Question No. 349 answered with Question No. 346.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme

Questions (350)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

350. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if organic farmers will be permitted to join the new REPS; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7771/21]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Programme for Government commits to rewarding farmers for adapting to more sustainable methods of farming and to the development of a new agri-environment scheme capable of delivering broad environmental and biodiversity benefits that will align financial supports with climate objectives. To advance this objective, funding has been made available for an agri-environment pilot project. It is proposed to do this as a results-based project in order to align it with the principles of the next CAP.

While the pilot will aim to test the results based model in a national context, it will also serve to broaden the number of farmers undertaking agri-environment actions and will not be open to farmers who participate in GLAS, Organics or are currently in an agri-environment scheme.

To inform the development of the project, a public consultation was recently launched and will remain open until 26th February. Final decisions on the structure and content of the pliot will be made after the public consultation process. A summary overview document and the online consulation survey are available at gov.ie - Public Consultation on Proposed Agri-Environment Results Based Pilot Project (www.gov.ie).

Goat Census

Questions (351)

Brian Leddin

Question:

351. Deputy Brian Leddin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of goats reared in Ireland; the number of goat farms and average herd size; the way in which these farms are regulated and inspected; the way in which animal welfare standards are monitored and enforced; the number of male kids killed each year; the age at which they were killed; the locations at which they are killed; the destination of carcasses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7779/21]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The rules on the registration and identification of goats across the EU are governed by Council Regulation 21/2004, as transposed into national legislation via S.I. 792/2005 (as amended). These rules are implemented through the National Goat Identification System (NGIS). The NGIS sets out the rules and keeper responsibilities in the areas of goat herd registration, animal identification, the notification of animal movements, record keeping and census completion.

As required under the EU legislation, my Department conducts an annual goat census, generally in December each year. Data from the 2019 Goat Census show a national goat population of 8,774 with an avergage herd size of 13 at that time.

General enforcement of welfare and other legislation relevant to the keeping of goats is undertaken through my Department's Regional Office network, where Department personnel have local knowledge of the registered holdings in a given area.

In accordance with cross compliance requirements, my Department carries out a number of inspections on goat identification and registration at individual farm level each year. These inspections involve checks on animal identification (tagging), dispatch (movement) documents, annual census information as well as checks on data recorded on my Department's Animal Identification and Movement (AIM) database and in the keeper's flock register. These checks ensure compliance with the identification and registration legislation. Where welfare issues are observed during an inspection, sanctions can be recorded against the relevant keeper.

Goats are not slaughtered at DAFM approved slaughter plants but at Local Authority (LA) approved abattoirs. The AIM database records the movement of 692 goats to LA abattoirs in 2020. However, the specific slaughter information requested is not recorded in my Department.

Animal Welfare

Questions (352)

Gary Gannon

Question:

352. Deputy Gary Gannon asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the standards in place for dog shelters, pounds and facilities; the evidence on which these standards are based; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7797/21]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

Under the Control of Dogs Act 1986 (as amended), local authorities have responsibility for the management of dog pounds. This legislation falls under the Department of Rural and Community Development.

The responsibility for the inspection of Dog Pounds falls to the appropriate local authority veterinary inspectorate.

Separately, my Department provides annual funding in support of a number of welfare organisations, some of which include dog rescue facilities. As part of this funding process, Veterinary Inspectors from my Department undertake inspections of all these organisations and facilities to ensure appropriate standards are met. Details of the Terms and Conditions associated with these funding supports are available at

https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/e881c-animal-welfare/#funding-to-animal-welfare-organisations

Animal Welfare

Questions (353)

Gary Gannon

Question:

353. Deputy Gary Gannon asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of complaints his Department received regarding animal welfare in publicly funded facilities between January 2017 and December 2020; the counties in which the facilities were located; and the nature of these complaints. [7798/21]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

My Department follows up on all complaints and notifications received concerning animal welfare. Many of these calls come in through the Animal Welfare Helpline where members of the public can contact my officials by phone or via a dedicated email address AnimalWelfare@agriculture.gov.ie.

Investigations are carried out by officers authorised under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013, who may be officials of my Department, members of An Garda Síochána, Customs and Excise or authorised officers of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. In addition, the Chief Executive of each Local Authority may appoint authorised officers to exercise functions under the Act in the functional area of the Local Authority concerned.

