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Tuesday, 14 Dec 2021

Written Answers Nos. 520-537

Question No. 520 answered with Question No. 508.

Question No. 521 answered with Question No. 508.

Question No. 522 answered with Question No. 508.

Immigration Status

Questions (523)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

523. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice the residency status of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [61915/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The person referred to by the Deputy was granted a five-year residence card on 4 April 2016, valid to 3 April 2021. As noted in the approval letter issued at the time, the person was advised when applying for a Permanent Residence Card at the end of the five-year period, to submit an application six months before the expiry date of the Residence Card. To date, no application for a Permanent Residence Card has been received by the EU Treaty Rights Division of my Department.

The EU Treaty Rights Division received a letter from the person referred to on 30 August 2019, which was acknowledged by my Department on 9 September 2019.

It is open to the person referred to by the Deputy to submit an application for a Permanent Residence Card. This can be applied for by completing and submitting Form EU3 by registered post to the EU Treaty Rights Division of my Department.

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to my Department by e-mail using the Oireachtas Mail facility (inisoireachtasmail@justice.ie), which has been specifically established for this purpose. This service enables up to date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek information by way of the Parliamentary Questions process. The Deputy may consider using the e-mail service except in cases where the response is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.

An Garda Síochána

Questions (524)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

524. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Justice if Garda recruitment will take place in January 2022; if not, if recruitment will be held later; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [61929/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware the Garda Commissioner is responsible under the law for the administration and management of An Garda Síochána, including by arranging for the recruitment, training and appointment of its members. As Minister, I have no direct role in the matter.

As the Deputy will be aware, public health restrictions have unavoidably impacted on intakes to the Garda College, Templemore, particularly in 2020. I am advised, however, that the College resumed intakes earlier this year and that four intakes of a total of 385 recruits have commenced training, the most recent of which was on 15 November 2021.

I am advised by the Garda authorities that the dates for the 2022 Garda recruitment competition are currently being finalised. Budget 2022 provides for the recruitment of up to 800 additional Gardaí next year as part of the unprecedented allocation of in excess of €2 billion to An Garda Síochána.

Private Security Authority

Questions (525)

Neasa Hourigan

Question:

525. Deputy Neasa Hourigan asked the Minister for Justice the progress on her plans in relation to implementing new training, licensing and standards requirements for private security contractors enforcing evictions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [61960/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Private Security Authority, established under the Private Security Services Act 2004, as amended, is responsible for the licensing and regulation of the private security industry in the State.

The Authority is an independent statutory body under the aegis of my Department.

Following the enactment of the Private Security Services (Amendment) Act 2021, which provided for the regulation of enforcement guards, the Authority established a working group to develop the requirements for licensing. The working group, comprising representatives of security industry employees and employers, An Garda Síochána, auditing bodies, training providers and security contractors will develop the necessary standards and training.

The initial focus of the working group has been on the requirements for contractors working as enforcement guards and the working group has developed a standard for the sector which is now out for public consultation until 6 January.

The work on the training requirements for employees has begun, however this work is more complex and will take some time to complete. The training course will be accredited by Quality Qualifications Ireland (QQI) and form part of the National Framework of Qualifications.

It is the intention of the Authority to license contractors working in the sector in the first quarter of 2022 using the new standard. A decision on whether to license employees at the same time using an existing license category pending completion of the training development is currently under consideration by the Authority.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (526)

Louise O'Reilly

Question:

526. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Justice the reason staff working in the Legal Aid Board are being requested to work on site in contravention of Government guidance that those who can work from home should work from home; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [61971/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Legal Aid Board is the statutory, independent body responsible for the provision of civil legal aid and advice to persons of modest means, in accordance with the relevant criteria and provisions of the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995. Section 3(3) of The Civil Legal Aid Act 1995 states that "the Board shall, subject to the provisions of this Act, be independent in the exercise of its functions". The Deputy will appreciate that I have no responsibility for staffing or operational matters under the remit of the Board.

The public health advice issued by Government on 16 November 2021, states that “everyone should revert to working from home unless it is necessary to attend the workplace in person”.

It is a matter for the Legal Aid Board, like all employers in the State, to determine how it operates its workplace in line with this guidance.

Residency Permits

Questions (527)

Gary Gannon

Question:

527. Deputy Gary Gannon asked the Minister for Justice if the temporary extension on immigration permissions until 15 January 2022 allows for those with temporary extension to be able to travel outside of Ireland and return on the expired work permit stamp and the Irish residence permit card (details supplied). [62005/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

On 15 November, I announced that persons with expired IRP cards may continue to use the cards to enable them to depart and return to the state in confidence. I also suspended the re-entry visa requirement for minors aged 16 years and under from 12 November 2021 to 15 January 2022.

Customers holding an Irish Residence Permit card that was in-date at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, have now had its validity period extended to 15 January 2022. This means that they may use their current expired card to enable them to depart from and return to Ireland in confidence over Christmas and until 15 January 2022.

