Written Answers.

The following are questions tabled by Members for written response and the ministerial replies as received on the day from the Departments [unrevised].
Questions Nos. 1 to 5, inclusive, answered orally.

Earnáil Phoiblí.

Eamon Gilmore

Ceist:

6 D’fhiafraigh Mr. Gilmore den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta cad iad na scéimeanna nua atá le bunú aige chun cabhrú leis na heagraíochtaí san earnáil phoiblí a bhfuil a gcumas agus a n-acmhainn teoranta ó thaobh a bheith ag saothrú trí Ghaeilge. [31302/06]

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

8 D’fhiafraigh Ms O’Sullivan den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta an bhfuil sé sásta go bhfuil líon na n-aistritheoirí Gaeilge atá ar fáil ag méadú. [31301/06]

Trevor Sargent

Ceist:

11 D’fhiafraigh Mr. Sargent den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta cad atá á dhéanamh ag a Roinn chun daoine a spreagadh chun poist mar aistritheoirí a lorg de bharr go bhfuil an Ghaeilge anois ina teanga oifigiúil san Aontas Eorpach. [31181/06]

Tá i gceist agam Ceisteanna 6, 8 agus 11 a thógáil le chéile.

Maidir le scéimeanna chun cabhrú le heagraíochtaí san earnáil phoiblí a bhfuil a gcumas agus a n-acmhainn teoranta ó thaobh bheith ag saothrú trí Ghaeilge, ní miste dom a lua go bhfuil mo Roinnse ag obair go dlúth i gcónaí le Foras na Gaeilge, Gaeleagras na Seirbhíse Poiblí, An Foras Riaracháin agus institiúidí tríú leibhéal chun a chinntiú go gcuirfear leis an soláthar sainchúrsaí Gaeilge atá dírithe ar fhostaithe in eagraíochtaí san earnáil phoiblí. I measc na gcúrsaí seo, áirítear córas creidiúnaithe d'oiliúint Ghaeilge agus sainchúrsaí oiliúna Gaeilge.

Ó thaobh soláthar aistritheoirí de, is fiú a lua gur d'fhoilsigh Foras na Gaeilge ar a shuíomh idirlín an chéad painéal d'aistritheoirí faoin gcóras creidiúnaithe i mí Iúil na bliana seo. Bhí iarrtha agam ar an bhForas a leithéid de chóras a fhorbairt ionas go mbeadh fáil ag an bpobal agus ag comhlachtaí poiblí ar aistritheoirí ard-cháilithe den scoth. Reáchtáladh scrúdú i mí Aibreáin mar chéad chéim den phróiseas agus is as sin atá an painéal bunaithe. Beidh scrúdaithe eile a reáchtáil amach anseo ag tráthanna rialta chun cur leis an bpainéal seo. Is cinnte gur cúnamh tábhachtach praiticiúil atá anseo do chomhlachtaí poiblí a úsáideann seirbhísí ó aistritheoirí príobháideacha. Ar ndóigh, tá an Foras gníomhach chomh maith maidir le heolas faoi dheiseanna fostaíochta mar aistritheoirí agus araile ar leibhéal na hEorpa a scaipeadh ar phobal na Gaeilge sa tír seo.

Ní mór a lua sa chomhthéacs seo gur cheadaigh mé deontais le déanaí do raon institiúidí tríú leibhéal as ciste €1m a bhunaigh mé d'aonghnó i mbliana chun tacú le soláthar sainchúrsaí tríú leibhéal trí Ghaeilge. Tá an scéim nua, atá á riaradh i gcomhar leis an Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta agus an tÚdarás um Ard-Oideachas, dírithe ar líon na gcéimithe le scileanna sonracha Gaeilge i réimsí ar leith a mhéadú, i gcomhthéacs Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla agus an Ghaeilge a bheith mar theanga oifigiúil san Aontas Eorpach.

Dormant Accounts Fund.

Bernard Allen

Ceist:

7 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will allow emigrant groups working on behalf of Irish emigrants overseas to be permitted to apply for funding from the Dormant Funds Account; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31205/06]

I have dealt with this issue comprehensively on a number of occasions, in particular my reply to Question Number 60 on 21 March 2006.

I wish to repeat that this Government is fully committed to providing continued supports to Irish communities living abroad. This commitment is clearly demonstrated by the allocation of significant funding directly from the Exchequer to support emigrant organisations. Indeed the funding in 2006 amounts to over €12 million, an increase of 45% on 2005.

In light of the significant allocation of funding to support emigrant organisations already in place, I repeat that it is my intention that allocations from the Dormant Accounts Fund will continue to focus on tackling disadvantage in Ireland.

Question No. 8 answered with QuestionNo. 6.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

9 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the details of the recent allocation of €11.35 million in funding from the Dormant Accounts Fund to support 188 projects in RAPID areas; the type of projects that have been funded; the breakdown of the funding to each project; if he will provide a further round of funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31284/06]

Eamon Ryan

Ceist:

13 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the allocations made under the Dormant Accounts Fund since recent changes in its operation. [31224/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 9 and 13 together.

Following the enactment of the Dormant Accounts (Amendment) Act 2005 the Government approved the allocation of €60 million from the Dormant Accounts Fund in 2006. In this regard, €24 million is being allocated towards projects tackling economic and social disadvantage; €18 million towards projects tackling educational disadvantage and €18 million towards projects assisting persons with a disability.

On 4th January 2006, following Government approval, I announced details of the €24 million allocation for the purpose of supporting the following programmes and projects tacking economic and social disadvantage:

RAPID Programme — up to €11.5m to be ring-fenced to provide additional supports for priority projects in RAPID areas;

Support for Priority Themes — €7.5m for specific measures supporting youth, older people and other priority themes (including suicide prevention; alcohol misuse; supports for immigrant families; supports for offenders/ex-offenders); and

Support for Jointly Funded Flagship Projects — €5 for innovative measures addressing matters of major public concern, which also involve substantial funding from private, philanthropic or community sources.

The roll-out of these measures is well underway. In early July, I announced the details of the 188 priority projects in RAPID areas approved by Government for funding totalling €11.35 million. Full details of these allocations are available on the website of my Department atwww.pobail.ie. Within the projects approved, there is great diversity both in scale and purpose. Examples include refurbishments to community facilities; supports for youth art and information technology projects; funding for football summer workshops etc.

In August, I announced that the Government had approved the allocation of €574,989 from the Dormant Accounts Fund to fund six projects providing employment supports to vulnerable immigrant families. In relation to the other measures approved for funding in 2006, it is anticipated that further announcements will be made over the coming months as the applications received under these various measures are fully processed and recommendations made to Government in accordance with the legislation.

The arrangements in relation to the next round of funding in 2007 are currently under consideration. In this regard, the Deputies will be aware that the legislation requires the Minister to consult other appropriate Ministers for the purpose of developing a proposal for submission to Government for approval. This process has commenced and I hope to be in a position to bring a proposal to Government shortly concerning the 2007 round of funding. The possibility of ring-fencing further funding for RAPID areas will be considered in this context.

Rural Development.

Mary Upton

Ceist:

10 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the membership of the National Rural Development Forum and their qualifications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24600/06]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Question Number 484 of 4 July 2006.

As set down in the White Paper on Rural Development, the National Rural Development Forum has a wide membership including Government Departments, State Agencies, the Regional Assemblies and Authorities, Local Authorities, the social partners, local development bodies, and the wider voluntary and community sector.

My Department does not hold details of the qualifications of those who attend the Forum.

Question No. 11 answered with QuestionNo. 6.

Community Development.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Ceist:

12 Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his plans to attend any of the public consultation meetings of the Task Force on Voluntary Activity. [31219/06]

I refer to the reply by the Taoiseach to Question Number 6 on 17th May 2006.

The Taoiseach established the Taskforce on Active Citizenship on 18th April this year. It was set up to advise the Government on the steps that can be taken to ensure that the wealth of civic spirit and active participation already present in Ireland continues to grow and develop.

The public consultation sessions organised by the Taskforce were designed to provide an opportunity for members of the public to air their views and experiences of what it means to be an Active Citizen and accordingly I have not attended these sessions. Of course my Department has a strong interest in the deliberations of the Taskforce. The Secretary General of my Department is a member of the Task Force and takes a lead role in supporting one of Taskforce's subcommittees.

I look forward to the report of the Taskforce with great interest.

Question No. 13 answered with QuestionNo. 9.

Alternative Farm Enterprises.

John Gormley

Ceist:

14 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will expand on his views on artisan food production expressed at a recent conference. [31220/06]

With the number of people employed directly as full-time farmers continuing to fall, I see new opportunities for small farmers, their families and those with off-farm jobs to diversify as primary producers and as manufacturers. The continued growth and development of rural enterprise is the foundation on which we build a healthy and sustainable quality of life for all rural communities.

There is a growing demand for healthy foods that are locally produced and the Irish consumer is increasingly aware that in order for food from thousands of miles away to arrive ‘fresh' in Ireland, it is often packed with added salts and preservatives. Many of our small food producers are drawing on a tradition of producing high quality safe food and are bringing those high quality foods to new customers.

Farmers' markets provide a route to meeting this demand. Locally grown produce on sale at a farm shop or at a farmers' market by the farmer is very attractive to the customer, as the direct contact with the producer enables greater traceability and food safety. It is in recognition of the importance of farmers' markets that I initiated the Support for Farmers' Markets measure under the CLÁR Programme's Village and Countryside Enhancement Scheme.

This measure is still in its early days but I want to highlight it as an invaluable vehicle for LEADER companies to utilise more fully when the new EU Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 starts. The funding provided from the European Agriculture Rural Development Fund for 2007-2013 represents a trebling of EU and National funding for rural development under a LEADER-type programme. This means an increase in the annual budget from an average of €21million per year to at least €60 million per year from a combination of European and National funding.

Finally, the issue of technical support for this developing sector is being pursued by my Department, in consultation with the relevant agencies.

Rural Development.

Bernard Allen

Ceist:

15 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the sectors which will benefit under the EU Rural Development Scheme 2007 to 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31206/06]

John Gormley

Ceist:

54 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the allocations received form the European Agriculture Rural Development Fund. [31221/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 15 and 54 together.

The funding provided from the European Agriculture Rural Development Fund for 2007-2013 represents a trebling of EU and National funding for rural development under a LEADER type programme. This means an increase in the annual budget from an average of €21million per year to at least €60 million per year from a combination of European and National funding.

The new Programme will cover key outside the farm gate measures such as diversification into non-agricultural activities, support for business creation and development, encouragement of tourism activities, basic services for the economy and rural population, village renewal and development and conservation and upgrading of the rural heritage.

Three of the priorities already identified under the new EU Rural Development Programme will be:

the development of recreational tourism including the development of facilities for walking, cycling, angling, pony trekking, bird watching etc. and ancillary facilities such as car parking and other services such as signage, village renewal etc.;

the complementary development of the broader rural tourism package such as upgraded accommodation, food tourism and other services; and

the development of small or regional food sectors to add significantly to the unique experience for our visitors.

This increased commitment by Europe to general rural development is very much in line with Irish Government thinking and will give a major boost to economic activity in rural areas.

Achtanna Parlaiminteacha.

Michael D. Higgins

Ceist:

16 D’fhiafraigh Mr. M. Higgins den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta cén dul chun cinn atá déanta maidir leis na hAchtanna Parlaiminteacha go léir a aistriú go Gaeilge. [31303/06]

Is ceist í seo do Chléireach na Dála, faoi Bhuan-Ordaithe na Dála, agus ní domsa mar Aire.

National Drugs Strategy.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

17 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if, in view of his admission in August 2006 that the Government was not winning the war on drugs he has plans for fast tracking the proposals in the mid term review of the national drugs strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31193/06]

Illegal drug use is a global issue and so our efforts to tackle it in Ireland must be seen in that context. The enormity and the geographic scale of the struggle we face can be illustrated by considering the sources of the drugs that are sold on our streets. Cannabis resin comes predominately from Morocco, but it can also come from the Middle East and the Indian sub continent. Cocaine originates in Latin America, mostly Colombia, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru while heroin comes mainly from the so-called Golden Crescent of Afghanistan and Pakistan, but also from Burma, Laos and Thailand. To really get to grips with the international problems of drug misuse, it is imperative that the drug issue be tackled in all those countries as well as in all the countries through which drugs travel before they reach our shores.

Against this background I feel that it is naïve to believe that Ireland can be kept totally drug-free, and it is from that context, and in answer to a question, that the comment on the "war on drugs" is taken.

The National Drugs Strategy recognises the volatility and change inherent in the misuse of drugs and so it is flexible in its approach. The implementation of the Strategy, which is co-ordinated by my Department, is being progressed with the significant input of other Government Departments and Agencies – for example, the Health Services Executive, the Departments of Health & Children, Education & Science, Justice, Equality & Law Reform, An Garda Síochána, the Irish Prisons Service, the Customs Service of the Revenue Commissioners and FÁS. Through this on-going process of co-operation and partnership all of these bodies are playing important roles in the implementation of the overall Strategy and in meeting the changing challenges which arise.

I believe that there are encouraging signs of progress over the past couple of years — be it in the areas of drug seizures, the expansion of treatment services, the establishment of the Regional Drugs Task Forces or prevention programmes in schools.

This Government has placed great emphasis on progressing the 108 Actions of the National Drugs Strategy, as revised at the Mid-Term Review stage. While the implementation of the Actions is very challenging, I am confident that the momentum built up around the various initiatives will see them implemented within the Strategy timescale which runs to the end of 2008.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Ceist:

18 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will expand on recent comments by the former Minister of State with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy, Mr. Eoin Ryan TD, that the Government considered legalising heroin in 2001; if the Government is still considering such a step; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31278/06]

I am advised that Mr. Eoin Ryan T.D., in his capacity as Minister of State with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy, looked at various approaches to tackling the problem of drugs misuse in other jurisdictions. This included policies implemented in the Netherlands and Switzerland involving the dispensing of heroin to a small number of people in designated clinics and under strict supervision. The introduction of such a system in Ireland was discounted and no proposal on the matter was put to Government.

The Government is not considering such a step at this time. Indeed, it is my view that any move to legalise heroin would have wholly detrimental effects. Heroin is a dangerous and damaging drug that causes enormous harm to individuals, their families and the communities in which they live. Moreover, any softening of our legislation in regard to heroin would be out of line with the European Drugs Strategy, to which we are committed.

The methadone maintenance programme has been an enormous aid in helping thousands of heroin users to manage their addiction. Nearly 8,000 people are now receiving methadone treatment. Furthermore, while we must wait for the outcome of the recently commenced drugs prevalence survey to have more definite numbers, it is estimated by the National Advisory Committee on Drugs that the number of heroin users has stabilised or fallen slightly in Dublin and that it is at low levels nationwide. Also, the report of Working Group on Drugs Rehabilitation, which I established, is expected in the coming months and any recommendations therein in regard to rehabilitation will be considered at that stage.

In short, I am entirely satisfied that there is no case for reviewing the current legal position in relation to heroin.

Kathleen Lynch

Ceist:

19 Ms Lynch asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if his attention has been drawn to a new report entitled The Impact of Drugs on Families written by two social policy consultants; his views on its recommendations; the efforts being made to provide services for families who have a member with a serious drug habit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31276/06]

I was pleased to be invited to launch the research to which the Deputy refers, "The Impact of Drugs on Families" commissioned by Ballyfermot STAR. Generally speaking, I would accept the thrust of the recommendations therein. Overall, the report shows that, compared to the average Irish family, the well being of the family of a drug misuser is greatly affected by that drug misuse. Furthermore, in discussing the role of families, it is important to bear in mind that the family of a drug misuser can be a considerable support and a resource in dealing with the problem, while at the same time often having needs of their own for which they require help and support.

Under the National Drugs Strategy 2001-2008, the needs of families of drug misusers have been identified as a priority. The 2005 Mid-Term Review of the National Drugs Strategy stressed the positive role that families can play across all of the pillars of the Strategy. To reinforce this, a new action (Action 108) was included in the National Drugs Strategy at that time to encourage the prioritisation of the provision of family services in Local and Regional Drugs Task Force areas. Progress on this issue is reflected in the participation of family support groups in a number of Local and Regional Drugs Task Forces.

The Government's commitment to this issue was further strengthened when family support work was identified as one of the priority issues for funding under the Emerging Needs Fund when it was set up in 2005. This Fund was established to provide a flexible and timely response to evolving needs in regard to drugs misuse in Local Drugs Task Force areas. Of the €4m which was approved under this Fund, over €350,000 was specifically targeted to family support projects. Furthermore, over 25% of the funding allocated under the Emerging Needs fund was targeted to projects which involved some element of family support work.

In addition, a number of other Departments and Agencies including the Department of Social and Family Affairs and the Health Service Executive provide a range of services and supports for families, including families with drug misusers.

I can assure the Deputy that support for families of problem drug users will continue to be a priority within the National Drugs Strategy.

Irish Language.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

20 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the undertaking given by Údarás na Gaeltachta to NUI Galway in regard to the funding of other institutes in the matter of third level education through the Irish language; his views on this undertaking; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31286/06]

Údarás na Gaeltachta sets out in its Strategic Development Plan 2005-2010 its commitment to support the development process for the provision of third-level education through Irish in the Gaeltacht. In this regard, the strategic impact envisaged will accrue not only to the Irish language but also in terms of direct and indirect economic benefits to the Gaeltacht itself.

Arising from a longstanding commitment to the provision of academic programmes through Irish, allied to its location on the periphery of the largest Gaeltacht community, NUI Galway has identified the Irish language as one of seven strategic priorities in its published strategic plan for the period 2003-2008. A core aspect of that plan is the development of a network of outreach centres in the Gaeltacht and, to date, three such centres have been established, with a fourth at planning stage.

I understand that delivery of the accredited courses in these Gaeltacht outreach centres is funded largely by Údarás na Gaeltachta through its training and education fund. I have been informed by Údarás that, in view of the substantial resources being committed by NUI Galway to developing these centres, a commitment has been given to the university that Údarás will not fund any other third-level institution to provide similar courses in the same areas. This would accord with the non-displacement policy adopted by Údarás na Gaeltachta and applied across the full spectrum of Údarás-funded enterprises whereby grant assistance is not made available to competitors of existing businesses within the same area.

Finally, I would like to clarify that it is open to any other institution to bring forward proposals for appropriate third-level courses for the consideration of Údarás na Gaeltachta and, in this connection, I understand that Údarás has provided financial assistance to a number of institutions for the provision of third-level courses, including Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Waterford Institute of Technology, Letterkenny Institute of Technology and NUI Maynooth.

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

21 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if the study examining the use of Irish in Gaeltacht areas has been completed; the findings of this study; the actions his Department intend to take on foot of this study; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31212/06]

I understand that the linguistic study of Irish usage in the Gaeltacht to which the Deputy refers will be presented to my Department shortly. As I have already outlined in the House, all of the findings and proposals emerging from the study, including the issue of the Gaeltacht boundaries, will receive careful and considered examination. As indicated previously, any proposals which may emerge on foot of that examination will be put before Government in due course, as appropriate.

Ionad Oideachais Gaeilge.

Joe Costello

Ceist:

22 D’fhiafraigh Mr. Costello den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta cad iad na cainteanna a bhí aige leis an Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta, faoin dul chun cinn atá déanta leis an Ionad Oideachais Gaeilge a chur ar bun i mBaile Bhuirne. [31297/06]

Dírím aird an Teachta ar an bhfreagra a thug mé ar Cheist Uimh. 50 den 14 Meitheamh 2006 faoin ábhar seo.

Tá an cás fós faoi bhreithniú. Ar ndóigh, mar atá curtha in iúl agam don Teach cheana, cé go bhfuil mo Roinnse gníomhach sa phróiseas plé atá ar siúl, is ceist í seo a bhaineann go príomha leis an Aire Oideachais agus Eolaíochta.

National Drugs Strategy.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

23 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs further to his announcement of an evaluation of the 277 pilot projects funded by LDTFs, which are charged with implementing the National Drug Strategy 2001 to 2008 in communities experiencing the worst levels of drug abuse, the position in relation to the evaluation of pilot cocaine projects around the city; if he intends mainstreaming many of these projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31192/06]

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

24 Mr. O’Dowd asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the new projects specifically intended to deal with cocaine misuse which have been established since 2002; the total moneys allocated to these projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31208/06]

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

47 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the latest efforts being made to address the spread and widespread use of cocaine here; his views on whether cocaine is now the drug of choice for many people; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31273/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 23, 24 and 47 together.

The first Drug Prevalence Survey in Ireland and Northern Ireland (commissioned by the NACD and DAIRU) was carried out in 2002/2003 covering the 15-64 age group. This survey indicated that lifetime prevalence for cocaine use among young adults (15-34 years) was 4.7% and that 2% of young adults had taken the drug in the previous year. The second Drug Prevalence Survey, which has just commenced and which will run to April 2007 with first results appearing in autumn next year, will provide us with an up-to-date view of the levels of change in cocaine use among the general population and, in particular, the 15-34 age group which are most at risk.

Anecdotal evidence, the increase in seizures by Gardaí and the numbers reporting for treatment suggests that there has been a growth in the use of cocaine, albeit from a very low base.

While I am confident that, through the implementation of the actions in the National Drugs Strategy, the problem of cocaine use can be and is being addressed, I also recognised the need for an overview of the emerging threat from cocaine. To this end, I asked the National Advisory Committee on Drugs and the National Drug Strategy Team to prepare a joint briefing paper on the current situation with regards to cocaine use. I received this report in September and my Department is currently considering it in consultation with the other Departments and Agencies involved.

Meanwhile the evaluation of the interim funded Local Drugs Task Force projects, many of which address the issue of polydrug use including cocaine, is to commence shortly and decisions on their future will be made in the light of the results of their evaluation. It is hoped that this process will be completed by mid 2007.

While the work of many existing projects includes countering the threat of all drugs, including cocaine, a number of cocaine specific projects have been set up in the last two years. I launched four pilot cocaine treatment projects to examine different methods of treatment for cocaine use, as well as providing training initiatives focusing on frontline workers. Funding of almost €400,000 has been provided by me to support these initiatives. The four pilot projects are:

Problematic intranasal cocaine users (South Dublin);

Poly drug users (South Inner city);

Problematic female cocaine users (East Coast Area Health Board); and

Intravenous cocaine users (North Inner City).

The evaluation of all but one of these projects (that project is still at an early stage) is nearing completion.

Under the Emerging Needs Fund, which I established in 2005, 6 projects that specifically target the issue of cocaine use are being supported with a total funding package of €421,285. Five of the projects are focused on direct community based services for cocaine users located within existing services and the sixth has supported the development of an information booklet for dissemination in the Drugs Task Force area involved.

There is no substitution treatment drug for cocaine and existing services such as counselling and behavioural therapy are the best treatments available. In this context, the Health Service Executive has recruited additional counsellors and outreach workers in the last number of years and the training initiative mentioned above has been rolled out.

I might also point out that all schools now have substance misuse prevention programmes. In addition, the National Drugs Awareness Campaign focused specifically on cocaine use in one of their campaigns. This campaign sought to dispel the image held by some that cocaine is a clean and safe drug with few detrimental consequences.

The problems associated with cocaine use are not being underestimated and I believe that progress is being made in that regard. I will continue to respond in a flexible and focused way as the situation evolves.

Community Development.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

25 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the extent to which he expects to respond positively to community groups wishing to address issues of social or economic deprivation in urban or rural areas in the near future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31215/06]

The Deputy will be aware that my Department operates, either directly or through bodies under its aegis, a wide range of schemes and projects which address rural and urban disadvantage throughout the country. The main elements are described below.

Dormant Accounts:

Disbursements from the Dormant Accounts Fund are designed to assist three broad categories of persons:

those affected by economic and social disadvantage;

those affected by educational disadvantage; and

persons with a disability.

The Government has approved the allocation of €60 million from the Dormant Accounts Fund in 2006. In this regard, €24 million is being allocated towards projects tackling economic and social disadvantage; €18 million towards projects tackling educational disadvantage and €18 million towards projects assisting persons with a disability.

CLÁR Programme:

The CLÁR programme is a targeted investment programme for rural areas that suffered more than a 35% drop in population between 1926 and 2002. The programme covers parts of 22 counties and all of Co. Leitrim and benefits a population of nearly 727,000. CLÁR schemes cover a wide variety of developments such as village, housing and schools enhancement, electricity conversion, roads, water supply, sewerage disposal, health, coastal, sports and community projects.

Rural Social Scheme:

The Rural Social Scheme is also relevant in this regard. The RSS aims to provide income support for low-income farmers and fishermen and certain services of benefit to rural communities. The Scheme allows low-income farmers and fishermen to earn a supplementary income while, at the same time, rural communities benefit from their skills and talents in maintaining and improving local amenities and facilities. Currently there are almost 2,500 participants on the Scheme. An amount of €43.322m has been provided in my Department's Vote for the RSS in 2006.

RAPID Programme:

I introduced the RAPID Leverage Schemes in 2004. Through these schemes my Department directly funds schemes to provide playgrounds, improve traffic measures, improve health facilities, support sporting organisations as well as improve local authority housing estates and flat complexes. All funds are matched by funding from other Departments and Agencies. The schemes are aimed at small-scale capital works – works that require relatively small amounts of funding but can produce real and concrete benefits to communities. They also allow the local community to have a direct input into deciding what projects will be undertaken by giving the Area Implementation Teams in each RAPID area the power to select the projects involved.

Also, my Department co-funds projects with the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform such as installation of Community Based CCTV, tackling the problem of graffiti and once off Dept. of Justice initiated projects to support communities in RAPID areas.

An Ghaeltacht:

In the case of community groups wishing to address such concerns in Gaeltacht areas, assistance may be available also from Údarás na Gaeltachta, particularly in regard to language, cultural and community development activities.

Island communities are assisted by the Department in a number of ways in order to provide enhanced living standards. These include the provision of:

regular subsidised transport services to the mainland thus providing access to essential services;

grants for public infrastructure on the islands such as health centres, libraries, piers, roads and water supplies;

grants for community facilities such as community centres and playing pitches; and

grants for the development of small enterprises on the islands.

National Drugs Strategy:

Local and Regional Drugs Task Forces:

Fourteen Local Drugs Task Forces and Ten Regional Drugs Task Forces have been set up covering all parts of the country. Each Task Force is chaired by an independent chair and has representation from various Departments and agencies, including the community and voluntary sectors. The role of the Drugs Task Forces is to implement the strategic plan which it produced for its region to ensure the development of a co-ordinated and integrated response to illicit drug use. In 2006, the allocation for the implementation of the strategic plans of Drug Task Forces is in the region of €20m.