Reports concern a wide range of species and while some issues can be addressed relatively easily in collaboration with the owner or keeper of the animals concerned, there have been over 100 prosecutions since the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 came into operation in March 2014.

Attached below are statistics on the number of complaints received by my Department through this Helpline, by county for the years 2017 to 2020:

AWC 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020

Animal Sales

Questions (354, 355)

Gary Gannon

Question:

354. Deputy Gary Gannon asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the amount spent by his Department in 2020 on communication and education for rules on the sale or supply of pet animals which came into effect on 1 February 2020 under the Animal Health and Welfare (Sale or Supply of Pet Animals) Regulations 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7799/21]

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Gary Gannon

Question:

355. Deputy Gary Gannon asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of sellers and suppliers under the register of sellers and suppliers of pet animals; the number of premises under the register of premises; and if there has been a noted increase since the Animal Health and Welfare (Sale or Supply of Pet Animals) Regulations 2019 were brought in. [7800/21]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 354 and 355 together.

The Animal Health and Welfare (Sale or Supply of Pet Animals) Regulations (SI 681 of 2019) came into effect on 1st February 2020. To date, 318 sellers and suppliers have been entered on the Register of Sellers and Suppliers of Pet Animals in that intervening period and their premises have been entered on the Register of Premises. Extracts from the Registers (name of seller or supplier, registration number and the county of the premises used in connection with the sale and supply of pets) will be published on the Gov.ie website on 15th February.

These registrations are additional to those premises registered as Dog Breeding Establishments under that legislation.

My Department sent comprehensive information about the new Regulations to pet shops and animal welfare charities in receipt of ex gratia payments from my Department in early 2020. My Department also issued a press release on this subject, and placed an ad about the Regulations in the Irish Independent on 1st February 2020.

My Department has also published guidance on the regulations, and guidance for prospective pet owners, on Gov.ie (https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/d3af4-new-rules-on-the-sale-supply-and-advertising-of-pet-animals/).

Fishing Industry

Questions (356)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

356. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps he plans to take in EU fishery discussions now and into the future to ensure that Ireland gets a proper and equitable share of Ireland’s maritime natural fish resources, particularly an equitable share of migratory and straddling fish stocks that breed, spawn, feed and grow in Irish waters as defined by international law; if he will seek to have the principle of zonal attachment applied to the share-out of these stocks in Irish waters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7809/21]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The share allocation of stocks between Member States was established as a principle of the first Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) in 1983 and was based on the average catch of each Member State over a period of reference years (track record). The only exception to this relates to the Hague Preferences, on the basis of a special recognition agreement of the underdeveloped nature of the Irish fleet and the heavy control responsibility on us when Ireland joined the EU. The Hague Preferences give Ireland an increased share of traditional stocks (cod, whiting, haddock, sole and plaice) when TAC levels fall below a specified level.

Any change to the existing system of quota allocations would require a majority of Member States to agree under the qualified majority voting system. This would require other Member States to give up existing quota shares. Any change to relative stability would involve a loss for some other Member States and therefore poses particular challenges in a qualified majority voting context.

The CFP is reviewed every 10 years and the next review is scheduled to be completed by 31 December 2022 when the European Commission will report to the European Parliament and the Council on the functioning of the CFP. The review is expected to be detailed and comprehensive. At EU level, it is expected that all stakeholders will have an opportunity to engage actively in the review work including the fishing industry, eNGOs and Member States.

I will consider how Ireland will prepare for and participate actively and effectively in the upcoming review of the CFP, including the interaction with stakeholders, to prepare Ireland's case and identify priorities. I have previously stated that I am committed to using all opportunities including through the review of the CFP to secure additional quota shares where possible for Irish fishers.

Community Development Projects

Questions (357)

Alan Dillon

Question:

357. Deputy Alan Dillon asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the funding opportunities within her Department for an organisation (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7601/21]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

The Government is aware of the challenges facing community and voluntary organisations and is committed to working closely with the sector in managing through these, recognising that it will require a whole of Government approach.

In 2020, my Department provided support through the €45m COVID 19 Stability Fund for organisations in the Community and Voluntary Sector, Charities and Social Enterprises. The Fund was intended to be a targeted once-off cash injection for organisations and groups delivering critical front-line services to the most at need in our society and in danger of imminent closure due to lost fund-raised or traded income as a direct result of restrictions to counter the spread of COVID-19.