Anyone travelling during this time can print a copy of a travel confirmation notice in the link below and display this with their existing IRP card to show proof of residence when returning to Ireland before the 15 January 2022.

Travel Notice: www.irishimmigration.ie/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Travel-Confirmation-Notice-Nov-2021.pdf

My Department has engaged with airline carriers to notify them of this new arrangement and to ensure that the process runs smoothly. It can also be displayed as proof of residence for employment purposes or to access any State services and supports that people are ordinarily eligible for.

Care Services

Question No. 529 answered with Question No. 528.

Questions (528, 529)

Réada Cronin

Question:

528. Deputy Réada Cronin asked the Minister for Health the number of State locations or entities offering regular residential respite for teenagers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61265/21]

View answer

Réada Cronin

Question:

529. Deputy Réada Cronin asked the Minister for Health if there is an all-island system in which teenagers requiring regular residential respite and unable to access it here due to capacity issues can do so in Northern Ireland; if so, the cost paid by the State; if there is not such a system, if developing one is something he will consider; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61266/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 528 and 529 together.

As the issues raised are service matters, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Question No. 529 answered with Question No. 528.

Departmental Bodies

Questions (530)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

530. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health when he expects the Cross Departmental Strategic Workforce Advisory Group in respect of home support and nursing homes will be established; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61119/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I continue to engage with key stakeholders in home support and nursing homes on issues of recruitment and retention, with multiple meetings held with such groups since I came into office. Work is ongoing within the Department to progress the establishment of a Cross Departmental Strategic Workforce Advisory Group.

The role of this group will be to facilitate the views of stakeholders and examine workforce challenges in home support and nursing homes. Potential areas to be considered include recruitment, retention, training, and the career development of home support and nursing home workers into the future.

Prior to establishing the Group, Department officials are undertaking a short-life scoping exercise which is currently underway. There is a project team in place in the Department to advance this work.

A ‘call for submissions’ issued to relevant national stakeholders on 3rd December 2021, with a closing date for receipt of submissions of 22nd December 2021. The Department's project team will analyse submissions received to inform the setting up of the Group in early 2022 and will engage further with relevant national stakeholder on next steps including timescales, membership of the Group, and terms of reference.

Vaccination Programme

Questions (531)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

531. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Health if persons presenting for Covid-19 vaccination post-infection with Covid-19 can opt to receive a vaccine (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61122/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The immunisation programme in Ireland is based on the advice of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC). The Committee makes recommendations to my Department are based on the prevalence of the relevant disease in Ireland and international best practices in relation to immunisation.

Following the recommendation for use of vaccines against COVID-19 by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and authorisation for use by the European Commission, the NIAC develops guidance for their use in Ireland which is contained in the Immunisation Guidelines.

The NIAC has recommended that a booster of an mRNA vaccine be offered to all persons aged 16 years and older. The Immunisation Guidelines advise that if a booster mRNA vaccine is contraindicated, consideration can be given to boosting with an authorised non-mRNA vaccine following an individual benefit-risk assessment.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Questions (532)

Alan Dillon

Question:

532. Deputy Alan Dillon asked the Minister for Health the efforts being undertaken to improve waiting times for paediatric orthopaedic care, in particular, for patients with spina bifida and hydrocephalus; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61125/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I acknowledge that waiting times for many hospital procedures and appointments are unacceptably long. It is of particular regret that children can experience long waiting times for orthopaedic treatment, especially for time sensitive procedures, and I remain acutely aware of the impact that this has on children and their families.

As part of Children’s Health Ireland’s (CHI) paediatric orthopaedic service, most complex orthopaedic cases are treated at Crumlin and Temple Street, with Crumlin providing specialised multi-disciplinary treatment for the most complex patients. The National Orthopaedic Hospital at Cappagh provides additional capacity for the treatment of less complex orthopaedic patients, including routine scoliosis procedures. By using the capacity provided by Cappagh, CHI can free up space in order that complex orthopaedic procedures can be carried out centrally at CHI sites.

More specifically, additional theatre capacity at the National Orthopaedic Hospital Cappagh commenced on the 26 April 2021 for day case surgery. CHI has advised the Department of Health that this should result in a positive impact in reducing long waiting times for general orthopaedics, in addition to consequential capacity gains for scoliosis patients. In 2022 CHI is planning to undertake a range of inpatient, day case and outpatient orthopaedic appointments in Cappagh.

In 2018 Children’s Health Ireland was provided with an additional €9 million in funding to address paediatric orthopaedic waiting lists, including the provision of scoliosis services. This funding is recurring and has been provided in the base HSE allocation each year since 2018. The additional funding supported the recruitment of approximately 60 WTEs in 2018 and 2019 to enable the expansion of paediatric orthopaedic services.