The Young People's Facilities and Services Fund (YPFSF):

The Young Peoples Facilities & Services Fund (YPFSF) was established in 1998 to assist in the development of facilities (including sport and recreational facilities) and services in disadvantaged areas where a significant drug problem existed or had the potential to develop. By developing youth, sport and other recreational facilities, the YPFSF seeks to attract "at risk" young people away from the potential dangers of misuse, into safe, non-threatening and constructive environments.

Eighteen locations are covered — the 14 Local Drugs Task Force areas (12 in Dublin and the others in Bray and Cork) and 4 other urban areas of Limerick, Carlow, Waterford and Galway. A total of €106 million has been allocated to date under both capital and current projects.

Programme of Grants for Locally-Based Community and Voluntary Organisations:

The Programme of Grants for Locally-Based Community and Voluntary Organisations, funded by the Department of Community, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs, supports the activities of local voluntary and community groups addressing disadvantage in their community. This programme offers grants to local voluntary and community groups in respect of refurbishment of premises, equipment as well as training, education and research grants. Under the 2005 Programme, almost €6 million in funding was awarded to over 500 local community and voluntary groups throughout the country.

Scheme of Community Support for Older People:

The Scheme of Community Support for Older People encourages and assists the community's support for older people by means of a community based grant scheme to improve the security of its older members. The scheme is administered by local community and voluntary groups with the support of the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. In 2005 funding in excess of €2 million was awarded under the Scheme of Community Support for Older People to community and voluntary organisations throughout the country to improve the security of over 4,000 older people in their homes.

Community Services Programme:

The Community Services Programme programme provides funding totalling €42 million to over 260 projects which provide services to their local communities. The objective of the Programme is to support local community activity to address disadvantage, while providing employment opportunities for people from the following target groups:

People with Disabilities;

The Long Term Unemployed;

Travellers; and

Lone Parents.

The activities of the projects are very varied and include community childcare services, services for the elderly or people with disabilities, rural transport projects, or projects to operate community halls and facilities.

Local Development Social Inclusion Programme:

The Local Development Social Inclusion Programme is a series of measures designed to counter disadvantage and to promote equality and social and economic inclusion.

The Programme specifically targets the following groups:

Long-term unemployed;

Socially and economically disadvantaged women;

Young people at risk;

Travellers;

People with disabilities;

Homeless people;

Ethnic minorities;

Lone parents;

Ex-prisoners; and

Low income households.

This Programme is managed by Pobal on behalf of my Department. The programme is delivered at local level by:

38 Area Partnerships;

31 Community Partnerships; and

2 Territorial Employment Pacts.

Community Development Programme:

Established in 1990 in recognition of the role of community development in tackling the causes and effects of poverty and disadvantage, the programme is designed to reduce social exclusion by targeting support at disadvantaged and socially excluded communities in order to improve their capacity to benefit from social and economic development. All projects are managed by local voluntary management committees. 182 projects are currently supported under the programme. These are located in recognised disadvantaged areas nationwide, in both urban and rural areas. Funding of €24m has been allocated to the programme for 2006. Projects are expected to operate as a resource to the communities in which they are located with their main purpose being to work with the community in identifying and tackling those issues which have resulted in a lack of positive community development. Projects are typically concerned with the needs of women and children, lone parent families, the unemployed, the elderly, young people at risk, Travellers, those with disabilities, new communities and other disadvantaged groups. Projects provide facilities such as meeting rooms, crèches, office facilities, training or education projects designed to meet the needs of disadvantaged groups in their communities. Projects are funded on a contract basis which facilitates the employment of staff and also cover project overheads and administration. Posts covered under the programme include co-ordinator, development worker and administrator. Many projects use the CDP structure and funding to attract funding from other sources including statutory agencies.

Community Grants.

Pat Rabbitte

Ceist:

26 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs further to Parliamentary Question No. 79 of 16 May 2006 his views on whether his response to the recommendations of the Public Accounts Committee has been adequate; if he has made further changes in regard to putting in place a proper control and accountability framework; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31295/06]

As indicated in my answer to Parliamentary Question No. 79 of 16 May 2006, my Department has taken account of the issues raised by the Public Accounts Committee in its report of March 2006 and we continue to have regard to these recommendations in the ongoing management of our grants schemes.

The payment arrangements set out in my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 79 were those operated by my Department for the 2005 Programme of Grants for Locally-Based for Community and Voluntary Organisations. I launched the 2006 Programme of Grants in August this year and updated the arrangements for the phased payment of grants.

Under the 2006 Programme, for grants of up to €10,000, 90% is paid on receipt of a signed contract/letter of offer, with the balance of 10% paid retrospectively on the basis of full vouched expenditure. Grants of over €10,000 are paid in three instalments of 50% on receipt of a signed contract/letter of offer, a further 40% on receipt of an expenditure report for the first instalment and 10% retrospectively on the basis of full vouched expenditure.

I am satisfied that these arrangements strike the appropriate balance between a proper control and accountability framework, as recommended by the Public Accounts Committee, and facilitating the voluntary, locally-based groups covered by this Programme in advancing their projects.

An Ghaeilge sna Gaeltachtaí.

Joe Costello

Ceist:

27 D’fhiafraigh Mr. Costello den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta cad iad na tacaíochtaí nua atá ar intinn aige a bhunú chun an Ghaeilge a chaomhnú agus a fhorbairt sa Ghaeltacht. [31304/06]

Tá sí mar aidhm lárnach ag mo Roinnse raon de bheartais agus scéimeanna a chur chun fónaimh d'fhonn an Ghaeilge a thacú agus a láidriú mar phríomhtheanga teaghlaigh agus phobail sa Ghaeltacht. Tá na straitéisí faoi leith atá agus a bheidh in úsáid ag mo Roinn chun na críche sin rianaithe go beacht i Ráiteas Straitéise mo Roinne 2005-07.

I measc na mbeartas atá á gcur i bhfeidhm, nó atá beartaithe sa ghearr-thréimhse, áirím:

infheistíocht shuntasach (gur fiú breis agus €15m i mbliana) chun muiroibreacha, bóithre agus áiseanna pobail a fhorbairt agus a fheabhsú sa Ghaeltacht;

cúnamh méadaithe chun cuidiú le heagraíochtaí éagsúla Gaeltachta a bhfuil mar aidhm acu an Ghaeilge a chaomhnú agus a fhorbairt;

maoiniú gur fiú breis agus €9m in iomlán i mbliana é idir deontais tithíochta, Scéim na bhFoghlaimeoirí Gaeilge agus Scéim Labhairt na Gaeilge;

an ciste €1.5m a d'fhógair mé i 2004 chun cuidiú le heagraíochtaí pobalbhunaithe Gaeltachta plean teanga cuimsitheach agus infheidhmithe a réiteach agus a chur i bhfeidhm ar bhonn logánta sa Ghaeltacht;

an tacaíocht bhreise atá curtha ar fáil chun oideachas tríú leibhéal trí mheán na Gaeilge a fhorbairt tuilleadh sa Ghaeltacht;

an feachtas feasachta teanga a sheol mé i mí na Nollag 2005 faoin teideal "An ghlúin dheireanach?" agus atá á athchraoladh faoi láthair d'fhonn na buntáistí a bhaineann le bheith inniúil sa Ghaeilge a chur ina luí ar aos óg na Gaeltachta;

na hathruithe éagsúla atá curtha i bhfeidhm nó á mbeartú ag eascairt as athbhreithniú atá déanta ar Scéim na gCúntóirí Teanga, Scéim Labhairt na Gaeilge agus Scéim na gCampaí Samhraidh ar mhaithe le cur lena n-éifeacht; agus

an cúnamh a ceadaíodh d'Oidhreacht Chorca Dhuibhne chun scéim Chuairteoirí Baile a thionscnamh ar bhonn trialach.

Ní miste, ar ndóigh, tagairt a dhéanamh freisin don obair thábhachtach atá ar bun ag Údarás na Gaeltachta agus áirím go sonrach:

an bhéim bhreise atá á cur ag an Údarás, ar threoir shonrach uaim, ar naíscolaíocht, ar sheirbhísí don óige, ar gníomhaíochtaí na gcomharchumann agus ar sheirbhísí tacaíochta eile don Ghaeilge sa Ghaeltacht; agus

an t-athstruchtúrú atá curtha i bhfeidhm ag an Údarás ar an earnáil réamhscolaíochta sa Ghaeltacht, chomh maith le struchtúr nua chun freastal níos fearr a dhéanamh ar an óige sa Ghaeltacht.

Leanfaidh mo Roinnse ag cuidiú agus ag comhoibriú le hÚdarás na Gaeltachta chun an cúram atá ag an dá eagraíocht araon i leith na Gaeltachta a chomhlíonadh agus a fhorbairt de réir mar is féidir.

Mar is eol don Teachta, tá staidéar teangeolaíoch ar úsáid na Gaeilge sa Ghaeltacht le bheith críochnaithe go luath. Táthar ag súil leis go gcuideoidh tátal agus moltaí an staidéir seo chun an bealach ar aghaidh a rianú sa chaoi is go leanfar ag tacú leis an nGaeilge mar phríomhtheanga teaghlaigh agus phobail sa Ghaeltacht amach anseo.

Fire Services.

Ciarán Cuffe

Ceist:

28 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his views on the recent call from Comhdháil Oileáin na hÉireann for better fire fighting services on islands. [31222/06]

I should point out to the Deputy in the first instance that responsibility for the provision of fire services on islands rests with the relevant local authorities and that I have no statutory function in the matter.

Notwithstanding this, my Department has provided some financial assistance to local authorities in order to facilitate improved fire fighting services on islands. Details of assistance provided for the installation of smoke alarms and fire extinguishers in island houses is set out in the following table.

In addition, in 2005, I sanctioned a sum of €146,218 jointly to Donegal and Galway County Councils as 50% of the cost of providing new fire tenders on Árainn Mhór, Co. Donegal and Árainn, Co. Galway.

I can assure the Deputy that my Department will continue to consider favourably, within the resources available to it, applications from local authorities for further capital assistance to provide enhanced fire fighting services on islands.

Assistance provided for the installation of smoke alarms and fire extinguishers in island houses

County

Amount Sanctioned between 2001 & 2005

Donegal

6,920

Sligo

1,651

Mayo

14,224

Galway

17,459

Cork

20,951

Total

61,205

National Drugs Strategy.

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

29 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if his attention has been drawn to new figures from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction showing that Ireland ranks fifth out of 12 European countries for magic mushroom use among 15 to 24 year olds; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that almost 6% of them have used magic mushrooms in comparison with less that 1% in other European countries; the efforts he is making to educate young people regarding the dangers of magic mushrooms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31279/06]

I am aware of the findings of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) thematic paper entitled ‘Hallucinogenic Mushrooms: An Emerging Trend Case Study' launched on 26 June 2006 to mark International day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking.

With respect to Ireland, the data relates to 2002/03 and originated from the Drug Prevalence Survey undertaken on my behalf by the National Advisory Committee on Drugs. While Ireland is, as the Deputy points out, among the top five countries in relation to the highest life time prevalence estimates among young people aged 15-24 (5.5%), in relation to last year prevalence (1.1%) and last month prevalence (0.1%), it is among the countries with the lowest prevalence. This might suggest that, while there may have been a significant level of experimentation with magic mushrooms, evidence of sustained use of this drug was not emerging.

The Drug Prevalence Survey for 2006/07 currently underway, with first reports due in late 2007, will provide us with a clearer picture on any current trends.

Ireland, as the report points out, is one of 6 EU countries that have tightened legislation in regard to magic mushrooms since 2001. In 2005 with a growing awareness of an increased incidence of availability and visibility of the drug, and a tragic death in Dún Laoghaire, an examination of the legislation in the area was undertaken and this resulted with a Declaration Order (S.I. No. 55 of 2006) being signed on 31 January 2006 declaring magic mushrooms, whether raw or processed, to be controlled substances for the purposes of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977.

The Department of Education and Science has implemented substance misuse prevention programmes through the Social, Personal and Health Education Programme (SPHE), which is compulsory in all primary and post-primary schools. A consequence of this policy is that all students are equipped with knowledge about the dangers of drugs misuse including magic mushrooms. Also the dangers of the drugs are emphasised from time to time in drug prevention programmes.

Overall, I feel that the steps taken in regard to magic mushrooms in recent times are greatly reducing the risk of experimentation with these drugs by young people in Ireland.

Departmental Programmes.

Ruairí Quinn

Ceist:

30 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the monitoring systems in place within his Department to measure the effectiveness of the various programmes for which he is responsible; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31294/06]

As the Deputy will be aware my Department administers and delivers a wide range of programmes. So as to ensure that these programmes are delivered effectively, efficiently and that the objectives of these programmes are being achieved, this Department has since its establishment developed and put in place various systems of effectiveness and performance monitoring, control, review and evaluation for these programmes.

In addition to the routine financial and performance monitoring arrangements that takes place at divisional level throughout this Department, the series of corporate monitoring and performance measurement systems that are in place in this Department include:

The Internal Audit Unit carry out programme audits, value for money audits and effectiveness reviews annually and make recommendations to MAC where required;

The Department has a designated Gaeltacht and Rural Inspectorate function in place, specifically charged with the monitoring of projects and the assessment of the effectiveness and deliverables arising from the programmes that this Department funds and delivers;

The Department participates in the Expenditure Review Initiative (Evaluation of Value for Money and Effectiveness in Public Expenditure) process;

A number of independent effectiveness reviews have been commissioned by experts in specific fields of activity funded through the Departmental Vote and Mid-Term Evaluations have been carried out for all the programmes funded under the NDP; and

The Department has formalised procedures and arrangements in respect of project verification and post project evaluation.

My Department continues to develop, embed and enhance on an ongoing basis the evaluation and review mechanisms that have been established. In this regard the Department commissioned the IPA to assess the performance and effectiveness indicators in place for the various Departmental programmes and work is ongoing in relation to this through the RAB (Reform of the Budget and Estimates) process. This review and the ongoing development of relevant performance and effectiveness indicators will further enable this Department to evaluate and analyse effectiveness and the impact of programme spending.

Irish Language.

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

31 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if progress has been made on the development of a 20 year strategic plan for the Irish language; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31199/06]

As I have already indicated in response to similar Questions in this House, the development of a clear statement on the part of the Government in relation to the Irish language and its importance as a whole has been recognised as a key issue and very real progress has recently been made to significantly advance this issue.

It should also be noted, of course, that meaningful and significant advances, in line with recommendations made in the Gaeltacht Commission's Report in 2002 and in the context of the continuing implementation of the Official Languages Act, continue to be made. As the Deputy will be aware, noteworthy progress has also been achieved regarding the status of Irish in the European Union. A number of new initiatives continue to be implemented in Gaeltacht areas, including the development of public awareness measures aimed at the Gaeltacht community in particular, as well as the continuing roll-out of the language planning initiative. These practical measures continue to further consolidate the language. The Deputy will also be aware that significant resources continue to be made available to support the work of Foras na Gaeilge in promoting Irish on an all-island basis.

Community Development.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

32 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if in view of the crisis in communities such as Moyross in Limerick, that the proposed RAPID funding of €4.5 million for the years 2007 to 2008 to support small-scale capital works to enhance the physical environment within local authority housing estates and flat complexes is enough funding for the scale of decay and ruin that is reality in local authority housing estates here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31190/06]

The maintenance and upkeep of housing estates and flat complexes and the physical environment within those areas is a matter in the first place for my colleague, the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government and local authorities.

The monies available under the Rapid Leverage Schemes, to which the Deputy refers, enables local communities to have a direct say in the prioritising of locally promoted capital works that produce real benefits to communities. The matching funding available under these schemes available to Departments with primary responsibilities enables projects designed to improve the environments of local authority housing estates and flat complexes as well as the provision of playgrounds, traffic calming measures, health facilities, CCTV, and sporting facilities in RAPID areas.

The €7.8m available from my Department in 2005 under these schemes generated a further €8m in commitments from other Departments giving an overall commitment to the investment of €15.8m in RAPID areas. This is in addition to mainstream funding for projects and services in such areas. I am hopeful that the funding available from my Department this year and in 2007 and 2008 will secure similar additional prioritised investment.

Ciarán Cuffe

Ceist:

33 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will report on the state of the cohesion process within his Department. [31223/06]

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

35 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the progress made regarding the streamlining and co-ordinating service delivery in the community and voluntary sector since he came to office; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31293/06]

Seán Ryan

Ceist:

51 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs further to Parliamentary Question No. 95 of 16 May 2006 the further progress made in regard to the ongoing cohesion process in the matter of the integration of Leader and Partnership companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31296/06]

Pat Rabbitte

Ceist:

52 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will expand on his recent comments that he will implement a radical shake up of community services by the end of 2006; the plans he has to improve services for disadvantaged people; when he will publish these plans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31281/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 33, 35, 51 and 52 together.

Arising from the review of local and community development structures which I initiated three years ago in conjunction with my colleagues, the Ministers for Environment, Heritage and Local Government and Justice, Equality and Law Reform, the Government agreed a series of measures in January 2004 designed to improve delivery of services on the ground, arrangements under which community and local development initiatives are delivered and improve cohesion and focus across various measures. Since then, I have overseen a radical change process that is informed by the following guiding principles: improving on the ground services; streamlining structures so as to avoid overlaps, duplication and undue administrative overheads; bringing transparency, co-ordination and improved control to the funding and operation of local and community development measures; and strengthening the democratic accountability of agencies and providers in this area.

As a first step towards improving on the ground services, I mandated City and County Development Boards (CDBS) to oversee the cohesion process at local level and to facilitate the development of proposals by local agencies with a view to achieving better co-ordination of service delivery. To this end, I allocated €3,248,600 to the CDBs and Údaras na Gaeltachta during 2004 in respect of proposals aimed at improving linkages between local agencies, support multi-agency actions and promote sharing of resources to maximise the impact of available funding.

The 2005/2006 phase of the process aims to improve the alignment of the multiple local and community development agencies by the end of this year in a way that removes any overlaps and duplication and maximises available resources for the benefit of local communities. The intention is that, from 2007, there will be one unified local development structure providing full coverage in any given area and fewer structures overall in the country. In the rural context, this means that in future one agency will be responsible for delivering local and rural development programmes, making it far easier for local people to access such services. At present, partnerships do not have full area cover and cannot reach those affected by disadvantage who live outside their catchment areas. This serious impediment will be addressed by the new arrangements. The new streamlined structures will have full area cover thereby enabling the State to deliver programmes such as the local development social inclusion programme on a nationwide basis.

At this stage, 22 of the local authority areas and na Gaeltachtaí have fully agreed the integrated structures which will provide full coverage. A total of €4,836,927 was awarded to CDB's in respect of agreed cohesion initiatives during 2005, including €1,463,400 for volunteering measures. So far this year, I have approved the allocation of €3,295,762 for agreed cohesion measures and €760,600 to promote volunteering locally. Discussions are ongoing in the remaining areas and I am confident that arrangements will have been finalised in all areas by the end of the year.

Departmental Bodies.

Ruairí Quinn

Ceist:

34 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the work programme, timeframe, and membership of the Placenames Commission; if a special budget has been assigned to the Commission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31280/06]

The function of the Placenames Commission is to advise me, as Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, on: (a) Irish forms of placenames for legal purposes as provided for in Part 5 of the Official Languages Act 2003, including: the placenames of Ireland as they are defined in section 31 of the Act in order to confirm the Irish forms of those placenames, and preparation of placename orders as provided for in section 32 of the Act; (b) Irish forms of placenames not given in the Act, that is to say streetnames; (c) publication and official usage of Irish forms of placenames; (d) development of research and study in relation to placenames in third level institutions and other educational institutions; (e) appropriate marketing on the research of the Placenames Branch; and (f) other matters pertaining to the placenames of Ireland.

The Commission is appointed for a three-year term and a new Commission has been appointed with effect from 10 September 2006. During the course of its three-year term of the appointment, the outgoing Commission met on eighteen occasions and advised me on matters relating to ten Placenames Orders which I have made under the provisions of the Official Languages Act 2003. These related to the official Irish versions of the placenames of counties Kilkenny, Louth, Limerick, Monaghan, Waterford, Tipperary and Offaly; Gaeltacht areas; centres and districts of population; and counties and provinces.

As indicated above, I have recently appointed a new Commission. The current membership is set out in the following table. The Commission does not have a separate budget. The staff of the Placenames Branch of my Department are civil servants and work under the guidance of the Commission. Salary and other costs arising are met from the Vote for my Department.

Members of the Placenames Commission

Seosamh Ó Braonáin (Chairman)

Dr. Nollaig Ó Muraile

Proinsias de Priondargast

Professor Pádraig Ó Riain

Marcus Ó Floinn

Dr. Edel Bhreathnach

Dr. Úna Uí Bheirn

Tomás Ó Cruadhlaoich

Máire Ní Chiarba

Professor Máire Herbert

Dr. Máire Ní Annracháin

Eilín Bean Uí Churráin

Dr. Eithne Ní Ghallchobhair

Niall Ó Muilleoir

Séamus Mac Gairbheith.

Question No. 35 answered with QuestionNo. 33.

Rural Social Scheme.

Mary Upton

Ceist:

36 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the uptake in the rural social scheme programme; the cost to the Exchequer of each participant in the programme; and the financial incentives for participation in the programme. [24619/06]

There are currently 2,484 participants on the Rural Social Scheme (RSS). The rate of payment an RSS participant receives is determined by his/her personal/family circumstances and is based on their qualifying payment from the Department of Social & Family Affairs at the time of joining the Scheme and an appropriate top-up payment from the RSS.

The current maximum weekly rates payable under the Scheme are as follows: Participant without adult or child dependants: €190.20; Participant with adult dependant: €300.20; Each child dependant (full rate): €16.80; Each child dependant (half rate): €8.40. The Deputy should note that I recently announced an increase of 100 in the number of places available on the Scheme – from 2,500 to 2,600. I expect these places to be filled in the coming weeks. An amount of €43.322m has been provided in my Department's Estimates for the Scheme in 2006.

National Drugs Strategy.

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

37 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the progress which has been made in each regional drug task force area over the past year; the measures which have been enacted on the ground; the impact such measures have had; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31211/06]

Ten Regional Drugs Task Forces (RDTFs) have been established to cover all parts of the country not covered by a Local Drugs Task Force, thus achieving full coverage of the country. The RDTFs are charged with researching, developing, implementing and monitoring a co-ordinated response to illicit drug use at regional level. Each Task Force has an independent Chairperson and is made of representatives from the various Departments and agencies, as well as the community and voluntary sectors. The RDTFs produced strategic plans for their respective regions, having regard to evidence available on the extent and specific location of illicit drug use in the region.

An initial total allocation of €5m has been approved in 2006 to the ten RDTFs to commence implementation of their plans. It is envisaged that funding will be increased on an incremental basis to achieve the full roll-out of the RDTF plans currently estimated to cost €12m on an annual basis. Meanwhile, nine of the ten RDTFs now have full-time co-ordinators in place and the rate of progress is increasing.

The National Drug Strategy Team has been working closely with the RDTFs to get their programmes up and running. It is envisaged that 80 projects will be started by the end of 2006. These projects range from prevention initiatives and work with youth to treatment services and outreach work. Overall I am satisfied with the progress being made by the RDTFs and the increasing level of co-operation and partnership which is evident as they become more established. I have no doubt that the rate of progress being achieved will accelerate over the coming year.

Polasaí Gaeilge an Gharda Síochána.

Eamon Gilmore

Ceist:

38 D’fhiafraigh Mr. Gilmore den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta maidir le Ceist Pharlaiminteach 139 den 8 Feabhra 2006 cén teagmháil a bhí ag an Roinn le Coimisinéir an Gharda Síochána maidir le riachtanas Gaeilge do Ghardaí agus an bhfuil sé sásta leis an dul chun cinn atá déanta. [31298/06]

Dírím aird an Teachta ar an bhfreagra a thug an Tánaiste agus Aire Dlí agus Cirt, Comhionannais agus Athchóirithe Dlí ar Cheist Uimh. 186 arú inné faoin ábhar seo.

Irish Language.

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

39 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he is satisfied regarding the implementation to date of the Official Languages Act 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31289/06]

Joan Burton

Ceist:

46 Ms Burton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the number of language schemes approved by him under the Official Languages Act 2003; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31288/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 39 and 46 together.

As I have outlined on a number of occasions in this House, considerable progress has been made to date in the implementation, on a phased basis, of the provisions of the Official Languages Act 2003.

A total of 35 schemes prepared by public bodies, including that of my own Department, have now been confirmed by me and published. All of the 35 schemes are available on the website of An Coimisinéir Teanga,www.coimisineir.ie. In addition, my Department is in discussion with in excess of 60 additional public bodies in relation to completion of the process of drafting a scheme.

All provisions of the Act are now in operation. Oifig Choimisinéir na dTeangacha Oifigiúla has been established. In April of this year, I made Regulations that updated the list of public bodies covered under the Act. I have made 10 Placenames Orders to date including An tOrdú Logainmneacha (Ceantair Ghaeltachta) 2004. I have this week published and laid before each House of the Oireachtas a draft of regulations that I propose to make pursuant to section 9(1) of the Act. The draft regulations deal with the use of the Irish and English languages in pre-recorded oral announcements, on stationery and on signage by public bodies.

At my request, Foras na Gaeilge has developed an accreditation system for Irish language translators. I understand that the first panel of accredited translators has been established and is available to public bodies and the general public.

Having regard to the achievements I have just outlined, I am fully satisfied with the progress made to date in the implementation of the Act. I am also satisfied that the public bodies are able to fulfil their obligations under the Act and that they have accepted the challenge with a positive attitude and in the proper spirit. I should remind Deputies that each language scheme prepared by the public bodies under section 11 of the Act has been drawn up in the context of the resources — both in terms of finances and personnel — currently available or to be made available to bodies during the lifetime of each scheme. As I have stated from the beginning, while it will not be possible to achieve everything overnight, my main objective is that improvements in the range and quality of services available through Irish will be achieved over the lifetime of a number of schemes, subject to demand.

Decentralisation Programme.

Emmet Stagg

Ceist:

40 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the position regarding the decentralisation of his Department to County Mayo and County Sligo; when he expects the process to be complete; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31285/06]

Eamon Ryan

Ceist:

45 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the position regarding his Departments relocation process. [31225/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 40 and 45 together.