Funding of €44m has been approved to just under 600 organisations to date and the payment processes for this funding remain ongoing. While the Stability Fund is now closed for further applications, a very small number of organisations remain engaged in an appeals process. I can confirm the organisation in question did engage in that process but unfortunately were unsuccessful.

My Department will continue to work with relevant stakeholders, including the Community and Voluntary sector, Local Authorities and Local Development Companies, to support community organisations across the country as they deal with the ongoing and emerging challenges presented by COVID-19. I would encourage all groups, including the one in question, to also engage with their Local Authority and Local Development Company so that they are aware of funding opportunities as they become available.

Information on all funding available through my Department can be found on my Department's website

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Questions (358)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

358. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development when the additional funding of €10 million announced before Christmas 2020 for the Covid-19 emergency fund for community and voluntary groups will be rolled out; if there will be a new application process for this funding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7698/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Rural)

The Government is aware of the challenges facing community and voluntary organisations and is committed to working closely with the sector in managing through these, recognising that it will require a whole of Government approach.

The Community and Voluntary Sector COVID-19 Stability Fund was intended to be a targeted once-off cash injection for organisations and groups currently delivering critical front-line services to the most at need in our society and in danger of imminent closure due to lost fund-raised or traded income as a direct result of restrictions to counter the spread of COVID-19. The criteria of the scheme stated that any grants awarded would be dependent on the need identified and organisations approved for funding were prioritised on that basis.

This fund is providing up to €45million of funding through the Dormant Accounts Fund (DAF) and the criteria aligned with DAF objectives to support:

1. The personal and social development of persons who are economically or socially disadvantaged; or

2. The educational development of persons who are educationally disadvantaged; or

3. Persons with a disability.

My Department received 1,060 applications during the application periods. To date, funding of just under €44 million, including the additional €10M in funding announced during Budget 2021, has been allocated to c. 600 organisations.

When the Stability Fund was initially established, it was envisaged that social restrictions would be in place for a limited period and grant levels allocated were based on this assumption. It was subsequently necessary to reintroduce restrictions and in this context the majority of organisations that were approved for funding under the Stability Fund received a top-up grant. This was to support them as they continue to deal with the impact of the COVID-19 restrictions on their ability to trade and fundraise normally.

This funding is now supporting the delivery of many critical front line services in every part of the country. Though the fund is now closed to new applications, a very small number of organisations continue to engage in the appeals process. Outcomes of these appeals will be communicated on an individual basis as decisions are finalised.

My Department will continue to work with relevant stakeholders, including the Community and Voluntary sector, Local Authorities and Local Development Companies, to support community organisations across the country as they deal with the ongoing and emerging challenges presented by COVID-19. I would encourage all groups to engage with their Local Authority and Local Development Company so that they are aware of funding opportunities as they become available.

Information on all funding available through my Department can be found on my Department's website

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (359)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

359. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the carry-over of unspent capital from 2020 to 2021 approved by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for her Department; the Departmental subheads to which this applies; the amount in each case; the reason the capital was not spent in 2020; the steps being taken to ensure there will not be a similar underspend in 2021; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7729/21]

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Written answers (Question to Rural)

The Further Revised Estimates for the Department of Rural and Community Development provided a gross capital allocation of €168.7 million for 2020. Provisional capital outturn amounted to €154.3 million, representing a saving of €15.4 million. €13.18 million of this has been carried over for use in 2021, ensuring that the funding is available to support projects this year. Table 1 below gives a breakdown of the subheads to which this amount applies.

The main reason for these savings was that the COVID-19 pandemic and the necessary public health restrictions that were imposed across all sectors of society, including the construction industry, impacted on the progress of projects in 2020. This resulted in lower levels of capital spend in 2020 than originally anticipated.

My Department monitors the activity across all programme areas on an ongoing basis to ensure that maximum expenditure is achieved and that rural areas and our communities benefit from the investments provided through our programmes. This ongoing monitoring will continue during 2021 with a view to identifying, at the earliest opportunity, any potential issues which could impact on programme delivery and ensuring that available funding put to best use.

Capital expenditure by my Department has increased from €95.1m in 2018 to €137.9m in 2019 and up to €154.3m in 2020, demonstrating the strong growth in investment in rural and community development in recent years.

Table 1

Subhead

Amount of Capital carryover for 2021

A.7 Rural Regeneration & Development

€11.78m

A.8 Islands

€1.4m

Total

€13.18m