Funding proposals submitted to the HSE by Children’s Health Ireland for increased investment in paediatric orthopaedic services in 2022 will be decided as part of the finalisation of the Waiting List Action Plan 2022. In addition, the HSE has advised my Department that a proposal to fund an additional theatre at Temple Street is currently progressing through the normal HSE capital approval process.

Improving access to scheduled care capacity remains a priority for the Department of Health as work continues to finalise next years’ Waiting List Action Plan. For 2022 an additional allocation of €250 million, comprised of €200 million to the HSE and €50 million to the National Treatment Purchase Fund has been provided in respect of work to reduce hospital and community waiting lists.

In addition, my Department, the HSE and the National Treatment Purchase Fund are also working on a Multi-Annual Waiting List Plan to bring waiting lists in line with Sláintecare targets over the coming years. This process will be overseen by a Ministerial Taskforce, chaired by the Secretary General of the Department of Health and includes representatives from the HSE and National Treatment Purchase Fund.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (533)

Danny Healy-Rae

Question:

533. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health if he will address a matter (details supplied) regarding hospital visits; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61128/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (534)

Alan Kelly

Question:

534. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health if he will provide an electronic copy of the full recorded NPHET meeting from 25 November 2021. [61129/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The Deputy is advised that the draft NPHET minutes of 25th November are expected to be presented to the NPHET Members for their adoption at the next NPHET meeting scheduled for 16th December 2021.

NPHET minutes are published on the Department of Health website:

www.gov.ie/en/collection/691330-national-public-health-emergency-team-covid-19-coronavirus/.

Home Care Packages

Questions (535)

Pádraig O'Sullivan

Question:

535. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health if the home help hours for a person (details supplied) will be increased; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61130/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Questions (536)

Seán Canney

Question:

536. Deputy Seán Canney asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that Ireland has the highest rate of spina bifida in the world; if his attention has been further drawn to the fact that many children with spina bifida are waiting surgery, particularly scoliosis surgery; if he has plans to provide the necessary funding to increase surgery capacity in order that surgeries can go ahead in Cappagh Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61135/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I acknowledge that waiting times for many hospital procedures and appointments are unacceptably long. It is of particular regret that children can experience long waiting times for orthopaedic treatment, especially for time sensitive procedures, and I remain acutely aware of the impact that this has on children and their families.

As part of Children’s Health Ireland’s (CHI) paediatric orthopaedic service, most complex orthopaedic cases are treated at Crumlin and Temple Street, with Crumlin providing specialised multi-disciplinary treatment for the most complex patients. The National Orthopaedic Hospital at Cappagh provides additional capacity for the treatment of less complex orthopaedic patients, including routine scoliosis procedures. By using the capacity provided by Cappagh, CHI can free up space in order that complex orthopaedic procedures can be carried out centrally at CHI sites.

More specifically, additional theatre capacity at the National Orthopaedic Hospital Cappagh commenced on the 26 April 2021 for daycase surgery. CHI has advised the Department of Health that this should result in a positive impact in reducing long waiting times for general orthopaedics, in addition to consequential capacity gains for scoliosis patients. In 2022 CHI is planning to undertake a range of inpatient, daycase and outpatient orthopaedic appointments in Cappagh.

In 2018 Children’s Health Ireland was provided with an additional €9 million in funding to address paediatric orthopaedic waiting lists, including the provision of scoliosis services. This funding is recurring and has been provided in the base HSE allocation each year since 2018. The additional funding supported the recruitment of approximately 60 WTEs in 2018 and 2019 to enable the expansion of paediatric orthopaedic services.

Funding proposals submitted to the HSE by Children’s Health Ireland for increased investment in paediatric orthopaedic services in 2022 will be decided as part of the finalisation of the Waiting List Action Plan 2022. In addition, the HSE has advised my Department that a proposal to fund an additional theatre at Temple Street is currently progressing through the normal HSE capital approval process.

Improving access to scheduled care capacity remains a priority for the Department of Health as work continues to finalise next years’ Waiting List Action Plan. For 2022 an additional allocation of €250 million, comprised of €200 million to the HSE and €50 million to the National Treatment Purchase Fund has been provided in respect of work to reduce hospital and community waiting lists.

In addition, my Department, the HSE and the National Treatment Purchase Fund are also working on a Multi Annual Waiting List Plan to bring waiting lists in line with Sláintecare targets over the coming years. This process will be overseen by a Ministerial Taskforce, chaired by the Secretary General of the Department of Health and includes representatives from the HSE and National Treatment Purchase Fund.

Dental Services

Questions (537)

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

Question:

537. Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Health the number of dentists who left an area (details supplied) who are participating in the dental treatment service scheme; the number of dentists who have resigned from the scheme in the area in 2020; the number of dentists who are still signed up in the area who would have low participation as defined by revenue of less than €5,000 from the scheme in the past two years; the efforts being made to provide dental services to medical card holders in the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61141/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.

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