My Department is committed to relocating 140 posts to new headquarters at Knock Airport. OPW have indicated that the headquarters building will be in place there by mid 2008. To further the decentralisation process, 68 posts have been assigned to temporary offices in Tubbercurry, Co Sligo which opened in July of this year. The intention is that these posts will be relocated to Knock Airport when the new building is ready. The Department's programme for decentralisation to Na Forbacha, Galway involves relocating 10 posts. 8 posts have already relocated there and it is expected that the balance will be in place next year.

Pobal is relocating 40 posts to Clifden, 21 of which are now in place in temporary offices there. A selection process to fill a further 3 posts is ongoing and there is scope to increase those numbers to 29 if required. The full complement of staff will be relocated when Pobal's permanent offices are complete, which is expected early in 2008. In relation to the proposed relocation of Foras na Gaeilge posts to Gaoth Dobhair, please see my reply to other questions being answered today.

Proposed Legislation.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Ceist:

41 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the expected date of publication of the Charities Regulation Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31292/06]

It is anticipated that the Charities Regulation Bill, which is currently being drafted, will be published in early 2007.

Departmental Programmes.

Arthur Morgan

Ceist:

42 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if, in view of the growing crisis of crime and anti-social behaviour gripping local authority estates here, his Department will initiate strategies or responses to these problems; his views on whether it is the ethos of CLÁR and RAPID to be the vehicle to tackle these issues; and his further views on whether additional resources are needed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31189/06]

Addressing crime is a matter, in the first instance, for An Garda Síochána. However, the Deputy will be aware that my Department operates, either directly or through bodies under its aegis, a range of schemes and projects which address rural and urban disadvantage throughout the country. The main elements are described below.

Dormant Accounts:

Disbursements from the Dormant Accounts Fund are designed to tackle economic, social and educational disadvantage and to assist persons with a disability. In line with the commitment in the Dormant Accounts Disbursement Plan, allocations from the Fund are prioritised towards those areas designated as most disadvantaged (i.e. RAPID, Local Drugs Task Force and CLÁR areas). In July this year, details concerning the allocation of €11.35 million towards 188 priority projects in RAPID areas were announced.

CLÁR Programme:

Local Authority Housing Estate Enhancement Scheme:

The purpose of this Scheme is to provide funding, with Local Authorities, for the enhancement of Local Authority Housing Estates through works on landscaping, paving, etc. This Scheme is co-funded with Local Authority on a € for € basis with local contribution.

Community Services Programme:

The wide range of community activities funded by this Programme includes the staffing costs of operating community CCTV systems. The scheme also provides funding for the provision of supervision and security of community halls and facilities.

RAPID Programme:

I introduced the RAPID Leverage Schemes in 2004. Through these schemes my Department, in tandem with Departments that have primary responsibility, funds schemes to provide playgrounds, improve traffic measures, improve health facilities, support sporting organisations as well as improve local authority housing estates and flat complexes. Funding from other Departments and Agencies is matched by RAPID Leverage funding. The schemes are aimed at small-scale capital works – works that require relatively small amounts of funding but can produce real and concrete benefits to communities. They also allow the local community to have a direct input into deciding what projects will be undertaken by giving the Area Implementation Teams in each RAPID area the power to select the projects involved.

Also, my Department co-funds projects with the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform such as installation of Community Based CCTV, tackling the problem of graffiti and once off Dept. of Justice initiated projects to support communities in RAPID areas.

Community Development Programme:

Established in 1990 in recognition of the role of community development in tackling the causes and effects of poverty and disadvantage, the programme is designed to reduce social exclusion by targeting support at disadvantaged and socially excluded communities in order to improve their capacity to benefit from social and economic development. All projects are managed by local voluntary management committees. 182 projects are currently supported under the programme. These are located in recognised disadvantaged areas nationwide, in both urban and rural areas. Funding of €24m has been allocated to the programme for 2006. Projects are expected to operate as a resource to the communities in which they are located with their main purpose being to work with the community in identifying and tackling those issues which have resulted in a lack of positive community development. Projects are typically concerned with the needs of women and children, lone parent families, the unemployed, the elderly, young people at risk, Travellers, those with disabilities, new communities and other disadvantaged groups. Projects provide facilities such as meeting rooms, crèches, office facilities, training or education projects designed to meet the needs of disadvantaged groups in their communities. Projects are funded on a contract basis which facilitates the employment of staff and also cover project overheads and administration. Posts covered under the programme include co-ordinator, development worker and administrator. Many projects use the CDP structure and funding to attract funding from other sources including statutory agencies.

National Drugs Strategy:

Local and Regional Drugs Task Forces:

Fourteen Local Drugs Task Forces and Ten Regional Drugs Task Forces have been set up covering all parts of the country. Each Task Force is chaired by an independent chair and has representation from various Departments and agencies, including the community and voluntary sectors. The role of the Drugs Task Forces is to implement the strategic plan which it produced for its region to ensure the development of a co-ordinated and integrated response to illicit drug use. In 2006, the allocation for the implementation of the strategic plans of Drug Task Forces is in the region of €20m.

The Young People's Facilities and Services Fund (YPFSF):

The Young Peoples Facilities & Services Fund (YPFSF) was established in 1998 to assist in the development of facilities (including sport and recreational facilities) and services in disadvantaged areas where a significant drug problem existed or had the potential to develop. By developing youth, sport and other recreational facilities, the YPFSF seeks to attract "at risk" young people away from the potential dangers of misuse, into safe, non-threatening and constructive environments. Eighteen locations are covered — the 14 Local Drugs Task Force areas (12 in Dublin and the others in Bray and Cork) and 4 other urban areas of Limerick, Carlow, Waterford and Galway. A total of €106 million has been allocated to date under both capital and current projects.

Drug Treatment Programme.

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

43 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the efforts being made to liaise with local communities regarding the benefits to the entire community of rehabilitation services for drug users; his views on whether an information campaign on this important issue should be launched; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31275/06]

It has long been an aim of the National Drugs Strategy to convince communities of the benefits to the drug misuser, his/her family and the whole community of placing drug treatment and rehabilitation services in local communities to meet local demand. Indeed local provision of these services greatly helps to avoid the kind of problems that those who oppose such developments tend to fear.

The Local Drugs Task Forces, and the more recently established Regional Drugs Task Forces, provide the key mechanism for the co-ordination of mainstream treatment and rehabilitation services in their areas, while also facilitating the participation of local communities and voluntary organisations in the planning, design and delivery of some services. Drugs Task Forces are made up of nominees from Departments and agencies working in the region, involved, as well as community and voluntary representatives.

Rehabilitation of problem drug users is a key element of all Local Drug Task Force and Regional Drug Task Force plans, and gaining acceptance of local service provision has been a central part of the activities of the Task Forces. This has been achieved in many Drugs Task Force areas and where local opposition was encountered this was dealt with at a local level. Indeed there is an increasing acceptance within most communities of the need for local treatment and rehabilitation services, with a few unfortunate exceptions, some of which have got extensive media coverage recently. We will continue to facilitate local endeavours and work to convince reluctant communities through the success of facilities in other areas. The need for a wider information campaign will be kept under review.

Decentralisation Programme.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

44 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the progress which has been to date in relation to the decentralisation of staff employed by Foras na Gaeilge; when this will take place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31202/06]

Liz McManus

Ceist:

50 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the progress made to date in relation to locating a complement of 30 Foras na Gaeilge staff in Gaoth Dobhair; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31291/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 44 and 50 together.

As I indicated in previous replies to Questions in the House, the Board of Foras na Gaeilge has been asked to bring forward firm proposals in relation to the phases of locating a staff complement of 30 in Gaoth Dobhair, as well as the precise sections and functions to be located there. The current position is that a detailed business case in relation to the filling of a number of posts, including posts to be located in Gaoth Dobhair, is being prepared by Foras na Gaeilge and will, I understand, be submitted shortly. Once the business case has been examined and approved by the North-South Ministerial Council, arrangements for the location of Foras staff in Gaoth Dobhair will proceed.

Question No. 45 answered with QuestionNo. 40.
Question No. 46 answered with QuestionNo. 39.
Question No. 47 answered with QuestionNo. 23.

Community Development.

Dan Boyle

Ceist:

48 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will confirm the status of the White Paper on Voluntary Activity. [31217/06]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Question 36 on 29 June 2005. I indicated in my reply that the white paper remains Government policy and that my Department had commissioned a consultancy to advise on practical measures to further advance the key principles set out in the white paper in the light of the changed context since its publication.

The consultants' report, which underlines the crucial importance of the community and voluntary sector, made a number of key recommendations designed build on the achievements made to date and assist the sector to realise its potential. I am considering how best to progress these important recommendations and I will revert to the House on the matter at an early date.

Countryside Recreation.

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

49 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the latest position regarding the draft strategy of Comhairle na Tuaithe; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31287/06]

Dan Boyle

Ceist:

58 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his views on the recommendations of the report of Comhairle na Tuaithe. [31216/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 49 and 58 together.

I am pleased to say Comhairle na Tuaithe agreed its Countryside Recreation Strategy at the end of August. It was presented to me in early September and I launched the report at the National Ploughing Championships in Tullow, Co. Carlow last week.

As the Deputies are aware Comhairle na Tuaithe comprises representatives of State bodies with an interest in the countryside, the farming organisations and recreational users of the countryside and is chaired by my Department. Comhairle na Tuaithe's strategy defines the scope and vision for countryside recreation and it sets out the broad principles under which Comhairle na Tuaithe recommends that sustainable countryside recreation can be managed into the future. All its members, with the exception of the Irish Farmers' Association, have endorsed the report.

Comhairle na Tuaithe's vision for countryside recreation encompasses a countryside, which welcomes all visitors who practise responsible use of the resource, and where the rights and responsibilities of both landowners and recreational users are respected. The report sets out the broad principles under which it recommends that sustainable countryside recreation can be managed into the future. It also set out the tasks which Comhairle na Tuaithe recommends should be undertaken to achieve this vision and recommends the actions needed to be taken and by which bodies.

I welcome the report and would like to put on record of this house my thanks to the members of Comhairle na Tuaithe for all of their hard work and dedication in coming to this agreement. Its membership is diverse and the organisations represented have their own individual views on the issues presented in the report but have arrived at a consensus on its contents. I will study the recommended strategy and will consult as appropriate with other Departments and public bodies on the wider recommendations in the report.

I intend taking a number of immediate actions arising from my initial consideration of the report. I am making €1.5 million funding available for capital work under the Rural Social Scheme and I am asking the implementing bodies, which are in most cases LEADER companies, to give particular priority to walkways and ancillary services. Fáilte Ireland has already identified a selection of looped walks which it has publicised in its brochure – Walking Ireland – and on its website. My Department in consultation with the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism, Fáilte Ireland and the National Waymarked Ways are identifying further looped walks and waymarked ways for development. Details will be made available over the coming weeks and months of the work required to bring these up to the best international standards. It is my intention to set aside a further €1.5 million this purpose.

The Rural Development package 2007-2013 offers a trebling of EU and National funding for rural development under a LEADER type programme. Three of my priorities under this programme will be: the development of recreational tourism including the development of facilities for walking, cycling, angling, pony trekking, bird watching etc and ancillary facilities such as car parking, and other services such as signage, village renewal etc.; the complementary development of the broader rural tourism package such as upgraded accommodation, food tourism and other services; and the development of small or regional food sectors to add significantly to the unique experience for our visitors.

My Department also is actively pursuing the possibility of using former railway infrastructure as recreational trails for cycling etc. with the Department of Transport and Iarnród Éireann. I have reached agreement with Fáilte Ireland for the employment of up to 10 Walk Managers under the Community Services Programme to promote walking tourism in areas where there are clusters of suitable, accessible walks. These Walk Managers will act as a contact person for walking tourists and will provide a wide range of support and advice.

The Deputies will be aware that Comhairle na Tuaithe agreed the key features necessary for countryside code development with a focus on the potential application of the internationally-recognised Leave No Trace initiative. A branch of Leave No Trace has recently been established in Ireland and I am pleased to announce that my Department will be supporting that organisation by allocating €30,000 towards the employment of a Strategic Co-ordinator. The Co-ordinator will be involved in actively promoting the Leave No Trace message among the many countryside recreation groups around the country.

I have also allocated €90,000 (€30,000 per annum over the next three years) to Wicklow Uplands Council and Wicklow Rural Partnership to provide a network of access routes over private lands in areas of high scenic and amenity value in County Wicklow. This project is an example of how community based solutions can be found to issues such as access to the countryside and is very much in keeping with Comhairle na Tuaithe's recommendations. I see the project as a way of piloting some of the suggestions in Comhairle na Tuaithe's report and am very pleased to see that Wicklow County Council have joined my Department in funding the project.

Comhairle na Tuaithe has raised a number of legal issues to be addressed. These include that the Attorney General be requested to examine restating and/or reflecting in legislation the current common law position in relation to the protection of landowners' property rights where recreational access is allowed on their land along with a proposal that the Law Reform Commission be requested to make recommendation on the broad issue of access to the countryside for recreational users. I am concerned to ensure that these matters are addressed as a matter of priority. To expedite matters I am establishing an expert group, comprising a Senior Counsel and officials from the Office of the Attorney General, the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and from my own Department to urgently advise on tackling each of the legal issues raised.

Question No. 50 answered with QuestionNo. 44.
Questions Nos. 51 and 52 answered with Question No. 33.

National Drugs Strategy.

Simon Coveney

Ceist:

53 Mr. Coveney asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he supports the ring fencing of moneys seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau for drug prevention and rehabilitation projects; if not the reason he does not support this proposal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31209/06]

The critical issue is the level of overall funding made available for the implementation of the National Drugs Strategy and in that regard I am fully satisfied with the amount of €43m made available this year under the Vote of my own Department. The earmarking of particular revenues for specific expenditure purposes is generally avoided as it is much more cumbersome to operate than utilising a central fund. In any case, the allocation of drugs-related CAB money to drugs misuse programmes would imply uncertain and variable amounts coming available and the process of releasing such money takes a number of years. Furthermore, the allocation of CAB receipts would not necessarily imply an increase in overall funding.

The fact is that the Government's overall spend on drugs initiatives amounts to much more than the amount taken in by CAB over the years. For example, in 2005 in the region of €195m was allocated by the Government for drugs related programmes across the Votes of a number of Departments. This figure far outstrips any CAB receipts that would have been available in the same period. The allocation of €43m to my Department's Vote for the Drugs Initiative/Young People's Facilities and Services Fund in 2006 represents an increase of 37% on the original 2005 allocation and a massive 61% increase on the 2004 allocation. Overall, I am satisfied that current Government expenditure on drugs is sufficient to meet the needs of those involved in tackling the effects of the misuse of drugs.

Question No. 54 answered with QuestionNo. 15.

An Teanga Ghaeilge.

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

55 D’fhiafraigh Ms O’Sullivan den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta cathain a fhoilseoidh sé, ar son an Rialtais, an ráiteas ar an nGaeilge atá geallta aige. [31300/06]

Mar atá mínithe cheana féin agam don Teach mar fhreagra ar cheisteanna faoin ábhar seo, tá inmholtacht ráitis shoiléir ón Rialtas i ndáil le ról agus tábhacht na Gaeilge tagtha chun cinn mar ábhar tosaíochta faoi leith. Tá dul chun cinn suntasach déanta le tamall gearr anuas chun an ráiteas sin a thógáil céim chun tosaigh agus tá súil agam a bheith in ann tuilleadh a rá faoi go luath.

National Drugs Strategy.

Liz McManus

Ceist:

56 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his views on a new report commissioned by the National Advisory Committee on Drugs and carried out by the National University of Ireland, Maynooth which shows a significant reduction in drug use and involvement in crime among serious drug users after one year’s treatment; if, in view of this report, he will expand treatment and rehabilitation services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31277/06]

I launched the Research Outcome Study in Ireland (ROSIE) evaluating drug treatment effectiveness in September. The study shows that the Government's investment in drug treatment is producing tangible positive results. This NACD-commissioned study (under Action 99 of the NDS) involved 404 people who were recruited when entering treatment for opiate use. They were then interviewed periodically and changes were observed and documented. The study group included those on methadone maintenance, structured detoxification and abstinence-based treatment, involving both in-patient and out-patient settings. The geographical spread represented the provision of services and inner-city, urban and rural areas were involved. There was a 75/25 mix of male and female participants.

The key messages from the outcomes at the end of the first year are as follows: significant reductions in heroin and other drug use; 27% abstinent from all drugs after 1 year (this compared to 7% at treatment intake); extensive reductions in drug injecting (both in the number of days and the number of times per day); improvements in physical and mental health; extensive reductions in criminal activity; increased contact with health and social care services; and low mortality rate (2 people); I welcome this research which provides reassurance that the Government's drug treatment initiatives are showing positive results, thus benefiting drug misusers, their families and their wider communities. The expansion of treatment and rehabilitation services, where necessary, has always been a cornerstone of the National Drugs Strategy and this will continue to be the case. Meanwhile, I have decided to extend the ROSIE study to track those who participated in it over a three-year period so that the medium term impact of treatment can be monitored.

Immigrant Services.

Seán Ryan

Ceist:

57 Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the new projects targeted at vulnerable immigrant families that he has provided with money from the Dormant Accounts Fund; the amount of money provided; his views on whether this is sufficient to assist vulnerable immigrant families; the type of services that will be provided; if he will provide further funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31282/06]

On 4th January 2006, following Government approval, I announced details of the allocation of €24 million from the Dormant Accounts Fund for the purpose of supporting programmes and projects tacking economic and social disadvantage. The rollout of these programmes is well underway. Within this category I announced in August last that the Government has approved the allocation of €574,989 from the Dormant Accounts Fund to six projects targeted at vulnerable immigrant families. The key objective of this funding is to provide supports that will increase the employability of vulnerable immigrant families who have been granted refugee status or who have been granted leave to remain in the State. Projects include pre-employment training programmes and strategies, job-seeking programmes and measures to promote access to employment. Full details of the awards are included at Appendix 1.

The integration of refugees and other non-nationals into Irish society is an urgent and important issue. This funding is a further step in the process of integration and is directed primarily at facilitating access to employment in the short to medium term. This funding is additional and complementary to initiatives in respect of the integration of legally resident immigrants taken by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform which has a coordinating role in this area.

In this context, the Deputy may be aware that my colleague, the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Equality and Law Reform recently decided to establish a €5 million Fund to support integration related activities to cover all legally resident migrants, including immigrant families. A total of €2 million will be used to fund integration initiatives both from the new Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Services and projects linked to the National Action Plan against Racism. The balance of €3 million will be used to fund projects from NGOs (€1 million) and local partnerships (€2 million) and will be administered on behalf of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform by Pobal.

Dormant Accounts Fund 2006

Social and Economic Disadvantage; Measure — Vulnerable Immigrants

Name of Group

Purpose of Grant

Type of Funding

Amount Recommended

Blanchardstown Area Partnership

Developing a pre-employment training programme for immigrant families who have been granted refugee status or who have been granted leave to remain in the State.

Current

69,900.00

Drogheda Partnership Group

Developing a job-seeking programme for immigrant families who have been granted refugee status or who have been granted leave to remain in the State.

Current

113,000.00

Waterford Area Partnership

Implementing a pre-employment strategy for immigrant families who have been granted refugee status or who have been granted leave to remain in the State.

Current

127,666.00

Meitheal Mhaigheo Teo.

Promoting access to employment for immigrant families who have been granted refugee status or who have been granted leave to remain in the State.

Current

117,983.00

Cork City Partnership

Developing a project to assist immigrant families who have been granted refugee status or who have been granted leave to remain in the State in finding meaningful employment.

Current

99,000.00

Partnership Trá Lí

Providing supports for vulnerable immigrant families who have been granted refugee status or who have been granted leave to remain in the State to progress to employment.

Current

47,440.00

574,989.00

Question No. 58 answered with QuestionNo. 49.

Údarás na Gaeltachta.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Ceist:

59 Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the consultations that occurred with his Department regarding the employment as fundraiser of a former Údarás na Gaeltachta chief executive for University College Galway. [31218/06]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Questions Nos 1145, 1146, 1147, 1148 and 1149 of 27 Meán Fómhair 2006, wherein I clarified that my Department had no role in the awarding of a part-time employment contract to the former Údarás na Gaeltachta Chief Executive by NUI Galway. Accordingly, no consultations took place with my Department in this regard.

However, in the period leading up to the imminent chief executive vacancy, contacts were made between officials of my Department and Údarás na Gaeltachta regarding proper procedures to be adhered to in relation to the appointment of a new chief executive, and in matters relating to the severance arrangements for the outgoing chief executive. In the course of this dialogue, my officials emphasised that the severance arrangements were required to be in line with the conditions set down by the Department of Finance in May 1998 regarding Severance and Early Retirement for Chief Executives of State Sponsored Bodies.

Foclóir Béarla-Gaeilge.

Michael D. Higgins

Ceist:

60 D’fhiafraigh Mr. M. Higgins den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta cathain a thosóidh Céim a Dó de thionscadal an fhoclóra Béarla-Gaeilge. [31299/06]

Tá tugtha le fios dom ag Foras na Gaeilge go bhfuil post mar Bhainisteoir Tionscadail don togra foclóra fógartha acu le seachtain anuas agus go mbeidh na hagallaimh ann roimh Nollaig. Táthar ag súil go mbeidh an post líonta go gairid ina dhiaidh sin. Beidh sé mar phríomh-chúram tosaigh ar an té a cheapfar sa phost seo an comórtas tairisceana le haghaidh Céim a Dó den togra foclóra a reachtáil agus a thabhairt chun críche. Ag brath ar chúinsí, meastar go bhféadfadh conraitheoir(í) do Chéim a Dó a bheith roghnaithe faoi lár na bliana seo chugainn agus an obair tosaithe go gairid ina dhiaidh sin. Tuigtear gur obair 3-4 bliana a bheidh i gceist le Céim a Dó a chur i gcrích. Ina dhiaidh sin, beidh an dá leagan (leictreonach agus clóite) den Fhoclóir críochnaithe le táirgeadh. Próiseas idir 6 mhí agus bliain a mheastar a bheidh ansin.

Community Development.

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

61 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the latest position regarding the formal evaluation of the RAPID programme that was initiated by POBAL following discussions with his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31393/06]

I dealt with this issue in my reply to Priority Question No. 4 earlier today.

National Drugs Strategy.

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

62 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the situation regarding the use and spread of crack cocaine here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31394/06]

Through the implementation structures of the National Drugs Strategy, my officials have on-going contact with representatives of An Garda Síochána, and the prevalence of crack cocaine in the country is among the issues discussed from time to time. I also periodically meet senior officers of An Garda Síochána to review developments in regard to illicit drugs.

The Gardaí are satisfied that the use of crack cocaine is largely confined to a small geographical area in Dublin. Furthermore, they have had some success in targeting the supply and use of this drug in that area. Also, in my visits to various Drugs Task Force areas in the past year or so, the issue of crack cocaine did not arise to any great extent in my discussions with community representatives and others on the nature of the drug problem in their regions.

I am confident that, through the implementation of the actions in the National Drugs Strategy, the projects and initiatives operated through the Local and Regional Drugs Task Forces and the operations of an Garda Síochána, the problem of crack cocaine use can be, and is being, addressed. Each of the Drugs Task Forces has in place an action plan to tackle drug use in their area based on their own identified priorities and they continue to have ongoing contact with their local communities.

However, I fully accept that a potential danger exists that the use of crack cocaine could spread rapidly and I assure the Deputy that I will continue to monitor the situation and that I will ensure that any necessary steps are taken to address increased threats, should they arise.

Road Safety.

Olivia Mitchell

Ceist:

63 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the status of plans to outsource speed cameras; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31356/06]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 411 of Wednesday, 27 September, 2006.

Garda Deployment.

Pat Breen

Ceist:

64 Mr. P. Breen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when extra Gardaí will be appointed to Miltown Malbay Garda Station, County Clare as promised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31357/06]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities, who are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that the personnel strength (all ranks) of An Garda Síochána increased to a record 12,762 on Friday, 8 September, 2006, following the attestation of 249 new members. This compares with a total strength of 10,702 (all ranks) as at 30 June, 1997 and represents an increase of 2,060 (or 19%) in the personnel strength of the Force during that period. The Garda Budget now stands at €1.3 billion, a 13% increase on 2005 and an 85% increase since 1997 in real terms.

I have been further informed that the personnel strength (all ranks) of Miltown Malbay Garda Station as at 4 October, 2006 was 3. Miltown Malbay Garda Station forms part of the Clare Division. The personnel strength (all ranks) of the Clare Division as at 31 December, 1997 and 4 October, 2006 was 219 and 319, respectively, representing an increase of 100 (or 46%) in the number of Gardaí assigned to the Clare Division during that period.

In addition, I would point out to the Deputy that the Division's resources are further augmented by a number of Garda National Units such as the Garda National Drugs Unit, the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB), the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) and other specialised units.

It is the responsibility of Garda management to allocate personnel to and within Divisions on a priority basis in accordance with the requirements of different areas. These personnel allocations are determined by a number of factors including demographics, crime trends, administrative functions and other operational policing needs. Garda management state that such allocations are continually monitored and reviewed along with overall policing arrangements and operational strategy. This ensures that optimum use is made of Garda resources, and that the best possible service is provided to the public.

I should add that the current recruitment drive to increase the strength of the Garda Síochána to 14,000 members, in line with the commitment in the Agreed Programme for Government, is fully on target. This will lead to a combined strength, of both attested Gardaí and recruits in training, of 14,000 by the end of this year. The first three groups of newly attested Gardaí under this accelerated recruitment programme came on stream in March, June and September of this year and the fourth such group will become fully attested members of the Force later this year. Further tranches of approximately 275 newly attested Gardaí will follow every 90 days thereafter until the programme is complete. The Garda Commissioner will now be drawing up plans on how best to distribute and manage these additional resources, and in this context the needs of Miltown Malbay Garda station will be given the fullest consideration.

Pat Breen

Ceist:

65 Mr. P. Breen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when extra Gardaí will be appointed to Lahinch Garda Station; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31358/06]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities, who are responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, that the personnel strength (all ranks) of An Garda Síochána increased to a record 12,762 on Friday, 8 September, 2006, following the attestation of 249 new members. This compares with a total strength of 10,702 (all ranks) as at 30 June, 1997 and represents an increase of 2,060 (or 19%) in the personnel strength of the Force during that period. The Garda Budget now stands at €1.3 billion, a 13% increase on 2005 and an 85% increase since 1997 in real terms.

