures the housing needs of rural communities are met, while avoiding excessive urban-generated housing.

The National Planning Framework (the NPF) provides an important strategic basis for interpreting the 2005 Guidelines. National Policy Objective (NPO) 15 of the NPF fully supports the concept of the sustainable development of rural areas by encouraging growth and arresting decline in areas that have experienced low population growth or decline in recent decades, while simultaneously indicating the need to manage certain areas around cities and towns.

The 2005 Sustainable Rural Housing Guidelines are framed in the context of the National Spatial Strategy (NSS) 2002. Given the superseding of the NSS by the National Planning Framework (NPF) in 2018, together with the long-standing need to address the implications of the 2013 European Court of Justice ruling in the "Flemish Decree" case, the Sustainable Rural Housing Guidelines require updating, in a broader rural development and settlement context. My Department has commenced scoping this work and I expect a draft by the end of this year.

In the interim, the NPF objectives together with the 2005 Guidelines, enable planning authorities to continue to draft and adopt county development plan policies for one-off housing in rural areas.

Question No. 322 answered with Question No. 320.

River Basin Management Plans

Questions (323)

Denis Naughten

Question:

323. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the number of farmers that participated in the Shannon Callows farm plan scheme; the cost of the scheme in each year in which it operated; if consideration is being given to re-establish the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28079/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department recognises the positive role that farming can play in managing and restoring biodiversity. The National Parks and Wildlife Service Farm Plan Scheme operates nationally, targeting various habitats and species by working proactively with farmers.

While there is no specific ‘Shannon Callows Farm Plan Scheme’, a number of farmers in the Shannon Callows have participated in the wider NPWS Farm Plan Scheme, with the objective of managing proactively for species-rich meadows, Corncrake and breeding waders.

The number of farmers that participated in the NPWS Farm Plan Scheme in the Shannon Callows each year since 2007, and the total annual payment made to those NPWS Farm Plan Scheme participants, is detailed in following tabular format.

Year

Number of Plans in Shannon Callows

Payment (€)

2007

86

89,521

2008

120

290,013

2009

129

393,339

2010

131

405,168

2011

131

442,689

2012

131

442,689

2013

46

192,196

2014

19

74,937

2015

9

34,736

2016

2

17,350

2017

3

20,592

2018

3

21,416

2019

3

18,159

2020

3*

16,226

*12 plans in development

Although the budget available for the NPWS Farm Plan Scheme was restricted in 2010, all existing farm plan contracts at that time were honoured. There are currently 12 new NPWS Farm Plans being designed for farmers in the Shannon Callows.

Subject to the availability of exchequer funding, it is anticipated that the NPWS Farm Plan Scheme would be expanded in the coming years.

Land Issues

Questions (324)

Jackie Cahill

Question:

324. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage if the historical 25” ordinance survey map for folio No. WD1515 is conclusive proof of the boundary of this folio number; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28101/20]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

I am advised that with regard to the description of registered land on the current Property Registration Authority map and also for all registrations mapped on historical 25” Ordnance Survey maps predating the digitisation of the map record, Section 85 of the Registration of Title Act 1964, as amended by Section 62 of the Registration of Deeds and Title Act 2006, provides as follows:

“Except as provided by this Act, neither the description of land in a register nor its identification by reference to a registry map is conclusive as to its boundaries or extent.”

Urban Regeneration and Development Fund

Questions (325)

Cian O'Callaghan

Question:

325. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the status of Dublin City Council's application under Call 2 of the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund for works in the Clongriffin, Belmayne area, including a feasibility study for a greenway along the River Mayne corridor; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28110/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

Under Call 2 of the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF), seventy six proposals were received, with every local authority submitting at least one application for URDF support. Dublin City Council submitted four applications, including the proposal for Clongriffin/Belmayne.

Because of the nature of the URDF programme the proposals are very complex, and each will require detailed assessment.

The assessment process is presently under way. It is intended that a new tranche of approved proposals, which will augment the existing pipeline of projects from Call 1 and contribute to the achievement of Programme for Government commitments and the objectives of the National Planning Framework and Project Ireland 2040, will be announced later in the year.

Emergency Accommodation

Questions (326)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

326. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the estimated full year cost of providing emergency accommodation for homeless persons and families in 2019 and to date in 2020; and the estimated cost for 2021, including all supports paid to local authorities and subsidies to third-party providers. [28116/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

My Department's role in relation to homelessness involves the provision of a national framework of policy, legislation and funding to underpin the statutory role of housing authorities in addressing homelessness at local level.

My Department does not fund any homeless service directly but provides funding to housing authorities towards these costs. Under the funding arrangements, housing authorities must provide at least 10% of the cost of services from their own resources. Housing authorities may also incur additional expenditure on homeless related services outside of these funding arrangements with my Department. Therefore, the exact amounts spent by housing authorities on homeless services, as well as the types of accommodation are a matter for the individual housing authorities.

Exchequer funding for homeless services is provided through my Department to housing authorities on a regional basis. The following table sets out the funding recouped to housing authorities on a regional basis for 2019. The Exchequer allocation for homeless services in 2020 is €196m, which is €50 million or 34% higher than 2019. The budget for 2021 will be agreed in the context of the Estimates process.

Region

Exchequer funding provided in 2019

Dublin

€120.7m

Mid-East

€ 5.53m

Midland

€ 2.81m

Mid-West

€ 7.56m

North-East

€ 3.68m

North-West

€ 0.67m

South-East

€ 4.55m

South-West

€ 12.05m

West

€ 7.45m

Financial reports from each of the regions, setting out expenditure on homeless services, including emergency accommodation are published on my Department's website at the following link: https://www.housing.gov.ie/housing/homelessness/other/homelessness-data.

EU Directives

Questions (327)

Joe O'Brien

Question:

327. Deputy Joe O'Brien asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage the details of fines issued to the State under Annex V of the European Habitats Directive regarding the conservation of the Irish hare, lepus timidus hibernicus; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28130/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Housing)

No fines have been issued to the State in relation to conservation of the Irish hare or under the Habitats Directive, in that respect.

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