I have also been informed by the Garda authorities that the personnel strength of Lahinch Garda Station as at 4 October, 2006 was 3 (all ranks). The personnel strength of Lahinch Garda Station as at 31 December, 1997 was 1 (all ranks). Lahinch Garda Station forms part of the Clare Division. The personnel strength (all ranks) of the Clare Garda Divisions as at 31 December, 1997 and 4 October, 2006 was 219 and 319, respectively, representing an increase 100 (or 46%) in the number of Garda personnel assigned to that division during that period.

In addition, I would point out that the Division's resources are further augmented by a number of Garda National Units such as the Garda National Drugs Unit, the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB), the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) and other specialised units.

It is the responsibility of Garda management to allocate personnel to and within Divisions on a priority basis in accordance with the requirements of different areas. These personnel allocations are determined by a number of factors including demographics, crime trends, administrative functions and other operational policing needs. Garda management state that such allocations are continually monitored and reviewed along with overall policing arrangements and operational strategy. This ensures that optimum use is made of Garda resources, and that the best possible service is provided to the public.

I should add that the current recruitment drive to increase the strength of the Garda Síochána to 14,000 members, in line with the commitment in the Agreed Programme for Government, is fully on target. This will lead to a combined strength, of both attested Gardaí and recruits in training, of 14,000 by the end of this year. The first three groups of newly attested Gardaí under this accelerated recruitment programme came on stream in March, June and September of this year and the fourth such group will become fully attested members of the Force later this year. Further tranches of approximately 275 newly attested Gardaí will follow every 90 days thereafter until the programme is complete. The Garda Commissioner will now be drawing up plans on how best to distribute and manage these additional resources, and in this context the needs of the areas referred to by the Deputy will be given the fullest consideration.

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

66 Mr. Howlin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if 24 hour Garda cover is to be provided at Ardee Garda Station, County Louth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31359/06]

I refer the Deputy to my previous reply to Parliamentary Question No. 445 of 27 September, 2006 regarding the opening hours of Ardee Garda Station.

Garda personnel assigned to Ardee Garda Station, together with overall policing arrangements and operational strategy, are the responsibility of Garda management and are continually monitored and reviewed. I am informed that such monitoring ensures that optimum use is made of Garda resources, and the best possible Garda service is provided to the general public.

I have been further informed that Local Garda Management report that there is a local Garda presence between the hours of 8 a.m. and 2 a.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 4 a.m. at weekends. During the remaining periods Gardaí attached to the District Headquarters Station at Navan cover the Ardee Sub-District.

Resources are augmented from within the Division/District as required. The area is also patrolled by the District Detective Unit.

Citizenship Applications.

John Cregan

Ceist:

67 Mr. Cregan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when an application for Irish citizenship will be processed for a person (details supplied) in County Limerick in view of the delay already experienced by this person; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31381/06]

An application from the person referred to in the Deputy's question was received on 15 March 2004. I understand that the processing of the application has recently been completed and that the case file is en route to me for a decision. I will advise the Deputy and the person in question as soon as I have reached that decision.

Prison Building Programme.

Joe Costello

Ceist:

68 Mr. Costello asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the findings of the Comptroller and Auditor General that he paid at least twice the market value for 150 acres of land at Thornton Hall for a new prison site and that a more prudent approach could have saved the taxpayer €15 million on that transaction; if he will meet the local residents of Rolestown and Kilsallaghan with a view to reviewing the project; if he will allow Dublin City councillors and officials access to the Mountjoy prison complex; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31405/06]

The issue of the acquisition of a prison site at Thornton was included in the 2005 report of the Comptroller and Auditor General at the request of the Public Accounts Committee and will be examined by them in October. The relevant officials from my Department will be present to account in detail to the Public Accounts Committee on all the issues raised by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

The Public Accounts Committee is the proper forum to address these matters and I am reluctant to show any lack of respect to that Committee by trying to anticipate or pre-empt their examination. However, I have to note that the Comptroller and Auditor General does not state that too much was paid for Thornton. Rather, to quote his main conclusion, he states that "a well-managed, third party approach might have allowed the Prison Service to procure suitable land at a much lower price than was paid for the land at Thornton".

Let us be clear that in this context a "third party approach" means that a site would be acquired in secret. No one would be told that the State was involved or that land was being sought for the most significant penal development in the history of the State. There would have been no public advertisement, no information given in Dáil answers and a very restricted assessment process.

The Accounting Officer of my Department has already gone on record stating that in the light of the nature of this particular project and to ensure proper accountability, a deliberate and principled decision was taken not to use a third party approach. The strategic, moral and practical reasons for that decision are outlined in the report and have not been contradicted by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

My Department's Accounting Officer is satisfied that it would not have been possible to obtain a site as suitable as Thornton for any less than was paid. The information available to me is that no site of comparable quality and suitability closer to Dublin City Centre has changed hands in recent times for less than what was paid for Thornton.

I have already met with representatives of the local community concerning the decision to build the new prison complex at Thornton Hall. In addition, there have been a number of meetings held between officials from the Irish Prison Service and members of the local community. Any further such requests for meeting will be facilitated by the Irish Prison Service, where possible.

Finally, any requests for visits to the current Mountjoy Prison Complex by members or officials of Dublin City Council will be considered by the Irish Prison Service on foot of a formal request setting out the context and purpose of the proposed visit.

Asylum Applications.

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

69 Mr. Penrose asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in relation to an application for leave to remain in the State by persons (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31406/06]

The two persons referred to are a married couple, both Romanian nationals, who previously applied for asylum in the State.

The first person concerned arrived in the State on 10 March, 1995 and applied for asylum. Initially he was refused status as a refugee but subsequently was granted temporary leave to remain in the State, on 26 August, 1999. The leave to remain was further extended until 15 September, 2006. He has applied for renewal of this leave to remain and a decision is expected in due course.

The second person concerned arrived in the State on 19 November, 2000 and applied for asylum. She was refused status as a refugee. A deportation order was signed in respect of her on 30 November, 2001 following consideration of her case under section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996. A notification of the deportation order issued to her last known address on 7 December, 2001 requiring her to present herself to the Garda National Immigration Bureau on 14 December 2001. The person failed to attend and was deemed to have evaded deportation.

The couple married in Dublin on 28 March 2002. The second person concerned has since applied for revocation of the deportation order based on her marriage to a long-term resident, her own time in the State and promise of employment in her husband's business. Consideration is being given to this application at present and a decision will issue in due course.

Disability Awareness Programmes.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

70 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will make a statement on the Government’s disability awareness programmes currently in place; and the plans he has to expand these programmes, particularly among young people. [31407/06]

One of my Department's functions is the promotion of social inclusion for people with disabilities through raising awareness of disability equality and access issues. My Department has set in motion a number of initiatives aimed at achieving this goal which have proved successful over the past number of years. The following are the main activities currently undertaken by my Department in this area:

The European Commission supports events at European level to mark the UN's International Day for Persons with Disabilities. EU Governments support their own National Information Days on Disability. Ireland has held a National Information Day on Disability in each of the last nine years. This year marks the tenth National Information Day on Disabilities and my Department together with the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) will run a primary schools essay writing competition, under the theme of "Games we can all play". The aim is to get younger children thinking about people with disabilities in a positive way, through the sharing of ideas and through interaction with people with disabilities. The competition culminates in a national prize giving ceremony in Dublin and this year the winning entries will be used to supplement the revised primary schools curriculum in Physical Education.

My Department supported the production of a third television series of "Three60" in 2006. The programme, produced by Animo Communications, was shown on RTE1 between July and August of 2006. The main sponsors of the programme were FÁS, Rehab, RTE and my Department. The series, consisting of nine half-hour programmes focused on people with disabilities and their families and carers.

My Department is also supporting the production of the seventh series of the television programme "About the House". The programme is produced by Earth Horizon Productions and will consist of 13 programmes to be screened on RTE1 between September and December 2006. The "About the House" series tackles issues of accessible architectural design and the application of building regulations; it will also highlight accessibility issues such as Part M of the building regulations, adaptation and independent living for those with disabilities.

Animal Welfare.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

71 Ms Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of horses seized by Gardaí under the Control of Horses Act, 1996 in the last three years for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31420/06]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that there were four horses seized in 2003, seven in 2004 and four in 2005. No horses have been seized to date in 2006.

The following legislation provides for the seizure of horses: the Control of Horses Act 1996; the Protection of Animals Acts 1911 and 1965; and the Summary Jurisdiction (Ireland) Act 1851 as amended by the Animal Act 1985.

Asylum Applications.

Gerard Murphy

Ceist:

72 Mr. G. Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when an application to remain in the State by a person (details supplied) in County Cork will be processed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31436/06]

The person concerned, a Nigerian national, arrived in the State on 24 November, 2004 and applied for asylum. Her application was refused following consideration of the case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and on appeal by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999, as amended, the person concerned was informed by letter dated 27 October, 2005 that the Minister was proposing to make a deportation order in respect of her. She was, in accordance with the Act, given the option of making representations, within 15 working days, setting out the reasons why she should not be deported i.e. be allowed to remain temporarily in the State; leaving the State before the deportation order was made; or consenting to the making of the deportation order. She applied on 23 March, 2005 for permission to remain in the State on the basis of parentage of an Irish born child born before 1 January, 2005; her application was refused on 14 November, 2005 because her Irish born daughter was born on 7 March 2005. Representations setting out reasons why she should not be deported were subsequently received on 30 November, 2005.

I expect the case file in this matter to be submitted to me for decision in due course. This decision will be taken having regard to considerations specified in section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999, as amended. These considerations include matters relating to the common good, the person's family and domestic circumstances, as well as humanitarian considerations. Consideration will also be given to the prohibition of refoulement which is contained in section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996, as amended.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

73 Mr. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to the residency status in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31470/06]

The person in question made an application for permission to remain in the State under the revised arrangements announced by me on 15 January 2005 for parents of Irish children born before 1 January 2005, and commonly referred to as the IBC/05 scheme.

It is a requirement of the IBC/05 scheme that each applicant be of good character and give honest and complete details in the application form submitted. The person in question was convicted of a number of offences in the State. He also failed to indicate this on his application form. His application for residency in the State was refused on this basis and he was notified that he did not meet the requirements of the IBC/05 scheme on 4 January 2006.

Judicial Review proceedings were instituted on 26 June 2006 and accordingly, as the matter issub judice I do not propose to comment further on the matter.

Tax Code.

Paul McGrath

Ceist:

74 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the annual percentage PAYE of taxpayers who paid income tax at the higher rate in each of the past ten years; the number of taxpayers in this category; and the estimated figure for the current tax year. [31325/06]

Paul McGrath

Ceist:

75 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the annual percentage of PAYE workers who were tax exempt in each of the past ten years; and the number of taxpayers in this category. [31326/06]

Paul McGrath

Ceist:

76 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the annual percentage of PAYE taxpayers who paid income tax at the lower rate in each of the past ten years; and the number of taxpayers in this category. [31327/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 74 to 76, inclusive, together.

It is assumed that what the Deputy requires are the numbers in each category as a percentage of all PAYE income earners on the tax record. I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the information requested by the Deputy is set out in the following table.

Distribution of PAYE earners in different tax bands 1996/97 to 2006

Tax Year

Exempt

Standard Rate#

Higher Rate

No.

%

No.

%

No.

%

1996/1997

289,200

24.0

568,600

47.1

349,400

28.9

1997/1998

319,700

24.6

598,000

46.1

379,900

29.3

1998/1999

340,700

24.6

615,100

44.3

431,200

31.1

1999/2000

399,000

27.4

564,600

38.7

494,900

33.9

2000/2001

436,000

28.0

630,200

40.5

489,800

31.5

2001**

464,200

29.4

636,500

40.2

481,100

30.4

2002

565,900

33.7

654,100

39.0

458,000

27.3

2003

587,800

34.1

626,500

36.3

510,300

29.6

2004*

618,700

34.7

574,900

32.2

589,600

33.1

2005*

675,000

36.0

569,700

30.4

629,400

33.6

2006*

722,600

37.1

602,100

31.0

620,900

31.9

#Includes taxpayers benefiting from marginal relief.

*Provisional and likely to be revised.

**Short tax "year" from 6 April 2001 to 31 December 2001.

The percentages in the table are expressed in terms of the numbers of all PAYE income earners on the income tax record. The figures for numbers of income earners have been rounded to the nearest hundred. The figures for the years 1996-97 to 2003 inclusive are based on incomes data derived from income tax returns held on Revenue records and have been grossed up to an overall expected level to adjust for incompleteness in the numbers of returns on record at the time the data was extracted for analytical purposes.

For the years prior to 2004, the figures shown in the table are actual historical figures. For the years 2004 to date, they are estimates relating to the three categories derived from the Revenue tax forecasting model using actual data for the year 2003 adjusted to reflect actual or estimated growth in employment and wages for the year in question.

From the 1999-2000 tax year onwards, the personal credits, formerly allowances, and employee credit, formerly PAYE allowance, are deducted after tax is calculated rather than before the tax calculation, as was previously the case. This should be taken into account in comparing numbers for 1999-2000 and later years with earlier years. A married couple who has elected or has been deemed to have elected for joint assessment is counted as one tax unit.

Paul McGrath

Ceist:

77 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the annual percentage of self-employed taxpayers who paid income tax at the higher rate in each of the past ten years; the number of taxpayers in this category; and the estimated figure for the current tax year. [31328/06]

Paul McGrath

Ceist:

78 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the annual percentage of self-employed workers who were tax exempt in each of the past ten years; and the number of taxpayers in this category. [31329/06]

Paul McGrath

Ceist:

79 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the annual percentage of self-employed taxpayers who paid income tax at the lower rate in each of the past ten years and the number of taxpayers in this category. [31330/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 77 to 79, inclusive, together.

It is assumed that what the Deputy requires are the numbers in each category as a percentage of all self-employed income earners on the tax record. I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the information requested by the Deputy is set out in the following table.

Distribution of Self-Employed earners in different tax bands 1996/97 to 2006.

Tax Year

Exempt

Standard Rate#

Higher Rate

No.

%

No.

%

No.

%

1996/1997

57,000

31.2

86,600

47.4

39,100

21.4

1997/1998

60,700

31.1

90,500

46.3

44,200

22.6

1998/1999

57,200

28.9

89,900

45.4

50,800

25.7

1999/2000

59,700

28.6

100,900

48.3

48,100

23.1

2000/2001

66,400

31.8

92,000

44.0

50,600

24.2

2001**

63,700

30.6

90,500

43.5

53,900

25.9

2002

66,800

32.3

91,400

44.1

48,800

23.6

2003*

61,500

30.4

89,700

44.2

51,400

25.4

2004*

58,300

27.8

92,600

44.1

59,000

28.1

2005*

57,400

27.1

93,500

44.1

61,100

28.8

2006*

53,500

24.9

98,700

45.9

62,800

29.2

#Includes taxpayers benefiting from marginal relief.

*Provisional and likely to be revised.

**Short tax "year" from 6 April 2001 to 31 December 2001.

The percentages in the table are expressed in terms of the numbers of all self-employed income earners on the income tax record. The figures for numbers of income earners have been rounded to the nearest hundred. The figures for the years 1996-97 to 2003 inclusive are based on incomes data derived from income tax returns held on Revenue records and have been grossed-up to an overall expected level to adjust for incompleteness in the numbers of returns on record at the time the data was extracted for analytical purposes.

For the years prior to 2004, the figures shown in the table are actual historical figures. For the years 2004 to-date, they are estimates relating to the three categories which are derived from the Revenue tax forecasting model using actual data for the year 2003 adjusted to reflect actual or estimated growth in employment and wages for the year in question.

From the 1999-2000 tax year onwards, the personal credits, formerly allowances, and employee credit, formerly PAYE allowance, are deducted after tax is calculated rather than before the tax calculation as was previously the case. This should be taken into account in comparing numbers for 1999-2000 and later years with earlier years. A married couple who has elected or has been deemed to have elected for joint assessment is counted as one tax unit.

Paul McGrath

Ceist:

80 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the level of stamp duty which currently exists for a first time buyer of a house which is valued with a market value of €320,000, €350,000, €400,000, €450,000 and €500,000. [31331/06]

In the case of a second-hand house, the stamp duty payable is:

Market Value of House

Stamp Duty

320,000

9,600

350,000

10,500

400,000

24,000

500,000

30,000

In the case of a new house, stamp duty will not be payable where the size of the house does not exceed 125m2. Where the house is bigger than 125m2, stamp duty will be charged, using the second-hand residential property rates, on the greater of the site value or 25% of the property value.

Tax Yield.

Paul McGrath

Ceist:

81 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the amount of revenue which was generated from the collection of stamp duty for first-time buyers and for other buyers of houses on the property market here in each of the years, 2000 to 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31332/06]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the relevant information is not available for years prior to 2001. The following is the information available:

Year

Stamp Duty Yield from sales of Residential Property

Stamp Duty Yield where First-Time Buyer Relief applied *

Stamp Duty Yield — Other Buyers

€ million

€ million

€ million

2000

282

Not available

Not available

2001

265

22

243

2002

349

29

320

2003

528

52

476

2004

752

71

681

2005

945

44

901

* First-time buyers are identifiable where they have qualified for the first-time buyer relief and paid stamp duty at a lower rate than other buyers. As stamp duty rates for property transactions exceeding €381,000 (up to 1 December 2004) and exceeding €635,000 (on or after 2 December 2004) were the same for all residential purchasers, it is not possible to distinguish first time buyer transactions in excess of these values.

Tax Code.

Paul McGrath

Ceist:

82 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the 10 most popular occupations or professions in respect of self-employed persons earning more that €200,000 per annum. [31333/06]

Paul McGrath

Ceist:

90 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the 10 most popular occupations or professions in respect of PAYE workers earning more that €200,000 per annum. [31341/06]

It is proposed to take Questions Nos. 82 and 90 together.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the latest relevant sector-based information available on employees taxed under the PAYE system and self-employed persons taxed under the self-assessment system is derived from income tax returns filed for the income tax year 2003. It is not possible at present to provide the information sought for a more recent year if the data are to be reasonably accurate.

The sector identifier used on the tax records is based on the 4 digit "NACE code (Rev. 1)" which is an internationally recognised economic activity code system. On this basis, the information requested is as follows:

Gross income exceeding €200,000 by NACE Economic Activity Code, 2003.

Employees

Sector (economic activity code)

Number of income earners with gross income exceeding €200,000

Cases where no sector identified (9991)

1,110

Letting of own property (70.20)

481

Medical practice activities (85.12)

319

Monetary intermediation (65.12)

290

Hospital activities (85.11)

280

General construction of building and civil engineering works (45.21)

249

Business and management consultancy activities (74.14)

153

Activities auxiliary to insurance and pension funding (67.20)

134

Development and selling of real estate (70.11)

128

Architectural and engineering activities and related technical consultancy (74.20)

127

Self-Employed

Sector (economic activity code)

Number of income earners with gross income exceeding €200,000

Legal Activities (74.11)

1,426

Medical practice activities (85.12)

1,025

Cases where no sector identified (9991)

692

Accounting, book-keeping and auditing activities; tax consultancy (74.12)

494

Letting of own property (70.20)

409

Dental practice activities (85.13)

229

Farming (1.11, 1.21, 1.22, 1.30, 1.90)

184

Architectural and engineering activities and related technical consultancy (74.20)

170

Hospital activities (85.11)

154

Dispensing chemists (52.31)

107

‘Employees' and ‘Self-Employed' are classified for this purpose according to their main source of income. The NACE codes are not essential for the assessment and collection of taxes and duties and the correct allocation and maintenance of these codes is subject to the limit of available resources. The economic sector breakdown on Revenue records is based on details which were recorded using information supplied by income earners or their employers at some point in the past.

Some of that information may have been incorrect or misinterpreted in the first instance, or may not have been subsequently updated as necessary. For these reasons some of the economic sector codes on tax records are likely to be out of date or inaccurate and the reliability of the figures for the sectors currently provided will be limited to that extent. A married couple who has elected or who has been deemed to have elected for joint assessment is counted as one tax unit and their incomes are aggregated in the statistics.

Paul McGrath

Ceist:

83 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of PAYE workers and the number of self employed workers who have incomes of €200,000, €200,000 to €400,000, €400,000 to €600,000, €600,000 to €1,000,000 and over €1 million who paid tax at only the 20% rate of tax and paid no income tax at all. [31334/06]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the most recent basic data on incomes available from which information of the type requested by the Deputy could be derived are in respect of the income tax year 2003 and are set out the following tables. For completeness, the numbers of income earners liable for tax at the top rate of 42 per cent are also included.

The Deputy will be aware that this material is dated in that major changes I made in my Budgets to the structure and extent of tax reliefs will increase the average tax rate for those on higher incomes using such reliefs. Caution should be used in basing policy pronouncements on this data.

A married couple who has elected or has been deemed to have elected for joint assessment is counted as one tax unit. Married couples and individuals with income chargeable to tax under both Schedule E and Schedule D have been classified in the following tables by reference to the Schedule under which the larger amount of income is taxable.

The designation of a tax rate to an income earner in the tables is based on identifying the top tax rate applying to the taxable income of each earner. To arrive at the figure for taxable income, the gross income is reduced by various relevant deductions and allowances such as capital allowances, losses, allowable expenses and retirement annuities. In some cases, these will reduce the taxable income to nil.

The information on incomes is based on income returns on Revenue records at the time the data were compiled for analytical purposes, representing about 96 per cent of all returns expected.

Income Tax 2003

Number of mainly PAYE income earners with incomes of €200,000 or greater

Range of Gross Income*

No net liability for income tax

Liable for tax at the standard rate (20%) or marginal relief

Liable for tax at the higher rate (42%)

Overall Total

Single*

Married

Total

Single*

Married

Total

Single*

Married

Total

200,000

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

2

3

3

200,000 to 400,000

0

0

0

0

4

4

596

4,169

4,765

4,769

400,000 to 600,000

0

0

0

0

0

0

86

607

693

693

600,000 to 1,000,000

0

0

0

0

0

0

34

262

296

296

Over 1,000,000

0

0

0

0

0

0

41

237

278

278

0

0

0

0

4

4

758

5,277

6,035

6,039

Income Tax 2003

Numbers of mainly self-employed income earners with incomes of €200,000 or greater

Range of Gross Income*

No net liability for income tax

Liable for tax at the standard rate (20%) or marginal relief

Liable for tax at the higher rate (42%)

Overall Total

Single*

Married

Total

Single*

Married

Total

Single*

Married

Total

200,000

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

200,000 to 400,000

4

30

34

9

38

47

742

3,421

4,163

4,224

400,000 to 600,000

3

10

13

0

4

4

178

946

1,124

1,141

600,000 to 1,000,000

3

9

12

0

3

3

62

490

552

567

Over 1,000,000

1

3

4

2

3

5

34

179

213

222

11

52

63

11

48

59

1,016

5,036

6,052

6,174

"Single" includes widowed persons

Paul McGrath

Ceist:

84 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of self-employed workers in a number of income thresholds in each of the past five years. [31335/06]

Paul McGrath

Ceist:

95 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of PAYE income earners in a number of income thresholds (details supplied) in each of the past five years. [31371/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 84 and 95 together.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the information requested by the Deputy is provided in the following tables. Self-employed income earners have been distributed over the same income ranges as PAYE earners. For the tax years 2002 and 2003, the numbers of income earners at all income levels in the tables are best estimates based on data from completed end-of-year returns but adjusted to take account of returns which had not been received when the data were compiled. For later years, the numbers of earners in the various ranges of income are based on the adjusted data for 2003 projected forward in accordance with macroeconomic data relating to actual and expected growth in wages and employment.

Distribution of PAYE income earners on tax records, including tax exempt individuals, by ranges of income

Range of Gross Income

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

€10,000 or less

397,200

391,000

379,500

376,500

371,900

€10,001 — €20,000

394,400

386,300

375,600

370,800

365,400

€20,001 — €30,000

332,800

341,700

350,600

361,000

365,000

€30,001 — €40,000

206,500

220,900

239,700

261,600

277,300

€40,001 — €50,000

128,200

136,100

151,300

168,600

183,500

€50,001 — €70,000

125,600

139,800

158,500

181,700

203,100

€70,001 — €90,000

48,500

55,200

64,400

76,700

88,200

€90,001 — €100,000

12,600

14,600

17,000

20,400

23,900

€100,001 — €150,000

21,600

26,600

32,200

39,500

47,200

€150,001 — €200,000

5,300

6,300

7,300

8,800

10,400

€200,001 — €500,000

4,600

5,400

6,200

7,300

8,500

€500,000 — €1,000,000

500

500

600

700

800

Over €1,000,000

200

300

300

300

300

Total

1,678,000

1,724,600

1,783,200

1,874,100

1,945,500

Note: Figures in the table are rounded to the nearest hundred and any apparent discrepancies in totals are due to rounding of constituent figures.

Distribution of Self-Employed income earners on tax records, including tax exempt individuals, by ranges of income

Range of Gross Income

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

€10,000 or less

38,900

35,700

34,500

32,300

30,100

€10,001 — €20,000

47,500

44,100

43,200

40,500

37,600

€20,001 — €30,000

36,400

35,700

36,800

36,800

36,200

€30,001 — €40,000

24,100

24,300

25,800

26,500

27,400

€40,001 — €50,000

15,900

16,000

17,400

18,400

19,400

€50,001 — €70,000

17,500

18,400

20,300

21,900

23,900

€70,001 — €90,000

8,400

8,900

10,200

11,300

12,900

€90,001 — €100,000

2,600

2,700

3,100

3,500

4,100

€100,001 — €150,000

6,700

7,300

8,200

9,100

10,400

€150,001 — €200,000

3,100

3,200

3,500

3,800

4,300

€200,001 — €500,000

4,800

5,100

5,600

6,200

6,900

€500,000 — €1,000,000

900

1,000

1,100

1,300

1,500

Over €1,000,000

200

200

300

300

400

Total

207,000

202,600

210,000

212,000

215,000

Note: Figures in the table are rounded to the nearest hundred and any apparent discrepancies in totals are due to rounding of constituent figures.

Notes

1. It should be noted that the income ranges shown in the above tables relate to Gross Income.

Gross Income is income which:

is prior to deductions for capital allowances, interest paid, losses, allowable expenses, retirement annuities etc;

is after deduction of superannuation contributions by employees but not by the self-employed;

includes income of individuals whose total income falls below the exemption limits;

does not include certain other income which is not income for tax purposes or is exempt from tax such as profits or gains from stallion fees, profits from commercial forestry and certain income from patent royalties, certain investment income arising from personal injuries, child benefit, maternity benefit and unemployment assistance paid by the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs, certain earnings of writers, composers and artists, bonus or interest paid under Instalment Savings Schemes operated by An Post, interest on certain Government securities, certain foreign pensions which are exempt from tax in the foreign paying country, portion of certain lump sums received by employees on cessation of their employment, statutory redundancy payments and certain military pensions; and

does not include or not fully include other income sources such as interest income that does not need to be declared or is not recorded (but from which tax has been deducted), unemployment benefit and disability benefit (non-recording of non-taxable amounts and of amounts taxed by restriction of repayments or indirectly through employers in the PAYE system), and the incomes of certain self-employed persons, including some farmers, as well as some individuals in receipt of pensions, who are not processed annually on tax records because their incomes are below the income tax thresholds.

2. A married couple who has elected or has deemed to have elected for joint assessment is counted as one tax unit.

3. The figures for the years, 2003, 2004 and 2005 have been revised from those quoted in the reply to the Deputy's question of the 27th October 2005 (Dáil Debates, Vol. 608, No. 5, Cols 1599-1602), to take account of more up-to-date base information and revised macro-economic projections of income levels and number at work which have become available. The figures for 2004 onwards are projected estimates and may be subject to further revision.

Paul McGrath

Ceist:

85 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the estimated cost of reducing the top rate of income tax by 1 point and by 2 points. [31336/06]

By reference to the 2007 pre-Budget ready reckoner prepared by the Revenue Commissioners, the full year costs to the Exchequer of reducing the top rate of income tax by one percentage point and two percentage points are estimated to be €230 million and €460 million, respectively. These figures are provisional, subject to revision and estimated to the nearest €5 million. The ready reckoner is available on my Department's website, atwww.finance.gov.ie.

Paul McGrath

Ceist:

86 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the estimated cost of increasing the single person tax credit of €1,630 by €100, €200, €300 and €400. [31337/06]

The increases mentioned in the question are assumed to apply in similar measures to single and widowed persons and to include the normal consequential increases in the tax credit for lone parents. These amounts doubled are assumed to apply to married couples. On this basis, and by reference to the 2007 pre-budget ready reckoner prepared by the Revenue Commissioners, the full-year costs to the Exchequer of the increases mentioned by the Deputy are estimated as follows:

Increase in personal tax credit

Estimated full-year cost

Single/Married

€m

€100/€200

205

€200/€400

405

€300/€600

610

€400/€800

815

These figures are provisional, subject to revision and estimated to the nearest €5 million.

The ready reckoner is available on my Department's website,www.finance.gov.ie.

Paul McGrath

Ceist:

87 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the estimated cost of increasing the PAYE allowance of €1,490 by €100, €200, €300 and €400. [31338/06]

By reference to the 2007 pre-budget ready reckoner prepared by the Revenue Commissioners the full year costs to the Exchequer of the increases mentioned by the Deputy are estimated as follow:

Estimated full-year cost

€m

€100

140

€200

280

€300

420

€400

560

These figures are provisional, subject to revision and are estimated to the nearest €5 million.

The ready reckoner is available on my Department's website,www.finance.gov.ie.

Paul McGrath

Ceist:

88 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the estimated cost to the Exchequer in 2003, 2004 and 2005 of tax relief on medical expenses. [31339/06]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the most recent year for which complete information is available on cost to the Exchequer and numbers of claimants for tax relief in relation to medical expenses is for the income tax year 2003. In that year an estimated number of 172,700 claimants availed of the tax relief for medical expenses at an estimated cost to the Exchequer of €82 million.

Paul McGrath

Ceist:

89 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of PAYE workers and self-employed who pay benefit-in-kind on company cars in each of the past five years; and the yield to the Exchequer on this tax for each of those years. [31340/06]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the information requested by the Deputy in respect of benefits-in-kind arising from the provision of cars in each of the four years up to 2003, the latest year for which the relevant figures are available, is set out below.

Year

Benefits-in-Kind

Tax Yield for Cars

Numbers

Estimated Tax Yield

€m

2000/2001

45,000

79.2

2001 (short tax “year”)

43,500

56.2

2002

45,300

82.7

2003

43,100

81.6

2004

not available

not available

The figures for the years to 2003 are based on returns made by individual PAYE taxpayers. New procedures introduced from 1 January 2004 mean that employers are now required to account for PAYE, PRSI and Health Contributions on the taxable value of certain benefits-in-kind and other non-cash benefits provided by them to their employees. Provision was made for the return of this information in the form P35 for 2004 due for filing by employers in February 2005. Technical enhancements to the Revenue computer system to enable this data to be captured and reported are close to finalisation. However, as details of taxable benefits are required in aggregate form only on the P35 return it will not be possible to separately identify different types of benefits.

The above figures include income earners whose main source of income is assessable to tax under Schedule D (self-employed) but who also have income from an employment subject to PAYE in respect of which a benefit-in-kind arises. It should be noted that as PAYE taxpayers were charged to tax on their earnings in the period from 6 April to 31 December 2001 and self-employed taxpayers were assessed to tax for the short "year" on 74% of the profits earned in a 12 month accounting period, the income figures will not be directly comparable with those of earlier or later years.

Question No. 90 answered with QuestionNo. 82.

Ministerial Travel.

Paul McGrath

Ceist:

91 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the Ministerial visits for 1993 and 1994 to the UK which were arranged by his Department; the dates, locations and durations of such trips; the rank of civil servants who accompanied them; the names of any non-civil servants who were also on those visits; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31365/06]

The details of Ministerial visits to the UK arranged by my Department for 1993 and 1994, as requested by the Deputy, are set out below. In addition a number of Ministerial visits to other destinations were arranged which involved a stopover in the UK. These are also detailed below.

Visits to UK

Dates of visit

Destination

Persons accompanying the Minister

11th to 12 March 1993

Annual Dinner of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, London

Minister’s Private Secretary, Mr. D. McDonagh, Mr. T. Kett

26th to 27th April 1993

Meeting of European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, London

Secretary of the Department, Minister’s Private Secretary, Press Officer

Other Visits via the UK

Dates of visit

Destination

Persons accompanying the Minister

15th February 1993

Return from Brussels via London

Secretary of the Department, Assistant Secretary, Minister’s Private Secretary, Press Officer

15th March 1993

Return from Brussels via London

Secretary of the Department, Minister’s Private Secretary, Press Officer

10th March 1994 to 15th March 1994

Visit to San Diego via London

Minister’s Private Secretary Personal Assistant to the Minister, Staff Officer, Press Office

Tax Code.

Paul McGrath

Ceist:

92 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the amount of income tax and PRSI payable by a single PAYE worker in each of the past five years where gross income in each year was €30,000, €40,000, €50,000, €60,000, €70,000, €80,000 and €100,000 assuming only personal and PRSI allowances are applicable. [31368/06]

I set out below the following table.

Income Tax* and PRSI** payable by a single PAYE worker, 2002-2006.

Income (€)

Year

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

30,000

Income Tax

4,260

4,120

3,880

3,282

2,880

PRSI

936

936

936

936

936

40,000

Income Tax

8,460

8,320

8,080

7,482

6,640

PRSI

1,291

1,336

1,336

1,336

1,336

50,000

Income Tax

12,660

12,520

12,280

11,682

10,840

PRSI

1,341

1,402

1,463

1,534

1,615

60,000

Income Tax

16,860

16,720

16,480

15,882

15,040

PRSI

1,377

1,438

1,498

1,569

1,656

70,000

Income Tax

21,060

20,920

20,680

20,082

19,240

PRSI

1,402

1,463

1,524

1,600

1,686

80,000

Income Tax

25,260

25,120

24,880

24,282

23,440

PRSI

1,418

1,480

1,544

1,620

1,707

100,000

Income Tax

33,660

33,520

33,280

32,682

31,840

PRSI

1,443

1,509

1,575

1,650

1,737

(Rounded to the nearest Euro)

*Assumes that the single person receives the personal allowance or personal credit and the PAYE allowance or Employee credit, as appropriate, in the year in question.

** Assumes the person is insured under Class A (full rate) PRSI and that the individual's salary does not fluctuate from week to week over the course of the given year. The calculations do not include the Health Levy contribution of 2% applicable to all income over the threshold of €18,512 per annum for the tax years' 2002-2004, €20,800 per annum for the tax year 2005 and €22,880 for the tax year 2006.

Paul McGrath

Ceist:

93 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the amount of income tax paid by a double income family with a gross pay of €64,000 and a single income family with a total gross pay of €64,000 and to compare this to the amount of income tax paid by a single income family with gross pay of €64,000. [31369/06]

The position is that the tax rates and bands for a married couple for 2006 are as follows:

Married couple (one spouse with income) First €41,000 @ 20%

Balance @ 42%.

Married couple (both spouses with income) First €41,000 with increase of €23,000 maximum @ 20%

Balance @ 42%.

In the case of married couples with two incomes, the standard rate band available to one spouse will not be greater than that available to a one income married couple i.e. €41,000. The second spouse may avail of the balance of the €64,000 band.

A Home Carer Tax Credit of €770 can be claimed by married persons who are jointly assessed to tax and where one spouse works at home to care for a dependent person (which includes a dependent child) provided certain conditions are satisfied. A married couple cannot claim both the Home Carer Tax Credit and the increased standard rate band. They can, however, claim whichever of the two is the most beneficial. The Home Carer Tax Credit is not due where the home caring spouse's income equals or exceeds €6,620.

The following eight examples show the income tax payable by single and double income families as requested by the Deputy on gross incomes of €64,000 and €64,000 for the current tax year. The examples refer to earners in the PAYE and self-employed sectors and are based on the assumption in each case that the married couple is jointly assessed for tax purposes.

Example 1

In this example it is assumed that the individual is in the PAYE system.

One Income Family with no dependent children.

Gross Income

€64,000

Band Available

€41,000

Band Utilised

€41,000

Tax

€41,000 @ 20% = €8,200

€23,000 @ 42% = €9,660

Gross Tax Due

€17,860

Less Tax Credits

Personal Credit

(€3,260)

Employee Credit

(€1,490)

= Total Credits

(€4,750)

Net Tax Due

€13,110

Example 2

In this example it assumes that both spouses are working in the PAYE sector.

Two Income Family with no dependent children and income split between spouses €32,000: €32,000.

Joint Income

€64,000

Spouses Income

€32,000

€32,000

Band Available

€32,000

€32,000

Band Utilised

€32,000

€32,000

Tax liability

€6,400 (€32,000 @20%)

€6,400 (€32,000 @20%)

Gross Tax Due

€12,800

Less Tax Credits

Personal Credit

(€1,630)

(€1,630)

Employee Credit

(€1,490)

(€1,490)

=total credits

(€6,240)

Net Tax Due

€6,560

Example 3

In this example it is assumed that both spouses are in the PAYE system.

Two Income Family with no dependent children and income split between spouses thus: €41,000; €23,000.

Joint Income

€64,000

Spouses Income

€41,000

€23,000

Band Available

€41,000

€23,000

Band Utilised

€41,000

€23,000

Tax Liability

€8,200 (€41,000 @ 20%)

€4,600 (€23,000 @ 20%)

Gross Tax Due

€12,800

Less Tax Credits

Personal Credit

(€1,630)

(€1,630)

Employee Credit

(€1,490)

(€1,490)

= Total Credits

(€6,240)

Net Tax Due

€6,560

Example 4

In this example it is assumed that the individual is in the PAYE system.

One Income Family with dependent children.

Gross Income

€64,000

Band Available

€41,000

Band Utilised

€41,000

Tax

€41,000 @ 20% = €8,200

€23,000 @ 42% = €9,660

Gross Tax Due

€17,860

Less Tax Credits

Personal Credit

(€3,260)

Employee Credit

(€1,490)

Home carers

(€ 770)

= Total Credits

(€5,520)

Net Tax Due

€12,340

Example 5

In this example it is assumed that the earner is self-employed.

One Income Family with no dependent children.

Gross Income

€64,000

Band Available

€41,000

Band Utilised

€41,000

Tax

€41,000 @ 20% = €8,200

€23,000 @ 42% = €9,660

Gross Tax Due

€17,860

Less Tax Credits

Personal Credit

(€3,260)

Net Tax Due

€14,600

Example 6

In this example it is assumed that each spouse is self-employed.

Two Income Family with no dependent children and income split between spouses thus: €32,000; €32,000.

Joint Income

€64,000

Spouses Income

€32,000

€32,000

Band Available

€32,000

€32,000

Band Utilised

€32,000

€32,000

Tax liability

€6,400 (€32,000 @20%)

€6,400 (€32,000 @20%)

Gross Tax Due

€12,800

Less Tax Credits

Personal Credit

(€1,630)

(€1,630)

= total credits

(€3,260)

Net Tax Due

€9,540

Example 7

In this example it is assumed that both spouses are self-employed.

Two Income Family with no dependent children and income split between spouses €41,000: €23,000.

Joint Income

€64,000

Spouses Income

€41,000

€23,000

Band Available

€41,000

€23,000

Band Utilised

€41,000

€23,000

Tax Liability

€8,200 (€41,000 @ 20%)

€4,600 (€23,000 @ 20%)

Gross Tax Due

€12,800

Less Tax Credits

Personal Credit

(€1,630)

= Total Credits

(€3,260)

Net Tax Due

€9,540

Example 8

In this example it is assumed that the earner is self-employed.

One Income Family with dependent children.

Gross Income

€64,000

Band Available

€41,000

Band Utilised

€41,000

Tax

€41,000 @ 20% = €8,200

€23,000 @ 42% = €9,660

Gross Tax Due

€17,860

Less Tax Credits

Personal Credit

(€3,260)

Home carers

(€ 770)

= Total Credits

€4,030

Net Tax Due

€13,830

Paul McGrath

Ceist:

94 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the number of taxpayers in the PAYE sector and self-employed who availed, per annum of the homecaring spouse tax allowance since this tax relief was first introduced. [31370/06]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the latest available information in respect of taxpayers availing of the home carer's tax credit is for the income tax year 2003. The potential numbers of claimants are provisionally estimated for later years.

Numbers of taxpayers availing of the home carer's tax credit, formerly an allowance, but converted to a tax credit in 2001, are as follows:

PAYE taxpayers availing of the home carer's tax allowance.

Tax Year

2000/01

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

Numbers availing

2,600

87,900

1,950

80,700

72,000

69,300

Self-employed taxpayers availing of the home carer's tax allowance.

Tax Year

2000/01

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

Numbers availing

18,650

20,150

18,900

18,500

21,100

20,700

Figures for years 2004 and 2005 are provisional and subject to revision. This may result in increased figures of PAYE claimants.

The numbers availing represent income earners who were in a position to absorb at least some of the home carer's tax credit and thereby give rise to an Exchequer cost. They do not include the numbers of potential claimants whose entitlements to other tax credits were sufficient to reduce their liability to tax to nil without reference to the home carer's credit. The numbers availing of the credit are rounded to the nearest hundred as appropriate. A married couple who has elected or has been deemed to have elected for joint assessment is counted as one tax unit.

Question No. 95 was answered with QuestionNo. 84.

Decentralisation Programme.

Jimmy Deenihan

Ceist:

96 Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Finance the position on the decentralisation of Revenue Commission jobs to Listowel, County Kerry; when the process of moving the staff to Listowel will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31377/06]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the Office of Public Works (OPW) have agreed to lease a premises suitable for Revenue's needs in Listowel. All of the lease terms have been agreed and the OPW are awaiting fit-out proposals.

It is expected that the building will be ready for occupation early in 2007. The movement of staff to Listowel is to commence once the building is available.

Tax Code.

Gay Mitchell

Ceist:

97 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance if the Revenue Commissioner will waive collection of capital acquisition tax in the circumstances of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12. [31431/06]

Under the Capital Acquisitions Tax Consolidation Act 2003 the Revenue Commissioners do not have the power to waive gift or inheritance tax properly due. However Section 59 does provide for the postponement of tax by the Commissioners where excessive hardship would be involved. The Revenue Commissioners statement of practice (SP-CAT/1/90) outlines the practice and procedure to be followed in relation to applications for postponement of payment of tax and each case is examined on an individual basis.

In relation to the specific case referred to in the question, the Revenue Commissioners are satisfied, after discussions with the taxpayer that she is entitled to claim dwelling house relief under Section 151 of the Finance Act 2000 when taking this gift. Section 151 provides that gifts or inheritances of a dwelling-house taken on or after 1 December 1999, will be exempt from capital acquisitions tax provided that the following conditions are complied with:

the recipient must have occupied the dwelling house continuously as his or her only or main residence for a period of three years prior to the date of the gift or inheritance;

the recipient must not at the date of the gift or inheritance be beneficially entitled to any other dwelling-house or to any interest in any other dwelling house; and

the recipient must continue, except where such recipient was aged 55 years at the date of the gift or inheritance or has died, to occupy that dwelling-house as his or her only or main residence for a period of 6 years commencing on the date of the gift or inheritance.

To apply for this exemption a claim form for dwelling house relief should be completed and forwarded with a completed IT38 Gift/Inheritance Tax Return to the Capital Acquisitions Tax Unit, Revenue Commissioners, City Centre District, Áras Bhrugha, 9/10 Upper O'Connell Street, Dublin 1. These forms are available on theRevenue.ie website.

The Revenue Commissioners Capital Acquisitions Tax Advisory Unit provide a Lo-call 1890 20 11 04 service to taxpayers in relation to gift/inheritance tax and any information in relation to the above can be accessed on that number or on theRevenue.ie website under Capital Acquisitions Tax.

Gerard Murphy

Ceist:

98 Mr. G. Murphy asked the Minister for Finance if a P21 will be issued to a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [31432/06]

The issue of a P21 is a matter for the Revenue Commissioners. I have been informed by Revenue that the person in question has not applied for a P21.

If he wishes to do so he should telephone Lo-call 1890 22 24 25 or write to Revenue at Cork PAYE, Government Offices, Sullivan's Quay, Cork. Alternatively he can apply on line atwww.revenue.ie, PAYE on Line, self-service for employees.

Decentralisation Programme.

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

99 Ms C. Murphy asked the Minister for Finance if the public service embargo will be relaxed in order to recruit either temporary or permanent specialist staff in the context of decentralisation; if so, if limits have been set; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31457/06]

I can confirm that while there is no public service embargo in place, the Government has followed a targeted numbers policy since December 2002. Under this policy the growth in public sector employment has slowed substantially overall and has been reversed in several areas.

I have indicated previously that duplication of professional and technical staff is not proposed in the context of decentralisation. This remains the position. The Government will continue to control and regulate numbers in the public service within agreed ceilings and organisations can, of course, recruit staff within their agreed ceiling.

Drug Treatment Programme.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

100 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of persons currently enrolled on drug treatment programmes throughout the country; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31424/06]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

101 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of drug treatment programmes currently funded by her Department; if there are waiting lists for treatment; the extent of such waiting lists; her proposals to deal with the issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31425/06]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to theDeputy.

Child Care Services.

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

102 Ms C. Murphy asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of community run creches supported by his Department in the Kildare north constituency; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31473/06]

As the Deputy will be aware, I have responsibility for the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000-2006 (EOCP) and the National Childcare Investment Programme 2006-2010 (NCIP), which are being implemented by the Office of the Minister for Children.

Under the programmes data is disaggregated on a county rather than a constituency level. To date, almost €9.4 million has been allocated under the Programmes to County Kildare. Of this, over €5 million in capital and staffing grant assistance has been allocated to 10 community based/not for profit childcare providers in County Kildare under the EOCP. The following Table A lists these grant approvals.

Childcare services in County Kildare can also avail of a wide range of training and other quality enhancing initiatives offered by the Kildare County Childcare Committee which is funded under the EOCP.

Table A

Name of Community/Not-for-Profit

Total approved

Community Capital

Ballymore Eustace Community Development Association

24,412

Athy Travellers Group

64,070

Súgradh Community Out-of-School Playcare Service, Celbridge

35,074

Allenwood Community Development Association Ltd

1,130,000

The Creche, National University of Ireland

1,000,000

Lakeside Highfield Darapark (LHD) Family Resource Centre

598,850

Naomh Bríde Community Playgroup

398,800

School age capital and staffing

Athy Travellers Group

3,174

Athy Travellers Group

133,322

Staffing

Lakeside Highfield Darapark (LHD) Family Resource Centre

187,286

Athy Community Development Project

136,824

Súgradh Community Out-of-School Playcare Service

114,441

Athy Travellers Group

133,322

Allenwood Community Development Association Ltd

200,000

Athy Community Development

76,667

Newbridge Family Resource Centre

164,750

Athy Travellers Group

29,624

Súgradh Community Out-of-School Playcare Service

80,500

Athy Community Development

122,400

Newbridge Family Resource Centre

281,800

Athy Travellers Group

119,300

Flinters Estate Community Group

50,700

Total Kildare community capital and staffing

5,085,318

Hospital Services.

John Deasy

Ceist:

103 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of the national procurement process for radiotherapy services being conducted by her Department; the prescribed standards and guidelines recommended by her Department for the provision of radiotherapy services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31342/06]

John Deasy

Ceist:

104 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that over 1,000 cancer patients from the south east are forced to travel to Dublin or Cork for radiotherapy treatment each year; if her further attention has been drawn to the fact that a private hospital in Waterford will be in a position to offer such treatment from the end of 2006; if she has been informed that the Health Service Executive is unable to negotiate a service level agreement with that hospital for the provision of such treatment due to the fact that her Department has not completed its procurement exercise; when she will be in a position to authorise the negotiation of such an agreement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31343/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 103 and 104 together.

My Department is not conducting a national procurement process for radiotherapy services, nor does it have any plans to do so. The provision of radiotherapy services for public patients is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive (HSE). The HSE has advised my Department that it is considering a request from the Whitfield Clinic, the private facility referred to by the Deputy, to provide services to public patients. Quality standards for the provision of radiation oncology services for public patients have been prepared by an expert group established on foot of a Government decision in January 2004. The HSE has advised my Department that it is applying these standards to radiation oncology services that it provides or arranges to have provided.

My Department is working closely with the HSE to progress the National Radiation Oncology Plan announced by Government in July 2005. It will deliver integrated care to cancer patients by multi-disciplinary teams of cancer experts at centres in Dublin (at Beaumont and St. James's Hospitals), Cork and Galway and two integrated satellite centres at Waterford Regional Hospital and Limerick Regional Hospital.

Drug Treatment Programme.

John Deasy

Ceist:

105 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Health and Children the rehabilitation facilities which are available for drug-addicted teenagers here; the number of places which are available in such facilities; the number of teenagers here who require such facilities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31344/06]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Health Services.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

106 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the average length of time it takes for smear test results to be returned to the doctor who took the smear test. [31345/06]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal, social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to respond directly to the Deputy in relation to the matter raised.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Gay Mitchell

Ceist:

107 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children if more client friendly hours will be provided at a health centre for the assessment of applications to the community welfare officers for the back to school clothing and footwear allowance (details supplied) especially at the time of the year when school terms begin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31346/06]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Hospital Staff.

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

108 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of nurse vacancies in public hospitals in the Dublin area at present; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31347/06]

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

109 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of nurse vacancies in St. James’s Hospital, Tallaght Hospital and James Connolly Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31348/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 108 and 109 together.

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act, 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Health Service Staff.

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

110 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of nurses employed in the public sector for each of the following years 1997 to 2005 and to date in 2006; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31349/06]

The following table shows the number of nurses and midwives employed in the public health service in each of the years 1997 to 2005 and latest available figure for 2006.

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

June 2006

Nurses (WTE)

25,611

26,611

27,044

29,177

31,429

33,395

33,766

34,313

35,248

35,818

Nurses Individuals

28,982

30,301

30,875

33,474

36,089

39,119

40,119

40,721

41,846

42,311

The health service has been successful in attracting nurses and midwives into the workforce over the last number of years. The number of whole time equivalent nurses and midwives employed in the public health service has increased by 10,207 (39.9%) during the period 1997 to June 2006. In addition to the above, the Government has provided significantly enhanced education programmes for student nurses. A total of 1,880 places on undergraduate nursing and midwifery education programmes are now available each year.

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

111 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of speech and language therapists vacancies in the public health sector in the Dublin area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31350/06]

Employment information collected by my Department refers to numbers employed rather than to vacancies. As the question relates to human resource management issues which are matters for the Health Service Executive, the parliamentary affairs division of the executive has been asked to respond directly to the Deputy in regard to the information sought.

Council on Hepatitis C.

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

112 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children if she plans to add new representative groups to the Committee on Hepatitis C; if so, when this will be implemented; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31351/06]

The term of office of the fourth Consultative Council on Hepatitis C commenced on 1 September 2006. Members will serve for three years to 31st August 2009. The membership includes representatives of Positive Action, Transfusion Positive, the Irish Kidney Association and the Irish Haemophilia Society. It also comprises members who have specialist knowledge in the area of Hepatitis C. I am arranging to have a list of the members of the Council forwarded to the Deputy.

Drug Treatment Programme.

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

113 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of drug addicts undergoing treatment in the Dublin area; the number receiving methadone treatment in each of the years 1997 to 2005 and to date in 2006; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31352/06]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

114 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of people currently on waiting lists for occupational therapy in the Dublin area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31353/06]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Health Service Staff.

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

115 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of vacancies currently available for occupational therapists in the public health service; the number of people on waiting lists for occupational therapy in the Dublin area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31354/06]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

116 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Health and Children her proposals to substantially reduce the waiting time for children who are suspected of being coeliac in the matter of having a gastroscope examination; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31355/06]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Health Services.

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

117 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Health and Children the waiting time for a child to see a psychologist in County Wexford; the measures which are being taken to reduce the times; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31378/06]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

118 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Health and Children the waiting time for a child to see a speech therapist in County Wexford; the measures which are being taken to reduce the times; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31379/06]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Health Service Allowances.

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

119 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of the application for domiciliary care for a person (details supplied) in County Wexford; when payment will be made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31380/06]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Child Abuse.

Liam Twomey

Ceist:

120 Dr. Twomey asked the Minister for Health and Children if the in-depth study of the powers of the Health Service Executive, promised to be undertaken following the publication of the Ferns Report, has been completed; and if she will publish the outcome of that review. [31401/06]

As I have indicated to the House previously the Government attaches a very high priority to the Report of the Ferns Inquiry and to following up on the Report's recommendations in the context of ensuring that effective child protection and welfare systems are in place to protect children. Before the publication of the Ferns Report I sought the advice of the Attorney General on the Report including the issue of the Health Service Executive's powers in relation to third party abuse raised in the Report and the advice was that the Executive had general powers under the Child Care Act 1991 in relation to third party abuse.

In line with the recommendations, however, it was considered that the Department of Health and Children in conjunction with the Attorney General's Office should undertake an in depth study of the HSE's powers in relation to third party abuse and this would be followed by legislative proposals as required. Following further detailed discussions between the Office of the Minister for Children and the Attorney General's Office on the question of conducting the in depth examination of these issues the Office of the Minister for Children and the Health Service Executive are examining in detail the various issues involved. I expect that this process will be concluded in the near future and that the advice of the Attorney General's Office will be sought on the outcome of these deliberations as necessary.

Liam Twomey

Ceist:

121 Dr. Twomey asked the Minister for Health and Children if the review of the Catholic Church’s guidelines on child sexual abuse which was commissioned by her Department has been completed; and when it is proposed to publish same. [31402/06]

I commissioned a review of the Catholic Church's child protection guidelines "Our Children Our Church" by Dr Helen Buckley earlier this year.

The review is nearing completion and the question of its publication is under consideration.

National Treatment Purchase Fund.

Ned O'Keeffe

Ceist:

122 Mr. N. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that a person (details supplied) in County Cork who is need of a hip replacement operation has not been called for an outpatient appointment; and if she will investigate this matter with a view to having them considered for surgery under the National Treatment Purchase Fund scheme. [31403/06]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Cancer Treatment Services.

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

123 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has received correspondence from a number of people who are concerned regarding the proposed transfer of cancer treatment facilities from St. Luke’s Hospital to St. James’s Hospital from 2011; if in this context she will give consideration to the issues raised; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31404/06]

I have received representations concerning the transfer of radiation oncology services from St. Luke's Hospital, Rathgar to St. James's Hospital, Dublin. The decision to transfer St. Luke's was taken by the Government in the context of its consideration of the National Plan for Radiation Oncology Services. The decision is based on expert advice and is designed to ensure that radiation oncology, one element of cancer care, is integrated with all other aspects of care, including surgery and medical oncology. This is in line with best international practice. I am convinced that this model will provide better patient centred treatment with improved quality of service and outcome for patients. The Board of St. Luke's Hospital and it's Executive Management Team are fully committed to supporting the Government's decision in relation to the development of radiation oncology. A transfer on similar lines took place earlier this year in Northern Ireland when radiation oncology services transferred to Belfast City Hospital, a major academic teaching hospital.

In progressing the transfer, I will build on the expertise and ethos of St. Luke's. I have ensured that experts at St. Luke's are centrally involved in the planning and delivery of the National Plan. The plan consists of large centres in Dublin (at Beaumont and St. James's Hospitals), Cork and Galway and two integrated satellite centres at Waterford Regional Hospital and Limerick Regional Hospital, conditional on conformity to certain quality assurance arrangements. Medical and scientific experts from the hospital are involved in developing the output specifications for the delivery of new radiation oncology services nationally. The Chief Executive at St. Luke's will lead the management team of the new facility at St James's. I also appointed the Chairman of St. Luke's to chair a National Radiation Oncology Oversight Group to advise me on progress on the implementation of the plan. I have also approved the provision of two additional linear accelerators at St. Luke's to provide much needed interim capacity pending the roll out of the national plan. I expect these services to commence late next year.

Medical Aids and Appliances.

Gerard Murphy

Ceist:

124 Mr. G. Murphy asked the Minister for Health and Children if her Department provides assistance by way of a swivel chair for second hand cars (details supplied); if there is a grant for the purchasing of a swivel seat; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31435/06]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Medical Cards.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

125 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if a primary medical card will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31459/06]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Health Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

126 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if wheelchair friendly transport will be provided in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31461/06]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Hospitals Building Programme.

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

127 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason the information requested in Parliamentary Question No. 149 of 6 July 2006, in relation to the extension promised over five years ago to Bandon Community Hospital, has not been made available; the position in relation to the extension of the hospital; if the design team has been appointed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31462/06]

I have been advised that the Health Service Executive (HSE) issued a reply to the Deputy on the 19th July 2006, in relation to Question No. 149.

Health Services.

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

128 Ms C. Murphy asked the Minister for Health and Children the referral patterns for speech and language therapy in the adult services, learning and disability services and physical and sensory services by county in the years since and including 2002; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31463/06]

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

129 Ms C. Murphy asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of persons currently waitlisted for speech and language therapy in each county; the average waiting time in each county; the average waiting time nationally; the measures being taken to reduce waiting times for these services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31464/06]

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

130 Ms C. Murphy asked the Minister for Health and Children the provision for speech and language therapy for learning and disability services, physical and sensory services, and adult services by county; the way this compares with the level of provision in 2002; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31465/06]

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

131 Ms C. Murphy asked the Minister for Health and Children the referral patterns by county for speech therapy in the community pediatric services during 2002 and in the years since; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31466/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 128 to 131, inclusive, together.

The Deputy's questions relate to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have these matters investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Health Service Allowances.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

132 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if and when domiciliary care allowance will be awarded in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 24; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31467/06]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Telecommunications Services.

Cecilia Keaveney

Ceist:

133 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the routes which are available for people in areas (details supplied) to access broadband; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31308/06]

The provision of telecommunications services, including broadband, is a matter in the first instance for the private sector companies operating in a fully liberalised market. There are many areas of the country where, for demographic or other reasons, the private sector has been slow to respond to demand for broadband. In cases where the market is seen to have failed, my Department is addressing the investment shortfall in infrastructure using a combination of Government and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funding through the Regional Broadband Programme.

My Department operates a dedicated website,www.broadband.gov.ie where potential broadband customers can ascertain the availability of services in their area. According to information provided by broadband service providers, DSL is available in the Burt and Greencastle areas and satellite is available in all three areas in question.

I recognise there are some parts of the country where the private sector will be unable to justify the commercial provision of broadband connectivity. I am currently examining options to address the delivery of competitively priced broadband services to these areas and I expect to be in a position to bring proposals to Government shortly.

Paul McGrath

Ceist:

134 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the number of communities which are on the waiting list for the next phase of the group broadband scheme; when resources will be allocated to allow these schemes to proceed; the timescale for the expansion of the broadband network to include a scheme (details supplied) in County Westmeath currently waiting approval; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31309/06]

No applications have been submitted or received for grant funding under the group broadband scheme since the previous phase of the scheme closed. Accordingly, a waiting list of interested potential applicants has not been maintained. However those who have made enquiries have been informed that any further developments in relation to the scheme will be publicly announced in order to ensure the widest possible circulation.

Alternative Energy Projects.

Paul McGrath

Ceist:

135 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the number of wind farms which have been connected to the national grid in each of the past five years; if the Government’s target of 500mw generated by wind energy has been achieved to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31310/06]

The amount of installed wind generation at the end of 2001 was 123MW, at 2002 it was 136MW, at 2003 it was 210MW, at 2004 it was 341MW and at 2005 it was 493.5MW. The amount of installed wind generation currently amounts to 598.6MW.

EirGrid publishes lists of renewable projects connected to the networks and other projects which have signed connection agreements but have not yet connected on its websitewww.eirgrid.com.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

136 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the plans he has to support the rapidly rising cost of survey work associated with a feasibility assessment of wind farms; his views on whether this is a barrier to development of such facilities by community groups; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31416/06]

All support programmes operated by my Department for new renewable energy powered electricity generating plants separated wind energy proposals by size into large and small-scale categories. The price offered to small-scale projects is higher than is permitted for large scale projects in recognition of the higher unit costs incurred.

The small-scale wind category is designed to support project proposals developed by small-scale project developers including community groups.

The costs associated with the development of each phase of a project proposal and a decision whether to proceed further is a commercial judgement for the project developers.

On Friday last I announced the most recent allocation of support under the current Renewable Energy Feed In Tariff (REFIT) support programme. Support was allocated to all compliant projects submitted in every category, including twenty projects in the small-scale wind category.

Departmental Staff.

Gerard Murphy

Ceist:

137 Mr. G. Murphy asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position regarding long-term temporary employees who have been employed in the Passport Office in Cork, in view of the recruitment drive being made for full-time staff; the rights temporary workers have under European legislation that limits the rights of an employer to terminate employment of contract workers who have been employed over a period of time; and if it is expected that temporary contract staff will lose their jobs as a result of the new recruitment drive. [31433/06]

The Department has recruited Temporary Clerical Officers in the Passport Offices in Dublin, Cork and Balbriggan over many years in order to meet the additional demand for passports in the period leading up to the busy summer season. In recent years the number of passports issued by the Department has reached record levels. This, in turn, has increased the Department's reliance on temporary staff. In 2006, a total of 189 Temporary Clerical Officers were recruited to work in the three Passport Offices.

In the Cork Passport Office, a total of 47 Temporary Clerical Officers were recruited in 2006. Of these, thirty were engaged for the first time this year, while nine were first recruited in 2005. Of the remaining eight temporary staff, two were offered their first temporary contract in 2001, four in 2002 and two in 2004.

The terms and conditions of employment of the temporary staff in the Passport Offices are governed by the provisions of the Protection of Employees (Fixed Term Workers) Act 2003, and the Department is fully aware of its obligations under this Act.

In July this year the Department received sanction from the Department of Finance to recruit an additional 19 supervisory staff for the passport service, and to convert 121 Temporary Clerical Officer posts to permanent positions. Arrangements for the recruitment of the additional staff are currently being planned. It is expected that the majority of the posts will be filled by early 2007.

In the case of the Cork Passport Office, the number of new permanent Clerical Officer posts which has been approved is 34. In filling these vacancies, the Department will comply with Civil Service recruitment policy, as set out in the Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act 2004, which provides the framework for fair and open competition for permanent posts in the Civil Service. It will also take account of the rights of temporary staff under the Protection of Employees (Fixed Term Workers) Act 2003. In this regard, the Department will take due account of the outcome of the case, currently before the Labour Court, concerning the employment status of six Temporary Clerical Officers in the Passport Office in Dublin.

The Deputy will wish to be aware that, despite the creation of a significant number of new Clerical Officer posts in the Cork Passport Office, there will continue to be an ongoing requirement for temporary clerical staff to cover the continuing increased demand for passports. Therefore, in line with the practice which has existed up to now, the most experienced temporary clerical staff will be the first to be again offered temporary employment in the Cork Passport Office next year.

Departmental Investigations.

Jerry Cowley

Ceist:

138 Dr. Cowley asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will confirm that the report carried out at the request of the Health and Safety authority into whether the authority had the remit to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of a person (details supplied) was in accordance with the principles of natural justice; if it will be made available to the family for review and comment before it is submitted to senior counsel for an opinion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31400/06]

I am informed by the Health and Safety Authority that it has commissioned a report into the circumstances surrounding the death of the person concerned.

The purpose of the report is to ascertain the facts which is to assist in the determination of whether the Authority has a remit in relation to this death. The report will be based on information obtained from a number of sources, including from the family of the deceased and from the Gardaí.

When the report has been compiled the Authority intends to submit it to legal counsel as part of its investigation process to determine what enforcement action, if any, may be necessary. I also understand from the Authority that as the purpose of the report is to establish facts which being part of the investigation will not be published (except as evidence if a prosecution is taken in the courts) it would be ill-advised to consult further with the family of the deceased before the advice of legal counsel is sought. The Authority will, of course, advise the family of the outcome of its investigation in due course.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

139 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the extent to which his Department has become involved in the provision of free travel in rural areas lacking public transport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31428/06]

The free travel scheme is available to all people living in the State aged 66 years or over. All carers in receipt of carer's allowance and carers of people in receipt of constant attendance or prescribed relative's allowance, regardless of their age, receive a free travel pass. It is also available to people under age 66 who are in receipt of certain disability type welfare payments, such as disability allowance, invalidity pension and blind person's pension. People resident in the State who are in receipt of a social security invalidity or disability payment from a country covered by EU Regulations, or from a country with which Ireland has a bilateral social security agreement, and who have been in receipt of this payment for at least 12 months, are also eligible for free travel.

The scheme provides free travel on the main public and private transport services for those eligible under the scheme. These include road, rail and ferry services provided by companies such as Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann, as well as services provided by over 80 private transport operators. The vast majority of private contractors providing services under the scheme operate in rural areas. The underlying feature of the scheme is the use of spare capacity on these transport services.

The issue of access to public transport in rural areas is being addressed at present through the Rural Transport Initiative, which is being managed by Pobal, formerly Area Development Management (ADM), on behalf of my colleague, the Minister for Transport.

My Department contributed €500,000 to the Initiative in 2004, €750,000 in 2005 and is contributing €850,000 to the Initiative in 2006. This will ensure that free travel pass holders continue to have full access to community based transport services.

Significant improvements have been made to the free schemes, including the free travel scheme, in recent Budgets both in terms of the qualifying conditions and the coverage of the schemes. I will continue to review the operation of these schemes with a view to identifying the scope for further improvements as resources permit.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

140 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason a person (details supplied) in County Kildare has been refused the back to school allowance and mortgage assistance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31458/06]

The back to school clothing and footwear allowance (BSCFA) and the mortgage interest supplement scheme is administered on behalf of my Department by the Community Welfare division of the Health Service Executive (HSE).

The Executive has advised that it has disallowed an application by the person concerned for the back to school clothing and footwear allowance as her total household income was above the prescribed €401.30 limit for entitlement to the allowance. The Executive has further advised that the area appeals officer has upheld the decision of the CWO to refuse her application for back to school clothing and footwear allowance.

A mortgage interest supplement provides short-term income support to eligible people who are unable to meet their mortgage interest repayments in respect of a house which is their sole place of residence. The supplement assists with the interest portion of the mortgage repayments only.

The Executive has advised that the person concerned applied for a mortgage interest supplement but was refused as the household income was sufficient to meet their interest costs. It is open to her to appeal this decision to the area appeals officer of the Executive.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

141 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if one-off supplementary welfare assistance will be offered to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31460/06]

Under the terms of the supplementary welfare allowance scheme, which is administered on my behalf by the community welfare division of the Health Service Executive, an exceptional needs payment may be made to help meet an essential, once-off cost which the applicant is unable to meet out of his/her own resources. Each application is determined by the Executive based on the particular circumstances of the case. Eligible people would normally be in receipt of a social welfare or health service executive payment. Neither I nor my Department has any function in relation to decisions on individual claims.

The Dublin/Mid-Leinster Area of the Executive has advised that the person concerned applied for an exceptional needs payment on 14th September 2006, for the provision of household equipment and furnishing.

The application was refused by the Executive on the grounds that the person concerned had earlier received two exceptional needs payments in June 2006 for household equipment and furnishing provisions when he moved to his present accommodation. The person concerned has been advised of his right to appeal this decision to the designated appeals officer of the Executive.

David Stanton

Ceist:

142 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if in the situation regarding rent allowance payments to persons in receipt of the back to education allowance who also, under the terms of the back to education allowance, take up part-time employment, he will consider for the duration of the course freezing the rent supplement allowance amount; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31366/06]

People participating in approved courses under the back-to-education allowance scheme receive a standard weekly rate of payment equivalent to the maximum rate of their previous social welfare payment. The scheme also provides for the retention of entitlement to secondary benefits, such as rent or mortgage interest supplements under the supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme. This is an important feature as SWA is not normally paid to people in full-time education.

Under standard assessment rules rent supplements are calculated to ensure that an eligible person, after the payment of rent, has an income equal to the rate of basic supplementary welfare allowance appropriate to his or her family circumstances, less a minimum contribution, currently €13, which each recipient is required to pay from his or her own resources.

While earnings from part-time employment do not affect the basic rate of back-to-education allowance to which participants are entitled, such earnings are assessable for rent supplement purposes in the normal way. This may result in a reduction in the rate of rent supplement in payment. However, where a person has an additional income as a result of part-time employment the standard means test provides for a weekly disregard of up to €60 per week of additional income with half of any additional income between €60 and €90 also disregarded for means assessment purposes.

The benefit to those participating in the back to education allowance scheme is that their status as a full time student does not preclude them from getting SWA. I consider this to be a positive financial incentive to take up educational opportunities and I would regard the existing arrangements applying as satisfactory. I would encourage people availing of the back to-education allowance to contact their local community welfare officer to clarify their continuing entitlement to rent supplement in their new circumstances.

Seán Crowe

Ceist:

143 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if his attention has been drawn to a case in which persons (details supplied) in County Kildare have been informed by the Health Service Executive that their mortgage relief payments have been ceased due to the persons putting their house up for sale; and if in view of same he will assist in resolving this issue. [31382/06]

The supplementary welfare allowance scheme, which includes mortgage interest supplement, is administered on my behalf by the Community Welfare division of the Health Service Executive.

A mortgage interest supplement provides short-term income support to eligible people who are unable to meet their mortgage interest repayments in respect of a house which is their sole place of residence. The supplement assists with the interest portion of the mortgage repayments only.

The Executive has advised that the persons concerned had been in receipt of a mortgage interest supplement but payment was stopped as the household income was deemed sufficient to meet their interest costs.

The Executive has further advised that the house has also been offered for sale. Under the provisions governing the supplementary welfare allowance scheme, mortgage interest supplement is not payable where the residence in respect of which the loan is payable is offered for sale.

Medals of Honour.

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

144 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Transport his views on amending existing legislation in order to remove the anomaly whereby the award of posthumous medals of honour has been refused in relation to two persons (details supplied); his further views on whether it is equitable that the registration of the vessel should be the deciding factor in view of the context in which these persons lost their lives. [31363/06]

The Emergency Service Award was set up by the Irish Government in 1947 to recognise the services performed by the Mercantile Marine during the Emergency (1939-1946). The criteria for entitlement to the Irish Marine Service Medal, were set out in 1950 (by the Department of Industry and Commerce), as follows:

1. Service on Irish-Registered foreign-going ships;

2. Service on Irish-Registered home trade ships;

3. Service on Irish-Registered decked fishing boats (over 15 tons net which were registered under part 1 and within the meaning of sections 253 and 263 of the 1894 Merchant Shipping Act) this description covers trawlers, which took considerable risks when engaging in deep-sea fishing; and

4. Any Service on an Irish ship which resulted in death or disablement through belligerent action.

The criteria of the Scheme therefore exclude consideration of the two persons referred to, as the ship on which they served was not an Irish registered ship.

I understand the concerns of their family and have had inquiries made on their behalf with the Registry of Shipping and Seaman in the United Kingdom. It is possible to make a claim for valour medals for seafarers serving on British registered ships during this period, and such claims can be made to that Registry, which holds the relevant service records. The address is: Medals Officer, Registry of Registry of Shipping and Seaman, Maritime & Coastguard Agency, Anchor Court, Keen Road, Cardiff CF24 5JW, Wales. In light of this, I currently have no plans to amend the Emergency Service Award Scheme.

Driving Tests.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

145 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Transport further to Parliamentary Question No. 38 of 28 September 2006, the reason he has not provided a demand forecast for driving tests for the years 2006, 2007 and 2008; if same exists; and if it does will he provide the information requested. [31413/06]

Under the Road Safety Authority Act 2006 (Conferral of Functions) Order 2006 (S.I. No. 477 of 2006) the Road Safety Authority has responsibility for the delivery of the driving test and the issuing of certificates of competency. As I indicated in my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 38 of 28 September 2006 the Road Safety Authority will be preparing demand forecasts into the future.

Air Services.

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

146 Ms C. Murphy asked the Minister for Transport the discussions which have taken place between his Department, Aer Rianta and Weston Aerodrome regarding the issue of air traffic control at Weston Aerodrome; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31445/06]

No discussions have taken place between the Dublin Airport Authority (formerly Aer Rianta) or Weston Aerodrome regarding this issue.

Departmental Programmes.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

147 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the full extent and location of expenditure under the RAPID programme in 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31421/06]

As I have indicated to the House on a number of occasions, it is a matter for individual Departments to report progress with their projects under the RAPID programme. In support of my Department, Pobal collects data from each RAPID area in respect of funding allocations received by projects from Government Departments and local state agencies. The latest data in respect of the programme is available on Pobal's website under the RAPID section (http://www.pobal.ie/live/RAPID). The Deputy may find it helpful to access this information. I understand that full data in respect of the year 2006 will not be collected until early 2007.

To-date this year €1.7m has been spent under the RAPID leverage schemes administered by my Department, details of the locations are available and these will be forwarded to the Deputy. In addition some €2.5m has been allocated in top-up grants to projects approved for funding under the Sports Capital Programme 2006. Funding of some €4.5 million has been allocated under the Traffic Measures 06/07 scheme. My Department is currently processing applications for a number of RAPID areas under various schemes and further announcements on funding are forthcoming.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

148 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the full extent of his financial allocations under the CLÁR programme throughout County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31422/06]

The CLÁR Programme is a targeted investment programme for rural areas. Earlier this year, following a further analysis of the 2002 population census data, new areas for inclusion to the Programme were selected on the basis of average population loss in each county of not less than 35% between 1926 and 2002. Towns of 3,000 and over and their peri-urban areas were being excluded, irrespective of county decline in population.

The Programme now covers parts of 22 counties and all of Co. Leitrim and benefits a population of nearly 727,000. County Kildare was not selected for inclusion in the extended Programme as its population increased by approximately 135% between 1926 and 2002. Accordingly, there have been no financial allocations to Co. Kildare under the CLÁR programme.

Community Development.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

149 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the extent to which he has, or intends to offer financial assistance to community groups attempting to combat anti-social behaviour; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31423/06]

The Deputy will be aware that my Department operates, either directly or through bodies under its aegis, a range of schemes and projects which support communities in addressing local issues and improve their quality of life generally. The main elements are described below.

Dormant Accounts

Disbursements from the Dormant Accounts Fund are designed to assist three broad categories of persons:

those affected by economic and social disadvantage;

those affected by educational disadvantage; and

persons with a disability.

The Government has approved the allocation of €60 million from the Dormant Accounts Fund in 2006. In this regard, €24 million is being allocated towards projects tackling economic and social disadvantage; €18 million towards projects tackling educational disadvantage and €18 million towards projects assisting persons with a disability.

CLÁR Programme:

Local Authority Housing Estate Enhancement Scheme:

The purpose of this Scheme is to provide funding, with Local Authorities, for the enhancement of Local Authority Housing Estates through works on landscaping, paving, etc. This Scheme is co-funded with Local Authority on a € for € basis with local contribution

Community Services Programme:

The wide range of community activities funded by this Programme includes the staffing costs of operating community CCTV systems. The scheme also provides funding for the provision of supervision and security of community halls and facilities.

RAPID Programme:

I introduced the RAPID Leverage Schemes in 2004. Through these schemes my Department, in tandem with Departments that have primary responsibility, funds schemes to provide playgrounds, improve traffic measures, improve health facilities, support sporting organisations as well as improve local authority housing estates and flat complexes. Funding from other Departments and Agencies is matched by RAPID Leverage funding. The schemes are aimed at small-scale capital works – works that require relatively small amounts of funding but can produce real and concrete benefits to communities. They also allow the local community to have a direct input into deciding what projects will be undertaken by giving the Area Implementation Teams in each RAPID area the power to select the projects involved.

Also, my Department co-funds projects with the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform such as installation of Community Based CCTV, tackling the problem of graffiti and once off Dept. of Justice initiated projects to support communities in RAPID areas.

Community Development Programme:

Established in 1990 in recognition of the role of community development in tackling the causes and effects of poverty and disadvantage, the programme is designed to reduce social exclusion by targeting support at disadvantaged and socially excluded communities in order to improve their capacity to benefit from social and economic development. All projects are managed by local voluntary management committees. 182 projects are currently supported under the programme. These are located in recognised disadvantaged areas nationwide, in both urban and rural areas.

Funding of €24m has been allocated to the programme for 2006. Projects are expected to operate as a resource to the communities in which they are located with their main purpose being to work with the community in identifying and tackling those issues which have resulted in a lack of positive community development. Projects are typically concerned with the needs of women and children, lone parent families, the unemployed, the elderly, young people at risk, Travellers, those with disabilities, new communities and other disadvantaged groups. Projects provide facilities such as meeting rooms, crèches, office facilities, training or education projects designed to meet the needs of disadvantaged groups in their communities. Projects are funded on a contract basis which facilitates the employment of staff and also cover project overheads and administration. Posts covered under the programme include co-ordinator, development worker and administrator. Many projects use the CDP structure and funding to attract funding from other sources including statutory agencies.

National Drugs Strategy:

Local and Regional Drugs Task Forces:

Fourteen Local Drugs Task Forces and Ten Regional Drugs Task Forces have been set up covering all parts of the country. Each Task Force is chaired by an independent chair and has representation from various Departments and agencies, including the community and voluntary sectors. The role of the Drugs Task Forces is to implement the strategic plan which it produced for its region to ensure the development of a co-ordinated and integrated response to illicit drug use. In 2006, the allocation for the implementation of the strategic plans of Drug Task Forces is in the region of €20m.

The Young People's Facilities and Services Fund (YPFSF):

The Young Peoples Facilities & Services Fund (YPFSF) was established in 1998 to assist in the development of facilities (including sport and recreational facilities) and services in disadvantaged areas where a significant drug problem existed or had the potential to develop. By developing youth, sport and other recreational facilities, the YPFSF seeks to attract "at risk" young people away from the potential dangers of misuse, into safe, non-threatening and constructive environments

Eighteen locations are covered — the 14 Local Drugs Task Force areas (12 in Dublin and the others in Bray and Cork) and 4 other urban areas of Limerick, Carlow, Waterford and Galway. A total of €106 million has been allocated to date under both capital and current projects.

National Drugs Strategy.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

150 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the degree to which he proposes to improve the funding available to community groups involved in combating drugs throughout the greater Dublin area with particular reference to the need to provide immediate access to drug treatment programmes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31426/06]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

151 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the full extent of the funding he has provided or expects to provide to community groups involved in combating drugs throughout the greater Dublin area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31427/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 150 and 151 together.

My Department has overall responsibility for co-ordinating the implementation of the National Drugs Strategy 2001–2008. The setting up of treatment programmes is a matter for the Health Services Executive and the Minister for Health and Children.

The current year's allocation to my Department for expenditure on Drugs Initiatives and the Young Peoples Facilities and Services Fund is €43m which represents a substantial 37% increase on the 2005 initial allocation and an increase of 61% on the 2004 figure. These figures emphasise that tackling the drug problem is a key Government priority and that it will remain so.

Local Drugs Task Forces (LDTFs) are overseeing the implementation of a range of projects at an annual cost in excess of €16m. Twelve of the 14 Local Drugs Task Forces are located in Dublin, with the others in Bray and Cork. Since 1997, nearly €125m has been allocated to support work across the 14 LDTF areas. Over 400 community-based projects have been established, employing more than 300 staff. These projects deliver services such as community drug treatment programmes as well as advice and support for drug misusers and their families, outreach and crisis intervention services and drug training programmes for community groups. Additionally, under the Emerging Needs Fund, which was established in 2005, I have allocated almost €4m to 67 projects in various LDTF areas. This Fund was devised to provide a flexible and timely response to evolving needs in regard to drug misuse.

Ten Regional Drugs Task Forces (RDTFs) have been set up more recently in the areas not covered by Local Drugs Task Forces. Thus a Drugs Task Force now services all parts of the country with consequential support for community-based groups. An allocation of €5m has been made available for the RDTFs this year and this will increase in the coming years as they become more established and achieve increased progress on their action plans.

Under the Young Peoples Facilities and Services Fund I recently announced allocations of €1.66m for 9 projects in Dún Laoghaire, Waterford and Cork, bringing the total commitment from the Young People's Facilities and Services Fund to €106m since its establishment.

Overall, I am satisfied that the funding now available facilitates the provision of a comprehensive range of drug treatment interventions including those organised at community group level.

Dormant Accounts Fund.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

152 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the moneys allocated through his Department from the dormant accounts fund throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31429/06]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

153 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the moneys allocated through his Department from the dormant accounts fund for County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31430/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 152 and 153 together.

Decisions on the disbursements of funds from dormant accounts under the initial round of funding were a matter for the Dormant Accounts Fund Disbursements Board, an independent body established under the Dormant Accounts Acts. Under this round, the Board approved 521 projects for funding totalling over €60 million. Details of these allocations are included in Appendix A of the Board's 2005 Annual Report, copies of which were laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas on 31st August 2006 and subsequently circulated to all Oireachtas members on 8th September 2006. 12 of the projects approved by the Board, involving the allocation of €2.7 million, are based in Co. Kildare. A breakdown of the approved projects in Co. Kildare is provided in Appendix 1.

Following the enactment of the Dormant Accounts (Amendment) Act 2005, the Government approved a series of funding measures providing for the allocation of a further €60 million from the Fund in 2006. These measures are being rolled-out on a phased basis as the operational arrangements are finalised.

In July 2006, details of the specific projects approved in respect of the first €12 million of this 2006 allocation were announced. These allocations were in respect of funding for priority projects in RAPID areas (€11.35 million) and also supports for vulnerable immigrants (€575,000). Included in these allocations was one project in Athy, Co. Kildare, which was approved for a grant of €200,000 (details in Appendix 2).

It is anticipated that Government will make further decisions in relation to a number of other measures over the coming months as roll-out continues with regard to the 2006 round of funding.

Appendix 1

Dormant Accounts Round 1 Funding (Co. Kildare)

Group/Organisation

Grant Approved

KARE, Co. Kildare

194,000

Hospitaller Order of St John of God, Celbridge, Co Kildare

167,336

Board of Management, Scoil Phádraig Naofa, Athy, Co Kildare

41,000

Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary, Co Kildare

300,000

Kildare Youth Services (Curragh Youth Project)

81,226

Camphill Communities of Ireland, Kilcullen, Co Kildare

360,000

Athy Youth Project, Co Kildare

58,775

Athy Travellers’ Club, Co Kildare

50,420

Athy Town Council

70,838

ASSET, Athy, Co Kildare

100,000

Cheshire Ireland, Newbridge, Co. Kildare

1,272,273.00

Dyspraxia Association of Ireland

50,500.00

Overall Total

2,746,368.00

Appendix 2

Dormant Accounts 2006 Round

Funding to RAPID Projects, Co. Kildare

Group/Organisation

Purpose of Grant

Grant Approved

Athy Town Council

Refurbishment works to provide Youth Café.

200,000.00

Departmental Programmes.

Olwyn Enright

Ceist:

154 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the reason a school (details supplied) was not included under the CLÁR area in view of the fact that enrolment numbers have dropped from over 100 in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s to fewer than 70 in recent years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31448/06]

Olwyn Enright

Ceist:

155 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the criteria behind the selection of schools to be included in CLÁR areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31449/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 154 and 155 together.

The CLÁR programme is a targeted investment programme for rural areas. Earlier this year, following a further analysis of the 2002 population census data, new areas were selected for inclusion in the Programme on the basis of average population loss in each county of not less than 35% between 1926 and 2002. Towns of 3,000 and over and their peri-urban areas are excluded, irrespective of county decline in population. The Programme now covers parts of 22 counties and all of Co. Leitrim and benefits a population of nearly 727,000.

In order for a school to be eligible for consideration under the School Outdoors Play Facilities Enhancement Scheme, it must be located in a District Electoral Division (DED) designated as a CLÁR area. The DED is confirmed by the Registrar of Electors at the local County Council. The school referred to by the Deputy is not located in a CLÁR area and it is, therefore, not eligible for consideration under the Programme.

Grant Payments.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

156 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if she will review a grant application for the farm waste management scheme to allow a person (details supplied) in County Mayo install an air agitation system in view of the health and safety benefit of the system; and if she will disregard the location of the old agitation point in view of the system being proposed for installation. [31307/06]

This case has been examined by officials from my Department and the system to be installed by the applicant has been found to be acceptable to them, subject to the old agitation point being made safe by its replacement with slats. Approval to commence work will issue shortly.

Milk Quota.

Pat Breen

Ceist:

157 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if her attention has been drawn to the practice operated by a company (details supplied) in selectively accepting milk suppliers whose main supply goes elsewhere; if she is satisfied that the offer to lease or purchase quota to these selected suppliers is not in breach of any Irish or EU quota regulations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31373/06]

Regulation 38 of the European Communities (Milk Quota) Regulations, 2000, as amended, provides that milk producers may transfer quota from their existing milk purchaser to a new milk purchaser in any quarter beginning 1st January, 1st April, 1st July or 1st October, provided a set notification procedure is followed.

A producer may, in certain circumstances, apply in writing to my Department to transfer all or part of his or her quota to another purchaser with effect from a date specified in the application and stating a reason for such an application. The relevant milk purchasers are given an opportunity to state their views prior to such a transfer being effected.

In the case of recent quota transfers to the company referred to, I am satisfied that the appropriate procedures were followed. Producers may apply to purchase quota from a scheme operated by a milk purchaser in which they hold permanent quota, and to which they have made deliveries in the current year. However, producers who hold quota in more than one co-op may purchase quota from one co-op only. Under the annual Temporary Leasing Scheme, a producer may apply for a temporary allocation of quota provided he or she is a supplier to the co-op in question.

These schemes and the quota transfer procedures are operated in accordance with the provisions of the relevant Council and Commission Regulations.

Afforestation Programme.

Mary Upton

Ceist:

158 Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when details of the forestry programme for 2007 to 2013 will be published; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31397/06]

The forestry programme for 2007 to 2013 will form an integral part of the new Rural Development Programme. A draft of the rural development programme will issue for public consultation shortly.

Animal Diseases.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

159 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the plans she has to review the practice whereby cattle must be within the period specified for the test for tuberculosis when they are being slaughtered; the reason for this practice; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31414/06]

The requirement that animals may be sent for slaughter only if they have been tested for TB within the previous 12 months is a necessary component of the Eradication Programme to ensure that individual animals do not go for prolonged periods without test and that the exposure pattern to TB within herds is regularly evaluated. While cattle are routinely tested for TB lesions at post mortem, cattle with TB do not present with lesions in the early stages of the disease and, in any event, it is often very difficult, for reasons relating to the location of lesions and the speed of the slaughter line, to detect lesions at post-mortem at meat plants. In view of this, the TB skin test is the optimum mechanism for detecting TB in herds and annual tuberculin testing provides essential epidemiological information. In addition, the design, operation and outcome of the Bovine TB Eradication Programme is subjected to routine scrutiny at EU level and Ireland's fulfilment of the terms of Directive 64/432/EEC, i.e. the Directive governing the trade in live animals is closely monitored. Ireland's ability to trade in live animals in EU and third country markets is contingent primarily on compliance with this Directive. Our EU partners consider that a credible Eradication Programme must be comprehensive and that all animals are subject to test at intervals determined by the national disease level — for Ireland this interval is 12 months and thus all herds and all animals must be tested annually.

In view of the foregoing, I believe that the practice of permitting only animals that are in test to be sent for slaughter is an essential element in our efforts aimed at preventing the spread of TB and protecting domestic and international trade and should be retained.

Animal Identification Scheme.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

160 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the plans she has to review the decision to award the cattle tag contract to just one company; the reason for this decision; her views on whether it is acceptable that those who were unsuccessful should be informed via the media rather than her Department; the steps being taken to review the communication policy in such circumstances; the reason no clear specifications were given for the tendering process; the reason each of the seven companies failed in the tender process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31417/06]

There are no plans to review the decision taken to award the contract following the recent public tender process for the supply of cattle tags. The tendering process was conducted in a fair, open and transparent manner in accordance with EU and national legislation on public procurement. The award criteria were set out in the Invitation to Tender document. This document also outlined the general requirements for the tag but, as has been the policy for the past ten years, it did not include direct specifications so as to facilitate a response from the industry that would give the widest representation of the products on offer.

One supplier of cattle tags was selected because the overall solution offered by that company was deemed to be significantly superior to the alternatives offered in the tender process. A copy of the report of the evaluation committee, which outlined the methodology used to assess the tenders, was provided to each company that submitted a valid tender. The contract to be awarded on foot of this tender process will be for a period of one year and may be extended for a further period of up to a maximum of two years.

All companies who submitted valid tenders for the supply of cattle tags were informed of the decision in the normal way, by fax and registered post, immediately following completion of all the steps in the decision making process. While one newspaper anticipated the outcome of the decision making process and published an article on the subject prior to my Department notifying the results, I can confirm that my Department did not make the information available for publication.

Control of Horses.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

161 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of horses seized by local authorities under the Control of Horses Act 1996 in the last three years for which figures are available with a breakdown for each local authority; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31419/06]

The Control of Horses Act, 1996 assigns the primary role for dealing with wandering horses to local authorities. The information sought for 2004 and 2005 is set out below and is based on information provided to the Department by local authorities in relation to numbers of horses impounded. Data for 2003 was provided on a different basis and comparable information is not available in respect of that year. Figures are not yet available in relation to 2006.

County/City Council

2004

2005

Carlow Co. Council

Nil

Nil

Cavan Co. Council

Nil

Nil

Clare Co. Council

*

*

Cork City Council

70

38

Cork Co. Council

29

25

Donegal Co. Council

Nil

Nil

Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown

7

*

Dublin City Council

114

102

Fingal Co. Council

67

35

Galway City Council

Nil

Nil

Galway Co. Council

8

Nil

Kerry Co. Council

4

3

Kildare Co. Council

56

31

Kilkenny Co. Council

17

7

Laois Co. Council

20

91

Leitrim Co. Council

Nil

Nil

Limerick City Council

47

61

Limerick Co. Council

33

46

Longford Co. Council

Nil

Nil

Louth Co. Council

17

10

Mayo Co. Council

Nil

Nil

Meath Co. Council

6

12

Monaghan Co. Council

Nil

3

Offaly Co. Council

Nil

22

Roscommon Co. Council

Nil

Nil

Sligo Co. Council

2

Nil

South Dublin Co. Council

41

112

Tipperary North Co. Council

20

16

Tipperary South Co. Council

15

22

Waterford City Council

4

3

Waterford Co. Council

*

*

Westmeath Co. Council

13

10

Wexford Co. Council

41

32

Wicklow Co. Council

*

*

Total

631

681

* Return not available.

Departmental Reports.

Michael Lowry

Ceist:

162 Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when she expects to receive the expert committee report on the use of standing pads for cattle; the length of time the committee has been deliberating over the issue; the costs incurred to date by the committee; if she has received a draft report to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31439/06]

The Technical Working Group referred to was established in 2003 to evaluate the possible introduction into agricultural practice of a number of new structures, including Earth-Lined Stores and Out-Wintering Pads, and to make recommendations as to whether or not such structures should be permitted. Based on the Group's recommendations, I approved the specification for Earth-Lined Stores last March, and a course for site assessors is expected to commence in early November.

The work of the Technical Working Group on the suitability of Out-Wintering Pads was dependent on the results of ongoing research into the environmental implications and construction requirements associated with the system becoming available. I understand that the Technical Working Group has only recently received this information and that it will be examined at the earliest opportunity.

The Technical Working Group consists of officials nominated by my Department, the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Teagasc, EPA and GSI. Since its establishment in 2003, the costs incurred by the Technical Working Group amount to €3,140.83. These costs relate to the Group's work on all of the alternative storage systems under examination.

Direct Payment Schemes.

Michael Lowry

Ceist:

163 Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food further to Parliamentary Question No. 207 of 25 May 2006, if a decision has been made on an appeal by a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary for payment under the National Reserve; if and when payment will be granted; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31440/06]

The person named submitted an application for an allocation of entitlements from the Single Payment Scheme National Reserve under Category D.

Category D caters for farmers who commenced farming after 31 December 2002 or who commenced farming in 2002 but who received no direct payments in respect of that scheme year. The person named did not qualify for this category as he commenced farming prior to the reference period 2000-2002. A formal letter setting out my Department's decision issued to the person named which was subsequently appealed. This appeal has now been forwarded to the Independent Payment Appeals Committee who will carry out a full review of the case and will correspond directly with the person named following the outcome of the review.

My Department has also carried out a full review of the application from the person named under the Force Majeure measure of the Single Payment Scheme. A decision has been made that his entitlements will now be based on the alternative reference period 1997-1999 and a formal letter will issue to the person named in due course.

Michael Lowry

Ceist:

164 Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if an allocation for payment entitlements from the 2005 single farm payment national reserve have been granted to a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31441/06]

The person named submitted an application for an allocation of entitlements from the Single Payments Scheme National Reserve under category C.

Category C caters for farmers who sold the milk quota into the Milk Quota Restructuring Scheme and converted their enterprise to a farming sector for which a direct payment under Livestock Premia/or Arable Aid Schemes would have been payable during the reference period 2000 to 2002. The person named was unsuccessful as he was not an Active Milk Producer up to the date of sale of his Milk Quota.

A formal letter setting out my Department's decision issued to the person named.

If the person named is dissatisfied with my Department's decision in relation to the National Reserve, he has the opportunity to appeal this decision to the Independent Payment Appeals Committee. An appeals application form isavailable from any of my Department's officesor on the Department website atwww.agriculture.gov.ie.

Olwyn Enright

Ceist:

165 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the further developments following Parliamentary Question No. 382 of the 27 June 2006. [31446/06]

The Single Payment Appeals Committee examines appeals in relation to the decisions of the Department of Agriculture and Food corresponding to the implementation of the various facets of the Single Payment Scheme.

The Agriculture Appeals Office received the appeal from the person named on 2nd October 2006. Appeals are dealt with in the order in which they are received. The case in question has been scheduled for inclusion in the next Single Payment Appeals Committee meeting. Following the hearing and consideration of the facts of the case, the Single Payment Appeals Committee will issue their decision to the appellant.

David Stanton

Ceist:

166 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the way in which farmers who do not fit into either category A or category B will be treated under the single farm payment scheme and the various categories in the 2006 National Reserve; if force majeure will be applied especially where people had land leased in 2005; if it is possible for 2005 entitlements to be topped up; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31447/06]

The position is that unlike the 2005 National Reserve Scheme, when there was a number of mandatory categories to be catered for, this year there is only one mandatory category — Category A. This category caters for farmers who inherited, leased or otherwise received free of charge, or for a nominal amount (€100 per hectare), from a farmer who retired or died before 16 May 2005, a holding that was leased out to a third party during the 2000-2002 reference period.

Following consultations with the Single Payment Advisory Committee (comprising representatives from the farming organisations and Teagasc), I also decided to include a non-mandatory category in the 2006 National Reserve. This category (category B) caters for farmers who commenced farming after 31 December 2002 or who, while farming during 2002, did not receive any direct payments in respect of that year. The income and educational qualification that applied in 2005 will again apply to this category. In addition, new entrants who are farming leased/rented land will be eligible for an allocation provided they can demonstrate a genuine commitment to farming. In this context the leased/rented land must have been declared on the 2004 Area Aid application and on the 2005 and 2006 Single Payment Scheme applications.

In addition to the above, successful applicants under category C of the 2005 National Reserve (those who participated in the milk restructuring scheme and converted to a farming sector for which a direct payment would have been payable during the reference period) will now be eligible for a top-up from the 2006 National Reserve to reflect the increased value of the Dairy Premium in 2006. My Department will automatically apply this top-up and therefore the farmers concerned need not make application to the 2006 National Reserve. Separate arrangements concerning a National Reserve category for Sugar Beet farmers will be announced separately later on.

There is no provision for the application of Force Majeure to farmers who had land leased during 2005 where the land in question is no longer available to them. However, where a farmer was leasing land during the reference period 2000-2002 and the lease agreement has now expired, the farmer in question may be eligible to consolidate his/her entitlements for 2006.

Schools Building Projects.

Paul McGrath

Ceist:

167 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science when funding will be allocated to progress with a building project for a school (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31311/06]

The building project at the School referred to by the Deputy is at an early stage of architectural planning. This School was among 40 Schools that I announced in April of this year to go to tender and construction on a rolling basis over the next 12 to 15 months.

My Department's Officials visited the School in question in June of this year and following the visit requested that a revised stage 3 (detailed plans/costs) submission be forwarded to my Department for review.

The revised stage 3 submission has been received in my Department and is being examined. When the examination is completed, my Department's Officials will be in contact with the School Authorities to advise as to how best to further progress this refurbishment and extension project.

Schools Refurbishment.

Paul McGrath

Ceist:

168 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science when funding will be allocated to progress with a building project for a school (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31312/06]

The project referred to by the Deputy is included in the refurbishment and extension project at the School referred to by the Deputy and is at an early stage of architectural planning. This School was among 40 Schools that I announced in April of this year to go to tender and construction on a rolling basis over the next 12 to 15 months.

My Department's Officials visited the School in question in June of this year and following the visit requested that a revised stage 3 (detailed plans/costs) submission be forwarded to my Department for review.

The revised stage 3 submission has been received in my Department and, when it is reviewed, my Department's Officials will be in further contact with the School Authorities as to how best to further progress this refurbishment and extension project.

Schools Building Projects.

Paul McGrath

Ceist:

169 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science when funding will be allocated to progress with a building project for a school (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31313/06]

The Department is not in receipt of an application for major capital funding from the school to which the Deputy refers.

It will be provided with the relevant application form if it makes contact with School Planning Section or it can access the form (Form FLE) on the Department's website.

Tom Hayes

Ceist:

170 Mr. Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in the case of a school (details supplied) in County Tipperary in relation to the need for additional facilities. [31314/06]

School Planning Section is in receipt of an application for major capital funding from the management authority of the school to which the Deputy refers.

The application has been assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for large scale projects and has been assigned a Band 4 rating. Progress on the proposed works is being considered in the context of the School Building and Modernisation Programme from 2007 onwards.

School Accommodation.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

171 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science if her Department negotiates for the extension of catchment districts of existing secondary schools following the closure of a school in order that pupils in the catchment will not find that they are disadvantaged in terms of access to school places; and the provisions which have been made in respect of the catchment of a school (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [31315/06]

When there is sufficient accommodation in the neighbourhood of a closing school, there is no necessity for the Department to re-draw a catchment area. In the case in question, the Department is satisfied that there are sufficient post primary pupil places in the area concerned to meet the demand presenting.

Generally, a closing school assists its residue of pupils in finding alternative places. Contact can also be made with the Department for this purpose if individual pupils are experiencing difficulties.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio.

Olwyn Enright

Ceist:

172 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science the most recent breakdown of primary school class sizes available for each county showing in each case the number of pupils in classes of less than ten, ten to 19, 20 to 24, 25 to 29, 30 to 34, 35 to 39 and 40 plus; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31316/06]

The data requested by the Deputy are contained in the following table.

As the Deputy will be aware, major improvements have been made in staffing at primary and post-primary level in recent years. At the beginning of the current school year there are no less than 4000 extra teachers in our primary schools, compared with 2002. The average class size in our primary schools is 24 and there is now one teacher for 17 pupils at primary level, including resource teachers etc.

Children with special needs and those from disadvantaged areas are getting more support than ever before to help them to make the most of their time at school.

Indeed, with the thousands of extra primary teachers hired by this Government, recent years have seen the largest expansion in teacher numbers since the expansion of free education. Over the next two school years even more teachers will be put in place both for the above priority areas of disadvantage and special education and also under a reduction in the mainstream staffing schedule.

As you know all primary schools are staffed on a general rule of at least one classroom teacher for every 28 children. Of course, schools with only one or two teachers have much lower staffing ratios than that — with two teachers for just 12 pupils in some cases and so on — but the general rule is that there is at least one classroom teacher for every 28 children in the school. Next year (2007/2008 school year) this is being reduced to 27 children per classroom teacher.

A further initiative that has been of direct benefit to primary schools has been the change in the criteria for developing schools. For the current school year the threshold for getting a developing school post was reduced specifically to help schools that are seeing large increases in enrolments each year, as is the case in many schools. 170 such posts were sanctioned in the 2005/06 school year, compared to 105 in 2004/05.

This Government has shown a clear determination to improve the staffing in our schools and we will continue to prioritise this issue going forward.

Number of Pupils by Ordinary Class Size Range in 2005/2006 School Year

Number of Pupils by Ordinary Class Size Range in 2005/2006 School Year

County

0-9

10-19

20-24

25-29

30-34

35-39

40 & Over

Total

Carlow

8

462

1,353

2,270

1,304

142

0

5,539

Cavan

32

1,282

2,199

2,334

1,552

285

0

7,684

Clare

150

1,740

3,242

3,504

2,476

640

41

11793

Cork City

60

2,930

3,324

4,193

2,754

286

0

13,547

Cork County

192

3,769

8,166

13,401

9,592

1,792

44

36,956

Donegal

154

2,789

4,904

5,914

3,300

185

0

17,246

Dublin City

56

8,811

10,000

13,346

8,133

360

0

40706

Dublin Fingal

0

1,251

3,122

10,775

9,021

322

0

24491

Dublin South

0

3,501

5,796

10,541

6,495

245

0

26578

Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown

16

1,318

2,433

6,188

5,374

427

81

15,837

Galway City

9

1,094

1,165

2,066

1,366

35

0

5735

Galway County

292

3,979

4,987

5,073

2,830

214

40

17,415

Kerry

105

2,252

4,161

4,969

2,898

70

0

14,455

Kildare

0

990

3,761

10,437

6,351

531

0

22,070

Kilkenny

9

1,248

2,126

3,332

2,383

176

0

9,274

Laois

26

816

1,641

3,169

1,466

72

0

7190

Leitrim

32

819

861

953

160

146

0

2971

Limerick City

27

1,249

1,491

1,973

1,392

106

0

6238

Limerick County

104

1719

3,371

5,184

2,758

212

0

13,348

Longford

80

699

997

1,292

471

71

0

3,610

Louth

0

1,097

2,967

5,260

3,731

282

0

13,337

Mayo

228

3,264

3,654

4,204

1,654

186

0

13,190

Meath

24

1,201

3,586

7,827

5,220

757

0

18,615

Monaghan

52

926

1,785

2,126

1,139

214

0

6,242

Offaly

25

1,000

2,413

3,516

1,684

0

0

8,638

Roscommon

138

1,622

1867

1,685

721

148

40

6,221

Sligo

49

1,226

2,133

1,911

975

143

0

6,437

Tipperary N.R.

21

1,131

2,612

2,515

913

106

41

7,339

Tipperary S.R.

30

1,397

3,273

2,882

1,358

284

0

9,224

Waterford City

0

342

1272

2,668

1,021

72

0

5,375

Waterford County

9

863

1,723

2,771

1,109

248

0

6723

Westmeath

40

1,004

2,416

3,352

2,282

144

0

9,238

Wexford

27

1,449

3,797

5,922

3,503

497

0

15,195

Wicklow

25

1,336

3,065

4,621

4,222

465

0

13734

Total:

2,020

60,576

105,663

162,174

101,608

9,863

287

442,191

* Class size refers to numbers of pupils in Ordinary Classes not including pupils with special learning needs who are integrated in Ordinary Classes.

Schools Building Projects.

Olwyn Enright

Ceist:

173 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science further to Parliamentary Question No. 1380 of 27 September 2006, when the information requested will be available; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31317/06]

The vast majority of schools in the State are privately owned and managed. Therefore, the information requested by the Deputy is not available in the Department.

Higher Education Grants.

David Stanton

Ceist:

174 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Science her views on issuing guidelines to vocational education committees and county council higher education grants awarding bodies requesting that they be more flexible in the closing dates regarding applications for third level grants; if she will allow such grants to be backdated in the case of late applications; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31367/06]

The three Third Level Student Support Schemes, administered by the Local Authorities and the Vocational Education Committees on behalf of my Department, offer financial assistance to eligible students attending approved third level courses. Students entering approved courses for the first time are, generally speaking eligible for grants where they satisfy the relevant conditions as to age, residence, means, nationality and previous academic attainment. The closing date for receipt of grant applications for the current academic year was 31 August 2006. However the awarding bodies, at their own absolute discretion, may accept applications after this date.

Special Educational Needs.

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

175 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Education and Science the age at which a child can be considered for home tuition; the way in which a parent goes about applying at this time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31375/06]

The home tuition scheme provides funding to parents to provide education at home for children who, for a number of reasons such as chronic illness, are unable to attend school. The scheme was extended in recent years to facilitate tuition for children awaiting a suitable educational placement including preschool children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) who are eligible, subject to criteria, from 2.5 years of age. Application forms are available from the Special Education Section of my Department in Athlone, Co Westmeath and parents will shortly be able to download these forms from my Department's website.

School Accommodation.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

176 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding a school (details supplied) in Dublin 9; and the reason for the delay. [31376/06]

As the Deputy will be aware, it is the Department's intention to permanently accommodate the school to which he refers in a building which it expects to be vacated post an amalgamation of three other primary schools. To progress this matter, the next step is to carry out a technical inspection of the buildings concerned to determine the scope of works to facilitate both the amalgamation and the school in question. A date for this inspection has now been set with the school authorities being informed accordingly. The matter can be progressed further when the technical report becomes available.

School Supervision.

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

177 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Education and Science the directives given to primary schools to allow pupils entry into the school before school starts; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31398/06]

Under the provisions of the Education Act 1998 and the regulations of the Department of Education and Science, the board of management is the body charged with the direct governance of a school. The overall responsibility for the day to day management of school supervision rests with the Principal Teacher. The terms of Circular 16/73, which issued to all primary schools, provide that the Principal Teacher of primary schools should organise supervision for the order and general behaviour of the pupils during school hours. In particular, he or she should organise and participate in the effective supervision of the pupils during breaks, lunch-breaks, assembly and dismissal. This circular was drawn up in consultation with the school management representative bodies at that time. Rule 121(4) and 124(1) of the Rules for National Schools and Section 23(2) of the Education Act 1998 oblige teachers to take all reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of pupils and to participate in supervising pupils when the pupils are on school premises, during school time and/or on school activities. Accordingly, the responsibility of all teachers individually and collectively to provide a duty of care at all times towards the children in the school in which they teach, including periods of supervision, remains.

Decentralisation Programme.

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

178 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Science when it is expected that staff from her Department will be transferred to Mullingar as part of the decentralisation proposals; if there will be an advanced move of staff in the near future to Mullingar; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31399/06]

The latest report by the Decentralisation Implementation Group (DIG) published yesterday gives an indicative date of Quarter 1 2009 for the provision of permanent accommodation in Mullingar. The decentralisation of the 300 posts in my Department from Dublin to Mullingar as set out in the Government's Programme of Decentralisation with take place when this accommodation is ready for occupation. No decision has been made regarding an advance move to temporary accommodation in Mullingar of some of these 300 posts.

Schools Building Projects.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

179 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will allocate additional funding to a project (details supplied) due to the cost of completing the project; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31418/06]

The school in question was offered and accepted a devolved grant in 2005 to provide an additional permanent classroom. The grant on offer was subsequently increased, at the request of the school authority, to include the provision of a resource room. In June 2006 additional funding was approved to cover unforeseen additional building costs. The school has made a further appeal for more funding relating to unanticipated extra works. Detailed information is to be provided by the school regarding these costs. The matter will be considered further on receipt of this information.

Psychological Service.

Olwyn Enright

Ceist:

180 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of psychologists employed by the National Education Psychological Service who are educational psychologists; the number who are behavioural psychologists; the number who are clinical psychologists; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31450/06]

Psychologists in my Department's National Educational Psychological Service are employed as educational psychologists without differentiation in that service. Psychologists in NEPS have a variety of professional experiences and hold qualifications in relevant areas of expertise. All psychologists in the service satisfied the criteria laid down by the Public Appointments Service in the associated recruitment competitions. Psychologists come from an educational and/or an applied psychology background. The range of experience is complementary and expertise of a particular nature can be made available when required.

Special Educational Needs.

Olwyn Enright

Ceist:

181 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science the plans she has to introduce a behaviour support service at primary level; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31451/06]

Earlier this year, I announced new Support Teams to work directly with schools experiencing serious behaviour problems in post-primary schools. I announced the plan following the publication of the final report of the Task Force on Student Behaviour in Second Level Schools — School Matters. A new package of measures announced includes: A New regionally-based National Behaviour Support Service (NBSS) to work with schools that have significant discipline problems; and Behaviour Support classrooms to be piloted in a number of schools.

The NBSS's role ranges from diagnosis of school problems to assistance with their remediation. This team will work with post-primary schools that are experiencing significant discipline problems. It is staffed by experienced practitioners from across the education sector, including additional Psychologists dedicated to this area. Administrative support is provided to the National Behaviour Support Service by Navan Education Centre.

There are no plans by my Department to introduce a behaviour support service for primary schools. However, my Department established the Special Education Support Service (SESS) in September, 2003 which is based at the Cork Education Centre. The aim of the service is to enhance the quality of teaching and learning with particular reference to the education of children with special needs in both primary and post-primary schools. The service provides support for school personnel working with pupils and students with special educational needs in a variety of educational settings including special schools and special classes. Challenging behaviour is one of the areas covered by the SESS.

Professional development and support is available to principals, middle management in schools, class teachers, subject teachers, special-class teachers, resource teachers and special needs assistants. It is open to the management authorities in schools to address any additional training needs for staff employed in their schools through the SESS.

During the school year 2005-2006 Schools for Students with Mild General Learning Disability were invited to avail of the following: 3-hour school whole-staff session — ‘Introduction to Challenging Behaviour'; and 1-day seminar for whole staff — ‘Managing Challenging Behaviour'. Special Schools that deal with serious and persistent challenging behaviour on a day-to-day basis that requires specific interventions, require specific continuous professional development on the use of such interventions at whole-staff and whole-team level. SESS full-funding for specialist training was made available to enable schools to provide whole-staff training as a summer course.

Teachers are able to avail of Extra Personal Vacation days. Almost €150,000 was made available for this purpose in summer 2006. It is intended to continue to provide for this as part of the SESS summer course programme in June 2007. SESS have received request from Mainstream Primary schools in which some students' behaviour is of grave concern to the principal and school. On a pilot basis, SESS has provided the following supports to a number of schools:

Delivery of whole-staff training on managing challenging behaviour;

Provision of support through engagement of personnel with specific expertise; and

Funding for specialist whole-staff training on managing challenging behaviour (on a pilot basis).

In 2005-2006 over 600 teachers participated in on-line course as follows:

‘Positive Behaviour Support and Discipline' (287);

‘Applied Behaviour Analysis' (ABA) (122); and

‘Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder' (170).

In 2005-2006 over €11,000 was provided to enable teachers/schools avail of courses on challenging behaviour under the SESS-Local Initiatives Scheme.

I am satisfied that the steps taken in recent years, which I have covered in some detail, represent significant progress in the development of in-service for primary teachers experiencing behaviour problems.

Olwyn Enright

Ceist:

182 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will ensure that special needs assistants have training in autistic spectrum disorders; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31452/06]

Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) are recruited specifically to assist in the care of pupils with special educational needs in an educational context. They may be appointed to a special school or a mainstream school in situations where a pupil has a significant medical need for such assistance, a significant impairment of physical or sensory function or where their behaviour is such that they are a danger to themselves or to other pupils.

Three Colleges of Education, namely St. Angela's College in Sligo, Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, and Church of Ireland College, Rathmines, in conjunction with the Education Centre network, have formulated and delivered officially recognised training courses for serving SNAs. These courses are designed to assist special needs assistants in meeting the care needs of all pupils with special educational needs, including pupils with autistic spectrum disorders.

The Deputy may be interested to know that, in September 2003, my Department established the Special Education Support Service (SESS) which is based at the Cork Education Centre. The aim of the service is to enhance the quality of teaching and learning with particular reference to the education of children with special needs. The service provides support for school personnel working with pupils and students with special educational needs in a variety of educational settings including special schools and special classes.

Professional development and support is available from the SESS for principals, middle management in schools, class teachers, subject teachers, special-class teachers, resource teachers and special needs assistants. It is open to the management authorities in schools to address any additional training needs for staff employed in their schools through the SESS.

Olwyn Enright

Ceist:

183 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will ensure that special needs assistants have training in resource; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31453/06]

I understand that the Deputy's question refers to training in the delivery of resource teaching support. I wish to advise the Deputy that the role of the special needs assistant (SNA) is essentially a care one in supporting pupils with assessed special educational needs. Resource teaching support is delivered by the school's teaching staff. Accordingly, my Department has no plans to provide resource teacher training for SNAs.

Three Colleges of Education, namely St. Angela's College in Sligo, Mary Immaculate College in Limerick, and Church of Ireland College, Rathmines, in conjunction with the Education Centre network, deliver officially recognised training courses for serving SNAs.

It is my Department's policy to keep all programmes under review including those offered to SNAs.

Ministerial Transport.

Paul McGrath

Ceist:

184 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Defence the occasions in the years 1993 and 1994 when a person (details supplied) used the Government jet or other Government air transport facilities; the dates of such journeys; the destination; the duration of these trips; the rank of the officials who accompanied them; and the names of any non-civil servants who accompanied them on those trips. [31364/06]

The information requested by the Deputy has been extracted from my Department's records and is set out in the form of a tabular statement, which I propose to circulate in the Official Report.

Date

Return Date

Destination

Passengers

Status

Aircraft

18-Jan-93

18-Jan-93

Dublin — Brussels — Dublin

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

G IV

Official

Runai Aire

Official

Press Officer

Official

Secretary

Official

Second Secretary

Official

Assistant Secretary

11-Mar-93

12-Mar-93

Baldonnel — Heathrow — Waterford Baldonnel

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

Beech

Official

Runaí Aire

Official

Public Servant (IPA)

Mr T Kett

Non civil servant

23-Mar-93

23-Mar-93

Baldonnel — Munich — Zurich — Baldonnel

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

G IV

Official

Runaí Aire

Official

Press Officer

Official

Assistant Principal

Official

Public Servant (IDA)

Official

Public Servant (IDA)

Official

Public Servant (IDA)

21-May-93

22-May-93

Baldonnel — Billund — Baldonnel

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

G IV

Official

Secretary

Official

Press Officer

Official

Runaií Aire

28-May-93

29-May-93

Dublin — Letterkenny — Dublin

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

Official

Personal Assistant to the Minister

Official

Press Officer

Helicopter

Date

Return Date

Destination

Passengers

Status

Aircraft

19-Apr-93

19-Apr-93

Baldonnel — Luxembourg — Baldonnel

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

G IV

Official

Runaí Aire

Official

Press Officer

Official

Secretary

Official

Assistant Secretary

Official

Assistant Principal

7-Jun-93

7-Jun-93

Baldonnel — Luxembourg — Baldonnel

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

G IV

Official

Runaí Aire

Official

Secretary

Official

Assistant Secretary

Official

Press Officer

12-Jul-93

12-Jul-93

Baldonnel — Brussels — Baldonnel

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

Beech

Official

Secretary

Official

Assistant Secretary

Official

Press Officer

23-Jul-93

23-Jul-93

Dublin — Kilkenny — Dublin

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

Helicopter

Official

Runaí Aire

Official

Press Officer

1-Aug-93

2-Aug-93

Baldonnel — Brussels — Baldonnel

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

G IV

Official

Secretary

Official

Runaí Aire

Official

Press Officer

Official

Partnership Programme Manager

Official

Second Secretary

Official

Assistant Secretary

Official

Public Servant (Central Bank)

Official

Public Servant (Central Bank)

Official

Public Servant (Central Bank)

Date

Return Date

Destination

Passengers

Status

Aircraft

27-Sep-93

30-Sep-93

Baldonnel — Philadelphia — Washington — Baldonnel

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

G IV

Official

Secretary

Official

Second Secretary

Official

Runaí Aire

Official

Partnership Programme Manager

8-Oct-93

9-Oct-93

Baldonnel — Brussels — Baldonnel

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

G IV

Minister

Minister of State at Department of Finance

Official

Secretary

Official

Runaí Aire

Official

Staff Officer

13-Nov-93

13-Nov-93

Baldonnel — Sligo — Baldonnel

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

Beech

Official

Partnership Programme Manager

22-Nov-93

22-Nov-93

Baldonnel — Brussels — Baldonnel

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

G IV

Official

Runaí Aire

Official

Secretary

Official

Assistant Secretary

5-Dec-93

5-Dec-93

Baldonnel — Brussels — Baldonnel

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

G IV

Official

Runaí Aire

Official

Secretary

Official

Assistant Secretary

Official

Department of Foreign Affairs

Ms C Ahern

Non Civil Servant

Ms G Ahern

Non Civil Servant

Date

Return Date

Destination

Passengers

Status

Aircraft

10-Dec-93

10-Dec-93

Baldonnel — Brussels — Baldonnel

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

G IV

Official

Runaí Aire

Official

Secretary

13-Dec-93

Brussels — Baldonnel

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

G IV

Official

Secretary

11-Feb-94

12-Feb-94

Baldonnel — Farranfore — Baldonnel

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

Beech

Official

Runaí Aire

Official

Personal Assistant to the Minister

14-Feb-94

14-Feb-94

Baldonnel — Brussels — Baldonnel

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

G IV

Official

Runaí Aire

Official

Secretary

Official

Assistant Secretary

10-Mar-94

Baldonnel — Heathrow

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

G IV

Official

Runaí Aire

Official

Personal Assistant to the Minister

Official

Staff Officer

19-Apr-94

St Petersburg — Baldonnel

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

G IV

Official

Partnership Programme Manager

Official

Secretary

Official

Runaí Aire

Official

Staff Officer

28-Apr-94

Farranfore — Baldonnel

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

Beech

Official

Personal Assistant to the Minister

Date

Return Date

Destination

Passengers

Status

Aircraft

16-May-94

Brussels — Baldonnel

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

G IV

Official

Runaí Aire

Official

Secretary

6-Jun-94

8-Jun-94

Baldonnel — Luxembourg — Paris — Kerry

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

G IV

Official

Secretary

Official

Runaí Aire

Official

Press Officer

Official

Assistant Secretary

Official

Assistant Principal

Official

Partnership Programme Manager

Official

Personal Assistant to the Minister

Official

Department of Foreign Affairs

23-Jun-94

24-Jun-94

Baldonnel — Corfu (Kerkira) — Baldonnel

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

G IV

Official

Assistant Secretary

Official

Runaí Aire

Official

Staff Officer

8-Aug-94

8-Aug-94

Baldonnel — Farranfore — Baldonnel

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

Beech

Official

Public Servant (Garda Síochána)

8-Sep-94

8-Sep-94

Dublin — Dungloe — Dublin

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

Helicopter

9-Sep-94

10-Sep-94

Baldonnel — Friedrichsafen — Baldonnel

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

G IV

Official

Secretary

Official

Second Secretary

Official

Runaí Aire

Official

Press Officer

Date

Return Date

Destination

Passengers

Status

Aircraft

19-Sep-94

19-Sep-94

Baldonnel — Knock — Baldonnel

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

Beech

Official

Administrative Assistant

Official

Public Servant (IDA)

23-Sep-94

24-Sep-94

Baldonnel — Farranfore — Baldonnel

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

Beech

Official

Administrative Assistant

Official

Personal Assistant to the Minister

30-Sep-94

Baldonnel — Shannon

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

Beech

3-Oct-94

Baldonnel — Madrid

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

G IV

Official

Secretary

Official

Assistant Secretary

Official

Personal Assistant to the Minister

10-Oct-94

10-Oct-94

Baldonnel — Luxembourg — Baldonnel

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

G IV

Official

Runaí Aire

Official

Secretary

Official

Principal Officer

Official

Staff Officer

Official

Assistant Principal

25-Nov-94

26-Nov-94

Baldonnel — Galway -Baldonnel

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

Beech

Official

Press Officer

Official

Administrative Assistant

Date

Return Date

Destination

Passengers

Status

Aircraft

5-Dec-94

5-Dec-94

Baldonnel — Brussels — Baldonnel

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

G IV

Official

Secretary

Official

Runaí Aire

Official

Staff Officer

Official

Assistant Principal

Official

Assistant Principal

7-Dec-94

7-Dec-94

Cork — Brussels — Cork

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

G IV

Official

Secretary

Official

Press Officer

Official

Assistant Principal

Official

Runaí Aire

Official

Principal Officer

8-Dec-94

8-Dec-94

Baldonnel — Dusseldorf — Baldonnel

Mr. B. Ahern

Minister for Finance

G IV

Official

Runaí Aire

Official

Secretary

Departmental Correspondence.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

185 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Defence if his Department will make available all of the replies to parliamentary questions made to his Department in relation to the injury of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31374/06]

There is no record in my Department of any previous parliamentary questions relating to this matter. However, I am aware that various representations have been made by the Deputy to my Department regarding the person concerned. I will arrange for copies of this correspondence to be sent to the Deputy.

Local Authority Staff.

John Deasy

Ceist:

186 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has carried out an assessment of the comparative benefits of local authorities using consultants rather than hiring staff qualified to carry out the same functions; if he will direct his Department’s value for money unit to carry out a VFM study on the use of consultants by local authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31319/06]

The matter raised in the question has not been the subject of a study by my Department's Value for Money Unit; however, local authorities, when employing consultants for infrastructural works, must adhere to relevant guidelines set out in circular letters from my Department and guidelines by the Department of Finance for the public sector generally, which include appropriate emphasis on value for money considerations. While overall local government staff numbers are controlled in accordance with Government policy in relation to public sector numbers, staffing and organisational arrangements for purposes of carrying out local authority functions are a matter for each County/City Manager.

The issue of the use of consultants by local authorities will be considered in the context of the ongoing work of the Value for Money Unit.

Civil Protection Mechanism.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

187 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the measures which have been taken to identify the 42 people Ireland has committed to the EU’s emergency response group through the Civil Protection Mechanism; if so, the number of the people identified who have taken part in EU funded training programmes or exercises now that restrictions on participation have been lifted; the capacity-building steps which have been taken to ensure that this commitment is being met through the provision of personnel and participation in training; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31320/06]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

188 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when Ireland signed up to the Civil Protection Mechanisms; and the discussions which were held with fire, ambulance and Civil Defence services around the country either prior to or after this occurred. [31321/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 187 and 188 together.

The EU Civil Protection Mechanism was established by Council Decision 2001/792/EC, which was adopted in October 2001 following negotiations between the Member States in which Ireland participated fully. There were no formal discussions at sub-national level in relation to these negotiations.

Eight Irish nominees have undertaken Civil Protection training courses to date. The courses in question are the Community Mechanism Induction Course, the Operational Management Course and the High Level Co-ordination Course. These training courses are essentially directed at team leaders and incident assessors. Participation in training courses is ongoing and my Department anticipates that at least one further nominee will participate in civil protection training before the end of the year.

While we indicated in 2003, following wide consultation, that up to 42 personnel comprising 15 experts and 6 intervention teams could potentially be made available within the framework of the Mechanism, it has become clear in the meantime that the most likely roles for Irish personnel are as team leaders or assessors; in practice, countries which regularly experience incidents such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, major forest fires and major floods tend to have significant contingency search and rescue capacity and are in a position to provide substantial resources to assist requesting countries at very short notice. Therefore, it is our intention to concentrate on identifying and training additional personnel as team leaders and assessors rather than pursuing the establishment of intervention teams.

National Emergency Plan.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

189 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if the Dublin local authorities applied for funding to carry out a fire assessment study or to develop a strategic emergency plan for the capital; when the last such assessment was carried out or strategic plan was produced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31322/06]

No such applications for funding have been received by my Department. Major Emergency Plans for the Dublin local authorities have been notified to my Department as follows:

Dublin City Council

March, 2004

Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council

February, 2004

Fingal County Council

June, 2003

South Dublin County Council

July, 2003

There are also major emergency procedures involving all of the other relevant response agencies in the Dublin and adjacent local authority areas.

As part of an ongoing focus on major emergency preparedness and response, the recently published new Framework for Major Emergency Management by An Garda Síochána, the Health Services Executive and Local Authorities is designed to reinforce emergency regional capacity locally, regionally and nationally. Copies of this publication are available in the Oireachtas Library.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

190 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if the Department of Finance has funded training for emergency personnel to deal with any emergency or disaster in the Dublin Port Tunnel or funded an emergency or disaster plan for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31323/06]

Operational issues in relation to the Dublin Port Tunnel, including training of relevant personnel, are matters for the National Roads Authority, under the aegis of the Minister for Transport, and for Dublin City Council. No funding has been provided through my Department for the purposes referred to in the Question.

Wildlife Study.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

191 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the system in place for funding and carrying out post mortems on whales and dolphins in Irish waters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31386/06]

A network of National Parks and Wildlife Service Conservation Rangers operating in coastal areas participates in a scheme to identify and respond to strandings of live and dead whales and dolphins. The scheme is co-ordinated by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, which is funded by my Department, the Marine Institute, the Heritage Council and the Northern Ireland Environment and Heritage Service. Professional and volunteer members from universities (particularly UCC) and the public are also involved.

In most instances an effort is made by this network, with the co-operation of local authority and State resources, to aid live-stranded cetaceans to return to the sea. There are many instances every year where whales and dolphins are successfully returned. However, occasionally these animals, whether injured or diseased or for some other natural reason, will re-strand themselves on the shore and die.

Dead whales and dolphins washed up on the shore are also reported under these arrangements. In these instances a member of the network will make an inspection on site to record the species, size, gender and probable cause of death. This data is maintained in a public access databasewww.iwdg.ie and published annually in the Irish Naturalists Journal.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

192 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the plans he has for carbon or green credits; the way in which he will allocate these credits; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31415/06]

Carbon credits will be used by the government for the sole purpose of achieving compliance with Ireland's commitment under the Kyoto Protocol to limit its greenhouse gas emissions to 13% above 1990 levels.

Under the EU burden sharing arrangements Ireland will have the benefit of approximately 63 million allowances per annum each of which must be surrendered by the State in lieu of one tonne of CO2 emissions during the 2008-2012 period. This assigned amount represents our level of emissions in 1990 plus 13%. Current projections for the 2008-2012 period show that average annual emissions will be approximately 70 million tonnes in the absence of further measures to reduce them.

The gap of 7m tonnes between projected emissions and available allowances will be closed through:

measures to reduce emissions throughout the economy, in addition to those set out in the National Climate Change Strategy and those introduced subsequently;

emissions reductions, or the purchase of carbon allowances, by installations participating in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme; and

the purchase of additional allowances or credits.

The Government has stated its intention to purchase up to a maximum of 3.607 million allowances or credits per annum over the Kyoto Protocol commitment period 2008-2012. The National Treasury Management Agency will purchase additional allowances or credits on behalf of the State.

Planning Issues.

Michael Lowry

Ceist:

193 Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when the information requested in Parliamentary Question No. 260 of 29 June 2006 will issue. [31443/06]

I conveyed this information to the Deputy by letter of 18 July 2006.

Special Protection Areas.

Michael Lowry

Ceist:

194 Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when he will implement the SPA catchment areas for hen harrier protection areas; his views on the impact this will have on farmers particularly those whose forestry will be maturing and are intending on replanting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31444/06]

Under the EU Birds Directive, Ireland, like other Member States, is required to maintain the population of bird species, and to designate Special Protection Areas (SPAs) for species which are identified in Annex 1 of the Directive, including the Hen Harrier.

In 2002, based on the then available information, a range of possible SPA catchments were identified for Hen Harriers in the State. Since then, my Department has thoroughly reviewed the research and information on the Hen Harrier, including the results of a second national survey in 2005. Based on this work a significant reduction in the number and extent of SPAs is now envisaged.

In general, it is not anticipated that the designation of a site for Hen Harriers will have effects on existing farming, existing forestry, or other ongoing activities. Neither should designation of a Hen Harrier SPA result in any restrictions on future rural housing development, on the intensification of grassland management nor on the reseeding of rough grass fields in the area.

The main activities likely to require regulation would be land reclamation/habitat destruction; commercial turf extraction; scrub, gorse or hedgerow removal; and too intensive use of off-road vehicles – other than by farmers.

Any proposed windfarm developments will continue to be assessed through the planning process and planning authorities will assess each proposal on a case-by-case basis. In that regard, I have published Guidelines for planning authorities on wind energy development. These Guidelines point out there is huge potential to avoid or reduce negative environmental impacts, including those on the natural heritage, in designing wind energy projects.

A Working Group of relevant interests both farming and forestry, the Forest Service and my Department has been established to develop a practical management regime for further forestry in the proposed Hen Harrier SPAs. Following completion of these discussions and final decisions on the designations, the proposed SPAs for the Hen Harrier will be notified to individual landowners and the normal appeal process will apply.

Departmental Bodies.

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

195 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the role and function of An Taisce in relation to the planning process; the way the body is structured; the membership and funding of same; the decision making process and to whom it is accountable; if he has satisfied himself regarding its role in the planning process; and the legislative proposals he has to change this in the future. [31454/06]

Section 33 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 provides that regulations regarding applications for permission may be made requiring, inter alia, that planning authorities must notify prescribed bodies of the receipt of certain classes of development. Article 28 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 includes An Taisce in the list of bodies prescribed for this purpose. An Taisce is given notice of planning applications only in circumstances where it appears to the planning authority that the proposed development might impact on matters such as areas of special amenity, protected structures, National Monuments and nature conservation.

An Taisce is an independent, voluntary, non-governmental organisation and is responsible for regulating its own activities. I have no responsibility or detailed information regarding its membership nor its financing.

My Department provides grant aid to An Taisce under a number of initiatives, namely administration expenses of the Blue Flag Scheme in Ireland (€94,096 for the operation in 2005), a Clean Coast awards scheme (€5,000 in 2005), an An Taisce–led anti-litter initiative National Spring Clean (€324,448 in 2005), and core funding of €7,531 in 2005, which was paid through the Environmental (Ecological) Non-Governmental Organisations Core Funding Ltd.

As Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, I will keep the Regulations, including the list of prescribed bodies, under continual review, to ensure that they deliver an effective and efficient planning service leading to quality planning decisions. I will see that any necessary changes to support this outcome are addressed on a timely basis.

Local Authority Housing.

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

196 Ms C. Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will include as one of the local government performance indicators the taking in charge of housing estates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31455/06]

I refer to the reply to Question No. 227 of 4 October 2006.

Planning Legislation.

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

197 Ms C. Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if, when he is reviewing part V of the Planning and Development Act, 2000 he will include purpose built crèches, currently constructed with every 75 dwellings, as a community gain with developments that return cash not houses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31456/06]

The legislation provides that any Part V monies accumulated by a planning authority should be lodged to a separate account which should only be used as capital for its functions under Part V or as capital by a housing authority for its functions in relation to the provision of housing under the Housing Acts 1966 to 2002. This could include meeting the capital costs of providing childcare facilities in both new and existing local authority housing estates.

A review of Part V was undertaken by my Department in consultation with major stakeholders in 2002 and resulted in a number of changes to Part V, which were introduced in the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2002. I am satisfied that Part V is contributing significantly to the provision of social and affordable housing and while I have no proposals for another formal review of Part V at this time, I can confirm that my Department keeps its operation under continuous appraisal.